Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is it really June?

May was a blur. What happened? Let's take a quick look.

-The Charlotte Bobcats made the playoffs for the first time in their history.
-Rory McIlroy won the Quail Hollow Championship, thanks to going -16 under par on the weekend, iced with a cool 62 on Sunday.
-The NASCAR Hall of Fame flung open its doors to the public, and its first five inductees.
-Kurt Busch pulled the Cup Series double at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning the Sprint All Star Race, and the Coca Cola 600.
-Kyle Busch won the Truck series race at Charlotte, and managed to begin 2 different feuds with 2 different drivers. One of those drivers is a teammate.

June has begun, which means the school year is winding down, and summer is close at hand. A few thoughts on this overcast Tuesday.

The University of North Carolina baseball is in the NCAA Tournament. Normally, this is not news. This year it is, because the Tar Heels weren't invited to their own conference tournament. Now, for the record, Carolina finished their regular season quite well, but simply didn't win enough conference games to earn a spot in the tournament. Still, the NCAA saw fit to invite UNC to the Norman, OK region.

Personally, I'm not a fan of inviting a team that didn't earn a spot in its own conference tournament. I would say the same if it were Duke, Wake or NC State. The loser in all this is Boston College. They earned a berth in the ACC tourney, but were left out of the NCAA's in favor of UNC. UNC played a tougher schedule, held a high RPI ranking, did everything they had to do, except win enough games to make the ACC event. UNC went 36-20 on the season. By way of comparison, the Charlotte 49ers went 39-17, won the Atlantic-10 regular season title, but lost to St. Louis in the A-10 tournament final, and they are sitting at home. It's an inexact science to say the least, and there will always be a team or two that feel they got overlooked, while someone less deserving (in their eyes) got in.

The MJ v. Kobe debate was brought up again on local sports radio on Tuesday, with the question of "which one is better?"

I've said it before, and I will say it again. Michael Jordan was the best NBA player I have ever seen, and the best the game has ever seen. Kobe Bryant is a wonderful talent, and he is the best of his NBA era, but Jordan ruled his. Period.

Kobe has been aided by a nice supporting cast, something Jordan didn't have until the Chicago Bulls began winning titles. Jordan was flanked by the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Dennis Rodman (among others) when they were winning rings. He also had to carry the likes of Orlando Woolridge, Wes Matthews, Quintin Dailey, Granville Waiters, Earl Cureton, Sedale Threatt...you get the idea...before the run of six championships in eight years.

MJ elevated the play of his teammates--and many of them early on were guys that needed to elevate just to compete with him. Kobe has had nice complimentary players, and he has been a star, but in his prime, he would have been no match for Jordan in his. Case closed.

Finally, two games into the Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks lead the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 in their best of seven series. The Blackhawks winning game one 6-5, then game two, 2-1. What has been learned from the opening two games? Both teams can play wide open, or they can play a physical, grind it style of hockey. Both goaltenders have been tremendous (Michael Leighton for Philly, Antti Niemi for Chicago), and while Chicago holds a comfortable lead, game three will be the tell-tale game. If Chicago skates away from that one with a 3-0 series lead, Philly will be hard pressed to pull a rabbit out of the hat again. The Flyers came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Boston in these playoffs, but doing it against Chicago would be a much tougher feat. If it's 2-1 after game three, there will be lots of hockey left to play.

More on the Finals throughout the week, make it a good one.

Mike Solarte

Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/MikeSolarte

No comments: