Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NASCAR, Dallas wins, and more

Congrats to the newest members of NASCAR's Hall of Fame. Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman, Modifieds legend Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Five men whose contributions to NASCAR could not be overlooked any longer.

The star of the announcements, as you would expect, was Waltrip. He ran to the stage, planted a smooch on the cheek of NASCAR Chairman Brian France, and did a few fist-pumps on his way back to his seat. The selection meant the world to him, and now he will be enshrined alongside some of the biggest names that stock car racing has ever known.

Had the chance to toss some questions his way, and asked him what Dale Earnhardt would say to him, and DW's reply was simple, and with a smile. "I got in first, " said Waltrip imitating the late Earnhardt's likely reaction. Great to see that there is so much reverence for such an honor, one that he doesn't take lightly, and ultimately, could be very good for the Hall. There is no debating the Hall is not making the money it projected it would (and admittedly some of those projections were inflated based on the economy at the time the planning was going on), but a guy like Waltrip could be a Pied Piper of sorts, leading fans to NASCAR'S showpiece. Time will tell, but to have a guy nicknamed "Jaws" talking up the Hall will not be a bad thing.

The Dallas Mavericks are the NBA champs, for the first time in their history. While it is a great story,it was made sweeter to the entire LeBron James hating public. I took no personal satisfaction from LeBron's defeat, but more joy in the notion that a team is stronger than a collection of individuals, which is what, ultimately, the Heat were. A group of very talented players, tha simply didn't know how to finish when all the chips were in the middle. The Heat are already installed as the favorites to win it next year, which is not a shock at all. Something tells me they will figure things out in the off-season, and come into the playoffs next year ready to prove the doubters wrong. They had a great year, but the Mavericks simply wouldn't be denied.

What does this say, though, about the legacy left by the season? When James convinced Chris Bosh to go with him to Miami to join Dwyane Wade, signing for less money than they would have made by staying with their previous teams, it was applauded and booed in the same breath. I admit, I didn't like it, and knew the pressure would be on them all season long. For the most part, they responded, but when faced with a team that had the conviction to battle past the "star-factor," the Heat had no response.

It's a cautionary tale of how what looks good on paper may not be the best thing to achieve the ultimate goal: winning a championship. Miami will look different from roster spots 5 on back, as many players took the minimum to ride shotgun to the trio, hoping for a ring. Don't think big name soon-to-be free-agents didn't see how fans reacted to the noise created in South Beach, and the subsequent thud that took place on Sunday night.

Speaking of the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats have a new GM, Rich Cho. Cho was introduced Tuesday, and his hiring boots Rod Higgins up the ladder one notch to Director of Basketball Operations with the club. What does this mean? Well, it means a guy who was a small-market GM (in Portland), will now face similar challenges with small (but bigger) market Charlotte. Sounds like a lateral move, but in reality, it's a step up. Cho will be able to do the same things with the Bobcats as he did with the Blazers, but he's doing it with Michael Jordan overseeing things. All the feedback I heard on Cho on Tuesday was positive, and Bobcats fans are hoping he can help Charlotte take the step forward, and back into the playoffs.

Coming Thursday, my review of game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. No need to preview it. it's game 7. Let the chips fall where they may.

Mike Solarte

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