Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend roundup
       Now comes the Lakers vs. the Magic, a match-up that few predicted would be the  NBA Final encounter but one that everyone has to accept. Orlando is similar in nature to Cleveland, meaning it has a superstar in Dwight Howard who is surrounded by a supporting cast of journeyman. The Lakers, rested and ready to open the series at home on Thursday night, plan to tug on Howard's cape, the league's self-proclaimed Superman. On TV Saturday night, Charles Barkley predicted an Orlando victory in 7 games. How about the Lakers in 4?


       Add NBA: Heads were exploding after Cleveland's LeBron James didn't show up for the customary post-game press conference after the Cavaliers were eliminated by Orlando. James ducked out without going to the interview room, and was roundly criticized by the media for his failure to publicly own  up to the team's defeat.
       Are athletes, especially superstars, expected to talk to the press after a win, loss or tie? The answer is yes. But do they have to? Not necessarily. The late, great actor Humphrey Bogart once said that all he owed his audience was a good performance. Nobody, especially the L.A. media, is in a tizzy because Manny Ramirez hasn't held a press conference to talk about his 50-game suspension. Has anyone, besides his teammates, heard from the absent Dodger? 
        John Wooden seldom let his players talk to the press after a game. It was the way Wooden ran his program at UCLA. The game stories still got written and newspapers went to press.
        For public relations purposes, James has to learn that it's better to meet the press than to slip out the back door, especially if he wants to play  in New York or Los Angeles some day.


         Hockey country?: Does anyone west of the Mississippi River care about the Stanley Cup finals? It will be interesting to see NBC's ratings from the first two games of Detroit-Pittsburgh series.


         Add TV ratings: the French Open heads into the quarterfinals without its leading man, Rafael Nadal of Spain. There was much anticipation of Nadal meeting Roger Federer in the finals this coming weekend, but it won't happen because Nadal was upset by Sweden's Robin Soderling on Sunday. The fussy French still have Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova on their women's clay courts, but ABC losing LeBron James and Nadal watching from the Roland-Garros stands on NBC ,was a one-two punch to networks' execs midsections. It has to hurt.


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