1. We was robbed.
In today's USA-Slovenia match, the US was caught by surprise in the first half and fell behind two goals to nil. The scrappy Yanks came roaring back, with two impressive goals in the second to tie it up. And then, on a free kick, they scored again! Except: the refs called a phantom foul. I'll put the video in here so you can see it for yourself, but on the many replays I saw, there was nothing to justify the call. No doubt FIFA will stand by their man. Update: Here's a very crude vid--I'll find something better soon:
2. They was robbed.
I hate the Los Angeles Lakers with the same unreasoning white-hot fire with which all true and good people burn, the same fire that crackles whenever we see Yankee pinstripes. They are a preening, self-absorbed bunch, from the "Zen master" coach (please) to the perpetually aggrieved star, Kobe Bryant.
Sometimes bad guys win, and the Lakers did last night. Unfortunately, the stink of referee interference hangs over that game, as well. Entering the fourth with a four-point lead, the Celtics were instantly hit with three consecutive ticky-tack fouls. To non-basketball fans, it's important to note that close fourth quarters feature hundreds of fouls. It's impossible to stop ten grown men from fouling each other when the game is on the line. So refs have to let a lot of it go by. And last night, they did: when the Lakers were fouling the Celts. When the Celts were fouling? Not so much:
Fans of the losing team always complain about the refs, but I do want to note a complaint from a Celtics loyalist about “how the refs inexplicably decided to call touch fouls on the Cs in the 4th qtr leading to 21 laker FTs. That’s on pace for 84 FTs for the game.”Watching Pau Gasol begin flopping and howling even before he began his moves--and then get the call--was more than I could handle. It's why I so rarely watch professional games where the Blazers aren't playing.
3. Kobe and greatness.
Finally, there's a lot of talk about how Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players of all time, and possibly only second to Jordan--or perhaps even better than Jordan. Let us dispense with this nonsense immediately. He is a prolific scorer, but not a great shooter. His 45.5% ranks well behind other greats like Bird (49.6%), Jordan (49.7%), LeBron (47.5%), and Magic Johnson (52.0%).
Further, while he has a decent stat line (25.3 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists), it pales compared to the others: Bird (24.3, 10, 6.3), Jordan (30.1, 6.2, 5.3), LeBron (27.8, 7.0, 7.0), and Magic (19.5, 7.2, 11.2). Yeah, he has won five championships, but as someone pointed out, Robert Horry won seven. No one's making the case Horry's number two.