A funny thing happened on the way to Novak Djokovic cruising through all the players at Wimbledon and helping to further fortify his name amongst the all time greats to ever play men’s tennis. That same Djokovic that has stepped into the upper echelons of the tennis hierarchy and pretty much ended the cases that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were trying to make that THEY were the greatest players to ever play the game, as Djokovic has simply owned both of those double digit major winners over the last couple years. He lost. To American journeyman Sam Querrey. This is not a djoke.
Querrey was one of those 28th or so seeded players that are, of course, really good players compared to the rest of us, but they usually are not good enough to beat the Nadals, Federers or Djokovics of the world. The players seeded in the twenties almost always end up being chum to the top five or so seeds every year. But players with a big serve have a fighting chance at Wimbledon, and Querrey does have a good serve, so that is what served him most in this monumental upset bid. You’ve still got to win these things on the court to make yourself part of history.
In other sports news that happened in the past few weeks —
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup over the San Jose Sharks. They did it with defense, defense and more defense. And it wasn’t the case of average defense and superhuman goal tending. No, the Penguins smothered the pretty good offensive Shark team with one of the tightest checking teams in recent memory. Whenever a Shark got a pass and even tried to breathe, there was a Penguin player on him like a CPAP machine, not allowing him to even move or do anything with the puck offensively.
The normally high scoring Sharks were simply stifled by a Penguin defense that made it seem like there were about seven Pittsburgh skaters on one side and five San Jose skaters on the other side nearly every minute of every one of the playoff games. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, famous for being such a good offensive player, was simply a really good leader of the many Penguin defensive players of a really well executed team defensive scheme that held the Sharks down for this entire series. It might sound like a cliche, but this defense really did win this team a championship.
Cleveland Cavs vs. Golden State Warriors
In the conference finals, the Golden State Warriors fell behind the Oklahoma City Thunder 3 to 1, but came roaring back to win the series in seven games. In the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors went up on the Cleveland Cavs team 3 to 1 themselves. The Warriors had the momentum. The Warriors had Cleveland down and almost out. The Warriors had the 73 win regular season to give them a massive amount of confidence. The Warriors had the home court advantage in the fifth game and would have it in a seventh game if it got that far.
But Warrior point forward/all around solid LeBron James-like player Draymond Green just had to kick just one more player in the nuts. He had been aggressively trying to intimidate players throughout the playoffs by kicking, kneeing and all around harassing them by some intentionally (though trying to make it seem unintentionally) going after his toughest opponents vis a vis some well placed kicks to the groin, and in every case, the league would simply NOT do anything in the way of suspending him. But Green crossed the line in Game Four and threw out his legs toward LeBron James’ groin area and this time got himself suspended for Game Five.
Game Five and Game Six allowed the Cleveland team to rally behind their superstar James (who was joined in his superstar category by the mega talented point guard Kyrie Irving) to play some really inspired ball and to win these two games to set up a winner-take-all Game Seven at Golden State.
In a gritty, back and forth Game Seven, Draymond Green had a humongous game for the Warriors, putting up a LeBron James-like line of 32/14/8, which got the game to an 89 to 89 tie with about 5 minutes to go. And then, with a home crowd and all of the Splash Brothers mojo behind them, the team proceeded to score exactly ZERO points in the last five minutes.
Let me repeat that. The Warriors scored ZERO points in the last five minutes. Partially due to Cleveland defense, but also due to poor Golden State ball-handling and shooting, the Warriors imploded offensively.
A Kyrie Irving three pointer with about a minute to go and a James free throw put the score up to 93 to 89 and Cleveland had won an improbable last three games and James had miraculously given his beloved Cleveland city its first championship in any major sport since Jim Brown played for the Cleveland Browns in the mid-60’s.
Was LeBron James THAT good during those last three games that he could simply will his team to a victory? Does Golden State have an issue with poise down the stretch, a kind of fatal flaw that might harm them in future seventh games? No one knows for sure, but we know one thing. If Draymond Green hadn’t tried to knee just one more player in the nuts (to get himself suspended for Game Five), the Warriors probably would have taken Game Five and won themselves the championship. The lesson here is that there are TV cameras watching that shit, Draymond. They are GOING to see what you did and catch you. And YOU are too good of a player to need to pull that crap.
The U.S. Open
Dustin Johnson survived a difficult Oakmont C.C. course and won his first major at this year’s U.S. Open. He won it because, even though the course had difficult to hit, tight fairways, he was simply able to bomb his drives long and down the middle and to reduce the otherwise long playing course to straight drives and wedges and short irons to the sloping, confounding greens, which allowed him to get “easy pars” on holes that were playing really difficult for everyone else.
Like Jack Nicklaus had done some fifty years earlier, Dustin Johnson played a game that was “unfamiliar” to everyone else. Simply put, his massive amount of golfing talent (especially his long and STRAIGHT drives) gives him a great chance to win every time he tees it up. He is every bit as talented (maybe not as good of a putter as Jordan Spieth) as the so called “Big Three” of Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy.
Johnson had to prevail over something besides the field. He also had to beat the LAME rulings of the USGA, who decided in their infinite wisdom to “kind of, maybe say they were going to penalize him… MAYBE,” for something they think he may or may not have done, which maybe was not really his fault, but possibly was THEIR fault.
The USGA set up INCREDIBLY slick greens for this Faster, some said, than any greens had ever been set up for a major tournament. DJ took a practice stroke and was addressing a putt when the ball slightly moved a fraction of an inch if that. The ball moved, not because of anything Johnson did, an official ruled, but rather because of “something else,” which would make sense given the slickness of these greens.
The USGA, using TV replay cameras and an antiquated way of viewing the sport and how their rules should apply to it, decided to warn Johnson that they MIGHT be penalizing him at the end of the round. MAYBE. That’s like telling someone they might be shooting you in the head for making their daughter pregnant. MAYBE. IF she’s actually pregnant. But that’s something that will be decided later. THAT is pressure. Things like that certainly changes your behavior, not to mention your actions on a golf course.
In other words, Johnson, who was virtually even with Irish player Shane Lowry (who had started the final round with a four stroke lead) at the time, was forced to play the last eight or so holes with a shotgun aiming at his head with potential serious punishment looming over him with every stroke of a closely fought U.S. Open “match.”
And worse than that, the reason the ball moved was the way the USGA had set up the course. NOT because of Johnson. A ball on a normal green does not move while people take practice putts. Only a ball on a green that has been OVERLY cut to make it lightning fast. The USGA was BLAIMING the victim for their poor course set up!!
Luckily, Johnson won the tournament cleanly, even WITH the one stroke penalty that they should never have leveled, but if they had, they should have done it right at the time the so called infraction had occurred. He should not have had to play the final eight holes not knowing whether he was one stoke ahead, even or one stroke behind.
NO other sport has a review process that waits until the end of the “game” to determine whether or not to change the actual scoring (that is being contested in real time, and in golf, with each and every stroke having significant meaning).
Example – in basketball, rules officials overriding what the on court officials ruled and determining that a shot from earlier in the game was a two pointer (sorry, but upon further review, we have to inform you that you actually lost the game by a point), or a three (hey, you, the team that thought you had won by a point, we’re going to award your opponents an extra point and that means you have to come out of the showers and play an overtime.
Or, in football, after the game is over and one team is celebrating their three point win – you know, upon further review, we rules officials have decided to call that alleged touchdown reception that our on field officials called a TD an incomplete pass and WE are taking back those seven points. You can stop celebrating your win, team, cause we’ve just decided that the OTHER guys have won. Sorry, but our after the fact, rules enforcers have decided to overturn your win.
I can just see a baseball team jumping up and down, celebrating, after a walk off, two out, three run homer to win a game by one run, only to have some rules official in the booth saying, “you know something, I think that checked swing that our third base umpire said was a ball earlier in that count should actually have been called a strike. Therefore, we are deciding (after the fact) that the batter should have been called out on strike three and that home run never happened. I know you guys celebrating the walk off aren’t happy about this, but sorry, but those are the rules.”
In other words, the golf ruling by the USGA was THAT stupid.
Thankfully, Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open and the stupid ruling became a moot point. Golf has a REAL problem if crap like this is to ever happen again. They HAVE to change their USGA rules to more resemble legitimate sports.
Johnson also just won the World Golf Classic event at Firestone over a WGC type field and he is now only fractionally behind Jordan Spieth for number two in the world and he is ahead of Rory McIlroy now. DJ could be in the running for tour player of the year this year.
And, in news just released today, Kevin Durant has just announced he will join the Golden State Warriors team as a free agent.
Let’s see, the Warriors WON the championship last year, they WOULD have won it this year, but for Draymond Green’s knack for kicking his opponents in the nuts, and now they have upgraded their team by ADDING Kevin Durant, and they have devastated the Oklahoma City team by stealing their best player and the main reason the OKC was an NBA power.
Nice system you’ve got there, NBA. So much for the concept of competitive balance. The Warriors were PROBABLY going to win the championship next year WITHOUT Durant. The Spurs are older. The OKC Thunder was close, but… oops, now they don’t have their best player, so they are out. And now the Warriors also HAVE 28 ppg Kevin Durant on their team.
Why should any fan even care about the regular season next year? The Warriors will win somewhere between 70 and 80 games. They will waltz into the finals (unless they have some injuries). They will probably be facing a LeBron James led Cleveland Cavalier team (AGAIN) in the finals for the third straight year.
Why do all of these teams even bother to spend their hundreds of millions on free agent players? They are NOT going to win anything. It’s already a foregone conclusion who will win it next year.
The NBA has become a freaking DJOKE!!