A return to greatness, a great dunk and a great one is gone
Not sure there’ve been too many athletes of the last decade or so who have been as polarizing as Tiger Woods.
It has been my experience that there are almost as many people out there who would like him to see him fail as would like to see him dominate; he became his own worst enemy, and turned even more people off, with the personal problems that became so public.
Yes, he can be a tad standoffish, closed and cold with the public and the media, there was a sense of entitlement that the enablers who surrounded him created that certainly didn’t make him a cuddly icon for all sports fans to embrace.
You can argue that because of that rather prickly nature and because of the cocoon that he lived in – build by those make oodles of money off him, actually – made him what he was: One of the truly dominant athletes of this era.
Fans, lots of fans, simply didn’t like him, even after that one-legged U.S. Open triumph over the People’s Choice Rocco Mediate in what was one of the most compelling individual performances I can recall.
But you can never, or should never, doubt his abilities, even in the face of injury and personal strife that looked like it was going to derail one of the greatest careers in the game of golf.
(We can debate where he fits among the Jacks and Hogans another day).
Watching him storm to a significant win on Sunday afternoon, even if the attention was divided between the golf and some basketball, was to see him almost back to where he was. Red shirt, fist pumping, putts going in from everywhere.
It was a Tiger performance and regardless of what you think of him, it was impressive and will, I’m sure, have even the most casual fans tuned in once the Masters kicks off.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to sit alongside Mr. McCown as a weekly co-host on the good show on the FAN590 or whatever the call the station now.
He was an historian, a writer, a raconteur and just generally an entertaining fellow, a guy who could spin a yarn with the best of ‘em.
Not sure what it is, but that sport seems to provide us with all kinds of characters, some genuine, some just shady enough to be interesting, all with stories to tell.
Bert was one of the best, I first heard of him way back in his Boxing Illustrated days in the 70s, and he passed away Sunday at 75 after a long battle with lung cancer.
I’m not sure how many, if any, of you would have come across him in your travels, or if anyone out there even pays attention to boxing any more, but Bert was a guy with a giant personality in a game that used to be filled with them.
Wherever he is today, I bet he’s making people laugh.
Right, the Raptors.
Quiet day Sunday – they had some high falutin’ buntoss with the other MLSE dudes last night – but I know they were feeling quite good about themselves.
As well they should have been.
All season long, it’s been the work ethic of this team that’s been impressive, the way Dwane Casey can coax solid performances and good defence out of a team that wavers between beaten up and over-matched most nights.
Those games Friday and Saturday might have been the most back-to-back outings of the season for one huge reason:
They did not give in. At any level.
They didn’t fold against the Knicks down the stretch and never took a step backwards.
They didn’t flinch against the Bulls despite missing two key pieces, playing their fourth game in five nights and meeting a very good rested team at home.
If this season was about discovery, and developing a style and an attitude, I think we saw over the weekend that the journey is well underway. Now it’s on general manager Bryan Colangelo to beef up the talent and it remains on Casey to keep doing the excellent job that he has.
There is – at times – lots of promise. Whether it goes unfulfilled is the question.
I haven’t looked all that closely because I don’t have to write a few grafs until later but I’m pretty sure the Bracket Embarrassment will be at an all-time high.
Speaking of American college sports, we all know the neon Baylor Bears men’s team was an outstanding story until they ran into Kentucky on Sunday and it was cool that Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was in the stands to watch them.
But the most impressive Baylor athlete, and perhaps the most impressive Baylor athletic feat, was Brittney Griner with this highlight reel play.
I know at some point a woman basketball player dunking will be somewhat the norm simply because the game and the athletes are evolving so quickly and so impressively. But we’re not there yet and plays like Griner’s are somewhat eye-opening.
One of the good nights of my basketball season came a couple of weeks ago when I finally got down to London to see an NBL Canada playoff game.
I can only imagine what it was like Sunday afternoon when the Lightning won the league’s inaugural title in Game 5 over the Halifax Rainmen.
You know my long-held opinion of that league: They did a bang-up job in their first year, the calibre of play was excellent, the connection between franchises and their fans was great and there were no true calamities.
It is a credit to the seven ownership groups and commissioner John Kennedy that Year 1 was such a hit.
But now the hard work begins. Now is the time to get to work on next year, to see if they can maybe add a couple of teams in Ontario – I’d suggest either Kitchener or Windsor or Ottawa or Kingston would make the most sense – and to put in place the regional and local sponsorship deals that will solidify the existing franchises.
Oshawa’s an area where they have to get to work, they got a late start last season and it showed in that hockey-mad town, and since the strength of the league is only as good as its weakest link, I’d expect a concentration of effort out there.
It was an excellent year – I know people in all the league cities would probably agree – but it’s not time to rest on any laurels.
Five games, nine days, all at home. Game, day off, game, day off, lather, rinse repeat.
What’s a guy to do with all that idle time?
Guess I’ll find out – and sure there will be stuff to fill the off-days, but it’s going to be a very nice stretch.
And, yes, an IGBT for each of ‘em, starting with tonight and the Magic around 7. See you then.