Nuggets, WWE Fighting Over Pepsi Center Time

Usually, if you own a basketball or hockey team that has a legitimate shot at reaching a deep round of the playoffs, you don’t rent out your home arena. Evidently Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke wasn’t too sold on this year’s Denver team, because his basketball team is currently embroiled in a battle of smack talk over who will get the Pepsi Center next Monday night, as both WWE’s “Monday Night RAW” and Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals are scheduled to be there.

rocky nuggets mascot

(Rocky vs. The Big Show. For the arena, winner take all.)

According to the web site for Denver ABC affiliate 7NEWS, WWE’s Vince McMahon is not the least bit happy about the scheduling snafu, which threatens to send his weekly event to a smaller venue, or outside of Denver altogether, if the NBA doesn’t step in and move the date of Game 4, an outcome which is extremely unlikely at best.

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Why Do Cavs Fans Insist On Giving Snow A Ring?

Yes, Eric Snow was an emotional leader for the Cavaliers in recent seasons. He bonded with the citizens of Cleveland and their team, helping take a budding LeBron James under his guidance and showing him how to lead his teammates by example. All of those traits have been good things for the Cavs, but they don’t help explain why so many fans insist that he deserves a championship ring, considering the fact that he’s not even on the team … and that the team hasn’t won a thing yet.

eric snow lebron james cavaliers

(Only one of these guys still plays for Cleveland, both could get rings.)

According to the CLEVELAND PLAIN-DEALER, dozens of Cavs fans have emailed, called and harrassed team personnel, requesting that Snow receive a championship ring if the team wins one this season. Putting aside for a moment the fact that such brash optimism almost ensures something will go wrong, there’s no compelling strain of logic that accounts for why fans would feel Snow deserves a ring.

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Cuban Apologizes To Kenyon’s Mom On His Blog

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is used to having his mouth get him in trouble since he entered the NBA. He’s repeatedly been fined by David Stern for complaints about the officials, other teams, and life in the NBA in general. On Saturday night he may have taken things just a bit too far when he apparently told Lydia Moore, the mother of Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, that her son was a thug and a punk.

(”They’ll never recognize me in this brilliant disguise!”)

Not surprisingly, Martin was a bit upset about this. You don’t treat somebody’s mother that way, let alone the night before Mother’s Day. Mark responded by telling the media he was going to take care of it, and that he was more of a “face-to-face dude.” Well it seems that Cuban wasn’t really all that excited about a face-to-face conversation with Kenyon because he posted an apology on his blog yesterday.

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Speed Read: Wings Denied By Ref’s Early Whistle

It might not have seemed possible a few months ago, but it appears as if Ed Hochuli has no longer made the worst officiating gaffe of the last 12 months. That honor now belongs to NHL ref Brad Watson, who probably didn’t sleep very well after the mistake he made in last night’s Red Wings-Ducks game in Anaheim.

Wings Ducks puck highlighted

(I guess Brad Watson still needs that glowing puck they used to have on FOX)

Trailing 2-1 with just over a minute left, Detroit’s Marian Hossa knocked in a loose puck that squirted free from Jonas Hiller’s pads and was sitting all by itself in the crease (as you can see above) for the apparent tying goal. But, astonishingly, Watson blew his whistle just before Hossa scored, wiping out the goal because he says he lost sight of the puck (admittedly, Watson was at a terrible angle to see where the puck was) even though the rest of the world could see the thing sitting right in the middle of the crease. The play wasn’t reviewable, and the Ducks held on for a 2-1 win to take an identical lead in the series. Wings fans are irate, but since everyone else in hockey hates Detroit the screams aren’t resonating much outside of Michigan. Here’s the full video of the play:

For what it’s worth, the announcers are right that NHL refs are required to blow the whistle as soon as they lose sight of the puck. And, while Hossa’s shot clearly goes in before the whistle sounds, the rule is that the play is dead as soon as the ref decides to blow the whistle, which is a second or so before he actually does. Procedurally, Watson did everything right. But the whole thing about not seeing a puck right there in plain sight? Yeah, he messed that up pretty bad.

Brad Watson and Islanders cheerleaders

(Hey Watson, are your eyes ever where they’re supposed to be?)

In the NBA playoffs, The Hawks hung around for a while, but eventually the Cleveland Cavs ran away and hid, making it eight straight games involving Atlanta that has ended in a blowout. LeBron accepted the MVP award from David Stern before the game, then tossed up a ho-hum 34 and 10 in a 99-72 win. The Cavs outscored the Hawks 50-28 in the second half and lead the Eastern semis 1-0.

LeBron MVP

The Nuggets also used a second-half run to take a 2-0 lead in their series with the Mavs. Carmelo Anthony and Nene each scored 25 in a 117-105 Denver victory. Dallas was one of the hottest teams down the stretch but this just looks like a bad matchup for them. They’re now 0-6 against the Nuggets this season and, including their only home loss after the All-Star break. DALLAS MORNING NEWS columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor has already declared the series over.

The Dodgers beat Arizona 3-1 last night to move to 12-0 at home this season, which is just obscene in a sport like baseball. The win tied them with the 1911 Detroit Tigers for the best home start in Major League history. Even more obscene is that L.A. won the game with Jeff Weaver on the mound. Is Scott Erickson not with the team anymore?

In the Bronx, the Red Sox pounded Joba Chamberlain for four runs before an out was recorded, and cruised to a 7-3 win, making them 5-0 against the Yankees this season. Even though Joba got roughed up early, he recovered and ended up striking out 12 batters in 5 2/3 innings. Regardless, he still had a better day than his mother.

Jason Bay

(The new Yankee killer)

• SI’s Jon Heyman says MLB is now “investigating” the pitch-tipping allegations about Alex Rodriguez. If you haven’t heard, Selena Roberts says in her book that A-Rod would let opposing batters know what pitches were coming in blowout games, with the understanding that they would return the favor later. There’s about a 0% chance that we’ll ever know what really happened. But it all seems a little far-fetched. Wouldn’t somebody notice this? And who are the other people in on this scheme?

• SPORTS RUBBISH brings us footage of a soccer team called Corinthians in Brazil celebrating a major tournament victory by setting their team captain (known only as “William”) on fire during the trophy presentation. They didn’t mean to, but I’m sure that’s of little consolation to the guy who was on fire:

• According to the INDIANAPOLIS STAR, the Titans will travel to New York Jersey in September to play…the Titans?

• Remember when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in the late ’90s and everyone said it was crazy that they thought a hockey team would work in Arizona? Well, looks like everyone was right. The Coyotes are bankrupt and the CEO of BlackBerry wants to buy the team and move it to Ontario (the Canadian province, not the dusty city in California with an airport).

• Manchester United is going back to the Champions League final for the second straight year, after throttling Arsenal 3-1 in London. Man U scored twice in the first 11 minutes and never gave the Gunners a chance to compete. Through all of this, United is still finding time to wheel and deal, reportedly offering $127 million to Bayern Munich for French star Franck Ribery.

• The Patriots’ cheerleaders just got back from a week-long photo shoot in Aruba, where they were joined by 150 Pats fans, says the BOSTON GLOBE. The girls reportedly engaged in some beach volleyball, presumably to the delight of said 150 fans.

Pats cheerleader

• Shockingly, LeBron James is not going to be rolling around in that new Kia he got for winning the MVP, choosing to donate it instead, according to CARS.COM.

• The Nats and Astros played to a tie after nearly 11 innings yesterday in D.C. and then the rain came. And everyone just shrugged and said “really, does anyone think the outcome of this game is going to matter in September?” and decided to just call it off. Well, that would be the reasonable thing to do. In reality, they will resume the game in July in Houston (but the Nats will still be the home team).

• If you offer any of the Pittsburgh Pirates a beer right now, they might punch you in the face. The Bucs have now lost to the Brewers 17 times in a row after an 8-5 decision last night. It’s the longest such streak for any two teams in almost 40 years.

Zack Greinke missed most of the 2006 season because of anxiety and depression. Three years later, he’s the AL’s pitcher of the month and one of only three pitchers in ML history to start 6-0 with an ERA of 0.50 or less (the other two are Fernando Valenzuela and Walter Johnson).

Is Zack Greinke the real deal?

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Hawks Finally Wrap Up Worst 7-Game Series Ever

It’s already been a special NBA Playoffs. The Celtics and Bulls have treated us to perhaps the greatest non-Finals series of all time, but that series’ exact opposite just wrapped up in Atlanta. Yes, I’m going out on a limb and say that the Hawks-Heat series was the worst series to go 7 games in NBA history.

Lou Hudson Atlanta Hawks

(Lou Hudson was the leading scorer for the Hawks the last time they won a 7-game series… in 1970)

Part of it is that none of the games were all that compelling in the fourth quarter, with every game being decided by double digits. Today’s final game was no different, with the Hawks leading by as many as 29 in the fourth on the way to a 91-78 victory. How horrible was this debacle? There were no lead changes after the first quarter… in the entire series.

The other part is that the outcome of this series seems so irrelevant anyway, since the winner has to play the Cavs, who are so much better than either of these teams it’s ridiculous.

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The Cavaliers Seem To Really Love Getting Shoes

While Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns have a lot of free time right now to go and make ’70s cop-show video spoofs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the playoffs and making a run at an NBA title. Of course, after seeing the way they’ve manhandled the Detroit Pistons in the first two games, it’s pretty obvious they don’t need to waste too much time practicing right now. Which means they have a lot more time to shoot comical commercial spoofs.

Cavs Commercial

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Heineken commercial where a group of men jump around and scream upon discovering their friend’s new walk-in fridge that’s fully stocked with beer. Well, the Cavs have seen it too, and they decided to have some fun with it for their new playoff commercial.

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Mets Don’t Like Dwight Writing on Their New Walls

• The Mets are mad at Dwight Gooden for holding an impromptu autograph session on their brand new Citi Field walls.

Dwight Gooden Mets

• Some pretty exciting playoff performances by the Bulls & Sixers so far. Too bad it’s all a formality until the Lakers-LeBron finals.

• It’s one thing for linemen to get the late-night munchies, but stealing $82 worth of hamburgers & Hot Pockets from other people’s fridges?

• Looks like the Cavs have found their new playoff anthem, thanks to Joe Smith … er, Joe Beast.

• Another great use for Twitter: Calling local sportswriters fat.

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Rose Drops Record-Tying 36, Bulls Win In Boston

The NBA Playoffs got off to a sterling start today as the seventh-seeded Bulls went into the TD Banknorth Garden and upset the #2 seed Celtics in overtime, 105-103. If you’re interested in the most concise recap of the game, we offer these four words: “Holy crap, Derrick Rose.”

Rajon Rondo Derrick Rose
(Make no mistake: this series belongs to these two.)

Derrick Rose was almost unguardable this afternoon, hit 12 of his 19 shots, all 12 of his free throws, and tied a rookie record by scoring 36 points in his first playoff game, placing him in the company of such no-names as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Tim Duncan. The thing of it is, though, you could make the argument that Rose didn’t even win the battle of the point guards today.

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Erin Andrews To Be In Next EA Sports CFB Game

• The best reason to buy EA Sports’ next college football video game? The addition of the other EA: Erin Andrews.

Erin Andrews fullbody

John Madden lays down his last “BOOM!”, decides to call it quits.

• The NBA Playoff pairings are finally set. (All just a formality before the inevitable Kobe-LeBron finals?)

• Speaking of, the Celtics may have to spend their postseason without the services of Kevin Garnett.

Shaq’s Barber Shop is now open for business! First reluctant customer: Suns teammate Louis Amundson.

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Celtics’ Kevin Garnett Could Miss Entire Playoffs

Well, so much for a repeat. According to Boston media sources, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers told WEEI radio this morning (via the ASSOCIATED PRESS) that star forward Kevin Garnett isn’t going to be ready for the team’s first round series with the Chicago Bulls. In fact, Rivers is saying that smart money has Garnett missing the entire playoffs.

Kevin Garnett kissing Celtics center court

(This scene won’t be reenacted this spring.)

That sounds you hear is that confident bubble of pride surrounding the city of Boston bursting — and the city of Cleveland rejoicing — all at once.

“He’s not going to be ready. After watching him practice, there’s no way,” Rivers said. “The way I saw him move today, I don’t know if he’ll be ready.” 

The Celtics are still a playoff caliber team without Garnett, but they’re certainly not a squad capable of defending an NBA title. In fact, missing Garnett is precisely the kind of blow that will convince the young Bulls that they can actually steal this first round series if they get lucky with a win in Games 1 or 2. After Garnett went back on the shelf in April, the Celtics still won 10 of 11 games down the stretch. Yet there’s a substantive difference between winning regular season games against teams that may or may not have a postseason future, and winning playoff games against the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

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