By Gary Dickman.
Usually, the month of July doesn’t offer me much in sports. I’ve always dreaded this month in a normal sports year. But this year, I’m really enjoying July. The NBA Finals will conclude this week, then the Olympics start. By the time the Olympics finish, the NFL will be having preseason games.
Back to the NBA. I wish the NBA would do this every year. Start the season on December 1, when college football is about done and there’s less of an overlap with the NFL. I know this won’t happen. For one reason, the NBA wants their players all available for the Olympics and other international tournaments in the summer. For me though, if I had a wish, that’d be up there. Then, no slow month if the year in sports. July has been the only month of the year with only one pro sports being played: baseball.
Continuing with the NBA, these last two games, Game 4 and 5, have been as exciting and dramatic as you could ask for in the NBA Finals. Especially when after the first two games, many fans had already anointed the Phoenix Suns the title. That’s kind of understandable because if Milwaukee wins, and as you read this that might be decided as of now. But if they do, they’d only be the fifth team ever to be down 2-0 and win the championship. I don’t really care who wins, I guess I’d lean towards Phoenix because of Chris Paul, and Coach Monty Williams, who not only being a great coach, had to deal with a personal tragedy that was well documented, the sudden loss of his wife in a car accident in Texas. The Sports Illustrated article on how Monty Williams dealt with that loss, and being a Dad to his daughters, made me a fan of his.
I don’t mind that these are two new teams to the Finals, I kind of like that. One of the unsung heroes in this series is Milwaukee point guard Jrue Holiday, and it’s because of his defense. I’ve often said over the last few years that the best defensive guard in the league is Patrick Beverly. But Holiday is good if not better in these playoffs overall. The steal on Booker at the end of Game 5 was both a smart play and a strong physical play as well. Then the perfect ally -oop pass to Giannisto seal the win. He’s been great on defense where so often, he’s stealing the ball, or just hitting the ball enough to disrupt the ball carrier. I love watching smart basketball, also where hustling on all plays, playing hard, etc., and Holiday has been that guy who won’t win the MVP for Milwaukee, but to me he’s as deserving as whichever other Buck wins it.
As I wrote earlier, the 2020 Olympics are scheduled to begin this week, even before the opening ceremonies on Friday, but thats another story. I just wrote only “scheduled,” because I’m not convinced these games should be played, or if they’ll be played. As for should these games be played, my answer is no. The COVID numbers in Japan are increasing every day, it’s not a safe place to be, let alone travel to. Companies aren’t having conventions there. Families aren’t vacationing there. But it’s the Olympics, and all that it brings. Mostly what it brings is money. And lots of it. In the billions. One year was already lost, in 2020.
The talk has been if this year results in no games, they wouldn’t be rescheduled. No Olympics until 2024. More importantly to some, the loss of all that money. It’s so obvious to me that there should be no Olympics, even without fans, it’s not safe for the athletes and people working the games. With so much money at stake, the games will go on. For now, at least. If somehow the money didn’t matter at all, this wouldn’t even be a discussion. No business is going to say, hey, “Let’s go to Tokyo now with thousands of employees where COVID is at a dangerous level.” It would never happen.
So I hope I’m overreacting and it won’t be disastrous. I love the Olympics. This year, it’s just not the same.
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