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Gary’s Blog: This & That

By Gary Dickman.

I wrote last week how starting this week we have football every week until mid-February. And that’s a great thing. We still have a lot to look forward to with other sports as well.

This weekend will mark the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve watched. The problem with the Olympics is that I never know what’s on at what time, what channel an event is on, and if it’s live or not. I know NBC is getting a lot of criticism with this, I’m not the only one. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, though. Back in the day, the Olympics were only shown on one channel. NBC would have about 12-14 hours a day of coverage. Back then, I would have loved to have these extra channels, it would have been great to have a choice of what to watch.

With the time difference, Tokyo is 19 hours ahead of Hawaii, it’s made things difficult as well. I read two days ago that Simone Biles was going to compete on Tuesday in her last event, the balance beam. I didn’t know what time, and just before I started writing this, she won a bronze medal. I didn’t think she’d be competing at 1:00 a.m., Hawaii time. Same with team USA men’s basketball. A big game vs Spain on Tuesday, what time, I didn’t know. But at 11 p.m. on Monday night, the game was already over. At least Team USA won. So even though there’s so much more to watch these days, it’s hard to know what’s live, and when and where I can see it.

Back to Simone Biles. A week ago we read she had an injury, and was unable to compete. In the days to follow, we heard about a new sports term, “The Twisties.” It’s a phenomenon that means when an athlete loses their sense of where they are in space. Wow. I said last week that gymnastics were one of the events I look forward to the most in the Olympics. To see the best in the world doing things that you’ll see in a movie with stunt performers and magical cameras. Gymnastics isn’t like a movie, it’s real. But some of these great athletes make it look fake with their amazing, seemingly impossible performances. And now to know about the Twisties.

Bob Costas has a new show on HBO, “Back on the Record,” and one of his guests this week was Aly Raisman, a former gold medal winner for Team USA. She said that the Twisties is actually very common, and that she and Simone have talked at length about it in the past. Having that feeling can easily result in a very serious injury, or getting paralyzed or worse. I’m surprised we haven’t heard about this before. To me, it gives me an even greater appreciation of these world-class athletes. And to think, there are some that have criticized Biles for being a quitter and for failing her country and sport. Those morons just don’t get it. How ignorant can you be? Charles Barkley was on the same show with Bob Costas and described these types of fans. I won’t write the word, you’ll have to watch the show. I couldn’t agree more with Barkley in how he described some fans.

I know football is starting this week, but it seems like the NBA is becoming more like the NFL in that there’s really no off season. The Finals are done, then we had the draft, this week it’s free agency time, next week it’s the summer league in Las Vegas. And next month training camp starts. The last five or six days have been exciting with all the player movement. And it really started when the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook. My initial reaction was now the Lakers are the team to beat. After thinking about it the last few days, however, I’m not so sure. On paper, the Lakers Big 3 are as good as any other in the league, including Brooklyn’s. But it’s also about the fit, the chemistry, how these stars will play as a team. As great as the LA 3 are, I think it’ll be a major challenge to make it work.

Russell Westbrook is a triple-double waiting to happen every night. That’s mostly based on him having the ball in his hands the majority of the time. There’s that LeBron guy too, and he’s used to having the ball the majority of the time. With both guys probably having to give up the ball now, it takes away from how effective they’ll be. I’m not talking about stats, I’m talking about their ability to take over games with the ball in their hands. If Westbrook has the ball, he’s not giving it up with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Unless a guy is immediately wide open, he’ll try and create an opening by his creativity and finding an open teammate, often with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. That’s what LeBron does so well, too, that’s just an example on how these stars might offset each other a little. Now it may work out well, and they could win a title next year. I think they’ll go through some growing pains though.

Now I said back in 2010 when LBJ joined the Heat that it’ll be hard to win, too many All-Stars on one team, and he and Dwyane Wade will have to really adjust for it to work. And it obviously did. The Heat went to four straight Finals , winning two of them. Some might say that only winning two was a failure. But those would be the same type of fans that criticize Simone Biles. The ones Charles Barkley described using the word I can’t write here.

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