Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA Finals Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

"I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." -LeBron James

The Decision was announced last July, and King James followed through. Now he has the Miami Heat in position to win its first NBA championship since 2006.

El Heat is 8-0 at home this postseason and have only dropped one game each series, eliminating defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics and the top-seeded Chicago Bulls along the way.

But most people expected this to happen, including myself. After LeBron and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, I predicted they would win four out of the next five titles. Long way to go but a promising start.

The real surprise in the playoffs has been the Dallas Mavericks, winning 10 out of its last 11 and sweeping the two-time-defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The reason: Dirk Nowitzki

Everyone knew he was a great player, but his team's regular season success never translated to championships. His best chance was blown after taking a 2-0 lead against Miami in 2006.

Dirk has been unstoppable. The Heat don't really have anyone to guard him. The Mavs' biggest question mark is who else is going to step up. Miami is the best defensive team they will have faced.

Plus, the Oklahoma City Thunder had Dallas against the ropes three times in the Western Finals and just couldn't close. The Heat aren't known for winning close games, but they have the talent to prevent them.

And when you have the best athlete on the planet, things just seem to fall in place. The Big 3 will begin its dynasty now.

Heat over Mavericks in 6 games

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barcelona Dominates Man U in Champions League Final

Barcelona FC is the best football club on the planet. They proved it again with a 3-1 result over Manchester United to claim the side's second UEFA Champions League title in the last three years.

Pedro got the scoring underway in the 27th minute with a clinical near-post finish.

After Rooney's equalizer seven minutes later, Barca continued to control possession. They went into halftime with 67%.

The second half was owned by the Spanish club from start to finish. It began with World Player of the Year Lio Messi's goal against a lax Man U defense in the 54th minute. David Villa bent one into the corner 15 minutes later to stretch out the lead.

Man U never regained composure. Besides a couple late chances, the EPL champions didn't really threaten in the final 45. The English side was the aggressor early on but let Barca settle in without putting them into an early hole. Spain's La Liga champs created chances at will for essentially the entire second half.

With another first-class demonstration of being superior to all other clubs, it makes me wonder where they would rank on the all-time list. I've never seen a better side. It's basically Spain's World Cup championship team plus the world's best player. Best club team ever? I think so.

Happy Trails to Man U GK Edwin van der Sar who played his final club match at Wembley Stadium today.

And good to see D Carles Puyol take the pitch in the final minutes. The Spanish national team captain is regular Barca starter in the back four but sat out because of injury.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Movie Review: Bridesmaids: Hold On For One More Day

Hollywood is dominated by men. So it's refreshing to see a female-driven R-rated comedy, featuring sexual jokes and gross-out gigs written and performed by women (Though directed by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig and producer Judd Apatow).

Mainly one woman. Kristen Wiig.

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with her work on Saturday Night Live. But her face time on the big screen has been limited to small parts in movies like Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Adventureland.

This movie was her chance to take the lead. And she delivered. Not just on screen, either. She also co-wrote the script, which has been in the works since 2006.

Along with her newly acquired star power and its opening weekend success, I definitely expect to see more from the same ilk.

The main criticism I have is that its not consistently funny. There are long, drawn out scenes that produce few laughs. It made me feel like I was watching a stand-up comic bomb in front of a live audience a couple times.

I'm definitely not claiming this to be the pinnacle of what female comedies can be, but a new path has been paved. And I'm looking forward to what's next.

Plus, it prominently features the song "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips (With all 3 members looking far better than they did 20 years ago). No further elaboration needed. That's just a great song.

Grade: B-

Monday, May 16, 2011

NBA Exec Rick Welts, Former 'Nova Star Will Sheridan Come Out

Rick Welts, CEO and president of the Phoenix Suns, is the first executive in one of the major sports in the U.S. to openly admit he's gay.

Will Sheridan, a starting forward for the Villanova Wildcats during most of his four-year career (2003-07), revealed the same thing in an ESPN.com article with Dana O'Neil.

I take it as another baby step toward progress in our somewhat stagnant country.

A little more than a year ago, Welsh rugby star came out of the closet and was fully supported by his teammates and fans alike.

However just a few weeks ago, Sean Avery of the NHL's New york Rangers simply stated he was for gay rights and was blasted by his agency, players and a large portion of the hockey community in general.

I stand behind the decisions of Welts and Sheridan. But you never know how the public is going to react. The big question is how will the rest of America take it?

Gay rights are the biggest civil rights movement in the nation today, and one that is long overdue. With Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed, the legalization of gay marriage is the next step.

The majority of Americans support this. However, the mindset of those in power is far from it, including the president.

It's just another prejudice born by a concept they don't understand. It's not a choice. It's something these people were born with. And they've proven to be upstanding citizens with a positive impact in the sports world.

And sports is one of the last areas to be accepting of this lifestyle, especially on the men's side. So I commend these two brave men for being comfortable and confident in who they are as people.

The sooner more people come out, the sooner our society will move forward. And that is a necessary change to truly be the city on a hill we claim to be.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

OKC Thunder Is a New NBA Powerhouse

In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Oklahoma City Thunder halted the stellar postseason run by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

How? A group of young superstars that will be running the show for the next several years.

Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer for the last two seasons, dropped 39 and Russell Westbrook got the first Game 7 triple-double since Scottie Pippen in 1992. Sixth man James Harden scored 17 off the bench (Bench player in name only), including four three-pointers.


I am. Especially since Durant/Westbrook are 22 years old and Harden is 21.

I don't know if and when they will win an NBA title, but this is a team set up perfectly for a good run over the next few seasons.

OKC gave the LA Lakers their toughest series in the Western Conference last season, and now they are four wins away from the NBA Finals.

The Thunder will be the underdog against the Dallas Mavericks. If they advance, they will play the same role against either the Bulls or the Heat

But with this trio playing so well, who's to say they won't overcome that and win it all in 2011?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

The summer blockbusters are finally starting to roll in. Thor is the first one to drag me to the theater. And it wasn't bad.

Probably the biggest downside is the fact that Thor is one of the lamest superheroes I've ever come across. Generic villains. Very few interesting characters.

The best part is casting for the lead role. Chris Hemsworth has little acting experience, but he plays the egotistical meathead/wise heir to the throne to perfection.

Also, the breathtaking visuals of his realm and the others rival any other films of its kind. The grand architecture and color schemes made a would-be-average blockbuster slightly better.

Two things that could have been improved were the mediocre writing and direction. There were some witty lines, but most of the dialogue was unoriginal. Plus, the director did nothing to help this. Kenneth Branagh is known for his work on Shakespearean films which are character-driven. He didn't concentrate on developing the individuals. And the writers and director both failed to show character progression of each from the beginning to the end. Thor changed from mighty warrior to sensitive Man of the House on a dime.

Natalie Portman, who was last seen in her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan, wasn't given much to work with.

With all that said, I still enjoyed it. It wasn't great, nor did I expect it to be. But there are many worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

The blockbuster season's off to a decent start.

Grade: B

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Michael Scott Says Goodbye to The Office

Steve Carell's last episode of "The Office" aired Thursday night and the TV world is now without one of its brightest stars.

On his last day, he attempts to say goodbye to each co-worker individually, leading to emotional scenes with Jim and Pam at the end. It definitely seemed like genuine feelings that have formed on and off the screen throughout the show's run.

In the classic Michael Scott persona, his last line (which goes unheard because he removes the microphone pack) is a "That's what she said" line. Brilliant way to go out.

I'm sure we'll see plenty more of Carell on the big screen, but fans of the show will no doubt long to see him grace the offices of Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre with his presence at some point in the future.

What were your thoughts on his final episode?