The conventional morning-after wisdom was that the Brooklyn Nets let everyone down in losing their second-round NBA playoff series to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, with the decisive Game 7 resulting in an overtime loss. Given the injuries to two of the Nets biggest stars, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, it’s amazing the Bucks didn’t win this series in five games. It was only the heroics of Nets forward Kevin Durant that extended this series as far as it did.
You couldn’t blame the Bucks if they thought of the “respect” joke tagline that iconic comic and Kew Gardens native Rodney Dangerfield always employed. The Bucks’ big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday may not possess the luster of the Nets’ triumvirate but they’re not chopped liver either. Unlike the Nets’ stars, they played as an intact unit throughout the regular season, which paid dividends in this playoff series.
The Nets could have used guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been forgotten since tearing his ACL in late December and has been recovering from surgery since. In all likelihood, Dinwiddie would have given the Nets more scoring and taken some of the pressure off Durant. Joe Harris, the Nets’ resident three-point sniper, couldn’t hit the side of a barn against the Bucks.
Like the Nets, the New York Mets have dealt with injuries to key personnel. That was very apparent in their sluggish performance this past weekend in DC where they dropped three out of four to the Washington Nationals as their offense appeared to be sleepwalking. On a positive note, Jeff McNeil just returned, while Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto should be back in early July, if not sooner. On the negative side, southpaw pitcher Joey Lucchesi was placed on the Injured List with an inflamed left elbow. Lucchesi was rocked in his first few starts in 2021 but has pitched extremely well in recent weeks.
Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo is all too familiar with battling injuries, and is being intelligently cautious since he returned to the team a couple of weeks ago. He has let manager Luis Rojas know when he doesn’t have the arm strength to go another inning. He also is deferring his dream of being a starter for now. “Coming back in late May, I won’t have enough time to develop arm strength to be a starter this year,” he told me during the last homestand.
Pitcher Marcus Stroman, who missed the 2020 season citing Covid-19 concerns, took advantage of his unplanned baseball sabbatical to finish his undergraduate degree at prestigious Duke University. When I asked him if he was thinking about graduate school, Stroman chuckled, “My mind is solely on baseball now!”
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One of the most popular Mets promotions in recent seasons has been “Free Shirt Fridays,” where complimentary T-shirts are given to customers entering the ballpark. Fans will get to enjoy that freebie all weekend when the Mets face the Philadelphia Phillies. On Friday night “Pride” T-shirts will be distributed while on Saturday and Sunday patrons will receive a shirt featuring the late Tug McGraw’s 1973 rallying cry, “Ya gotta believe!”
Major League Baseball made its national debut on a streaming service this past weekend when Peacock broadcast the entire Philadelphia Phillies-San Francisco Giants series. My guess is the reason this series was chosen is because Phillies games are telecast on NBC Sports Philadelphia while Giants games are shown on NBC Sports Bay Area. Both Peacock and NBC are subsidiaries of Comcast Corp. and that made it easier to use those clubs’ broadcasters.
Former Mets broadcaster Gary Thorne has long been one of the most erudite sports voices around. He will be rejoining the Mets TV broadcast team for a trio of Mets games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in mid-July.
Voting for the All-Star Game, taking place in Denver on July 13, is underway. So far, no state legislatures have introduced bills to suppress it.
ABC late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel announced last week he will be the title sponsor of a college football bowl game. The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl will take place on Dec. 18 at SoFi Stadium and will air, naturally, on ABC.
Life and style
School may be out for the summer, but the various television networks are already getting ready for fall. Fox Broadcasting is pinning hopes on “The Big Leap,” a drama about a fictional TV reality series about a dance competition set in Detroit. It stars Scott Foley, who is cast against type, as a very cynical television producer who weighs every decision exclusively on ratings points. NYU alum Simone Recasner leads the ensemble of dancers whose lives are loaded with intriguing backstories.
Congratulations to longtime New Jersey radio air personality, and diehard Mets and Jets fan, Don Tandler. His internet oldies radio station, popgoldradio.com, celebrates its tenth anniversary next Thursday, July 1. Don usually takes requests from his listeners at noon on weekdays but on that day, he will be counting down his 100 favorite singles of all-time. It should be a fun listen.
Mark Chernoff was the programmer at WNEW-FM during its ’80s heyday before becoming the architect behind the most successful sports radio station in history, WFAN. Chernoff will be retiring next week. To celebrate, Audacy, the parent corporation of several local radio stations including WFAN and WNEW-FM, allowed Chernoff to indulge his dream of being a disc jockey on WCBS-FM last Saturday night. Although he occasionally became self-indulgent talking about the rock stars he met over the years, he acquitted himself well playing the oldies.