You can’t contain all of Bill Walton’s comments in one newspaper media column (today’s is linked here), so we’ll try to control the rest of it as he continues resting up for a return someday to TV land:
Q: Are the NBA Finals a letdown if it’s not Kobe vs. LeBron?
Walton: You have to win the games. The Lakers are prohibitive favorites to get there and Orlando has shown they’re a better team. Can Dwight Howard be that guy, when things aren’t going well, who can change the direction of the game? LeBron, like Kobe, has separated himself from the crowd on an historical level. He commands appointment viewing by himself. And sadly, he’s been playing by himself through no fault of his own. He’s not a selfish individual. This is a team game and the conglomerate attack of Orlando has taken on the one-man show in Cleveland. All we want is great NBA basketball.
More stuff to make note of (that isn’t made up):
== ESPN acknowledged that it has told about 100 employees that they will have their jobs cut. It is part of a downsizing plan announced by ESPN CEO George Bodenheimer in January, when he told employees they’d cut about 200 jobs, leaving about 100 vacant positions unfilled. ESPN employs about 5,400 people worldwide, with 3,400 in Bristol, Conn.
== Lee Corso is recovering from a minor stroke but should return to ESPN by the time the college football season begins for “College GameDay,” according to the network. The 73-year-old had a blockage to a small artery and suffered no permanent damage, calling it “a small bump in the road” and a “not so fast, my friend, in my game of life.”
== Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire are part of both NBC and Versus coverage of the Detroit-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup finals starting Saturday (Channel 4, 5 p.m.). NBC has Games 1, 2 (Sunday) and 5, 6 and 7; Versus gets Games 3 and 4 (at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday).
== CBS College Sports launches a two-part series “Go Pro Or Go Home” (today, 3 p.m.) where 16 of the top college women’s beach volleyball players try to land a spot on the AVP tour (it already happened last month in Riverside). The second episode airs Thursday, June 4. The competitors inlcuded Emily Day (Loyola Marymount) and Jessica Fine (UCLA).
== Fox Soccer Channel will cover all of the Iran National Team’s games in the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup starting Saturday, June 6 against North Korea. Behooz Afrakhan, an Iranian-American sports journalist, will provide the commentary in Farsi on a SAP feed.
== ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU have up to 55 games from the NCAA baseball championships starting today and ending June 24. ESPN and ESPN2 combine to cover all the College World Series from Omaha, Neb. (June 13-24), including the best-of-three final. For coverage of the teams on ESPN.com and Facebook, the network gave flip cameras to UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Georgia, Florida State, Texas, LSU, North Carolina and Arizona State. Of the four regional games today, San Diego State — with pitcher Stephen Strasburg (13-0, 1.24 ERA) — faces Virginia today (4 p.m., ESPNU) at Irvine. Defending champion Fresno State meets Irvine at 8 p.m. ESPN game analysts include former MLB and college players Morgan Ensberg (who won wit USC in 1998), Robin Ventura (Oklahoma State), Kyle Peterson (Stanford), Phil Nevin (Cal State Fullerton) and Keith Moreland (Texas).
== AND THE CLOSING ARGUMENT:
From The Onion Sports (linked here):
Manny Ramirez To David Ortiz: ‘Road Trip’
SOMEWHERE ALONG I-65 — Best buddies Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, both of whom find themselves at professional crossroads and both desperately wanting to rekindle their friendship, decided on Sunday that a soul-searching road trip was the key to resolving their personal problems.
“I called David and I said, ‘David! Hey, David! It’s Manny. Road trip, man! Let’s do this!’ And he said, ‘Okay,’ and now he is with me in the car here,” Ramirez told reporters in a cell phone interview while driving on the interstate.
According to sources, Ramirez pulled up to Ortiz’s Weston, MA home last Sunday, a selection of Tom Petty hits blaring from the stereo of his faded red 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. After embracing each other, a visibly somber Ortiz told Ramirez, “I don’t know what’s going on with me, man. I’m not hitting the baseball.” Ortiz then threw his battered duffel bag in the car’s backseat and asked Ramirez where they were headed.
Ramirez responded, “Just get in.”
The trip reportedly culminated with Ramirez taking Ortiz to a batting cage in St. George, UT. Though Ortiz missed the first several balls, Ramirez told Ortiz that he knew he could do it, and that even if they were no longer teammates, they would always be best friends. Ortiz then began hitting ball after ball, the last five of which hit the “home run” net.
During a tender moment at the Grand Canyon later that night, tourists said that while seated on the hood of their car, Ortiz placed a blanket around a shivering Ramirez and told him, “You’re my best friend, man. You’re my best friend.”
The car’s hood then caved in, sending both players into a fit of hysterical laughter.