One of the reasons I love sports so much is that it gives you a front-row seat to greatness on a regular basis.
LeBron James, Sunday night for the Miami Heat, was incredible. But he was only the second-most dominant athlete performing Sunday, because as has become as reliable as death, taxes and the GOP Republicans in Congress trying to repeal Obamacare, Rafael Nadal won the French Open, fairly easily.
This is the ninth French Open win for Nadal. Let me say that again: He was won NINE titles at Roland Garros, an absurd number for a guy still in his prime.
He’s as unbeatable on that court as any athete in an individual sport has ever been. Did Nicklaus or Tiger ever win nine Masters tournaments? No. Did Michael Phelps win nine 100-meter Olympic butterflys? Nope. You could throw any boxer, track sprinter or anyone else you want at me, and they won’t measure up to Nadal on Court Phillipe Chartrier in Paris in June.
What’s a little scary for the rest of the tennis world is that Nadal didn’t even play all that well for a while against Novak Djokovic Sunday. Djokovic took the first set and was right there at 5-all in the second, before Rafa turned it up a notch, and didn’t look back.
I was fooled once again, as I have many times before, in thinking this would be the year the Djoker finally toppled Nadal at the French. But nope, he couldn’t get it done, partly due to feeling ill during the match (and hey, NBC, did we really need the super-slo-mo look of Djkovic vomiting on the court? I know I didn’t).
Nadal is an incredible specimen, a marvelous sportsman, and a guy who is creeping up ever-so-closer to catching Roger Federer for G.O.A.T. and in Grand Slam titles won (it’s now 17-14 Roger).
It’s a privilege to watch him work.
**I’ve heard thousands of celebrity “apologies” in my lifetime, and 99 percent of them come off as incredibly fake and insincere. Most of them are written for the celeb in trouble by an agent or P.R. person, and rarely do the words “I’m sorry” or “It was my fault” get uttered by the famous person.
Which is why this apology, but Jonah Hill on the Jimmy Fallon show the other night, was so refreshing. You can tell in his face how upset he is at what he did; I’m not a huge fan of his movies in general, but I’m a big fan of his character as a person now.
**So, the Rangers did everything they could Saturday night to give me both a heart attack and send me jumping through the roof with joy, and then after nearly five periods of incredibly intense hockey, they made me collapse on the couch, mad, tired and wondering why the L.A. Kings needed the referees’ help.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: The Rangers did plenty to dig themselves the 0-2 hole they’re in right now in the Stanley Cup Final. They turned the puck over way too much Saturday, they failed to take advantage of several fantastic opportunities to win in OT (Chris Kreider, you gotta bury that breakaway!), and look, the Kings are really, really good and punished the Rangers’ defensemen much of the night.
But come on… that third goal by the Kings was such utter and complete B.S., it was clearly goalie interference, 100 times out of 100 they’ve called that this year in the NHL. I mean, look at this replay of the goal, starting at the :38 mark:
When I tell you that SO much less contact than that has been called interference all season in the NHL, and for that not to be called, a game-turning, and maybe Stanley Cup-final turning, goal, was absolutely bogus.
And listen, I never complain about officiating, in any sport. All calls eventually even out, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve come away from a game bitching about the zebras. But that was an awful non-call.
Anyway, it’s done, Rangers are down 2-0, and must, must, must win tonight. For inspiration, I will watch the as always superb CBC Stanley Cup montages, like the one above. Nobody does these videos better than them… Let’s Go Rangers!