• BROUSSARD, ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? — Chris Broussard is the chief NBA reporter for ESPN.
You would think that somebody in that position would know more about the game.
When the vote was released recently for the All-NBA first team, Broussard did not have Miami’s LeBron James on his ballot.
Broussard, mindbogglingly, chose Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin over James, saying Griffin’s team won more games during the regular season. Maybe it was Broussard’s way of calling attention to himself or his now-questionable work by throwing something out there so ridiculous that it would be talked about for days.
Leaving LeBron off the NBA first team is like leaving Peyton Manning off the All-NFL team.
James, quite simply, is the best player in the game, maybe the greatest of all time with apologies to Michael Jordan. If Broussard needed any reminder of his greatness, all he had to do was watch Sunday night’s second game of the NBA Finals where LeBron literally willed his team to a victory. He scored 35 points and pulled down 10 rebounds despite being double- and triple-teamed by the San Antonio Spurs.
Take LeBron off the Heat and all you have left is a declining Dwyane Wade, an underachieving Chris Bosh and a passel of spare parts. In fact, I’m not sure the Heat could even get out of the first round of the playoffs without LeBron.
Hopefully Broussard pays attention to the rest of the playoffs and realizes that LeBron is the best player in the game, with Kevin Durant the only other player remotely in his same area code. I know Durant was the MVP this year, but I believe that’s because the voters are just tired of giving it to LeBron. To do the things he does being that big and that strong surpasses the boundaries of imagination.
• DALE JR. WINS AGAIN — Before this year, I was harder than anybody on Dale Earnhardt Jr., saying he was all style and no substance.
Earnhardt is far and away the most popular driver in NASCAR. There is no second. In the eyes of the maniacal fans, it’s Dale Jr. and then 42 other drivers every week.
Earnhardt once endured a long winless stretch, but with Sunday’s victory at Pocono Raceway, he is living up to the legacy created by his father, the legendary Dale Sr.
Junior now has won twice this year and has been a model of consistency. You can bet NASCAR officials are brimming, because a competitive Dale Jr. means more dollars in the coffers and more points in the TV ratings.
Junior also has the perfect fan foil in Jimmie Johnson. To some it’s like wrestling, the good versus evil, Junior vs. Jimmie. While Johnson is not a bad guy, some NASCAR fans grew weary of JJ winning every Sprint Cup championship and looked at him with scorn. If Dale Jr. can win it this year, the sport will regain the popularity it enjoyed about six or seven years ago when it was at its apex.
• ROYALS REBOUNDING? — They took three of four from my beloved St. Louis Cardinals earlier in the week.
Can the Royals do the same with the mighty New York Yankees?
The Royals have won two of the first three games with the Yankees in this wraparound series that is scheduled to be completed tonight, though the weather forecast would indicate the game is in danger. It’s also supposed to be Derek Jeter Night, as this will be his last-ever appearance at Kauffman Stadium.
Tonight’s game wraps up what I considered a 12-game gauntlet for the Royals. They were able to split four with the AL East-leading Blue Jays, then went 3-1 against the Cardinals. A win tonight and the Royals would complete the gauntlet 8-4, which is a far cry from the 3-9 I said they would go in this very space.
The Royals are starting to hit better. Much has been made of them changing hitting coaches, but the coaches don’t hit for the players. It’s more about their track records. They have players who are proven hitters but haven’t performed. But now they’re starting to get hot and KC’s offense has picked up, though Billy Butler hasn’t joined the party. Butler’s bat looks terribly slow and even when he squares one up, it results in a flimsy fly to the warning track.
At least Eric Hosmer finally hit his second homer this weekend, a mammoth shot that exemplifies the power he possesses. But he’s such a wild swinger that he’s been an easy target for pitchers, who could roll the ball underhand to the plate and he’d probably swing.
The pitching has remained steadfast. Kansas City has turned games into seven-inning affairs as the 1-2 punch of Wade Davis and Greg Holland has been virtually untouchable. All the Royals have to do is have the lead after seven and you can put it on the board.
• TENNIS NEEDS AN INFUSION — There’s a lot of talk how golf has suffered without Tiger Woods.
But there’s another sport suffering — tennis.
Let’s face it, other than about a half-dozen players, tennis has blended into the background, hardly making a blip on the radar except for a Grand Slam event.
The men’s game has Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and an aging Roger Federer. The women’s game has Serena Williams and a re-energized Maria Sharapova. Can you name three more players who capture our consciousness?
Nadal and Sharapova won French Open titles this weekend, one of the four majors. Tennis needs its high-profile players to win championships or at least make the finals.
Quick, do you know who Sharapova beat in the finals? It was just Saturday and I’d have to look it up.
Tennis needs some new stars or it’s going to go the way of horse racing, boxing and auto racing, if it hasn’t already.