Riley Curry has taken over the NBA Western Conference finals as her daddy and his Golden State Warriors brushed aside the Houston Rockets. That means that the Warriors will now take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals which in itself is exceptional match up, but watching young Riley sit there at press conferences, yes plural, got me admiring how the NBA is these days.
There's no real drama, scandals are rather limited and there's a vibe of goodwill seeping through the NBA. From the Western Conference you have young Riley, representing the family nature of the league and given how damn good Steph is while remaining a reasonably humble dude, it's a nice feel good package.
The Cavaliers are led by LeBron James and while being rather polarizing, James himself is a bit of a story this season as he headed back home to spread the good vibes throughout Cleveland. James himself rarely puts a foot wrong, which is the mark of a great as they embrace their role within society and combine it with their freakish athletic ability.
Of course there are many other parts to each team, but that's not the point. Right now, it feels like the NBA is in a great position, especially when you compare it to its main competitor in the USA - the NFL. The NFL where domestic abuse cases have been rife, where the head hauncho Roger Goodell can't seem to do anything right and I'll throw the shambles that is 'deflate-gate' on top as the icing of that stinky cake.
As someone who writes about sport, it's fine either way because the more drama there is, the more there is to write about. But from a general perception stand point, it's hard not to look at the NBA as it is now and not smile. The all round package of the NBA is healthy, the action on the court is pure entertainment, you can always catch the latest dunks and highlights on Youtube, the players appear to be good people doing good things and the league is stretching as worldwide as it probably ever has with a crew of Aussies and a kiwi enjoying success. Shout out to the NBA.
Two of that Aussie crew will be up against each other in the Finals with Andrew Bogut repping the Bay and Mathew 'Delly/wannabe Steven Adams' Dellavadova helping out King James. Delly has been a walking headline so far in the playoffs for a variety of reasons while Bogut has gone about his business slightly more quietly but no less effectively. If you can't bring yourself to watch the two best NBA teams go at it, well at least there's two Aussies going to battle against each other.
Oh dear, it seems like Sepp Blatter is living in denial which is probably his biggest issue right now. Blatter had to front a Fifa congress and denied any responsibility in all of this as he couldn't 'monitor everyone' and that the shenanigans only involved 'a minority of individuals'.
Now, I can't speak for everyone but personally, if there was a bit of corruption here and there, pay you for this blah blah blah, while not ideal, it would be okay kind of. But when you have blatant corruption and a leader who is in complete denial and is acting like he is holier than thou, whilst the people who were probably doing his dirty work get in trouble, and it becomes shitty to an unparalleled degree.
I think maybe we should differentiate a few things, mainly Sepp Blatter and football, even Sepp Blatter and Fifa. Blatter said 'the events of yesterday have cast a long shadow over football' um no, no, no.
Football is fine, it's you Mr Blatter. You've led all this, you've created an environment where corruption and shadyness is at the very least able to take place, if not encouraged by yourself. The people with a stake in football around the world, the fans, the officials, the media, the sponsor, they're doing fine and will continue to do so, but you my friend now have poo all over your face and you can't even see it.
I say this because we have the Under 20 World Cup and the Women's World Cup coming up, two events that will be great, they just will be. But it is everyone's responsibility to not cross the Blatter story with the the footballin' action of these World Cups, let's keep them away from each other. Let's enjoy these events and all the awesomeness that comes hand in hand with a World Cup while discussing Blatter in a different conversation. He doesn't deserve anything more.
The next course of action is to give Blatter the flick, which will come as Fifa votes on who will lead them forward; Blatter or Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein from Jordan. In the past, I think many nations were scared that if they didn't vote for Blatter they would be exiled and wouldn't be able to host any events which just continued the cycle. Now Blatter has made is bed and if he's re-elected, something would be seriously wrong.
Luckily, Sepp popped by our offices and wrote us a nice Diary Entry
The Guardian ran this great story about a prison in Uganda which has its own football league and has turned itself around from being a horrible place to one that seriously offers rehabilitation. Give it a read firstly because it is an example of how a prison should be run, it's a bit of topic but it feels like dumbos run prisons around the world and just want to lock people up without actually helping them. Secondly, sport is great.
Thirdly, this passage from the story is very fitting both in terms of what is going on now and in general....
He eyed me, in all seriousness, and said: “Timothy 2, Chapter 2, Verse 5. An athlete is not crowned in glory unless he competes according to the rules.”
All the big names are through in the French Open, if only there weren't so many rounds.
Two interesting games in the ANZ Championship this week with the leaders of the kiwi conference the Northern Mystics taking on the Melbourne Vixens who sit in fourth in Australia. There is also the Queensland Firebirds who a Australia's top team up against the Southern Steel who are mid-table in Aotearoa. It'll be a nice chance to see if there is much difference between the two conferences and whether the competition is very close or as it seems on the table.
Pour some out for Zane Tetevano, the former Newcastle Knight who has been jailed for at least nine months after a range of attacks on his former girlfriend.