Friday Frills - LeBron G, Don't Listen

I think deep down, we all wanted the Golden State Warriors to win. They had the nice-guy-MVP, they had a few underdog characters and they are a straight up and down team with contributions coming from a variety of players including a bloke by the name of Festus. It was just nice for the Warriors to win, right?

That's not to say that it wouldn't have been nice for LeBron James to win and it's definitely not as drastic as some ruthlessly ?dumb? media folk believe. It's a weird one with James, everyone is quick to label him the best in the world and put him in the realm where you are competing with Michael Jordan, but they are equally as quick to chop that tall timber down.

We've come to expect that LeBron James can win basketball games, where there's a team of five trying to defend and score against him, by himself. It's a part of day to day life at this stage, that LeBron will just go BeastMode and boom, you've lost.

With no Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, two All Star calibre players who were expected to form something close to the holy trinity, the NBA Finals became a LeBron vs Golden State contest. Teams usually win that contest.

Reaching the NBA Finals in your first season back in Cleveland is a nice little achievement, but maybe, just maybe people feel vindicated in their criticism of James. James basically hand picked this team, he showed Kevin Love what beef looked like and he's constantly shown signs of not really trusting coach David Blatt. If James can dictate everything, then he can win everything.

I prefer to structure a team, around the idea of being a team. That's just me. So hat tip to the Warriors and I think I speak for everyone when I say it was a pleasure to watch.

How about that battle of the Aussies though? #fizzle

Mo Farah, you might know the name. British runner who won gold in the  5,000m and 10,000m races at the London Olympics in 2012, only thing is that he missed two drug tests before that. How did he miss those two drug tests? He couldn't hear his door bell and he filmed a video to prove that fact, rather odd don't you think. For the record, three missed drug tests and you effectively register a failed drug test. 

Now, those missed drug tests came at the start of Farah's move to join coach Alberto Salazar's training group in Oregon, America. A coinkidink? Possibly, now, now, now brown cow, who's Alberto Salazar? Mr Salazar is currently under a bit of an investigation for sharing the joys of performance enhancing drugs with his athletes, even offering it to an athlete Galen Rupp since he was 16. 

Oh, I like connecting the dots; Farah's agent, Ricky Simms also manages Mr Rupp. 

Salazar hasn't responding to these allegations but it's speculated that he's pushed the boundary/broken a number of anti-doping rules. Farah? Well he looks to be up shit's creek, he's enlisted the help of a PR agency to help deal with what you may call a crisis.

This yarn made me smile from ear to ear and is fair enough in its general point, but I think we can call appreciate the following excerpt...

It has to be the most embarrassing cricket footage I’ve ever seen. Worse than those compilations of Inzamam-Ul-Haq run-outs. Worse than Steve Harmison bowling to second slip or Darryl Tuffey’s 14-ball over. You can watch it again and again, squirming more each time yet strangely compelled to click replay, the only time Channel Nine’s lunchtime filler has approached the genius of The Office.

It’s the Boxing Day Ashes Test in 2013. Michael Slater – the accidental David Brent – is presenting with Michael Vaughan. Their guests are Australian players Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry. Women’s cricket is getting six minutes of airtime amid five men’s Tests. In those six minutes Vaughan’s contribution consists of four questions about the men’s series and 35 seconds narrating footage of himself on a British dance show. Slater manages to praise the women for being attractive, admit he doesn’t know who won their last series, make cat-fight noises to portray them sledging, ask how they physically cope with playing cricket, and claim credit for Perry’s career after “I let her get me out” in an exhibition game.

It’s a tour de force. But the champagne-fountain centrepiece of this glittering shit-show comes with a segue-free transition. Lanning is vice-captain of a national side at 21 while Perry represents Australia in two international sports. So, logically, the producers cut to footage of both women doing modelling shoots. The host has been prepped: he gives what passes in Slatish for an introduction, then as the camera lingers uncomfortably on images of Perry in a bikini, so does he. “Ellyse is just… it’s just taking full flight with these shots. What’s going on there, you are… you are looking fantastic! Do you enjoy doing that?”

Safe to assume she doesn’t while a dude twice her age is sitting next to her, frothing at the corners of his mouth like the creepiest of uncles. “It’s much better wearing a set of cricket whites on the field,” says Perry pointedly. Freshly-sharpened-pencil pointedly. “Don’t be embarrassed,” replies Slater with a time-honoured deflection, as though embarrassment is an innate personal phenomenon and not the result of unwelcome attention.

Cricket Australia still have the segment on their website. No worries boys, this is how to talk to the ladies. Point out things like this and there is always someone who will call you humourless, but you need a sense of humour to truly appreciate the woeful. The first mention of women’s cricket was probably enough to see half of you close the page, but the article in front of you is a lot more relevant to men. In writing it I could only conclude that cricket has deeper problems with women than tone-deaf interviews, even interviews that array those problems in perfect microcosm. Women in the game don’t need this pointed out, but those of us who outnumber them might stir our natural curiosity about things we haven’t had to notice.

My feelings on Tana Umaga being named as coach of the Auckland Blues, the most yucky sporting franchise in Aotearoa ... go ... I like Tana, but that's because he's worked wonders with Counties Manukau, the greatest rugby province ever. It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth seeing Umaga poached to go and save the bigger boys, I'd rather he stayed with Counties to help them continue to grow but that's obviously not going to happen.

More money and the chance to right the Auckland Blues ship. In theory, this is great as Umaga is an expert in dealing with the youngsters, especially the island boys and Umaga has shown that he's a nifty coach in all departments, to the point that he'll be the next All Blacks coach should Steve Hansen continue on to the next World Cup. It should work, the Auckland Blues should get a lot better with Umaga as coach.

But there's this murky water that flows down from the top of the organisation, which I'm sure Umaga will try and somehow change, but that murky water is what fuels the Blues and Auckland rugby. The question isn't whether Umaga can get the best out of these players and get the best out of an area with the most talent, it's whether he can change the culture of the Auckland Blues. And that's not restricted to the 'playing' culture, Umaga has to sift through the whole organisation and ruffle a few feathers. Can a new coach do that? Well that's the predicament isn't it?

Billy Slater is out for the season and it's a big blow for the Melbourne Storm and Queensland, but that means Greg Inglis at fullback and a look into the future for the Storm. 

Also with rugby league, it's interesting to read that Kevin Locke wants to get paid, as he should, by his current club Salford. Now, Salford is owned by Marwan Koukash who talks it up big time about signing this bloke and that bloke from the NRL. Strange.

The Women's World Cup moves into the Round Of 16 while the Under 20 World Cup comes to a climax this weekend. We'll do some previewing of the Under 20 stuff in our convo probably, so here's all the fixtures for the ladies...

Australia vs Brazil is a massive game for our neighbours, while I'd also keep a close eye on Sweden vs Germany as well. As usual, here's some goals and stuff...