Monday, May 30, 2016


It used to be that, while the playoffs of both leagues overlapped somewhat in the spring, the NHL was a bit further along throughout. In other words, the hockey post-season started before that of basketball, which meant it finished up sooner. Typically, the Stanley Cup had been awarded before Memorial Day while the NBA played on into June.

Somewhere along the line that changed. This year the playoffs in both leagues seem to coincide chronologically. The San Jose Sharks will begin the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins exactly on Memorial Day. In the NBA, only one contest remains, Game 7 between Golden State and OKC, before the final pairing is set as well. One of them will move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Depending on how the Final series' play out, it's theoretically possible the NBA could have closed the book on another season while the NHL is still going on. A sweep in the former combined with a longer series in the latter would make that possibility a reality. Could happen.

Most of the media coverage, at least in America, has been blatantly biased. It is obvious they prefer hoops over pucks. Watch any sports show -- and they're coming out of our ears these days -- and one will discover they devote a great deal of time to the NBA. Reporters, analysts, ex-jocks, and various other talking heads will dissect everything that has happened -- along with their usual stats from hell -- and ramble on about teams, individual players, and what they foresee happening next.

Almost as an afterthought, a minute or two, sometimes, is devoted to NHL coverage. Is it fair to say this is justified because Americans prefer basketball over hockey? Turns out, that depends on the city and fans. In Detroit, the Red Wings have long sold out every game and have a brand new sparkling arena coming in the near future. Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons -- who play in the more affluent burbs -- can't seem to put bodies in seats despite their myriad of shameless promotions and "giveaways". Who's really more popular among fans in New York? The Knicks or the Rangers? In Chitown, the Bulls or the Black Hawks?

Something odd happened this year. Not a single Canadian team qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Were the legions of hockey fans in the great white north still interested in keeping track of playoff action? You betcha.

Alas, the only non-American team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors, were recently eliminated. Do the hosers really give a damn about what team goes on to win the title? Likely not. An entire country just tuned out. Heckuva job, Lebron.

So how is an all-around objective couch tater sports fan to decide which playoffs he gives viewing preference to?

Simple. While yours truly is into both NBA and NHL action, it boils down to the personalities that are covering them.

Ego maniacal twits like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless can talk for hours and not say anything of substance. Between that decidedly un-dynamic duo, it becomes more like a question of how long can a fan listen to fingernails scraping on a chalkboard? The late night hosts on the 4-letter network(s) aren't much better. There's likely a reason they put these clowns on when the drunks are finally getting home after getting kicked out of bars at closing time. Maybe they can relate to the gibberish that is typically offered up in the wee hours.

Personally, give me Barry Melrose any day. He played, he coached, and the dude knows what he's talking about. Plus, he keeps it short and to the point -- with an admirable sense of humor to boot.

But the true highlight? The always precious few minutes of Don Cherry being on the air to offer up his wisdom. Ya gotta love the outfits he wears. After all, they're no more outrageous than those of a typical American rapper or fashion model. And he knows what he's talking about too. Been there done that, unlike most of the jive talking American hoops geeks.

Let's put it this way. Don Cherry is considered a national treasure in Canada. Guys like Stevie and Skippy are just another couple yappy-heads in America.

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