Sports: Big Game Sevens On Both Coasts

Host Scott Simon speaks with NPR's Tom Goldman about the latest in the world of sports: lots of game sevens.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. You didn't think we were going to get through this week without talking about sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Both New York and L.A. host big game sevens tonight - hoops on the West Coast, pucks on the East Coast. NPR's Tom Goldman can open a can of bean dip, sit on the couch, watch the TV and say, hey, don't bother me, I'm working. He joins us from an undisclosed location.

Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi. I wake up eating bean dip.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GOLDMAN: Yeck.

SIMON: I've heard that. Listen, West first, Tom. The Lakers no longer seem to be in control of this series against the Denver Nuggets. And they have been missing World Peace, haven't they?

GOLDMAN: They have, but they're getting him back. And not a moment too soon. Metta World Peace, of course, has missed all six games between these two teams because of a suspension for that nasty elbow he threw against Oklahoma City's James Harden.

Dare I say, Scott, this series might've been over had he been playing. The Lakers were up 3-1 in the series. They actually disgusted a lot of basketball fans since then with the seeming lackadaisical play, shall we say, of two of their best players, big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

And it prompted Kobe Bryant to say this about World Peace: He's the one guy I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard, and play with that sense of urgency and no fear.

Really, Scott. What a dysfunctional team, having to prod two of your best athletes to compete in the playoffs.

SIMON: This being said, the Lakers have a history of winning game sevens.

GOLDMAN: They do. These are moments Kobe Bryant lives for. The Lakers have never lost a game seven at home in the Bryant era, stretching back to 2000. So you have to give the Lakers at Staples Center the nod, even though, I think, many basketball fans' hearts will be with Denver.

SIMON: And I think for the first time since the Plasticine Era, both L.A. basketball teams are in game sevens. Grizzlies beat the Clippers last night. Who's got the edge in that series?

GOLDMAN: You know, again, this is why NBA teams value home court so much. Game seven tomorrow is in Memphis. The Grizzlies are inspired by their fourth-quarter comeback win last night. And with L.A. stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dealing with injuries, I think Memphis has that edge. In NBA history only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seventh game of a seven game playoff series. Memphis I think will make it nine.

SIMON: On to hockey. The Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers also play tonight. They've really been alternating wins and losses. Which group of Swedes and Russians do you think has a better chance?

GOLDMAN: Whoever scores first. Pay attention to that. All six games in this series have been won by the team that took a 1-0 lead. You know, the Caps are a number seven seed, one away from the lowest. And it's been fun for NHL fans to see Washington challenge the top-seeded Rangers.

You know, a similar situation in the West with the L.A. Kings, an eight seed, making the conference finals and becoming the first in history to beat the top two seeds in their conference in the same postseason. The Kings are a reason for Angelinos to cheer. No dysfunction with this team.

SIMON: And I don't want the week to go by without mentioning Josh Hamilton, who's hit like about 50 home runs in the past three games.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GOLDMAN: Specifically, two more last night after hitting four in one game earlier this week, becoming the 16th major league player to do that. Obviously, a great hitter. He's showing the world how great, made it all the more meaningful by what he acknowledges is still a day-to-day recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

SIMON: Another story I'd like to mention, Tom. A religious school in Phoenix, Our Lady of Sorrows, chose to forfeit a championship baseball game. Tell us what happened.

GOLDMAN: They have a strict policy of not playing coed games. And Mesa Prep has a girl playing. The school doesn't have a girl's softball program, so she tried out for and made the boy's baseball team. She voluntarily sat out two earlier games against Our Lady of Sorrows out of respect for that school's, shall we say, antiquated policy. But she didn't want to miss the championship game. So Our Lady of Sorrows forfeited.

Scott, it's a reminder that with next month's 40th anniversary of Title IX, there are still hurdles to clear for young ladies who want to play with the boys.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

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