Latest In Sports: From NBA Drama To World Cup News
ARUN RATH, HOST:
It's NBA playoff season, and the finals are just around the corner. A. Martinez is the co-host of Take Two on member station KPCC and he joins us now to talk basketball. Hey, the Clippers are out of the playoffs, but they won't stay out of the news. ESPN reports that disgraced owner Donald Sterling is allowing his wife to negotiate a sale of the team. Could this finally be the end of the Donald Sterling saga?
A. MARTINEZ: Well, that's what Donald Sterling wants to do, and his wife as well. But the NBA also has just come out and said that they are going to proceed with a vote to force the sale of the Clippers, pretty much telling Donald Sterling that he does not control the process, and that they will control the process from here on out. I think they wanted, maybe, to pick their owner and pick their price, but the NBA has decided to take back control of the situation.
RATH: Now we can focus on the game, nothing big, just the playoffs.
MARTINEZ: Oh, the game. That's right.
RATH: But no surprises so far this year, it seems. San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City facing off in the Western Conference Finals, Indiana Pacers are up against, who else, the Miami Heat in the East. Who do you want to see match up in the finals?
MARTINEZ: The Heat and the Spurs. This would be the two most dominate teams in the last few years, not just of this past season. And for Miami, it would be a chance for them to go back to back to back which hasn't happened since the Chicago Bulls did it with Michael Jordan way, way back, and that had seemed so long ago, the late '90s.
But that would be the best series. That would be the two best teams. If the Pacers and the Thunder both made it, it would be great for purist basketball fans, but I don't know if anybody else would love to see that kind of a Midwest basketball battle for the title.
RATH: Well, the Oklahoma City Thunder, at least they can brag now they have an MVP in their lineup. Twenty-five-year-old Kevin Durant was named MVP earlier this month. He gave an emotional speech. This has got a lot of attention when he thanked his mom. Let's hear a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF AWARD PRESENTATION)
KEVIN DURANT: You made us believe. You kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. And when you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP.
RATH: I don't think there are any moms who had a dry eye after that.
MARTINEZ: I called my mom the moment I heard it, just told her I love you, Mom.
RATH: So I hate to strike any kind of cynical tone after something like that, but being MVP is going sweeten Durant's prospects when he's up for free agency in a year.
MARTINEZ: Free agency, for all the endorsements. Kevin Durant, although the way the NBA free agency rules are set up, can't get more money than he could if stayed in Oklahoma City. I've got to imagine, if they don't win a title this year and they are still the type of team that is always right on the edge or that close, I've got to imagine that he's going to open up free agency for everyone that might want him.
And then there are going to be teams, like, the power teams, like the Lakers, the Celtics. So he's got the whole world open to him based on the MVP award. And moms everywhere love him for the speech. So he's got that part of America on his side for sure.
RATH: Finally, let's turn away from basketball to something I'm burning to talk to you about. The World Cup is just weeks away, and really shocking news for fans of the U.S. men's soccer team this week. Star Landon Donovan didn't make the cut. What's up? Why isn't he going to Brazil?
MARTINEZ: Landon Donovan has played a lot of soccer in the last decade. He's pretty much averaged about a match every eight days for 10 years. And even he has admitted that his body isn't what it once was. He's 32, but if it's possible, Arun, he's an old 32 to be on a soccer pitch. And plus, he also took a couple of months off to kind of reevaluate everything in his life.
I mean, Team USA doesn't really have a chance in Brazil, so why not stock it with young players that are going to get an amazing amount of experience on the brightest stage possible in Brazil, and then look forward to 2018.
RATH: A. Martinez is the co-host of Take Two on member station KPCC. A., always great talking with you.
MARTINEZ: Thanks, Arun.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.