Sports: Playoff Picks, Tragedy In Sailing

Host Scott Simon speaks with NPR's Tom Goldman about the week's sports news, including the NBA basketball playoffs and the death this week of Olympic gold medal sailor Andrew "Bart" Simpson while training for the America's Cup.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I wait all week to say this: Time for sports.

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SIMON: Playoff time in basketball, eight teams still standing, but there's still only one LeBron James. But - how many buts can I say, - will another MVP come off the bench for his team. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: How are you?

SIMON: Two basketball games last night. San Antonia Spurs defeated the Golden State Warrior by 10 points. They're now ahead by one game in the series. Is that how it's going to roll?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, and they're finally playing the kind of basketball that made them one of the best in the NBA during the regular season, and for the last decade for that matter, Scott. Not a good thing for the Warriors, that they've woken up. Nor is the fact that Golden State's sublime point guard, Steph Curry, hurt his ankle or his leg - it was hard to tell on replay - late in the game. He stayed in but he limped around the court. If he's hurt and can't play, or play at full steam, and he's had ankle problems already - all those Golden State fans wearing yellow, "We are Warriors," T-shirts in Oakland's Oracle arena, sadly are going to have to change them to "We are done."

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SIMON: The - ooh.

GOLDMAN: Harsh.

SIMON: A lot of emails are in the Bay Area, my friend. The Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls by 10 points last night, but I tell you, parts of that game, with all the shoving and all the foils, looked like "Law & Order" Shytown.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it did. LeBron James gets shoved down, and you know, credit James with maybe accentuating that landing on his bottom and gotten up.

SIMON: It was one of the most persuasive performances I've seen in a long time. This is somebody who makes Dame Helen Mirren look like a piker. Yes, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, because it got Nazr Mohammed kicked out of the game and the Bulls can't afford to lose any more players in this knockdown, drag-out affair because they're already so depleted by injuries.

SIMON: Derrick Rose, the MVP in 2011, has been on the bench all season with a torn ACL. He's maybe the only other player you can mention in the same breath as LeBron James. Team doctors say he's cleared to play, but so far he hasn't. He's cheering from the sidelines in a very splendid suit. Do you think pressure will increase on him to return? Should it?

GOLDMAN: You know, we'll continue guessing if he'll play because Rose himself has said he might come back during the playoffs, but he keeps sitting on that bench in that fine suit, as you say, and maybe I'm reading into this, Scott, but to my eye he looks a tad guilty, which he shouldn't be. If he's not mentally ready to play in these extreme conditions and put that knee to the test, then that's his decision.

You know, at this point, also, I'm not sure that he'd help, especially if he's not 100 percent mentally committed. He hasn't played for a year, he's out of game shape, somewhat unfamiliar with this group of Bulls, and he's be swarmed by that outstanding Miami defense.

SIMON: Finally, terrible sailing accident this week. A team training for the America's Cup, their boat capsized. Andrew Simpson, a great sailor for Great Britain was drowned. And some people in sailing say that these new, faster hulls are making the sport more dangerous, more like an extreme sport, to try and capture that audience. In fact, read a quote from Max Sirena, who was skipper of the Luna Rossa, who told the New York Times these are dangerous boats.

GOLDMAN: You've looked into this. What's involved here?

The twin-hulled catamarans are faster and more dangerous than the classic slower, single-hulled sailboats they've used in the America's Cup. And yes, sailing officials reportedly introduced these boats to increase interest in the sport, but it's important to note that no one knows, at this point, why the Artemis reportedly nosedived and broke into pieces.

Officials are asking people to hold judgment and not indict a whole class of boats and the sport for being greedy and reckless until we know exactly what happened.

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

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Scott.

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