The Stanley Cup's Nostalgia Factor

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks to NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the NBA and NHL finals, and a new record for soccer player Abby Wambach.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Do you know what time it is? Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

SIMON: The Miami Heat really know how to sweat it out, but they won that seventh game and another championship and Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks tied 2-2 in this year's Stanley Cup of hockey. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: How are you?

SIMON: I'm just fine thank you, because the Blackhawks are knotted up with the Bruins. But let's get to the NBA Finals first. What a series. This was great, both teams. Miami over San Antonio, last few minutes of the seventh game. Just play it back for us if we could, for example.

GOLDMAN: How much of it do you want me to - how about the last 40 seconds?

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: You know, Miami leads by two, the title hanging in the balance. As much as players hate it when reporters talk about legacy, LeBron James' legacy hanging in the balance. So what does he do? He gets a jump shot, makes a steal, draws a foul, sinks two free throws, title clinched, legacy secure. Now a multiple champion, which is a lot different than having just one.

SIMON: Right. And you know there have been some voices raised, I believe including mine, that have questioned his...

GOLDMAN: Lower your voice, please.

SIMON: LeBron James has been a good crunch performer. Can we put aside that line of questioning, do you think, after this series?

GOLDMAN: Pinky promise, Scott. Here's my pinky.

SIMON: Ok, here's mine.

GOLDMAN: Ok, good, good. No more talk about LeBron James being passive, OK? When he has a bad game in the playoffs from now on, he's just had a bad game. Like Magic Johnson did, Michael Jordan probably did, and all the other luminaries did. No psychoanalysis. OK, I think he's earned that.

SIMON: Tim Duncan had a great series with the exception of, you know, that...

GOLDMAN: That shot.

SIMON: That shot, that dunk that didn't go so well, for which he feels utterly terrible. Does this San Antonio team stay together?

GOLDMAN: Oh, I think so. They should be in the thick of things next year. You know, Manu Ginobili had a rough series and I love him. He's such a great intuitive player. He may retire, but Duncan says no way. He's under contract for two more years. He did play great, other than that one shot. At 37 years old, his coach, Greg Popovich, knows how to manage his minutes through the season.

And at the young end of the spectrum, I mean, my god, Kawhi Leonard, how great is he? Danny Green was great for much of the series. I think they'll be right there.

SIMON: LeBron's contract with the Heat runs through 2015. What are the chances he goes back to Cleveland?

GOLDMAN: Oh, we don't know now. You know, he can opt out early of this contract and declare free agency a year from now, which he's expected to do. If he does that he can resign with the Heat and get a longer, more lucrative contract than he'd get if he extended his current contract. And, as you mentioned, he can think about going elsewhere, maybe back to Cleveland, where his home, and it seems his heart still is, at least in Akron.

Much of that, much of that depends on, you know, how the Heat do next year.

SIMON: Let's talk about the Stanley Cup. I'm eager to talk about the Stanley Cup. Game 5 tonight. This is as good a final series as I've ever seen.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, as good, you know, for basketball fans (unintelligible) Finals, this as good for hockey fans. Three of the four games decided in overtime. For those who like their goals, how about 11 combined in Game 2. There have been comebacks within the games. Now, the last two Stanley Cup Finals there were combined 13 games. The team that scored first won every time.

But in this finals, Boston was up 3-1 in Game 1 and lost. Game 2, Chicago struck first and lost. Game 4, Chicago kept going ahead, Boston kept tying before the Blackhawks won. There's a nostalgia element. These are two original six teams, both from cities that love hockey, and Game 5 is tonight in Chicago. Can there be more excitement?

SIMON: Naw, I don't think so. It's a great series. I wanted to ask you about Abby Wambach. She's making some headlines for soccer fans.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, well, Thursday, as LeBron James is winning his title, Abby Wambach was becoming the greatest goal-scorer in women's soccer history. She broke Mia Hamm's record for most international goals. The record was 158. Wambach scored 4 in a game against South Korea to move to 160. The record breaker came on one of her trademark headers, rising above the crowd to head in the ball of the corner kick from teammate Megan Rapinoe.

You know, Alex Morgan is the new glam girl of women's soccer, but Abby Wambach is still the foundation of this national team and she's aiming for one prize. She hasn't gotten the World Cup, and she'll have a chance in 2016 in Canada.

SIMON: Well, NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman, always good speaking with you, Tom. Pinky promise. Talk to you again soon.

GOLDMAN: OK, thanks.

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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