Sports Roundup: Celtics Comeback and Woods' Knee

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Another Celtics-Lakers championship, another historic moment. This time, Boston went into the Staples Center in Los Angeles and staged one of the most dramatic comebacks ever in the NBA finals. Also up: Tiger Woods returns to the green after knee surgery. ESPN's Howard Bryant talks with NPR's Scott Simon.


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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SIMON: Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds hit his 600th career home run Monday night against the Florida Marlins. The Marlins say that a season ticket holder identified only as Joe caught the ball and was escorted to safety by Miami-Dade Police. A ball like that could be worth millions of dollars after all. It'd be like holding one of Elizabeth Taylor's wedding diamonds in your hand on the subway. A young expiring musician in Miami named Justin Kimball contends that he actually caught the ball and slipped it into a woolen cap, but somebody wrenched the cap and ball from his hands and ran away. People are always stealing woolen caps in Miami. The police say they've reviewed the video of the home run and it does not show Mr. Kimball catching the ball. Let's see now. The dispute will result in Dade County, why not let Katherine Harris decide?

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Time now for sports.

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SIMON: Another Celtics-Lakers championship, another historic moment, blah, blah, blah. This time Boston went into the Staple Center in L.A., staged one of the most dramatic comebacks ever in the NBA Finals. Will it be a moral killer for the Lakers? Will it be enough to overshadow the ref-gade scandal? Our own Howard Bryant joins us now. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning Scott, and I have to admit that I'm very disappointed by your lack of enthusiasm in this comeback for the ages.

SIMON: Oh, I just said that to provoke you. It was extraordinary. Celtics are down by 20 at the end of third quarter, they still won by six. Now the Lakers are down at a 3-1 deficit, should we stick a fork in the L.A. Lakers?

BRYANT: No, you should stick a fork in them except for a couple of things that history has proven. The 2004 Red Sox have proven - the Boston Red Sox last year proved that, you know, you can be down and it's not completely over until you lose the last game. But this is not the way this epoch revival of the rivalry was supposed to go.

SIMON: Should the old zin-master, Coach Jackson, who listens to this show now, have shuffled his line-up sooner?

BRYANT: Well, I really think that it's more of a strategic thing with Jackson. I don't think that it was a line-up issue with him at all except for the fact that he probably should have played Derek Fisher a little bit more. The Boston Celtics weakness coming into this post-season guard, and their star point guard - or their young point guard, Rajon Rondo was injured, and I was very surprised that they didn't more defensive pressure on the point guard position for pretty much the whole 48 minutes against the Detroit Pistons. Anytime Detroit pressured the Celtics, they could - they could barely get the ball across court, so I was surprised there. And I think the other thing that's been very disappointing when you're the Lakers is that you've essentially been a very, very good, extremely efficient offensive team, and you've run into a team that's played better defensive than anything that you've seen all season, and they haven't really reacted well to it. I think that's the big thing that's been the biggest change and it's really reduced the Lakers to a one-man team, and that one man being the best player on the planet, Kobe Bryant.

SIMON: We have to ask about Tim Donaghy, the former ref who now says that the NBA ordered referees to make calls that would influence the outcome of the Lakers-Sacramento King's Western Conference Finals in 2002. I saw those finals. I didn't like a lot of those calls. Is he just an embedded felon looking to trade information? Do you think there's something real here?

BRYANT: Well, I don't see why the two are mutually exclusive. Of course he's trying to save his skin. Wouldn't anyone when they're facing however many years in prison he's facing. I think it's completely appropriate to ask the questions because basketball - one, you have to deal with the integrity of the sport, and it's very much disappointment me that it seems that the commissions, David Stern is able to say, well, he was just a road ref and everyone takes that whole cloth, and I'm not sure that's the case. My question has always been throughout this scandal, is it possible for one referee to fix an entire game, never mind a hundred games without anybody questioning it, without anybody wondering, hey, you know, at the airport with the - after a game, waiting for their flight, a couple of referees say, hey, what about that call in the second quarter? I don't believe it's possible for one person to do all of this so I think it's completely appropriate that they look into it and go as far as it needs to go because the sport has to be transparent.

SIMON: Okay, U.S. Open, we don't have time to talk about it. Think Phil Mickelson is going to resort to using a driver?

BRYANT: I think Phil Mickelson should probably look to next year's Open unless he really has a big day today.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of, ESPN, the magazine, and a hundred gallery's snack pack, thanks so much, Howard.

BRYANT: My condolences on Soriano, Scott.

SIMON: Thank you. Well, he's just injured. He'll be back in six weeks. I'm counting.

BRYANT: Bye-bye.

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