The Week In Sports Howard Bryant of ESPN.com talks with NPR's Lynn Neary about the NBA playoffs and drug use by baseball players.
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The Week In Sports

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The Week In Sports

The Week In Sports

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

But not for too long because it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NEARY: And we're joined as always by Howard Bryant of espn.com. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Lynn. How are you?

NEARY: Good and I'm not feeling any loathing for any teams whatsoever anywhere.

BRYANT: (Laughter) There's plenty of it out there if you want it.

NEARY: (Laughter) The NBA playoffs continue this week, Howard, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio beat Oklahoma last night. How are you feeling about that? Where does that put everyone?

BRYANT: Well, if I'm in Cleveland, I actually feel as good as I felt in about a year since they lost to the Golden State Warriors in the finals last year. They're 7 and 0 in the playoffs. They haven't lost at all. They've got - they're a game away from a sweep. They're playing as well as they've played all season. They've got all three of their best players who aren't hurt. And for some reason, they can't miss from the three-point line. They've had 46 three-pointers in the last two days, which is something that the Warriors do.

So if I'm LeBron James and I'm from Cleveland and we haven't won a major championship since 1965 in any sport, you're feeling pretty good right now. If you are Golden State, you feel great. You're the defending champions. You've got a game tonight, even though you don't have Steph Curry.

If you are Oklahoma City, you're not feeling so good because you had a 1-1 tie last night going into a home game and San Antonio beat you. The matchup everybody is waiting for is Golden State and the Spurs to play in the Western Conference finals. And right now, it looks like that's a pretty good bet to happen.

But I think if you're Cleveland, I - LeBron James is still a great player even though no one's really talked about him yet this year because of Golden State and everything the Warriors have done and the Spurs. But goodness they are playing really good basketball right now, and they've been to the finals five straight years.

NEARY: All right, well, let's move on to baseball because the Yankees played the Red Sox and they won, which the Yankees aren't doing a lot of this year, are they?

BRYANT: No, they're not and it was a strange game to have a first place team and a last place team happen to be the Red Sox and the Yankees. Usually they're both near the top. And it's one of the strange things - you talk about loathing and hating sports teams and the Yankees are the gold standard for that. It's tough for me...

NEARY: I'm a gal from the Bronx, by the way.

BRYANT: (Laughter) It's tough for me, I have to say, to not have the Yankees be a good team. I think it's good for baseball that everybody hates the Yankees and that people in New York love them because it gives the game some personality. And so to have the Yankees in last place, it takes a little bit away from it, even on both sides.

NEARY: Well, there's a lot going on in baseball right now. Major League Baseball just announced that they're going to be playing two games in Miami later this month rather than Puerto Rico because players are concerned about Zika. And several teams are also - I guess not surprisingly - dealing with drug use. Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was suspended for 80 games.

BRYANT: Yeah, national league batting champ Dee Gordon as well, and the PED issue is one that baseball would like to think has gone away and it never goes away. I think this is the natural order of things in sports right now. We know that players are going to try to get an advantage and even the deterrent of an 80-game suspension - and that's half the season - seems not to do it for these guys because the money is so great. When you look at the dollar amounts - $180 million, $200, $300 million contracts, that's - it seems to be worth the risk.

As for Zika, baseball is being proactive about this. Obviously, they've got a very powerful players union. I'm thinking about the Olympics as well. If you're canceling games in May right now because of Zika in Puerto Rico, what is going to happen in Brazil with the Olympics later this summer?

NEARY: Yeah, and Puerto Rico was not too happy about it either as I understand.

BRYANT: No.

NEARY: Howard Bryant of espn.com, thanks as always. Great talking to you.

BRYANT: Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you.

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