THE BENCH PRESS- Smart drafts key to NBA success

Ever heard news that hit you like you just saw someone kick your dog? Fans of the Boston Celtics know exactly what I?m talking about.

Aftershocks of Boston slipping to third in NBA draft lottery are still rippling through the national sports media.

If you haven?t heard, Portland and Seattle now hold the top spots, and Lady Luck left the Celts in perfect position to draft some Chinese guy named Yi Jianlian.

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I?m calling a time-out for a quick golf take. Before I go any farther, I should remind everyone that I don?t actually know anything about golfing.

I watched that one young kid who was just ahead of Tiger play the first hole on Sunday. I can?t remember his name, but I know he started badly.

Anyway, the thing that surprised me most about the event was the note that Tiger has never come from behind to win a major on Sunday. So I did some research?if by ?did some research? I really mean ?spent five minutes reading the Tiger Woods article on Wikipedia,? that is??and despite consulting every internet resource I could find, I didn?t find any numbers for come-from-behind wins in a major on Sunday by either Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer. They both have to have numbers better than Woods? zero in this category, but I couldn?t figure out what it was.

If you know where to find these numbers, please give me a call or send me an email or something before curiosity gets the better of me.

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On Boston?s first road trip to the Pacific Northwest sometime next winter, Celtics media will take the time to recount the lottery story.

Maybe they?ll do that because lottery day will have a colossal impact on the team?s fortunes in 2007-08. Maybe they?ll tell the story because sports fans love their team?s past.

But if drafts, free agency, season previews and storied histories make up the biggest part of the offseason workload for sports writers who cover iconic pro teams, why do so many of them use up their valuable column inches complaining every time something does not work out quite right?

Isn?t that like skinny dipping an an ocean of emotional pain?

Maybe fans of iconic teams in big cities actually like to go skinny dipping in an ocean of emotional pain every time something bad happens to their team.

Or maybe they take their cues from columnists who whine constantly about things they can?t change because they can?t think of anything better to write about.

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Celtics fans should be watching the NBA finals. San Antonio is proving that it takes more than just a blue-chip draft pick to win a championship in today?s NBA. Every team needs a couple of those vastly underrated foreign guys?guys like Parker and Ginobili?to win a championship.

Two, five or 10 years from now, a team with a LeBron, Durant or Oden will scoure the earth for the next Parker and the next Ginobili.

And the one of those teams that finds the best vastly underrated foreign guys will win the most championships.

* * *

Last week, the Associated Press picked up a report about how the majority of newspapers in NHL cities across the country are not covering the Stanley Cup final.

When I heard that major newspapers don?t send reporters to NHL championship games any more, I felt like someone kicked my dog.

I?d try to explain how much worse it was a month ago, when NBC dropped its coverage of an NHL game that went into overtime?overtime!?in favor of interviewing jockeys at the Preakness Stakes, but I?d rather not bare the darkest recesses of my soul in newsprint.

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Whining about things I can?t change is actually kind of fun. Maybe those big-city columnists are on to something.

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By the way, Denver Post columnist Terry Frei recently wrote a piece for ESPN.com about hockey in Southern California my heart thinks everyone should read. The web address is too long and complicated to type, but if you type ?hockey, socal and Frei? into any search engine, the link will be near the top.

* * *

In my head I know hockey is not for everyone?it does not translate to TV very well, and most people don?t like to save their pennies and scrounge for a year so with the hope of being able to afford two seats in the lower bowl at Pepsi Center come April.

But there?s a dull thumping in my chest that tells me the brand of hockey they play in the NHL is the best sport in the world?I won?t argue about this?and my heart is pretty much convinced that if anyone from anywhere watched the Colorado Avalanche skate, pass and score live, they?d fall instantly in love with hockey.

It happened to me, and I?m basically cold and dead inside, so it could definetly happen to you.

And besides, who doesn?t needs a dog?

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