The last of the champions from the past 37 years was jettisoned today in the do-or-die battle with the Los Angeles Clippers who set up a date with the NBA’s top seed, Utah Jazz.
The Dallas Mavericks were champions in 2011 and no team from the remaining eight has lifted the Larry O’brien championship trophy.
Utah’s Jazz, the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers and the Phoenix Suns are the hopefuls from the west, while the Philadelphia Sixers, Milwaukee Bucks, the young Atlanta Hawks and the much ballyhooed Brooklyn Nets are fighting it out in the East with the second ranked Nets and the lowest seeded Hawks drawing first bloods.
Of the eight teams, the Sixers and the Bucks have at least one pennant hanging from their rafters.
The Bucks have one, the 1971 title with future Hall of Famers Bob Dendridge, Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor, the future Kareen Abdul Jabbar in its line-up.
The Sixers account for three titles, in 1955, 1967 and in 1983 when they were led by Hall of Famers Moses Malone and the Doctor himself, Julius Erving, who swept the Showtime Lakers – led by Jabbar and Irving “Magic” Johnson.
The Sixers last run to the top podium was marked as the end of an NBA era with the introduction of the three point area.
The teams winning the title in the modern basketball era are: Chicago (6), Boston, Miami and Detroit with three each and one each for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
The winning teams from the west are Lakers (9), San Antonio (5), Golden State (3), Houston (2) and Dallas (1).
The Nets hope to make it two and O against the Giannis Antetokounmpo – led Bucks tomorrow, while the second seeded Suns of the young Devin Booker open their western conference semifinals versus the Nuggets and MVP leader Nikola Jokic.
Meantime, my favorite Jazz with Fil-Am and sixth man of the year Jordan Clarkson is expected to provide the needed support to Donovan Mitchell against the Kawhi Leonard-bannered Clippers.
Kawhi is pretty much a very dangerous man now after his much maligned air ball in game five that could have sent the game to overtime. Kawhi will hit free agency after the season and may need to win it all again just like in the 2019 season when he led the Raptors to their first title and the first for a Canadian team.
It is a pretty exciting Elite 8 in the NBA despite the absence of its two biggest drawers – Lebron James and Steph Curry.
Although there is another Curry yet on the hunt with Seth and his in-laws, Doc as his coach and the Nuggets have Austin, who is comfortable as a starting shooting guard with the absence of the injured Jamal Murray despite transferring from New York late this season.
Today’s NBA games are some of the bests this season with the Trae Young led Hawks in an upset win of top seeded Philadelphia 76ers despite the presence of Joel Embiid.
Then it was Kawhi and company who weathered another MVP performance from Luka.
The games were aired here at 1AM and 330AM, respectively, while at almost same time at the Olympics course in the Bay Area, Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso became the second teenager and youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Open by beating in sudden death Japanese Nasa Hataoka.
But the day ends with another absurdity from Floyd Mayweather who went the distance in his exhibition match with YouTube star Logan Paul for another big payoff that could top US$100 million.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I live for Floyd Mayweather and I choose what I want to do. If I want to go out, have some fun and make $50, $60, $70, $100 million, let me do it. I am not bothering anyone. I am not robbing, or killing. I am doing what I want to do,” said the 50-0 boxer before the fight.
Well, who can blame him?