John Tesh trumps Team USA’s Gold

So check it out, I was one of those crazy people who stayed up until 4 AM to watch Team USA outlast a persistent Spanish team in the Men’s Basketball Gold Medal Game (see “Redeem Team’ slides past Spain, carries out mission of Olympic gold“)

I told the wife that I’d go to bed if by halftime, it was apparent that the Spanish didn’t put up a fight. Well they did. Boy, 17-year-old Ricky Rubio (Spain’s point guard, pictured right) is going to be a big star in the NBA one day. Don’t let the fact that he looks straight out of Fern Gully throw you off.

I was also surprised (like analyst Doug Collins) by Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro’s ability to score at will against a robust American defense.

How good is Dwayne Wade? Much better than his Converse kicks, which let him down a few times as he drove to the hole.

Team USA was impressive in its victory but still let Spain get back in it by allowing way too many open shots.

Even more impressive than watching my adopted nation regain its rightful spot at the Olympic games, was listening once more to John Tesh’s epic, “NBA on NBC” score:

The tune holds fond memories for me since the Rockets won 2 titles when NBC had the broadcast rights to the NBA.

Only thing missing from this morning’s game though, was hearing Marv Albert and Matt Goukas…

Béla Károlyi is a National Treasure

What do you think of when you hear the words “National Treasure”? The Statue of Liberty? The Washington Monument? Nicolas Cage’s best Indiana Jones impersonation?

Me? I think of none other than legendary gymnastics coach, Béla Károlyi (below, Bela would have never worn that jacket if Sen. McCarthy were still alive).
Mark Stehle (AP)

Béla’s effusive personality was one of the highlights of the Games back when he was coaching the U.S. team. The image of him carrying an injured Kerri Strug is forever burned in the minds of American fans.The crushing bear hugs he delivered to his pixies as they came off their exercises were a sight.

But not as much of a sight as his act on NBC’s gymnastics coverage of the 2008 Beijing games. His rants, in which he uses words like “rip off”, against the seemingly biased judging (giving an unfair edge to the Chinese) have been classic.

NBC’s gracious peeks into Béla’s reaction as he watches U.S. gymnasts has been highly entertaining. The guy is flailing his arms, kicking his legs up in the air, all the while, I’m sure, analyzing the nuances of the sport he has dedicated his life to. Tell me of another analyst in any other sport who shows this much passion (John Madden’s man love for Brett Favre does not count).

Then on the last night of gymnastics, he’s sitting on the couch with balance beam gold medalist Shawn Johnson and her coach Liang Chow while they’re being interviewed by Costas.

During a characteristic (not to mention a very Eastern European) fit of laughter, Béla puts the cherry on top to his act in Beijing by delivering a hearty and joyous patella-cracking slap to Chow’s knee. The look on Chow’s face betrayed some pain.

Thanks Béla for all the memories, you’re the best.

Shawn Johnson is Awesome

Yeah she’s only 4’9″ but let’s see you do this:
Sports Illustrated

That’s the chippy Ms. Johnson during her gold medal balance beam routine (click here for the the full story).

After Johnson secured a gold medal in these games, I guess it’s safe to say that the Coca-Cola curse is no curse at all.

I must admit that it is nice to see an American Olympic athlete live up to the corporate hype. Though I’m sure Coca-Cola preferred that she won all gold medals, Johnson with one gold and 3 silvers to her name still had a pretty good haul (we’re still holding our breath in the case of Bron-Bron).

Which brings us to the best part of her Olympic experience. So if you’re Shawn, you’ve spent countless hours in the gym: bleeding, sweating, crying, tumbling, falling, learning. Your folks have spent an inordinate amount of time and keish to keep the Olympic dream alive, according to this piece, Johnson’s parents,

…took out a line of credit on their home and have used that money over the years to cover travel expenses. The debt has made a dent in the family finances, but that’s a price parents seem willing to pay.

Yet for all that, the affable Ms. Johnson, in describing her gold medal, reminds us what the Olympics are all about, a childlike wonder and dreams fulfilled:

“It’s crazy,” the 16-year-old Johnson said. “I remember seeing Nastia have hers from the all-around and it is so pretty. Silver is really pretty, too.”

You’re awesome Shawn Johnson!

NBC: It’s Not Easy Being Green

The wife and I are locked in a perpetual struggle over our home’s thermostat. She wants it above a balmy 78°F while I prefer it to be at 72°F.

Yet as with most things, fiscal responsibility wins the day and the thermostat does not dip below 78°F (the junior Senator from the state of Illinois would be proud).

What Mr. Obama would not be proud of is NBC’s act in Beijing:

Not Green: NBC Beijing Olympic Set Air Conditioned — Outdoors

Whatever happened to this?

Beijing 2008: Lego Style

Just when we thought we seen it at all, some folks with a lot of time on their hands in Hong Kong recreated the Beijing Olympics experience with Lego blocks (“On your marks, get set, Lego! Welcome to the Olympics where everyone’s quick off the blocks“)
.

I, for one, am a big Lego fan and think it outstanding, here’s their rendition of the “Bird’s Nest”:

Nastia Liukin Haliukins Rest of the Field to take Gold

Every four years we, as a nation, care about gymnastics, women gymnastics that is (as for the men we collectively care about them as much as we care about the WNBA).

Last night’s women’s all-around final was no exception as many people around the country (my wife and I included) stayed up until midnight to watch American Nastia Liukin win gold and teammate Shawn Johnson take silver (and Chinese gymnast Yang Yilin and her cadre of judges take bronze). I was shocked to learn this morning that even my boss (who misses the latter parts of Houston Rockets late playoff games) stayed up to watch the drama unfold.

Liukin and Johnson push each other to all-around glory

After the Russian-born Liukin won, I couldn’t help but think if the Russian team was bitter because they could have had her on their team had her parents not moved to the States when she was 2.

Although Shawn Johnson got the silver, could the “Coca-Cola Curse” (second cousin to the Madden Curse) prevented her from getting gold? Could her appearance on commemorative 12-pk Coca-Cola boxes (below) prevented her from getting gold?

Let’s just hope that doesn’t extend to her boxmate, LeBron James as he tries to restore former glory to USA Basketball.

If you’re wondering what in the world Haliukins is in reference to, here is a hint:

Michael Phelps: Living the Dream

No, not the Olympic Dream. No, not becoming the most highly decorated Olympic athlete.

While all that stuff is admirable and a demonstration of what the human body is capable of (excelling at our self-contrived competitions!) not to mention a great source of pride to Phelps’ mom, that’s not the dream I’m talking about.

Michael Phelps is living the dream of every American (or not) male in the good ‘ol U.S. of A. Eat whatever you want without degenerating into a clone of:

According to this article here is a rundown of Mr. Phelps’ daily diet:
For breakfast:
3 fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise
2 cups of coffee
5 egg omelet
1 bowl of grits
3 slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar
3 chocolate-chip pancakes.

Read more of this post

Martha Karolyi’s Sour Grapes

OK so maybe Alicia Sacramone (below right, picture credit: Reuters) might have cost the US women’s gymnastics team the gold last night by falling off the balance beam then doubling down by slipping in the next event, the floor exercise.

Team USA eventually claimed the silver medal and it was a huge disappointment judging by the looks on the girls’ faces. [Funny because the U.S. men reacted like they had won an Academy Award, Bible Bowl, the Super Bowl, World Series, the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest and the gold after winning "only" bronze the day before. Had they won the silver, they might just have dropped dead from excitement.]

Then U.S. team director, Martha Karolyi had to pull out all the stops in making excuses for Sacramone’s potential gold medal-costing performance. According to this story (“U.S. team blame stadium official for gymnastics loss”):

US team coordinator Martha Karolyi said officials at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium had disrupted Sacramone’s preparations for the beam.

“First they called her name up, then they did not even put her name up even though the Chinese had finished … (it was) totally unusual holding,” she said.

“She was mentally prepared and then she had a mental break, then after not doing the job, the beam, on the floor exercise her concentration was bothered.”

Karolyi insisted the world champion US team would have won gold if Sacramone had not become unsettled.

Had the U.S. team won gold, I wonder if Martha would have said that the alleged saboteurs only strengthened her girls’ resolve?

México gets its First Medal in Beijing!

OK, so it took until Day 4 but my native land finally medaled thanks to the efforts of divers Paola Espinoza and Tatiana Ortiz (bronze in women’s synchronized 10-meter platform).

Read all about it here, “Mexico celebrates bronze medal in diving”.

Here is a picture of the dynamic duo in the middle of one of their bronze-winning performance:

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Blue Screen of Death makes a Cameo at the Olympics

This one is for all the Mac honks in my life:

Blue Screen of Death Strikes Bird’s Nest During Opening Ceremonies Torch Lighting

It’s a good thing Macs never freeze up…

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