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Wall to wall

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  April 20, 2008 04:29 PM

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The sky is blue. The sun is shining. The boidies is choipin'. I'm in New York City on a glorious Saturday.

So what do I do? I watch 11 hours and 35 minutes of non-stop sports, is what I do. Hey, I'm sposed to be a professional sportswriter, ain't I?

1. 12:30-sometime around 3: Cavaliers-Wizards

Good game. Lots of shifting momentum. Gilbert Arenas makes a boffo entrance, nailing four threes after entering the game, including one to end the first period that really is from three or four steps beyond the arc.

It goes back and forth, each team making a run, until there's like a minute left. And it's as if the first 47 minutes don't matter. It comes down to one simple fact: Cleveland has Him, and Washington doesn't.

LeBron takes over. He goes to the hoop, takes a major whack, and it doesn't matter one little bit. He banks it in. The Wizards get a stop. LeBron takes the ball, sashays into the lane and swishes a runner. That's it. Cavs win.

Keep this in mind as we celebrate the 22d anniversary of Michael Jordan's 63-point performance in Game 2 of the 1986 first round series with the Bulls. LeBron can do that kind of stuff, too. He will bring it up, so you really can't get it out of his hands. There's no kind of defense he hasn't seen. If the Cavs win, fasten your seatbelt, baby.

The most amazing thing about LeBron is this. He turned 23 on December 30. There have been countless NBA rookies older than he is now (Larry Bird turned 23 a month-and-a-half into his rookie season). And he's already scored more than 10,000 points. He's also the all-time Cavalier point leader.

That's sick.

2. 3-ish to 6:35: Spurs-Suns

See? Some things in sport do live up to the hype.

Everyone said this would be like a Finals, so what do they give us in the first game of a first round series? They give us an epic.

The Suns dominate most of the first half. They even lead by 16 in the second quarter. But the Spurs never look rattled or fazed. They hang in there and they get it down to eight at the half (48-40).

I should mention that Shaq has two ultra-quickies, and that as soon as he comes back in the second quarter he picks up number three. They are doing all this without any help from the man they traded for to give them a chance to beat this team, right here. One reason they are functioning so well is the play of Boris Diaw, who is, to me, their X factor player.

Anyway, the Spurs keep hanging and hanging and they eventually catch them, at which point the game goes from really good to great. This is the NBA being the NBA, which means that, as much as any of us can like college ball, the level is waaaay beyond that of even the best college game.

And how could I go this far without mentioning Tim Duncan? He's on his way to 40, and I'm sure you know that three of them come on a shot that ties the game and sends it into a second OT. It's his first three-pointer of the year.

It will be interesting to see if Phoenix gets over this loss. They come into the series knowing that the must win one game in San Antonio, and will they get a better opportunity than this? It's not the 16-point second quarter lead so much -- this is, the NBA, after all -- as the fact that in both the end of regulation and end of the first OT they have the ball and a three-point lead and give it up each time, and each leads to a game-tying three, the first by Michael Finley (who only looks like he's 75) and the second by Duncan, who is the man the Suns most wanted to be stuck with the ball behind the three-point line. But I guess that's why the Truly Great are a cut above the Merely Great.

Just a great spectacle. It's the kind of game that justifies being a sports fan, let alone one who eschews the Great Outdoors on a perfect spring afternoon in order to sit in a hotel room watching a couple of ballgames.

OK, full disclosure here. I only watched the Cavs-Wizards game and the first half of the Suns-Spurs game in my room. I watched the second half and both OTs of the Suns-Spurs in Jimmy's Corner, which is a 44th street bar everyone should know. That is, unless the idea of a $3 draft steps from Times Square is of no interest to you.

3. 7-10ish: Our Beloved Bruins vs. The Habs

Thank God for the ESPN Zone. Where else was I going to find Versus?
Remember what I just said about something justifying being a sports fan? Xerox that up for the third period of the Bruins and Canadiens. You can't get much better than that, and while the Sturm goal wins the thing, the play I'll always remember is the fourth Bruins goal, which features a spectacular collaboration beytween Sturm and Phil Kessel, the former making the perfect centering pass and the latter making the dream conversion, all of it occurring at approximately 175 mph.

A great game, and dinner, too. Sitting in a recliner. Beats workin'.

4. 10:15-11:05ish: Joe Calzaghe-Bernard Hopkins fight on HBO

Imagine that. A fight you actually want to see that's not pay-per-view.

I'm curious about this undefeated Welshman who has never before fought in the States. I'm also curious to see how good a 43-year-old fighter can be. In the first round I discover he's good enough to put the Welshman on the canvas.

But Calzaghe bounces up and by the third or fourth he's into his rhythm and he's on his way to a 12-round split decision. The only surprise is that one judge -- the female judge, if it makes any difference -- gives it to Hopkins. Everyone else thinks the Welshman has dominated the final 10 rounds. "Nine rounds to three, Calzaghe!" screams the great Harold Lederman,. "It's not a hard fight to score!" (Ah, if only you could hear me right now. I do a very passable Harold Lederman).

The highlight of the fight is Enzo Calzaghe, Joe's father and manager/trainer/whatever. He obviously believes there is no other way to communicate with his son other than by employing the F-word, and this being cable, no one blinks. I'm not sure the Pope, if he's watching in his hotel room, would approve.

So, whaddya think? if you're going to forego a gorgeous April Saturday in The Apple, this is the way to do it, right?

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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