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The NBA playoffs owe their excitement to Beijing…and Kobe Bryant

April through June is definitely my favorite time of the year as a sports fan.  Many would say March purely because of March Madness, and that is very hard to argue.  The difference for me is that we have baseball back, the NFL draft and the NBA playoffs.

Until last year, the NBA playoffs were just a long and boring end to a season filled with much more excitement than the playoffs could provide.  The 2004 playoffs were the last playoffs that I cared about because my team (Minnesota Timberwolves) had the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and it seemed as if Kevin Garnett could finally get out of the first round.  They did so by beating the Denver Nuggets in 5 games and then proceeded to give me the greatest sporting experience of my life in Game 7 against Sacramento in round 2.  Unfortunately they met an immovable force in the Conference finals and lost to the Lakers 4-2.  For those of you who are staunch Lakers fans, keep two things in mind these playoffs.  First, without Minnesota, you wouldn’t have the Lakers.  So whatever success your team achieves, recognize where the talent started.  Second, even with Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers choked hard against the Pistons.  Look it up, the Pistons just stifled the heck out of Kobe and Shaq.  But that is neither here nor there.  The point of this post is to point out a part of this year’s playoffs that should make them one of the best ever.

Ever since getting together to win the summer Olympics in Beijing this past summer, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade have grown closer together as friends.  They all challenged each other while playing for the gold and, I think, had direct effects on each other’s seasons this year.  Kobe is an incredible defender and no doubt worked with Lebron and Dwayne on their defense this year.  Then magically, this year, Lebron and Dwayne had their best years defensively.  Kobe was an elder on this Olympic team and took these guys under his wing and may have created two new monsters to take over for him whenever he decides to call it quits.  They became good friends and with any good friendship comes a little competition.

It all started back on a chilly February night in New York City.  No matter how terrible its inhabitants are, Madison Square Garden still seems to be the basketball Mecca.  Whether it is rumors of Lebron coming to the MSG permanently or Nate Robinson being a more successful version of Gary Coleman, it’s the place to play.  Kobe Bryant decided that he would drop a MSG record 61 points and cause the usually hostile Knicks fans to chant “MVP, MVP!”  It was surely a sight to see.  Bryant, after the game, got a text message from his friend Lebron that was something along the lines of “Good work…but you know I’m going to try and do better”

What happened the next night at MSG?  Lebron James showed up at MSG and put up maybe the most impressive numbers of his career.  James dropped 52 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists.  If you remember back that far, the NBA actually took away one rebound from James and stripped him of a chance to have one of the most memorable triple-doubles in NBA history.  James made good on his promise to upstage Kobe and he certainly did.  He may not have scored 61 but he definitely filled the rest of his stat sheet better than Kobe did.

Examples of how Dwayne Wade upstaged Kobe and Lebron?  Easy…Dwayne just carried his team through the regular season and to being one win away from a second round match up against friend Lebron James.  I wonder at what point Wade will have to address his chronic back and knee problems.  Having to carry an entire franchise can have its negative effects (ask Kevin Garnett and his playoff playing minutes this year).  Now that Wade is out, look for Kobe and Lebron to try and upstage each other each night until they eventually meet in the Finals.

On Monday, James was crowned the NBA MVP.  Rightfully so, he was the best player in the NBA from game 1 to game 82 and continues to dominate in the playoffs.  Many of you who read this may be Lakers/Kobe fans, I am as well, but lets be honest.  Lebron James is a monster and is better at this point in his career than Kobe Bryant was.  I can hear you now, “Well, who has more championships?”  Easy answer, both have the same amount of championships.  Lebron has been in the league for 6 years and has not won a title yet.  Kobe Bryant has been without Shaq since 2004 and hasn’t won a titled without Shaq.  He’s come close but…oh wait, so has Lebron.  So as far as I’m concerned, that argument is completely nullified by what I call the “Shaq-Factor”.  Could Lebron have won titles already if he had the most dominant center since Wilt?  We’ll never know, but I’ll just guess yes.  Until Kobe wins a title without Shaq, this argument ends in a tie.  Until Kobe gets rid of the Shaq-Factor, he and Lebron are in the same boat.

Here are my second round predictions (Celtics/Magic game just ended and I made up my mind about their series before this game 1 ended)

Magic over Celtics 4-1 (KG just matters too much.  Brian Scalabrine can only take you so far and Dwight Howard is an absolute wrecking ball)

Cavs over Hawks 4-0 (maybe 4-1 if that Hawk swoops down and brings about a phobia of birds in Lebron)

Lakers 4-1 over Rockets (Rockets sneak in a win in Houston in game 3 but that’s it.  Kobe just spanks Ron Artest for 5 games)

Denver 4-2 over Dallas (Battle of the delinquents.  Josh Howard and Jason Terry get to go home early…and something tells me that they don’t mind too much)


Whats playing on the C-POD?

I’m Courtland and I will hopefully be a regular here on I’m finishing up my degree at Cornell College in Iowa. I’m from Minnesota so naturally I am a HUGE Twins fan and…well…that’s about it. Our country is struggling through its toughest economic times since the Great Depression while Minnesota sports are a Great Depression. I play tennis at Cornell and have found that there is a very important piece that goes into my game that has nothing to do with “G” or what kind of racket I use. This would be my pre-game music. Before each weekend (we usually play clusters of matches on the weekends) I make a new play list on my iPod shuffle to get me going for the game. Whenever I watch NBA games and see such players at Lebron James, Steve Nash and Baron Davis walking into the arena with their gigantic headphones, I find myself wondering what they are listening to.

So I am here to give you some insight into what a men’s tennis player from Iowa will be listening to before matches this weekend. This, obviously, in no way represents what professional athletes listen to but I hope that through this you can find some good tunes to work out to or get pumped up to before a sporting event. Not all songs are rock or rap/hip-hop…you must find your true mood before!

Here are 10 (out of 103) songs that will be listened to on my shuffle:

  1. Our Truth – Lacuna Coil

  2. Ain’t I – Young LA feat. Young Dro & T.I.

  3. Still Dre – Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg

  4. Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body) – 36 Mafia

  5. The Anthem – Pitbull feat. Lil Jon

  6. Elevator – Flo Rida feat. Timbaland

  7. Roll – Flo Rida feat. Sean Kingston

  8. Real American – Rick Derringer

  9. The Champion In Me – 3 Doors Down

  10. Beware Of The Boys – Panjabi MC feat. Jay-Z

Tennis is a very different sport as compared to the likes of football and basketball. Both of those sports you can run 100 miles per hour and be very physical and jacked up. The difference is that tennis is a very mental game where fluid motions and a sound mind are key. So throughout the rest of this play list, one may find some classical music, r&b music and other types of moderately relaxing music. I’ve found that the best play lists for tennis are the ones that are eclectic in genres and don’t contain too much caffeine.

I plan on being a regular here on Kaliphornya so check back each week for my play list updates for the latest on my shuffle and for some new music to add to yours!

If you would like to get some more songs that are on this playlist, you can email us at: and make sure to have “Playlist” as the title of the email.

Until next time-

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