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Week In Sports: NBA's Oklahoma Loses Star Player To Injury


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: And in the NBA playoffs last night, the Knicks went to Boston; boy did they have a tea party. The Spurs put the metal to L.A. and the Nuggets dug up Golden State. No, got dug up by Golden State. It was close, though. Just a couple of points. How many more metaphors can I twist in this intro? Plus one of the most important meniscuses, or is that menisci, in the Western Conference has been torn.

For more we're joined by NPR's Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.


SIMON: And first let's talk about, well, let's - the New York Knicks really made short business of the Boston Celtics despite all the emotional support Boston got returning home.

GOLDMAN: Oh yeah. You know, the first home game in Boston since the marathon bombings and the lockdown of the city. And, you know, Celtics were expecting a huge lift from the crowd. They got it, but, alas, it couldn't motivate the old-looking Celtics who had another abysmal offensive night. They came out flat. They went down by double digits in the first half and they never recovered. They lost 90 to 76. Not a pretty sight.

SIMON: Would you put a fork in the L.A. Lakers at this point, down three games?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, I think so. The Spurs thumped the L.A. Lakers 120 to 89, worst home playoff loss in franchise history. You know, Scott, it was almost comical how many guys were on the Lakers bench wearing business suits, out with injuries. Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jody Meeks. Kobe Bryant, of course, had a very nice suit, but he wasn't on the bench.

SIMON: Sounds like a GQ layout, but...


GOLDMAN: So they looked marvelous. You know, the tortured Lakers' season has come to this and it should last one more game. It's the Spurs, you know, the oft-injured Spurs looking very spry. The Lakers and Celtics both down 0-3 in their series. A hundred and three times in NBA history teams have been down 0-3 in seven game series. Scott, how many times in those 103 times has a team behind come back?

SIMON: A couple times?




SIMON: Well, I was close. What's the significance of Russell Westbrook's injury, the cartilage tear he's got in his right knee? What's it mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder?

GOLDMAN: That they will be a lot less thunderish. You know, he's simply one of the best players on one of the league's best teams. They were in the finals last season. OKC had a real shot at the title this year. Westbrook is half of the highest scoring duo in the league in the playoffs; he and Kevin Durant averaging over 50 points a game. His speed can break down defenses singlehandedly, a tenacious defender.

It's a huge loss and potentially changes the whole playoff picture. Depends on how severe this meniscus tear is. You know, he could be back in weeks, but we won't know until he has the surgery. Tonight at least, it'll be very disorienting for the Thunder when they take the court against Houston for game 3 of their series. In five years, he has played every game - 439 straight games. He's now going to miss number 440.

SIMON: I want to go into length about something, Tom. New York attorney general and the NFL issued a statement this week to say they want to draft some measures to encourage the inclusion of gay athletes in football. Now this, the NHL, announced an initiative earlier this month for gay inclusion. What do you see developing here in big-time pro sports?

GOLDMAN: The table seems to be set for a major happening. We're hearing a lot that, you know, we heard recently several gay NFL players ready to come out. You know, this makes me think of an interesting article I read this week from Grantland.com by the writer Wesley Morris. And it's about how while we wait for this thunderclap of an announcement, pro sports are quietly moving toward acceptance without a lot of fanfare.

The essay basically says that pro sports have never been as culturally gay as they currently are with the way top male and female athletes dress, with attitudes like that of top female basketball player, Brittney Griner, who revealed her homosexuality in a very nonchalant way in a recent interview. It'll still be a big deal when a prominent male athlete comes out, Scott, but he may find the environment, you know, more ready for the moment than we expect.

SIMON: One of my favorite plays, 2003 I think, Richard Greenberg's, "Take Me Out," all about a gay baseball player coming out and it's almost as if none of the fuss he projected in that play might occur were it to happen today.


SIMON: Well, NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks very much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: My pleasure, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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