The Boston bombshell

Paul Pierce starred in the Boston Celtics NBA title win over the LA Lakers this week. (AFP)

Unlike their European cousins, American sportsmen have to sweat for every last dollar they earn. When the Boston Celtics clinched the 2008 NBA title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers this week – it was in their 26th post-season game.

To put that in perspective, it is like saying after Manchester United play 38 games and end the 10-month season on top of the Premier League, they then need to play each of the other top 10 teams and the three relegated teams, home and away again – in one month.

The Celtics ended a 22-year title drought when they beat the Lakers 131-92 in Game 6 of the finals, winning the series 4-2. It was the worst rout in any title-clinching game and it humbled the most decorated NBA team in recent years.

The Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen now lead a new generation of Celtics, who are also the Eastern Conference title holders, on a mission to reclaim past glory days and build on the 17 NBA titles the team has claimed since the league began.

Meanwhile, in cricket the announcement by billionaire Alan Stanford of the five $20-million (Dh73.4m) winner-takes-all Twenty20 matches between England and West Indies XI last week has sent Kevin Pietersen in a frenzy. "A million dollars apiece [per game] is not to be sniffed at, so you won't find me crossing the road with my eyes shut," exclaimed Pietersen, before shutting his eyes and reverse-smashing Scott Styris for two sixes on his way to 110 in the first One Day International against New Zealand on Sunday. For the record, England won that game. "I was thinking about doing that in bed last night." added Pietersen to awe-struck batting partner Paul Collingwood.

There were gasps of astonishment as the South Africa-born batsman changed hands and stance while Styris was in mid-delivery stride and first swept him for six and then hit him over long-off, left-handed.

So loud were the gasps that they were even heard here in Dubai by the International Cricket Council, who then felt they needed to do something about the noise by complaining to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), cricket's rule-makers.

Thankfully, to a standing ovation by every cricket fan, the MCC had the sense to issue the statement: "We believe that the 'switch-hit' stroke is exciting for the game of cricket. The stroke conforms to the Laws of Cricket and will not be legislated against." So that's that about a stroke that only five other players in the world can play anyway.

In the European Championships Turkey stunned the Czech Republic when they came from 2-0 down with 15 minutes left to win 3-2 in Geneva.

Turkish captain Nihat Kahveci scored a brace with just minutes left of the game. The first came when goalkeeper Petr Cech, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, obviously decided he needed an extra holiday after an arduous season with Chelsea. He dropped the ball at Kahveci's feet. The rest, as they say, is history.

And so are the French. On Tuesday night in what was billed as a repeat of the World Cup final, a pitiful France team were sent home by Italy after a 2-0 defeat.

Playmaker Franck Ribery was stretchered off after 10 minutes, Eric Abidal was sent off after 26 minutes (conceding a penalty in the process) and substitute playmaker Samir Nasri was taken off for a defender – a shocking decision seeing that France were 1-0 down at the time. Not quite as shocking as the decision by France coach Raymond Domenech to propose to his girlfriend at the post-match press conference.

In rugby, surprise surprise, the All Blacks beat England 37-20 in Auckland, World Champions South Africa defeated a rejuvenated Wales 37-20 while new Australia coach Robbie Deans watched his side scrape home 18-12 against Ireland.

 

Comments

Comments