by Lang Whitaker

Sorry I’m running late today. I got called in to play for the company softball team last night, ending my two year retirement. We won, I went 2-for-3 with a walk, Sam got a few hits…good night all the way around.

Stayed up late last night to watch that Lakers/Suns blowout, then had an early wake up call this morning. Spent all morning in Brooklyn with an NBA player for an upcoming story, but can’t tell you who. Back to the office a while ago.

While I was watching games last night I made a few random notes…

• When Andrei Kirilenko started crying at practice, do you think Jerry Sloan called him a … actually, never mind.

• You know those Southwest Airlines commercials where they suggest you go to their site and download the “ding?” Here’s a great idea: Get Luol Deng as a spokesman and then let people download a “Deng.”

• During the second half of that Bulls/Heat game, Pat Riley had to go to a zone defense just to stop Chicago’s outside shooting, which I loved because it runs completely contrary to conventional hoops wisdom. Since I was a kid I was taught that a zone is used to pack people in the paint and force outside shots, while a man-to-man is the best way to the perimeter though it might leave the middle open. But against Miami’s man-to-man, Chicago was running a series of cuts and screens going from side-to-side, and Miami’s dudes were just too slow to keep up. The zone put guys closer to the arc and made it easier for them to close out against the jumpers. When they went to the zone the Bulls were 8-for-10 on threes. After that they went 3-of-7, so it apparently had some success. I wouldn’t be surprised if thy use it a lot more in Games 3 and 4.

• By the way, the Heat are screwed right now. They look like a team of old dudes at the Y playing against a team of young guys, and they just can’t figure out how to slow the tempo. And did Pat Riley really think Antoine Walker would be able to effectively defend Luol Deng when they were in that man-to-man?

• I think Steve Kerr is the best analyst in basketball right now. He’s great at seeing the whole floor, seeing trends develop and keeping an eye on the flow of the game. And he’s funny, too. And as a writer for Yahoo Sports, well, he’s a great announcer.

• Also, Luol Deng should host a series of luaus.

• I wish Dwyane Wade would stop watching old videos and playing golf with Charles Barkley and spend more time trying to get the Heat to practice their perimeter defense.

• At one point during the Suns game, I heard “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake over the P.A. system. Should I be embarrassed that I knew that song? I’m not, but should I be?

• Hey Sonics fans, good luck with Lenny Wilkens in charge.

• The biggest mismatch during the Playoffs might be Dick Stockton trying to call a fast-paced game.

• When Yao Ming runs down the floor he looks like either Beavis or Butthead looked on those episodes when they’d leave their house and go outside.