By Sam Rubenstein

Back from the long weekend. On Saturday Night, I went to an early 90’s dance party. Surreal does not begin to cover that experience. This was a few hours after Alex Rodriguez won a baseball game with a 2 strike 2 out grand slam in the bottom of the 9th. I’m not sure Saturday actually happened.

An unexpected moment like that from A-Rod got me thinking about how backwards sports has been over the past year, and what it might mean for the upcoming playoffs. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl after the Colts were the worst run defense ever, and then shut down the RB who set the record for carries in a season in their first playoff game. The only time Peyton played well in the playoffs was when he stepped up and took over at desperation time while Tom Brady started choking. In baseball, the Cardinals were a regular season hit or two away from one of the worst collapses sports has ever seen, knocking them out of the playoff picture. They had no closer, but the guy they used to close did not give up a run in the playoffs as they won the championship. Strange, unusual things are happening. Does that mean it is finally possible for a team that does not play defense to win the NBA championship? I’m really starting to believe again that this could be the Suns year. It makes too much sense for the Mavericks to win it all.

The big NBA news over the weekend was the Carter-Kidd DTD, double triple doubles. The Wizards are doing what they can without their best players and Antawn Jamison is trying to remind us that he was once an All-Star, but it looks like this is going to be a very short-lived playoff appearance for them.

Chicago has jumped Cleveland for the two seed, though they have identical records. First round series could be Miami-Cleveland, and yes that could actually mean Wade-LeBron. Chicago would play Jersey, and they’ve already had two games this year where the Nets fell behind something like 20-0 each time. That would be not a total waste of time as a series.

In the West, Denver has surpassed the Lakers as the sixth seed for the time being and Golden State is still one game behind the Clippers. Phoenix-Lakers again? It’s hard to imagine they could match the series they gave us (until game 7 of course) last year.

The low point of the weekend has to be the Don Imus comment, which is basketball related. He called the women of Rutgers “Nappy headed Hoes.” Racist, offensive, embarrassing, all of that. The thing is, I am a long time Imus listener, though not by choice. If I fell asleep with sports talk radio on, I would wake up in the morning and he would be on the air. I speak from experience when I tell you that in over a decade of hearing his show, I have never laughed once. These kind of comments are “Imus being Imus.” He is a terrible “human being.” It seems like to be successful in radio, you have to be a huge jerk, much like that irritating guy at espn who shut down TheBigLead.com and goes out of his way to hate on SLAM Magazine for no reason. Don Imus was the original radio voice people tuned into because they wanted someone to hate. He is a pioneer that made the world a much uglier place. When people like Billy Packer and Imus get into trouble for saying stupid things, it makes you feel warm and tingly inside. By the way, Tom Coughlin compared himself to Hitler a few weeks ago. All good things come in groups of three. And now, we move on to the NBA.

CHARLOTTE 111 MIAMI 103 OT
Dwyane Wade is walking on two legs again, as opposed to dramatically rolling around in his wheelchair. He made his grand return off the bench, but this was against the Charlotte Bobcats, who for unknown reasons are playing as hard as they can for a lame duck coach. Usually when players step up like this, you hear the canned clichés about how they are playing for their coach’s job because they love him so much. Bickerstaff is not coming back next year, and maybe that lit a fire under the Cats players to prove they belong. Whatever the case may be, Gerald Wallace has been one of the best players in the league for much of the past month. He scored 30 and Walter Herrmann was unstoppable raining threes in overtime, spoiling the return of Dwyane Wade. Yes, he is back and he’s wearing more padding than ever. He was not the best he’s ever been, coming in off the bench and scoring 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting. He did take 12 free throws, so that part of his game is still sharp. Hitting 6 of them, not so sharp, as the Heat lost because of missed free throws and turnovers.

PHOENIX 115 LA LAKERS 107
Could be a warm up for their first round series. Raja Bell hit all six of his threes, which came one game after shooting 0 for 10 from three. If you think this rivalry is less intense than it was when Raja was clotheslining old #8, then here are the quotes for you. From Raja “He’s not the best scorer in the league for no reason,” Bell said. “The only thing I can hope to be is a thorn in his side. When I play him, I just try to play my tail off and make him play his tail off.” And the response from Kobe “Raja plays hard. I think he’s a good defensive player. He tries to deny the ball in certain areas. I enjoy going against him. He has a willingness to play defense. A lot of guys put their tails between their legs and run.” What? Is that mutual respect? Growth and maturity? Fellas, the playoffs are coming. Cut that out. Kobe had 34 and Ronny Turiaf had 19 and 15 in the loss. Steve Nash led the Suns with 25 and 11.

HOUSTON 112 SACRAMENTO 106

Tracy McGrady took some time off to heal his always delicate back, and that time off seemed to help. 40, 10, and 8. Pretty decent game. The Kings, well they’ve got as many wins as those feisty Charlotte Bobcats.

DETROIT 87 CLEVELAND 82
The Pistons plan is to stay physical with LeBron and see if the other Cavs can beat them. A very wise choice. LeBron did shoot 9 of 11 from the free throw line, which is a great sign for Cleveland, but he missed the last two. The Cavs are very good at hanging around in tight games. Those final possessions… we’ll see what happens, cause it’s not always pretty. Rasheed came off the bench because Flip Saunders wants to protect a hyper extended finger of his. Antonio McDyess started in his place and came through with 18 and 13. LeBron was held to 20 on 5 of 16 shooting.

FANTASY BASEBALL COMPLAINT

Thanks for the snow in Cleveland. That could not have possibly been more of a disaster for my team. Cold weather is dead to me.

PHILLY 109 ATLANTA 104 OT
When Tyronn Lue is flirting with a triple double, trying to throw away lottery balls in the process, you know the season is almost over. 24, 8, and 9 for Lue in the loss as Philly pulled one out in OT. Joe Smith scored a season high 18 for Philly. He’s still around. What else to say? Iguodala scored 25 and Marvin Williams played 50 minutes. It’s a nice workout.

TORONTO 103 CHICAGO 89
The Raptors handled the current #2 seed getting 27 points from Anthony Parker, on 6 of 10 shooting from three. Toronto is dangerously close to stealing that #2 seed from right under everybody’s noses. In a year when almost every single team in the East has underachieved, we should be thankful for the Toronto Raptors.