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Sports: Late Starts And Nonstarters


And even in a newsy week like this, time for sports.


SIMON: The New York City Marathon is canceled. New York's NBA teams get a late start on the season, but at least they got a season. That can't be said for the NHL. Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins us now from the studios of New England Public Radio.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey, good morning, Scott. Oh, yeah.

SIMON: There was this chorus of objections all over greater New York about holding the New York Marathon in the wake of Sandy. Officials had said the city can use the revenue and they liked the symbolism of the city being open for business. You think, briefly, they made the right call?

BRYANT: I think they made the right call because of pressure. I think this is a good example of what pressure can do. I think the mayor made his feelings well known, that he thought that the show should go on. But I think that the public also made their feelings known that this was not a good idea, especially the fact that it looked like they were going to be diverting resources from people who really need the help. It was a smart move to not do this.

SIMON: NBA season started this week. The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets were scheduled to play each other - that game postponed because of Sandy.

BRYANT: The Brooklyn Nets - doesn't that sound good?

SIMON: I love that sound, the Brooklyn Nets. The big leagues are back to Brooklyn. I think that's great. The Knicks hosted the Miami Heat last night at the Garden and they won - creamed them, 104-84.

BRYANT: And won by 20.

SIMON: So, what's going on? The Knicks are supposed to have creaky knees.

BRYANT: Well, I think it was an emotional win. You consider Carmelo Anthony went out and scored 30 points. And Carmelo Anthony is a New Yorker. He doesn't just play for the Knicks; he's from New York. And you see what happens in your city and you see what's happening, you're going to be emotional about it. The Knicks were an emotional team. Obviously, they gave everything they had as a basketball team last night to the city. As Carmelo said, you know, it was the least we can do to give these people in our town who are really, really suffering a couple of hours of peace. And I thought that was a wonderful thing for him to say. Do you believe that for the next 81 games the Knicks are going to be as good as they were last night? No. But it really doesn't matter. What matters is that last night they really put on a good show for the people of New York.

SIMON: The Nets, the Brooklyn Nets, host the Toronto Raptors tonight. What teams are you looking at the NBA this year?

BRYANT: Well, you know, believe it or not, as a native Bostonian, I'm taking a lot of grief from my friends because I said that I think the Boston Celtics are actually not going to be a great team this year. I think the Celtics are going to be in real trouble. I think Philadelphia is a very good team. I think that the Knicks are going to be better. I think the Brooklyn Nets are probably better than the Celtics this year - if they can put it all together. I love Daron Williams as a player. So, I think the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose coming back's going to be a good team.

Obviously, though, the bottom line is this NBA season belongs to the Miami Heat. They are far and away the best team. There's no other measure, whether it's over 82 games, whether it's over two months in the playoffs, whether it's over a seven-game series in June, they're the best team. They're going to win the NBA title, barring some sort of miracle, because I just think they're that much better than everyone else. And those Los Angeles Lakers haven't won a game yet, in terms of preseason and regular season. They're 0-3.

SIMON: You a little surprised the two presidential candidates didn't promise, I don't know, Carmelo Anthony or to send LeBron James back to the Cavaliers. I mean, Ohio's been at the center of everything, you know.

BRYANT: And I love Dan Gilberts' quote the other day saying that if LeBron James was going to come back, you know, he had a better chance, I think he said, of drinking a cold glass of water in hell or something. And I'm thinking to myself, no, if LeBron James wanted to come back to Cleveland, you would take him back in a second because he's that good. Let's not fool ourselves.

SIMON: National Hockey League won't be playing any games in November. They won't be playing the Winter Classic on New Year's Day and players are peeling off to practically play ice hockey in Israel now. Is there going to be a season?

BRYANT: Well, Scott, I really think that the conventional wisdom had been that once the TV money was going to be affected - the Winter Classic is their big showcase - that the two sides would come to the table because nobody wanted to jeopardize that big TV event. But now that that's off, I don't know if it's too much of a stretch to say you might not see hockey at all this year for the second time in eight years. I would not be surprised if the entire season was canceled.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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