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Saturday Sports: Basketball, Football and Golf


Brexit, shmexit (ph). It's time for sports.


SIMON: The Warriors snap a losing streak, but there's still a cold chill in the locker room and on the bench. And are Da Bears b-back (ph)? NPR's Tom Goldman joins us now from - are you in your brother-in-law's wood shop in Eugene, Ore., Tom? Is that true?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: I have turned off the skill saw for a few moments, Scott, where I've been working on a full-life sculpture of you.

SIMON: (Laughter).

GOLDMAN: Similar to the David, although clothed.

SIMON: Oh, oh. Well, thank you.

GOLDMAN: I'm here. I'm here for the holidays. And what better place to talk sports than a wood shop? So let's do it.

SIMON: Right, efficient and all that stuff. Listen; that match play, or whatever you call it, last night between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, which Phil Mickelson won in extra holes, or however you say it - two of them went home with $9 million between them. Is this a real sports event?

GOLDMAN: No. It's pretty made up, Scott. The golf, apparently, wasn't that good either. And I say apparently because I didn't interrupt a second of my Black Friday to watch. And I say that as a golf lover and a golf watcher...

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: ...But not this one.

SIMON: And a great golfer, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, right. Well, thank you - hardly that. Let's clarify the money, though. It was winner-take-all. So Phil made off with the 9 million.


GOLDMAN: He did donate part of it to charity, including a fund for children who lost a parent in last year's Las Vegas mass shooting. This event was in Las Vegas, so some good came out of a silly event. Bah humbug. Wrong holiday, but bah humbug.

SIMON: Well, it's coming up to the right holiday.

Golden State Warriors ended a losing streak last night. But prior to that, they'd lost four games in a row, unprecedented since the great Steve Kerr became head coach. He's the smartest, most decent man in sports, if not the country at this point. But does mediating this undiplomatic dispute between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant need a Gandhi?

GOLDMAN: There's an image for you. I think it might need a little something extra. You know, we've learned what, reportedly, was at the heart of the recent spat that led to Draymond Green's suspension - the spat with Kevin Durant. It appears to be something more than just creative tension between two very creative basketball players.

Green reportedly made a comment in reference to Durant's anticipated free agency at the end of the season and his possible departure from Golden State. According to Chris Haynes, respected NBA writer, Green said something like, we don't need you. We won without you. Leave.

You know, Scott, that's the kind of comment that can linger and poison the chemistry on a team. But if any coaching staff can deal with this, though, you have to think it's the Warriors', and especially Kerr, as you say, a very bright man who really understands the psychology of uniting a group of very talented athletes who have very huge egos.

SIMON: Yeah. He has more championship rings than he has fingers, if I'm not mistaken, between the six with the Chicago Bulls and the five in...

GOLDMAN: That's right, yeah.

SIMON: Yeah, no, unless he's grown extra fingers, and I wouldn't put that past Steve Kerr.

Listen; have you noticed the Chicago Bears won their fifth consecutive game, albeit it was only against the Lions? But they are now 8-3 despite having a highly uninspiring quarterback who is out, and they had to go with a lackluster substitute. But, boy, that defense. (Growls) They even scored the winning point.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. (Imitating Scott Simon growling).

SIMON: And it's against everything that football is supposed to be. What? Yes? They have me on the bench sometimes to inspire players. I just go. They come back after the play, and I go (growls).

GOLDMAN: You sound like...

SIMON: Yeah? Sorry.

GOLDMAN: You're a Monster of the Midway. You are that, Scott.

You know, this defense is for real, ranked in the top 10 in the NFL and anchored by the very active and fearsome pass rusher Khalil Mack. Offensively, the Bears are not in the same class as the Saints or the Chiefs or the Rams - those three teams are kind of defining this new NFL surge in offensive play.

Still, the Bears, as you say, are 8-3. They're leading the NFC North division. It's looking - they're looking to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2012, and perhaps the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Looks like Chicagoans won't have to spend the winter just waiting for the Cubs to come back in the spring.

SIMON: Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.