Why the Lakers are not a dynasty.

A weekly look at the sports commentariat.
June 17 2002 4:26 PM

Roger Clemens: Unhittable

The last time Roger Clemens pitched against the New York Mets, he thumped Mike Piazza in the head with a fastball. So when the Yankees hurler visited Shea Stadium Saturday—and had to stand in and bat—the Mets vowed revenge. They ordered pitcher Shawn Estes to throw a duster. One problem: He missed. Estes' opening fastball sailed behind Clemens' back pocket. On subsequent pitches, he never came near him.

The sportswriters sound strangely relieved. "Another classic New York psycho moment, this was not," the Chicago Sun-Times' Jay Mariotti writes. "Rather, it was one of those important days when the lunatic fringe of sports was reminded of life's best revenge. Don't get even by stooping to Clemens' gutter-bully level. … No, drill him for a couple of home runs. Embarrass him into a fielding gaffe. Knock him around, tattoo him with a loss, make him hurt the professional way."

Now, back to the world outside New York: The Yankees-Mets series makes for scintillating television, but the rest of the interleague schedule is pretty boring. The San Jose Mercury News' Skip Bayless asks why MLB overlords force the Giants to play the Athletics every year, given that no one cares. "Neither fandom wants to give the other the pleasure of appearing to care about losing to them. So the only rivalry is to see which side can be more blasé about the rivalry."

And forget the Freeway Series. "You can't call what the Dodgers and Angels have a rivalry," the Los Angeles Times' Diane Puchin writes. When Angels pitcher Dennis Cook pegged Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green Sunday, both benches cleared, but the players didn't have the heart to come to blows. "The Yankees and Mets, they would have thrown punches. That's what East Coast rivals do. … West Coast rivals simply sputter some bad words under their breaths, then shuffle off the field. Some players on each team were actually giggling as they walked back to their dugouts."

Wake me when we're a dynasty: The Los Angeles Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets to win their third straight title last week, but columnists won't concede that they're a so-called NBA "dynasty" yet. The Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock says the Lakers must "four-peat" to earn the "dynasty" distinction. ESPN.com's Bill Simmons agrees, arguing that any dynasty must survive a rough challenge to its supremacy. Was no one watching the Western Conference Finals?

In other NBA news, the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith reports that Mike Dunleavy, a small forward from Duke, is considering withdrawing his name from the NBA draft list and returning to college. (Dunleavy would be a senior and still have a year of eligibility left.) What could drive Dunleavy away from NBA millions and back to Durham? The Golden State Warriors, the sad-sack franchise that has designs on taking him with the No. 3 pick.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Ray Ratto advises Dunleavy on how to flunk his interview with the Warriors. "He could simply not show, which is usually a strong indication of disinterest. He could call the Warriors and say, 'I'm sorry, but I'm scheduled for a dose of whooping cough and will have to reschedule for sometime in July.' Or, better, to say it in a foreign language."

Department of Pathos: Former Arkansas Razorbacks hoopster Ron Huery auctioned off his Final Four ring to pay outstanding traffic fines, the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Phil Stukenborg reports. The ring fetched $1,500 on Ebay. Huery, 34, who played in the 1990 Final Four, owes the city of Memphis more than $3,000. He hasn't driven in eight years. 

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Bryan Curtis is a staff writer for Grantland. Follow him on Twitter.