NBA Finals grow into a riveting series. World Cup? Uh, can I get back to you on that?

Overwhelming media attention (i.e. hype) from some of the nation's biggest establishment organs, Time, the New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, have hammered home that the World Cup is a big friggin' deal world-wide, and it's about time Americans got with the program.


Of course, Americans have always enjoyed soccer - just never to a greater extent in sheer numbers than football or basketball, and certainly not to the manic extent virtually every other nation in the world has.


And the excessive build-up has certainly helped ESPN and ABC's ratings for the first weekend of the month long event.


But this reporter is not buying into the hype.


Last week USA Today columnist Christine Brennan listed why soccer will never be that popular in the states, despite the overheated rhetoric every four years that it ultimately will be here in America.


Remember when soccer was going to be the sport of the '70s, when the great Pele came to play for the New York Cosmos? That didn't work, so the slogan changed with the times. Sport of the '80s? How about the '90s?


That went nowhere. The coming of David Beckham to America in 2007 gave rise to a new theme: Soccer as the sport of the 21st century. He seemed to be the answer -- except that he wasn't at all. It didn't matter how many magazine covers and newspaper front pages he graced. When he played, more than 99% of American households actively decided to not watch on TV.


And then when one wants to watch and enjoy the World Cup, you have to content with that obnoxious noise from an instrument called a vuvuzela (which I swore I heard while watching the World Cup in 2006 in Germany, but seems to be a new phenomenon).


There had been talk of banning the trumpets for the duration of the games.  But, according to the New York Times, no such luck:


In a statement on Monday, Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the World Cup organizing committee, reiterated that “the vuvuzela will continue to be allowed during the tournament and the status quo has not changed,” adding that complaints had been isolated.


Again, let me reiterate.  I love the idea of the World Cup-  of the whole world getting together and absorbing the action as one unit.  It's like the Olympics used to be back in the 1970's.  It's disdainful of how American championships have always hijacked the term "world championship" for our national championship games, which has always been a case of American exceptionalism run amok.


But whether it's the relative lack of scoring or what not, this hardcore American sports fan has a hard time relating to watching soccer.


Likewise, I know many folks, foreign and domestic, who have issues with the American staples of football, baseball and basketball.  Big time issues.  And that's fine.


I certainly respect the soccer nation, and I'm glad you're psyched about the next month of action from South Africa.


But I'm more psyched over the next couple of basketball games happening this week.

The NBA Finals return to Los Angeles on Tuesday night for Game Six, with the Boston Celtics now up 3-2 over the Lakers, following the Celts best performance of the series so far, in winning 92-86 on Sunday night in Beantown.

Despite the fact that they look like the better team right now, there are a considerable number of those in the NBA  "community" (i.e. fans and media)  who think the Lakers (with perhaps some aid from the refs) will find a way to win tonight's game at the Staples Center, which would mean a climactic Game Seven in Los Angeles (which if it happens, would be only the 2nd time in the past 16 years that the finals have gone to a climactic finale).

By the way, with all of the incessant hype about the world's most popular sport (soccer), ratings for Game 5 of the basketball Finals on Thursday night brought in a 12.8 overnight rating, the highest for that particular game since 2004.  Sunday night's game was fascinating, particularly towards the end when an ABC microphone caught Laker coach Phil Jackson trying to psych his team up by claiming nobody chokes greater in the clutch than the Celtics.

(According to STATS LLC, Jackson was wrong.  The Celtics lost 13 times in the regular season when they led in the fourth quarter, which doesn't even put them in the top ten in that dubious category.  However, the Celtics lost 14 times when leading by double digits at any point in a game, the most in the NBA behind Memphis.)

But what about soccer?  Despite all of the clamor, the ratings are good, but not as impressive as in 1994, when the U.S. hosted the World Cup at a variety of locations across the country, with the championship game played in the 100,000 plus Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The Seattle-Post Intelligencer's blog says Saturday's match between the U.S. and U.K. was 6.1.

The three-hour telecast rating — including the pre-match coverage — was 6.1, which ranks fifth all-time behind three World Cup finals (including the 1993 Women's final) and a round of 16 game in 1994 between USA and Brazil.

We're sure there were many among you who watched Saturday afternoon's "Special Relationship" World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and England that ended in a 1-1 tie.

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