Saturday Sports: NBA Finals, French Open

Jun 1, 2019
Originally published on June 2, 2019 10:57 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Abhor the dinosaur - a surprise start to the NBA Finals, a sad reminder of dangers along the foul lines, French Open hedging with round 16. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Bruce Allen (ph), a listener, writes us this morning. He suggests, revile the reptile. The - I've got disobey the dromaeosauridae. I can go all day.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Oh, my God.

SIMON: Raptors are up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series - Game 2 tomorrow night in Toronto. But the Dubs are still the Dubs, aren't they?

GOLDMAN: Look, the Dubs flubbed. But don't snub the Dubs, bub.

SIMON: (Laughter).

GOLDMAN: Two can play, Scott. OK. Look. Golden State - they're still the champs.

SIMON: Like I said, I could go all day. It sounds like you and I will go all day, but go ahead. Yes.

GOLDMAN: Golden State - still the champs. They're in their fifth-straight finals. And I think we owe them, as one of the all-time great teams, to not pronounce them in serious trouble yet. They do need to play with more urgency and hurry back on defense. And Draymond Green needs to play - you know, he gets - needs to get back playing like a wrecking ball, rather than a whiffle ball. But I think you will see Golden State react and adjust tomorrow. But Scott, Toronto is a very good defensive team and certainly has Golden State's attention.

SIMON: I love Pascal Siakam.

GOLDMAN: Oh. Who doesn't?

SIMON: What a story he is, too.

GOLDMAN: The star of Game 1 of the NBA Finals - 32 points, eight rebounds, a bunch of other great stuff. He's been playing organized basketball for about eight years. That's fairly stunning. He's from Cameroon - was studying for the priesthood, although when he was 15 - 10 years ago - he realized he didn't want to be a priest. And we're all thankful for that - NBA fans. So he started behaving badly at his seminary in hopes of getting kicked out. But he was a really bright student, so he stayed and graduated.

He then gravitated to basketball, which wasn't a stretch since his brothers played college ball in the U.S. He got noticed by the right people, paid his dues in the minor leagues. And now, Scott, here he is - Game 1 star. He certainly got noticed by Draymond Green, who said he has to take Siakam out of the series. And that looks like a pretty big challenge right now.

SIMON: Alarming moment Wednesday night in Houston - Albert Almora Jr. of the Cubs hit a foul ball that unfortunately struck a young girl. She was hospitalized. His reaction was heart-stopping. He is the father of two. He immediately screamed. He threw his arms over his head and knelt. This tragedy rekindles a long-running argument in Major League Baseball about fan safety.

GOLDMAN: A study published last year said about 1,750 fans are hurt each year by foul balls at major league games. We notice when tragic things like what happened this week happen, or last year when a woman died after being hit at Dodger Stadium - you know, all ballparks had their netting extended to improve safety along the foul lines.

But there are those who say that's still not enough. Almora, who you mentioned, and Cubs star Kris Bryant, among others, said they want to see nets all around the field. And that may take away a little of the sense of physical connection fans want to feel with players in the game, but, you know, it appears to be getting too dangerous not to.

SIMON: In Paris, third round of the French Open. Nadal and Federer look to be on course for meeting in the semifinals. Let me ask you about the women's side.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Sure.

SIMON: Sloane Stephens struggled but made it through to the round of the final 16.

GOLDMAN: Yes. And you know, it's so wide-open with the women. I - watch Croatian Petra Martic. Why not? She beat the No. 2 seed, Karolina Pliskova. Martic has won more clay court matches this season than anyone in the women's tour. She's only seeded 31st, but what the heck? In the last nine major championships, eight different women have won. So it's pretty wide-open on the women's side.

SIMON: And finally, footy.

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

SIMON: Champions League Final today between Liverpool and Tottenham...

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

SIMON: ...Taking place in Madrid. Gosh, couldn't they find a place closer to home? In any event, who do you see? We've got about 30 seconds.

GOLDMAN: Oh, sure. OK. Well, let me vamp a little bit. No. Liverpool - 119-105. Sorry. Still thinking hoops.

SIMON: (Laughter).

GOLDMAN: Liverpool, I'll say, 4-1.

SIMON: Liverpool - I have no idea. So I'll say Tottenham 7-3, OK?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) OK.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

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