Tuesday, June 16, 2009
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: World's reputation saved by Lakers

Just once, I'd like to see "The World" get its due.

Just once, I'd like to see "The World" get its due.

And by "The World," I'm referring to the sporting majority, as loosely defined by college and professional athletes.

You know, the ones jocks always like to tell you they've shocked as the confetti falls.

The World includes cynical columnists, casual fans, television blow-hards, Las Vegas linesmakers -- basically, anybody who ignores Yogi Berra and tells you it's over before it is.

Want the truth? The World is often right. Yet The World never -- never! -- gets any love.

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA title on Sunday night. The World saw this coming in September.

Late in games, the young, inexperienced Magic did not have the finishing kick of the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers. The World told you this would be the case the moment the matchup was set.

When Orlando fell behind 3-1 in the finals, The World said the series was done. If you'd listened to The World, you could have spent your Sunday night folding laundry instead of watching the Magic wilt at home in Game 5.

So as the teams put the 2008-09 NBA season to rest in the coming days, here are a few quotes I'd like to see coming from the Orlando Magic players and coaches. I'm quite certain The World has earned it:

n "Nobody outside this locker room gave us a chance. And you know what? They were right. I'm starting to think this locker room might have a drinking problem."

n "We never lost faith in ourselves. Never. We tuned out all distractions and doubters. And come to think of it, that was a lousy move by us. We'll have to try a different strategy next season."

n "We've been underdogs all year. And in the case of these finals, boy, did we ever deserve to be. Not even the guy who picked Mine That Bird in the Derby would bet on us. Hey, these are tough economic times. Fiscally wise decision on his part."

n (With a nod to Bruce Dickinson of "More Cowbell" fame) "Hey, the Lakers put their shorts on one leg at a time just like we do. Except once they put their shorts on, they win championships."

n "I said before Game 5 that we would send the series back to L.A. In fact, I guaranteed it. Let this be a lesson that I cannot be trusted."

n "I thought those Kobe and LeBron puppet commercials looked pretty silly considering we knocked LeBron out of the playoffs. Now I realize that I had a limited understanding of sports marketing. Let's face it: An ousted LeBron sells more shoes than all of us put together."

And finally:

n "WE VALIDATED THE WORLD!"

n n n

I realize this is a week late, but kudos to Blacksburg High School for winning its 10th boys soccer championship.

After the Bruins' improbable semifinal victory over previously unbeaten Jefferson Forest, which included Blacksburg keeper Michael Releford saving three out of four penalty kicks, heartbroken Cavaliers coach Jedd Zaring could not stop praising counterpart Shelley Blumenthal.

Zaring quipped that he wouldn't put it past Blumenthal to have stationed someone at the JF practices to watch how each player shoots PKs. Zaring was only kidding, but you get his point. The Bruins are routinely among the most prepared teams in any sport come June.

Several Blacksburg players -- apparently fueled by Internet chatter -- viewed themselves as underdogs throughout the tournament, but I'm not so sure they ever were.

After all, The World is a sucker for pedigree.

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