You may have seen Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling courtside during Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night. On his blog, 38 pitches, Schilling shares his observations, which are pretty interesting. He’s an elite athlete — or at least an elite player of a sport — getting a closer-than-usual view of a league he says he doesn’t know much about “beyond some of the star players and the famous teams.”
Schilling, who’s rehabbing a biceps injury, marvels at how physical the game is when seen from close range. “These guys are in close, every play,” he writes. “They are beating the crap out of each other, and the refs see it. That makes me think that the game is called and paced exactly how the refs want it to be.”
That’s a pretty good observation.
His fifth, last and longest note is about Kobe Bryant. He writes that his “ridiculous” seats were practically on the Lakers bench, so he got a much closer view of the visiting team than he got of the Celtics.
“From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates,” writes Schilling, who again prefaces his remarks by saying he really doesn’t know much about Bryant. “Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about ‘hey let’s go, let’s get after it’ or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team …
“I have no idea how the guys in the NBA play or do things like this, but I thought it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates. Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and ‘Hey nice work, let’s get after it’ or something to that effect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works.”
Schilling describes Bryant’s conversations with teammates consisting mostly of Bryant yelling at them: “He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.”
Bryant has made a big point in the last year or so about publicly being a good teammate, smiling and slapping hands with his fellow Lakers, calling them over during his MVP ceremony, that sort of thing. It looked from the distance of the TV cameras that he wasn’t in that kind of mood Sunday, but then again the Lakers were having their hats handed to them, so it wasn’t an all-smiles kind of night.
You probably see the real person when things aren’t going so well. But for all that, I don’t think an up-close description of Michael Jordan in his prime would have read all that differently.
Schilling also expressed shock over Kevin Garnett getting a technical foul “because he said the F word, period.” He describes the referee explaining to Garnett’s teammates, “I can’t let him talk to me that way.”
“What?” Schilling writes. “Dude, you’re an NBA official, not the stinking pope. Not one person in the arena paid 1 cent of their ticket to see you; ref the game and shut your pie hole.”
Good advice, one a lot of people seem to think Schilling should take. It’s true he has few unexpressed thoughts, but even in the age of the celebrity blog it’s unusual to get the kind of unvarnished, from-the-hip opinions Schilling provides from a major celebrity. It’s worth a few minutes any time he posts.