It’s April, and almost summer time…for me, that means one thing…NBA Playoffs. The summer is a dull, dry, boring, and testing time for a sports fan. Looking ahead, things appear pretty gloom. Football season is long gone, college football spring training is done, the NBA playoffs will be over, and all that’s left will be baseball. That’s right, baseball. The absence of all fairly decent sports in the summer is the sole reason that baseball is still alive in this country. OK, OK, I might be exaggerating a little, but seriously baseball is by far the least exciting of all the major sports in the US (including soccer, hockey and golf). The thing is, in the summer there is nothing else to watch. All the other sports are out of season, and even the TV shows are out of season. Anyway, the summer is a tough time for a sports fan…that is why we must embrace, love, and cherish these moments of bliss we have now…I give you the NBA Playoffs…Where Amazing Happens.
Over the next three or so weeks, sports fans will be glued to their TVs watching the NBA Playoffs, hoping it never ends. And while they’re watching they won’t be able to avoid a certain amount of Latino flavor. There are currently 9 Latinos playing in the NBA playoffs, which is a pretty good number considering only the top 50% of teams in the NBA even make it to the playoffs. One of the Latino players you will see running the hardwood on your TV screen is Nuggets center Nene Hilario, who goes by just “Nene”. The 28 year old Brazilian has played an important role for the Denver Nuggets this season, who earned the 5th spot in the West and are now in the playoffs. Nene is known for his stellar defense and his high flying dunks. He dunked the ball so much this year that he led the whole NBA in field goal percentage. The nuggets are playing the Oklahoma City Thunder but are currently down two games to none. Hopefully Nene can help turn things around for the Nuggets.
Another match-up to be watching in the playoffs is the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams feature star Latino players. Manu Ginobli (pictured left) is one of the most well known and well respected Latino players in the league. From Argentina, Ginobli is a two time all-star and has even won an NBA sixth man of the year award. He helped lead his Spurs to a first place regular season finish in the West this year. The Spurs are matched up against the Grizzles, who feature a Latino star of their own. Marc Gasol of Barcelona, Spain is a young, blossoming talent, but still a force to be reckoned with on the court. Gasol is only in his third NBA season, but he is already averaging almost 12 points per game. He is the younger brother of established NBA center Pau Gasol, so he has talent in his blood (it may also help that he is seven feet tall). Gasol’s Grizzlies are tied with the Spurs at one game a piece in the series, but don’t worry, this one is a win-win for the Latinos.