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Sports Round-Up

6:54 PM, Jun 8, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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1) My friend Hugh Hewitt and I have something of a passion for belittling Pittsburgh sports fans. For instance, both Hugh and I felt that Barack Obama's comment about rural Pennsylvanians being bitter was perfectly understandable in the context that anyone who spent half his mental energy trying to convince himself that Ben Roethlisberger is an elite NFL quarterback would of course be bitter.

But Pittsburgh fans really outdid themselves the other night at Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. The hometown Penguins were trailing the Red Wings 3-2 in the series, so it was a must-win. Naturally, the Penguin fans showed their support by dressing themselves in white. Only one problem - Pittsburgh wears black at home, and the Red Wings wear white on the road. It must have felt like a home game for Detroit and a road game for the Pens. Is there any doubt why the Red Wings were able to prevail even on hostile ice?

Don't cry a song of pity for Pittsburgh, though. With young stars like Yevgeny Malkin and Sid Crosby, the Penguins will probably win five of the next seven Stanley Cups. Just think how many chances that will give their fans to wear the right colored shirts!

2) Hall of Famer Bill Walton knows what his former teammate Larry Bird was all about. His comments in today's Globe regarding his son, present-day Laker Luke Walton, were right on the money:

"Luke got to see Larry play, and if you were ever in the Boston Garden, when Larry Bird was playing basketball, your life was never the same. The level of inspiration, dedication, and motivation - to go along with his remarkable talent - it was something that changed people forever and Luke saw that at the earliest of ages. His determination is a direct result of Larry Bird's brilliance."

Admittedly there's a touch of hyperbole in those sentiments. But only a touch. Larry Bird did inspire people. There have been few like him. Scratch that - there have been none.

3) Speaking of the Celtics, I have yet to offer a prediction on their match-up with the Lakers in the Finals. Here goes: Celtics in 5. I know I'm in a minority here, but I'm confident the Celtics are a significantly better team. Kobe Bryant's the best player in the league, but it's a team game. I've even become confident that the Celtics will be able to overcome their coach Doc Rivers.

The 2007-2008 Celtics became the 2007-2008 Celtics once again during the Detroit series. I don't think there will be any looking back. However, I do have one caveat to my Celtics in 5 prediction - I've been saying since the match-up was determined that the Celtics would lose one of the first two games in the Garden but sweep the trio of road games in L.A. I figured with Game Two about to begin in two hours, I'd better slide that prediction under the wire.