Serenity Now

Serenity Now

By Chamomiles Davis 

If there is one that I, speaking as
a Philadelphia sports fan, have in short supply it is serenity. The
word itself means little to me. It is a state of mind experienced elsewhere
only.

Living in a town with four major sporting
franchises that did nothing but get gut-punched season after ringless
season for twenty-five years, the words best used to describe our own
state of mind would be, to suggest a few: "anguish," "turmoil,"
"despair," "disgust," "belligerence,"
"self-hatred," "stress leading to premature baldness,"
and "drunk." Not necessarily in that order, mind you.

The Phillies finally ended the drought
last October which, don't get me wrong, was absolutely beautiful. I
cried, let me put it that way. But I'm not talking about the Fightins.
Or the Flyers. Or, um... (Geez, what's their name? You know, that basketball
team that used to play in Philly? They were pretty good, too. What were
they called? Oh, right -- the Warriors.)

Every year at an Eagles press conference
that follows yet another fruitless season (this year makes 49, for those
masochists who keep count), I'm supposed to be sucked in by a self-deluded
cabal of owners and coaches who want us to believe that "this is
the year," when I'm not entirely sure these people are convinced
by their own words.

Or maybe they are, when I hear some
of the insane quotes emanating from the Eagles team president. We're
the "gold standard," Mr. Banner? Really? So then I guess that
would make the Patriots the platinum standard, and the Steelers some
kind of ultra-precious metal that hasn't been discovered yet.

Banner also likes to point out that
for the last several years the best team has NOT been the one who won
the Super Bowl. Riiiiight. And I'll bet the teams that keep beating
Philly in the NFC Championship Game must downright SUCK. Please.

Getting back to this "serenity"
concept: Each year Eagles fans are taunted with the recurring notion
that the missing pieces are finally in place. Everyone's happy, sufficiently
healthy and focused on one goal: Mr. Lombardi's trophy. Experts will
wax endlessly about how much of a threat the Eagles are going to be
in the NFC, blah blah blah, then generously present Philadelphia with
10-12 gift-wrapped wins before a single meaningful down has been played.

Then we as a fan base get to spend
an evening in early February following a decades-long tradition: Watching
another team win the Super Bowl. What fun, especially when that team
we're watching happens to be the Cowboys, Giants or Redskins. Suddenly
their fans crawl out from the sewers, appearing before our eyes as if
by magic. They take great pleasure in reminding us that, with the departure
of Arizona to the NFC West, that we are the only team in our division
not only without a single championship, but at least three.

The summer months just fly by after
that, I can tell you. Then we have to perform a collective lobotomy,
block out the pain, and renew our hopes that this year, Joe Banner and
Jeff Lurie aren't just talking out of their asses. Well, you can; I'm
done.

I've decided that it is time that serenity
trumps crushed expectations. In order to achieve this elusive mindset,
I've had to come to grips with one sad, yet undeniable fact.

No matter how good they become, no
matter how weak the competition may seem, the Philadelphia Eagles are
never, EVER going to win the Super Bowl. Ever.

If the National Football League lasts
for another 200 years, I am convinced that every team (yes, even Arizona)
will win at least one Super Bowl. Except the Eagles.

The Lions can't suck this bad forever.
The Browns were once a mighty and glorious team and I believe they will
be again. Houston will stumble into a championship sooner or later.
Tennessee is due. Buffalo and Minnesota are WAYYYYY due.

The Eagles will never win one, though,
because they've never been able to defeat their toughest opponent: themselves.
Whenever they are poised on the brink of glory, there is a self-manufactured
catastrophe brewing on the horizon. I'll blame the fog for what happened
in 1988. But I blame nerves for 1980, overconfidence for 2002, weak
receivers for 2003, and vomit for 2004.

No game plan devised by an opposing
team's coach could have done more damage than the Eagles did to themselves
in those years, years in which the Promised Land was just in sight,
tantalizingly close.

Don't get me wrong. I WANT the Eagles
to win a Super Bowl. I want them to win ten of them, all in a row. I
want the fans of other teams to hate us for something other than our
reputation as a sports town. But ask me if I think they will, and my
answer remains, "No way. Never."

There's my conundrum. How can I root
for a team that both my gut and my brain says has no shot to soothe
the anguish which has been accumulating ever since Buck Shaw(!) outcoached
Vince Lombardi in December of 1960? Why put myself through this?

Why? Because I love football, and because
I could never root for another team. I could especially never root for
a team that has already experienced success, which would make me that
despicable breed of sub-human known as a front-runner.

If nothing else, I can tell myself
that believing the Birds will never achieve total success is simply
a reverse-jinx, and thus I can hope for a parade down Broad Street any
day now. But I'm not holding my breath. Instead I will settle down and
watch my beloved Eagles grunt and sweat their way through another disappointing
season, awash in a sea of newfound serenity.

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

Sixers draw high praise from Warriors after loss to NBA leader

BOX SCORE

The Warriors are the blueprint of a total team in the NBA. They have a star-studded starting lineup and a top sixth man with the positional versatility that creates hard-to-combat matchups.

Yet, as the Warriors notched their 50th win of the season, 119-108, in a collaborative effort against the Sixers, they gave credit to the potential they see in their opponent, even when Brett Brown didn't have his key pieces on the court Monday (see Instant Replay).

"They play hard," Stephen Curry said. "They have some talent to work around. Hopefully they have some consistency with their roster going forward and getting guys healthy. One thing about them, you've got to compliment their energy and effort and fight every night they play."

Facing the Warriors with a full squad is challenging enough. The Sixers did it shorthanded without Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a left knee contusion (see story). They also are less than a week removed from trading starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

"You've got to give this team a lot of credit," Draymond Green said. "They're going to be really, really, really good. I mean, they're missing Embiid and Ben Simmons and they're really on their way."

With 10 available players, including Justin Anderson, who has had just one shootaround to actually get a run in with the team, the Sixers fought until the final buzzer sounded. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 21 points and seven assists, while also collecting seven rebounds. Gerald Henderson scored 16 and both Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes added 15 (see feature highlight). Covington also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

"They play the right way," Klay Thompson said. "They made it tough on us tonight. I'm excited to see their team when Embiid and Simmons are healthy. It should be a scary frontcourt, and with Saric. They're heading in the right direction. They'll only get better this June because they have some high picks. It's a bright future in Philly."

The Sixers held the Warriors to 6 for 29 three-point shooting (20.7 percent), including an 0-for-11 outing by Curry. This was the third time this season and only the 37th time in his career Curry missed all of his three-point attempts.

"I think he had an off night," Brown said. "I think at times we got lucky with them as a team. They didn't shoot it the way the team normally would shoot it. Some of it is I give our guys credit."

Curry took his uncharacteristic performance, which included a pair of air-balls, in stride.

"The weatherman said it was a low-pressure system that was coming and I forgot to adjust," Curry said. "One thing, [I] don't ever get down on myself. Obviously that's why I got 11 of them up and not make one. You still have confidence the next one's going in."

Still, the Warriors turned to team basketball to pull away with the win. While they struggled from long range, they found other ways to run up the scoreboard, including shooting 33 for 39 at the free throw line.

Kevin Durant led all players with 27 points to go with eight rebounds. Green recorded a 14-point, 11-assist double-double and six boards. Thompson scored 21 points and Zaza Pachulia added 16. And at the end of the night, Curry still finished with 19 points in spite of his three-point woes.

"We've been doing this for a while together now and just try to find ways to get it done," Green said. "Obviously you've got to do a lot more on the defensive end to get stops, and try to create more offense. I think it was a good effort from everybody tonight to chip in."

Added Curry: "For us to still have the moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O."

The Warriors are a perennial title contender thanks to their balanced roster and depth of weapons. The Sixers are in the beginning stages of working toward that goal. After Monday's game, the NBA's strongest example of "team" appreciated the direction in which Sixers are moving.

"Putting this franchise back together," Green said, "it's amazing to see."

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).