At a pre-game social ceremony on April 16th, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik promised a hundred invited guests that he and the team would do all they could to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the NHL playoffs and extend their season “another two weeks.”
And then the Bolts went out and beat Detroit in seven games to advance. And then they beat Montreal in six, and then beat the New York Rangers in seven behind a six-foot-seven-inch goalie who knew the first team to score would win game seven and so he simply would not allow the Rangers a single goal!
Ben Bishop was doggedly determined to play for “another two weeks” in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The NHL and NBA post-seasons are all about winning another round and getting to play another two weeks. It is what makes mid-April thru mid-June so special to sports fans. Throw in the good chance that this year may see a Triple Crown winner in racing and it is heaven on earth to those of us who wait longingly for the football season around the bend.
LeBron James promised the Cleveland faithful that he would bring them an NBA title when he left Miami to come home to his native state and now he is only two weeks away from doing just that. James, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, has lifted his Cavalier teammates onto his shoulders through series in Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, winning all three, two in 4-0 sweeps. The next two weeks will see whether King James can dispatch the Golden State Warriors and phenomenal Stephen Curry to get title-starved Cleveland its first championship in any sport in fifty-years.
In these next two weeks, we’ll also see whether American Pharaoh has what it takes to add the Belmont Stakes to its Preakness and Kentucky Derby crowns and become the first horse in thirty-seven years to win The Triple Crown. The smart money is saying he will. But that Belmont mile-and-a-half distance that has stymied so many thoroughbreds before him sits there as the ultimate challenge in the “Sport of Kings.”
One of the greatest images in sports is the handshake in hockey after the last best-of-seven win between guys who look each other straight in the eye and shake their opponents’ hands and really mean it. These are the world’s very best hockey players who started playing their sport the day they were born, in frigid climates in different countries, and who learned their craft from parents and coaches beloved of the sport of hockey. They all know what it takes to win the Stanley Cup and what it will mean to each of them for the rest of their lives.
So sit back, sports fans, turn on your televisions and tablets, and enjoy another two weeks. It just doesn’t get any better than this.