This season’s Boston Celtics recorded the largest one-year improvement in NBA history (24-58 to 66-16), but they are longshots to win what counts most – the league’s championship.
Oddsmakers have established Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as heavy favourites over the Celts in the NBA final, which opens Thursday night.
The Lakers are $1.95 favourites, meaning wagerers who take them must lay that much to win a dollar. If the Celts prevail, bettors would collect $1.65 for every dollar they place on them.
• My hunch: Boston with the upset in seven games (with a reminder that I’m sometimes wrong). . .Oddsmakers have established Bryant as the series’ MVP favourite, at 2.25-to-1. Then come the Celts’ Kevin Garnett at +2.25-to-1 and Paul Pierce at +4.75-to-1. . .After last season, before they acquired Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celts were 300-to-1 underdogs to capture this year’s championship. . .Oddsmakers also have issued this highly unusual prop bet: Will Charles Barkley be spotted on a casino gaming floor before the start of the 2008-2009 season? Payouts are +1.75 for a yes and -3.75 for a no. The ex-NBA-star-turned-analyst, who recently paid off a gambling debt of about $400,000, has vowed on national TV that he’d refrain from gambling for at least a year.
• In baseball, sources are telling us the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners are bidding for catcher/first baseman Scott Hatteberg, released last week by the Cincinnati Reds. . .The Chicago Cubs have won only one road series this season, yet they occupied first place heading into June for only the first time since 1908. . .The first-place Tampa Bay Rays are for real but they still rank dead-last in AL attendance. . .From the New York Daily News: The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez “must have been so bummed” after a recent loss that, during a post-game meal at Hooters in Baltimore, he dismissed a young fan who wanted his autograph. "Excuse me, Mr. Rodriguez, may I please have your autograph?" the excited 10-year-old asked him. Rodriguez’s response: "Beat it." He had two different words for the chesty waitress he bumped into as he left. "Nice ass."
• And these sure have been wonderful days for Chris Osgood, eh?
Besides starting and starring in the post-season for the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran goaltender learned from NHL.com that actress Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has had a crush on him since childhood and used to pretend they were married.