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Saturday Sports: LeBron, Golden State Warriors And Condoleezza Rice


Time for sports.


SIMON: Condoleezza Rice. That's not a name we usually hear against this music. Condoleezza Rice tries to clean up college basketball. The Indiana Pacers clean the clock on the Cavaliers as the NBA playoffs go on and on, still just in the opening round. ESPN's Howard Bryant joins us. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey, Scott. Good morning.

SIMON: I wanted to spend all our time talking about the Browns' great clutch shot for all the time today, but let's note the Pacers defeated the Cavs last night by 34 points - yow (ph). Game 7 tomorrow. What do you foresee?

BRYANT: Well, I foresee a very difficult game for the Cavaliers. I think that we take LeBron James for granted because there are some people, Scott, who are simply so good that you don't really appreciate how good they are. Look at what he's done with a team that's not very good. Let's not forget that this team wasn't even the team they started the season with.

They expected to start the season with Kyrie Irving, and he ended up in Boston. And then they ended up making a huge trade in midseason, and so to still be in a seventh game - he's been to the finals seven straight years. He's trying to go eight years in a row. No one's ever done that. Bill Russell went 10 years in a row. He's the only one to ever do anything even close to this. And so LeBron James is just such a phenomenal player.

And even last night's game, for example, with Utah in Oklahoma City. You saw what happened with the Utah Jazz eliminating Oklahoma City, and so they're out.

They tried to do this three-headed monster with Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and to duplicate the same thing that LeBron did with Dwyane Wade in Miami with Chris Bosh, and it just shows you how difficult it is to get those superstars on the same page. They couldn't do it. And yet, LeBron takes everybody - any team LeBron plays on is a championship contender, no matter how good or bad they are.

SIMON: Yeah. I just want to take a moment to contemplate on his blocked shot and 3-point shot at the buzzer on Wednesday. OK, we've done it. Golden State - can't take the Pelicans for granted, can they?

BRYANT: No, they can't because you've got Anthony Davis, who's a terrific player. And once again, Golden State - they've been able to turn it on whenever they've wanted to. They've been the best team the last three seasons. And going for another championship - I still think they're the best team. I still will believe somebody can beat them four times when I actually see it. But let's not forget, they're a very good team, New Orleans, and also Houston as well. Let's not forget them.

SIMON: What do you take away from the recommendations the Condoleezza Rice Commission made about college basketball?

BRYANT: I think that they need a plow to clean up college basketball, and they - and this was a dust broom. It really was. It's not nearly enough. They talked about some of the one-and-done rules. They talked about recommendations.

You've got an economic problem here - that the players need to be compensated at some level. They did not even address that in any way because that would completely upset the apple cart, so they have a long way to go. But unless you're going to deal with compensating these players, you're not really going to get anything done.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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