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Sports Chat: NBA, NHL Zero In On Finals Matches


It's time for sports with NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey, how you doing?

MARTIN: I'm doing well. Let's talk a little hockey, shall we?

PESCA: Yes. As we always do on Sunday.

MARTIN: You know how it goes.

PESCA: You and I.

MARTIN: Yeah, just, you know, shooting the - yeah, conversation. We're in the middle of the NHL playoffs. The Boston Bruins have a one-game win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the west, the Chicago Blackhawks are winning their series against the L.A. Kings, which will wrap up what you say has been an incomparable season. How come? Why incomparable?

PESCA: Well, yes. I mean it in a couple of ways. First of all, it was a shortened season. So, 48 games instead of 82. And that's pretty good. I mean, that was nice and tight. But what it means is that the teams don't get to play each other, which we would have like to have seen, especially because the Blackhawks and the Penguins have been two extremely good teams. How good? And here's how the other version of incomparable comes in. You know, the Blackhawks, if you extrapolate their 48 games into 82, you can make the case that they are one of the one or two best teams in the history of hockey. Unfortunately, you can't make that case not only because the season was short but because they only played teams in their own conference. And the way hockey calibrates its statistics has changed over the years and it makes kind of generational comparisons a little hard.

MARTIN: OK. So, do you have a curveball for us this week?

PESCA: Yes. Well, this is - I'm very excited about this. I talked to Joe Namath, who's not only famous but I would have to say my dad's favorite athlete of all time. And we talked - it was a wide range of conversation. He's promoting the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's kind of getting out there and doing some amazing new things this year, and that's what he was talking about. But, of course, it ranged far afield. But I had to ask him actually about his name, his famous name - not just the nickname Broadway Joe but his actually name. Here's what he said.

JOE NAMATH: Well, you know, actually, my full name is Joseph William Joseph Namath. I have two Josephs.

PESCA: What? What?

NAMATH: My confirmation name, my Uncle Joe's name, who was my godfather, so you take on your godfather's name as a third name before the last name. It's Joseph William Joseph Namath, yes.

MARTIN: He's a double Joseph?

PESCA: He's two Josephs. And here's the other thing, right? So, you think that of those four names, the two Josephs are the ones that stand out. I said what about your nickname, because they always call you Joe Willie Namath. I never heard of anyone with a middle name nickname. How did that come about? And, you know, there's a backstory there. The story that he used to tell everyone was, you know, he's from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, he went to Alabama. He's like you know how those Southerners like to have two names - Joe Bob - so I adopted it there. Then he told me he was looking at his Social Security card that he signed as a 16-year-old in Beaver Falls and he was calling himself Joe Willie then - Joe Willie Joseph Namath.

MARTIN: Good one. NPR's Mike Pesca. I like to call him Mike Willie Mike. Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: Thanks, Rachel Willie Martin.

MARTIN: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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