One of the oldest sayings in sports holds that you'd better make the most of a championship appearance, because you might never get there again.

Dave McMenamin of NBA.com wrote that both coaches in the league finals told their teams similar stories before the current L.A.-Orlando face-off.

Before Game 1, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told his team the story of Miami Dolphins great Dan Marino after a Super Bowl appearance. The quarterback ticked off a whole list things he would do differently "when he got back there."

Only he never made it back.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson told a story along the same lines.

"One of my friends and colleagues and also kind of a mentor was Johnny 'Red' Kerr," Jackson remembered. "Johnny was the announcer in Chicago for a number of years when I was there. We used to sit and chat a lot, and he said at one point, 'I came into this game in 1954 and ended up going to the 1955 finals with Syracuse in my rookie year, and I thought, hey, this is a great life.'

"'And then Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain came into the game and suddenly I never got back to the finals again.'"

Moral of the stories? Take your best shot when you have it because it might be the only one you're going to get.

Trivia time. The first Conn Smythe Trophy honoring the MVP of the Stanley Cup finals was awarded in 1965. Who won it?

Unimpressed. The Texas Rangers went to Boston over the weekend and won a series against the Red Sox in Fenway for the first time in 12 years. They're in first place in the AL West and threatening to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy was totally unimpressed.

"It's hard to take Texas seriously," he wrote. "The Rangers are the only team in major league baseball never to win a playoff series. They will tank. Sooner or later.

"Always do."

Home cookin'. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals faces off in Pittsburgh tomorrow night with the Detroit Red Wings holding a 3-2 lead.

This is the first time since 2003 that the home team has won each of the first five games of the finals. That year, New Jersey beat Anaheim, 4-3, as the home team won every game.

Both of the current coaches were involved in that series: Mike Babcock was Anaheim's coach and Dan Bylsma was one of his players.

Trivia answer. Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens.

Contact staff writer Don McKee at 215-854-4611 or
This article contains information from the Associated Press.