Remember how contentious that first-round series was between Atlanta and Boston in the 2008 playoffs? Yapping, thugging, mean-mugging all over the place, and eighth-seeded Atlanta taking the eventual champs to seven games before Boston casually dispatched the underdog with a roughly 40,000-point beating in the pivotal game.
(”Where’s the damn money, Paul?! WHERE’S MY MONEY?”)
We mention this, of course, because we always like dragging up 18-month old news. No no, we kid. That’s not true. No, the real issue is that apparently, that trash talk between Al Horford and Paul Pierce at the end of Game Three might have been over a cool $10,000 - a bet that, according to Henry Abbott, is outstanding to this day.
We really wish we’d known this going into the whole deal, but apparently, the FIBA Americas tournament going on down in Puerto Rico is seriously bad-blooded. That whole deal with Mexico and Uruguay* going Bobby Knight on each other? That wasn’t entirely an isolated incident, it appears.
(How are you going to mess with this woman? Honestly, people.)
The latest incident wasn’t nearly as violent, but that’s only because cooler heads prevailed. The incident, after all, had the makings of the worst kind of fight: the one that participants take personally. After all, you do not mess with Charlie Villanueva’s mother. You. Just. Don’t.
I guess it’s not that surprising that the Los Angeles Lakers have started off the NBA season undefeated - they return all the pieces from the Western Conference champions, with a healthy Andrew Bynum to boot. But the Atlanta Hawks? Really? In its own way, it’s almost as improbable as when the Houston Rockets went on that 22-game winning streak last season.
Clearly, it has to end at some point, and you would think sooner rather than later. But there the Hawks were last night, going into Chicago and taking out the Bulls 113-108 behind a career-high 27 points and 17 rebounds by Al Horford. And their starting PF Josh Smith isn’t even playing!
Of course, tonight is a bit of a litmus test, since they are playing the defending champion Boston Celtics. Win that game, and then we’ll really have something. As for the other undefeated team, the Lakers matched the Hawks (who often do you read that?) by beating the Mavericks 106-99. Meanwhile, Phil Jackson is so thrilled that he’s thinking about not coming back next season.
Other live, local and late-breaking sports news:
- The BALTIMORE SUN reports that the Orioles are giving their uniforms and logo a makeover. Michael Kors thinks that they are “fresh and flirty” but Nina Garcia thinks they are “tired and stale.” What will Heidi say?
- Remember Michael Hodges, the ex-Arena Football player who was arrested last week after going nuts while trying to get on a plane? KNDO-TV reports that jail apparently isn’t treating him too well, as he’s facing additional charges after allegedly biting a prison officer’s finger off during a scuffle.
- The rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup was a doozy, says the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: the Penguins beat the Red Wings 7-6 in OT on Ruslan Fedotenko’s game-winner.
- The LA TIMES says that Lakers fans have more reason to celebrate beyond the team’s success: their local TV affiliate KCAL has decided to stop the practice of tape-delaying East Coast games this season, which was totally pointless and maddeningly infuriating for today’s DVR-taping, instant-score-updating sports fan.
- The BOSTON GLOBE has good news and bad news for Patriots fans on the Tom Brady front: he is back with the team while rehabbing, but is still being slowed by the lingering post-surgery knee infection.
- A good story from the golf world: a contingent of PGA Tour players, including Woody Austin, Jason Gore and Bob Tway, are heading to the Gulf Coast to play in a charity pro-am tournament to benefit housing needs for people still impacted by Hurricane Katrina, forgoing their usual appearance fees and other perks.
- Your new Raiders’ scapegoat? Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who has been relieved of his play-calling duties by Al Davis. Expect an exciting overhead slide show shortly.
- And speaking of Bay Area scapegoats: PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that head coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Mike Martz have found one for the 49ers’ loss to the Cardinals on Monday night. Not poor clock management or ineffectual play calling - it was getting bad information from officials.
- First the Idaho football team plays with “I”s on their butts, now the IDAHO STATESMAN notes that players are calling the cops and having other players arrested after fights.
- If any college football team is going to have a uniform with wings, it has to be the Oregon Ducks, as reported by NIKE BLOG. But I would think that Red Bull would be a better sponsor.
Tags: Al Davis
, Al Horford
, Andrew Bynum
, Atlanta Hawks
, Baltimore Orioles
, Bob Tway
, Crazy Uniforms
, Detroit Red Wings
, Greg Knapp
, Idaho Vandals
, Jason Gore
, Los Angeles Lakers
, Michael Hodges
, Mike Martz
, Mike Singletary
, New England Patriots
, Oakland Raiders
, Oregon Ducks
, Phil Jackson
, Pittsburgh Penguins
, Ruslan Fedotenko
, San Francisco 49ers
, Tom Brady
, Woody Austin
• The FLORIDA TIMES-UNION serves up news that Maria Sharapova is back in championship form, as she wins her first-ever title on clay.
And Maria’s prize - a lovely crystal 7-11 Big Gulp cup, good for one free refill.
• Speaking of a dirtier kind of Clay - with the Sonics having possibly played their last game in Key Arena, NOTTEN THIS LIFE looks to see where most Seattle fans fall in the Five Stages of Grief.
• Darren Rovell of CNBC has an idea who Derrick Rose’s NBA agent will be - and it’s not LeBron’s bud.
• USA TODAY’s GAME ON combs through their 5 favorite NHL playoff beards.
STEPHEN A. SMITH SOCKED BY FANS’ SILLY CINEMATICS: FAN IQ finds a fun video made at the NBA Draft featuring ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith - in sock puppet form!
A group billing itself as “The Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen” came to the Big Apple to take a bite out of His Quite Frankness, via a dingy sock puppet.
The laundry-day escapee called out his cotton-mouthed comments to the draftees as they escaped down a corridor. Some of the grandiose gems:
To Al Horford: “Some people say you’re the best forward since Slava Medvedenko!”
“Why hasn’t my praise changed your life, Brandon Wright?
“Because he’s been such a man of the people, and because his hair is so long, I hereby dub thee Joakim Noah, the People’s Princess!”
“I’m Stephen A. Smith! Every thing I say is important!
The video also has a little bonus at the end, starring another member of the Worldwide Leader’s crew:
That would be Stuart Scott checking out his new ESPN Mobile - or maybe placing a booty call.