Speed Read: A Handy LeBron Coronation Program

The 82-game NBA season ended with a gentle thud last night as the Bulls failed to secure the sixth spot in the East while the Spurs latched onto #3 in the West.  The Great Bennydini will be angered by this turn of events.

The Great Bennydini (Benny the Bull)

However, you can now express your joy in the NBA’s second season with your own SPORTSbyBROOKS NBA playoff matchups in convenient chart form:

Eastern Conference

  • #1 Cleveland We’ll Be Shouting ‘BOOBIE!’ as Much as Possibles vs. #8 Detroit Ballast Jettisoners
  • #2 Boston Can We Borrow a Dead Guy’s Knee for KG Like We Did for Curt Schillings vs. #7 Chicago Sixteen Guards and Whaddya Gets
  • #3 Orlando Dwight Hasn’t Figured Out a Costume Change to Make Him a Point Guard, Toos vs. #6 Philadelphia So Glad We’re Paying Elton Brand $18 Million in 2012-2013s
  • #4 Atlanta Name Three Players vs. #5 Miami Name Twos

Western Conference

  • #1 Los Angeles Kobe Clubs Baby Seals with Portuguese Water Dogs Wrapped in Veals vs. #8 Utah Deron Williams Falls Asleep Every Night Clutching a Copy of His Tear-Stained Contract After Failing to Find an Out Clauses
  • #2 Denver You’ve Got to Be Kiddings vs. #7 New Orleans Seriously, Aren’t These in the Wrong Orders
  • #3 San Antonio Flashbacks vs. #6 Dallas Hey, At Least We Haven’t Traded for Shaq Yets (Note: the above series has been moved to CBS and the Hallmark Channel as per FCC regulations around programming for the elderly.)
  • #4 Portland Maybe Next Years (But Don’t Tell Joel Przybilla’s Grandma We Said So) vs. #5 Houston There’s Also a Regression Analysis to Prove Shane Battier Makes the Best Damned Mojitos in Texas

As always, it’s the gift you didn’t even have to ask for.  Or didn’t want to.

Major League Baseball tried yet again yesterday to provide another round of gifts to Jackie Robinson, who has been feted nearly as often as Frank Sinatra since his death. Yesterday, every player in baseball wore number 42 in his honor to avoid the embarrassment of 42 wearer infighting last year.

Jackie Robinson

However, since MLB continues to be a bit short in providing affection through monetary donations, at least a couple players did their best to pursue great achievements on Robinson’s day.  Tim Wakefield took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in Oakland before noted hater Kurt Suzuki ended the fun with a base hit.

Ian Kinsler followed up on this attempt with his own success: 6-6 at the plate with a cycle attached.  If the opposing team last night (the Orioles) happened to be your sleeper team this year, you may want to check just how deep that sleep is.

Speaking of deep sleep, former Illinois governor (and current Illinois chew toy) Rod Blagojevich apparently didn’t feel it necessary to stop at meddling with the affairs of Tribune Co. when he didn’t get his way.  He also sent a note to Cubs manager Lou Piniella to recommend a lineup change in 2007.

Rod Blagojevich

S’funny; we don’t remember Blago being so receptive to a lineup change at the state level earlier this year.  Perhaps he isn’t a big fan of having his moves micromanaged by impotent whiners who never held the position dictating his actions from afar when they’ve never been in the trenches, y’know?

Speaking of, what say we peek around the Internet with a gentle tap-tap-tapping of bullets on your window pane while you consider the effects of an on-campus bar in Redmond, WA, on Windows 7 development

  • Congratulations on playing all 82 games this season, Grant Hill.  Also, congratulations on getting your wife, Tamia, a spot at All-Star Weekend and various local charity events in Arizona.  Strong season all ’round.
  • Now that the WALL STREET JOURNAL has a sports section, expect to see sabermetric notions exposed to a larger audience.  That might explain why the guy in the cubicle next to you suddenly wants to talk about batting the pitcher eighth.
  • Best of luck with the dissertation, PhDribble.
  • Presumptive #1 NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford will be on Jimmy Fallon’s show Thursday, but Fallon won’t bring him out until three other picks have been introduced.
  • We suspect the last time an angry bear was used to sell hockey tickets involved Bruce Vilanch and the Los Angeles Kings, but this isn’t so bad, either:

Now that the non-playoff teams have been determined in the NBA, who will end up the winner in the Blake Griffin sweepstakes?

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Baron Davis “Wants To Come Back” To Warriors?

So there might have been another reason that Clippers point guard/roller skating enthusiast Baron Davis plumped up this off-season other than getting paid $250,00 by Jenny Craig so he could lose the weight by drinking their flavorless shakes. It turns out he might have been eating to mask the depression of being split from his BFF Stephen Jackson.

Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis - together again?

OK, it was probably the $250,00 that did it, but still…it’s clear that things aren’t working out for Davis with the Clippers, and it’s looking more and more like a return to Golden State is imminent. The latest news comes from Stephen Jackson, who told INSIDE BAY AREA that he and Davis hung out on Saturday night and are already plotting Davis’ return to the Warriors:

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Speed Read: Is Manny To The Yankees Inevitable?

Is Manny Ramirez really going to end up being a Yankee when all is said and done? The pinstripers look like they’re willing to attempt to buy a World Series title for their long-suffering fans (seriously, there are Yankee fans in college who haven’t seen a championship since they were in junior high!). The NY DAILY NEWS is saying that the Brewers have taken the Mike Cameron for Melky Cabrera trade off the table, leaving the Yanks looking for an outfielder.

Manny Dives and Misses

(get ready to see this a lot next year, Yanks fans)

It makes perfect sense. Manny is from New York City and grew up literally within a mile or so of Yankee Stadium. Manny also cares about placating Red Sox fans possibly less than anyone who has ever played in Boston (and you thought Sawx fans were mad about Johnny Damon going to the Bronx). Manny’s also the kind of guy who would probably go play in Kazakhstan if they offered him the most money, so if the Yankees offer the most cash he almost certainly will go there. The DAILY NEWS claims that Hank Steinbrenner is pushing for Manny, while Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman aren’t entirely sold on the idea. Stay tuned.

Joe Johnson bricked a free throw with three seconds left last night, and the Celtics did something they couldn’t do in last year’s playoffs – win in Atlanta. Boston won its 16th consecutive game with an 88-85 victory over the Hawks. At this point, I think it’s legitimate to start considering the C’s a potential 70-win team. They’re 24-2 now, and are not entirely reliant on the “big three.” Guys like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are turning into legitimate players, and they just don’t seem to have any major weaknesses (well, there is Ray Allen’s defense).

Kendrick Perkins

In another big game, the Hornets went on a late 13-0 run and beat the Spurs 90-83 in New Orleans. Chris Paul set an NBA record by recording a steal in his 106th-straight game.  And  LeBron James got a standing ovation last night for his 32-point performance…in Minnesota. That’s how desperate T-Wolves fans are to cheer for something. It must warm Kevin McHale’s heart. The Cavs won the game 93-70 to improve to 21-4.

Elton Brand dislocated his right shoulder in the third quarter of a win over the Bucks last night. Anyone think that it’s just not in the cards for Elton? Every team he plays for isn’t any good, and he keeps finding new and exciting ways to injure himself.

Now it’s time for you to guess how many links I’ll be providing you now — without going over (don’t be that guy who bids $1):

• I know this is a sports blog, but we need to talk about The Price Is Right for a second. On Tuesday, a guy got the price of his showcase exactly right. This has only happened one other time in this history of the show, back in the early ’70s (the exact date isn’t known). But the big shock in all of this is that Drew Carey reacted to this unbelievable achievement as if the dog he just had neutered was hit by a car:

So what’s the real story here? Well, it seems that there was a ringer in the audience. Apparently, there are people so obsessed with TPIR that they memorize the prices of anything and everything that could be on the show (and I guess some prizes are repeated), and one of those people just happened to be in the audience and shouted out the exact price of the showcase, which Terry used as his bid (Terry also got his one-bid item right on the nose earlier in the show, presumably with the help of the mystery man). And the guy has been found. His name is Ted. After Terry’s bid (but before Drew revealed the actual answers), suspicious producers stopped the taping and met for what is rumored to be as long as 30 minutes to decide what to do, but then realized that no rule had really been broken (people are allowed to shout suggestions from the audience). But Drew knew exactly what was going on, and thus didn’t even pretend to be excited when he announced the winning bid. I feel bad for the other lady, who was only $400 off. Tough break.

•  CBS2 in L.A. brings us sad news. MMA fighter Justin Levens and his wife were found shot to death in a Southern California condo yesterday. Levens had a 9-8 professional record, and had fought for various brands, including UFC. One of his losses was to Evan Tanner, who died earlier this year when he ventured out into the desert alone and ran out of water.

• The last surviving member of the football Hall of Fame, Sammy Baugh, died yesterday at the age of 94. DC PRO SPORTS REPORT memorializes the man who revolutionized the quarterback position.

Scott Shafer resigned as defensive coordinator at Michigan after one season, and blamed the “demise” of the program on himself. No, it certainly didn’t have anything to do with the horrible offense. The DETROIT NEWS has the full story.

• FOR THE RECORD has their five worst officiating calls of the year. Poor Ed Hochuli, rooting very hard for a Bronco loss this weekend.

• More unfortunate news, as former Astros and Cubs closer Dave Smith died yesterday at the age of 53. Smith is Houston’s career save leader with 199. FAN HOUSE points out that Smith will most be remembered for giving up a walk-off homer to Lenny Dykstra in the 1986 NLCS, but Smith was an excellent pitcher. His career 2.67 ERA was well below the league average for relievers during his career.

• Here’s a doozy. BROOKLYN MET FAN says that Bernard Madoff, who screwed Mets owner Fred Wilpon out of about $300 million in his giant Ponzi scheme, has already paid for two season-tickets behind home plate at the new CitiField. Something tells me Bernie might not be showing up for those games, though. Meanwhile, the Mets are having to squash rumors that the team’s in financial ruins because of all of this. To get your mind off all of this, Met fan, let’s look at this random photo of Shea Stadium’s destruction:

Shea Stadium

London Fletcher isn’t exactly happy with being left out of the Pro Bowl yet again, considering he’s the leading tackler of the decade in the NFL. THE BIG LEAD says Fletcher is calling himself the “Susan Lucci of the NFL.”

• Knicks players basically ignored Stephon Marbury last night, according to the NY DAILY NEWS. Marbury bought his own ticket to the game and showed up to watch, but received no acknowledgment from any of his “teammates.”

Tony Romo tells USA TODAY that he missed T.O.’s birthday party because he “couldn’t walk,” alluding to a back contusion he suffered against the Giants. Take that, Ed Werder.

How many games are the Celtics going to win?

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76ers’ Head Coach Maurice Cheeks Gets 86ed

For roughly the millionth time in pro sports history, mistakes by the front office have cost the coach his job. Between the team-altering free agent signing of Elton Brand and an inopportune 2-8 stretch that pushed Philly’s record to 9-14, the environment became too toxic for Maurice Cheeks to keep his job, and according to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, the four-year head coach was fired today.

Mo Cheeks

It’s hard to say what’s more ludicrous: that five head coaches have already been fired in a season that isn’t even a third of the way finished, or the notion that Cheeks was the problem in the Illadelph. As ESPN.COM correctly notes, “[a]fter signing Elton Brand… the Sixers have looked nothing like last season’s up-tempo squad that advanced to the playoffs.” Indeed, the production of Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, and Thaddeus Young have all tailed off; each is at least three points lower on the Hollinger Efficiency Index this year compared to last. For a team whose offense relied on its superior athleticism, adding a reliable but lumbering beast like Elton Brand was like putting lead Pumas on Usain Bolt.

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NY Mets’, Scott Linehan’s Seasons End Too Soon

• The New York Mets are out of the playoff picture, thanks to a late-season swoon. This is not a repeat.

Scott Linehan Mets fans

• Not Ram tough: Scott Linehan is given the St. Louis toodle-oo.

• Don’t call it a comeback: Shawn Kemp goes AWOL from his Italian b-ball club, blames it on Hurricane Ike.

• Hard to tell which was more painful to watch - Anquan Boldin taking a hit to the helmet, or the Jets’ Titan-ically terrible throwback duds.

• The Brewers’ season-ending run was exciting enough to make you tinkle in your trousers. But make sure you don’t sing “Go Cubs Go!” at Miller Park.

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Elton Brand Buys One Of Rocky Balboa’s Houses

When it comes to the six Rocky movies that have been made, different people have different opinions about which movie in the series was the best one. While some consider Rocky II and Rocky III the best ones, from my experiences discussing these films, most people claim the first or fourth efforts as their favorites. Personally, I like Rocky IV because not only does he avenge Apollo Creed, but he also crushes Communism in the process. Still, what generally everybody agrees on is that Rocky V was the worst one.

Of course, the fact that Rocky V sucked did absolutely nothing to keep new Philadelphia 76er Elton Brand from buying the house used in the movie.

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Offseason Is Not Shaping Up Well for the Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks finally turned a corner in 2007-2008 when they made it to the playoffs. Sure, they only finished eighth overall in a very, very weak Eastern Conference, but they took the Boston Celtics to seven games and nearly had one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Add in their incredibly awesome and youthful core of players and it’s pretty obvious they’re on the rise, right?

J Smoove

Yeah. About that. Josh Childress is already gone for Europe and while his minutes were relatively minimal, he’ll obviously be missed. But the bigger problem is that with all the free agent shifting from the offseason, somehow Josh Smith can’t get a raise and is suddenly going to demand a trade. If not demand, he’ll at least be in the position to force one, reports SEKOU SMITH of the AJC, who says the Hawks have already gotten several offers.

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Blog-O-Rama: Sixers Fan Brands Own Elton Jersey

• DEADSPIN finds a fan who just couldn’t wait for Philly stores to carry new Elton Brand Sixers jerseys (sorry, Shawn Bradley).

Elton Brand altered Shawn Bradley Sixers jersey

• FOOD COURT LUNCH whips up an apology FIA boss Max Mosley might want to try out on his embarrassed wife of 48 years.

• BUGS & CRANKS feels they’re suited for the best job available in Boston - wearing the costume of Red Sox mascot Wally The Green Monster.

• The CLEVELAND LEADER finally sees a championship for the Ohio city in its sights, thanks to a local teacher at this year’s World Series of Poker.

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Brog: Dunleavy Goes Ballistic, Brands Falk a Liar

Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy went on a rampage today on KSPN-AM in L.A., calling David Falk a liar in the way the agent has represented the negotiations between Elton Brand and his team.

Brand Falk Dunleavy

At dispute: Dunleavy claims Falk knew that Brand told the Clippers he would commit if they signed Baron Davis and offered him a contract worth $75M. Falk denies he knew of any dealings Brand had with Dunleavy personally until “the 11th hour” - after Brand’s new deal with Philly was done.

In an exasperated tone on 710am, Dunleavy said he knew otherwise, citing among other things, text messages he saw from Brand to Clippers players. The coach also intimated that Falk had “poisoned” Brand. Of course, a source close the situation told SbB all this was going to happen last Friday.

Coincidentally today, both Falk and Dunleavy were interviewed separately by Steve Mason and John Ireland on the ESPN radio outlet, and Falk first told the pair that he knew of no pre-emptive deal (verbal or otherwise) between Brand and the club that was predicated on a commitment from Davis (audio): “I never had a discussion with the Clippers about a different deal, I can’t say whether they had discussions with Elton. I never had one discussion with them about trying to package the thing up (with Davis and Brand).

I learned at the 11th hour that Elton had hoped that Baron could be the mystery player, he likes Baron Davis, and they (Clippers) need a point guard, but no … with me, if there had been a deal, Elton would be in L.A. right now.

The Dunleavy interview followed the Falk visit, and the Clippers coach emptied both barrels on Falk and Brand with some astonishingly candid comments. Read more…

Sterling Needs To Work on His Ice Cream Etiquette

• Better grab your dessert before Yankees announcer John Sterling gets his hands on it - literally.

John Sterling ice cream

• The Warriors may have missed out on Elton Brand, but they did capture a Clipper in Corey Maggette.

Manny Ramirez earns $49.56 just for forgetting to cash a $10,000 check.

David Cutcliffe is determined to clean up the Duke football program - and the campus, too.

• One thing A-Rod & John Rocker have in common - making it with fitness model Alicia Marie.

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