Last February, the Houston Rockets were crippled - literally - by the season-ending foot injury to center Yao Ming. In what must feel like Groundhog’s Day for the team, this February is also bringing bad news for the team: their other All-Star anchor, Tracy McGrady, told ESPN.COM’s Stephen A. Smith that he needs microfracture surgery on his injured left knee and is done for the season.
Keep mind that this is coming from the mouth of Smith, so take it with a grain of salt (right, Chris Bosh?), and the Rockets aren’t confirming the report. But they sure aren’t denying it either, and with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander telling the HOUSTON CHRONICLE to expect official news on McGrady later this week, it looks highly likely that T-Mac is going on the shelf for a long time.
Alexander also told the paper that McGrady is a “superstar” and that the team has no plans to trade him. Which is probably code for “we really wanted to trade him, but now that he’s damaged goods we’re stuck with him.” How much his absence will impact the Rockets is unclear - he’s either been ineffective or out of the line-up for most of the season to begin with, but losing him can’t help.
The only thing injured on Alex Rodriguez right now is his reputation, which is doing about as well as Jack from Jack in the Box. His press conference at Yankee spring training didn’t help much - I would recommend not using the phrase “I’m here to take my medicine” again any time soon - and might have got his unnamed cousin in trouble.
Rodriguez claims that his cousin brought something called “boli” from the Dominican Republic, which the USA TODAY says usually refers to the steroids Dianabol or Deca-Durabolin. And now a DEA agent is ominously warning that “those who violate drug laws are always at risk of arrest and prosecution.” We don’t know who this cousin is yet - although BIG LEAGUE STEW has a list of candidates - but I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough.
In related news, the AP reports that the MLBPA has sent a memo to its players informing them how to respond to questions about the 2003 drug testing. Their recommendation: don’t respond. The memo also goes into detail about little details like why the tests weren’t destroyed, and how the union did not give advance knowledge of tests of players.
Finally, fans who tuned into the Kentucky/Vanderbilt game last night expecting fireworks had to be greatly disappointed. Not in the game itself, but in the lack of a halftime interview between ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards and the man she spurned, Wildcats head coach Billy Gillispie.
Alas, no luck last night. As the TENNESSEAN notes, with the game tied at halftime Edwards chose to interview Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings instead of Gillispie, telling the paper “I cut my losses.” This is, of course, the entirely wrong approach, and there should have been a producer in Edwards’ ear demanding she interview Gillispie. Not having her interview Gillispie would be like if Chuck Wepner replaced Muhammad Ali at the last minute for “The Rumble in the Jungle” - totally unacceptable.
- COLLEGE FOOTBALL TALK says Texas Tech’s Board of Regents has a teleconference scheduled on Friday to discuss the status of head football coach Mike Leach, who turned down the school’s $12.7 million contract offer. But they also might be discussing AD Gerald Myers, who is clashing with Leach. Sounds like it’s time for a Loser Leaves Town cage match.
- WJXT-TV has word of a high-school football coach in Jacksonville, Florida who was arrested after allegedly going online to solicit a 16-year-old boy to have sex with him at a McDonald’s. Yuck. (Also, everyone knows from “The Humpty Dance” that you get busy in a Burger King bathroom, not McDonald’s.)
- Larry Bowa hates Brad Penny with the type of white hot passion usually only found in telenovelas and Billy Gillispie interviews. The RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE asked Bowa about Penny’s claim that Bowa talked behind his back, which prompted this retort: “The same guy that’s never on time, out of shape, has one complete game (in his Dodgers career)? That Brad Penny?”
- The SANTA ROSA PRESS-DEMOCRAT says that despite rumors to the contrary, you can forget about the San Francisco 49ers pursuing Michael Vick when he returns from exile in Leavenworth. Same goes for the Buccaneers, the Jets and the Lions.
- And speaking of NFL players in prison: the NEW YORK TIMES notes that Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is heading back into the stony lonesome to finish serving his 60-day sentence for parole violations.
- The BOSTON GLOBE looks at the list of witnesses in the Barry Bonds trial and finds Patriots special teams captain Larry Izzo, who is expected to testify that Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson gave him performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003. There goes his Hall of Fame chances…
- Police tell WGRZ-TV that the Bills’ Marshawn Lynch not only had a loaded gun in his car when he was arrested last week in California, but also pot. Roger Goodell is coming for you, Marshawn - may God have mercy on your sou.
- The LOS ANGELES TIMES says Cal State Northridge starting point guard Josh Jenkins is in stable condition after being injured in a single-car accident this past Saturday which killed the driver.
- MLIVE.Com reports that former Michigan All-American cornerback and current Indianapolis Colt Marlin Jackson is testifying in a civil case involving a fight he had as a student back in 2003. The alleged victim claims Jackson hit him with a bottle, while Jackson says it was a punch in self-defense; he is countersuing for damages to his reputation.
- Now coming to the stage: steroids. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS has word on Back Back Back, a new play based on the Oakland A’s and the steroid culture in the late 1980s.