Speed Read: Clippers’ Balls Have Dropped Again

The Los Angeles Clippers won the most favored martyr award last night in the NBA Draft Lottery and, with it, the top pick in the 2009 NBA Draft next month (likely to be Blake Griffin). The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder now follow, leaving the Grizzlies to pretend Mike Conley, Jr. is the answer to anything but “Name one theoretically famous Junior” and draft Hasheem Thabeet.

Michael Olowokandi

Oklahoma City, your Ricky Rubio awaits. (Ricky will love the fried bologna sammich at Toby Keith’s I Love This Restaurant a block away from the arena.) A staff containing Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Rubio, and your dear departed grandmother should be capable of 50 wins in two years. If you find it less ghoulish, we’ll refer to your passed loved one as Nenad Krstic. Same mobility, anyway.

(By the way, please send your love to Sacramento tonight as they had the league’s worst record and washed out with the fourth pick.  And you thought living in Sacramento was punishment enough.)

Sacramento Kings Flip Off The Camera

Your intrepid correspondent pulled into a local sports bar in the Phoenix area just thirty minutes before the NBA Draft Lottery truly started (which was, of course, thirty minutes after it officially kicked off).  That will be the best way to take the pulse of the community regarding the first lottery draft pick for the Phoenix Suns likely to play for the team since Amare Stoudemire, your correspondent said to himself rather self-consciously.

It can be officially reported that the patient is dead; there was no pulse in the greater Phoenix community regarding the draft lottery.  The normally-popular bar was half-empty and the televisions kept being turned from the NBA lottery to practically any other sport.  In fact, the only person to keep half an eye on the proceedings was Dan Majerle’s brother.

Surely, much of the passivity came from having such a slim chance at a top-three pick, but the collected crowd seemed much more interested in the Western Conference Finals for the NBA and NHL.  They chose wisely as the Denver Nuggets couldn’t hold their late lead  against the Los Angeles Lakers and therefore provided another thrilling finish, a 105-103 Lakers victory to kick off the NBA edition of the Western Conference Finals.

George Karl of the Denver Nuggets

Also, game 2 of the NHL edition ended in the first overtime with a 3-2 Detroit Red Wings victory over the Chicago Blackhawks to extend the series lead to 2-0. The ‘Hawks could not stop giving up the puck in the most exposed fashion possible, leading to two breakaway goals, including the three-on-one clincher.  You’d think a battle between a dinosaur and a human would turn out differently.

Chicago Blackhawks Detroit Red Wings

(The bar didn’t care for that result; Arizonans are either transplanted Colorado residents or former Illinoisans.  No love lost for Detroit from either quarter.)

On the other hand, the true locals were left to stew yesterday over news that a federal bankruptcy judge couldn’t bring the NHL or the former and future owners of the Phoenix Coyotes together on a deal regarding the sale of the team and a possible move back to Canada. Instead, he sent both sides into mediation and told them to hash it out themselves.

Jobing.com Arena Phoenix Coyotes

Of course, the NHL couldn’t resist putting gun to skate during yesterday’s proceedings.  For starters, the lawyer for the city of Glendale, AZ, had to admit that he’s never been to a Coyotes game.  Then the judge said late in the day, “The NHL is like a dog chasing a car. The question is, ‘What do you do if you catch it?’”  Bury it in Arizona, perhaps?

The relocation hearing in late June won’t answer the question, either; multiple rounds of appeals will surely follow if all sides can’t talk it out.  It all adds up to at least a month of indecision, misdirection, and public proclamations.  It’s not unlike the buildup to the NBA Draft, really.

When Arizonans aren’t paying attention to hockey mirages or 14th picks or UFOs in 2009, they might be taking in this hail of bullet points:

Where should the Phoenix Coyotes end up?

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Michael Phelps Ditches Bong To Get His Goose On

Fourteen-time gold medal winner and notable toker Michael Phelps is in New York City right now to visit his mother, Debbie Phelps, as she makes the rounds on her book tour. And it seems he’s looking to give his mom some material for a second book.

Phelps has kept a low profile since photos of him taking a hit from a bong hit newspapers and websites everywhere, but you can only keep a party animal caged for so long.  On Tuesday night Phelps hit the New York City club scene, and according to witnesses he had himself a pretty good time.  Though it appears he’s replaced the bong with bottles of Grey Goose.

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Speed Read: Michigan St. Gets Tar Heel Bruising

Is there any reason we shouldn’t have seen this coming?  Sure, North Carolina had more talent, depth and balance than Michigan State. They also had more experience. So why shouldn’t the Tar Heels have rolled up a rout in the national title game, cruising past the Spartans, 89-72, and validating North Carolina’s upperclassmen who decided to come back for a final year rather than head to the NBA.

north carolina celebrate

Yet, by halftime, this wasn’t a game so much as a massacre on hostile territory.  North Carolina built up the biggest halftime lead in national title game history, and the few moments when Michigan State climbed closer than that in the second half proved more fleeting and false than impressive.

In the end, the final game of the entire NCAA Tournament, the game for which we sat through a month of buildup, complete with a compelling Final Four David vs. Goliath script and 60,000+ screaming, green-clad fans in economically depressed Detroit, was almost like the early season North Carolina rout of Michigan state on replay. If we’d whitewashed the original, 98-63 score and written in 89-72, would anyone have noticed? We dare say they wouldn’t have.

michigan state bench cry

In fact, if there were overnight Nielsen ratings that cut off at halftime, we’d love to see them. Something tells us the second half viewers were significantly less than the TBS re-runs that preempted Game 7 of the ALCS last October.

Yet, as is always the case, there was plenty of celebratory violence/delirium in Chapel Hill as soon as the final buzzer sounded. In fact, it probably hit well before the final buzzer, given that the rout was fully on well before the game wrapped up.

tar heels fans chapel hill

According to the NEWS & OBSERVER, fans wasted little time ratcheting up the rowdy, starting fires and tossing around alcohol at a terrific pace. No, they didn’t temporarily relocate Franklin Street to College Park, Md., but you might not have known any better if you just shot a cursory glance at the post-title celebration.

And what was the motivation behind the fans’ craziness? Oh, it was all in good fun … and venting, naturally.

“It’s the culmination of the entire year of yelling at the TV,” said 24-year-old Elliot Rubin, who attended UNC, of the experience. “It’s the most jubilant feeling ever.”

“The crowd is definitely bigger this year,” said DeeDee Monzee, a 2007 UNC graduate, before jumping through a bonfire. “There’s a lot more alumni out here.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Those fans were giving journalistic quotes between leaps through bonfires. That, dear friends, is the way to live life on the edge.  Now, if only they could get the police on board …

What is it about Jacksonville wide receivers? Not only did Reggie Williams find himself arrested on a felony count of possession of a controlled substance (cough, cocaine, cough), he also may have been using the magical Sweet & Low, seeing as how his arrest blowback against the cops earned him a straight tasering.

jaguars reggie williams

Yes folks, you’ve got that right: For the second time in a year, a Jacksonville wide receiver has been arrested in possession with cocaine. And this is the second time in three months that Williams has been arrested for DUI and some sort of drugs. Clearly, these guys don’t believe in discretion, or learning from others’ mistakes. And they don’t seem to care, either. After all, Matt Jones opted for jail instead of probation just so he could keep hitting the sauce. What’s to make us believe that Williams will pull out of a steady nose sugar habit just because of one nasty arrest in Houston. After all, what else are drug test masking kits for?

The bigger question is what the remaining wide receivers on the Jacksonville roster — Troy Williamson (who knows what it’s like to get suspended), D’Juan Woods, Mike Walker and Nate Hughes –  are going to do now that Williams has burned his last possible bridge back to Jacksonville. Please say a huge party, please say a huge party, please say a huge party …

bus cook agent

hasheem thabeet sunglasses

stamford bridge

Did you watch the second half of the title game last night?

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Thabeet Tweets He Failed Drug Test As A Prank

I hate April Fools’ Day. It’s to being funny what St. Patrick’s Day is to drinking: pure amateur hour. Every office cut-up who thinks that “Two and a Half Men” is God’s gift to comedy decides that this would be a great time to do something wacky - think Michael Scott from “The Office.” And every radio hack in America decides to start a rumor that a certain celebrity died of a drug overdose/car crash/lightning strike.

Hasheem Thabeet Twitter joke

So as cranky as I am about the whole day, it’s rare when I can appreciate an April Fools’ Day stunt. But I have to doff my cap to Connecticut star Hasheem Thabeet, who managed to pull of a good prank using his (protected) Twitter account. THE ARENA reports that Thabeet Tweeted that he had failed a drug test, and would be not playing in the Final Four this weekend.

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Danica’s Tat Taken Out Of Latest SI Bikini Shoot

Danica Patrick has a cute li’l back tattoo, but you wouldn’t have known it from her latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot.

Danica Patrick with tattoo without

(Danica: with tattoo and without)

• Just how bad have things become for the San Francisco 49ers? They might soon welcome in Michael Vick AND Raiders fans.

Hasheem Thabeet survives a fall, but his #1 UConn Huskies do not.

Mike Leach & Texas Tech are taking their cases to the media.

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