Speed Read: Eagles Take Gamble On Michael Vick

In a lot of ways, the Michael Vick saga is coming to an end today. In a couple of hours, the Eagles will announce that they have signed Vick to a contract, and the dogfighting thing will be behind us, and he’ll just be another NFL player again.

Michael Vick drinking wine

Sure, there will be Rachel Nichols following his every move at practice for a while, then everyone will get all excited when he breaks off a 14-yard run from the Wildcat formation in a preseason game. But then he’ll fade away for a while as he serves his suspension, and by the time he is eligible to play in week six or so, he’s just going to a backup who comes on for a gimmick play every once in a while.

Philly was one of a long list of teams that reportedly had no interest in Vick as he was seeking a new job. In fact, many theorized that he’d have to resort to signing with the new UFL to have a chance to play. After all, what NFL team was going to be willing to absorb the PR hit, be willing to wait out his suspension, and be able to actually use him? The Eagles seemed unlikely on all fronts. They’ve already got two decent backup quarterbacks in Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.

UFL logo

(You know things don’t look good for this league when they’re disappointed that they didn’t get the dog killer.)

So why add Vick to a team that doesn’t really need him? Andy Reid talks about wanting to give the guy a second chance, and even mentions the plight of his own children as a factor in the decision. The Eagles did use DeSean Jackson in the Wildcat on occasion last year, so maybe they want to expand that facet of their offense. Maybe they’ll try to turn him into a receiver, kick returner, or both. But can he learn to do those things at an NFL level in a matter of weeks?

None of that seems important right now, as most of the attention will be focused on the moral implications of signing a guy who just got out of prison two weeks ago for killing dogs. The PHILLY INQUIRER’s John Gonzalez sums up the struggle, and gives a very reasonable argument in favor of giving Vick another chance:

If you’ve already dug in and joined the anti-Vick camp, I won’t blame you or try to change your mind. People love dogs. I’m one of them. I’m a sucker for just about any animal, but the ones that roll over and play fetch and slobber all over me - even when I’m not at my best (which is most of the time) - are by far my favorite. What Vick did to those dogs was cruel and terrible and indefensible.

But I’m not going to kill the Eagles for signing him, and I’m not going to attack Vick or ascribe some pejorative label to the guy. I don’t know the man. I don’t know why he got involved with dogfighting. But I do know that he went to prison, and he lost his job, and he’s been beaten up quite a bit over the last two years. He’s been beaten up almost endlessly. And for good reason. Don’t get it twisted, he deserved his punishment - all of it. But after doing his time and losing almost everything he’d worked so hard to achieve, hasn’t he paid the price required of someone looking to purchase a second chance?

Ultimately, I think NFL fans will be OK with Vick. Everything he’s said and done recently indicates that he’s remorseful about what he did and that he’s committed to rebuilding his image. But for now, even the fans in Philly are split on this – a poll on PHILLY.COM shows that they are about 53-47 against signing Vick.

michael vick 60 minutes

As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was pelted with vomit and urine while attempting to take a corner kick at Azteca Stadium on Wednesday, word comes now that U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan played the entire game with the swine flu.

Landon Donovan

Ironically, Landon didn’t pick up the illness in Mexico, where the latest epidemic of the ol’ H1N1 originated. Instead, he got it from two staff members of the L.A. Galaxy, Donovan’s MLS team. The L.A. TIMES reports that the staff members picked it up during the Galaxy’s match with the New England Revolution in Foxboro. That’s right, Pats fans. Swine flu is just stewing in your stadium. Good luck with that, Brady.

Tom Brady, first day of training camp

(”So, if there’s swine flu on Bernard Pollard’s helmet…”)

Donovan admits that he felt crappy during Wednesday’s game, but chalked it up to the elevation and poor air quality in Mexico City. He is unlikely to play in the Galaxy’s home game tomorrow against Seattle, and more unlikely to ever come within 25 feet of David Beckham the rest of this season (which isn’t much of a change — he just has a medical reason now).

I suppose it’s shouldn’t be surprising if we hear of athletes starting to come down with the virus. MLB pitcher Vicente Padilla came down with it a couple of weeks ago, and as many as 1 million people nationwide have probably been infected at some point. While there is little danger of any serious repercussions (Donovan is sick, but nothing beyond your average flu bug), it could be devastating to a team if multiple players were to suffer from the illness at the same time. NFL teams in particular need to be careful, or at least plan on catching it the week they play the Lions.

swine flu

Michael Phelps is going to be just fine after he was involved in a car accident last night. The sack of 10 from White Castle? Sadly, they didn’t make it.

• BC and BU will play hockey at Fenway Park a week after the Winter Classic.

Rick Sutcliffe throws Jose Mesa under the bus for failing to hit somebody with a pitch 20 years ago. Sut just didn’t realize that the opposing batter needs to have “Vizquel” written on his back for Joe Table to plunk him.

Jeff Francoeur thinks the reason he’s going to look “like a clown” next year is these new batting helmets, and not his inevitable .285 on-base percentage.

new batting helmet

• Well, the Wrigley beer-tosser has been apprehended and he apologized publicly to Shane Victorino, the Cubs, and his own family. But not to the guy who took the fall for him and got tossed out. That’s like the main guy who needs an apology!

Adrian Beltre might want to reconsider his decision to not wear a cup, as he’s now on the DL because of the quite horrifying “bleeding testicle.” Yeah, you heard that right. He somehow played five innings after the injury.

• Quentin Richardson has been traded — for the fourth time this offseason. The T-Wolves sent him to Miami yesterday for Mark Blount. That means he has now been swapped for Darko Milicic, Zach Randolph, Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen, and now Blount. That’s a lot of headcases and one terrible dancer.

Royals great Willie Wilson has signed a one-day contract to start a game for the Kansas City T-Bones of the Independent League next week. Wilson apparently didn’t want to subject himself to something as embarrassing as appearing at an actual Royals game.

God knows what Bronson Arroyo was hopped up on last night when he threw a two-hit shutout against the Nationals.

•  The DAILY MAIL has a story today about Kirsty Gallacher, girlfriend of rugby player Paul Sampson, daughter of golfer Bernard Gallacher, and former Sky Sports personality. Just wanted to establish a sports-related reason to run this photo:

Kirsty Gallacher

Are you surprised that Michael Vick got an NFL job this year?

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Asian Poker Tour Extends Hand To Michael Phelps

As much as he loves the Denny’s Grand Slam, an occasional bong hit and the watery kicking of Milorad Cavic’s ass, Michael Phelps may enjoy one thing even more. He has expressed the desire in the past to one day play poker professionally, and has been seen haunting casinos on more than one occasion. That’s why it just may be possible that he’ll be appearing at the Asian Poker Tour event in Macau next week.

If Phelps accepts the invitation, you know who’s going to be next to show up. Sitting across from Phelps at the $10,000 no-limit hold-’em table will be his old nemesis, The Pope.

“You dodged me in Rome,” growled the Pontiff, slowly removing his sunglasses to reveal a pair of cold, bloodshot eyes. “But now you’re mine.” (Dramatic pause). “Beat these!” (Throws down a queen-high straight).

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Speed Read: Should We Want A Freeway Series?

I guess with all the trade deadline rumors about deals that did or didn’t happen, it’s kind of easy to overlook the most important thing in baseball: the standings. Because the story no one seems to be talking about is the fact that the best records in each league belong to teams in Southern California, setting up a real possibility of the first-ever Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the…let’s just call them the Angels.

Matt Kemp

Both teams looked the part of World Series contenders on Sunday. In Atlanta, the Dodgers used a three-run homer by Matt Kemp to pound the Braves 9-1; meanwhile, the Angels hammered the Twins 13-4 to complete a three-game road sweep where they scored 35 runs. And while not everything is 100 percent for either team (Chad Billingsley left his start early with cramps during the Dodgers’ win, while Vladimir Guerrero suddenly turned 150 years old this season for the Angels), there’s at least a strong possibility of an all-LA (kinda, sorta) World Series.

Mike Napoli

And as a baseball fan living in Los Angeles, here’s my feeling on this: I hope to God this doesn’t happen. The first reason is selfish: I have to drive past Dodger Stadium every day for work - it’s almost impossible for a Tuesday night game against Florida, so I can’t imagine what a World Series game against the Angels would be like. A 30-minute commute turning into a two-hour nightmare? No thanks.

But more importantly, I’d have to hear weeks of coverage about the series as if it’s a real, heated rivalry. Which would make my head explode, because it just isn’t. This isn’t Red Sox vs. Yankees, with real, palpable hatred. Or even Yankees vs. Mets or Cubs vs. White Sox, both of which are city rivalries with loads of class, race and societal baggage (in that who you root for speaks volumes about who you are and where you came from).

Dodgers vs. Angels has none of this. People root for one or the other based on which ballpark was closer to them growing up. (Fortunately, the area that is equidistant from Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium is the mini-mall and warehouse-filled patch of nothingness called Norwalk.) If Dodger fans think about the Angels at all, it’s with a dismissive chuckle. Meanwhile, Angels fans will quickly point out who has the last World Series title while secretly grimacing at the whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” fiasco.

So in summary: just because Chan-Ho Park karate-kicked Tim Belcher 8,000 years ago, this isn’t a heated rivalry, and a Freeway Series won’t change that. Now a Lakers vs. Clippers Western Conference final…

Melky Cabrera

After having sex with a porn star, the closest most people get to a “cycle” is starting the next round of penicillin in hopes that their genitals go back to normal. But apparently Melky Cabrera defied the odds and got a decidedly more wholesome cycle, in this case becoming the first Yankee in 14 years to hit for the cycle in their 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. (Although I can’t comment one way or the other about his need for penicillin, but if he did sleep with former California gubernatorial candidate/drunk/professional sex object Mary Carey, it’s a small miracle if he didn’t catch something.)

Finally, an update on a couple of noted sports underachievers: Michael Phelps only managed to win five gold medals at the World Championships, adding his final one on Sunday by anchoring the Americans’ record-setting 400-meter medley relay team; and Tiger Woods won just his fourth tournament of the season by winning (probably last-ever playing of) the Buick Open by three shots. If only those two could maximize their potential, they might really make something of themselves.

  • Does anyone understand why the Chiefs’ mascot is a wolf? And one that has trouble clearing small fences, as photos tracked down by ARROWHEAD PRIDE from training camp seem to indicate.
  • FANTASY FORECAST breaks down eight different types of people found at every fantasy football league draft. Although I think they left off Guy Who Gets So Drunk He’s Picking “Poopy Fartpants” by Round 6.
  • If you’re a big NFL fan near Troy, NY tonight, you might want to check out some minor-league baseball as the Tri-Cities ValleyCats take on the Oneonta Tigers. Why? Because SI’s Peter King is going to be throwing out the first pitch and hanging out with fans to talk about the upcoming season, along with a host of NFL experts including NFL.COM’s Adam Schefter, Sporting News’ Albert Breer, NY Giants radio voice Bob Papa and Redskins lineman Ross Tucker.
  • The CHICAGO TRIBUNE breathlessly reports that Jay Cutler completed his first 12 passes during 7-on-7 drills at camp yesterday. Although to be fair, Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman probably couldn’t complete 12 passes back and forth to each other.
  • PRO FOOTBALL TALK says Bengals QB Carson Palmer has missed the last two days of practice with flu-like symptoms. Let’s hope he didn’t catch swine flu from eating any undercooked wieners
  • Formula One driver Jensen Button spent part of his break from racing competing in the London Triathlon, where he set a personal best. I would have spent the time watching his girlfriend Jessica Michibata giving her personal best while modeling bikinis on a beach in Japan.
  • Samantha Thavasa

  • We told you last week about Andy Reid’s hellish training camps and love of full-contact drills. Turns out there’s a down side to that: two Eagles players left last night’s practice with injuries.
  • Letdown City: the rally car racing final at the X Games gets stopped halfway through when Travis Pastrana wrecks his car, handing the win to former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack. To celebrate, Brack knocked back a tall glass of ice cold Red Bull and milk.
  • I guess you could say that the Red Sox’s trade for Victor Martinez has paid some early dividends: he went 5-for-6 in Boston’s 18-10 win over Baltimore. Too bad Clay Buchholz is still not very good at pitching to big league hitters.
  • Finally, BALL DON’T LIE has video of the cheap shot that Italy’s Stefano Mancinelli delivered to the back of Aaron Doornekamp’s head during a “friendly” international basketball game against Canada:

Which baseball intra-area rivalry is the real deal?

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Phelps Comes From Behind Again To Reclaim Title

Last summer, when Michael Phelps dominated the news from the 2008 Beijing Olympics with his record 8 gold medals, who would have possibly guessed that he would still be a celebrity today? In our 24-hour news cycle world, celebrities are made and forgotten seemingly overnight, and really, who cares about competitive swimming, anyways?

Michael Phelps

Yet, here we are in 2009 still talking about Phelps, and for good reason. Even apart from his escapades on dry land, the guy’s fun to follow and dominant in ways you only see in people like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. Yesterday, in a rematch of his amazing come-from-behind gold medal butterfly performance, he once again surged from behind to beat Milorad Cavic to win the 100m butterfly world championship.

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Panthers VP Hits On Fox Anchor During Interview

• Florida Panthers exec Uri Man shows what kind of man he his by hitting on Fox News anchor Ainsley Earhardt during an on-air interview.

Ainsley Earhardt Uri Man

Bud Selig softening on Pete Rose Hall of Fame ban? Don’t bet on it.

• Ladies & gentlemen, your 2009-10 Sacramento Kings Dance Team!

• And the Jeremy Mayfield meth mess goes on: NASCAR says they have witnesses that saw him do the drug.

• Just because “Zorn” rhymes with “porn”, that doesn’t mean the Redskins coach has ever wanted to seen any.

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Michael Phelps Has Got His Speedos All In a Bunch

Listen you homos, if you don’t stop using those high-tech bodysuits to beat Our Shining Sir Lancelot of the Pool, Michael Phelps, he’s going pack his nose plugs and go home. Then watch what happens to swim meet attendance. (May look something like this).

Paul Biedermann, Michael Phelps

The controversy occurred at the world championships in Rome today, as Germany’s Paul Biedermann won the 200-meter freestyle — Phelps’ first major loss in four years. Well, if you don’t count Amanda Beard. The winner was wearing a “100 percent polyurethane Arena suit,” whatever that means; Phelps of course was wearing his usual cutoff jeans.

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Shaq Competing Against Everybody At Everything

It’s a near certainty that Shaquille O’Neal’s ego needs no help maintaining a high sense of self. And sure, he’s earned it; his freakish athleticism and affable (if repetitious) self-promotion have helped him carve out a comfortable niche in the sports and entertainment world. And God, was he ever made for Twitter.


(”I want you, Bruce Lee!”)

His latest idea might be at once the worst and best. It’s the worst because it can’t possibly be entertaining television. It’s the best because now, finally, for the first time in what must be years, Shaq’s finally going to have to answer for his ludicrous boasts.

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Speed Read: Stay Off Of Tom Watson’s Lawn

While you snored loudly all snug in your bed last night (and I hear it really was annoying, I’d look into that if I were you), the British Open got underway in Turnberry, Scotland. And who’s the early leader? Not favorites Tiger Woods or Padaig Harrington … and neither is it Charles Howell III (“Gilligan! Drop that coconut!”). It’s Tom Watson, who will turn 60 in two months. Yes, a man who spends more time in the restroom than on the greens owned a clubhouse lead after a 5-under 65 in the first round (at least he was at 4 a.m. PST when I wrote this).

Tom Watson

Watson birdied the first hole and had another birdie on 3 to keep just ahead of Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Westwood, tied for second one stroke back. Watson, of course, won the “Duel in the Sun” over Jack Nicklaus in Turnberry’s first Open in 1977, and to demonstrate how long ago that was, Elvis Presley was still alive. So how great would it be to have Woods and Watson squaring off for the title 32 years later? This is why I like golf; in what other sport can an athlete who turned professional in 1971 still be a major factor? It’s like if Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn made this year’s All-Star team. Here’s the leaderboard, which I check every 15 minutes just so that I can quietly say to myself the words Briny Baird.” Whether you like golf or you don’t, it’s the only game being played today, my friends; unless you count elephant polo or falconry.

Woods had a later tee time and is currently 1-over after 17 holes, tied for 50th place. And he did just about as well at Wednesday’s ESPY Awards, as Michael Phelps ended Tiger’s five-year dominance as Best Male Athlete, taking that title as well as Best Record-Breaking Performance, Best Championship Performance and Best Male Olympian. Tim Tebow won the 2009 Best College Athlete Award, becoming the only two-time winner in the category. Afterward, ESPN announced that the trophy would be modeled in his image. Charles Barkley won for Stupidest DUI and Shortest Prison Stay, narrowly beating Donte Stallworth in the latter category.

She’s refusing to do any actual interviews, but Amanda Rodrigues, the wife of former boxing champion Arturo Gatti who is accused of his murder, has written a letter from prison proclaiming her innocence. So that should clear that up. Rodrigues, being held in the Brazilian city of Recife, said that she awoke Saturday morning in their rented apartment to find her husband dead. Excerpts:

“This is a pain that has become inexplicable and intolerable, this loss and this malicious accusation,” Rodrigues wrote. “I lost my husband!”

“I’m innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days.”

“The people most important to my life, who know us, know the size of our love. What hurts me is knowing the suffering of my family and friends. What hurts me is to know that my husband will not be in my house waiting for my return.”

“Junior — soon mama will be at home!”

Facing slightly better odds than Rodrigues are my San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are both 10-2 with ERAs below 2.40, Jonathan “Dirty” Sanchez just threw the team’s first no-hitter since 1975, and Kung Fu Panda is destroying pitchers and thrilling the ladies. The Giants were 20-23 on May 24, but have gone 29-16 since to take the wild-card lead, trailing the Dodgers by seven in the NL West. But all is not well. Why? Because the Mohawk craze is sweeping the clubhouse.

Brian Wilson

Closer Brian Wilson initially sported the look, and pitching coach Dave Righetti briefly joined in with a faux version when he lost a bet to Wilson. Jonathan Sanchez followed Righetti’s lead after throwing a no-hitter Friday, while infielder Juan Uribe and reliever Sergio Romo went with the real thing.

Manager Bruce Bochy has vowed to be next if the upstart Giants — who come out of the All-Star break with the National League’s third-best record — put together 10 wins in a row. He doesn’t cherish the prospect.

“Can you imagine this thing shaved, with the size of my head?” the manager says, pointing to his famously prominent noggin.

Cute when the Tampa Bay Rays went through their Mohawk phase last season, but you’ll notice that none of them are wearing World Series rings — and where are they now in the standings? Please Giants, no adorable gimmicks, OK? If I see a cowbell at AT&T Park, I’m not responsible for what I may do next.

And now, links to ponder after ironing your bulletproof shirts:

  • Brett Favre says that he’ll make a final decision about playing for the Vikings by July 30, and Minnesota head coach Brad Childress has no problem with that. And Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Paul Hornung predicts that when Favre finally does join the Vikings, all will go well: “(Favre) ain’t going to win in Minnesota,” Hornung told revelers at a Wisconsin sports banquet on Tuesday. “I’ll bet on it.”
  • Hey I almost forgot; the Tour de France is also going on. Your Stage 11 winner on Wednesday was Britain’s Mark Cavendish, whom the French riders congratulated by charging that he taunted them with racial slurs. That’s a switch. How can we not love you, Tour de France? You’re the only sport that requires skin-tight pants and a map of the Alps.
  • Letterman: Sonia Sotomayor is getting more and more confident with each passing day of the confirmation hearings. Today she showed up wearing the yellow jersey.”
  • Apparently Steve McNair left no will, causing the wife of the slain ex-NFL quarterback to file an emergency petition in a Nashville court asking that she be allowed to oversee his estate. A judge granted the request. Mechelle McNair listed herself and her two sons, Tyler and Trenton McNair, as the heirs to the estate. McNair also has two other sons from a previous relationship.

  • Yes, I’m having a hard time believing that this girl caught this fish. Supposedly, 11-year-old Jessica Wanstall, who weighs 84 pounds, landed this catfish, which weighs 194 pounds, in the Ebro River in Northeast Spain. Not shown: Jessica’s 8-year-old brother Trevor, who was used as bait. And yes, after this picture was taken her dad threw it back: They were holding out for a really big catch.
  • The ratings are in: The MLB All-Star Game posted a 10.4/18 overnight rating in metered markets, down 5 percent from a 11.0/18 for the first nine innings of last year’s 15-inning game in New York. The pregame show drew an 8.3/15, also down slightly from last year’s 8.4/15. But the big news still seems to be President Obama’s ceremonial pitch, which FOX failed to show win its entirety. And when they finally did show it the following morning, they screwed that up as well.

  • But the real gem of that DAILY SHOW clip is above. Jon Stewart: “Actually [President Obama] was there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the ballgame, much in the same way that in England, the Queen will throw the first punch at a soccer riot.”
  • A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced former Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry to three years in prison for running a drug ring in Montana and Colorado.

Who will win the British Open?

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Michael Phelps Smokes Yet Another World Record

One of the DEA’s dirty (and poorly kept) secrets is that marijuana - the devil weed - doesn’t have much in the way of long-term negative effects. That’s not to say it’s healthy, of course, but you don’t see the sores or teeth falling out or other never-the-same-after-that problems.

michael phelps bong
(Throwing his career away, right? What do you mean, “no”?!)

Perfect case in point: the single most famous pot-smoking athlete in America today, Michael Phelps. Phelps is back in competition after his suspension for being photographed while apparently using a bong (to Phelps’ credit, he owned up instead of trying to go for the “implausible but try and prove otherwise” defense of claiming he wasn’t actually smoking at the time).

But marijuana’s a drug, one that directly involves the respiratory system that’s kinda important in swimming and other athletic endeavors. Surely, it must have robbed him of his legendary conditioning, right? Read more…

Speed Read: LA Riots as Lakers Get NBA Title #15

The Magic were a Courtney Lee layup and a Derek Fisher miss away from being up 3-1 and having the Lakers on the ropes going into Game 5 last night, but it wasn’t to be. Then, sensing that Orlando was still reeling from giving away Game 4, the Lakers seized the momentum and left absolutely no doubt as to who the better team was in a 99-86 series-clincher at Pyramid Scheme Arena. The Lakers used a 16-0 run in the second quarter to take control, and the Magic never got closer than five after that.

Lakers celebrate

It’s title #15 for the Laker franchise, #10 for coach Phil Jackson (breaking Red Auerbach’s record), and #4 for Kobe Bryant (who was also named MVP). And, if you’re scoring at home, suck it, Redick:

Adam Morrison

(Ladies and gentlemen, the saddest NBA champion ever.)

Kobe finally got his title without Shaq, though it’s not like he did this thing alone (but averaging 32, 6, and 7 in the Finals is a pretty impressive line). The Lakers were a mediocre team until Memphis GM Chris Wallace decided to give them Pau Gasol, and the continued development of youngsters like Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza helped push the team to another level. Add in the rejuvenation of candy addict Lamar Odom and you have all the ingredients for a championship run.

Pau Gasol

As for the Magic, they certainly have a lot of things to be proud of, but also face a lot of uncertainty going forward. Will they find room for Hedo Turkoglu? What are they going to do with Rafer Alston? Will Dwight Howard grow into his true potential? Will Stan Van Gundy’s insane act wear thin? Was this their only window of opportunity? If Cleveland gets LeBron some help and KG comes back healthy for the Celtics, Orlando might find getting back to the Finals an impossible task in the near future.

Dwight Howard alone

The trophy presentation had plenty of unintentional comedy, including Jackson’s goofy “X” hat that his kids made for him, Morrison’s puzzled look as he decided whether or not he should act like he deserved a ring, and a hilariously awkward interview with Jerry Buss‘ kid, whose public speaking skills came off like a cross between your average spelling bee champion and Mark Madsen. David Stern’s backhanded obligatory compliment to the Magic for being a “very worthy Eastern Conference champion” was nice too. All in all, it wasn’t “anything is possible!” but still a very solid postgame ceremony.

Phil Jackson X hat

Of course, the fine citizens of Los Angeles are always looking for a flimsy excuse to throw a garbage can through a window, and the “celebration” around the city extended well into the wee hours of the morning. As I’m sure you already know, Brooks was on hand outside the Staples Center and noted that the LAPD was clearly overwhelmed in trying to keep up with what was going down on the streets.

police at Lakers celebration

(Yeah, this is probably enough officers, right?)

Fortunately, Brooks was able to get some good shots of the good clean fun outside of Staples before things went south. Although CBS 2 says that, all things considered, this year’s riots were not on par with previous years, such as 2000 when the Lakers won the series in L.A. Still, the LAPD’s attempts to keep revelers out of downtown altogether was a massive failure, and the department should be counting its lucky stars that major issues were the exception and not the norm.

De La Hoya statue at Lakers riot

(Kobe jersey with no undershirt and jeans = not a good look for a white guy)

Magic statue Lakers riot

(”The looters went that way!”)

The LA TIMES says that some folks went into looting mode, breaking windows at a shoe store and cleaning out a convenience store. Because what better way to celebrate your team’s NBA title than with some stolen beef jerky and a chunk of glass in your thigh?

And what makes all of these people even bigger geniuses is the fact that their city and state are both completely out of money, so it’s entirely reasonable to destroy a bunch of stuff that public funds will have to replace. Look, I’ve been excited, but I can’t imagine ever feeling the urge to carry a metal barrier through the streets and ram it into things indiscriminately, like these folks who were photographed by ABC 7 in L.A.:

Lakers fans riot

I’m sure we could fill page after page with entertaining photos of idiot Laker fans, but other things are happening in the world of sports, so let’s get to the links:

• OK, one more NBA thing. Charles Barkley checks in with a column in the LA TIMES, and he thinks Phil Jackson won’t be around to wear an “XI” hat next year.

• While most sports fans were transfixed on the NBA Finals, Cliff Lee took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Cardinals in the night game on ESPN, but Shin-Soo Choo made a less-than-stellar attempt at catching Yadier Molina’s deep fly into the right field corner, and the no-hitter was no more. Lee didn’t exactly throw Choo under the bus afterward, but it also seemed like he wasn’t really pleased with the effort. The Indians won 3-0, and Lee gave up two more hits.

Michael Phelps lost two races yesterday at a meet in California. Perhaps it’s the porn ’stache that’s weighing him down?

Michael Phelps porn stache

• The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS says that 17-year-old baseball phenom Bryce Parker is going to skip his last two years of high school, get his GED, and play community college baseball in Las Vegas in preparation for the 2010 MLB Draft. If you think Stephen Strasburg’s going to command a boatload of money, just wait until this kid gets drafted. He’s already bombed multiple 450-foot-plus shots in a home run derby in Tampa.

• Your 2009 LPGA Championship winner is Anna Nordqvist of Sweden via Arizona State. See if you can pick her out of this photo:

Anna Nordqvist

I know. It’s a tough one.

• Oh, yeah, now you try and trade for Shaq, Cleveland. Way to think of that about four months too late. Perhaps it was the steep asking price of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic that made them balk the first time around.

• How bad have the Colorado Rockies been this year? After a 7-1 win over Seattle yesterday, they’ve now won 11 games in a row, but still are a game under .500 and 10-1/2 games out of first place. Still, a nice run for the Rocks, who haven’t won this many consecutive games since September of 2007, when they won like 49 out of their last 50 on the way to the World Series. More good news for the Rockies: catcher Yorvit Torrealba’s son was returned after being kidnapped for ransom in Venezuela, and he spoke about the ordeal for the first time yesterday.

• I can’t imagine better timing for Nike to release a shoe designed by and dedicated to Chien-Ming Wang. But hey, if your dream is to have a 14+ ERA in the big leagues, these kicks are for you:

Chien-Ming Wang shoes

Phil Ivey is a sick human being. He won his second World Series of Poker bracelet in a little over a week with a victory in a half Omaha/half Stud high-low event on Saturday. He was simultaneously playing a different pot-limit Omaha event in another part of the room, and fit in enough hands there to nearly make that final table. And he somehow found more time to win over $100,000 online. While the $400,000+ in prize money he has won for his two bracelets this year is nice, rumor has it that he’s won millions more in bracelet wagers with his friends and high-stakes regulars at the Bellagio. At 33, Ivey already has seven bracelets and needs just four more to equal the record held by Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson.

• You know how on WWE they always have someone get “hurt” and then carted off and dramatically loaded on an ambulance like there’s some sort of actual injury? Well, that happened to Japanese superstar Mitsuharu Misawa on Saturday night. Except it wasn’t fake. He had a heart attack during a match in Hiroshima and died at the age of 46. Misawa got his start as a character called “Tiger Mask” and was the biggest star in Japanese wrestling, reportedly on par with Hulk Hogan in the U.S. The BALTIMORE SUN has a short tribute. Here’s some footage of Misawa going at it a few years back with Samoa Joe:

Who ya got for the 2010 NBA title?

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