As Paulus Gets Booed, Star WR Leaves Syracuse

Not surprisingly, the Greg Paulus Experiment has failed to go according to plan. Paulus was serenaded by a chorus of boos last week as Syracuse lost 28-7 to Cincinnati in a game that was somehow more boring than the final score would indicate. The impetus behind the booing was largely that the offense was anemic last week; Syracuse didn’t take many shots downfield, and the underneath throws they did attempt were largely bottled up by the stingy Bearcat defense.

Mike Williams Peaces Out
(Mike Williams, seen here hating life.)

The DAILY ORANGE, Syracuse’s campus newspaper, noticed the lack of offensive aggression and wondered why the team wouldn’t at least try to go deep to their stud wideout Mike Williams (game stats: 4 catches, 34 yards, 0 TD), since that’s his specialty and all. Williams, it would seem, wondered that too; he just approached first-year head coach Doug Marrone and, in Marrone’s words, “removed himself from the team.” Hoooo boy.

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Speed Read: Yawn, Another Bulls/Celtics Classic

A few days ago, I thought that nothing could in the Celtics vs. Bulls series could top Boston’s wild OT victory over Chicago in Game 5, featuring Paul Pierce playing out of his mind to carry Boston to the win, Kirk Hinrich getting tripped by Rajon Rondo and smashing his face on the floor, or Brad Miller almost getting his faced ripped off (again by Rondo) before missing potential game-tying free throws with two seconds left to seal the victory for the Celtics.

Joakim Noah

But after last night’s Game 6 in Chicago,  I was clearly very, very wrong, as the Bulls’ 128-127 win in triple OT has not only pushed the series back to Boston on Friday for a deciding seventh game, but pushed the series from “epic” to “best ever” territory. And we can forget the qualifiers like “best ever first round series” or “best ever non-Finals series” - based on the series so far and what we can expect on Friday, this might be as good as an NBA series can possibly get.

Kirk Hinrich and Rajon Rondo square off

Just to recap some of the highlights, the fun started when Rondo and Hinrich got into it again early in the first quarter, with Rondo basically slinging Heinrich into the scorer’s table, with Heinrich immediately popping up looking for blood. Cooler heads prevailed and no one was ejected, but it sure served warning about what was to come.

Keep in mind that this game - and the series - should have all rights been over midway through the fourth quarter as the Celtics used a 25-2 run - 25-2! - to turn a 12-point deficit into a 99-91 lead with just under four minutes to go. In most series - hell, in any other series - a 25-2 fourth quarter run by the defending champs is enough to put an end to things.

But there were the Bulls, seemingly unable to grasp just how screwed they were, using their own 10-2 run to take the game to overtime. And from there, it was on. Taking the role of one-man team for the Celtics last night was Ray Allen, who scored 51 points including a game-tying three at the end of the second OT.

Even Allen wouldn’t be enough to fend off a wave of Bulls, all looking to be part of the heroics. One minute, it was John Salmons suddenly becoming unstoppable while scoring 35 points. The next it was Joakim Noah screaming down court after a steal for a ferocious dunk that led to a three-point play and Pierce fouling out with 35 seconds left in the third OT. And finally, Derrick Rose turning in the defensive ply of the season by blocking Rondo’s potential game-winner with three seconds left.

The series has been exhilarating, frustrating, ridiculous and incredible. But as Jalen Rose wisely pointed out on ESPN after the game, the Bulls will have people over the next two days congratulating them on their win, while the Celtics will be stewing on the anger of dropping it, which could be all the motivation they need. Remember what happened last season when the Celtics were pushed to a first-round Game 7 by an upstart team? For the good of sports, I hope history doesn’t repeat itself - sports fans deserve a classic game to end a classic series.

Meanwhile, Bill Simmons’Ewing Theory” - where a team inexplicably plays better without their star player - seemed to be alive and well elsewhere in the NBA playoffs last night. Despite having Superman grounded with a suspension after his hard foul on Samuel Dalembert, the Dwight Howard-less Magic were able to drill the 76ers 114-89 to close out their series.

Howard spent his time Twittering during the game, and I can tell you that I understand absolutely nothing he wrote. (Except for something about the Polish Hammer, which makes me wonder why he’s writing about former WWF wrestler Ivan Putski.) Not Twittering was Howard’s teammate Courtney Lee, who was too busy recovering from surgery on his sinus cavity which could cause him to miss the first few games of the Magic’s second round series to “tweet”.

The other example of the Ewing Theory came from out West, where the Rockets’ 92-76 victory over the Trailblazers clinched their first playoff series win since 1997. This was all done, of course, with Houston star Tracy McGrady on the shelf for the season since late February recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee. Coupling the Rockets’ success with Denver’s closing out of New Orleans - giving Carmelo Anthony his first playoff series victory - and there’s now no question who is going to be known as the Best Player Never To Have Won A Playoff Series.

Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ve taken the time this week to butter up your friend with the illegal cable box, since there is a big-time boxing match coming up this weekend as giant killer Manny Pacquiao takes on Ricky Hatton. Since there’s only two days to go until the fight, the fighters have shut up as the hype machine ramps up to sell PPV buys and tickets, meaning that everyone has to get their two cents in about the fight.

That includes the trainers, who seem to be threatening to become the bigger story than their charges. Hatton’s new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. has been defending claims that his combative presence has created problems in the Hatton camp - tough to do when you remember what a jerk Hatton’s father/trainer could be. Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is telling people that Mayweather was a “poor choice” to train Hatton and that he would have been better served making a different choice of trainer - like himself.

And with any big fight, the media has to track down some brain-damaged, washed-up former champion to give their bleary opinion on who is going to win the fight. God knows where they find these poor sods, but I hope they at least bought them breakfast. People like this sad case named Oscar De La Hoya, who drooled out an opinion for the DAILY TELEGRAPH:

“Hatton can confuse you, offset you, and especially with the Mayweather factor in the corner in this fight,” he told Telegraph Sport. “I know Mayweather, what he is capable of, what he plants – those little details he plants in your head.

“I’m crossing my fingers that Mayweather and Hatton can go undefeated for many years to come. There will be a chess match going on mentally and physically between both camps but, with all due respect to Freddie Roach’s training ability and his team, Mayweather is the better trainer.”

“I’m speaking from experience. He is more technically sound. He teaches you the craft, the art of boxing. He’s old school – an amazing trainer – yes, he’s one crazy son of a gun, but mentally he plants those little details in your head for you to become King Kong inside the ring.”

It sounds to me like De La Hoya’s fight against Pacquiao should have been stopped about eight rounds earlier than it was; clearly the 200 straight blows to the head he took during the fight have rattled his brain to the point of no return. And think about this: if De La Hoya thinks Mayweather Sr. is a better trainer than Roach, what would have happened to him if Mayweather Sr. had trained Pacquiao instead of Roach? Yikes!

Hinrich vs. Rondo was pattycakes compared to some NBA playoff incidents. Which one is your favorite?

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Boxing Results: Storage Chest 1, Khalil Greene 0

Khalil Greene of the San Diego Padres fights a storage chest - and loses.

Khalil Greene Padres

Mike Ditka is bringing his haute cuisine to the Steel City. Bon Appetit!

Mike Williams’ weight gain may have ended his NFL career. That’s heavy.

• An Aussie football analyst is in trouble for sharing sexy thoughts about a female member of parliament.

Jason Williams may burn the Miami Heat to go play in Israel.

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Mike Williams Finally Eats Himself Out of The NFL?

Mike Williams is the definition of an NFL bust. And by “bust,” I mean “cleavage caused by giant, heaving man boobs.” And I also mean “terrible waste of talent,” because he quickly went from being an unquestionably gifted USC receiver & Top 10 draft pick, to a fat, out-of-shape NFL train wreck, tipping the scales for the Raiders last season at a hefty 280 lbs. Basically, he’s the guy that has to take a break every two or three plays during your annual Turkey Bowl family football game at the park, or else his heart will explode.

Former first-round draft pick Mike Williams

Now it appears that Williams is likely to be out of the NFL at age 24, after he was cut on Thursday by the Tennessee Titans. To give Mike credit, he had lost 30 pounds in the off-season. But according to THE TENNESSEAN, there were still concerns about his conditioning and weight, as well as his shaky hands. Surprisingly, being a painfully-slow 240 lb. wide receiver with bad hands endears you to coaches about as much as being a painfully-slow 270 lb. wide receiver does.

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Blog-O-Rama: Auburn Player Bitten By Police Dog

• THE WIZARD OF ODDS gets a leg up on this police dog taking a bite out of the Auburn secondary:


• 100% INJURY RATE has the poop on these crap(ping) Christmas sports figurines.• CONSTRUDA weighs in on former USC stud WR Mike Williams getting a bit bulgy.• BLOG TO via DEUCE OF DAVENPORT notes that while the Super Bowl gets Janet Jackson nipple slips, Grey Cup viewers get treated to Lenny Kravitz’s ass crevasse:

Lenny Kravitz ass crack

• BUGS & CRANKS cashes in news of the crash-and-burn Mets getting playoff bonuses.• THE BLEACHER REPORT queries which is more painful to watch - Notre Dame football or New York Knicks basketball.