Carmelo Anthony Annihilates Utah’s Paul Millsap

If you went to bed early or had other things to do besides watch the Denver-Utah game on ESPN last night, you made the wrong decision. One, because the NBA is awesome and this is its strongest iteration since about, oh, 1996; and two, because you missed Carmelo Anthony’s enormous dunk over Paul Millsap, who is legit in his own right. Or was. RIP Millsap’s cred, you will be missed.

Carmelo Anthony Posterizes Paul Millsap
(Melo, my man.)

The play was an effective dagger into Utah’s heart for the night; the Nuggets had begun to pull away in the second half, but Utah was still hang-ging around, hang-ging around, down 8 halfway through the fourth quarter. Millsap had just corralled a defensive rebound and sent a lazy pass up the court to a waiting Deron Williams. Bad decision, sir, as Anthony was waiting for the pass. Anthony picked it off, took one dribble, and utterly posterized Millsap, who compounded his earlier bad decision by standing in the crease. Video? Of course there’s video, after the break.

Read more…

Speed Read: Turnberry Getting Its Revenge Today

After a day that saw the lowest opening round ever at the British Open Championship and a 59-year-old dude lapping Turnberry like it’s a pitch-and-putt, it appears that the golf gods are turning the screws on the field today. Let’s put it this way, Tiger Woods has moved up more than 20 spots on the leaderboard so far today by not playing golf.

Tom Watson

(It’s been 32 years since we’ve seen this much arm hair and a Claret Jug in the same photo)

Tiger will tee off shortly, and he’ll do so on a damp, dreary, and (most importantly) windy day on the Scottish shoreline. Tom Watson (pictured above) is already out on the course, looking to build on his improbable 65. Yesterday’s clubhouse leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez, has already dropped four shots on the front nine as of press time. His ridiculous ponytail is threatening to blow into the ocean as we speak.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Ben Curtis was one of three players who started the day one behind, but he’s fallen off the map, firing a brutal 80 and falling all the way to a tie for 108th in the process. Others who have gone completely in the tank today are Mike Weir, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, and US Open champ Lucas Glover. And John Daly looks just as ridiculous wearing this in Scotland as he does over here:

John Daly

American Steve Marino is one of the only players who has negotiated the course well so far, following a first-round 67 with a 68 today. At 5-under, Marino might find himself playing in the final group on Saturday if the wind continues to howl during this afternoon’s play. Marino has never won on the PGA Tour and never even played in an Open. Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya has gone to 6-under as I write this, but he’s still early in his round and may have come back to earth by the time you read this.

Dan Marino

(No, no, *Steve* Marino)

David Beckham made his long-awaited return to the MLS last night for the L.A. Galaxy. Well, it was at least a mildly-awaited return. Alright, let’s be honest, if Landon Donovan hadn’t called the guy out in that book would anyone even know he was back? The citizens of the New York metro area certainly didn’t seem to care that much, as only 23,000 or so showed up to see the Galaxy beat up on the hapless Red Bulls.

Beckham and Donovan

Not surprisingly, Beckham looked slow and tired, as he hadn’t played in a match since the end of May. Donovan scored once and assisted on another goal, and Beckham attempted to bury the hatchet once and for all by bro-hugging him all the way down the field as they celebrated Landon’s goal.

But the tepid response to Beckham’s return was the real story. Just a year ago, Beckham drew more than 46,000 fans out to the Meadowlands, which was down from the 66,000+ who came in 2007. He clearly prefers playing in Europe and living in Europe, so what’s the point now? He has run his course here, and his continued presence is just going to become an embarrassment for all involved — AEG for overestimating the Beckham brand in America, MLS for not shedding American pro soccer’s reputation of only drawing international stars after they’re washed up, and Beckham himself, who is going to have to deal with playing in front of 12,000 people in Kansas City and pretending that he’s happy to be there.

So when is the plug pulled for good? The Galaxy have friendly matches coming up with AC Milan (his other team) and Champions League winners Barcelona, as well as 12 more league matches that stretch into late October. European leagues start at the end of August. Is he going to want to stick around here when he could be getting “better prepared” for next year’s World Cup elsewhere? And more importantly, does anyone really care if he stays or goes?

David Beckham

• OK, so how did U.S. Ski Team member Cody Marshall suffer a serious head injury?

A) Training hard for the upcoming Olympics.

B) Riding the railing of an escalator in the mall like a 12-year-old.

Do I need to even answer this for you? Perhaps the biggest problem was that the escalator wasn’t even turned on.

•  Nice timing for the big celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend. I mean, it’s not like there’s another important golf tournament going on or anything. I guess if Tiger tanks it today everyone can take solace in being able to watch Charles Barkley shoot 110.

Adam Morrison has finally found a league he can dominate — the NBA summer league in Vegas. The LA TIMES caught up with him there. Seriously, though, the guy has taken a beating just about everywhere so it would be a great story if he could somehow turn himself into a useful NBA player.

• The Jazz are planning on matching the Blazers’ offer to restricted free agent Paul Millsap, which ESPN says might help facilitate a trade that would send Carlos Boozer to Chicago and Kirk Hinrich to Portland.

Ronnie Milsap

(No, no, *Paul* Millsap. It’s not even spelled the same.)

• Remember the good old days when Dominican baseball prospects just lied about their age? Now they don’t even use their real names. The Yankees are the latest team to have apparently been duped by a prospect from the D.R. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED says they signed who they thought was 16-year-old shortstop Damian Arredondo to an $850,000 bonus, but they have been informed by MLB’s Department of Investigations that not only is he not really 16, but he’s also not really Damian Arredondo. Whoever he is, the Yankees don’t have to pay him the bonus and the player is now banned from being offered a contract by another team for a year.

• More evidence that Rich Rodriguez might not be working out in Ann Arbor? An offensive lineman who has left the program to transfer to Ball State says this: “They were bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd. Coach Carr’s staff was a whole different ballgame. It was like a family. But when Rodriguez came in it was a whole different feeling. It was more of a business.”

Ricky Williams would like to give you a body massage.

• That car that Stan Musial rode around in at the All-Star Game the other night was a Ford. And, since we all know that “this is oooouuurrrr coouuuntryyyy” and Chevy owns our souls during baseball telecasts, they had to actually put tape over the Ford logo. Maybe that’s why the guy driving was so surly the whole time (thanks UNI WATCH).

Stan Musial

• The MIAMI HERALD was trumpeting the Marlins-Phillies series that began last night at (shudder) Land Shark Stadium, saying that crowds of “upwards of 30,000″ were expected for the series. Actual attendance last night: 15,171. But look at the bright side — that’s 15,000 fewer people to be embarrassed by watching their team get one-hit by a 46-year-old.

Ryan Howard hit his 200th career homer last night in his 658th game, the fewest ever for someone to reach the milestone. The previous record holder was Ralph Kiner, who did it in 706 games.

• Everybody’s talking about the dress Erin Andrews wore to the ESPY Awards, but Natalie Gulbis was looking pretty nice herself:

Natalie Gulbis

Has the David Beckham MLS “experiment” been a success?

View Results

Speed Read: NL Weaker Than Obama’s First Pitch

If MLB and Fox executives are wondering why no one watches the All-Star Game anymore, here’s Exhibit A: the winning run for the AL in their 4-3 victory over the NL was driven in by an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, a name that resonates with a thud among all but the most die-hard baseball fans. And the person he scored was the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, who can be politely called “slightly more well-known than Adam Jones.”

Adam Jones

To put it mildly, if the All-Star Game was a weekly series, it would be on the verge of cancellation by now. Especially after TV critics would have inevitably slammed it for its lack of imagination and formulaic structure. Yes, we get it - the AL is always going to win. Can’t we just have a twist on that every once in a while? (And not the shoddy “Who’s Going to Pitch?” cliffhanger that Bud Selig and company cooked up a few years ago.)

Barack Obama

After 13 years of not seeing the National League win, it’s not surprising that people just aren’t that interested anymore. But there was an attempt to spice things up this year by bringing in a big-game star for a special guest appearance: President Barack Obama. After warming up with Albert Pujols in the batting cages before the game, Obama took the mound and delivered a pitch that was about as effective as his pitch for the bank bailout.

I’ll leave it to WIDE WHITE to give a breakdown of Obama’s pitch as it relates to his policies, but suffice it to say that it was neither great nor awful. He should just be thankful that Pujols was there to make a great pick to keep the ball from hitting the dirt. (And that was Pujols’ best play of the night, since he went 0-for-3 before the hometown crowd.)

The game MVP was Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, not so much for what he did at the plate but for his actions in the field, most notably his catch that robbed Brad Hawpe of what would have been a go-ahead home run in the seventh. And the NL can’t blame the loss on the AL being fired up because of Ichiro Suzuki’s notoriously profanity-laden pregame pep talks - President Obama’s visit to the clubhouses took up so much time that he didn’t get to give one.

Speaking of Ichiro, he took some time out of his schedule on Monday to visit the grave of George Sisler, whose record for hits in a season he broke in 2004. It was a nice touch, except for the fact that instead of bringing flowers or a wreath, Ichiro just swore at Sisler’s grave for 15 minutes straight until being escorted away by cemetary workers. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

While MLB was playing a game that no one really cares about, the NBA is knee-deep in something arguably more exciting and definitely more important: free-agency. The main story right now is what will happen to Lamar Odom, and the saga took another turn last night as the Lakers have pulled their three-year deal worth $9 million off the table. The reason? Owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom’s people haven’t responded to the offer while continuing to negotiate with the Mavericks and Heat.

Lamar Odom

But there’s another free-agency drama going on that is a little more below the radar screen, but just as fascinating. The Portland Trailblazers have made a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to promising young Utah forward Paul Millsap, who is a restricted free agent. That means that the Jazz have until the end of the week to match the offer and keep Millsap on the team.

The problem is that Millsap’s offer from the Trailblazers includes an immediate cash payout of $10.3 million, which Utah would also have to do if they match the offer sheet. And apparently, the cash isn’t flowing through the streets of Salt Lake as readily as Mormon children, since the Jazz ownership would likely have to take out a short-term bank loan to get the deal approved. (Portland doesn’t have that problem, since $10.6 million is vending machine money to billionaire owner Paul Allen.)

Not only does this make me question the solvency of the Utah ownership group, but it also makes me wonder how the whole loan process would go down. Would they have to wait in line at the bank before getting seated at one of those tables out in the lobby. What would they have to put up as collateral - Jerry Sloan? It simply boggles the mind.

Other sports news:

  • It turns out that with 22 points, WNBA star Diana Taurasi outscored her blood alcohol level the night she was arrested for a DUI - barely, as the AP reports that she’s been charged with an “Extreme DUI” after her blood alcohol level was shown to be 0.17 percent - twice the legal limit in Arizona.
  • Speaking of the WNBA, they announced their All-Star Game starters yesterday. No word on if Michelle Obama will be there for the traditional “First Fundamentally Sound Screen” of the game, or if they’ll get “stuck” with Hillary Clinton.
  • One thing you might not have seen at the All-Star Game (other than the National League hitting the ball) was a lot of black players. The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER floats one reason why: the lack of strong black male role models in the inner cities makes it tough to find coaches for organized games.
  • The WALL STREET JOURNAL gives us an “Unofficial Guide to Life as a Ref” while wondering why NFL refs make so much for working one game a week.
  • With all the talk about Tiger Woods taking on Turnberry this week, there’s one thing that should be noted: Padraig Harrington is going after his third freakin’ straight British Open title. USA TODAY says it might be difficult since he’s completely changed his swing from last year.
  • The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final three tables, and poker celebrity/Norman Chad man crush Phil Ivey is still very much in the hunt, standing at fourth place with more than 11 million chips. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is also alive as they play down to the final table tomorrow.
  • Bud Selig calls claims of collusion to drive down the price of free agentssome make-believe scenario that doesn’t exist.” Right, because MLB would never get involved in collusion.
  • ESPN goes a different route and hires former NBC President Don Ohlmeyer as their new ombudsman. His first call: hiring his good friend O.J. Simpson to replace Bill Simmons as “The Sports Guy.”
  • Anthony Randolph notched his name in Las Vegas NBA Summer League history by tying the single-game scoring record by putting up 42 in the Warriors’ victory over the Bulls. Something tells me you won’t find any pictures of him posing with a basketball with “42″ written on it.
  • While sports talk radio is struggling elsewhere, it seems to be alive and well in Boston, where legendary rock station WBCN in being pulled off the air and replaced by the city’s third all-sports station.

Which remaining free agent is worth the most money?

View Results