Pele Says He’ll Rep Brazil ‘Til Death; Where’s MJ?

The IOC’s highly anticipated 2016 Summer Olympics vote is tomorrow, and what initially appeared to be a slam dunk for the USA has turned into a legitimate two-horse race.

Pele
(Pele, representing his country by holding up a Brazilian flag. Please disregard the flag in his other hand.)

Try as President Obama might, Chicago is facing stiff competition from Rio de Janeiro for hosting rights, and it might have something to do with the fact that the Brazilian athletic community is pulling out all the stops. And by that, of course, we mean bringing Pele to Copenhagen on Friday to represent Brazil’s bid. When one thinks of Chicago’s most famous athletes, of course, the list starts and ends with Brad Sellers Michael Jordan. He’s not going to Copenhagen, though, and that means it’s time for Pele to somehow overstate his importance. Mission accomplished.

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Pele Made The Plays, But Sadly Missed The Boat

So here’s today’s question to ponder while waiting in line at Starbucks: What would Pele, perhaps the greatest player ever in the world’s most popular sport, make today in endorsement deals? Is there a dump truck big enough to transport all that loot? As big as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are in the corporate world, as huge as Michael Phelps is and will become outside of the pool, if he played today, Pele would be bigger. Oh yeah, how quickly we forget.

Pele

It’s one of fate’s cruel ironies that David Beckham, who was practically booed off the field in his LA Galaxy closing act recently, made $45 million in endorsements last year, while the former Brazilian soccer great is struggling to make a living. All because he was born a couple of decades too early. Read more…

Speed Read: Women’s NCAA Tourney Still A Sham

I understand the need to get a**es in the seats for the women’s NCAA Tournament, but the notion that forcing higher-seeded teams to play true road games in the tournament should be seen as some sort of reward for a great season is ludicrous.

Michigan State women

Last night, #1 seed Duke was blown out by #9 seed Michigan State in the second round — a game played at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Spartans ended the game on a 16-2 run. Think the home court might have had anything to do with it? The crowd was even extra riled up to boo Duke’s current coach, Joanne P. McCallie, who spent seven years as MSU’s coach before bolting for Durham in 2007. Think this was “coincidental” from the tournament committee? Shouldn’t Duke be completely livid about this? For now, the DETROIT FREE PRESS is there to rub it in McCallie’s face.

Meanwhile, other top seeds Connecticut (as if they need any more help) and Maryland got to play their first two games at home, and both cruised to easy wins. The last #1, Oklahoma, was sent to Iowa City but avoided a matchup with the Hawkeyes, who lost in the first round. In another upset, seventh-seeded Rutgers obliterated second-seeded Auburn by 28 points on the Scarlet Knights’ home floor in Piscataway.

We could debate the relative merits of women’s basketball for days here, but one of the reasons that the men’s tournament works so well is that there’s some semblance of neutrality. Sure, UNC gets to play in their home state all the time and Villanova somehow was able to play in Philly. But you would never see, say #9 Siena getting to play #1 Louisville on their home floor in Albany (and wouldn’t that home-court advantage have been enough to lift the Saints to the upset win?).

Siena nun

(Her team might’ve had a prayer in Albany)

Would a Duke-Michigan State women’s game have drawn even 2,000 fans if it were played in Boise or Lubbock? No, and I guess that’s the point. The competitive balance isn’t as important to the NCAA in this tournament as selling tickets, which is just an admission that it’s not something that people really want to watch outside of the markets that are directly involved. But why not just give all of the top two or three seeds home court advantage in the first two rounds? There are ways to do this that don’t involve screwing over teams that work hard all year to earn a high seed only to have to play for their tournament life on the road.

Duke women

On to the NBA, is there a sadder franchise than the Detroit Pistons right now? I know everyone is injured now, but a team that once looked destined for a dynasty is now reduced to running Kwame Brown and Walter Herrmann out there for key minutes. And that whole Iverson thing has really worked out well. He’s not playing, and now his bank account is about to be $260,000 lighter.  They lost again last night, this time to Chicago, and now are tied in the loss column with the Bulls in the playoff race. Which means that there’s a very real possibility they’ll be playing the Cavs in the first round, and it was just two years ago that Cleveland stunned Detroit in the East finals. Now, it would be a shock to not be a Cavs sweep.

Rasheed Wallace

(”Can someone please eject me so I don’t have to watch this anymore?”)

• Minor-league outfielder Jose Tabata has some problems. His wife allegedly kidnapped a two-month-old baby on Monday, then was arrested when she turned the infant in yesterday. Oh, and by the way, Jose is 23 years younger than his wife (she’s 43 and he’s 20). And that’s not the worst part — he was traded from the Yankees to the Pirates last year. I think the one of the few things worse than being married to a cougar who kidnaps infants is having to deal with that while playing for the Pirates.

• the WAYNE FONTES EXPERIENCE touches on the passing of George Kell, who was as well known for his days as a play-by-play man for the Tigers as he was for his 14-year Hall-of-Fame playing career. Kell was a 10-time All-Star who hit .300 nine times.

• Wait, so was Ric Flair really injured by Chris Jericho in Monday night’s RAW telecast, or was that just a fake gash, like Massive Head Wound Harry? Or was it supposed to be a fake injury but turned into a real one? Somehow, Flair ended up with 12 staples in his head, according to PWTORCH.

Massive Head Wound Harry

• WTA CEO Larry Scott is leaving his post to become the new commissioner of the Pac-10, according to the L.A. TIMES.

• WPXI says some members of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered pizza to construction workers who are building the team’s new arena.

• Making a 75-footer to win a Collegeinsider.com Tournament game is kinda like winning Powerball when it’s only $500,000. And since it’s the CIT, you get to watch Bradley’s win over Oakland from the classic local news baseline camera angle:

• The NFL has adopted some new rules that will make it illegal to ever tackle Tom Brady again. Specifically, there’s a rule that penalizes defenders for lunging at a quarterback’s legs, as Bernard Pollard did last year.

• It looks like Ty Lawson is going to play in Friday night’s Sweet 16 game against Gonzaga. Bobby Frasor has done a nice job filling in, but UNC is up against a talented and confident Zags team that can play with anybody. The Lawson-Jeremy Pargo point guard matchup could be a classic.

George Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens and a controlling stake in NASCAR’s Richard Petty Motorsports, is thinking of selling the hockey team because it’s just too mind-boggling that someone could possibly be involved in both of those things. FULL THROTTLE says Gillett is looking to cut his losses.

Pele thinks Robinho is on drugs. And no, Pele is not the guy who invented the Smurfs, he’s the soccer player. Robinho is not taking kindly to any of this and is considering a lawsuit against the legend, according to THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT.

How much of the NCAA women’s tournament do you watch?

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Greek Team To Offer Kobe Three Year $83M Deal

It looks like Josh Childress may not be the highest-paid player in Europe for long. In last Sunday’s NEW YORK TIMES, Olympiakos co-owner Panayiotis Angelopoulos issued a warning to NBA clubs thinking their players would stay stateside, saying (emphasis ours), “I think we’ll see a day when a superstar player comes to Europe, but to Olympiacos, not to another team,” he said. “That is my answer. Maybe it will be very soon. Maybe then you realize what I’m telling you is serious.”

Kobe Bryant smiling

Guess what? It appears that Olympiacos is, in fact, serious, as reports are surfacing that the club is preparing an offer for Kobe Bryant. We’re talking 60 million Euro (about $83 million right now) over 3 years. THE HOOP has more details on the perks of the contract, and they are pretty damned nice:

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Paps Helps Lighten Up Rained-Out Red Sox Fans

Did Roberto Clemente profoundly predict his own untimely demise?

Jonathan Papelbon & Manny Del Carmen sure know how to cheer up the rain-soaked faithful at Fenway Park.

Jonathan Papelbon Manny Del Carmen Red Sox Milli Vanilli

Jerry Manuel helps ease the pain of George Carlin’s passing.

• This minor league ballgirl is leaps & bounds above the rest.

Big Brown’s big Belmont loss? Gotta be the horseshoes.

• Your next host of the Olympic Games - Birmingham, Alabama?

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Erin’s The Bee’s Knees; Let Tony & Jess Eat Cake

Erin Andrews will be lending her talents to the National Spelling Bee.

Erin Andrews fullbody

As if the young male competitors weren’t nervous enough already.

• When it comes to celebrity couples chowing down, Tony Romo & Jessica Simpson really take the cake.

• The Milwaukee Brewers take a back seat to no one - especially an airline passenger seat.

• But those stranded travelers can always take a ride on Air Tranica.

• An NFL writer claims that ex-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is “sick”, and not in a phat, dope kind of way.

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Romario Has Sex On Planes, Is Better Than Pele

I’m not sure who the guy is either. I thought he was that one rapper we should all pray for whenever there’s a terrorist attack. But Romario is actually a living, breathing, successful Brazilian football player. He says he’s scored 1,000 goals, something only Pele has accomplished.

Romario, Brazilian soccer player

But he’s not happy to be mentioned in the same breath. Oh, no. Romario says he’s better than Pele. Oh, and he told GOAL.COM that one time he had sex (with a woman!) on a plane (while moving!). Read more…