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.
(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.
We’re just hours away from the Final Four, and right on cue, we’ve got an NCAA ethics scandal. According to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson has been hanging out in Detroit casinos, though it’s not known whether he’s been doing any gambling or not. The Inquirer piece comes complete with an immediate Roy Williams defense, but it took blog BUSTED COVERAGE only a matter of hours to get snapshots of the guard in earlier action … off the court.
That’s why the bigger issue for Williams and co. now is the set of photos BUSTED uncovered, shots which show Lawson gambling at craps tables in Reno, Nev. on New Year’s Eve. Why is that such a big deal? Well, considering the fact that the NCAA still has an ongoing investigation into the University of Toledo’s programs for alleged point-shaving, Nevada casinos probably aren’t the best places to be hanging around killing time … or placing bets that can land you in debt taht would warrrant, say, shaving points in a Final Four game.
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.
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?).
(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.
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.
(”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.
• 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:
• 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.
O Glorious Day! The zenith of nascent spring has arrived! Today, you can call in sick to work (tell them you need to prep for your World Series-winning colonoscopy), crack open a beer before 9:30 am on the West Coast, and stare intently at teenagers in short pants for four straight days without so much as a cocked eyebrow from your loved ones.
(2008 Final Four coverage from SPORTSbyBROOKS)
(Hint: timing’s everything on this one. One weekend in the wrong direction and you’re stuck programming your GPS to stay 200 yards from schools for the next five years.)
WOOOO! YEAH! AMERICA ROCKS! OUR FOREIGN POLICY HAS JUST BEEN VINDICATED BECAUSE WE KICKED SOME ASS ON THE DIAMOND! YEAH!The score was USA 15, Venezuela 6 in first-round World Baseball Classic action last night, and with a 2-0 record in pool play, the Americans are assured of advancing to the next round. Your heroes are Chris Ianetta (3-run double in 6th inning) and Mark DeRosa (4 RBI). Wait, those guys are actually on America’s roster? Seriously?
(DeRosa, proving that refs totally listen to you when you say you’re safe.)
As to whether we can glean too much joy from beating the tar out of a team from a country with a GDP that’s roughly the same as the state of Iowa? (By the way, you’ve got to click that link; I don’t know if Alabama’s or Texas’ corollary is funnier or more offensive to their residents.) Sure. For as meh a country as Venezuela is on the global stage, their lineup was filled with starting-caliber talent. The meat of the Venezuela order, consisting of Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Carlos Guillen, is downright All-Star quality. If only their pitching wasn’t garbage.
In college basketball, we now know five teams that’ll be losing in the first round of the tournament, plus North Carolina smacked Duke down for the ACC regular season title, 79-71. The men of the match were Tyler Hansborough, giving the Dean Dome 17 points in his last home game, and Ty Lawson, who was doubtful to play (oh, please) with a sprained toe but poured in 13, 9, and 8 in the win.
UNC’s now 6 for their last 7 against the Blue Devils, who were beaten for the second seed in the ACC tourney by Wake Forest. Suddenly, even a 2 seed in the NCAAs doesn’t seem so assured for Coach K’s charges. FIRE THE BUM!
As for hockey (or as they call it in Europe, “football”), we do need to commend Washington Capitals fans with a spirited, to say the least, attack on Sidney Crosby’s worth as a hockey player and as a man. The singular fatal flaw in their plan, however, was the fact that Crosby’s still one of the five best players in the NHL. As it turns out, Crosby made Washington pay dearly: one goal, one assist, and the clinching goal in the shootout to give Pittsburgh the 4-3 victory. But hey… nice work on the signs, fans.
(And you can’t spell “Penguin” without “P-U-N!” Wakka wakka wakka!)
As for Alex Ovechkin, the Caps’ superstar, he had a magnificent performance of his own. No, it won’t show up in the stat sheet… but it will show up on TV and YouTube, because it’s incredible. Courtesy of the DC SPORTS BOG:
Did you ever watch that “Real Housewives of Atlanta” show? No? Us neither. But apparently the one who’s the ex-wife former Atlanta Falcon Bob Whitfield’s being sued by Whitfield for about $87,000. Honest mistake on her part, we’re sure.
Fat Ronaldo’s back from that horrific injury, and his first goal is a game-winner in injury time. Naturally, it comes replete with fans going completely ballistic and fences being torn down. Because hey, it’s soccer, and that’s just, y’know, what you do.
According to (scarcely SFW) BUSTED COVERAGE, this Ohio State cheerleader supposedly runs a 4.4 40 and might make the football team. Hey, you know what’s more fun than playing football at Ohio State? Grabbing cheerleaders’ asses in front of those same 100,000+ people while the football players are the ones getting hit all the time. If only there were a way for him to do that instead…
You have to hand it to the Cameron Crazies. Not so much for dressing a student as Beaker from “The Muppet Show” to point out the resemblance with North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough. Frankly, this is old news. But having said Duke student/Muppet wear a T-shirt that says “D League,” as the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER noted. That’s classic - even North Carolina players were laughing over that one.
But then again, it was the Tar Heels and Hansbrough who had the last laugh again, as North Carolina pulled away in the second half to take down the Blue Devils 101-87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Which made Hansbrough and senior teammate Danny Green the only two players to play in four straight victories at Duke since Mike Krzyzewski took over as the Blue Devils’ coach.
The spark for North Carolina was Ty Lawson, who scored 21 points in the second half to help the Tar Heels rally from an eight-point halftime deficit. (Good thing there is nothing the Duke fans could have given him grief about.) But as usual, the story was Hansbrough, whether he was hitting key three-pointers, getting compared to a Muppet, or getting cracked in the jaw by a Kyle Singler elbow:
You have to love the crackerjack ESPN crew of Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale totally missing the elbow. But at least Vitale - once he noticed what was happening - actually admitted that a Duke player did a bad, bad thing. Unlike Billy Packer, who probably would have chided Hansbrough for ramming into Singler’s elbow with his face.
And what’s the best way to celebrate a big win if you’re a North Carolina student? Why, burning a Christmas tree, of course. Take that, Christmas! (Why they still had a tree in February is another question.):
Speaking of Christmas…it’s time to give you the gift that keeps on giving: Brett Favre is finally gone. After the Jets’ meltdown to end the season, it was obvious what was going to happen, but it’s official: he’s filed his retirement paperwork with the league and is apparently done. No teary press conferences, no 24/7 ESPN media watch, just an old man making sure, as the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports, he gets his severance pay like an auto worker reaching retirement age.
So our national nightmare is over. Unless Favre goes online and reads stories like those from Dan Pompei of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, who immediately wrote a column that suggested Favre could still “lead certain teams to the Super Bowl.“ Certain teams meaning “Minnesota Vikings.” For God’s sake, Pompei, let’s not give him any ideas - this is like Edward R. Murrow going on the radio and suggesting that Joseph McCarthy should try exposing gay in the military instead of Communists.
Other sports stories that happened last night as you regretted eating peanut butter and peanut sandwiches for dinner (with peanut brittle for dessert):
CNBC says that jewelry maker Robindira Unsworth received a surprise when one of her creations wound up dangling from the neck of Bar Refaelion the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Which makes me wonder: has anyone even noticed her necklace while looking at the cover? Perhaps boyfriend Leonard DiCaprio bought it for her, a nice gift - as the LA TIMES says some people think the SI cover was.
Remember the testing program Lance Armstrong was going to undertake during his comeback to prove that he was free of performing-enhancing drugs? What a shock - it’s been scrapped, as KCRA-TV reports that he now claims that it’s too expensive and complex to pull off this year. I guess getting rid of Favre is all we could ask for.
Just what the already-volatile Dallas Cowboys’ locker room needs: Ray Lewis. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Terrell Owens has been making phone calls trying to recruit the Ravens’ linebacker/non-murder to play for Dallas this season.
Former Congressman Tom Davis tells NBCSPORTS.COM that it’s time to “cut your losses,” and that you can expect charges against Roger Clemens for lying under oath soon.
A woman in Fresno put up her old baseball card on eBay for $10, but decided to pull the item after receiving way too many e-mails asking if it was real. It turns out that the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings card was real, and worth a lot more than she thought: the AP says she sold it yesterday for almost $65,000.
Speaking of eBay, IDIOTS ON SPORTS found this beauty up for sale on the auction site, although I doubt it’s worth $65,000:
The WACO TRIBUNE reports that Baylor football recruit Willie Jefferson was arrested 10 days before signing his letter of intent and charged with marijuana possession after cops found a “small bag of marijuana, a marijuana cigarette and several cigars in a cavity on the floorboard of the vehicle” Jefferson was driving. This is why you don’t by a used car from Tommy Chong.
See, Sirius XM isn’t going bankrupt. If it was, why would they be flying Chris Russo out first-class to spring training- twice! - as he told Howard Stern yesterday. Just like there’s no way the banks could be going under if they can still afford to fly their executives out to expensive resorts for annual meetings.