8:15 PM An Army National Guard veteran is hoping officials in West Lafayette, Ohio will change a village ordinance so he will be allowed to keep his 14 pet ducks on his property. Darin Welker says that the ducks help relieve his post-traumatic stress disorder.
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.
With the NCAA tournament getting under way in two hours, you’re no doubt getting ready for one of the best days of the year. Hopefully you’ve called in sick to work so you could stay home and watch it as God intended you to — on your couch and drunk — but if not, at least you can watch it all online or on your phone. Whatever your method is, all that’s truly important is that you’re not doing anything remotely productive.
One of the best parts of watching the tournament is rooting for the underdog. Sure, you may have North Carolina, Duke, UConn, or Louisville in your final four in the office bracket pool, but there’s always a part of you rooting for the Binghamtons and Radfords of the world. It’s just too easy to hate on the big dogs, which is something that North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough understands, and it turns out that’s cool with him. He loves the hate.
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.
Now you can add Simeon Rice to the list of players lining up to rip Gruden, and the former Bucs Pro Bowler isn’t pulling any punches. In an interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Sirius NFL Radio, Rice went off on Gruden, running down a laundry list of players who hate him, and shredding his character like a rat going through an old stack of magazines in your garage:
“How I feel personally? I could tell you that, too. I think he’s a scumbag,” Rice said. “I think he’s a scumbag personally. That’s when he’s telling you one thing and… You know what he told me? ‘Simeon you’ll be here in the next five years.’ I got injured [and] this man’s never said one word to me. I won a Super Bowl for you. I got 13 sacks, 12, 15 every year for you. I balled. I got injured [and] you let me go like it was nothing.”
Now, to be fair, Rice had a grand total of one sack in 2007 after being cut by the Buccaneers and didn’t play last year, so it’s not like Rice showed Gruden what a horrible mistake he made by letting him go. But judging by the stories that keep coming out, releasing an injured player who helped you win a Super Bowl without saying a word to him seems to be right up his alley.
Hmm, let’s see: a “offensive genius” head coach whose teams always have lousy defenses; who is about as likable as genital warts and has the personal skills of Jeff Conaway; and who inspires hatred and disloyalty from former and current players. I’m starting to think that Notre Dame could have stuffed Gruden into a sumo suit and swapped him for Charlie Weis, and no one would have known the difference.
But Jon, if it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t just the fact that your players hate you that got you fired. Apparently the fans all hate you as well. So that’s nice.
Oops, they did it again: the Lakers managed to overlook the Charlotte Bobcats and fall 117-110 in double OT. All this with the Bobcats’ best player - Gerald Wallace - missing the overtimes with an injury. The LOS ANGELES TIMES has the gory details of the Lakers’ fifth loss to the Bobcats in their last six meetings. (Really, and these are the title favorites?)
FOOD COURT LUNCH examines “The Hansbrough Effect,” where college basketball analysts laud the hard work and gritty determination of big, white stiffs who will be sure to flop in the NBA. Which gives me another chance to type Kevin Pittsnogle.
Who loves chicken? New Orleans Hornets fans love chicken, especially when they get it for free if the Hornets score 100 points. NOLA.COM has the exciting blow-by-blow as the team sits on 99 with just seconds to go.
TRAVELIN’ LIGHT says that a resort in Aruba is offering vacation packages for fantasy baseball and football drafts. Sure, the resort might have beautiful beaches, world-class food and exciting casinos, but does it have a Bubble Hockey machine and old NES system with RBI Baseball like my garage? I didn’t think so.
If you think you’ve had a rough life, think about Arizona Cardinals lineman Darnell Dockett, who found his mother murdered, execution style, when he was 13. And then his father died of cancer four months later. The GANNETT NEWS SERVICE has a moving piece on his relationship with his uncle, who helped him get his life back on track.
The Braves need a power hitter to provide protection for Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. Enter Jeff Francoeur and .239 batting average. MLB.COM says that Jones, for one, is thrilled to have “Frenchy” back. Hey, if your other option is Andruw Jones, anything looks good.
Ever nearly kill yourself trying to get that stuck bag of chips dislodged from a vending machine? Me too! Now there’s a video game for you: Adult Swim’s Ultimate Vending Machine Challenge.
About two weeks ago on DEADSPIN, a couple of readers sent in a photo of themselves along with their story about encountering the one and only Erin Andrews while she was in town for the UNC-Kentucky game on ESPN. While the game was nothing special as the Tar Heels ran over the Wildcats, there was an interesting tidbit of information in their letter to DEADSPIN, and it involved a rumor about Erin hooking up with a Tar Heel player.
That player was Bobby Frasor, a reserve guard on the Tar Heels who is best known for jumping off of frat house roofs with Tyler Hansbrough even though he’s coming off of surgery on his ACL. According to the students in the picture “Rumors are swirling around the UNC campus about a late night she had with Bobby Frasor. I know, I didn’t believe it either, but apparently that’s the word from a guy whom he, Ginyard, and Hansbrough share a house with.” You know, because there’s no way Erin Andrews could get an actual date, and she has to rely on bedding college athletes. Well, according to Bobby’s father, it never happened.
You know, at this rate the college basketball season isn’t going to be very interesting. North Carolina has now won each of its eight games by at least 15 points, and absolutely crushed Michigan State at Ford Field last night, 98-63, giving the Heels one more win in that venue than the Lions this year. The stadium will host the Final Four in just under four months, but was a morgue for this game. There were about 70,000 tickets available, but the announced attendance was only 25,267. Hardly seems worth it now to move the game to Detroit when a rocking Breslin Center might’ve at least given MSU a fighting chance.
As for the Tar Heels, with Tyler Hansbrough getting healthier, they’re as close to unbeatable as any college basketball team this decade. Their two games with Duke might be the only games they play this year with a single-digit point spread.
UNC’s win helped the ACC win the ACC-Big Ten Challenge for the 10th consecutive year, but this was the closest the midwesterners have come to pulling it off with the final tally being 6-5. Clemson and Boston College won their games by just two points each over Illinois and Iowa, respectively. And, of all things, both Northwestern and Penn State won their games.
Good to see that the Knicks are getting back to their old ways. LeBron and the Cavs blasted New York 118-82 to move to 10-0 at home and 15-3 overall. And looking at the schedule over the next month, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Cleveland sitting at 27-6 when they face the Celtics on January 9th. The Cavs are winning games so handily that James hasn’t even played in the fourth quarter of four of the last five games.
The dream matchup of undefeated Ball State (provided they beat Buffalo this week) and undefeated Boise State is not going to happen, according to ESPN. The Cardinals would’ve had to bail on their MAC bowl commitments and agree to play the Broncos in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. But they didn’t want to do that and now are either going to Detroit or Mobile. Boise State, on the other hand, looks like they’ll take on a very good TCU team in the Poinsettia Bowl.
• According to TMZ, Amanda Beardfiled a lawsuit yesterday claiming that a tanning salon company in Florida called ProSun has posted pictures of her on their site without permission, which she says insinuates that she endorses the company. No, this isn’t one of the offending pictures:
But, apparently this is:
This photo is one of many pictures of celebrities who were on hand at some sort of event at which ProSun was showing off a shower that also acts as a tanning bed. Also pictured are such sports heavyweights as Rodney Peete and Shaun Livingston. I suppose the photo makes it seem as if Beard endorses the product, but this is really the only offending material I could find on ProSun’s site.
• So, Barry Melrose leaves ESPN to coach in the NHL and the world’s economy goes in the tank. Luckily, Barry got fired by the Lightning so he could get re-hired by the WWL, according to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. All is now right with the world. Thanks for playing, Matthew Barnaby.
• West Virginia’s going to wear white uniforms at home this weekend against South Florida says the CHARLESTON GAZETTE, which is against the rules or something. But USF is playing along and wearing their green unis, so nobody’s going to be losing timeouts like USC.
• This might just be the worst soccer dive ever taken. And that’s saying something, considering it’s soccer and all. FAN NATION brings us this one. Really, this is just spectacular in its idiocy, and the ref has the gall to reward him for it:
• Ever been up in the top deck of a sports arena and been worried that you’d trip down the stairs and fall over the railing? Well, it happened to a guy carrying two beers back to his seat at an Ottawa Senators game last night. According to NBC SPORTS, the guy tripped over a purse and fell 25 feet to the next level. But he never lost consciousness and just had cuts and bruises. He fell on two people, who were also not seriously injured.
• Alcorn State’s athletic director fired seven of the school’s nine assistant football coaches…on Thanksgiving…without telling the team’s head coach, who found out on the news. Classy. The NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT has the details (thanks to SPORTING BLOG for the tip)
All leg injuries aside, Tyler Hansbrough has a pretty good life. He’s the reigning college basketball player of the year, he goes to school on a gorgeous campus in a warm climate and he can probably choose from a full crop of co-eds. Well, if that sounds good, you can add “hero” to the superlatives the man from Poplar Bluff, Missouri already has on his resume.
After rolling through a completely overmatched field at the Maui Invitational, North Carolina flew back to Chapel Hill on Thanksgiving Day. But, according to Jason King of YAHOO, when their plane backed out of its gate, a man was discovered unconscious. When flight attendants asked for help, Hansbrough, teammate Deon Thompson and video coordinator Eric Hoots ran to the man’s seat, lifted him out and carried him back into the airport, where he received first aid for half an hour and was then transported to a nearby hospital.
There you go, Tyler Hansbrough: paramedic. That might have seemed out of his grasp from the sound of his post-game interviews, but now we know better. Of course, he probably has ample practice with broken noses and facial contusions, so maybe he has a leg up on med school.
“I’m going to feel like a queen when it’s over … The fans are great. And I’m going to be more proud tonight, when they win 14-0.”
Maybe not 14-zip, but how does 10-2 sound?
The Phillies are now in the driver’s seat while the Rays are struggling to breathe in the trunk after Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard (twice), and Joe Blanton — the pitcher!? — successfully swung for the fences and cured their RISPitoid arthritis in the same game. But while Howard might have sandwiched in five RBIs, the more impressive feat is Blanton’s unlikely solo swing, which was the first World Series home run by a pitcher since ‘74. So congratulations, Ken Holtzman. You’re no longer languishing on a Trivial Pursuit card!
Through four games, Philly’s up 3-1, so a Game 5 win tonight will cement the trophy with all the flags in the glass case at the CBP. As for Tampa, well, their 3-4 tandem of Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria are totally and thoroughly hitless in the Series. That might have somethin’ to do with the two game deficit.
And contrary to rumors circulating around your breakfast nook, it wasn’t just a baseball day yesterday.
Why bring in the middle man? Have a coffee, Peter King. NBC’s Bob Costas chatted directly with area football franchise owner Jerry Jones for over 11 (!) minutes about the State of the Dallas Cowboys — everything from Romo’s pinky to Pac-adam’s suspension to the new stadium and back.The best part might be at the tail end of the fireside chat:
Costas: You don’t mind it, you like it a little bit that sometimes there’s a motley collection of characters on your team and maybe there are some character issues and some othe things that go beyond the field that’s kind of part for the course in Dallas, isn’t it?
Jones: Well I’m gonna take exception with the “motley” aspect of your description, that’s not the case, but what I will agree to is that just because you got a football helmet on and a football uniform doesn’t mean there aren’t all kinds of personalities that can be very successful, and yes I have gotten to be a part of teams that have had different characters wearing that star. but they come together for a common reason and that is for the team to win the championship. Win. Win.
I repeat, they’re not motley. So, the tamest possible description of the Cowboys’ raucous character pool, and Jones isn’t cool with it. From now on, they’ll the Playmakers. (So which one’s the closet homosexual?)
Also, he said he won’t fire Coach Phillips this year. Confidence!
If you don’t check out what else is happening, I can neither confirm nor deny if an NFL coach will be all up in your spice:
THE SPORTS HERNIA notices that Jimmy Rollins took a page out of the Matt Stairs book of wisdom and really got his ass hammered by a guy during Game 4. No greater feeling. Especially when you’re called safe.
Who says there was no Sunday Night Football? It just happened to be in the collegiate level. Undefeated Tulsa crushed UCF 49-19 and is still just the fourth best non-BCS school in the most recent rankings, clocking in at No. 18. The other three? Utah (No. 10), Boise State (No. 11), and the Class Of The MAC, Ball State (No. 16).
But enough about the stupid non-power conference teams. Doody on them! It’s all about schools in Texas and Oklahoma. We already mentioned Tulsa, but Texas (No. 1), Oklahoma (No. 4), Texas Tech (No. 7), Oklahoma State (No. 9), and TCU (No. 13) give the superstate of Texlahoma five teams in the top 15. This is proof the region hasn’t had a drought in a while. This week’s big matchup, as there always seems to be two of those teams locking horns every week: Texas vs. Texas Tech.
It’s media day for North Carolina basketball. But I hope you weren’t looking forward to seeing Tyler Hansbrough, because he didn’t show up, the WILMINGTON STAR-NEWS reports. Begin the nervous conspiracies … now.
“What ifs” are so much fun. Joe Posnanskishares with America a column that would have run had Jamie Moyer been the story of Game 3. For this very reason, now I wish Tampa Bay had never come back to tie the game.
The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION was front and center at the Pep Boys Auto 500 where Carl Edwardsflipped to victory, but Jimmie Johnson is cartwheeling over his second place finish, adding to his points lead.
And the BLEACHER REPORT organizes the NBA’s ten best trios of all time. Marbury-Randolph-Francis is conspicuously absent.