Photos: NBA Euro’s Cool Knights Templar Tattoo

So far the highlight of the NBA season for me is the discovery of the tattoo of Minnesota TWolves rookie Nikola Pekovic.

Nikola-Pekovic-tattoo-photos

Pekovic had his left arm inked with an image bearing a striking resemblance to a common visual interpretation of a Templar Knight. (Atop a bed of skulls. Nice touch.)

In addition to the tattoo being damn cool, whether Pekovic intended it or not, there may be some history tying together his tiny, home country of Montenegro and the Templars.

Nikola-Pekovic-tattoo-photos

Founded in the 12th century, Templar Knights were an organization symbolized by a distinctive red cross against a white background and generally recognized as playing a significant role in the crusades. Read more…

Chelsea Won’t Be Signing New Players For A While

Things should be good for Chelsea fans as the EPL season opens. Four games in, Chelsea are undefeated and tied for the top of the league with, of all squads, Spurs. That’s an issue for another time, anyway.

Gael Kakuta
(Hope this guy’s worth it, Chelsea!)

But for as well as the team is performing, they’d better be happy with the players they’ve already got. That’s according to FIFA’s “dispute resolution chamber,” which sounds like a euphemism for a room in Abu Ghraib; the international soccer federation just banned the team from signing any new players for two whole years after illegally signing a player in 2007.

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Jeanie Buss Thinks PhilJax Will Linger With Lakers

I don’t particularly buy into the Phil Jackson-as-Coaching-God theory — when you’re blessed with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and a young Shaquille O’Neal, probably the top three players of this generation, you had better win 10 NBA titles. So whether or not he stays with the Lakers holds no special interest for me. Others, as I understand it, care a whole lot.

Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss

That would include Lakers vice president Jeanie Buss, who happens to be Jackson’s longtime girlfriend. With former Lakers assistant and Jackson protege Kurt Rambis headed to the Timberwolves, Buss made a somewhat surprising observation recently on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles: Rambis’ departure could mean that Jackson could stick around in LA longer than anticipated. Read more…

Kurt Rambis Hired As New Timberwolves Coach

Kids these days. The newer generations of NBA fans probably only know Kevin McHale, if they know him at all, as either the general manager/coach who spent the past few years running the Minnesota Timberwolves into the ground before being shown the door in June. Older fans, however, probably remember McHale best as the Celtics forward who clotheslined the bespectacled, bemulleted Lakers forward Kurt Rambis in the 1984 NBA Finals.

Kevin McHale Kurt Rambis

Now, 25 years later, REVENGE! Rambis has been hired away from the Lakers to replace  the deposed McHale as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sadly, it appears that the 80s mullet and black specs were casualties of his quest for revenge and were left somewhere on the Boston Garden floor.

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Speed Read: “The T.O. Show” Predictably Lousy

For those of you who didn’t watch “The T.O. Show” on VH1 last night, consider yourselves the lucky few: like the residents of Johnstown who weren’t washed away by the giant flood, you somehow missed out on being carried away in a torrent of filth, muck and debris. For those of us contractually obligated to watch the show (this is why you should read contracts before agreeing to become a blogger), there’s no Red Cross volunteers coming to our rescue. We’re left shaking on the banks of the river as we try to comprehend what we just saw.

Terrell Owens

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top. But man, it wasn’t good.

To recap: Terrell Owens has a great body (honed by only the finest rubber bands your $19.95 can buy), and enjoys spending time showing it off. A lot of time showing it off. As in, going shirtless for about three-quarters of the show.  But, as you would hear any good pitchman say, that’s not all.

Terrell Owens and friends

No VH1 “Celeb Reality” show can just be about following a celebrity around, so there has to be some sort of convoluted plot, and here the one for “The T.O. Show”: his “best friends” and “publicists” Kita Williams and Monique Jackson have convinced him to move to Los Angeles during the off-season to “find himself.” Which - according to the first episode - means the following things:

  • Spending more than $100,000 on new diamond earrings.
  • Hooking up with the trashy real estate agent who rents him the mansion he’s staying in during the show.  (I know that the market is tough, but this seems like excessively aggressive sales tactics, although maybe now is the right time to buy.)
  • Going out to a club with said earrings, meeting a bunch of trashy women and inviting them home to “party” with him.
  • His half-assed attempt to get back together with his ex-fiancee, who seems like the only semi-intelligent person on the show by getting the hell out of Dodge.

Somehow T.O. has managed to create a show with less likable characters than “Rock of Love” and even fewer morally redeeming qualities as “I Love Money.” It’s an exercise in egotistical wish fulfillment - T.O. is famous and wants a show, so someone had to give it to him - and the early reviews have been particularly brutal:

Terrell Owens is one beautiful man and he knows it, oh, Lord, he knows it, and so do his publicists, Kita Williams and Monique Jackson, the forces behind “The T.O. Show,” which premieres tonight on VH1. Why else would the publicity art include a nude portrait of the football star, why else would Owens spend at least 60% of his time in front of the camera shirtless?

Good thing too, because the sculpted pecs, mighty shoulders and perfect abs are just about the only thing the show has going for it. No, wait, I take that back; he has a lovely smile as well.  - LOS ANGELES TIMES

Your mama never warned you to watch out for reality TV, but it can be poison. You sense its brain destructiveness when you get up in the morning, thinking, “I can’t wait to see if T.O. makes it with the real estate agent.”

The T.O. Show is so shallow mosquitoes couldn’t breed in it, though it appears some of the humans are trying to, as Terrell Owens joins up with two publicists, who are also supposed to be his best friends. -PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

What VH1 gets out of the deal, frankly, is less clear, other than a strange amalgam of soap-opera pathos and jock-like bravado, with Owens taking marching orders from his ubiquitous “publicists,” who, given their time commitment to the athlete, surely must have no other clients. - VARIETY

…and don’t even get me started on T.O.’s bodyguard Pablo. Just…no.

Meanwhile, while”The T.O. Show” was premiering, another type of muck was being dredged up in Pittsburgh. PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Ben Roethlisberger is the subject of a civil suit filed by a hotel employee in Washoe County, NV who says that in July 2008, the Super Bowl MVP called her into his room to fix her TV, and then “forced her to have sex with him.

Ben Roethlisberger

Using a little bit of local knowledge, based on the locations given and the date, I’m going to assume this allegedly happened when Roethlisberger was in South Lake Tahoe last year for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. And if this sounds a lot to you like the allegations made against Kobe Bryant in Colorado a couple of years ago…you’re not the only one. Of course, the big difference here is that these are civil allegations - no criminal charges have ever been filed by Roethlisberger’s accuser.

Finally, former North Carolina wide receiver and point guard Jason Holley was revealed as the winner of Michael Irvin’s “4th and Long” reality TV show on Spike, and with it has earned a shot with the Dallas Cowboys during their training camp. Is it possible to do a reality show about football and not have the Cowboys involved? So help me, if Alvin Harper gets a show, I’m never watching TV again.

Other sports stories from last night:

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark has the details of Pedro Martinez’s contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and as expected it’s heavily incentive-laden. He is only guaranteed $1 million for the rest of the season, but could make more than double that if he meets certain longevity and performance-based milestones.
  • Pedro Martinez, Nelson de la Rosa

    (Can Pedro keep his midget well-cared for on $1 million a year?)

  • Anyone who questions whether or not Jeremy Mayfield is hooked on crystal meth - as NASCAR and his stepmother claims - should check out this video from a few years ago of him giddily blowing up watermelons and full gas cans. Nope, that doesn’t sound like something a meth head would do at all.

  • Maybe John Smoltz should have retired last season so he could go into the Hall of Fame with former Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine instead of trying a comeback with the Red Sox, if last night is any indication: he gave up three home runs as the Rangers (and another former Braves pitcher in Kevin Millwood) beat Boston, 6-3.
  • A few weeks ago, Quinten Richardson was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Clippers, which pretty much defines “sideways movement.” Last night the Clippers turned around and shipped him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, somehow going from bad to worse. On the plus side, Mark Madsen’s back in Lipstick City. Watch out on the dance floor.
  • I guess it’s a job: former big league manager Terry Collins lands a new gig - leading the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. Is this a step up or a step down from managing Team China?
  • What to do if you’re eight months pregnant but want to hang out at the sports bar watching your favorite team play. Get a Maternity Jersey, of course. Or as they are otherwise known, “Rich Garces Style.”
  • To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, the Houston Astros wore special patches and caps. In addition, they also went out and got loaded on Tang and vodka.
  • Mississippi State might have a first-year coach in Dan Mullen, but they’re already in midseason form in terms of arrests. Leading running back Anthony Dixon has been arrested on a DUI charge, the fifth Bulldog to be nabbed by police this off-season.
  • Police have arrested a man who shot and paralyzed former NFL player Michael Woods 27 years ago and charged him with aggravated murder after Woods died from a related kidney infection six weeks ago,
  • Tom Watson might have lost out on his bid to win the British Open at age 59, but his equipment sponsor Adams Golf might be a big winner, as their stock price has risen 18 percent since Watson took the tournament lead on Friday.

Who was the least likable person on “The T.O. Show”

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Wayne Ellington Has Two Reasons To Stay Home

It’s easy to understand Ricky Rubio’s reluctance to leave the sun, style and nightlife of Spain for Minnesota. But when UNC’s Wayne Ellington said he was hoping to be drafted by his hometown 76ers, I did a double take. Wayne! Anyone who even survives 18 years in Philly is blessed. Why do you want to go back?

Wayne Ellington and Amanda Altschuler

Above would be exhibits A and B. That’s Wayne’s girlfriend, a 19-year-old college student in Philadelphia, and suddenly his desire to stay close to home seems a little less crazy.

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Week In Review: Laker Fans’ Celebration is a Riot

• The Lakers win the NBA title, and many Angelenos celebrate accordingly - if “Angeleno” is Spanish for “a$$hole“.

Lakers fan riot

• Baseball phenom Bryce Harper don’t need no education, plans to skip final two years of high school to become eligible for next year’s MLB draft.

• Posing for a new photoshoot, Anna Kournikova shows she’s still A-OK.

• “Joe Buck Live” makes its long-awaited(?) debut, and Artie Lange insures that it’s a memorable one.

• The mom of porn star Catalina Cruz used to work as a secretary for former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano.

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McHale’s Move From Minny Tweeted With By Love

Kevin Love is the first one to tell, er, Tweet the world that Kevin McHale would be leaving the Timberwolves.

Kevin McHale Kevin Love Minnesota Timberwolves

• Now that’s what you call a road test fiesta! Thanks, Top Gear!

• Could Coach K depart Duke to land as head honcho for the Lakers?

Eddie Van Halen is very hot at Nike for ripping off his guitar to design their new shoes.

• The Stanley Cup takes a dip in Mario Lemieux’s pool.

Read more…

Speed Read: Love Tweets About McHale Leaving

You know that we’ve really gone through the looking glass when Kevin Love is breaking big NBA news via Twitter. That’s what happened just a few hours ago, as Love Tweeted us all that Kevin McHale will not be returning to the Timberwolves next season.

Kevin McHale Kevin Love

From Love’s Twitter feed, your finest source for breaking NBA news: “Today is a sad day … Kevin McHale will NOT be back as head coach this season.” As of this writing, however, the report has not been confirmed by the Timberwolves.

More from Love on Twitter:

P.S. I am not a breaking news guy…I had no idea no one knew..I’ll tell them I stayed at a holiday inn express last night. Always works…. about 6 hours ago

And from The MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE:

Upon seeing the posting, a person in the league was told McHale sent a text message to Love indicating he was not coming back. The person requested anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

New team president David Kahn and a Timberwolves spokesman did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

McHale and Love grew very close during the rookie’s first season in Minnesota, especially after McHale left his front office position to take over as coach in December.

During a breakfast with media members on Monday, Kahn said no decision had been made and he hoped to meet with McHale again this week.

Now on to the wacky world of baseball. To prove what kind of a game we’re dealing with, both Willy Taveras (0-for-his-past-32) and Chipper Jones (0-for-21) got hits for the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday against Cincinnati. But it was the Reds’ Killer Rain Delay Tarpaulin of Doom which stole the show. When it was all over, there were two lengthy rain delays, one very embarrassed groundskeeper and a 7-2 Cincinnati victory.

Reds killer tarp

The unfortunate lass above being swallowed by the tarp is Robin Habisch, whose colleagues have evidently never heard of the Army motto “No man left behind.” Attempting to roll out the tarp during heavy rain and wind during the top of the third, the grounds crew finally got the upper hand, only to have Habisch disappear underneath the fabric.

She groped around underneath, burrowing Bugs Bunny-like, until at last finding freedom. This all delighted Brandon Phillips, who mocked her relentlessly in the dugout afterward. And she even got interviewed by FSN.

Heavy rain resulted in the 1-hour, 54-minute delay in the top of the third inning. A member of the grounds crew lost her footing as she helped drag the tarp over the infield, leaving her trapped briefly. She got to her feet and found her way out unharmed, receiving an ovation from the 19,127 wet fans.

Crew chief Joe West herded the teams back onto the field with a steady rain falling and sections of the warning track submerged. Only two outs later, the rain turned back into a downpour, resulting in another delay of 21 minutes.

Laynce Nix drove in three runs with a groundout and a pair of doubles and Phillips had three hits, as the Reds ended a four-game losing streak.

And now from the land of personalized jerseys we get this Cardinals head-scratcher, which may be a reference to a St. Louis icon with whom I’m unaware (”Come on, catcher Pickles Dillhoefer, the Ghost Man! Jeez!”). But more likely, as pointed out by JOE SPORTS FAN, “Ghost Man” represents that imaginary runner used in pickup games when you’ve only got three or four players per team (also popular in Wiffle Ball).

Ghost Man

But why would anyone want to be Ghost Man? That guy sucked … he usually got on base with a single, which is lame when there’s only three fielders. Then, if you played by the same rules that I did, he advanced only one base per hit; two for a double, three for a triple — the Steve Balboni of pinch runners. So if he’s on second and you single cleanly to right, he’s too slow to score. Nice use of $300.

Other stories to ponder after figuring out exactly how many helium balloons it would actually take to lift your house

• New Zealand golf officials are experimenting with shortening official rounds to nine holes. This is met by cheers from everyone except caddies.

• It wasn’t a good day for Arkansas TV reporter Mike Irwin, who was trying to do a live remote from the CWS in Omaha when fan pandemonium broke out (below). Instead of rolling with it, though, Mike got pissed, and called for security. Why would I imagine that this is exactly how Joe Buck would have handled it?

• It goes to 11, and stops: Gabe Kapler’s four RBIs help the Rays end the Rockies’ 11-game winning streak.

• Speake High of Danville won the Alabama 1A softball title on Tuesday, days before the school is scheduled to close forever. Take that, downsizing.

• Delicious Pudge, anyone? Houston’s Ivan Rodriguez ties the MLB record for games played at catcher, at 2,226. Carlton Fisk immediately announces unretirement.

Speed Read: Ryan Leaf Bad At Football, Drug Theft

Ryan Leaf is an instant sports blog punchline, suitable for use anytime you need a real-life example for the words “bust,” “loser” or “train wreck.” But at least he had some shred of dignity: sure, he had been one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history, a top draft pick turned into petulant baby whose lousy attitude with coaches, teammates and the media ensured he would be drummed out of the league; but at least he wasn’t Todd Marinovich. No matter what, at least his rap sheet was clean.

Ryan Leaf

Well, you can forget that. Remember when he took a “leave of absence” from his position as QB coach at West Texas A&M (and also as - for some reason - the golf coach), and it came out that he had “asked” a player for pain medicine for an old wrist injury? It turns out there was more to that story - a lot more. Leaf allegedly really, really needed that medicine - so much so that he allegedly broke into the apartment of an injured player he knew had been prescribed Vicodin and grabbed him a handful of pills.

Ryan Leaf Starting Lineup

And Leaf apparently was about as good of a thief as he was an NFL player, since the cops traced the theft back to him, and the AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS says that he was indicted yesterday on nine different drug and burglary charges. The district attorney says that Leaf is currently in British Columbia getting drug treatment (socialized medicine!), but the DA “hopes” he returns to the country. I can’t say that sounds promising. (And there goes Leaf’s chance of an NFL comeback.)

Also in need of a comeback: the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, last night’s 106-103 loss to the Denver Nuggets only tied their Western Conference finals at 1-1, but after almost giving away Game 1 as well, it feels like they are staring up at a mountain. For the first two games, they were outplayed, outhustled and physical dominated by the Nuggets, and are now completely out of sync and without home court advantage. (Seriously, how does Kobe Bryant not get a shot in one of those last two possessions?)

Carmelo Anthony

So the home court advantage in the two NBA conference finals belong to the Nuggets and the Magic. I’m sure that the NBA front office is thrilled about possibly having to market a Denver vs. Orlando series. If you are an NBA Conspiracy Theorist, then rest assured that David Stern is currently making some angry phone calls to some referees today to “fix the problem.”

Meanwhile, we moved one step closer to a Stanley Cup rematch as the Pittsburgh Penguins outscored the Carolina Panthers 7-4 to a take a 2-0 series lead. Sidney Crosby scored the opening goal - again - but it was Evgeni Malkin who was the real star, notching a hat trick including scoring one of the sickest goals you’ll ever see in your life:

You couldn’t even do that in NHL ‘94 for Sega Genesis without getting your head cracked open. So while the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal might be busy complaining about his brother Jordan “cheating” during face-offs for the Penguins, everyone else is getting ready for another tilt between Pittsburgh and Detroit (and we all know that’s happening, putting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a much happier place than David Stern is right now).

  • Even with his team having been blasted out of the playoffs in the first-round, world class loudmouth Jeremy Roenick still won’t shut up, as the DETROIT NEWS says he told a Chicago radio show that Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock “doesn’t like” Chris Chelios and has “got a grudge against American players.”
  • Jeremy Roenick

  • The MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE reports that the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves are set to announce their new GMs on the same day. Maybe they got a “Buy One, Get One Free” rental package on the hotel conference room?
  • Sammy Hasan, a girls’ track coach in Amherst, NY has been charged with forcible sexual conduct with a female high school student. The BUFFALO NEWS says that earlier this season, one of his runners thanked him for “helping her with her technique” after she won a sectional title. SBB PUNCHLINE CREATOR 3000 ERROR 4XQ587: TOO MANY INAPPROPRIATE JOKES.
  • WTAE-TV reports that former Tennessee basketball player Michael Brooks was arrested after being found in possession of cocaine and Vicodin. Someone check his trunk to see if Ryan Leaf is hiding in there!
  • Former Houston Texans lineman Fred Weary tried to help an ex-teammate out by hiring former Florida Gator Anthone Lott as a general contractor on four townhouses Weary was building in Gainesville. Judging by the fact that the ST. AUGUSTINE RECORD says Lott has been charged with defrauding a bank and Weary of more than $185,000, I’d say that didn’t end too well.
  • Florida high school football standout and South Carolina recruit Ben Axon was arrested and charged with marijuana possession with intent to sell, according to the BRADENTON HERALD. But at least he was honest when the cops asked him “if he had anything illegal on him” and handed them 23 small bags of wacky tobacky.
  • There’s never a great time to start drunkenly hurling swear words at the opposing team from the stands during a high school baseball game…but to do it during a stoppage for an injury is just wrong. But that’s exactly what the SCHENECTADY DAILY GAZETTE says that George “Mr. Class” Sperow did before getting into a fight and then being arrested.
  • Ferrari is threatening to leave Formula One if they institute a budget cap in 2010, so now the TELEGRAPH is saying that Formula One rightsholder Bernie Ecclestone will sue them if they do. Where else are they going to go - NASCAR? (Oh please, please let me see a Ferrari NASCAR team.)
  • Is there anything sadder than a kicker trying to hold out for more money? That’s what PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson is doing as he skips the team’s “voluntary” minicamp. Isn’t there a Bahr brother somewhere who can still kick? Martin Mull? Stefan Fatsis?
  • HARDWOOD HOUDINI is concerned about the recent outbreak of VUS in the NBA: Visible Unnecessary Spandex.

Which ex-NFL QB is the biggest train wreck?

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