Going Bold On Lakers: No Playoff Game Losses

I was at the Lakers-Suns game last night. Sat right behind George Lopez. Saw Ray Liotta (cheer), Jesse Jackson (boo), David Geffen, Jack, Steve Kerr. You’ll be happy to know Khloe was once again buried behind basket opposite Lakers bench. Best part: Tex Winter is back permanently, stationed behind Phil & Co.

Steve Nash Video Asking Violet Palmer If She Needs Glasses

This happened about 15 feet from us, Nash gets dinged by Violet Palmer for fouling Derek Fisher on a 3-ball.

Lakers go undefeated in playoffs, so you’re saying there’s a chance?

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I can confirm via the eyeball test that the Suns are a fraud. Prediction: Nash be traded at some point this season. Or after the season. He has no chance to win anything with that team, regardless of their record at the moment.  Read more…

Reggie & Kimmy K. Getting Back Together Again?

Reggie Bush & Kim Kardashian are gonna give love another chance.

Reggie Bush Kim Kardashian

It’s gotta be the new hair!

• Those 38 wins by the Memphis Tigers two years ago? The NCAA declares that it never happened.

• That seems a bit harsh. Next thing you’ll tell me, giving cream cheese to athletes would be considered an NCAA violation.

Plaxico Burress pleads guilty to gun possession charge, will spend the next two seasons playing for the penal pigskin league.

• First Patrick Kane, and now Aqib Talib. Why do pro athletes hate cabbies so much?

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Nash Annoyed With Shaq’s Behind-The-Back Move

If the 1980s taught us anything, it’s that all is fair in love & war, and business = war. Shaquille O’Neal must have been paying attention when he was growing up. Did you watch the first episode of the new reality show “Shaq Vs.,” in which O’Neal is pitted against different sports celebrities in their own games? At least one person — Steve Nash — thought that show looked very familiar.

Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal

That’s because it was Nash’s idea, and Shaq stole it.

If you watched the credits following Tuesday’s debut episode (and I pity you if you’re that deathly bored), you may have noticed that Nash is listed as an executive producer. That’s what you get — plus a bundle of cash, I presume — when you mention your idea for a new reality show to a friend, and that friend “borrows” the idea and makes his own show. Come on, Shaq!

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Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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The Cavaliers Seem To Really Love Getting Shoes

While Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns have a lot of free time right now to go and make ’70s cop-show video spoofs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the playoffs and making a run at an NBA title. Of course, after seeing the way they’ve manhandled the Detroit Pistons in the first two games, it’s pretty obvious they don’t need to waste too much time practicing right now. Which means they have a lot more time to shoot comical commercial spoofs.

Cavs Commercial

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Heineken commercial where a group of men jump around and scream upon discovering their friend’s new walk-in fridge that’s fully stocked with beer. Well, the Cavs have seen it too, and they decided to have some fun with it for their new playoff commercial.

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Speed Read: Is Brodeur The Greatest Goalie Ever?

It’s hard at this moment to put into perspective what Martin Brodeur accomplished last night by becoming the NHL’s all-time leader in wins as a goaltender. For one, there’s no such thing as a tie anymore and Marty has had his share of shootout wins over the past few seasons. But it’s clear that this is a big deal, especially since Brodeur — a Montreal native — passed his childhood idol Patrick Roy to get the record.

Martin Brodeur

(Would you know this was one of the 10 best hockey players of all time if you saw him walking down the street?)

But just think how huge the celebration of this record would have been if Brodeur had played his entire career just 5 1/2 miles east of at Madison Square Garden instead of at the afterthought that is the Meadowlands (and if he had led the Blueshirts to three Stanley Cups instead of the Devils. And yes, I know the Devils play in Newark now, but that’s only been a little over a year). As someone who’s lived in New York, I know firsthand that those 5 1/2 miles might as well be 500 miles, considering how little attention is paid to the Devils and Nets in the city.

That’s not a knock on the Devils’ franchise, which has quite clearly been superior to the Rangers for 15 years now, mostly because of Brodeur.  It’s just that he’s never really been a superstar — that guy who’s a must-see along the lines of Gretzky, Lemieux, Roy, Ovechkin, Crosby, and any number of other guys who draws huge crowds wherever they go. And that’s largely because he’s been fairly anonymous despite playing in the largest market in the NHL. He’s never even filled his own building on a regular basis. Heck, you can count the number of Devils sellout crowds on one hand most years. They can’t even pack their barn for playoff games. I bought tickets to a 2003 Stanley Cup Finals game the day before from Ticketmaster.

When Brodeur retires with what will likely be many more wins (100 more? 200?) than Roy, he will have set a bar that may never be topped. But will he be remembered as fondly as the NHL’s other greats? Personally, as a hockey fan, I kind of a agree with this guy:

Roy fan taunts Brodeur

I think Brodeur is a great technical goaltender who’s been fortunate to be able to play at high level for many years. But he always has had a great defensive team in front of him — something many other great goaltenders like Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour were not blessed with on a regular basis. But for my money, but Roy is still the best I’ve ever seen.

Do you have WBC fever yet? Do you know it’s even happening? As if we needed further evidence that America’s attention is squarely on college basketball this month, America’s scintillating 9th-inning comeback victory over Puerto Rico last night — which avenged P.R.’s 11-1 mercy-rule win over the U.S. a few days ago and sent the Americans into the semifinals — was seen by an announced crowd of just over 13,000 at Dolphins Stadium in Miami. To put it into perspective, the Korea-Japan game in San Diego drew more than 15,000. To recap: it’s our national pastime, in our country, playing against an American territory with a large population in the Miami area, and we couldn’t outdraw the Korea-Japan game. The U.S. team is now apparently taking this all very seriously, after nearly deciding to drop out of the tournament because too many people were getting hurt. I’m going to put the probability at about 98% that this is the last World Baseball Classic.

As it happened, though, it was a great game. Shane Victorino drew the ire of the Puerto Ricans in the 7th inning when he “accidentally” deflected a ball thrown in from the outfield while he was running the bases, allowing him to take an extra base. If the game wasn’t close, he likely would’ve taken one off his ear flap the next time up. Puerto Rico had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, but the U.S. rallied, culminating in David Wright’s 2-run single that won it, setting off a genuinely boisterous celebration.

WBC celebration

The NIT started last night with eight matchups, and “snubbed” teams like San Diego State and Saint Mary’s came through with victories. Stephen Curry did his usual thing, scoring 32 as Davidson won at South Carolina. Meanwhile, only 2,039 people bothered to show up in South Bend to see Notre Dame beat UAB. Kentucky played its first game at Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum since 1976 because Rupp Arena had a scheduling conflict, and the Wildcats downed UNLV in front of a sell-out crowd.

Stephen Curry

(Steph’s team wouldn’t make an NCAA run this year, so isn’t it better that we might see him take the NIT crown?)

• Should the Astros follow up their signing of Pudge Rodriguez with Pedro Martinez? Some commenters on BASEBALL PROSPECTUS think it’s all crazy enough to work, but BP’s Will Carroll is just shaking his head at Ed Wade (who says the team has had no conversations with Pedro, for what it’s worth).

Oh, God. Yes, that’s A-Rod making out with himself:

Alex Rodriguez making out with himself

Morehead State beat Alabama State in the game the NCAA refuses to call the “play-in” game.  Their reward? A beatdown by Louisville on Friday. In fact, the Cards beat Morehead 79-41 earlier this season, so expect the line to be set somewhere around 38 on this one. The tragedy in all of this? No more chances to see Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims, Jr. play.

• According to MLIVE, players for the Lions are no longer permitted to talk to the media unless it’s been cleared with the team’s media relations department first. Because if there’s any organization that has a pristine reputation to uphold, it’s the Detroit Lions.

• Florida State president T.K. Wetherell kinda lost it in a press conference yesterday, so says the ORLANDO SENTINEL. First, he referred to Bobby Bowden’s first school (Samford) as a “dipsh*t school,” then he outlined a hypothetical way that the ‘Noles could beat Florida, which includes a frighteningly well-thought-out fraud scheme involving Tim Tebow and fake schoolwork submitted in his name.

• PASSION AND PRIDE cautions against Phillies fans panicking about Cole Hamels‘ injury. It looks like he has no structural damage to his elbow, but still. 260 innings last year.

• ROYALS REVIEW warns against a cheeseburger shortage in KC, with Billy Butler and Sidney Ponson now both in town (and isn’t Ponson just the perfect Royals guy?)

Sidney Ponson cheeseburgers

Steve Nash is really excited that Vancouver’s going to get an MLS team, as his Twitter feed indicates. With the rate the MLS is expanding, Nash will probably be playing for them after his deal with the Suns expires.  So now the MLS has two Canadian teams. It’s all part of a master plan to start gradually putting MLS teams in other countries. The league clearly believes it’s about time that the rest of the world gets some exposure to soccer.

• Speaking of soccer, it’s time to bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups! The frontrunner? Gotta be Qatar.

• The AP reports that two sled dogs died in the Iditarod yesterday. Their hometown? Wasilla. The cause of death is unknown, but it probably has to do with running in the snow in ridiculously freezing weather.

If you needed to win one hockey game, who would be your goalie?

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Speed Read: Brady, Gisele Get Hitched In Hiding

So much for US WEEKLY and the glamo-celebrity gossip mags finding ways into weddings where people don’t want them there. According to the website for the aforementioned weekly dose of celebritant glitz, USMAGAZINE.com, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen — arguably the most beautiful woman in the world — were married yesterday in Santa Monica. And none of the celebrity mags were there to cover it, despite the wedding being held right under their noses.

giselle bundchen victorias secret

The ceremony was called a small, private affair in Santa Monica’s St. Monica Catholic Church, where only relatives, including his son (with ex Bridget Moynihan) John Edward Thomas Moynihan, were attendees.

giselle bundchen horse

So, what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, it means you get to see pictures of a gorgeous woman here at the top of the Speed Read. And it means that we can all finally put this ridiculous, inevitable Brady-Bundchen marriage behind us and forget the constant media subterfuge both Brady and Bundchen have been spreading for months.

Of course, Brady wasn’t the only living Boston sports legend in the news yesterday, even though the other one-name star doesn’t play at Fenway Park anymore. According to a snippy Dodgers press release sent out at 8:30 p.m. last night (Pacific Time, so it was already 11:30 on the East Coast), Manny Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, rejected the team’s latest contract offer via written letter.

Naturally, this is no surprise to everyone who’s been keeping tuned to Manny whims and wanes here. Brooks predicted he wouldn’t sign before spring training back in December, and his later prediction that ManRam would start the season without a team is looking a lot more likely by the day.

Manny Ramirez pray

Now we know: The best way to piss off a team’s owner and GM is to reject their “improved” contract offer via letter, not by phone call, e-mail or signing telegram. Just listen to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, when asked about negotiating for Ramirez.

“We love Manny Ramirez,” McCourt said, “And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves.  When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to re-start the negotiations.”

Perhaps more significant is McCourt’s line that he feels Los Angeles will now start from scratch. What exactly does “start from scratch” mean?  Will the Dodgers call Boras’ bluff and scale back offers to less money for a single year deal? And what will Ramirez do if he’s facing a deal three years short and $5 million lower per year than he was expecting in the offseason? Does anyone really think he’s going to kill himself playing for a deal he feels will “disrespect” his talent?

The answer to both the yes or no questions is probably “no”, with a solid “who knows” when you consider Ramirez’s potential reaction to what he figures is a bad deal. Regardless of how it turns out, Thursday’s developments are bound to be bad news for Dodgers fans. The only question is just how damning it will be for the team’s hopes in 2009 and 2010.

Of course, L.A. fans could have it worse: They could be in Chicago, one of America’s foremost sports towns that happened to lose two living legends in the same day. According to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, legendary Bulls player and broadcaster Johnny “Red” Kerr died Thursday of a long battle with prostate cancer. Kerr did just about everything in his career, winning an NBA title (with the Syracuse Nationals, the only one that team would ever earn), becoming an All-Star, coaching the Bulls, working in Chicago’s front office and, perhaps most memorably, providing some of the country’s most captivating color commentary.

johnny red kerr

It’s far too easy to call Kerr Chicago’s basketball answer to Harry Caray, but that’s not fair to either Windy City legend. Yet perhaps it’s fitting that Kerr used the first name Red. He may not have built the Bulls the way Red Auerbach did the Celtics, but he might be almost as important to the franchise.

Yet things got even worse for the Bulls on Thursday, with fellow Chicago basketball legend Norm Van Lier found dead in his home at age 61. There’s no word of what killed the former Bulls guard turned pregame and postgame commentator, but it took his current colleagues at COMCAST SPORTSNET to search him out at his apartment, where he was pronounced dead.

As with Kerr, “Stormin’ Norman” wasn’t a perfect role model for Bulls future, past and present, but his competitiveness was unrivaled. That in itself made him a compelling figure, and his swagger never hurt, either. Just check out the interview below from MOUTHPIECE SPORTS last year, and you start to see why Bulls fans loved him so much.

Now that Brady and Gisele are married, when will US Weekly shut up about the wedding?

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Utah Paper Searches For the Mythical White NBAer

The white, non-European NBA player: Perhaps the rarest of all sports figures, this creature is considered by some to be mythical, by others to be extinct. But the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE did some research and found that they are neither fictional beings nor have they been wiped off the face of the Earth. They just tend to reside in Middle Earth Indianapolis.

JJ Reddick drives on Kevin Love

After crunching the numbers, the paper found that there are 46 white Americans out of 432 players on current NBA rosters, about 1.5 per team. Which makes sense - anyone who watches the Lakers would could Chris Mihm as half a player.

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Porn Producers Make Play For Shiancoe’s Talent

• If Visanthe Shiancoe’s NFL career doesn’t pan out, there’s always the open invitation to join the adult film industry.

Visanthe Shiancoe Bubble Butt BBQ

Carmelo Anthony’s favorite kind of record - 33 in the 3rd.

Vassily Ivanchuk could face a two-year ban for doping - not from the NHL, but from the World Chess Federation.

• Boys & girls playing basketball together? That’s too sinful for our schools!

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SbB Clever Caption Contest: Meeting of the Minds

Hey there, readers. Since the economy’s still in a rut, today we’re offering a no-frills version of our SbB Clever Caption Contest.

Here’s Steve Nash & Kobe Bryant during last night’s festivities:

Steve Nash Kobe Bryant

What are these two superstars talking about? Please place your answers in the comments section listed below. Winner to be announced in the end-of-the-day recap.

Good luck & good writing. And you’ll be happy to know our minimal writing in this post has already saved this website millions of dollars.