June 9, 2004
Luke Walton:
What was HE doing out there in crunch time? Good question: Maybe it was his stat-stuffing 8 assists and 5 rebounds (and one handoff to Kobe).
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
CLUTCH.  KOBE.

It's a banner day for Instant Historians. Some of the superlatives being thrown around:

Kobe's biggest shot ever!
Lakers' biggest shot ever!
Walton's best handoff ever!
Biggest shot in playoff hist--
(Stop while you're ahead ...)

Kobe's wasn't a game-winner, but it was actually something bigger: a series-saver. There is no coming back from going 0-2 at home in the NBA Finals. Instead, L.A. is now in control.

Have to start wondering about those MJ comparisons: Jordan had the killer instinct, but never Kobe's 3-point range. No wonder why Bryant is considering bolting the Lakers and seeing how great he can be without L.A.'s support system. Today, everyone is wondering.

Are Pistons Done?
More instant history!
Some losses you can recover from; others are a back-breaker. Last night? The latter. Instead of being up a historically unbeatable 2-0 heading back to Detroit for three games, the Pistons choked on the late lead, capped by Kobe's soul-sucker.

Overtime was like rubber-necking a crime scene: Deflated Detroit rolled over; it was the way they simply seemed to give up that indicates that their will to win the series has been crushed.

Bird's Comments
It's rare to be able to capture an upcoming firestorm at its moment of conception. But here you go, from Jim Gray's upcoming TV interview with Bird, Magic, Carmelo and LeBron:

Gray: "Does the NBA lack enough white superstars in your opinion?"

Bird: "Well, I think so ... I think it's good for a fan base because as we all know the majority of the fans are white America. And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited."

Tracking ...

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
USADA: Throws down gauntlet on Montgomery, three others
Stacy Dragila: New pole-vault record! Wait...IAAF says no
"Survivor Wedding": Amber/Rob nuptials coming to TV? Ugh
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Ohio St hoops coach Jim O'Brien: Fired for paying player
StL OF Roger Cedeno: Pulls an "Alomar" on ump Rick Reed
NBA European expansion: Stern modifies the expectations
 
Kobe to Knicks?
Bryant would consider New York when the free-agency period starts in July, according to the NY Post. The Knicks can only offer him $5 million -- and ...so what?!

Legacy over loot: Salary is nothing compared to the priceless status Kobe would attain by playing in New York. (Of course, it would pretty much put the kibosh on Phil Jackson coaching the Knicks, wouldn't it? Staying in L.A., as rumored, would look a lot better.)

Clemens: 9-0
The year's biggest "You've Gotta Be Kidding Me" story. He sets the record for oldest pitcher to win his first nine decisions, but the wilder thing is that by now it's very hard to picture him ever losing this season.

BCS Watch
"Piggyback": The likely new BCS plan has a nickname that the conferences will futilely try to contain. They should instead think harder about how the new plan -- rotating a title game between the Big Four bowls, the week after the traditional bowls are played -- will work.

"Piggy" is right: How will a "semi" round of 1-vs-4 and 2-vs-3 bowls will lead to any more clarity for a title matchup? If you thought finding a No. 1 or No. 2 team was hard, try finding a No. 4, where the differential between 4 and 5/6/7/8 is usually a lot less clear-cut.

NFL Wimps Out
The NFL is giving the gutless a bad name (no disrespect intended, of course). The league won't fine Bill Parcells for his racist comments Monday at a league-sanctioned post-practice press conference.

But don't worry: The NFL still plans to harshly punish players after exuberantly celebrating TDs. You wouldn't want anything unsportsmanlike to get in the way of the ethnic slurs.

Ben Wallace:
After a dunk with a minute left in the 4th, he ran back on D with biceps flexed and a seemingly insurmountable lead. Bad idea, Ben ...
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Eric Neel at NBA Finals
MLB Draft: Analysis
NHL: What's the future?
 
Best Kobe Destinations
New York
Can rule East for years
 
Memphis
Small market; big upside
 
Phoenix
Stay warm, stay West
 
Clippers
Can keep his house
 
Other
Denver? Ha! Utah? Ha!
 

USADA scandal: Need-to-know phrase "Non-analytical positive." That means no failed drug test, just circumstantial evidence ...

Bird's comments: Do not let anyone in your cubicle argument draw a parallel to Isiah's comment about Bird in the '80s ...

In one of the strangest baseball results you'll ever hear about, the Brewers struck out 26 times, but still won 1-0 in 17 innings ...

Big Unit won 5th straight since his perfecto; wow, would he be fun to watch in the postseason, if only the D-Backs would trade him ...

More: Pedro outpitched David Wells, both throwing like it was the late 1990s; top competition is the fountain of youth ...

New feature: Sneak peek of ESPN 25 Top 100 moments! Today, No. 91: MJ's first retirement. Check out the ESPN 25 mini-site for more! ...



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