December 21, 2005
Kobe Bryant:
Scores career-high 62 (in only 33 minutes!): 18/31 FG, 22/25 FT. Scored 15 in the 1st, 17 in the 2nd, then exploded for a Laker-record 30 in the 3rd.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
JOHNNY.  DEMON.

Well, I don't think fans in Boston will be comparing Johnny Damon to Jesus anymore.

Satan is more like it.

Damon helped spark the Red Sox to their 2004 World Series title, but his move to the hated Yankees will put Red Sox Nation's attitude to the test.

Do they appreciate him for what he brought them in the past? Or loathe him for what he will do against them as part of the Yankees?

I'm betting we hear a lot of "Thanks for before, but we didn't want him anymore anyway," muttering from Sox fans shocked that he's headed to the mortal enemy. This is traitorous at its most pure.

But is anyone really surprised by Damon's move? All money being equal, Damon had been eyeing the New York stage since he got his first taste of national fame. For a player with star aspirations perhaps beyond baseball, New York is the only city to be in.

Sure, there are questions about Damon's arm, and certainly questions about how productive he'll be for the four long years he's signed up to play in the Bronx.

But more than anything else, the move has instant power for its symbolism.

David Ortiz was the soul of the Red Sox, but Damon was the team's face: The shaggy-haired king of the Idiots.

Consider this: One of the first things the anti-Idiot Yankees will do is make Damon cut his hair and shave off any beard.

It marks more than the usual statement about a new player falling into the Yankees' company line; it is nothing less than a physical renunciation of his previous life in Boston.

Trotted out for everyone to see, he won't be the Damon that Red Sox fans came to know and love.

But as Johnny will find out very quickly, he will be the Damon that Red Sox fans come to boo and loathe.

More on Kobe's 62
What if? That's the question that will have fans buzzing this morning about Kobe's 62, because the wildest part is that it came in only 3 quarters.

Reports are that Phil asked Kobe if he wanted to keep playing in the 4th, and Kobe declined, given the game was out of reach already (as pointed out by Stein, Kobe outscored the Mavs after 3 quarters by himself, 62-61).

But I'm with Royce Webb from today's Daily Dime: This was a once-in-a-lifetime game, the chance to see just how dominant of a scorer Kobe could be. Injury risk and iffy sportsmanship have nothing on record-book immortality. He should have kept playing.

Chad Johnson Watch
Bengals WR claims he has a TD celebration planned for Xmas Eve that will top 'em all. From his description, I don't doubt it:

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Cubs outfield: Sign Jacque Jones (3Y/$16M) to play LF/RF
New Jersey: To become 1st state to roid-test in HS sports
Andrew Bogut: Clutch J at OT buzzer leads Bucks past Spurs
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Mike Tice: Calling out scalpers is pot-kettle event of '05
Samkon Gado: Packers RB potentially out for season (knee) Vols women: Rout Princeton 107-39. Couldn't they ease up?
 
He said he hit a deer on the road a while back and kept it, and he implied he's going to incorporate it somehow.

Will he play "Chad Claus?" Will he put on antlers and pretend he's a reindeer? Will he break out a list and check it twice?

The naughtier Chad is, the nicer it will be for the rest of us.

Paterno Wins C.O.Y.
79-year-old Joe Paterno has won a couple of national titles, but I'd rank his coaching job this year over any other in his career.

And yes, it has everything to do with his age. That was the fodder for his critics who said he had run Penn State football into the ground.

I hate to apply a "senior discount," but although his team's turnaround would have been impressive at any age, it's even more so at nearly 80.

Oh: And happy b-day, Joe.

Anti-Favre Reax
Off of yesterday's Quickie lead which suggested Favre play for another team next season (implicitly arguing that (a) he's still got gas in the tank; (b) the Packers are dragging him down; and (c) his fans are selfish to insist he stay there), the fans disagreed with me:

54 percent: Retire after '05.
32 pct: Play for Pack in '06.
13 pct: Jump to a contender.

But that doesn't mean there isn't an anti-Favre backlash brewing. It's been too ugly this season, and "It's not him, it's the rest of the team" is wearing thin, at least with fans outside of Green Bay.

USC vs ...?
If I was a Texas coach, I would make sure my team saw every daily iteration of ESPN.com's competition pitting the 2005 USC team against the best college football teams of the ESPN Era.

Never mind that this USC team might not be the best team THIS year, let alone able to beat 2004's version (whose defense was vastly superior to this one).

It's always dangerous to play this game before the season ends. Remember how everyone thought the 2003 Oklahoma team was among the best ever? Right up until they lost the Big 12 title game, then got thumped by LSU in the national title game.

Nevertheless, I'm willing to play this game: Yesterday, 2005 USC clocked No. 11 seed 1991 Washington; today, they face 2002 Ohio State. Those Buckeyes beat a Miami group that would have given this USC team a run for its money. But take the Trojans again.

Bowlin': GMAC
UTEP vs. Toledo (at Mobile):
UTEP QB Jordan Palmer is to brother Carson like Eli Manning is to Peyton, which is to say it's like any younger-older sibling comparison: Solid, but not quite as good as the original.

Meanwhile, the better QB to watch is Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski, the latest QB heir to the Roethlisberger-Frye "MAC-Ohio-NFL" lineage. (8 ET, ESPN)

Top Searches of '05
In our new Google world, it's not so crazy to argue that being the Web's top "Search" could be a qualifier for Person of the Year.

If that's the case, ESPN.com's award would go to T.O., who was the most-searched name on the site in 2005. But is that so surprising?

(Of course, that would also mean that our runner-up would be the Panthers cheerleaders. But, really, would that be so terrible?)

Speaking of searches, I am disappointed by the lack of Quickie mentions via Technorati. What gives, bloggers? Here's an early preview of a new Quickie feature coming in 2006:

"Quid Pro Quickie": Bloggers who link to the Quickie (and alert me about it) will get a little love from me in return. Win-win, friends!

Meadowlands Boozin':
No alcohol sold at Monday night's Pats-Jets game. (Unintended consequences: That just means fans will get extra-tanked before they show up. Wonderful.)
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Bowl Pick 'Em!
 
Coach of Year Ballot
Joe Paterno
Don't bury him just yet!
 
Ozzie Guillen
Went his own way (and won!)
 
Charlie Weis
From SB to BCS...
 
Lovie Smith
Bears: NFL U-Turn of Year
 
Roy Williams
Helped to have 4 NBA'ers
 

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Page 2: My fifth annual holiday poem will be ready around noonish for your review.

More Kobe: As Marc Stein pointed out in the Daily Dime, through three quarters, Kobe outscored the entire Mavs team, 62-61. That's insane.

Are the 2005-06 Pistons better than the 2004 title team? With last night's win, they improved to 20-3, the best start in franchise history.

Reggie Bush is interviewing agents: That can't surprise anyone, right? When you're a lock No. 1 draft pick, you leave college early.

Michael Andretti's return to Indy isn't as interesting as his son Marco, 19, joining pops and taking Dan Wheldon's spot on Team Andretti.

More Bowling: Fascinating SportsNation poll result Tuesday: In a rare 50/50 split, fans disagreed whether or not there are too many bowl games.

Nice work, Quickie readers! On just one day's notice, nearly 600 of you signed up for the "Daily Quickie Readers" group in College Bowl Mania.



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