February 8, 2006
J.J. Redick:
When he hit that 3 to put Duke up for good, did anyone else notice that he made an obscene gesture as he ran back down the court? With both hands!
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

How'd you do on your Super Bowl squares?

Gambling on sports has become part of the fabric of the game.

The irony of the emerging hockey gambling scandal is that it broke on the same day that it was announced that Super Bowl XL set a new gambling record in Las Vegas, with $94.5 million wagered, an all-time high.

But that was, um, legal.

There's something about athletes gambling on pro sports -- even if it's not their own -- that makes everyone queasy. And something about the alleged level of organization in this NHL ring that should make you queasier.

It's hard to be too high-handed about athletes gambling; I'm betting that you don't want to go behind that curtain. I suspect the level of gambling among athletes -- pro AND college -- is staggering.

But when a coach is allegedly involved at the top of an illegal ring, that's another story. And when the group involves up to a dozen players, that's when people start to worry.

What's the problem? It's only football games. In this case, I'm not so sure it's that simple.

I hate slippery-slope theories, but when sports participants gamble on pro sports, losses inevitably can mount. Expertise in your own sport makes gambling on it more attractive; you think you have inside info.

Yada, yada, yada: Thrown games.

Tocchet sounded cavalier in quotes yesterday, saying it was "only" football, not the sport he makes his living in. But when he talks with NHL commish Gary Bettman today, I'm betting his lawyer advises him to clam up. Indictments have a way of doing that.

Bettman needs to suspend him indefinitely. There is no "innocent until proven guilty" in a sports league. Any known players involved should be suspended immediately, pending a larger investigation.

The key for the league is damage control. The NHL is already a non-factor with casual sports fans (if they care at all). This just reinforces its minor-league status.

Swift, tough reaction is the only course of action.

In honor of the scandal, each item in the Quickie includes a special "My Bet" ending. Now, where's that bookie? I'll check the local rink...

Duke Wins at UNC
Credit a green UNC team coming back from 17 points down to take Duke to the final minute, but there was no stopping J.J. Redick.

Redick scored 35 points, nearly twice his career average at the Dean Dome. He saved his best for last: Those two 3s in the final minutes, including his last one, where he shook his defender with a behind-the-back dribble, then hit nothing but net.

Redick's now just one point behind Laettner for 2nd place on the all-time Duke scoring list, less than 100 points from Dawkins' career record (which Redick should pass in the next 3-4 games).

You might not like him, but he's worthy of consideration as the greatest Duke player of all time. He really needs a title to pass any of the Top 4 "ever" contenders: Laettner, Hurley, Hill and Battier.

Of Duke's greatest players without a title, Redick has displaced Danny Ferry from the top spot. (Please don't say Gene Banks or Mike Gminski; we're talking Modern Era here.)

Gary Williams: Passes Lefty as Maryland's all-time winner
Tennessee: Vols snap 8-game losing streak at Kentucky
Olympic softball: Could be put back in Games in revote
UConn women's hoops: Crushed by Big East superior Rutgers
Terry Bradway: Replaced as Jets GM by Mike Tannenbaum
Mike Holmgren: NFL will look into criticism of XL reffing
But the fact that Redick, in my opinion, can merit mention with the Big 4 -- even without a championship -- is a testament to how great he is. (Good grief: And I'm a hater!)

My bet? Redick wins college hoops Player of the Year in a runaway.

Pistons Shocked
72 wins? 72 wins?! Last month's tantalizing prospect for the Pistons couldn't even make it to the All-Star Break, with the final blow coming at the hands of that NBA powerhouse, the Atlanta Hawks.

Now having lost two straight, the Pistons will be lucky to win 65 games. That's no small accomplishment, but it turns out all that talk about 72 was a wee bit premature.

My bet? The Pistons finish with less than 65 wins.

Meanwhile, are the Mavs the new Pistons? I don't mean that Dallas will win 70 games, but the Mavs best-of-West success is fascinating -- if you haven't been paying attention, they're doing it with defense!

With a win over the Lakers last night, they've won an NBA-best 12 straight games, and they even held Kobe to only 24 points. In each of the 12 wins, they've held opponents to under 100. Mavs Mania!

(The season-over-season numbers are even more impressive: They are allowing 93.2 ppg this season, 3.6 ppg better than '04-'05 and 7.6 ppg better than '03-'04.)

My bet? The Mavs break through with a trip to the West finals, but still can't topple the rival Spurs.

XL: Reffing Closure
Now 3 days later, the outrage over reffing in Super Bowl XL has become an even more distant memory. What's the good in dwelling on it when you've got a piping hot gambling scandal to talk about?

For the record, the NFL considers the matter closed (as you'd expect): "The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials."

My bet? There's a Winter Olympics judging scandal that eclipses anything we saw in the Super Bowl.

NBA Skills Challenge
In its short history, the NBA Skills Challenge has been worse than the mockery of All-Star competitions; it's simply ignored. It lacked the legacy of the 3-point contest and the eye candy of dunking.

The lame format is what it is, so the only thing that could have been done to improve it is upgrade the participating talent. And, wow, did they: Joining reigning champ Steve Nash is LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul.

It's not such a stretch to argue that's the skills equivalent of the 1987 All-Star Game Dunk Contest. It's gone from a snoozer to a must-see proxy for bragging rights as the best-skilled guard in the league.

Now, about that format...

My bet? Skills comp vet Nash schools all three youngsters.

Adu to Chelsea?
It wouldn't surprise me if Freddy Adu would want to bolt for the English Premier League. Like Freddy on the U.S. National Team, soccer gets no respect in the U.S. If he's going to fulfill his destiny as uberstar, then it's going to have to happen in Europe.

My bet? Adu bids adieu. No one notices.

Marriage Madness
When I first heard about Mike and Mike's Ultimate Sports Wedding contest, I thought they were getting married. Can you blame me? They quibble like an old married couple. Part of the charm. But it's an interesting gimmick.

I'd be curious if any of you incorporated sports into your weddings -- or have been to a wedding that incorporated sports. Use the e-mail link at the bottom to shoot me your quick details.

For example, Mrs. Quickie and I got hitched on a Sunday in October in north Florida, so it was a no-brainer* that the Saturday afternoon social schedule would include a huge tailgate to watch the Gators play Arkansas (on TV, but still).

(*Her idea!)

My bet? Enterprising couple starts online campaign, tapping college enthusiasm to flood the voting. (Easy: Just use "Best Man JoePa.")

Grammys Preview
The mash-up performances are always the highlight. Among others to watch for: Jay-Z with Linkin Park, Madonna with Gorillaz, Kanye West with Jamie Foxx (which I think will be the most fun) and U2 and Mary J. Blige (which I predict will be the showstopper of the night).

My bet? I'm partial to Kanye's "Late Registration," which will clean up in the Rap categories, but I suspect he'll be edged out for the top hardware: Record of the Year (Green Day) and Album of the Year (U2). On the women's side, watch for Kelly Clarkson. (Yes, Kelly Clarkson.)

Janet Jones:
What a fascinating twist in the NHL's gambling scandal that it not only implicates a coach's wife, but the wife of hockey's greatest player.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
XL Commercials
Page 2 Index
Top 5 Duke Players
Christian Laettner
Um, personality aside...
Bobby Hurley
All-time assists leader
Grant Hill
Most sublime talent
Shane Battier
Ultimate box score stuffer
J.J. Redick
Bumps Danny Ferry

NFL Job Board: Steelers OC Ken Whisenhunt is expected to interview with the Raiders today. Can he bring Antwaan Randle El along for illustration?

Chris Sheridan's NBA Insider trade rumors column was good for some "What if?" fun. Watch this one: Wolves send KG to Nets for R-Jeff (after July 1).

Speaking of NBA trades, tonight's ESPN2 game involving Denver (at CHI) is more intriguing for the trade bait: Kenyon Martin? Earl Watson? Hmm.

Knicks newcomer Jalen Rose barely escaped a Webber moment when he called for a TO the Knicks didn't have late in their loss to the Clips. Good thing he was called for a game-sealing 5-second violation instead.

Talk of the Sonics moving to Okla. City is kind of funny; doesn't OKC already have an NBA team? No brainer: Schultz should relocate to Vegas.

MLB Hot Stove: There's a lot of wishful thinking coming out of NYC and Boston about landing Clemens, but that's all it is. My bet? Back to Houston.

If you haven't seen them (again) yet, SportsNation has a page of all the Super Bowl ads. See Q It Up, right, for a link.

Nats stadium watch: MLB still sounds wary, but the D.C. City Council approved a stadium deal (only after rejecting it first). Continues to be a mess.

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