February 20, 2006
LeBron James:
Led the East with 29 points to become the youngest MVP ever of an NBA All-Star Game. (Foreshadowing an NBA MVP award this spring?)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Fans knew "team" would be the theme of the NBA All-Star Game when the starting 5s were introduced.

The East starters took the stage and immediately flashed Jackson 5-style dance moves. They were laughing at themselves almost as hard as fans on TV at home.

Not to be outdone, the West starters were introduced doing a 5-man worm, starting with Nash and ending with Yao. (Which 5 gets the edge? Novelty: East. Execution: West.)

But that was just a foreshadowing of the team of four Pistons, who first took the floor together late in the first quarter, and won the game for the East in the second half, punctuating the team's 21-point comeback.

I had disagreed with all four Pistons being selected as All Stars, but without their cohesion (and, yes, unusually attentive All-Star Game D), there was no way the East would have won that game.

(That's why I would have given the MVP to the lead rep of the Pistons Four: Chauncey Billups, who scored 15 points with 7 assists.)

The result was symbolic of the season: Individual stars are fun to watch, but if you ultimately want to win games, there's no substitute for team.

Bonds Retiring? No.
One minute, Bonds is telling USA Today that this season will be his last. Then he tells MLB.com that if his knee holds up, he'll be back in 2007. And who knows what he'll say on his own Web site.

If fans have learned anything about Barry Bonds, it's that he controls his message like a puppeteer and has no problems with yanking the media around. He must find it hilarious to watch us dance.

Here's what we know: Bonds is supposed to play in 2006 (unless he doesn't). He could very well play in 2007 (unless he doesn't). See the message here? To try to read the Bonds tea leaves is a waste of time.

Daytona Drama
For a NASCAR novice, the result of the Daytona 500 was confusing.

On one hand, Jimmie Johnson won the race without his suspended crew chief -- the equivalent of an NFL team winning the Super Bowl without its coach.

On the other hand, isn't it more than a little sketchy, as driver Ryan Newman suggested, that a car busted for illegal modifications last week wins the race this week? In any other sport, it would be.

Meanwhile, there was all of this talk about NASCAR busting aggressive drivers, mainly because of Tony Stewart's gripes earlier in the week. Isn't it ironic that Stewart was nailed for it on Sunday?

Finally, one observation: Given how carefully constructed the NASCAR marketing machine is, the drivers' postrace trash-talk is a little WWE-ish, but it makes the ending a lot more entertaining.

(Especially when the race ends on a caution flag. Can't NASCAR do something about that? How lame is it that a race can end with a frozen field?)

T-Mac: NBA ASG Game-high 36 in front of home crowd
John McEnroe: Comeback Kid wins doubles title at SAP Open
Charles Barkley: Leads class of nominees for hoops H.O.F.
Canada men's hockey: Shut out -- TWICE -- this weekend
NFL labor peace: Deadline deal this week very unlikely
Pedro Martinez: May not get to pitch for DR in WBC (toe)
Olympics Wrap
Shani was right: In hindsight, gold medalist Shani Davis made the right decision to take his act solo and focus on the 1,000m instead of the team speedskating event.

Some people chafe at Davis' personality, but it's not like Chad Hedrick was magnanimous in defeat and happy for his teammate, the first black athlete to win an Winter Olympics individual gold.

Bode Miller blows the super-G, then follows it up with a dud start to the giant slalom (12th out of 30). Bode is the biggest Olympic dud since "Dan and Dave." All of those magazine covers and TV profiles? All that hype?

Tonight: Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto have the free dance today, having jumped to second during Sunday's Latin routine. Maybe Jerry Rice can try his act next season with "Ice Dancing with the Stars."

Keep reading for a wrap of the Jacobellis story.

NBA ASG Wknd Wrap
Best Moment: Li'l Nate Robinson stole the show with his "50" dunk over Spud Webb.

(But Nate's dunk-off alley-oop off the backboard from behind the 3-point line was nearly as impressive: After missing on a dozen tries tossing the ball up to himself with his right hand, he switched to his left.

Best Dunk: Contest runner-up Andre Iguodala took a pass from Allen Iverson off the back of the backboard glass, then pulled himself and the ball under the backboard for a reverse jam. Arguably the most creatively executed dunk of all time.

Biggest Upset: Dirk wins 3-pointer title, edging Ray Allen to stake his claim as the best-shooting 7-footer of all time. Now, if he could only do it in the playoffs...

Best Record-Setter: Wade wins Skills title. His final round, completed in 26.1 seconds, is a record that will never be broken. (Defending champ Steve Nash was a dud; how could he miss all of those shots from the free-throw line?)

Best TV ad: Early nom for sports ad of 2006: The new Air Jordan ad where the kids recreate MJ's most classic moves. Transfixing. (Ray Allen had the best shoes Sunday night: New red suede Air Jordans.)

Biggest Fashion Faux Pas: I can't tell who looked more stupid: Terrell Owens, who looked like Shaq's "Mini Me" dressed in the same outfit, or Damon Jones, whose red suit made him look like an extra from the prom scene in "Carrie."

CBB Weekend Wrap
Who's No. 1? I'd leave UConn at No. 1, despite their loss at 'Nova last week, because of the way they rebounded with such a quality W at No. 11 WVA. Nearest rival Duke won two yawners at home last week over mediocrities Wake and Miami.

Adam Morrison vs. JJ Redick: Anything you can do I can do better... Morrison hits a career-high 44 (Kobe-like 37 in the 2nd half). Et tu, JJ? Redick sets the Duke career scoring record.

Tale of Two Coaches: Without Eddie Sutton, Oklahoma State rallied to crush No. 6 Texas, 81-60. Meanwhile, with lame-duck Mike Davis, Indiana lost at Illinois, 70-58, the Hoosiers' 5th straight loss (7 in 8).

Jacobellis Reax
In general, I love the unconventional attitude of the X-sport athletes like snowboardcrosser Lindsey Jacobellis. They bring a refreshing "me being me" spirit to sports.

But if you're going to hold athletes to some kind of "winning matters" standard (with a "winning with class" corollary), you can't give her a free pass just because it's a youth sport or because she's perky.

If it was a preening NFL wide receiver in the Super Bowl or cocky NBA shooting guard in the Finals or showboat MLB slugger in the World Series, those same Jacobellis defenders would be apoplectic, and the athlete would be getting crucified.

Does Lindsey get a pass because of the "X" vibe? Or because SBX is a new Olympic event? Or because no one really cares about the Olympics the way they do the Super Bowl or World Series? Or maybe because she's perky?

Ricky Williams:
What a dope: Reportedly faces 1-year suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy. He's only tested, what, like 10 times a month? Priorities, man...
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Biggest U.S. Olympic Duds
Bode Miller
Allergic reaction to hype?
Apolo Ohno
Lapped by other U.S. skaters
Lindsey Jacobellis
For the WAY she lost gold
Johnny Weir
Totally choked in finale
Men's hockey
Barely in medal contention

The Austrian Olympic committee has some explaining to do. Between the 'roid raids and the coach who reportedly drove his car into a roadblock during a police chase, what gives?

NBA Moves: The Clippers are reportedly going to sign retired 3-time All-Star Vin Baker. What kind of shape can he be in?

Quotable David Ortiz: "Everybody knows we've had good chemistry around here, so I hope [the new players] get used to it. ... Hopefully nobody will have a bad experience here and turn things in a different direction."

Jerome Bettis will begin his post-NFL career as a TV analyst; he signed a deal to work with NBC for their Sunday night games.

I couldn't tell whether NBA players and fans were more excited about experiencing this year's All-Star Weekend -- or revving up for next year in Vegas.

What happened to the "Curl Girls"? Came in with so much promise, but fell way short. They're all young enough to learn and come back in '10.

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