February 23, 2006
Isiah Thomas:
Do you think he understands what a punch line he is, not just among NBA fans, but in all of sports? (How can his bosses not understand that?)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

The lack of other NBA trade deadline action today means that fans can focus on the stunning ineptitude of Knicks GM Isiah Thomas.

The "Frarbury" backcourt is the second-most expensive in the NBA (behind Kidd and Carter), but no one will argue it's among the most talented. (Most frustrating, maybe.)

Isiah has had it all wrong from the start. He bought into the Madison Square Garden myth that Knicks fans won't stand for rebuilding.

That's why he constantly trades for the star -- future be damned -- and brought in a pricey coach who had no business working with a team of such lousy construction.

The result is that no team in the NBA is in worse shape now or for the future. No team's fans should feel more hopeless.

Sports execs can learn a valuable lesson: Fans will tolerate losing if they see a plan in place to get better (provided the team actually does improve).

15 wins is fine, as long as it's followed by a steady progression from rebuilding to "team on the rise" to "playoff breakthrough" to contender.

Once a team shows no signs of competing at the contender level, it's time to blow it up and start over. That's why (aside from their marketing value) I favor the Wolves trading K.G. or the Sixers trading A.I.

Honestly, if I had to pick a model for success, I'd take the Florida Marlins. I've never understood the mockery that team takes. (Although I recognize that MLB's salary structure is much different than the NBA's.)

If you told most fans that their team could win a title every 5 years, but in exchange, they had to suffer through non-playoff seasons for the other 4, they would gladly take you up on the deal.

Isiah and the Knicks have robbed the fans of that upside and forced them to live through stinker season after stinker season.

More Olympic Duds
Move over, Bode: The U.S. men's hockey team would like to join you in the Torino "bust bin," which is now far more crowded than the U.S. team's gold gallery.

An uninspired tournament ended when the team lost in the quarters to Finland. It could have been worse, however: At least they weren't Team Canada.

The Canadian men's team (a pre-Olympics favorite) was Bode'd bounced out of the quarters by Russia in a shocking 2-0 shutout.

Wayne Gretzky reportedly left the arena red-eyed (as he should have), and it has to be asked: Did his off-ice distractions affect his team?

Tennessee: SEC's best sweeps Florida with a win in G'ville
Gene Bess: Junior college coach 1st CBB coach to win 1,000
Vin Scully: Signs two-year contract extension (through 2008)
NFL labor talks: Still going nowhere. No draft in '08?
MLB umps calling WBC: Negotiations with MLB break down
Clippers: 5th straight L (Rockets); season slipping away?
Cohen for Gold?
This is it: The women's figure skating final is annually the biggest draw and most dramatic moment of the Olympics.

(I don't remember much about previous Winter Olympics, but Sarah Hughes' gold-winning skate in Salt Lake City comes to mind as one of the most memorable sports moments of the decade.)

All the pressure is on Sasha Cohen, who finished first in the short program and who is expected to win gold. Anything else puts her in the bust bin along with Bode, U.S. hockey, Jacobellis and the Curl Girls.

On the other hand, 16-y.o. Kimmie Meissner (5th) and Emily Hughes (7th) have nothing to lose (much like Emily's sister back in 2002) by taking some risks and going for an unexpected medal.

The top U.S. figure-skating finisher will have a strong shot at topping my final Wheaties Watch list at the end of these Games.

NFL Wrap
R. Wayne gets big deal: I thought the new trend was that skill-position players can be easily replaced (see RBs, like Edge James).

Apparently, the Colts decided that it was WR Reggie Wayne's unique talent (not, say, the overall offense) that was worth a ton of money.

Would a WR half as expensive be half as effective? With Peyton throwing, I doubt it.

Jets cut Law: That was fast.

Ravens not tagging J. Lewis: Just goes to show how quickly a player can go from stud to dud. (A stint in the pokey doesn't help.)

Combine Watch: Cutler mania? Off his Senior Bowl, where Mort said he might be the best QB in the draft, Jay Cutler is the player to watch at the combine. Doesn't hurt that Leinart and Young won't be participating.

Check out Clayton's report for the 10 biggest story lines at the combine.

Bonds Arrives
Please, please, please tell me that the rest of spring training won't be filled with the dull minutiae of Barry Bonds' comings and goings like yesterday's arrival at camp was.

Here's the upshot: Barry has no greater insight into his future plans (i.e., retirement) than anyone else does.

"Are you going to retire soon?" has become the sports equivalent of the bratty kids asking, "Are we there yet?"

Quotable Quickie
"We're going to win it this year. We're going after it."-- George Steinbrenner

But no pressure or anything.

"DWTS2" Finale
As a sports fan, how can you not be rooting for Jerry Rice in the season finale of "Dancing With the Stars?"

Sure, fellow finalist Drew Lachey might have better moves. And Stacy Keibler might have better gams (although Jerry's no slouch).

But it would arguably be the biggest win of Rice's Hall of Fame career to go into this comp and walk away the champ. (OK, you can scoff now.)

"Hottest" Update
Miracle on Ice II continues! Tanith Belbin actually increased her lead over Maria Sharapova in Page 2's Hottest Athlete competition.

Yesterday's 1-point lead for Belbin is today's 7-point blowout, and there's probably enough statistical significance to call the shocking upset in Belbin's favor. Stunner!

Stephen Ames:
You don't trash talk Tiger. And you especially don't do it when you're Match Play's 64th seed. Tiger dishes the worst beating in M.P. history, 9 and 8.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
NBA Daily Dime
Page 2 Index
Isiah's Worst Moves
Jerome James
$30 million for stiff C?
Stephon Marbury
Rebuilt PHX, not NYK
Eddy Curry
Worth that No. 1 pick?
Quentin Richardson
Could use Kurt Thomas now
Steve Francis
Still time to climb list!

More NBA Trade Talk: Not much going on. We might finally see Nuggets PG Earl Watson shipped out (rumored to the Sonics for Murray and Potapenko).

CBB: Just when I thought Michigan State was the top Final Four contender in the Big Ten, it snaps a 15-game home winning streak to Ohio State.

More CBB: Roy Williams for ACC Coach of the Year? (UNC routs N.C. State). Do you believe in George Washington? (15th straight W, but against what comp?)

Johnny Damon's arrival at Yankees spring training confirms that he might give Derek Jeter a run as the team's most popular player.

To put the Francis trade another way, the Magic traded Tracy McGrady for the expiring contract of Penny Hardaway. Ouch.

Between the Olympics women's free skate, the "Idol" results show, the DWTS2 finals and "Survivor," is this the biggest night of reality TV ever?

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