Jan. 15, 2004
New Knicks coach
Lenny Wilkens:

Inflated by his all-time-best win total (and nearly as many losses), he isn't the retro-hiring trend's apex -- just the latest recyclable.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

This "retro coaches" craze is officially out of control. It's like the NBA needs to change it's slogan to "I Love This Same!"

First, Hubie Brown. Now, Wilkens. Could Pat Riley's return be far off? (And that's just the NBA.) So much for that youth movement. We're in the middle of the "AARP Era."

Did someone dial the time machine to 1983? Retro unis, retro coaches ... how about a full-on return to the early '80s -- too revealing short-shorts, a good ol'-fashioned coke scandal, Doug Moe.

Like every recent coaching fad -- college coaches, young ex-players, TV analysts, Larry Brown -- this one needs to be taken to a brutal extreme (Dick Motta? Gene Shue? Don Nelson?) before the system corrects itself and the next fad begins.

NBA Statement Games
Combining for 79 of Minny's 100 points in a huge win at San Antonio, the "Big Three" have established the T-Wolves as the NBA's best team.

But it also establishes, once and for all, that Kevin Garnett is overrated as an individual superstar. He's finally winning big, but it has taken not one but two supporting stars to finally get there.

Lakers: Just Fine
Speaking of "Big Three," apparently the Lakers don't need Shaq-Kobe-Mailman, because they have the mighty troika of Ho-Kareem-Slava. It's more fun to enjoy these overachieving Lakers (d. Denver 97-71) than the dominant version.

Bears Feel Lovie
Stop the presses: An assistant -- not some old former head coach -- has been given a chance to run his own team.

First, Lovie Smith will reignite fan passion in Chicago after the uninspiring Jauron Era. And he'll quickly turn the promising Bears' D into the NFC's best unit.

1 Knicks hire old-timer Lenny Wilkens, to mixed reviews
2 T-Wolves top Spurs on the road, now top Midwest Div.
3 Bears hire Rams' Lovie Smith; only Raiders coach-less
1 Czar of Telestrator: Fratello to keep his night job
2 Dissing the Lakers: Do fine w/o Kobe, Shaq back soon
3 MLB progress on moving Expos: List remains at 8 cities
The team will need it: Call the offense the Anti-Rams -- "The Greatest Slow on Turf." (Actually, grass ...)

Wie Watch
How can Michelle Wie tell she's arrived? There's a whole lot of Wie-whackin' going on, and she doesn't even tee up her first PGA round until today's Sony Open (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Get over it: Only 14, Wie is better than any pro golfer at that age, including Tiger. (Let me do that one better: She's better at her sport than any mainstream-sport athlete at 14, including LeBron, MJ, Bonds.)

She may not make the Sony Open cut (says here she will), but by the time she's 18 -- a full four years of seasoning away -- she'll be full-time on the PGA Tour.

Parity: Pro/Con
Wednesday's college hoops results illustrated the double-edge of parity:

Men -- Upset City:
Six unranked teams (Maryland, Purdue, Okla St, N. Iowa, Tenn., N'western) knocked off teams in the Top 25 (UNC, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Creighton, Vandy, Illinois). This season's volatility

has made any game a must-see toss-up.

Women -- Upset Pity:
Still nascent, the sport needs its half-dozen heavyweights; when UConn turns out to be merely mortal or, like last night, when No. 1 Texas Tech gets shocked by non-factor Iowa State, mainstream interest takes a hit.

"Recruiting-news" Web sites: Doesn't get more sketchy than that. Now, under pressure from the NCAA, Kentucky has reportedly banned a fan who runs one of these sites from athletic events -- for 27 years.

Basically, the NCAA reminded UK that it was responsible for any contact made between fans and sports recruits -- and that "fans" includes Joe No-Life and his DSL hook-up.

Mike Fratello:
What a supernova rumor: Somebody either played the media for fools -- or hung the Czar out to dry. (Was that you, Isiah? If so, how crafty!)
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Caple writes final "Frasier" script
Kiper: Mel's Big Board
Get your own bobblehead
Most Overrated "Most Wins" NBA Coaches
Pat Riley (1,110)
Right place, right time
K.C. Jones (522)
See above
Don Nelson (1,096)
Teams can't win big one
Bill Fitch (944)
Mighty .460 winning pct
Dick Motta (935)
Another "longevity" guy

No Vlad, no problem: Orioles still finish offseason strong, signing (re-signing?) front-line starting pitcher Sidney Ponson ...

Greece looking for Olympic torch-runners; doesn't that seem like a Seinfeld topic that never was mocked, but should have been? ...

Jeff Garcia didn't do so well leading drives on the field, but he goes and gets arrested on suspicion of DUI ...

Welcome to the new NHL economic order: Dallas reducing ticket prices (carrot); up next: reducing player salaries (stick) ...

Like the unholy love-child of O'Reilly and Oprah, John McEnroe is reportedly getting his own prime-time cable talk show ...

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