Single page view By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

I'm getting concerned there's something wrong with me. I spend more time talking and thinking about shows on HBO than I do about sports. Seriously.

I told a friend this week that I'm glad the season finale of "Entourage" airs this Sunday so I can then turn my attention to the NFL season.  During the same conversation, I admitted that I prefer "The Wire," "The Sopranos" and "Entourage" over the NFL, the NBA, the PGA Tour, and college football and basketball.

Aren't you gonna miss these guys when their season ends Sunday night?

What does any of this mean? Does it mean I'm getting old? Am I becoming a nerd? Should I cancel HBO before my addiction affects my performance as a sports columnist?

My life has been dedicated to sports since about age 4, when my father took my brother and me to a Pacers game at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds, and I swore I would sport an afro as cool as Darnell Hillman's.

Since then, I can only think of one thing that has occupied space in my brain more than sports: Janice Toth, the most beautiful girl in my seventh-grade class at Stonybrook Junior High.

Well, now the shows on HBO are crowding Janice and sports for space in my noggin. Of course, it all started with Tony Soprano and his crew. What guy doesn't love a good mafia flick? But it wasn't until the end of Season 3 of "The Wire" that I noticed how important the HBO dramas had become.

When Stringer Bell was ruthlessly assassinated, I openly wept, fell into denial, eventually became depressed and have since spent an unusual amount of time trying to figure out how show creator David Simon will replace Stringer. Can Marlo and Chris form a duo as compelling as Avon and Stringer? Or maybe young Bodie rises to power and helps Avon hold onto his corners?

You see my problem? Normally, I spend my free time wondering whether Kobe and Phil will get along, did the Chiefs add enough defensive free agents, will Adrian Peterson repeat his freshman performance, can the Patriots survive all of their defensive losses?

This week, like most Americans, I have my fantasy football draft. And my thoughts are a jumbled mess. All I can think about is the season finale of "Entourage." I'm off the deep end. I spent most of the week pretending that the five main characters in "Entourage" were fantasy football players. Whom would I draft first?

Ari is the highest-rated player on my draft board. He's Priest Holmes, aka ATM: Automated Touchdown Machine. You can cancel this show without Ari. In fact, the one episode that was Ari Lite -- the U2 episode -- was completely unwatchable. Just like Holmes, a former undrafted rookie, no one expected Ari to be the star of this show. No one expected Ari to steal every scene he's in; it just happened. You don't see Ari smoking weed with the boys or even scoring tail with the boys. But he's still the coolest guy on the show. I'll be devastated if Ari doesn't build an agency that drives his old boss out of business.

No. 2 on my draft board is Johnny Drama. He's Terrell Owens. Drama is all messed up. He's insecure because his little brother got the good looks and all the attention from their parents. Drama acts out to get attention, but you can tell he's hurting on the inside. But as screwed up as he is, Drama delivers on Sundays. When he crapped out of his Movie of the Week deal with Brooke Shields because he hit a hard six at the wrong time, I contend that was the funniest moment in the history of sitcoms. Drama is a diva who is well worth the trouble.


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