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Friday, April 28, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: April 27, 2006


 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
THE.  DUNK.

Credit Steve Nash with two MVP awards this year. There's the traditional "Most Valuable Player." And then there's this:

"Most Viciously Posterized."

Oh my goodness: Kobe dunked on Nash so nasty last night with 3 minutes to go to put the Lakers up 9, you could feel Bryant's fury:

• At having lost MVP to Nash (you just know that was in the back of his mind).

• At shooting 7-for-21 in a personally humiliating Game 1 loss to the Suns.

• At inspiring his teammates to realize that they would win this game, shocking the Suns in Phoenix and tying their series 1-1.

The Dunk was a symbol for LA's surprisingly aggressive win, holding Phoenix to 34 pct 1st-half FG shooting that the Suns never really recovered from.

The only thing The Dunk didn't do was capture Kobe's restraint during the rest of the game:

Contrary to pregame theory that his shot count would explode, he shot only 24 times (making 12) and didn't carry the team as much as lead it.

Whether you love or loathe Kobe (or perhaps have an allergy to Nash winning that 2nd MVP), the move symbolized all that can be great about Kobe: Athleticism, will and, yes, I'll concede: leadership.

ESPN Motion Click here to see the video of the dunk, which will surely go down among the all-time great facials even if the Lakers lose the series.

NFL Draft: Big 3
Of the NFL draft's big three QBs, Matt Leinart is the most polished and Vince Young is the most exciting.

Jay Cutler? Well, does "most abused" count? That's my reason for joining Mort and Jaws in liking Cutler more than the other two guys.

Any QB who can survive (let alone thrive) while surrounded by the "talent" at Vanderbilt can make it in the NFL.

Leinart and Young were surrounded by two of the greatest offenses in college football history. Playing behind a lousy NFL team picking in the top 10 will come as a debilitating surprise.

Cutler, meanwhile, was surrounded, too: By the other team's defense.

Winning record? No. But the fact Cutler didn't get killed should more than balance out the wins and losses. Imagine him with some any talent around him.

Cutler's nimbleness? Enough.
(Between Young and Leinart.)

His arm accuracy? Enough.
(Between Leinart and Young.)

His guts? More than enough.
(Arguably tops 'em both.)

Leinart has the Notre Dame game. Young has the Rose Bowl. Cutler's signature moment? Arguably as impressive as theirs: He nearly led Vandy past Florida at The Swamp, passing for 361 yards and 4 TDs in a 49-42 loss.

If the other two are college football's biggest winners, give me Cutler. He's more like "The Biggest Loser" -- and precisely because of that, I think he'll thrive.

More NBA Roundup
The Grizzlies remain winless in franchise history in the NBA playoffs (0-10) after dropping Game 2 to the Mavs. An 11-minute stretch without a FG didn't help. Neither did Dirk's 31.

What Rip Hamilton injury? The Pistons' guard shook off his ankle injury to score 18 (with 8 ast) in 33 min in a solid Detroit W over Milwaukee.

Tonight's schedule: The start of Game 3s, featuring home-court advantage flip-flopping to the paper underdog...

Nets at Pacers: Did you think the refs were a bit too touchy about the Pacers' D in Game 2? Change of venue should help.

Heat at Bulls: Let's see: Miami beat Chicago with Haslem and without him. Let's split the diff and say the Heat will win tonight, too.

Clippers at Nuggets: It's a legit question to ask which team Kenyon Martin is rooting for. (Actually, he apologized to his team and had his indefinite suspension reduced to 2 games. Could be season-ending.)

MLB Wrap: Bonds!
Bonds (G)on(e) Bonds: 2nd HR in 2 games gives him 711, just four from passing Ruth, which at this new pace, he'll do by Monday.

(Seriously, Bonds deserves credit for hitting a pinch-hit HR off Billy Wagner, his first PH HR since August 2001. Why would Wagner pitch to him?

The Kevin Mench story is getting ridiculous: He hit a HR in his 6th straight game, this time a grand slam. All because he found out he has been wearing a shoe a half-size too small -- then made a switch.

Pujols wins game (again): Please, someone, tell me again why the Pirates haven't learned their lesson about pitching to Albert Pujols, who won Wednesday's game with a 9th-inning RBI single.

It's very simple: Don't pitch to him (especially in the 9th). He has the Cards' GW RBI in 4 of the last 5 games.

Nats sold? Local TV reports in D.C. had the Nats' sale confirmed to the Ted Lerner group. The Nats, inspired, went out and managed to get a single hit in their fourth straight loss. Happy owning!

D-Rays walk past Yanks: I thought the Yankees had exorcised their Devil (Rays). The curse lives on: Tampa beat Mariano and the Yankees, despite walking 14 batters, a D-Rays record.

Julio Franco Methuselah-mania: A week after becoming the oldest player to ever hit a HR, the 47-year-old Franco became the 2nd-oldest to steal a base, behind only 49-year-old Arlie Latham in 1909.

(And who dares bet against Franco eventually swiping the record for oldest steal in two years? He's ageless! He's amazing! Fountain of Franco!)

Texans: No Young

Confirming what we all knew, Texans GM Charlie Casserly said the Texans will not be drafting Vince Young. This is not draft subterfuge; this is reality that he doesn't fit in their plans.

Drafting the hometown hero was a nice story; more than a few Houstonians wanted to see it. But it made no sense for a team that could use a multiskilled game-breaker on offense (Reggie Bush) or a monster on the D-line (Mario Williams).

Casserly couldn't resist a little bit of draft posturing:

"What people should understand is that if we take Mario Williams and if somebody doesn't like it, then I'm right here and I'm the guy to yell at. Nobody else. Boo me. Don't boo Mario Williams."

Come on: They ain't taking Williams. Despite the talk, the Texans don't have the guts to pass on a consensus superstar like Bush. (Do they?)

NFL Ulti-Mock
Speaking of Cutler, I'll be intrigued to see where he, Young and Leinart go in ESPN.com's expert mock-draft roundtable, annually one of the most fascinating things on the site.

It's always filled with the latest scuttlebutt, insight and insider info. Be on the lookout for it today.

Quickie Book Club
"Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero"

For a biography of the most loathed player in baseball, there's the new book by Jeff Pearlman, who did a couple hundred interviews to tease out the roots and manifestations of Bonds being Bonds.

Maybe you saw the book excerpt in ESPN the Mag last month. In its full form, you won't find a more comprehensive backstory on Bonds, and the book certainly gave me the confidence to bash with more authority.

(On the flip side of the player love-loathe scale, I'm in the middle of reading "Clemente," by David Maraniss, which also came out this week. Look for an item on it in the Quickie next month.)

Tribeca Film Fest
Continuing Quickie coverage of the "sports" films being screened at my hometown Tribeca Film Festival:

Today's Spotlight Films:

"Blue Blood": Now tell me, who wouldn't want to see a story about hoity-toity Oxford students who beat the hell out of each other in the boxing ring? It's like "Fight Club" meets "Circle of Friends."

"A Stadium Story": I might recommend this documentary about the contentious Jets stadium debacle to the new owners of the Nationals!