Of communists, fast food, literature
By Chris Connelly
Special to Page 2

Item: possible new owner for the Twins
Carl Pohlad
Carl Pohlad, can you spare $3 million.
So now comes Donald Watkins, a widely respected and politically independent African-American banker from the Deep South, and he wants to buy the Twins from Carl Pohlad, the guy who gave Bud Selig the weirdest baseball loan since Rick Sutcliffe reportedly floated Bruce Springsteen seven figures backinnaday.

From the looks of things, Watkins has intelligence, drive, the blessing of Mr. Gammons, and a huge pot o' dough. And so I say to Mr. Watkins: Sir, lace up your Nikes and run. In the opposite direction. These baseball owners are not the sort of people with whom you want to associate your un-besmirched name right now, not with labor problems still looming and worse press for your side than Enron.

Didn't I just read that Selig spoke for nearly four hours to the players' union? Four hours! Did he discuss the desalination plants in the Caucasus, or the five-year-plan for the steel mills? Only Fidel Castro gets to give talks like that these days ... and come to think of it, he might be Bud's equal as a baseball man.

Item: Mark Cuban preps for Dairy Queen Challenge/Dave Thomas dies
This might have been the worst week for fast food since the invention of the Arch Deluxe, even if I thought NASCAR's Darrell Waltrip was better in those Wendy's commercials than Dave was. But sports figures currently in need of employment may hold the answer to many of our country's top eat-and-go entities.

Imagine:

Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban isn't the only sports personality who should take a shift behind the counter.
White Castle: Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre revitalizes yet another once-great franchise with the Michael Strahan value combo: a free sack.

Kentucky Fried Chicken: A return to the franchise's full, original name, since it so perfectly describes the Wildcats' attitude toward Marvin Stone, who may want to transfer to Louisville but isn't being allowed to. Why? Because they're afraid, that's why!

7-Eleven: Wouldn't you love to see Steve Spurrier throw his visor at those overcaffeinated guys in the red jackets? It'd be better than "Clerks"! Next, we sic 'im on the 10-10-220 guys. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself ...

Item: Nike and Hearst announce plans for "Jordan" magazine
Honestly, what incredible timing. What should the first cover be: MJ with Halle Berry and the coverline JUSTICE IS BLIND ... MJ with "matrimonial" lawyer Raoul Felder and the coverline WHO'S YOUR BUDDY ... If there was ever a wait-and-see moment in the history of the Michael Jordan brand, this is it. His comeback, his impending divorce and the personal scrutiny that's sure to follow in its wake only underscore the fact that we are in the midst of a major shift in the tectonic plates of Michael Jordan's reputation.

All that fuzzy-wuzzy stuff with Bugs and kids and the burger commercials ... that's gonna seem as so-five-minutes-ago as a Tone Loc record. Same with the innumerable prose rhapsodies to his physical grace, and the way many writers went on to connect that grace to a unique state of mental refinement or tranquility that he allegedly possessed. All that is over, and the picture that remains will be truer, but far less sentimental, about the greatest basketball player of all-time.

And when everything is taken into account, given everything we know about Jordan and his focus on the game of basketball, one big question will remain: Why, exactly, did he retire ... the first time?

Item: Larry Brown is itchy, Allen Iverson is unhappy in Philadelphia
Larry Brown
Nothing would be finer than Larry Brown coaching North Carolina.
Don't you sometimes wish the sports gods could descend for just a moment, move a few pieces around, and let us get back to business? We all know what should happen here: Larry decides to leave the Sixers, someone convinces Matt Doherty to step aside in North Carolina, and Brown then restores the luster to Dean Smith's program just as he did for John Wooden's at UCLA and Phog Allen's at Kansas.

Item: Phil Jackson passes out books for the Lakers' road trip
... and in doing so offers insight not just into Phil's literary taste, but his true opinion of Shaquille O'Neal, as well. The trip's real winner, by my reckoning anyway, is Rick Fox, who, given that he's married to the luminous Vanessa Williams, probably didn't need any extra good fortune. All the same, Rick got what sounds like the best book in the bunch: Colson Whitehead's "John Henry Days," the impressive follow-up to Whitehead's stupendous first novel, "The Intuitionist."

Shaq, meanwhile, got that lit-major fave-rave, Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf." Why? Probably because of passages such as these: "The few capacities and pursuits in which I happened to be strong had occupied all my attention ... leaving all the rest of me a chaos of potentialities, instincts and impulses.." Hey, that is Shaq!

But according to the Los Angeles Times, which broke this story, Shaq's not going to be receiving any literary enlightenment anytime soon -- he says he's only reading books about the FBI or law enforcement, apparently looking ahead to his future occupation. Oh, well. How about some Raymond Chandler, Shaq?

Chris Connelly writes a weekly column for Page 2. "Unscripted with Chris Connelly," the TV show airs at 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday on ESPN.





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