This morning has curiosity surrounding the great ball-hog, Kobe. It still seems extremely unlikely that he would ever put a Mavericks Uniform on, but I guess they are telling us there is a chance (in the words of the cinematic masterpiece, Dumb and Dumber)....Just let me say this: If there is anyway to get him without giving up Dirk, YOU MUST DO IT.
Kobe wants out? Again? …
After the latest wild spin on the Kobe Coaster, another 24-hour scramble of disorienting turns and steep drops with No. 24, things were actually pretty clear at the end of the ride.
So clear that the end of the Kobe Bryant Era in Lakerland has never seemed closer.
The events of a zany Tuesday allowed for no other conclusion. You inevitably wondered, once your stomach settled, if the Lakers are going to have to live like this for the rest of Bryant's days in purple and gold, however many are left, with the smothering expectation that he's headed to the airport any minute.
It's difficult to believe otherwise when Kobe asks to skip his third successive practice to give his legs some rest … and is promptly asked by reporters if he thinks he's played his last game as a Laker.
It's especially difficult to imagine a different ending when the famously quotable and revealing Phil Jackson responds to almost every Kobe question he gets by saying he either can't comment or doesn't know the answer.
The Zen Master? At a loss for words? Dark days, indeed.
The Lakers, according to NBA front-office sources, have no looming intentions to initiate any Bryant trade discussions and would still prefer to hang onto to their most popular player since Magic Johnson. There is nonetheless a growing belief around the league that the proposals will be flooding in now and that Bryant will indeed be moved -- possibly even before the season starts -- after last week's admission from Lakers owner Jerry Buss that he "would certainly listen" to trade offers for Bryant in the wake of Kobe's loud declaration last May that he wants out … and Kobe's subsequent refusals to recant the request.
So edgy is Lakerland that Bryant, after dodging the media for a few days, was forced to address reports Tuesday that he has already cleaned out his locker at the team's practice facility. One team source insisted to ESPN.com that Bryant indeed removed his personal belongings, but Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that Kobe had merely cleaned up his locker after Monday's practice, leaving plenty behind.
Yet such is the tension around the team now that Bryant can't sit out a practice without sparking an immediate panic that he's leaving for Chicago or Dallas, with multiple sources insisting that Bryant -- who possesses the league's only active no-trade clause -- lists the Mavericks as his No. 1 destination.
It's a tension Kobe created, of course, when he demanded a trade nearly five months ago with a slew of critical comments aimed at the organization that helped make him a worldwide brand and which backed him steadfastly through a sexual-assault trial in the 2003-04 season. But Buss' comments -- which Bryant admitted Tuesday "caught me off guard a little bit '' -- appear to have permanently changed the dynamic.
Those comments marked the first-ever acknowlegment from the Lakers of any openness to parting with Bryant, after months of scoffing at the mere suggestion.
Fears that Bryant might skip training camp or hold out for a time in an attempt to force the Lakers to move him proved unfounded. The 29-year-old reported for camp on time and with the apparent intention to put the turbulence of the offseason behind him, announcing that he was prepared to move forward with the only team he has ever played for. "Priority No. 1 for me," Kobe said on Oct. 1, "is to bring the title back here in Los Angeles."
The healing didn't even last 10 days, though. In that short span, Bryant's status was officially changed from the ultimate untouchable to stunningly available.
Meanwhile, you need to see the video of this Josh Howard incident Here , as he Perhaps earned himself a suspension sticking up for Devin …
A case of mistaken identity in a meaningless but rugged preseason game could end up having major ramifications for the Mavericks when the regular season opens.
Josh Howard was ejected Tuesday night when he came to the aide of teammate Devin Harris, who had been shoved to the ground by Sacramento center Brad Miller with 7:01 left in the second quarter at Pan American Center on the New Mexico State campus.
Howard gave Miller a hard forearm in the back of the neck. He then was put into a bear hug by Kings assistant coach Chuck Person. Players were grabbing and shoving each other, but it didn't appear any punches were thrown. It also was unclear whether any players left the bench area.
Punches, whether they land or not, and escalating a fight by leaving the bench are automatic suspensions of at least one regular-season game.
A flagrant foul, penalty two, was called on Howard, which does not carry an automatic suspension, but the NBA office will review the incident. It's possible Howard could be suspended for the Oct. 31 season opener at Cleveland.
"I was protecting my teammate, that's about as simple as you can put it," Howard said. "It was a dirty play, and it wasn't even Devin."
That was the strange part. Miller triggered the fracas with the wrong player.
It started when Miller and Mavs rookie Nick Fazekas got tangled on a rebound. Miller
took offense to Fazekas' actions on the play, but when he turned around, Harris was the closest Maverick. So Miller strongly shoved Harris to the floor.
The 6-3 guard popped up and got in the chest of the 7-foot Miller. That's when Howard raced in.
"I don't think it's a suspension," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. "We'll see what happens. We're a team that tries not to back down. You got to hold your ground out there. You got to defend yourself. I don't advocate anybody fighting. But he got pushed and he needed to do something about it in a legal way."
Howard said he will accept whatever decision the league makes regarding any penalty.
Red Sox on the brink, down 3-1 to Cleveland …
Fenway Park and "Sweet Caroline" can't save them now. A global network of fans, a $143 million payroll, a front office of stat geeks, and a savvy collection of marketing persons and television executives can't help the Boston Red Sox at this hour. The Olde Towne Team is in desperate need of a strong starting pitching performance and some three-run homers.
The Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox, 7-3, last night, taking a three-games-to-one lead in the American League Championship Series, putting the Franconamen on the brink of elimination as they prepare for tomorrow night's Game 5 at Jacobs Field. After six months of dominance and deliverance, there is a real possibility that the Sox won't play again at Fenway again until April.
Veteran Sox starter Tim Wakefield was routed in a seven-run fifth inning and crafty Cleveland righty Paul Byrd blanked the Sox for five to give the Indians their third straight victory in a series that thus far has stunned the Red Sox and New England.
"We know where we are, and there's some guys in there that have been in this situation before," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "And the best way all of us know to go about our business is to play the next game. If you start to look ahead, it can be a little overwhelming."
If any team knows how to recover from an ALCS deficit, it's the Red Sox. Boston wrote the book (which yielded approximately 26 books the following spring), beating the Yankees four straight times in 2004, becoming the only team in baseball history to recover from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.
There are eight Sox players remaining from the '04 championship season and tomorrow night they'll turn their eyes toward 20-game winner Josh Beckett, who gets the ball against Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia. Beckett beat Sabathia in Game 1 and a lot of Sox fans wanted to see him start Game 4. Rather than have Beckett pitching on three days' rest, Francona and Boston's baseball operations department elected to go with Wakefield. Like Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka in Games 2 and 3, Wakefield failed to finish the fifth inning. This is not a championship formula.
Did anyone watch the National League? …
Never have fewer fans watched the National League Championship Series.
You, America, are to blame for failing to support the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.
You are at fault for not watching two games that started at 10 p.m. Eastern.
You are guilty of not realizing that the Rockies were really, really worth it, or knowing how to spell Tulowitzki or Hawpe without looking at this sentence again.
But, you say, Fox didn’t carry a single Rockies game this season.
And neither did ESPN or ESPN2 on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays or holidays.
O.K., it’s their fault, too, for lacking baseball clairvoyance. Fox deemed the Rockies so unworthy of its air this season that it dumped Colorado games on June 30, July 21 and Aug. 4 in order to carry presumably more attractive matchups.
Now Fox is challenged to carry a World Series starring the Rockies against the Indians (10 total appearances on Fox, ESPN and ESPN2) or the Red Sox (a total of 24) one season after it broadcast the least-viewed Series on record.
Let’s give Texas Tech some love, eh? …
Anyone not familiar with Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree is about to find out about the nation's leading offensive duo.
No matter where you live.
Tech athletic officials have started pushing Harrell and Crabtree for Heisman Trophy consideration. It's about time. The numbers they have posted deserve attention.
National media affiliates from ESPN to USA Today spoke with the two this week. A writer from Sports Illustrated spent time in Lubbock and will cover the Tech-Missouri game Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
Later this week, Tech plans to unveil a Web page on its athletics site dedicated to Harrell, a junior from Ennis, and Crabtree, a redshirt freshman from Carter. The page will feature their highlights and statistics this season.
It seems that Tech is receiving more attention these days, in part because of its 6-1 start and No. 22 national ranking.
If this is like every other year under coach Mike Leach, Tech players won't get the respect they deserve.
Critics will argue, as they have many times, that Tech's pass-happy system is what makes
But that's tired reasoning. Sure, the offensive system helps, but you have to have quality players. And Tech has that in Harrell (6-3, 197) and Crabtree (6-3, 208).
"We just have to take it as it is what it is," Harrell said. "That's just part of playing in this offense. I think for years around here, quarterbacks, receivers and everyone have been getting overlooked. It's been like that since coach Leach has been here."
Harrell is on pace to become the school's first 6,000-yard passer. He leads the nation in completions (258), passing yards (3,151) and touchdown passes (31), and Tech is No. 1 in total offense.
Harrell posted big numbers last year, but what's different this season is his efficiency. His 178.4 quarterback rating ranks second in the nation.
Crabtree leads the nation in receptions (78), receiving yards (1,244) and touchdown catches (17). He has a chance to break all three Division I-A national records.
This for a kid who caught one pass for 19 yards in high school.
Here is the Fran Email database if you want to read them for yourself …
Jere Lehtinen isn’t scoring …
Jere Lehtinen doesn't like to concentrate too much on goal-scoring.
And yet, as the Dallas Stars' best sniper over the last five seasons, he knows that he must.
Over the last 21 games (playoffs included), Lehtinen has one goal, seven assists and is minus-9. It's a slump that Lehtinen is well aware of.
"I think about it a lot," he said. "It's not good."
Not good for Lehtinen, and not good for the Stars. On a team that needs goals, it's tough when one of the leaders isn't scoring.
Dallas scored 12 goals in seven playoff games, and Lehtinen didn't have a point. He has three assists in six games this season, and Dallas ranks 15th in scoring at 2.67 goals per game.
Bottom line, even if this is scoring by committee, Lehtinen has to pick up his pace.
"He's no different from anyone else. We expect him to do his part ... and he expects to do his part," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "He's the most honest player there is. He wants to do whatever he can to help the team win."
Lehtinen admits the "want to" has been taking him over at times. He generally focuses on the details of the game – winning puck battles, backchecking, forcing turnovers – and that leads to scoring opportunities. But, he said, he catches himself thinking about the lack of scoring every now and then.
Due to no scoring in the last few games, it is time to mess with the lines again …
The Stars changed lines a lot last season, mainly because of injuries. This season, they're trying to figure out what will work best in their search for more offense. The latest Stars lines:
Left wing Center Right wing
Niklas Hagman Mike Modano Jere Lehtinen
Brenden Morrow Mike Ribeiro Loui Eriksson
Joel Lundqvist Jeff Halpern Antti Miettinen
Brad Winchester Stu Barnes Jussi Jokinen
All Day versus the Bears
1920’s Reporter with Sidney Crosby (never gets old to watch Ovechkin)