And so goes another weekend of sports…..
If you rolled over here to get a comprehensive look at the NBA All-Star weekend, here it is:
Dwight Howard is awesome.
Now, on to the stuff that matters….
Jason Kidd deal about to go down ….again?
It's looking more and more as though Jason Kidd's start for the road team in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game will indeed be his farewell to the Eastern Conference. As long as the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks can clear one last trade hurdle.
The Nets and Mavericks are again on the brink of a deal that would send Kidd back to his original team, according to NBA front-office sources. The teams have reached an agreement in principle on the two major changes needed to save a blockbuster swap that appeared to be crumbling as recently as Friday and one source close to the process told ESPN.com that a conference call with the league to review the trade details is tentatively scheduled for Monday.
In a pre-game interview on TNT's All-Star broadcast, asked whether he expects to be a Net or a Mav after the All-Star break, Kidd said his gut feeling is "that I would probably be in Dallas."
Another source, however, stressed that league approval of Keith Van Horn's inclusion in the trade is not a formality, creating one more obstacle for the teams to overcome to complete their second attempt to get a deal done.
"It's possible that [Van Horn] may be an issue," Nets president Rod Thorn told the Newark Star-Ledger on Sunday night.
Kidd told reporters after the All-Star Game that he will be waiting for an answer about the deal just like everyone else.
"There's a lot of talk that the deal is done," Kidd said. "I've heard that before. Until I get a call from Rod [Thorn] or Mark [Cuban], then it will be official."
That's because the league office, as seen earlier this month when the Los Angeles Lakers summoned Aaron McKie out of retirement to help them land Pau Gasol from Memphis, will not simply allow players like McKie or Van Horn to be part of a trade in name only. League sources told ESPN.com last week that the Gasol trade would have been disallowed had McKie not reported to Memphis to make himself available to play for the Grizzlies, meaning Van Horn would likely have to do the same.
But the league also doesn't appear to have an iron-clad policy on such matters. NBA president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin told reporters in New Orleans on Saturday night that deciding whether to allow unofficially retired players like McKie or Van Horn to be thrown into a deal is judged on a "case-by-case basis." McKie's case might have been an even trickier one because he was working as a volunteer assistant coach for one team (Philadelphia) when the last team (Lakers) he played for called, needing him for a sign-and-trade with a third team (Memphis) for Gasol.
It had to go down, says Lebreton …
But there were too many farewells toasted, too many "Welcome Home, Jason" banners unfurled, for this deal to have been rendered a mulligan.
Imagine young Harris, if he were to have returned to the lineup next month and point-guarded the Mavericks to... another first-round playoff exit. The howls over his shortcomings would have been unbearable.
It was probably unfair already that Harris was being called the "next Tony Parker" and the "next Chris Paul." Had this Humpty Dumpty of a deal not been pieced together again, Harris would have been measured for the rest of his Mavericks career against the future Hall of Famer Kidd.
Speaking of whom, Kidd can't lose in this reported new deal. The number of Mavs fans who are ready to party like it's 1999, literally, is offset by us sober realists who have tsk-tsked that this will never work. The expectations are at a stalemate.
If Kidd comes in and finally turns Dirk Nowitzki into the "next Larry Bird," he'll be hailed here as the NBA's greatest point guard.
If he comes in, though, and plays as if he's 34 years old, going on 44, the ire will be directed at Cuban and Donnie Nelson, not Jason.
If Kidd fails, Cuban, in particular, is going to have another round of Steve Nash-related grenades lobbed at him. Let's see -- Nash, at age 30, wasn't worth keeping in 2004 at five years and $50 million, but Kidd is -- at a soon-to-be 35 and $21.3 million next season?
The sprint to see if either can deliver an NBA championship will be an interesting one.
Kidd, meanwhile, comes at a ridiculous price, and don't let the Harris detractors tell you otherwise. Kidd and Malik Allen for seven players, including two No. 1 draft choices?
I know, the NBA salary cap mandates that all trades be equal both in beanstalks and family cows. The notion of Keith Van Horn, plucked from his retirement sofa, getting $4 million of Cuban's money just for reporting to Jersey and saying, "Ahhhhh," is comical.
Cuban can thank Jerry Stackhouse, NBA economist, for that.
And what of George? Will Mavericks fans ever forgive him and his smugness, even after Kidd does arrive?
Let's hope not.
George can't win, and Kidd can't lose. Welcome to what looms as the most compelling Mavericks dash to the finish line ever.
Even if you hate the impending deal, you have to be intrigued by the symbolic urgency of it. In sports, Cuban is reminding us, sometimes tomorrow never comes.
Mavericks faithful kept waiting for Harris to blossom, to solidify into something they could build a dream around, and all they saw were flashes and teasing hints.
Some of us will not agree that Harris isn't destined to grow into an NBA star. Yet, we can understand why the other side would think that.
Too late now, it seems. Jason Kidd appears, again, to be on his way "home" to the Mavericks.
It had to happen, because the alternative was going to be messy.
David Moore’s Kidd thoughts …
As all this is going on, I am wondering why the Mavs weren’t in on Mike Bibby …who at the age of 29 might have been splitting the difference of the two
The Atlanta Hawks are trying to balance out their backcourt and make a playoff push by bringing in Mike Bibby.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Bibby, acquired from the Sacramento Kings for four players on Saturday, will provide scoring help for Joe Johnson. Atlanta's All-Star shooting guard often faces gimmick defenses because he's the team's only outside shooting threat.
"There's another option now," Woodson said. "It'll be like a one-two punch in the backcourt."
Bibby has averaged 16.7 points for his career and is making more than 36 percent of his 3-point shots for the ninth straight year.
The Hawks sent starting point guard Anthony Johnson, 2007 first-round pick Shelden Williams, backup point guard Tyronn Lue, veteran forward Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round pick to the Kings.
The Hawks, in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and percentage points behind the eighth and final playoff spot, are trying to make the postseason for the first time since 1999.
Turco was awesome against Detroit …you know, I don’t think I have ever typed that sentence before in my entire life! It felt good to type it, by the way.
Marty Turco doesn't have many bad numbers in his career, but his luck against the Detroit Red Wings has never been very positive.
Victories? Well, there was one. A shutout? Never.
The jet-lagged Stars, who played Thursday and Friday nights out west, needed him to come through against those Wings on Sunday afternoon at American Airlines Center. With some incredible stops setting the tone in the first period, Turco was more than up to the task.
Turco stopped all 28 shots he faced, and Niklas Hagman scored his eighth game-winner this season as Dallas won 1-0.
Turco recorded his first shutout and second victory in 17 games against Detroit (he's now 2-9-5, with one no-decision), and Hagman tied Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for the NHL lead in game-winners.
The Stars have won nine of their past 10 games and leads Anaheim by six points and San Jose by nine in the Pacific Division. Dallas beat Detroit for only the fourth time in 19 meetings since the start of the 2002-03 season and shut out the Red Wings for the first time since Ed Belfour beat them 1-0 on Nov. 17, 2000.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Turco said. "I don't think I ever beat
them in regulation, and I still haven't beaten them up there. They're one team that has my number, and it's going to take me a while to catch up. That's my goal."
Turco had to be great from the start, while his teammates looked like they were still recovering from their West Coast games.
Detroit outshot Dallas 6-0 through the first four minutes, and Turco's stops weren't run-of-the-mill. He stopped breakaways by Tomas Kopecky, Pavel Datsyuk and others.
"Timely saves is what we needed," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "The energy of the game and the energy of the building helped our players, but ultimately, we needed Marty to be very good."
The Stars, meanwhile, gained energy as the game continued. But Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, playing in his seventh NHL game, was tough, too.
The Stars needed a break and got it in the third period, when the rebound from a Jere Lehtinen shot went right to Hagman, who punched it in the empty left side of the goal.
"He finds timely plays like that, doesn't he?" Tippett said. "He's always been like that, but, this year, they're going in."
Hagman said he's "running out of words" to describe Turco's play. Mike Modano said Turco's clears were as important as his stops.
"You can tell when he's redirecting shots and directing them away from traffic and his rebounds aren't lying around, it's a good sign he's seeing the puck well," Modano said. "They come hard, so his ability to play the puck is really a plus for those guys in the back."
The Report from Detroit …
Feature Story of Day: Nicaragua loves the 19-0 Patriots …
Shirts and caps proclaiming the victory of the New England Patriots -- when the American football team actually lost the latest Super Bowl -- have ended up in the hands of poor Nicaraguan children.
Hundreds of shirts and caps, which had been manufactured in advance to celebrate the Patriots' expected victory over the New York Giants, were handed over to children in the southern city of Diriamba.
"The children are the winners," said Miriam Diaz, of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.
World Vision has links with the National Football League, or NFL, and every year helps out poor children in Latin America and Africa with the unwanted "winners" shirts of the team that actually loses the Super Bowl.
Winners' shirts and other garments are produced in advance so players and fans can put them on to celebrate immediately after the final whistle of the game. Garments of the losing team are obviously unwanted.
MMQB with good stuff, including this …
The Office returns, post-writers' strike, for six episodes April 10. How, possibly, are we expected to go on with life until then?
Health = Wins …
10 least healthy teams:
1. Denver (7-9) 69 games lost
2. Indianapolis (13-3) 64 games lost
3. Miami (1-15) 60 games lost
4. Atlanta (4-12) 58 games lost
5. Baltimore (5-11) 57 games lost
6. Buffalo (7-9) 55 games lost
7. Cincinnati (7-9) 54 games lost
8. St. Louis (3-13) 54 games lost
9. Detroit (7-9) 53 games lost
10t. Chicago (7-9) 52 games lost
10t. Washington (9-7) 52 games lost
10 healthiest teams:
1. Green Bay (13-3) 13 games lost
2. Cleveland (10-6) 14 games lost
3. Minnesota (8-8) 16 games lost
4. Oakland (4-12) 17 games lost
5. New York Giants (10-6) 18 games lost
6. Kansas City (4-12) 20 games lost
7. San Diego (11-5) 21 games lost
8. Tennessee (10-6) 23 games lost
9. New York Jets (3-13) 29 games lost
10. Carolina (7-9) 30 games lost
Houston looks at spending as it relates to winning in the NFL …
Last season, the Texans were desperate for a running back. They gave free agent Ahman Green $6.5 million guaranteed, hoping to get at least one and possibly two productive seasons from him. They didn't even get one productive game. He was injured in the opener and never recovered.
A lot of fans are hoping Smith and Kubiak will pursue New England cornerback Asante Samuel, who will be an unrestricted free agent. It's not going to happen.
The Texans don't have room under the $116 million salary cap to guarantee Samual more than $20 million, and if they did, they wouldn't do it. A good example of why they shouldn't can be found in what happened to San Francisco last season.
The 49ers guaranteed free-agent cornerback Nate Clements $20 million, and they were 5-11 — two games worse than the previous season.
The Texans are almost $23 million under the cap, but they don't have that much to spend. Subtract things such as dead money for players no longer on the roster, tenders and qualifying offers to restricted free agents and exclusive-rights players, and they won't have half that much to spend.
And keep in mind the Texans have 43 players under contract and must re-sign many of their key players.
Spending a lot of money on players isn't a guarantee of success. Mike Sando of ESPN.com figured out that the three highest-paid players at each position last season played on teams that won 219 games and lost 309. That's a .415 winning percentage.
Eliminate the three highest-paid quarterbacks, who usually are worth the money, and that record drops to 189-291 (.393).
We all know the Texans are desperate for another cornerback or two. Last season, the three highest-paid cornerbacks were Clements, Baltimore's Chris McAlister and Kansas City's Patrick Surtain. The Niners, Ravens and Chiefs combined for a 14-34 record.
After finishing 7-9 in Mike Nolan's second season, the 49ers went on a crazy spending spree to beef up a defense that had allowed more points than any team in the NFL. Not only did they make Clements the highest-paid corner in the league, they made backup Philadelphia safety Michael Lewis one of the three highest-paid players at his position. The three highest-paid safeties played on teams that were 16-32.
Guaranteeing big money for free agents can backfire. Being patient and shrewd can pay big dividends. As Sando points out on ESPN.com, the Chargers, Jaguars, Colts, Packers and Giants didn't sign any big-name free agents and remained quiet early in the free-agency period. Their combined record was 58-22 (.725). All made the playoffs. Three won divisions. The Giants won the Super Bowl.
Ranking Coaches getting the Playcalling right ….
No 24, No 48? Who knew? Penske smokes Daytona …
The Chevrolets of Hendrick Motorsports and the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing. No one else was in their league, or so the theory went all week at Daytona.
So much for theories.
The two dominant teams got beat Sunday in the 50th Daytona 500 by an organization that never had won a restrictor-plate race and a driver who hadn't won any Cup race in the two previous seasons.
Ryan Newman got last-lap help from teammate Kurt Busch and charged to the front past Tony Stewart, giving team owner and racing legend Roger Penske a long-awaited victory at Daytona.
"Without Kurt, I never would have gotten there," Newman said. "I got
the push from heaven. He was a great teammate and chose to do the honorable thing. Tony blocked me hard, but when Kurt pushed me, we just struck together. It was awesome."
Tom Hicks still has the Anti-Midas Touch. Liverpool upset at home by lowly Barnsley. Out of the FA Cup. So embarrassed. ….
LIVERPOOL 1, BARNSLEY 2
BRILLIANT Barnsley stunned the Kop with one of the biggest FA Cup shocks in years.
The Championship outfit piled the pressure on Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez with a last-minute winner at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt looked to have put the Reds on course for the last eight with a 32nd-minute strike but Stephen Foster headed the Yorkshire side level after an hour.
And in injury time Brian Howard pounced to net a fairytale winner. He said: "It's probably the best feeling I've had in football. I can't even describe it. I'm still away with the fairies at the moment."
On-loan keeper Luke Steele admitted he wasn't even on first-name terms with his teammates after agreeing to leave West Brom last Wednesday.
He said: "There was a call saying Barnsley wanted me on loan and I accepted right away.
"The lads defended brilliantly and were under a lot of pressure because Liverpool are such a good side.
"It's been a couple of months since I played last so I was just happy to be out there."
Barnsley boss Simon Davey hailed Steele and said: "He's had a big debut and pulled off some world class saves.
"All credit goes to the players, they have been fantastic from the first minute and now they have their rewards.
"I always thought we would be in the game. We kept it tight and took our chances."
Gutted Reds boss Benitez blamed his side's exit on a series of misses in front of goal.
He said: "We had a lot of chances but it was the same situation as in other games. We can't take our chances to finish games. Today was the same.
"I am really, really disappointed. We had chances but their keeper made fantastic saves and they scored in the last minute.
"Sometimes this happens in football, it is the cup. It is difficult to explain but it is the reality."
Here is the Goal that cost Hicks big bucks…
This is even better. The Sportscenter equivalent partied…
Girl gets Owned by the Yellow Ball
What Really Happened