NBA All-Star Weekend! I said this the moment they announced the game would be in
Perhaps we all need to actually be in Vegas to fully appreciate the scope of the pending debauchery, but I think we can all do it justice with our fantasies of the party scene, plus what shapes up to be epic reportage from the scene (particularly from bloggers, who can file the GOOD scoop).
The biggest upshot of the weekend is that it will be such a huge success that the city will not only earn an NBA franchise, but an NHL and MLB franchise, too.
NBA All-Star: The Predictions
*Dunk Contest: Gerald Green. It won't be close. It's going to be a break-out moment for him.
Via Marc Stein's blog at ESPN Insider: Dwight Howard wanted to raise the rim to 12 feet(!), but the NBA nixed it. Amazing idea. Awful bungle by the league. That would have been totally innovative. (Tip: MJD at Fanhouse)
*3-point Contest: Gilbert Arenas. Runner-up a year ago to Dirk, Agent Zero lives up to his season-long hype with a stunning win.
*"Skills" Comp: Kobe. I think he wants it more than LeBron, Wade and Paul.
*Rookies-vs-Sophs: Sophs in a rout. (MVP: Danny Granger.)
*All-Star Game: East. (MVP: LeBron James.)
*Barkley-Bavetta Foot Race: Bavetta.
NBA All-Star: The Shoes. As a bit of a kick fiend, my favorite thing about NBA All-Star Weekend is the shoes. The biggest to watch for:
*LeBron IV: Special-edition gold
*Nike Air Force 25: Huge marketing push
*Converse Wade 2.0: Wade as own brand
*Adidas: ASG editions underwhelming
Daytona 500: Should be a little more interesting, seeing how the sport is revving up its season on a foundation of cheating and recrimination.
I can appreciate the "wink-wink" legacy of "innovation," but it's cheating. And if any other sport was so blatant about it, it would ruin that credibility. That's probably why NASCAR is taking it so seriously.
But there might be a lesson from football and baseball, which have both managed to thrive despite decades of cheating endemic to the sport. (Baseball fans seem to have less tolerance for PEDs than football fans; football fans don't seem to care about PEDs in the least.)
Die-hard NASCAR fans probably don't care about the cheating. They might even be bemused. They might also find the "no-fun" crackdown by NASCAR to be tearing at the fabric of their sport, for the sake of making it more palatable for casual fans.
This balancing act between satisfying the hard-core fans who made the sport the juggernaut it is today and growing the sport with an entire new fan base ("ESPN fans," if you will) is the most fascinating part of NASCAR's growth this season.
(Please: No more debates in the comments about whether NASCAR drivers are athletes or not. You will never be convinced to change your mind – or to change other people's minds. So just let it go.)
Scottie Pippen considering a comeback? I have to say: That would be awesome. If I was him, I'd run right for the team with the combination of star wattage, Finals potential and need at his position: Say,
(Sam Smith seems to break the story, which speaks directly to my point in The Big Picture interview: Smith is valuable for the nanosecond that it takes to say, "Pippen considering unretirement." Now, bloggers will be much better at delivering the opinion. This on the heels of Smith's column yesterday ripping bloggers for their lack of insightful opinion. I find it ironic that, aside from this single news nugget, he spends the rest of the column engaging in precisely the kind of "Barstool-GM" projections that he was ripping bloggers for doing. How is Smith offering anything beyond superficial b.s. by saying, "Wouldn't it be neat if he was on Team X?" Where are your "sources" now, Sammy? He's such a self-righteous d'bag, I won't even link to his column.)
Tim Hardaway, The Day After: David Stern banned Hardaway from NBA All-Star Weekend. As he should have. Hardaway can (and does) say what he wants, but it doesn't have to be tacitly sanctioned by the NBA.
(By the way, I commend you all on a relatively civil debate in the Comments section. Please remember that no minds are being changed, especially yours.)
MLB: Yankees DUI scandal! Steinbrenner's son-in-law and heir-apparent to run the team, Steve Swindal, was arrested for DUI. Hey, he's got a long way to go before he matches the Boss. Call me when Swindal gets banned from baseball for a few seasons.
College Hoops Weekend: The three most must-see games, in order:
(2) UNC at BC. BC was humiliated at home by Duke. Redemption comes with a win over the Heels, but I'm projecting a second straight home L.
Bill Cowher joins "NFL Today" show on CBS, following the standard template for any successful coach: Resign/"retire," spend a year or so doing TV to get your visibility (and popularity) up, then hit the jackpot returning to coaching with an owner trying to make a splash.
Speaking of NFL TV analysts, the NY Post's usual Friday sports-media notes column buries a small rumor that ESPN is considering dropping Michael Irvin. Undoubtedly, this would be HUGE in both the sports-blog world and within traditional media.
And as if you haven't got enough "Cowboys receiver" news,
More MLB: Bonds signs his deal (1Y/$15.8M). Next up: Topping Aaron.
MLB Spring Training: The biggest individual-player story of Spring Training begins today: Daisuke Matsuzaka. Break out the gyroball!
CFB: Is former
Oh, by the way, it's my birthday today: 34, officially kicking off the final year of my consumer relevancy in the "coveted male 18- to 34-year-old" demographic.
I'm hard-pressed to foresee the way that 34 will eclipse 33, given that it marked, personally, the birth of my first (and only) kid and, professionally, the (melo)dramatic combo of the end of the Quickie/start of the blog. But I'm sure it will.
(One last housekeeping note: I'll be traveling this morning and out of town all weekend, so posts might be light. That doesn't mean the conversation can't keep going. I'm opening up the Comments section. Should be a fun live-comment session during the NBA All-Star stuff.)