Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sports Sunday?

A change of flight plans, a dead car battery and a driving rain storm ... but still I rise.

Yeah, I'm back in Tampa for the moment. And a few things happened - sportswise - over the past couple days that I wasn't really able to get into yesterday. So, I'll make this quick:

1. Apparently, Antonio Margarito (pictured at right) put on quite a show in his stunning upset of Miguel Cotto last night in Vegas. I haven't seen the fight yet but will anxiously await the replay: some are calling it "The Fight of the Year."

Cotto, who suffered his first defeat in 33 bouts, is far from diminished with this defeat (literally) at the hands of the rough-and-tumble Margarito. But rarely is a champion ever the same fighter after his first loss. Just off top of my head, I can think of a few who never really recovered from that first real ass-whuppin: Roy Jones, Vernon Forrest, Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas and, of course, Mike Tyson. Let's hope Cotto can fight his way back to the top. Cotto at least sounded resilient when it was all over.

2. SI's Ian Thomsen reports that Greek pro hoops club Olympiakos first targeted Warriors swingman Kelenna Azubuike before signing Atlanta reserve Josh Childress to a three-year, $20 million deal. Thomsen outlines a list of reasons why Azubuike spurned Olympiakos' overtures despite the potential financial windfall, chief among them: Azubuike's dream has been to play in the NBA and not the Euroleague. I mentioned this yesterday, and acknowledged that would be the toughest hurdle for Euroleague teams to overcome. Still, I think Thomsen undervalues the monetary benefits of earning your money in Euros and not dollars. And the NBA has sort of brushed off the whole deal. Typical. Stern and Co. are extremely arrogant about the reach of their product. They'd be smart to heed the words of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who warns against such hubris.

3. J.R. Holden, Pittsburgh native and Bucknell grad, will suit up for the Russian national team in the Beijing Games. Holden follows in the footsteps of WNBA "star" Becky Hammon of South Dakota who will also compete for Olympic gold with the Russians this summer. And I have no real problem with this. The lines of citizenship and nationalism, especially in athletic competition, have been blurred for many years. Americans have proven to be notoriously hypocritical on this issue. For instance, Bernard Lagat of Kenya, reigning world champ in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, will run for the U.S. in Beijing next month. Not to mention that former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon, a native of Nigeria, earned his U.S. citizenship in 1996 and played for the second edition of the "Dream Team" a few months later in the Atlanta Games.

4. Someday, I hope my son is this cool.

5. James Posey is just a guy, ok? Maybe the second or third man off the bench on a good playoff team. Let's not kid ourselves here.

6. Yet another book that I want to buy but, alas, can not afford at the moment. A Few Seconds of Panic is getting some pretty good reviews.

I've even heard the author, Stefan Fatsis of the Wall Street Journal, describe the book as a sort of remake of George Plimpton's Paper Lion. Maybe. But, as far as I know, I don't ever remember reading searing monologues like this one from Broncos linebacker Ian Gold in Plimpton's book: "This is business. ... Don't hug me, don't touch me, don't call me your buddy, don't tell me you love me, because I know you'll motherf*ck me as soon as I leave the room."

7. And, finally, it's tough to imagine that anyone could come up with a list of sports' top 50 jerks and not include Jeff Kent (he slipped from No. 21 in last year's poll). Or that, somehow, Bobby Knight didn't crack the Top 5.

But, then again, maybe Mike Freeman of CBS Sports Line never had the occasion to be accosted by Kent in the Astros' clubhouse.

That's plenty. We'll talk Chi-Town later.

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