Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bonus: Sports Sunday

So much happened Saturday evening that I couldn't go into another week without sharing some of my thoughts. I spent the early part of my evening watching Jeff Garcia flail around with the Bucs on a gorgeous night at Raymond James, then closed out the night at around 4:30 a.m. with the Olympic men's basketball gold-medal game:

Once again, I'm giving my nod to Kobe Bryant as the best basketball player in the world in light of his 13-point fourth quarter against Spain. For all the talk about the considerable gifts of LeBron James, when things got dicey for the Americans late in the game, the offense started running almost exclusively through Kobe. It was quite a show, something that we've grown accustomed to seeing on winter nights against the Warriors. And, in the end, Kobe helped the "Redeem Team" hold off the surprisingly feisty Spaniards.

A couple of closing notes about Spain: they performed extremely well without the services of starting point guard Jose Calderon, who had a slight tear of the abductor muscle in his right thigh; Spain pretty much got whatever it wanted against the American's defense; and my goodness, 17-year-old Ricky Rubio was a revelation. That kid has the guts of a burglar and the skills to make a difference in the NBA. I can't imagine many other teens going toe-to-toe with the NBA's best in the way that Rubio did. He's definitely a future lottery pick.

Call this blasphemy, but I'm actually leaning toward this edition of the U.S. men's team as the best of the recent Olympic squads, including the first one in 1992. The Redeem Team has lots more firepower on the wings and faced much stiffer - and deeper - competition than the first Dream Team. People have forgotten, over time, how weak that 1992 team really was. The only wildcard here, of course, is the in-his-prime Michael Jordan. It's tough to bet against M.J.

Finally, no gold medal for the coaches? That's terrible. Though I hate to admit it as a longtime -Duke hater, Coach K did a masterful job and acquitted himself extremely well - notice how much better the NBA players seemed to get along with him as opposed to someone like Larry Brown?

On the NFL front, it became apparent early last night against Jacksonville why the Bucs were flirting with the idea of bringing Brett Favre to Tampa. Jeff Garcia looked terrible in his first game action of the preseason. I guess some folks might call it "rusty."

Also from the Bucs game, I totally forgot that Dennis Northcutt was playing with the Jags these days. I mention this because, in my old college days, Northcutt put on one of the most dominant performances I'd ever seen from the press box (how about that for a classic?). Northcutt was the best player on the field on that night in Fort Worth 10 years ago, which is saying something because LaDainian Tomlinson was on the other sideline. Anyway, good to see Dennis is still sticking around in the league.

Ok, looks like Shawne Merriman might be out for the season after all. Deadspin has some great advice for Merriman: "His best bet is to get Norv Turner's opinion on the matter and then do the exact opposite of whatever that dumbfuck suggests." It makes me a little sad for the San Diego Chargers. Some teams just never catch a break, sort of like the Houston Oilers teams of the early '90s that I rooted for as a kid.

It's probably hard for the Arizona Cardinals to not think, as of today, Matt Leinart is turning into a bust of major proportions. That's about the size of it if Leinart can't beat out Kurt Warner, a fossilizing, shot quarterback if there ever was one.

Never one for conventional thought, Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach - perhaps facetiously - floated the idea of doing some recruiting in Jamaica after watching the Olympics. Indeed, what offensive whiz hasn't dreamed of having someone like Usain Bolt to run fly routes?
Finally, it's apparent that China put on quite a show for the rest of the world over the past couple weeks. The Beijing Games were clearly good for the Olympics. But were the Olympics good for China? Or, better yet, Tibet and Darfur? We're still left with more questions than answers.

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