1. RC Buford. This guy. Oh, this guy. You think the Spurs GM wasn’t smiling during the first quarter of the Suns/Lakers game when neither Shaq nor Amare seemed to have faintest idea about how to guard the pick-and-roll. Hours earlier he had traded for former Knick Kurt Thomas (who had been playing in Seattle) and I think Kurt might have actually helped invent the P&R back in the thirties while touring the dustbowl with TCU. Thomas will pull Shaq away from the paint when the Spurs play the Suns. He’ll do the same with Bynum should the Spurs run up against the Lakers. And, then when the Lakers inevitably switch Gasol onto him then ol’ crazy eyes will back him down. He won’t be flashy but he’ll be poised and find you the 12 and 8 that might make the difference. While the rest of the West’s contenders are engaged in an expensive, short-sighted arms race, Buford just makes a small move like this one. This is vintage Buford and why the Spurs have been so good for so long. Perhaps it won’t turn out as planned but it also won’t kill them if it doesn’t because Kurt comes off the books after the season anyway. This guy.
2. The NBA. It was a banner night for the Association. Baron Davis hit a game-winning three at the buzzer. Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard tangled and combined for 77 points. LBJ posted his second straight triple-double. The new boss (Paul) and the old boss (Kidd) duked it out in the Big Easy. And, Shaq showed up shaved and ready to run against Kobe and the Lakers on national television. I know everyone loves to hate the NBA, it’s the new soccer, but the product is really good these days. Yes, it hurts the league that the NYC market features two bad teams, but there is a lot of really good team-oriented basketball being played around the country. Aside from a few rotten apples (Knicks front and center) virtually every team in this league gives you something to cheer for every single night. Some might even say, that the NBA is Fantastic. I would.
3. Chris Paul. Last night was supposed to be Kidd’s night in New Orleans. He was making his rebut with the Mavs. But, Paul dominated the matchup, scoring 31 to go with 11 assists and 9 steals.
4. The U. And, it was the basketball team. The Miami Hurricanes pulled a Sixth Sense on the Blue Devils last night as they assuredly didn’t see this performance coming. Ending a 45-year losing streak, Miami held on to beat the Dukies by 1.
5. Ryan Howard. The 2006 NL MVP just got paid. Howard won his arbitration case against the Phillies and received the $10 million that he was looking for. This is also the highest amount ever awarded in arbitration. And, not because it’s such an exorbitant amount. A-Rod spent $10 million while you were reading this. But, the Phils only offered $7 million to the slugger, which should get those contract-extension talks off to a cordial start…
Benched: A-Rod. This guy must be able to digest shoe leather during the baseball season. Every time he encounters a microphone he puts his foot in his mouth. This week he has claimed he was drug tested approximately ten times in a season and then gone back on it. You see, that’s the sort of statement you go back on a day later because people quickly realize that anyone who was tested that much would have likely failed drug tests in the pasts.