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Shooting from the lip

Times staff writer Tom Jones looks at the best and worst of a weekend of televised sports.

By TOM JONES
Published December 11, 2006


What ridiculous thing did Terrell Owens say now? What makes Bob Knight a jerk? Who should take the Alabama football job? And who is Dan Marino accusing of having a drug problem? Get the answers to these questions and more as Times staff writer Tom Jones looks at the best and worst of a weekend of televised sports.

Most interesting feature

ESPN's Outside the Lines did a piece on athletes who carry guns and former NBA star Karl Malone had the best comment: "What are you doing - and who are you (ticking) off - that you need to carry a gun?" The most frustrating part was watching ESPN analyst (and former NBA player) Greg Anthony support players who carry guns. He used to carry a gun, but no longer does. He said it's simply because he's older, he's more mature and leads a different lifestyle. Without knowing it, he made the best case against players packing heat. He essentially said that the guys who do carry guns are young, immature and leading a lifestyle that puts them in the wrong places at the wrong times (anywhere you have alcohol at 2 in the morning is the wrong place at the wrong time). Also, the Astros' Luke Scott looked like an idiot as he went through explanations for carrying a gun. He reminded me of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver saying, "You talkin' to me?"

Pet peeve of the weekend

When it comes to broadcasters, Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean is in a class by himself. Bob Costas and Al Michaels are the only ones who belong in the same sentence, MacLean is that sharp. Someone please send him a memo, however, that the Lightning's name is not the Tampa Lightning - it's the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, the whole HNiC crew, it seems, drops the "Bay" when talking about the Lightning. We don't say the Los Lakers or the New Yankees or Green Packers. The Lightning isn't Tampa's team; it's Tampa Bay's team.

Treading water

Lose to Buffalo. Crush Atlanta. Lose to Anaheim. This win-one-lose-one trend and the lack of quality victories has me thinking the Lightning is headed for another scramble just to make the playoffs. There is nothing wrong with the Bolts. This is simply who they are.

Craziest statement

This Terrell Owens comment from his ESPN interview with Michael Irvin explaining his media attention is so hysterical, it doesn't even need a comment or a punch line. Enjoy: "It started with the hamstring injury. Then I go into the season and I break my hand. You know. Then it's the accidental overdose. Then it's the sleeping in the meetings, or I'm late and it gets publicized that I'm fined X amount of dollars. For what? I'm doing nothing that any other football player is doing or done around the league."

Rumor of the weekend

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Alabama is again chasing after Dolphins coach Nick Saban. My advice to Nick? Let 'Bama catch you.

 

Funniest comment

CBS's Dan Marino talking about the Colts' recent woes: "They have a drug problem. They're getting drug up one side of the field and drug back down the other. That is a real problem."

 

Higher love

Heisman winner Troy Smith clearly had the best season in college football, but there's some disagreement on how high he will be drafted. Many project him to go in the second or third round because of his 6-foot-1 frame. But the recent success of quarterbacks such as Tony Romo (6-2) and Drew Brees (6 feet) has many NFL teams now thinking Smith could be a first-round pick, perhaps going between 10th and 20th. Still, the bet is Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, and Louisville's Brian Brohm, if he comes out early, will go ahead of Smith.

Best insight

What's going to happen with the 76ers' Allen Iverson? He asked for a trade, and Philly told him to stay home until he's dealt. ESPN's Marc Stein smartly pointed out that Sixers GM Billy King is a protege of Indiana GM Donnie Walsh, who went through the same thing with Ron Artest. Walsh let Artest sit around for nearly two months before getting the deal he wanted. The point? Don't be surprised if King takes his time getting the right compensation, even if it means letting A.I. rot for a while.

 

Most shameless promos

Does John Saunders, host of ESPN's the Sports Reporters, have to remind us every week where the latest books by Mike Lupica and Mitch Albom rank on the best-seller lists?

Best hoops coach

I'm starting to believe that Ben Howland, who has UCLA off to an 8-0 record and a No. 1 ranking, is the best coach in college basketball at this particular moment. Watching the Bruins beat a good Texas A&M team Saturday convinced me that no one is better at coaching defense.

Jerk of the weekend

Bob Knight passed Adolph Rupp for second on the all-time college basketball victory list Saturday, then blew off the postgame news conference. It's fine that he didn't want to brag about himself, but this is college basketball history. It's Rupp. It's about soon passing Dean Smith. It's bigger than him. He has every right to disrespect the media. He has no right to disrespect the game that has made him who he is.

Best scoop

Fox's Jay Glazer reported that if Bears QB Rex Grossman struggles in the first half tonight, he will be yanked for Brian Griese - not just for the rest of the game, but for the rest of the season.

Strongest prediction

Fox's Terry Bradshaw on the Bears: "They're going to be 14-2 but lose in the first round (of the playoffs)."

 

Another good scoop

On Hockey Night in Canada's "Satellite Hotstove" segment, Eric Duhatschek reported the NHL's Board of Governors is considering tinkering with the schedule. (Thank you!) Under the new plan, teams would go from playing eight games against each division foe to six. And those extra games would be played against teams from the other conference. If so, you would solve problems like this: Detroit and Toronto, two Original Six teams, played Saturday night for the first time since December 2003.

One-liners

The game I'm most interested in watching this week is Pitt at Wisconsin (college hoops) on Saturday. ... Wonder if Plant QB Robert Marve will still play for Alabama now that Mike Shula has been fired. ... Hey, Texans, still believe you did the right thing passing on Reggie Bush and Vince Young?

Do you believe in Magic?

Is everyone else as shocked as I am about the Magic being 15-7 and having the best record in the NBA's Eastern Conference? Meantime, in case you haven't glanced at the standings in a while, the Nets are 7-12 ... and are in first place in the Atlantic Division. The Sixers are 5-14 and in last place and just two games out of first. They should rename it the Smythe Division.

Best games of the weekend

If Lakeland's 45-42 double-overtime victory in the Class 5A state football championship or Plant's come-from-behind 25-21 win in the 4A title game had been Super Bowls, they would be considered among the greatest sporting events of all time.

Speaking of Plant

I would hate to be the guy who made the call on the coach at Jesuit in 2003. See, Jesuit should've hired longtime assistant and graduate Robert Weiner. Instead Jesuit hired former college coach Bill Schmitz. How did it turn out? Well, Schmitz isn't at Jesuit anymore and Weiner won a state title Saturday.