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From Russia with Love: Favorable Draw for UCLA

February 12, 2001|CHRIS DUFRESNE

A hard look at the headlines from a very soft couch:

News item: After sloppy victory against DePaul, UCLA Coach Steve Lavin says, "I'd ship us to the NIT, or Siberia."

Second thought: Just checked the overseas RPI (Russian Percentage Index), and it appears UCLA would be looking at a first-round matchup versus Novosibirsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk or Irkutsk.

News item: During NBC's Saturday broadcast, analyst Jesse Ventura says columnists ripping the fledgling XFL are "pukes."

Second thought: Remember when our elected politicians possessed the vocabulary to craft creative condemnations of the media? Spiro T. Agnew, the former Maryland governor, at least had the wit to call us "nattering nabobs of negativism."

News item: Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight agrees to write NCAA tournament analysis and fill out his own bracket for the Internet site

Second thought: A stroke of genius! Sandbox melds the bawdiness of Knight's profanity-laced Playboy interview with his unquestionable basketball expertise.

Sneak preview: Knight: If (expletive) Duke doesn't win this (expletive) tournament, I'll (expletive) walk back to the (expletive) hotel from the (expletive) arena in the (expletive) rain like I (expletive) did the (expletive) night in Winston-Salem we (expletive) lost to (expletive) Colorado in the first (expletive) round back in (expletive) 1997.

Sleeper pick? I like Austin (expletive) Peay.

News item: XFL allows players to replace names on backs of jerseys with free expressions of thought.

Second thought: A revolutionary concept. Las Vegas Outlaw Rod Smart's "He Hate Me" moniker may replace "Kilroy Was Here" in post-modern, subway-graffiti folklore.

It got me thinking: Wouldn't it be great if other sports allowed their players this freedom of expression? Consider these back-of-jersey possibilities:

Latrell Sprewell: "I Choke Him."

J.R. Rider: "Flat Tire."

Alex Rodriguez: "$$$$$$$$$"

Kobe Bryant: "Shaq Hate Me?"

Ray Lewis: "Ain't Squealin' "

Ziggy Palffy: "Get Ziggy With It."

Trent Dilfer: "Lucky Dog."

Dennis Rodman: "Last Call."

Martin Gramatica: "Kick, Me."

Ryan Leaf: "Head Case."

Earl Boykins: "Get Shorty."

Mark Chmura: "Hot Tub."

News item: Angel first baseman Mo Vaughn out for season after surgery to repair torn biceps.

Second thought: Not long after he wrenched his ankle in the first inning of his first game as an Angel, Vaughn was asked if he believed in the dreaded "Angel Curse."

"I don't want to hear about jinxes and curses," Mo huffed. "Jinxes and curses are good for the media and fans but, as players, we can't get caught up in that."

Whaddaya think now, Mo?

News item: NBA Commissioner David Stern fines Kobe Bryant $10,000 for missing mandatory All-Star game media session after previously threatening the Laker star with a five-game suspension for wishing to sit out the game because of injuries.

Second thought: Stern outlines suspension terms for other serious offenses: DUI (two games); spousal battery (three games); murder (four games; $500 fine).

News item: NBA referees eject singer Jimmy "Margaritaville" Buffett from court-side seat at Miami Heat game for screaming obscenities.

Second thought: Buffett released the following statement through his lawyer: "Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. Now I think, hell, it could be my fault."

News item: Kentucky football coach Hal Mumme resigns under cloud of NCAA investigation.

Second thought: A few years ago, to honor Mumme's high-voltage offense, the mayor of Lexington changed the name of a street outside Commonwealth Stadium to "Hal Mumme Pass."

Bet they change it now to "Hal Mumme Failed."

News item: Golfer Phil Mickelson returns from bout with food poisoning to shoot 64 in first round of Buick Invitational.

Second thought: Twenty-five struggling PGA players announce they're going on a new "Salmonella Salad" diet.

News item: National signing day arrives in college football.

Second thought: Incredibly, all 115 Division I-A schools report their best recruiting classes ever. Looks like the 2001 national title is completely up for grabs.

News item: Dodgers sign left-handed pitcher Jesse Orosco, who turns 44 in April.

Second thought: We hear the Dodgers turned to Orosco after Jim Kaat clocked only 72 mph on speed gun.

News item: Longtime USC announcer Tom Kelly tries to remain objective in Fox broadcast of USC-UCLA basketball game at Sports Arena.

Second thought: This is sort of like Fidel Castro calling balls and strikes for USA vs. Cuba. "Who Threw That Bottle!!"

News item: Oscar De La Hoya agrees to fight Arturo Gatti despite ongoing legal battle with HBO.

Second thought: If matter isn't resolved soon, we hear Court TV will air the fight, Judge Mills Lane presiding.

News item: Less than one year to opening of 2002 Olympic Games at Salt Lake City.

Second thought: Officials set drop-dead deadline of July 13 for getting in all final bribes.

News item: XFL's Memphis Maniax refuse to change name despite protests that team name is offensive to mentally ill.

Second thought: "I don't know what all the fuss is about," team spokesman Hannibal Lecter said.

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