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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Keeping It Real Is Wrong Message for XFL to Send

February 14, 2001|MAL FLORENCE

Skip Bayless in the Chicago Tribune, on the XFL: "The ratings will continue to fall as long as the XFL pretends it's a real football league. . . .

"The XFL needs more late-hitting villains, more camera-loving heroes. Coaches need to go nose-to-nose with analysts Jesse 'the Body' Ventura and Brian Bosworth over critical remarks.

"Pro wrestling fans certainly don't mind that their sport is staged. Who'd watch if it weren't? . . . Right now [Vince] McMahon isn't giving us much more than bad, boring, cheap, no-name football."

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Trivia time: Who holds the UCLA record for rebounds in a men's basketball game?

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Distortion: When somebody mentions the famous dunks of 5-foot-7 Spud Webb, now retired, TNT analyst Charles Barkley says:

"Two people have ruined history. Spud Webb and Tiger Woods. Now every munchkin thinks he can play basketball. And everyone thinks they can play golf."

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Stick it to him: Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: "The XFL influence is being felt in all sports. There will be clamoring in some quarters to modernize the rules. Like, expand the strike zone to include the ear flap of the batter's helmet.

"The game could use some modernizing. Play needs to be speeded up. I'm proposing a rule that between pitches the batter is allowed to touch/adjust only one body part."

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A real maverick: The NBA trading deadline is Feb. 22, and free-spending Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban told Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that teams are avoiding him:

"Either at home or on the road, when another team's free agent comes within 20 feet of me, a team official jumps in between us. And while we offer a full and extensive buffet [postgame meal] to visiting players, some teams have refused it.

"You can go ahead and guess what the reasoning might be behind that."

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Finding the answer: John Eisenberg in the Baltimore Sun, on Allen Iverson's All-Star performance:

"His game was a thing of beauty. His image was maturing in front of your eyes. Iverson, the NBA's angry young man, was growing up. Starting to figure it all out. How to be a star. How to carry himself. How to channel his formidable drive.

"It's the best of all reasons to keep paying attention to pro basketball in the coming years instead of dismissing it as an emblem for what's wrong with sports."

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Snubbed: Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune: "You think Elton Brand got hosed by not being named to the All-Star team? Get a load of the Hornets.

"They were the only winning team without a representative. Said Charlotte's David Wesley: 'We're never in those "We Love This Game" commercials, not even to get dunked on.' "

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Welcome to the party: Ron Rapoport in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Good move on the part of the International Olympic Committee to agree to the Salt Lake City organizers' plan to let the athletes march into the arena as the opening ceremonies are beginning instead of waiting until near the end.

"The athletes have complained for years that they'd like to see what's going on too."

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Looking back: On this day in 1951, Sugar Ray Robinson won the middleweight boxing title, stopping Jake La Motta in the 13th round at Chicago Stadium.

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Trivia answer: Willie Naulls, 28, against Arizona State in 1956.

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And finally: Tom Powers in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, on the undermanned Minnesota Gophers playing mighty Michigan State: "To say it was like the Christians against the lions is to understate the matchup.

"It was more like the Christians, dipped in Heinz 57 and dusted with tenderizer, going against lions who were coming off a two-week fast."

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