Philadelphia 76ers' Elton Brand takes a shot against Golden State… (Barbara Johnston / US Presswire )
Maybe Elton Brand should have stayed put. . . .
After unexpectedly bolting the Clippers to sign a five-year, $82-million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 2008, Brand sat out most of last season because of a shoulder injury and this week was demoted to second string. . . .
Noted the former top pick in the NBA draft, none too happily, "It's like, no disrespect, but Mikki Moore gets to start, and I don't?" . . .
Moore, a journeyman who played one season with Brand and the Clippers, was a starter for the Golden State Warriors until a heel injury sidelined him this week. . . .
Brand, by the way, was replaced by Jrue Holiday, a rookie from UCLA, as Coach Eddie Jordan opted for a smaller lineup. . . .
Holiday, 19, is the only NBA player born in the 1990s. . . .
Kobe Bryant's game-winning shot Wednesday night was remarkable, but equally noteworthy was the favorable call he got on a wild spin move in the lane moments earlier. . . .
Stars, it seems, always get the benefit of the doubt. . . .
Pau Gasol's 26-point, 22-rebound performance against the Milwaukee Bucks, the first "20-20" game of his career, brought to mind Wilt Chamberlain, who in his NBA career averaged more than 30 points and nearly 23 rebounds a game. . . .
Elin Nordegren would have no shortage of suitors. . . .
Nor would Tiger Woods. . . .
If Drew Brees or Peyton Manning is able to lead his team to an unbeaten, Super Bowl-winning season, perhaps we would hear less about -- and from -- the 1972 Miami Dolphins. . . .
Would that be so bad? . . .
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans needs to average 125 yards a game rushing in the Titans' last three games to become only the sixth player in NFL history to run for 2,000. . . .
His 2009 average: 125.1. . . .
It doesn't have quite the same ring as Linebacker U. or Tailback U., but maybe UCLA should be called Placekicker U. . . .
Kai Forbath is the Bruins' sixth first-team All-American kicker, joining a list that includes Justin Medlock, Chris Sailer, Bjorn Merten, John Lee and Efren Herrera. . . .
USC has never had an All-American kicker, though several All-Americans at other positions also kicked for the Trojans. . . .
USC is probably fortunate that in next week's Emerald Bowl against Boston College it won't have to face linebacker Mark Herzlich, the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year who sat out this season after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer last spring. . . .
Herzlich, now cancer-free and hoping to play next season after having a metal rod inserted into his left leg last month, was awarded an honorary Lott Trophy on Sunday in Newport Beach in recognition of his courage in battling the disease. . . .
Since 2004, Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia are the only major league pitchers with more than 15 complete games. . . .
Halladay notched a major league-leading 34 over the last five seasons, or 20 fewer than Sandy Koufax racked up in his last two seasons with the Dodgers. . . .
Several readers wonder why the Dodgers, who retired Jim Gilliam's number, have not shown the same love to Gil Hodges, Alan Oken of Los Angeles calling it "a disgrace." . . .
Hodges' number was retired by the New York Mets, whom he managed to the 1969 World Series championship. . . .
The Sporting News' pro, college and high school athletes of the year are Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and North Carolina-bound basketball player Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa. . . .
Barnes visited UCLA before signing with the Tar Heels. . . .
If UCLA had a player such as Barnes this season, it probably wouldn't be offering season-ticket holders a chance to buy two tickets for the price of one, as it is doing for games against Delaware State, Arizona State and Arizona. . . .
Expanding the NCAA tournament from 65 teams to 96, as is being considered, would render college basketball's regular season all but meaningless. . . .
Noted Kings announcer Bob Miller, at this week's Southern California Sports Broadcasters luncheon: "In my many decades of covering the Kings I have never been able to make the following statement at this point of the season: 'The Kings are on top of the standings in the Western Conference.' " . . .
Who would have believed him? . . .
Former USC cornerback Terrell Thomas of the New York Giants, asked by Sports Illustrated what book he's dying to read: "I'm not a fan of reading." . . .
His former professors must love hearing that.