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This and That


Each week I will do a column on things going on in the world of sports...

•Take a look at the Phillies. They were talking about beating the New York Mets and winning the NL East. Jimmy Rollins popped off earlier this season and this has been one of the more disappointing teams in baseball early. Now slugger Ryan Howard is on the DL and they will need the big guy's bat to get on fire when he returns to make a run in the East. This team is sitting seven games back into Monday; oh, yes, the Atlanta Braves are currently in first place as Bobby Cox's squad deserves some credit for a good start.

•Pac Man Jones and Ricky Williams simply don't get it. Think about Jones, who was scheduled for a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. So what does he do the night before the meeting? He is out at nightclubs and reportedly went to a strip club too. Will he ever grow up? Williams has had one problem after another and it is a shame to see great athletes waste their talent and ability.

•In the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki is the MVP and I can hear the critics complaining that he did not do a thing in the playoffs. The MVP vote came before the postseason and this award is based on the regular season, so he earned that right. Still, if he wants to be recognized as a great, great player, he has to come through in the playoffs in the future. You must learn to win and lead your team to success. He will hear that all summer long, and the same happened two years ago when A Rod was named MVP in baseball but the Yankees flopped in the postseason. The cry was simple ... he can't win the big one. In both cases, they earned their kudos for their regular-season performances.

•Monday night is a must-win for the Phoenix Suns in their series against the San Antonio Spurs. If Mike D'Antoni's team goes down 3-1, it is lights out. Steve Nash and company know it is not going to be easy against Tim Duncan and company. The New Jersey Nets also need to win game four to have a chance. If they are down 3-1 to LeBron James and company going back to Cleveland, that series is as good as over.

•The Chicago Bulls didn't allow the Detroit Pistons to pitch a shutout in their series. Still, the Pistons have too much experience, leadership and talent to fold. I see Flip Saunders' club marching on to the Eastern Conference finals. The addition of Chris Webber has been a positive to a team that had a solid nucleus already. I still feel the NBA champion will come out of the Western Conference, but I don't overlook the wealth of experience enjoyed by Detroit. Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince have that championship ring and would like to add to their collection.

•They won't win any games Friday night, but they will be doing something special. Coaches like Tom Izzo, Gary Williams, Chuck Daly, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tom Crean, Mike Brey, Stan Heath, John Tortorella and many others will be celebrating at the Dick Vitale gala to raise money for the Jimmy V Foundation. The event, down at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida, will honor Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as Eileen Cord (who has helped raise a lot of money in the fight against breast cancer). It will be a special night for a super cause. Jimmy's dream was to beat cancer and this will help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you want to help the cause, or buy one of the remaining tickets, call 1-800-JIMMY-V.

•I was interested in a discussion on Monday's Mike and Mike radio show. The topic was golf and Mike Greenberg raised the question about Sean O'Hair going for a big shot on the 17th hole at The Players Championship. It was a risk as O'Hair could have probably cruised into a second place finish worth close to $900,000. Mike Golic and I agreed that O'Hair went for the shot. As a competitive person, you always play to win. Ultimately you are playing to be the champion. Case closed, not even an issue. If you are a competitor, that is the only way to play.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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