June 21, 2005
NBA prep-to-pros:
Who cares if an 18-year-old NBA draft wannabe is ready or not? With the pincers of a new NBA labor deal coming, exercise the right to entry while you still can!
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

No more LeBron, NBA fans.

No more Kobe Bryant.
No more Tracy McGrady.
No more Jermaine O'Neal.
No more Rashard Lewis.
No more Dwight Howard.
No more Shaun Livingston.

All were so "unready" for the NBA at age 18 that they managed to become first-team all-NBA stars, max-contract players or franchise cornerstones as Lottery picks.

The new labor deal avoids a lockout but drains the NBA talent pool of 18-year-olds. Don't think it doesn't make a difference.

For the sake of presumptuously "saving" a handful of unready prep players, the NBA derails the path of players who have proven to be some of the league's biggest stars.

What's worse is that it isn't simply "19"; it's 19 by draft night, which arbitrarily hurts players misfortunate enough to be born after June.

What: Like LeBron was supposed to play for free at Akron U. for a year before averaging 20/5/5 as a rookie?

Prep Class of 2006 stud Greg Oden would have been this year's No. 1 overall pick, and it wouldn't have been a debate.

Rising high school junior O.J. Mayo would be the No. 1 overall pick this year, next year, 2007 and last year, if he could have been eligible. Not ready?!

The NBA is full of scorching arguments and debates. An age limit of 19 (claiming players unready) isn't one of them:

LeBron. End of argument.

NBA Finals: Game 6
Now we'll see what the defending NBA champs are made of.

Winning 2 of 3 at home?

Ha! Who can't win 2 of 3 at home? That's no indicator.

Now: Winning 2 of 2 on the road, facing elimination each time?

Jake Peavy: Career-best 13 Ks, 2 H, 8 IP (SD d. LAD, 1-0)
Livan Hernandez: Wins 9th in a row (F-Rob sits out Nats W)
Bobby Kielty: "Big Shot Rob" of regular-season A's games?
Indians: Not for real? 9-game W streak snapped by Red Sox
Mariano Puerta: French Open finalist ousted in Wimby 1st
Royals 1B Mike Sweeney: On 15-day DL (Hurts trade value?)
No chance. Even the staunchest Pistons supporters can't feel good about pulling that off, even if they continue to insist the team is at its best with its back to the wall.

Yeah, right. Watch tonight to catch a whiff of the grim stink of desperation (if the Pistons win) or to crown yet another title for the most dominant NBA team since Jordan retired.

NBA Draft Watch
Early-entry pull-out deadline today! Dee Brown is headed back to Illinois (you can slot him as an '05-06 All-American right now).

But which underclassmen will win the coveted "Hubris Brown" Award for sticking around?

Criteria: It's not even being snubbed as a second-rounder anymore. Second-round "snub?" Hardly!

"Second" is the new "First," apparently, now that every smallish scoring guard thinks he can be the next Gilbert Arenas. (Hi: Louis Williams.)

No, for true "Hubris" status, a player has to go ...

Undrafted. (Cue scary music.)

Draft: Who's No. 1
My "best player available" is Marvin Williams; I love his game and his potential.

But I'm coming around on Andrew Bogut. Not as the "B.P.A.," but I've pulled myself from the "Rip Bogut" camp after reading one detail in Andy Katz's report of Bogut's workout for the Bucks:

Bogut brought his résumé.

Literally. A paper r&233;sumé.

Love it.

MLB Monday Wrap
Indians overrated? Too early to devalue the Tribe's 9-game win streak? Nah: Boston snapped it Monday.

Schilling returning? Threw off the mound and seems eager. "When he starts politicking to pitch that's good." (T. Francona)

AL West battle: Starting 7 head-to-head games in the next 10 days, the div-leading Angels stymied the wannabe Rangers, behind Byrd's 6-hit CG gem.

Nat profit? The Nats will reportedly make a $20 mil profit this year (via Wash Post). Why not plug it back into payroll right now?

Bonds Watch: When will he be back? From Barry himself: "I don't want to predict anything too soon." Gee, thanks. That's helpful.

P2 Sneaker Week
I'm a sneaker fanatic, so all this week during Page 2's Sneaker Week, I'm throwing in some extras.

Today: Shoe Bracket, Round 1! It's the ultimate showdown among the greatest sneakers of all time. (See Big 5 for my all-time top 5.)

Worth repeating: F1 is a freaking debacle. None of you care about F1 racing (particularly relative to NASCAR, or even DaniCART), but still ...
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie live!
Katz on Bogut
Neel on NBA Finals
All-Time Top 5 Sneakers
Air Max 95
Classic + Performance
Air Jordan 11
Two words: Patent leather
Adidas Superstar
Inspired Run-DMC homage
Air Force I
Get me two perrrrs ...
Puma Clydes
Cannot go wrong in them

"World's Fastest (Old) Man?" 95-y.o. Kozo Haraguchi of Japan shatters the 100m world record in his 95-99 age group. (22.04! Faster than you!)

CWS Update: Double-elim may be confusing, but "elimination game" is easy to understand (and watch). Two today: Tulane/Baylor and Nebraska/AZ St.

Kudos to Central Michigan football coach Brian Kelly, who said he wants to release his top 25 ballot every week, not just at season's end.

Japan Baseball World Cup boycott? By balking at playing in next spring's World Cup, Japan will come out looking much worse than MLB.

NFL backup QB watch: Doug Johnson signs with Browns (backing up Dilfer); Craig Krenzel signs with Bengals (good P.R.: He's from Ohio St.)

Correction: When Horry is the subject of the story, it's "Big Shot Rob," not "Big Shot Bob," which may sound catchier, but nevertheless is wrong.

Yesterday's poll results: 70 percent of ESPN.com readers think Robert Horry is a Hall of Famer.

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