Jan. 8, 2004
Denver Nuggets:
Why so angry, Denver fans? (Oh, right.) Last night's blowout W over the Lakers solidifies the Nuggets as the NBA's top thrill ride in '04.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Kobe's mentality: "Expect the worst."

He couldn't have expected last night's game in Denver to be anything but the Lollapa-BOO-za it was, from intro to final horn.

But there's a bigger problem: Without Shaq and Mailman, the Lakers stink. Four losses in a row; six Ls in the last seven games.

Kobe a one-man show? Sideshow, maybe. But since half of L.A.'s Big Four sat down, Kobe has proven to be a poor man's version of ... LeBron. (Given a draft today -- marketing value and off-court troubles aside -- who wouldn't take King James first?)

Kobe is all-NBA talent, but no more able to win big as a one-man show than T-Mac or Vince. There's only one player who can do that, and he's currently weighing down L.A.'s bench in street clothes.

Card Hire Green
What a sign of the times in Oakland when the Raiders can be outrecruited for a new head coach by ... the Cardinals.

Or maybe it's a signal from Arizona (where the thrills of the last play of their last game still linger) that they are willing to open the bank for Dennis Green, who will have the team in the playoffs within three years. Just don't ask him to win once he's there (4-8 career in playoffs with Vikings).

Raiders Hire No One
Adding insult to injury, the Raiders' "hottest" prospects are the O and D coordinators for the 49ers -- a team that didn't exactly light the league on fire.

Right idea; wrong team: The Pats' O/D coaches will be available after the Super Bowl. Al Davis can't wait? Or, maybe, watching Dan Snyder, he's got John Madden on speed-dial ...

BCS Reform
Right: Leave it up to the coaches. Their annual meeting concluded with a

1 Kobe booed in Denver: Does this really surprise you?
2 BCS: Coaches favor increasing weight of human polls
3 Van Garden: Jeff VG's homecoming vs. new-look Knicks
1 THG at SLC: All '02 Olympians cleared (wait 'til Athens)
2 USC's fearsome returning D: Star DE Ken. Udeze going pro
3 Other old-schoolers following Gibbs' lead: Walsh? (Ha!)
recommendation to the BCS to give more weight to the human polls. It's a deal, but only if coaches stop handing the weekly poll form to their school's SID intern to be fill out.

The coaches also support adding a fifth BCS bowl that includes non-BCS league teams (previously branded in this column as the "Cinderella Bowl," a huge hit if they market it that way.

Gibbs Returns
The Redskins' fan base is wildly energized, but on last night's 6 p.m. SC, Skins star LaVar Arrington threw the rain of reality on D.C.'s Super Bowl parade plans: We'll see ...

Pete's Book
"My Prison Without Bars" comes out today. Quickie Book Club material? Don't even ...

Let me save you $24.95: He bet on baseball.

The other 300-some pages? Pap.

Catch Rose's interview on ABC News' "Primetime Thursday," 10 p.m. ET.

The Apprentice
Having worked on my Donald Trump comb-over, the obvious next step is to ask: Who wants to be ... The Quickie Apprentice?

Menial tasks? Yes!
Low No pay? Yes!
All glory to me? Yes!

"Interning" is out; "apprenticing" is in: Best part about this "Apprentice" show is that it ignores the usual cheeseball actor-wannabes who usually annoy you on reality TV in favor of cheeseball biz-wannabes who usually annoy you at work.

Bring on their humiliation for our entertainment!

The "trucker hat" of social identification, the "UGG boot" of booty-calls: Trendy for a millisecond, but quickly becoming overplayed.
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Whitlock on Brett Favre
Golf: Season preview
IN: Vlad, Raffy to Orioles?
Top 5 Pete Rose moments:
Crashing into Fosse
Wildest All-Star moment ever
Hit 4,192
Back then, HOF was a lock
Dive into third
"That" dive: Headfirst, baby!
Fight with Bud Harrelson
Classic brawl in '73 playoffs
"Yes I did"
Quickly climbing charts ...

More Rose: Cried Wed. he "never intended to diminish" day for Molitor, Eck. Then why allow publisher to release the book this week? ...

More Rose, Part 2: Buddy Mike Schmidt said he's worried about the backlash. Funny: He missed the "I'm outraged" step ...

If Schmidt didn't know about Rose's confession, isn't he shocked/betrayed like other Rose apologists? ...

If Schmidt DID know, how could he support him all this time with a straight face? ...

Enough of the Rose stuff: O's reportedly close to signing both Vlad Guerrero and Raffy Palmeiro; heart of lineup would be tough ...

Double-homecoming at the Garden tonight: Ex-coach Jeff Van Gundy returns with Rockets; schoolboy star Marbury makes MSG debut ...

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