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Monday, February 16, 2004
Extra Point/ESPN Sportsbeat for Feb. 1-15, 2004


Here's the text of commentaries heard regularly on ESPNRadio:

Magical defense has helped fight HIV
 Magic
Magic Johnson looks good in bronze, too.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2004
Extra Point -- Shelley Smith from Los Angeles (morning)
: "It's a love-fest for Magic Johnson this week here in Los Angeles as we lead up to the All-Star Game. Twelve years ago it was a love-fest for him, too, at the All-Star Game in Orlando, but mainly because we thought we were going to lose him soon. When Johnson announced he was HIV-positive, I remember sitting with a group of stunned sports writers in a bar near The Forum that night thinking we were all going to watch Magic die. But I underestimated No. 32 -- not as a player but as a fighter. He attacked the disease like he attacked a trapping defense -- with confidence, aggressiveness, intelligence and by dishing the biggest assists of his life: raising millions of dollars for AIDS research and giving millions of people hope of not only surviving but thriving with HIV. Magic choked up a little when the 17-foot statue of himself was unveiled at Staples Center, thanking God for allowing him to be around to see it."
Extra Point -- Jeremy Schaap (afternoon): "Three years ago this Sunday at the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt crashed on the final lap. Dale Earnhardt the man was dead, but for Dale Earnhardt the legend -- the seven-time Winston Cup champion, the hero of millions of blue-collar Americans -- it was only the beginning. As beloved as Earnhardt was in life, he is just as popular in death. Three years after his death Dale Earnhardt sells more NASCAR merchandise than all but two other drivers. He trails only Jeff Gordon, who is second, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is No. 1. Here's an even more astonishing fact: The only dead men whose estates generate more income than Earnhardt's are Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Last year alone Action Performance, which sells official NASCAR merchandise, sold nearly $30 million of Earnhardt memorabilia. His estate makes millions more. Number 3 may be gone, but he is still bigger than life -- and death."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "It's the first weekend without football in six months and the first weekend without football for the next six months. Oh, what are we to do? February traditionally is the sports calendar's vast wasteland, but the two most significant events of the month occur on Sunday. If came to you 10 years ago and told you in 2004 the Daytona 500 would be on network TV, the NBA All-Star Game would be on cable, both would be watched by about the same number of people, and there'd be more buzz about the '500,' you would have thought I'd spent too much time in a NASCAR garage with all the doors sealed shut. Well, the Daytona 500 does lead off Sunday. It's not the Winston Cup anymore. Oops. They're going to yell at me. They don't even want us to tell you that it used to be the Winston Cup. It's now known as the Nextel Cup. That's fine, but that's what it used to be called, so don't get mad at us, NASCAR. Matt Kenseth is out to prove his championship last season was deserved despite winning only one race. There's a new points system. It's going to challenge consistent drivers like Kenseth to deliver checkered flags and wins late in the season. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr., the most popular driver in the sport, admits if a bigger personality won the championship last year, NASCAR might not have tinkered with the system for this year. It's not exactly the biggest name on the pole for the big race. Greg Biffle is a former Busch Series and trucks champ who has only one full NASCAR season under his belt, and 'Greg Biffle' sounds like an auto part to some of you, I bet. Oh, Joe Gibbs. Remember he was around NASCAR? He's a little busy with the old Redskins right now. It'll still be a great season nonetheless.
"Along with baseball, the NBA's all-star game is the most competitive all-star get-together. I think this year it's a great forum for three big-impact people in the league -- first-half MVP Kevin Garnett; his Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who's coaching the West; and Rick Carlisle coaching the East, he has the Pacers right up at the top of the league at the break. The whole weekend gets going tonight at 9 Eastern. All-Star Saturday is at 6 Eastern tomorrow. The All-Star Game itself is Sunday at 8 Eastern. All those are on ESPN Radio. We're here at 7 Eastern on ESPN TV tonight to kick off the weekend with the celebrity game. One of the assistant coaches is Paris Hilton, begging the question: Doesn't her watch say 14 minutes, 55 seconds?"

Scott: What I'm illin' on now
 
George Steinbrenner, do you appreciate this man?
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2004
Extra Point -- Stuart Scott (morning)
: "I just cannot believe that LeBron James will not be playing in the NBA All-Star Game. That's absurd. That's -- no, wait a second. That's last week's 'Extra Point.' Sorry. I'm still illin' on that. OK, got to tell you, though, what I'm illin' on this week. There has been talk -- just talk, mind you, that if the Yankees falter this year, Joe Torre might be let go by George Steinbrenner. Now George, I know you're a smart man. You would not be where you are, and you would not have accomplished what you've accomplished if you weren't. If you fire Joe Torre, it'll be the dumbest thing you've ever done. He's one of the classiest men that you will ever come across, one of the best managers -- and we're not even talking about skill level right now. All the Yankees are gentlemen because of Joe Torre. Joe Torre should not leave New York until Joe Torre is ready to leave New York. Besides, you know Joe Torre. You know the Yankees. Come September, George, don't you think your guys are going to be in contention anyway? I'm just sayin'."
Extra Point -- Jay Mariotti (afternoon): "I find it fascinating that Mark Cuban, the verbal-diarrhea-stricken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, doesn't want his players participating in the Olympic Games. In his mind, injury risks outweigh the honor of playing for one's country. Of course, if not for the U.S. of A., I doubt highly that Cuban would be a billionaire who could make his fortune on the dot-com circuit before cashing in and buying his hoops toy. When it comes to flag, country and international competition, a businessman's private concerns simply don't measure up. If Cuban is worried about Dirk Nowitzki or Steve Nash getting hurt in Greece, I have three words for him: Lloyd's of London. Not only does serious Olympic competition broaden the game globally, it expands the popularity of the very league Cuban is trying to sell. If he has a free moment from all his pontificating, I suggest Mark head to the local cinema and watch the movie 'Miracle.' Not the least bit schmaltzy or overdone, this terrific production might remind him of what the Olympics still mean to some athletes, even though we lost the ideal of little-guy amateurism years ago. The Mavericks are a fine franchise that represent a big deal to Dallas, Texas, but on the floor of the global stage, they are mere dust balls."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "The last significant games before the NBA All-Star break come tonight. The Lakers wrap up a seven-game road trip at Houston. That's at 9 Eastern on ESPN. The Lakers were forced out of the Staples Center by two big events -- the Grammys and the NBA All-Star Game. In return L.A. got one of its longest road trips ever with a lot of key injuries. Now they've gone 4-2; they haven't beaten a lot of people. The most impressive win was last Wednesday in overtime at Toronto. Tonight would be an impressive win. It's the fourth meeting between Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming. At the moment Yao is playing his best basketball he's played since coming into the NBA, but he's still nowhere near Shaq. Even though Yao is the starter at the All-Star Game, Shaq has had small stretches of the dominant Mr. O'Neal the past two games, totaling 45 points and 20 boards down in Florida against the Magic and the Heat. Another big game tonight is Sacramento at Detroit. The Kings have best record in the West -- 36-13. They trail Indiana by .001 in the standings. That means they're darn good. Last night's 124-117 win at Milwaukee looked like an NBA game from the '80s with all the scoring. It was refreshing to watch. Now the Eastern Conference finalists from Detroit are in danger of losing a fifth straight going into the break. I wonder if Larry Brown is missing Philadelphia more than Philadelphia misses him. No matter how fast the Pistons exit the playoffs, Larry is going to be busy this summer coaching the U.S. Olympic team. That's more than we can say for the coach of the U.S. men's soccer team. Last night's 4-0 loss to México means the USA will not be in Athens playing in men's soccer at the Olympics. It begs this question: What's happening with all these kids playing Little League baseball -- because our baseball team is not in -- and all the millions of soccer kids being driven around by soccer moms? Can't we find a few dozen to win at the international level?

"If you show up at work tomorrow, and somebody calls in sick who was healthy when you saw them today, I've got a clue: They might be a closet NASCAR fan. The Twin 125s set the field for Daytona tomorrow. A lot of people who are Daytona die-hards get themselves in front of a TV to watch the start of the 2004 NASCAR season."

Davis: Down the Johnnies
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2004
Extra Point -- Rece Davis (morning):
"Phil Missere says every kid from New York wants to play for St. John's. At least Missere did. He's a walk-on who'd played a grand total of one minute before Sunday. Pressed into service by the St. John's 'sex-capade' scandal, Missere scored 13 points against B.C. and left the Madison Square Garden floor to a rousing ovation. His dream played on the edge of a nightmare. Some of Missere's former teammates were more interested in being johns than Johnnies. They disgraced the program of Carnesecca, Mullin and Missere. The truth is Missere's wrong. Every kid in New York doesn't dream of playing at St. John's anymore. St. John's is about as relevant on the national hoops scene as Howard Dean is becoming in the Democratic campaign. Both make a lot of weird noise that evoke curiosity, but who wants to be one of them? St. John's needs a strong coach, new facilities and patience so that all those New York blue-chippers again dream of being a Johnny. And it wouldn't hurt to keep plenty of Misseres on tap, too."
Extra Point -- John Anderson (afternoon): "Bring on the lightning strike. I'm going to say it anyway. Vijay Singh is the best golfer in the world. Proved it again this weekend at the AT&T National Pro-Am while the guy who used to hold the title was watching Stanford play basketball against Arizona. Well, at least Tiger Woods got to see a better finish than the folks at Pebble Beach. Singh walked home to his 16th career PGA Tour win. Vijay in Hindi means 'victory,' but his middle name should be Pratham Dhuss, which means 'top 10,' because that's now 12 straight top-10-ers for Singh. The guy's 5-under par getting out of bed anymore. And he'll be teeing it up again this week in San Diego, because unlike Tiger, who takes off more time than a retiree, Singh likes to show off his talent and not hide it. You see, when Tiger takes time away from golf, he goes to basketball games and does other fun stuff. When Vijay takes time away from golf, well, he goes to the range and hits a few hundred balls, and the results are wonderful to watch."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "This is the first of what I think is going to be multiple trades coming up in the next nine days before the NBA trade deadline comes. Rasheed Wallace goes to Atlanta last night in a five-player trade, and he may still move again before next Thursday. Wallace's play has made him one of the 30 or so players in the league that you'd absolutely love to have on your team. Nine years in the league, 16 points, seven boards a game. He can go down low. He can come out and shoot the '3.' Now Rasheed Wallace's problems on and off the court -- disrespect for authority is kind of an umbrella for all of it -- makes Atlanta one of the few places he could be traded. The Hawks are last in the league in attendance and in the midst of being sold with no real grasp of what the fans want, so the fans won't be too upset, because they aren't really there. Atlanta made this move for cap reasons -- 26 million of them, as a matter of fact. They have reason and room to build when the new owners come in next season. Wallace made a big mistake, I think, turning down the Blazers' last offer, worth $60 million over four years. I think he's going to struggle to get an offer like that when he becomes free agent this summer. The big winner here: the Trail Blazers. They get rid of another bad apple, and by adding Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a great citizen and good player, and shot-block leader in the league Theo Ratliff, I think Portland is going to contend for the last spot out West.

"Hockey's All-Star break is over, and the regular season resumes tonight while the NHL's general managers continue to meet outside Las Vegas. They are threatening to make significant changes to the game. Three points for a win. Take out the red line. Shrink the goalies' equipment. All drastic proposals. It's good, because they need something drastic, because the league is struggling the way it's going right now.

"Even with a low draft pick in Tom Brady winning another Super Bowl, you still can't get by -- at least in selling your NFL team to your fans -- without a star quarterback. Even though Peyton Manning's deal is up in Indianapolis, his new contract getting done this off-season is the no-brainer of all time. He's not going anywhere. It's funny how Mark Brunell was too beaten up, too injury-prone and too old in Jacksonville. He's got multiple teams courting him this week. The one that gets him will serve itself quite well."

Le Batard: Let choice rule a free country
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2004
Extra Point -- Dan Le Batard (morning)
: "Wayne Gretzky didn't go to college. Neither did Kevin Garnett. Nor Alex Rodríguez. Things appear to have turned out OK for them, so why not Maurice Clarett? He should challenge the NFL's antiquated rules, and he should topple them. Never mind this talk that he's too fragile. We said the same thing about Garnett making the jump once, too. Players across sports are bigger, faster, stronger, faster than ever before. Look at LeBron. He look a year removed from high school to you? His body is professionally sculpted, hardened beyond its years. Clarett has a right to work. Saying otherwise is vaguely un-American. You say the NFL has a right to set its age restrictions. No, it doesn't, because there aren't other viable work options. The CFL is not the NFL. Not hardly. The NFL has a monopoly. Clarett is old enough to work just about everywhere else in America -- except the NFL. Should he go to college? Sure, that would be nice, but he ought not be obligated to do so. Not in a free workplace in a free country."
Extra Point -- Dan Davis (afternoon): "We've had the benefit of a full weekend-plus to let the Maurice Clarett ruling sink in. That ruling, essentially striking down the NFL's prohibition against allowing any player less than three years beyond high school graduation into their league, has some folks riled up -- especially older players. Fewer of them are now going to get as old in the NFL, because younger players are going to come in. But maybe not that many. After listening to knowledgeable, NFL watchers for the last four days, one concludes there will be very few college freshmen drafted by the pros and not a whole lot of sophomores, either. Unlike their basketball classmates, young football players just don't develop and mature enough for the pro game until they've actually been out of high school for three years. There will be exceptions, of course. Phenoms at skill positions will get pro contracts early, but it likely won't be in significant numbers. Given the reality of the pro-football assignment, college programs have nothing to worry about."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "I don't care what the new poll is going to say. I believe Stanford and Saint Joe's should be 1 and 2 in men's college basketball. That is no disrespect to the reigning No. 1 coming into this past weekend -- Duke. We know it is not as important as it is in college football, but if you've come this far, winning games the way the Cardinal and the Hawks have won -- especially Stanford's win over Arizona on Saturday -- those teams deserve to be at the top of the rankings. Join Duke in there, and all three are among the teams vying for '1' seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Right now with them is No. 4 Pittsburgh with just one loss, and the Panthers have very tough game at an improved Seton Hall team tonight. Pittsburgh won at fading Notre Dame on Saturday, and the Irish have another huge test on their own court against improving-by-the-game Connecticut tonight at 7 Eastern on ESPN. The second game of 'Big Monday' at 9 Eastern is Oklahoma State-Kansas. They're going to break the three-way tie atop the Big 12. Texas is other team at 7-1 right now in the Big 12, and although no team in this league that is stacked with very good teams has separated, I'm interested to watch what happens in the next three weeks. Will anyone become an elite team as we get closer to March?

"One word about the St. John's strip-club scandal. Every time you ask for a coach to be fired during the season, this is some of what you get. Think about the days back in grade school when the substitute teacher was in. You knew discipline wasn't going to be as tough when the person handing it out wasn't going to be there the next day. They fire Mike Jarvis in season, put an interim coach in his place, and you see some of what happens.

"With hockey and football all-star games past, the NBA All-Star break comes this weekend, and streaking into the break are the defending champs -- San Antonio. They go for five in a row tonight at Houston. These are two of the best defensive teams in the league, and why have the Spurs turned it around? They've moved Hedo Turkoglu, the former Sacramento King, into the starting lineup. Manu Ginobili now comes off the bench. With Robert Horry and Charlie Ward, the Spurs are now the best '1 through 8' in the NBA."

Schaap: Mercy illing
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2004
Extra Point -- Jeremy Schaap (morning)
: "A federal judge ruled this week that the NFL cannot prevent underclassmen such as Maurice Clarett from entering the league's draft. The league is appealing, and according to some experts, the decision will be overturned. In the meantime a lot of people are complaining that the court has killed college football. Well, if that is the case, excuse me for not weeping. This week there are reports out of Boulder that high-school athletes were promised plenty of sex with willing coeds, if they just agreed to become Colorado Buffaloes. It's only the latest campus football scandal. In Columbus, where it seems these days there's a scandal every week, it turns out that Clarett's good friend, Bobby Delamuti -- the two talked before just about every game that Clarett played for the Buckeyes -- likes to gamble on college sports. Delamuti says he never bet on Ohio State. I'm betting that there's more to the story. If college football really has been killed, maybe we could call it a mercy killing."

McKendry: Return of Marion Jones
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2004
Extra Point -- Chris McKendry (morning):
"Marion Jones returns to track and field tonight at the Millrose Games in New York City. She'll attempt to outrun the competition and distance herself from a cloud of suspicion. During her year-long maternity leave, Jones testified before the grand jury about her involvement with BALCO and the designer steroid THG. Couple that with the fact that she worked with Ben Johnson's former coach, and her former husband, CJ Hunter, had a positive drug test at the Sydney Games, and Jones is guilty by association. Her three gold medals are not enough. People want her to prove it again. But Jones is not alone in the scandal category. For Janet Jackson gold records were no longer enough, and like an athlete tempted by drugs, Jackson opted for the performer's crutch -- shock and nudity. In the words of Ms. Jackson, 'like a moth to the fire,' both ladies got too close and burned. How they'll be remembered depends on how well they recover."
Extra Point -- Shelley Smith (afternoon): "God forbid we sent our young boys into the jaws of the big, bad,` nasty NFL. It's OK to send them to kill Iraqis in Iraq and to risk their lives searching for weapons of devastation that don't exist, but jeez, Mr. Tagliabue, don't throw them into that football briar patch. First of all, what team in the NFL is going to sign a 180-pound lineman? Or a 5-foot, 4-inch wide receiver? Sure, there are some fellas who are primed and ready to jump to the big show by their sophomore year, and they should be allowed to, but ask just about anyone in college football -- except Maurice Clarett, of course, who has no choice -- and I'm guessing most will say they'll stay. College football may be the NFL's free, minor-league system, but it's just about as much fun as most of those guys will ever have. Ask Willie McGinest and Tom Brady, who were hooping and hollering on the sidelines of the Rose Bowl as their alma maters went at it. That's a thrill the young boys who jump from high school to the NBA will never have. The money will always be there for those who don't wait and for those who do. It should be their choice."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "It is All-Star weekend in Saint Paul-Minnesota, a city whose passion for hockey was rekindled last year. But it's an example of the many problems the National Hockey League is having. Minnesota and Anaheim were in the Western Conference finals last year. This year with about 25 games left, both teams need to make a very significant run to have a chance of getting back in the playoffs. Combine that with long-time, good hockey cities like Buffalo, Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh having no shot at the playoffs -- and the biggest-market American team -- the New York Rangers -- on their way to overspending and missing the playoffs for the seventh year in a row. The league is in dire straits beyond its labor issues. Still, on the ice, there are great stories this year with hockey hotbeds like Toronto and Philly, Colorado and Detroit dreaming of a Stanley Cup with very good teams. New, young stars have made an impact this year. NHL All-Star Game is Sunday at 3 Eastern on ABC.

"Sunday night the NFL Pro Bowl moves from network T-V back to cable. No all-star game has the ability to go from a relaxing, friendly atmosphere to contentious. But we've seen the game do that if its close in the fourth quarter. Kickoff is 7:30 Eastern -- 2:30 Hawaiian time -- on ESPN.

"The NASCAR season begins with tomorrow night's Budweiser Shootout in Daytona. While the points tally doesn't begin until next weekend, credit NASCAR for adjusting its scoring system. Any time you can add relevance to the back half of your season, you've done the right thing.

"Three other things to keep on your sports mind this weekend. The PGA Tour is at Pebble Beach, where comedy gets the headlines, but there's been great golf the last three years on Sunday. College basketball's best is Arizona at Stanford on Saturday afternoon at 3 Eastern, noon Pacific, on ABC. It's clearly Stanford's toughest test since it won AT Arizona last month."

Scott: The snubbing of LeBron
 
None of this at the All-Star Game.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2004
Extra Point -- Stuart Scott (morning): "What? You gotta be freakin' kiddin' me. LeBron James, not an All-Star, and there are actually questions about whether it's a snub? 'Whether' meaning it might be, or it might not be? That's like asking 'whether' the Patriots are a decent football team. Yes, they are, and yes, LeBron got snubbed. Come on. You're telling me that there are:

"a. Twelve players better than LeBron in the Eastern Conference?

"b. Twelve players more watchable than LeBron?

"c. Twelve players more team-conscious than LeBron and

"d. Twelve players more popular, appealing, exciting with more fanfare, fan approval, fan interest than LeBron?

"You're telling me that? I'm telling you stop smoking crack. On any given night LeBron James is the best player in the East, on some night's he's the best player in basketball, and Wednesday night he did a reverse slam where he brought the rock down to his ankles before he yanked it backwards. Somebody end this and put the man on the All-Star team. Who wants next Friday's rookie game to be the highlight of All-Star weekend?"
Extra Point -- Linda Cohn (afternoon): "The power of a woman's breast should never be underestimated; just ask any hungry baby. You thought you heard the last of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime peep show? What were you thinking? The knee-jerk reactions continue with Janet pulling out of her appearance in Sunday's live Grammy Awards ceremony on CBS to CBS instituting a video-delay system just in case 50 Cent shows us more than his six-pack. And then you have the NFL announcing Wednesday that it will change its Pro Bowl halftime show, dumping singer JC Chasez -- who hung with Janet's partner in crime, Justin Timberlake, with 'N Sync. Instead, halftime will feature, among other things, hula dancers. Even the usually stoic Super Bowl-winning head coach, Bill Belichick, exposed a side we don't know on the David Letterman show Wednesday night when he was asked about Jackson's halftime stunt. Belichick said, 'We weren't kept abreast of the situation.' Just imagine if both of Janet's breasts were exposed on Super Bowl Sunday. Wait. I bet you already have."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "One of the sport's most exciting venues, two Hall of Fame coaches, the sport's predominant rivalry over the last decade and a very important game for both teams' confidence heading deeper into the season. That's what's on the docket tonight in college basketball. Do we mean No. 1 Duke at No. 19 North Carolina? Yes. But it applies even more to No. 3 Connecticut at No. 1 Tennessee tonight in women's basketball. The lengthy run at the top of the game by Geno Auriemma's and Pat Summitt's teams has given women's basketball its best footing in mainstream sports. They recruit the best. They coach the best. Every person from both sides -- from head coaches to the manager -- pours a little something extra into these regular-season games, and credit these coaches, too. They go play each other. Other people not in the same league would duck each other. As for the Duke-Carolina men's game, here's a rivalry that lost its edge on the national scene with the Tar Heels struggling the last few years. But you know Roy Williams doesn't need a background briefing before his first experience as a head coach in this rivalry. Both games are on ESPN2 tonight starting at 7 Eastern. It could be the network's greatest night of basketball ever.

"Even with last night's shocking loss in Atlanta, the Minnesota Timberwolves still have the second-best record in the West. They're 34-14. Few people are talking about them. When people look at the stars of the '80s -- Bird, Isiah, Ainge -- all the guys who are now making decisions for NBA teams in the front office, rarely does Kevin McHale get mentioned, and it should. His notoriety in the job in the past was when he was suspended -- the illegal signing of then-free agent Joe Smith. But McHale has done a fabulous job of figuring out how to keep Kevin Garnett, the MVP of the league so far; working the finances of that; and adding Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell. The Wolves have the league's best 1-2-3. They look for all the world that this could be the year they get out of the first round of the playoffs, and a big reason will be Flip Saunders. Anonymous nationally, their head coach tomorrow night when he faces LeBron James and Cleveland coaches his 684th game."

Cohn: When salad bar disputes go bad
 
Knight
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2004
Extra Point -- Linda Cohn (morning):
"If it wasn't Bob Knight, would we care? You know that answer as well as I do. No, we wouldn't care. It wouldn't lead 'SportsCenter.' It wouldn't fill up your sports pages. It just wouldn't be news. Just in case you still can't get Janet Jackson's exposed breast off your mind, let me fill you in on this story. Monday came word that Bob Knight and Texas Tech chancellor David Smith got involved in a public verbal spat at a salad bar at a popular -- now even more popular -- Lubbock lunch spot. Who knew that chick peas and broccoli florets could bring out such emotion? It also brought word of a five-day suspension of Knight, a ruling that didn't stick. As soon as Texas Tech's president Jon Whitmore and AD Gerald Myers did some investigating into the shouting match, the suspension was thrown out, replaced by what was referred as 'appropriate personnel action.' Thank goodness Knight didn't deserve a suspension just for raising his voice to a superior in public. Yes, the coach has a volatile résumé, but each one of his incidents must be treated separately."
Extra Point -- Jay Mariotti (afternoon): "Once an ogre, always an ogre. So sadly, the words still apply to Bob Knight, whose salad days never end -- right down to the croutons and bacon bits. It was hoped the volcanic general would rear-view his Indiana trail of terror, adopt a saner approach among the armadillos and 'tin cuppers' of West Texas and break Dean Smith's all-time victories record. But Kevin Costner might have a better shot of winning The Masters than Knight has of staying at Texas Tech two or three more years. That's the span he needs to build on his current 825 wins and break Smith's record of 879. To see him unravel at the local salad bar in an incident with an annoying school chancellor convinces me that this job -- like his last job -- is doomed to end in self-destruction. Remember, two of the three men who hired him no longer are at Tech, and the third -- athletic director and long-time Knight pal Gerald Myers -- is starting to sweat. Rather than go out like John Wooden, Knight still could go out like Woody Hayes, swinging away at somebody in a psycho-senile rage. Has he taken no meaningful lessons from his Indiana firing? It's a shame, because the man still can coach ball like few others. Until two losses last week, Knight was undefeated in a rugged Big 12. He continues to graduate his players and follow all the rules in a filthy racket. But just as Myles Brand dismissed him at Indiana for 'a pattern of unacceptable behavior,' I suspect Knight is headed down the same path in Lubbock. Like your garden-variety onion or radish, the man is way too bitter."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "Today for college coaches and all of you fervent football fans, it's as big a day as any one of the game days come fall. It is national letter-of-intent day. Having seen it happen with my wife, who played college basketball, there is no taking away from reality that this is a great accomplishment for individual high-school seniors. Having somebody pay for your education -- the foundation for the future -- because you have athletic excellence? That's extraordinary. Now all the hype the conversation today in places like Baton Rouge, Austin, Ann Arbor, Columbus, Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee is laughable. Time has proven this science -- recruiting in college -- is more inexact than the NFL Draft, where it took 199 picks to find the guy who's been the MVP of two of the last three Super Bowls. This doesn't knock the thousands of hours coaching staffs work on this -- or the gurus who have rated USC No. 1 and LSU No. 2 in this year's recruiting class. Remember, these are high-school seniors. They're teenagers. How much did you change from the senior year of high school to your third year in college?

"So Dan Marino has had second thoughts about not taking the job of senior VP with the Dolphins. Here's what strikes me. At the news conference two weeks ago, the team's team owner, Wayne Huizenga, ridiculed the media member who asked if Marino would be a figurehead. Huizenga was right; Dan is not a figurehead. He's still a talking head on TV.

"For all the criticism the NBA gets, a lot of it is unfair. They say that the league has pushed LeBron James, the league has pushed Carmelo Anthony. Look who didn't make the All-Star roster. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The two rookies have played well enough, I think, to deserve it. I think this is a mistake by the coaches who vote in each conference. The presence of 'Melo and LeBron would have given a little bit of extra interest to an otherwise quiet season on the floor. They deserved it because they've played on teams that have improved -- especially with Carmelo, drastically. You'll see LeBron James and Cleveland -- they won at Detroit last night -- and host the Lakers on ESPN at 8 Eastern tonight."

Davis: When wardrobes malfunction
 
One of the blown coverages in Houston.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2004
Extra Point -- Rece Davis (morning):
"Outrage. Amusement. Shock. Titillation? It all depends on your point of view, and with the assist from Justin Timberlake, we all got a full, frontal view from Janet -- Miss Jackson, if you're nasty -- and the Super Bowl halftime show finale was. CBS issued the appropriate, indignant response, but really what the network should do run the tape as a public-service announcement. Men could use it to judge whether they should ask their doctor if all those drugs in the Super Bowl ads 'are right for them.' If Timberlake can float that idiotic, 'wardrobe malfunction' stuff, I might as well sling that idea against the wall. Look, Janet's easy on the eyes. My initial reaction was 'Wow!' Then I wondered what the kids saw. I won't decry the erosion of common decency, but whether you're performing at the Super Bowl or cheering in a student section, remember vulgar isn't always creative, crude isn't necessarily funny, naked isn't mysterious. Which had you rather been? Creative, funny and mysterious? Or vulgar, crude and naked?"
Extra Point -- John Anderson (afternoon): "I'm sorry the NFL is outraged over Janet Jackson's exposed breast during the halftime Super Bowl show? The same NFL that collects millions in advertising dollars for trumpeting sultry, beer twins and cures for erectile dysfunction during every commercial break? The NFL that doesn't seem to mind the lusty Playboy and Maxim parties that help make Super Bowl week so super? Pretty sure the same target audience that desires all those products didn't mind seeing Ms. Jackson get nasty. Really, before she went shirts-and-skins, was the halftime show that puritan and proper? Nelly grabbing his crotch repeatedly; Janet and Justin Timberlake gyrating right past the PG-13 line and into some R-rated material. Even with her cup running over, Jackson had on far more clothing than Britney Spears has ever worn during any of her NFL-sanctioned, song-and-dance routines. Now it's great if the NFL actually wants to apologize for the halftime show, but don't hypocritically distance yourself by blaming everybody else involved. We know better. We're not a bunch of, well, boobs."
SportsBeat -- Mike Tirico (afternoon): "Well, he's at it again, huh? Bob Knight. Another chance encounter that turned uncomfortable, this one with his boss -- the chancellor down at Texas Tech. Just one more chapter in the same, old, Bob Knight book that he's authored for the last two decades. I like Knight as a coach, but it's getting a little ridiculous, isn't it? Knight and his athletic director, the guy who hired him down at Texas Tech, were grabbing a bite to eat near campus in Lubbock. The chancellor saw Knight at a salad bar and tried to give Bob a positive word about his behavior. Knight got defensive. The conversation got loud before it got over. Wouldn't you think Bob Knight would be a little more careful about his dealings with his bosses, especially in public, after what he went through at Indiana?

"Greg Norman, the golfer, is in the news. He's always has been one of the most outspoken pro golfers, and over in Australia this week for a tournament, he said the trend of women playing in men's events isn't good, that maybe it's time to legislate against it. No matter what your feelings, trust me on this one: Any discomfort or disagreement boils back to the basic, old, tired, male-against-female issue -- ego. The guys don't want to lose to the women.

"If you're of those who thinks the world is overreacting to the whole Janet Jackson, Super Bowl halftime issue, consider this story: I was working for ABC at the PGA Tour event out in Phoenix on Super Sunday. I called home and talked to my wife. I wanted to make sure that my son was in front of the TV so he could watch some of the Super Bowl. I don't remember details from those early Super Bowls, but I've been alive for every one and grew up thinking Super Sunday was a huge deal. After watching the content of not just Janet Jackson's performance but the entire halftime show -- full of the classless, mindless, devoid-of-respect acts that have polluted pop music -- as a parent, I'm now worried about having my kids grow up experiencing big events like this if this is what they're going to see. If other parents feel the same way, we could be keeping a generation away from developing a love for those big, sports events that has most of us doing what we're doing right now -- spending an afternoon listening to sports-talk radio. It goes beyond a fading star's lame attempt to boost CD sales with a new set of songs. It's about keeping sports a place you can bring your family and not worry."

Everett: Brady's star power
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2004
Extra Point -- Neil Everett (morning): "Oh, to be Tom Brady, 26 years old, dates a supermodel, sits in the President's box at the State of the Union address, then Sunday goes out and wins his second Super Bowl MVP in three seasons. Now my immediate thought after the game was Mike Vrabel or Deion Branch for MVP, but when you look at Brady's numbers on the final two Patriot drives, you cannot argue against picking No. 12 as most valuable -- 10-for-13, 104 yards, in crunch time. So now he has a second trophy, and the Joe Montana comparisons intensify; Montana with a Super Bowl-record three MVPs. He and Brady are two of just four quarterbacks to win two or more Super Bowls and not be first-round draft picks; Staubach and Starr were the others. Brady is clearly a star, but he's no Montana. Not yet, anyway. 'Joe Cool' won four Super Bowls. It's a team game. The MVPs are cool, but it's all about the ring."
Extra Point -- Dan Davis (afternoon): "It is time to put an end to the practice of describing the New England Patriots as a collection of non-stars who play well together and are well-coached. Well, they do play well together and are well-coached, but, man, they have their stars, too. Tom Brady has zoomed to the top of the charts with yet another unbelievable performance, and this guy is now 6-0 all-time in the playoffs -- with a little help from Drew Bledsoe in one of those games. But he's not alone in stardom. How about Mike Vrabel, who had two sacks and a huge touchdown reception. When was the last time anybody did that in a Super Bowl? How about Deion Branch, who caught 10 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown? And, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't handsome Adam Vinatieri the greatest place-kicker ever? Four of Brady's postseason wins have come on clutch Vinatieri kicks. No, you don't win two Super Bowls in three years without stars. What do these genuine stars have in common? They will all be home watching the Pro Bowl, just like you and me."
SportsBeat -- Jeremy Schaap substituting for Mike Tirico (afternoon): "Adam Vinatieri did it again. His clutch kick gave the Patriots their second thrilling Super Bowl win in three seasons. But don't forget that Ricky Proehl did it again, too. Two years ago on Super Sunday, late in the fourth quarter, Proehl's touchdown reception and the subsequent extra point tied the game for the St. Louis Rams. But Vinatieri made that catch irrelevant with his last-second field goal. Last night it was Proehl again, this time in the uniform of the Carolina Panthers. His late touchdown enabled the Panthers to tie the game, but then it was Vinatieri time. If not for his two game-winning kicks, Proehl's heroics would rank among the great moments in the annals of the Super Bowl. Imagine what it must be like to be Rickey Proehl today. To have come so close again. To be done in again by the kicker and the clock. Next time he should run around the field in circles, crossing into the end zone just as time expires. That may be the only way to beat Vinatieri.

"Four years ago it would have seemed farcical. No one could have imagined that Bill Belichick, who'd experienced so little success as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, would within just a few years become the most successful football coach in the world. Certainly, no one would have foreseen it on that strange day when he resigned as the head coach of the New York Jets without ever having coached the Jets. On that day Belichick severed the cord that had linked him for so long to Bill Parcells, under whom he'd thrived as a defensive coordinator. Soon, Belichick and the Jets were fighting each other in federal court. Eventually, the Patriots negotiated a compensation package, and the coach they coveted was theirs. Now the Jets are without Parcells and in the same division with Belichick's juggernaut. Clearly, however many draft picks they got, it wasn't enough."