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Monday, February 9, 2009
This and That

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports:

• Wow, if it is valid that Alex Rodriguez used steroids back in 2003 (even though it was not banned at the time), it tarnishes the image of the potential home run champion. When it is all said and done, with all that has come up with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the greatest home run hitter as far as I'm concerned is Hank Aaron. There was no problem, no debate, no accusations of wrongdoing. His era was not tarnished and today all we seem to hear about is cheating, cheating, cheating. It is so sad, but A-Rod is innocent until proven guilty and we should wait to hear what he has to say.

• It is also sad to hear the news involving Michael Phelps. So many young people could look up to him after his eight gold medals at the Olympics. Now his image has been tarnished as well. What has happened to so many of our potential role models in sports? At least we still have Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Tim Duncan to be proud of.

• Congratulations to Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt on her 1000th career win. I have said it many times, and I will say it again & she belongs in the argument about the best coach of all-time. I am not just talking about basketball, but of all sports! She should be in the discussion with Vince Lombardi, Casey Stengel, Bear Bryant, Bob Knight, John Wooden and all the greats that have worked the sidelines in any sport. It is magnificent to think about what she has achieved. You can win 30 games for 30 straight years and still be short of her milestone & think about that!

• It was a great week for Kobe Bryant and his Lakers. First off, Kobe put on a show at the Mecca, Madison Square Garden, scoring a record 61 points against the Knicks. Then the Lakers went on to wins at Boston and Cleveland. The victory over the Cavs gave LeBron James and company their first home defeat of the season. Phil Jackson and company are the clear favorites to win the Western Conference and the addition of Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown could be an added bonus paying dividends in the long run.

• How wacky has college basketball been this season? Just look at this week with Clemson. Oliver Purnell's Tigers blow out Duke by 27 at home. There is celebration galore as Clemson is on cloud nine. Then 72 hours later, also at home, the Tigers fall to Florida State. Clemson had a big lead in that game, but the Seminoles rallied to score the upset. That shows how unpredictable things can be on the collegiate hardwood.

• Davidson had a couple of magical streaks end on Saturday. The run of 27 straight home wins and 43 consecutive Southern Conference Ws fell by the boards as Bobby Cremins' Charleston team came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to stun Bob McKillop's club. Davidson had been shooting to tie West Virginia's Southern Conference mark of 44 straight regular-season victories; that's right, Jerry West was there for part of that streak! Charleston did a great job of defending against All-America Stephen Curry in the second half.

• The people in Kansas City should be happy with the hiring of Todd Haley as the new Chiefs coach. The spirit and enthusiasm of the new coach should bring a special energy there. He will get the fans going as they will love his spark and fire. I believe he will be a success.

• Recruiting took over the college football headlines last week as many of the nation's premier scholastic stars signed on with their new schools for the future. What about the headlines created by new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin? He accused Florida coach Urban Meyer of cheating when the Gators boss called a prospect. It wasn't cheating at all, as verified by the NCAA and the SEC. Kiffin has to learn a lesson from this; why make an invalid statement just to incite the fans down in Knoxville? It is going to come back to haunt him. He also made comments when he got the job, saying the Vols would be singing Rocky Top after they won at Florida; do you think that will be on the bulletin board in the Gators locker room? Why give more ammunition to a team that is annually loaded. Let's hope Kiffin learns from this mistake.