- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2005

News item: Las Vegas selected as site of 2007 NBA All-Star Game.

Comment: I can hardly wait for the defense to double down … on Shaq, I mean.

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Casino operators apparently have agreed not to take any bets on the game. But they will be allowed to accept wagers on such propositions as: Will Dennis Rodman show up for the festivities dressed as a man or a woman?

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And as added precaution, Chip Engelland, the Nuggets’ assistant, will be barred from the arena.

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Also, TV announcers will be prohibited from using the expression “wheel and deal.”

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No decision has been made yet, but I doubt very seriously they’ll have Burt Baccarat — or rather, Bacharach — play the national anthem.

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The more I think about it, there might be a way around this no-betting policy. After all, what’s to prevent a gambler from putting down “$100 on white”?

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Signing with the Portland Trail Blazers is the right career move for Juan Dixon, but I still hate to see him go. He belonged here. He was one of us.

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Larry Brown saying the Knicks job “will be my last stop” is like Billy Bob Thornton saying, “I’ve met the woman of my dreams.”

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Billy Bob’s account of his first trip to the altar (one of five): “I went bowling one night and ended up married. It was one of those deals.”

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Speaking of Thornton, my 15-year-old noticed a glaring statistical inaccuracy in the remake of “The Bad News Bears.” “It’s mathematically impossible,” the kid says, “for a pitcher to pitch two-thirds of an inning and have an ERA of 36.” (Billy Bob’s character, Morris Buttermaker, had a cup of coffee in the major leagues, and those were cited as his career statistics.)

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Say this for the Redskins: They don’t hold grudges. After all, the safety they just signed, Omar Stoutmire, is the guy who put Leslie Shepard out for the season with a ridiculously late hit back in ‘97. Shep came away from the mugging with a dislocated wrist and elbow (and missed the last five games), while Stoutmire, then with the Cowboys, received a wrist-slap $5,000 fine.

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Somebody should do a study sometime on players who have a great game against a team and later get acquired by that team in a trade. The Redskins’ Rod Gardner, recently sent to Carolina for a draft pick, falls into this category. Gardner had his coming-out party against the Panthers as a rookie in ‘01, catching six passes for 208 yards, including a game-tying, 85-yard touchdown catch. And now, four years later, Carolina is the only club willing to give up a pick for him.

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If Gardner had another day like that, of course — just one — he might still be in Washington.

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Discovered during my Internet wanderings last week that Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch has twin sons named Deiondre and Deiontey.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if George Foreman, father of five sons named George, has filed a cease-and-desist order.

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One reason to like Zygi Wolf, the Vikings’ new owner: In 1969, when he was 19, he passed up the last day of Woodstock, the legendary rock concert, to go to a Giants-Jets exhibition game in New Haven, Conn.

“That was an important game,” he explained to Kevin Seifert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The AFL and NFL were just starting to mix. It was the first time the Giants and Jets had ever played, a big deal to me. The way I see it, it just so happens that Woodstock was that weekend. People want me to be ashamed that I picked the Giants game over Woodstock. But … there was never a question. Who knew what [Woodstock] would become?”

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Ever get the feeling Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are ducking each other? Well, ever since the Byron Nelson in mid-May, they have been. The only times their paths have crossed in the past 11 weeks have been at the U.S. and British Opens, tournaments everybody shows up for.

Just out of curiosity, I checked out how often Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer went head-to-head in their heyday. In 1970, which is as far back as any database goes, they appeared in the same event 16 times (out of 22 appearances for Nicklaus and 23 for Palmer). And get this: From the Masters through the Heritage (which was played in November then), Arnie played in 13 straight tournaments that also had Jack in the field.

This is why the PGA Tour is what it is today, because Nicklaus and Palmer gave the public what it wanted. It’s also, alas, why Tiger and Lefty can play hide-and-go-seek for three months and not have to worry about their sport dropping off the face of the earth.

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And now Ernie Els is recovering from knee surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the year. It’s almost enough to make you root for Vijay “28 Tournaments A Year” Singh.

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Champions Tour golfer Dana Quigley, on taking a week off after playing in a record 264 consecutive events (as quoted by Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal): “It’s like dog years for me. One is like seven. I’m like a boxer who’s been off a couple of years, trying to get back into the ring.”

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Quigley told Donaldson he got a call the night before the British Open, the tournament he missed, from sports psychologist Bob Rotella. “I’m sure he knew I had to be going through some kind of withdrawal,” Quigley said.

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How good have things gotten for agents? So good they’re buying homes that used to belong to superstar athletes.

Dwight Manley shelled out $2.75million last month for a Salt Lake City mansion that was previously owned by Karl Malone. Drew Rosenhaus spent $2.159million a little more than a year ago for a place on Miami’s intracoastal waterway that formerly was the residence of Warren Sapp.

FYI: Manley represents Malone, and Rosenhaus does likewise for Sapp.

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Sammy Sosa swatted home run No.587 last week, moving him into fifth place on the all-time list — past Frank Robinson — and renewing the debate about whether Sammy, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and other Sluggers of Suspicion deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Frankly, I don’t see how you can keep them out. But I think the induction ceremonies should be moved to someplace more appropriate, like Seattle’s Space Needle.

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And finally …

If I were the Nationals’ mascot, I’d think about getting an act together and going touring after the season. Come on, you don’t think people would love to see “Screech and Chong”?

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