- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

ESPN, I’m told, is already filming a docudrama about the U.S. basketball team’s flop in the worlds — starring John Travolta as Mike Krzyzewski.

Working title: “Greece.”

• • •

Basketball isn’t just about “dribbling and shooting,” Greek coach Panagiotis Yannakis said after his team upset the Americans in the semifinals. He’s right about that. It’s also about bling, entourages, sneaker deals and touches.

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“That would be the same Panagiotis Yannakis,” Bob Ryan wrote in the Boston Globe, “who singed the nets for Brookline’s Hellenic College a quarter of a century or so ago and who walked into the Celtics camp as a late-round draftee and [darn] near made the club.”

For the record, the Celts took Yannakis at the bottom of the ninth round in 1982. (Their eighth-round selection, in case you’d forgotten, was Georgetown bruiser Ed Spriggs.)

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Guess we know now why Matt Leinart missed the first two weeks of the Cardinals’ camp. Contract dispute? Hah! How about Lamaze classes?

• • •

Just wondering: Since he and the unborn child’s mother, USC hoops player Brynn Cameron, aren’t married, will he be working out of a shotgun offense this season?

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Have you seen that new commercial, the one featuring Drew Rosenhaus as the Burger King’s agent? Boy, Drew’s business is really branching out. In the past, he only represented hot dogs.

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Al Saunders says the Redskins were using just “two percent of our playbook” during the preseason, when they scored a grand total of 27 points. Which two percent would that be, Al — the table of contents and the footnotes?

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By the way, it’s been more than a quarter century since a team averaged fewer points per game in the preseason than the Redskins did (6.8). The Packers averaged 3.4 points in five exhibitions in 1980, including two shutout losses and one 0-0 tie. (In the other two games, they managed a pair of touchdowns and a field goal.)

It was more of the same in the regular season for the Pack. They finished last in the league in scoring (231 points/14.4 average) and went 5-10-1 under Bart Starr.

• • •

How times have changed. Twice during Gibbs’ first term as coach, the Redskins scored 27 or more points in all of their preseason games. In 1988 they put up 31, 27, 45 and 34, and in 1990 they put up 27, 27, 31 and 37.

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Not that anyone’s counting.

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Of course, teams were much more cavalier in their approach to the preseason back then. They’d use three percent of their playbook, sometimes even four if they were trying to rally from behind.

• • •

Now for the good news: The Redskins’ lowest preseason point totals under Coach Joe before this year were 55 in 1982, and 64 in both 1991 and 2005. They won the Super Bowl the first two seasons and made the playoffs the other.

• • •

Todd Collins kind of summed up the attitude in the Washington locker room when he said: “Not to diminish the importance of preseason games, but …”

• • •

Speaking of the Redskins, they remain the most valuable franchise in American sports, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated worth of $1.423 billion — 13 percent more than last year.

Moral: You can’t have too many obstructed-view seats.

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Here’s the most remarkable thing, though: Two of eight most valuable NFL franchises, the Texans at No. 4 ($1.043 billion) and the Ravens at No. 8 ($946 million) didn’t even exist a decade ago. And now one is worth more than the New York Yankees ($1.026 billion) and the other is drawing close.

• • •

If Reggie Bush is looking for something to shoot for this season, he might want to check out Gale Sayers’ first-year numbers with the Bears in 1965. They’re the gold standard for first-year running backs, as far as I’m concerned. Sayers rushed for 867 yards, caught 29 passes for 507 more yards, returned 16 punts for a 14.9-yard average and 21 kickoffs for a 31.4-yard average. In all, he scored 22 touchdowns (14 rushing, six receiving, two returning) — then a record — and threw for another. He also tied a second mark with six TDs in a single afternoon against the 49ers.

Which raises the question: Why did George Halas put the ball in his hands only 16.6 times a game?

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News item: Raiders sign 38-year-old Jeff George, who hasn’t thrown an NFL pass since 2001.

Comment: Owner Al Davis says he had George thoroughly checked out — physical exam, blood test, bone scan, carbon dating, the whole nine yards.

• • •

Elsewhere in pro football, the Eagles struck a deal with the Saints for receiver Donte Stallworth, who figures to be a vast improvement over Mark Wahlberg.

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So I’m reading about Koren Robinson getting cut by the Vikings after another drunk driving episode — just months into his new contract — and I’m thinking: That would never happen if Bryant Gumbel were running the players association.

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Has anyone else noticed that, in winning four straight tournaments, Tiger Woods has posted the same score — 270 — three times (at the British Open, the PGA and last week’s Bridgestone Invitational)? There’s something about Tiger and the number 270, it seems. Not only is it the score that brought him his first Masters victory in 1997, it’s also the score he put up in capturing three other majors plus three World Golf Championships.

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The guy’s amazing, isn’t he? I mean, if he keeps this streak going much longer, they’ll be calling him “the Ken Jennings of golf.”

• • •

For all his excellence, Woods sure has hit some interesting shots lately. In fact, I’m surprised McDonald’s hasn’t gotten him to do one of those “nothing but net”-type commercials — a la Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

Picture Tiger standing over his tee ball and saying to Phil Mickelson: “Off the fan’s hand … around the tree … over the clubhouse roof … in the hole” (possibly via a drainpipe).

• • •

And finally …

I actually heard Brent Musburger say this on live television:

“Little League in high definition. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

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