- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

Another sign that time marches on, to not quite coin a phrase:
For the first time in seven years, Michael Jordan is not the world's favorite athlete, according to the annual poll by Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. The new champ is a guy who played regularly at MCI Center awhile back: Georgetown product Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson, who was the NBA's MVP last season as the 76ers won the Eastern Conference championship, was selected by 5.8 percent in the poll, while Jordan dropped to 4.7 percent. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was third at 4.1 percent. The only woman in the top 10 was soccer star Mia Hamm of the Washington Freedom at 2.9 percent.
In another category, Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who signed a record $252million, 10-year contract, won in the category of being the athlete who got too much attention. I guess those kid readers never heard of Albert Belle.

The youngest hero?
If NBC's daily dose of Olympic hero worship hasn't quite been enough for your taste, how about considering a genuine hero?
What's more, he's only 5 years old.
Hunter Kelly, son of recently elected Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, celebrated his fifth birthday last week, and the reason he's a hero if unwittingly is that he was given only 14 months to live when he was born with Krabbe disease.
In what has become an annual Valentine's Day tradition, thousands joined the Kelly family at a candlelight vigil at Chestnut Ridge Park in the Buffalo, N.Y., suburb of Orchard Park. Hunter could not attend the vigil, which included a birthday cake cutting. He was released from Children's Hospital in Buffalo earlier in the week after being diagnosed with pneumonia and collapsed lungs. But he is back home now, and his condition has improved.
Hunter's Hope, created in September 1997 by Jim and his wife, Jill, has awarded about $2.5million toward scientific research to find a cure for Krabbe Leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder that leads to the deterioration of myelin and the central nervous system.
Jim Kelly, longtime star quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, said his biggest wish is that Hunter will be able to join him on the podium for the formal Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, in August. Don't bet against the little guy.

Heavenly Angels
The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels are 0-for-41 (seasons) when it comes to winning an American League pennant. Maybe they should spend some time studying the achievements of their minor league namesakes.
Specifically, the 1934 L.A. Angels, who won the Pacific Coast League championship with a record of 137-50 (.733), finishing 35 games ahead of the runner-up Mission Reds.
That imposing outfit has been chosen the best minor league baseball team ever by two baseball historians named Bill Weiss and Marshall Wright, who researched, ranked and wrote a series of stories chronicling the best 100 teams in the 100-year history of minor league baseball.
The Angels were led by outfielder Frank Demaree, who won the PCL's Triple Crown by hitting .383 with 45 homers and 173 RBI in 186 games. He also led the league with 51 doubles, 269 hits, 190 runs scored, 463 total bases and a .660 slugging percentage in the league's elongated season.
Manager Jack Lelivelt had three 20-game winners: Fay "Scow" Thomas (28-4). Lou Garland (21-9) and Mike Meola (20-5). None ever amounted to much in the majors, although Demaree batted .299 over 12 full seasons with the Chicago Cubs, New York Giants, Boston Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns from 1932 to 1944. His best season was 1936, when he hit .350 with 16 home runs and 93 RBI for the Cubs.

Alford sends regrets
Rarely do we hear a former college star admit that he should have paid better attention in class, but Iowa coach Steve Alford did so last week.
It has been a rough season for the Hawkeyes, who were a top-10 team in the preseason polls but were worse than nowhere last week with a 15-11 record. All of which prompted Alford to talk about more or less blowing off his old psychology course at Bobby Knight U., a k a Indiana.
"It was a class of about 400 kids, and it wasn't the most exciting class I'd ever been in," Alford said. "Now I wish I would have really paid attention and wrote down everything that the prof had to say."
Alford said he could use some insight into the human mind because mental mistakes have haunted the Hawkeyes, who had lost seven of nine entering the weekend. "I feel like a lot of times that we are conducting Psych 101 right now, trying to find the right buttons to push," he said.
Maybe he should take a lesson from his old coach. As you'll recall, Knight's kind of "psychology" often involved kicking chairs, grabbing shirts and yowling at his troops.
On second thought …

Eminently quotable
Shareef Abdur-Rahim of the Atlanta Hawks, whistling in the dark about the team having five players out with injuries: "If there's anything good about that, it's that it makes us an even better team when we get everybody healthy."

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