Happy Wednesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for March 23, 2011 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* Giants great Lawrence Taylor avoids jail time for sexual misconduct with a 16 year old prostitute. He gets 6 years probation, and he now has to register as a sex offender.
* In opening statements in the Barry Bonds perjury trial, a federal prosecutor says it is "ridiculous and unbelievable" that Bonds thought he was taking flax seed oil and arthritis cream when it was really steroids. Bonds' defense lawyers said Bonds didn't realize what he was using.
* NFL owners vote to move the kickoff up to the 35-yard line from the 30. Touchbacks will still be brought out to the 20. There had been talk of moving them to the 25 to reduce injuries.
* Game of the night. The Lakers beat Phoenix 139-137 in 3 overtimes. Kobe Bryant scored 42.
* The Japanese baseball season has been delayed. They'll play more day games to preserve electricity.
2. Hockey Violence
I was mildly surprised that from the group of you who commented on the suspension of Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke for head hunting, none of you seemed to disagree. For decades I have heard from hockey fans who claim "violence is part of the game." I'm going to chalk this up to a growing sensitivity to head injuries in sports. By the way, while googling "hockey violence," I came across the story of Boston's Bill Coutu. In the final 1927 Stanley Cup game against Ottawa he punched the ref and tackled an official. He was banned for life. Although the ban was later lifted, he never played in the NHL again. To this day he remains the only NHL player expelled from the league for violence.
3. Money Ball
If Mets fans were hoping that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would buy into the Mets, they can forget it. Cuban told Jimmy Kimmel the other night that he won't be an investor. He had flirted with the idea of buying the Chicago Cubs at one point. Wouldn't baseball be fun with Cuban as an owner? While the baseball establishment (not to mention umpires) would probably cringe, you can bet that Cuban would stir things up. He told Kimmel, he could write a check for $800 million if he had to. Who does he think he is, a Major League ballplayer?
4. Buying History
It appears for the first time, an NBA player is selling his MVP trophy. That would be former Boston Celtic center Dave Cowens. His 1973 trophy along with some other memorabilia is going on the block. Cowens told the auction house "I'm getting older, what am I gonna do with all this stuff?" Sounds like Dave. I was a Celtics broadcaster back then, and he clearly beat to his own drum. During the 1976-1977 season he said he was burned out and look a "leave of absence." He just up and left for a while in the middle of the season and drove a cab. When he broke the news to Red Auerbach, I'm sure Red's cigar just dropped from his mouth. Now there's a piece of memorabilia for you.
5. You Play the Commish
OK, with baseball season approaching, it's time to play one of my favorite games, "You Play the Commish." I'll let subscriber Mike R. start. "There ought to be some rule devised so that any fan on a cell phone, once he/she waves at the camera OUT THEY GO! Send them to the bleachers for their idiocy."
Good start Mike. Now it's your turn.
Happy Birthday: Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. 38.
Bonus Birthday: Dr. Roger Bannister, the first man to break the 4-minute mile and featured in my New York Times best selling book The Greatest Moments in Sports. 82.
Today in Sports: Wayne Gretzky does it. He scores his 802nd goal breaking Gordie Howe's all time record. 1994.
Bonus Event: Quite a haul - Titanic won a record-tying 11 Oscars. 1998.
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