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Top 5 Sports Stories

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TGIF everyone, here's my Top 5 for December 2, 2011 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • Sources say Chris Paul's agent has told the New Orleans Hornets that Paul wants to be traded to the New York Knicks.
  • 42-year-old Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will have throat surgery today to remove polyps from his vocal chords.
  • The Philadelphia "Dream Team" Eagles are now 4-8 after their 31-14 pasting in Seattle last night.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have released quarterback Donovan McNabb.
  • Tiger Woods is in second place behind K.J. Choi, three strokes back, after the first round of the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California.

2. Bobby V.

I thought Bobby Valentine nailed his introductory news conference in Boston yesterday. The first question was about the clubhouse culture and he deftly side-stepped saying he's "looking forward to working with this group establishing a culture of excellence." He later said he's neither the genius nor the polarizing figure that he's portrayed as. He said he's excited by the Yankees rivalry. The only thing he wasn't asked in the mass news conference was about his approach to players drinking beer in the clubhouse during games. But I'm sure he would have hit that answer out of the park as well.

3. Cause and Effect

Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor felt compelled to announce why the school fired Bernie Fine. She said it was because of that tape-recorded phone call between Fine's wife Laurie and one of the accusing ballboys Bobby Davis.

In my opinion that phone call was a train wreck. I think my alma mater would have been better served leaving Fine on "administrative leave" until all the facts are in.

4. Friday eMailbag

Many of you voiced your support for Denver quarterback Tim Tebow and the way he handles things. D. M. writes, "It's so much more refreshing to see a truly good guy who happens to be a great athlete than cheering on prima donnas and borderline criminals who also happen to be great athletes."
And from S.S. "How refreshing to see a professional athlete give thanks after a successful play instead of the braggadocios flashing their own egos!"

On the 35th anniversary of Reggie Jackson signing with the Yankees for $2.96 million over five years, @Sm1ttySm1t Tweeted me @LenBermanSports "Adjusting for inflation, that's roughly $11.7m per year today. The Yankees got a STEAL."
Editor's note: It's actually worth $11 million over the course of the five years, but they still got a good deal.

When I voiced my opinion that Bernie Williams is not a Hall of Famer, R.M. wrote, "Your comments reminded me of how we used to always say that Bernie is a great five-tool player. Unfortunately only about 3 of the tools worked very well at any given point."

As for the first car race in 1895, round trip from Chicago to Evanston, where the average speed was 7 mph, J.D. writes, "Depending on the time of day, my commute between my Evanston home and the Loop in downtown Chicago can average 7 MPH. So much for progress!"

And when I showed Mike Tyson singing "The Girl From Ipanema" on a Brazilian TV show, R. V. asked, "Was that Tyson really singing or just lisp-syncing?"

And from J.G. "Watching that Mike Tyson clip was painful. I felt like pulling a Van Gogh and cutting my ears off."

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from a college basketball game. This actually counts for two points for Detroit Mercy against Austin Peay. And Detroit won by one point!

Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up, "Spanning the Year," Thursday December 29th in the 8:30 am half hour.

Happy Birthday: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 28.
Bonus Birthday: Britney Spears. 30.

Today in Sports: 20 years ago today, you won't wipe that smile off Bobby Bonilla's face. He signs a five-year $29-million contract with the Mets. 1991.
Bonus Event: You now can get there from here. LaGuardia Airport opens. 1939.

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