SportsBytes #2.6

Rant off the bat...

Last night on ESPN's broadcast of the Kings-Mavericks game, the two announcers began discussing the 2004 U.S. Olympic team and who should be on it. They mentioned that the USOC is trying to create a team make-up with 7 or 8 star players who'll get most of the playing time, three role guys who can do certain things, but will mostly just be happy to be there, and one college player.

Now, I don't mind that so much, but here's where things get absurd. USA Basketball is seriously considering bringing Mike Bibby as one of the "stars" and is thinking about Brad Miller as a role player. Brad Miller? Have we fallen this far, to be sending Brad Miller as one of the 12 (or 13, considering Shaq isn't playing) best American basketball players?

Here's how I think the Olympic team should look, recognizing that Shaq isn't going to play.

The starting five should be Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and Chris Webber.

Where's the center you ask? Well, in international play, you don't really need a true center, unless you can get a Shaquille O'Neal. Look at other nation's top big men. They're guys like Vlade Divac, Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming -- players who play just as well away from the basket as they do under it.

Now, onto the three backup stars. They must be Jason Kidd (who would actually be a 1A at point with Iverson), Tim Duncan (a more traditional 4/5 man), and Paul Pierce -- the scorer off the bench.

And, putting aside this role player crap, two stars who would accept lesser roles and should be included would be Ray Allen (great shooter to bring off the bench in a pinch) and Jerry Stackhouse (who has put aside his ego the past two seasons and turned into a good all-around player).

The big controversy in my mind is the last two spots. Let me go out on a limb and suggest that the third role player -- and 11th man on the team -- be someone who might not play at all, but would serve notice to the world that America is serious about not losing: Michael Jordan. Sure, he'd be 41, and might not play except at the end of blowouts, but the intimidation factor would be immeasurable.

And the last roster spot should go to one man, and one man only. LeBron James. Yes, he'd only be 19, but if we're serious about sending our best players, you can't leave James out of that mix. Need I remind you of his sick between-the-legs jam last week? Or the 11 threes he nailed a few days ago? He's the real deal.


• Every Monday night I get an idea of what the CAA could be with better leadership, thanks to ESPN. The network has long had it's Big Monday concept for college basketball, and for the past couple years, the night has featured a Big East game, a Big 12 game, and the night-cap has been a Mountain West game. Now true, the MWC has had more tournament success than the CAA, but top to bottom, the conference isn't much better. The CAA needs to work on getting a much, much better TV deal if it's going anywhere as a conference.

• We're less than two weeks away from the biggest TV spectacle of the season, and I can't help but wonder one thing: what commercials will the Super Bowl present us this season? It's always the biggest media day of the year, and I hope the fare is better than recent years -- though given the economy, it seems unlikely.

Tiger Tracks

• The men's basketball team broke a long losing-skid by beating Hofstra last night. However, the big story this week was Michael Hunt's post-game comments after Saturday's big loss to George Mason, in which he said the team had hit "rock bottom" and his experienced players weren't providing the leadership he needed. Check out the Ramblings section for more on this.

eBay Item of the Week

• A Hummer H2 2003 model, just like LeBron James has (minus the three TVs, gold rims and custom "King James" seat cushion embroidery). 2,192 miles. Starting Bid: $50,000. Ends Jan. 20, 2003, 11:48 a.m. PST.

Random Prediction

• The UConn women tied the all-time women's basketball win streak record with their 54th in a row last night. They'll finally lose when they face Notre Dame later this year, making for an interesting comparison. UCLA's record men's streak of 88 wins in a row was bookended by losses to Notre Dame. If the Irish break UConn's streak, the same will be true. Only in real life can something that surreal happen.