SportsBytes #2.11

Rant off the bat...

One of the more interesting debates these days centers around the proposed roster of the 2004 U.S. men's basketball team. Stemming from that debate comes the more interesting one that we recently had at work: Who are the top five players in the NBA today, regardless of position?

Most people start with Shaq and Kobe and then get stuck from there, but to be honest, I don't put Shaq in my top five. He's great, to be sure, but he really has no competition at his position, and he can't do as many things as the more talented players in the league today.

When I start my top five, I start with the wing guys who can play multiple positions. Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady and Kobe all qualify here. KG is a 20-10-5 guy, one of just a few in the league, and on a good team he'd probably be a 27-15-7 guy with blocks thrown in. And Kobe and T-Mac don't really need an explanation.

So, with Shaq out of the picture who do I put in my top five. Easy, another pair of 7-footers from the West: Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. Dirk is just like KG, only younger and better from three (but not as strong on the defensive end) while Duncan is what Garnett would be if he'd tried to become a low block player.

There are other players who you may thing are left out here, but the fact is that the league, besides Shaq, is dominated now by the three and four men, particularly the versatile ones, and it makes it a great time to be watching the NBA.

Multi-Media

• ESPN.com debuted another redesign (it seems to be an annual thing now) with a larger emphasis on broadband capabilities. While I feel for people who are still using dial-up, I'm glad that ESPN is pushing into the future. ESPN Motion seems like it'll be a great thing, a bridge between the network and the web site. Of course, I can't view it yet (it's Windows only). The site does say that a Mac OS X version is coming soon, probably because the dot-com guys themselves use Macs, as do some of the anchors.

• ESPN.com's biggest online competitor, CNN/SI.com, also underwent a big change recently, switching over to being just SI.com. The CNN/SI network folded recently, making the CNN/SI label useless. Of course, there weren't many actual changes to the site, which still has most of the same columnists and features, and that's a good thing. Peter King's MMQB is second only to Bill Simmons's stuff on Page 2 on the must read list.

Tiger Tracks

• Guess what time of year it is? That's right, it's lacrosse season! Sure, last year wasn't the best of seasons for the Tigers, but they still have quite a team coming back in 2003. The offensive talent is there (even with Kyle Campbell ruled ineligible), but the season will likely hinge on the performance of Reed Sothoron in goal. As a freshman, Sothoron showed flashes of talent, but was inconsistent. With John Hunt gone, the goal is Sothoron's to keep.

eBay Item of the Week

• A Lakers three-peat 8x10 photo, signed by eight Lakers, including Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Current Bid: $40. Ends Feb. 23, 2003, 10:03 a.m. PST.

Random Prediction

• Preseason NCAA lacrosse picks: Final Four is Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton and, in a huge surprise, North Carolina. Syracuse beats UNC for the title.

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