1. New Orleans Hornets. No one can stop Lebron from getting to the rim with time winding down. Last night he had the ball on the right elbow with about ten seconds left and his team down by a point to the visiting Hornets. He lowered his shoulder dribbled towards the hoop and then rose above the defenders for a layup. He didn't stuff the ball this time but he didn't need to. The Lebronaliers were winning 99-98 with 7.7 left. Ballgame. Right? Nope. Because there was a player just as unstoppable as Lebron named Chris Paul in Cleveland last night. Paul received the ball and drove far into the paint, the defense collapsed on him thinking he was going for his own Lebron-esque layup. But he wasn't. Once the D was on him he spun and passed the ball back out of the paint to a wide-open David West, who canned the game-winner at the buzzer. Ballgame. It was Paul's 20th assist of the game. Again, he is the MVP. While Kobe was getting himself ejected from the late-stages of a must-win game against Charlotte, which his team then lost, Paul was orchestrating a victory over Lebron. He is the MVP.
2. Miami Heat. They lost to the Knicks last night at the Garden. In overtime. But they are right where they want to be. With just 13 wins to their credit they have a 4-game lead over the nearest team in the race for the most ping pong balls in the draft lottery. Wade is resting. Marion is resting and saying he wants to resign and they're poised to add Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose in the offseason. The fall of this team was dramatic and their turnaround could be too. Everything for them depends on Wade. Can he get himself healthy before the start of next season? If so, they could go into next season with a starting lineup of PG Jason Williams/Marcus Banks, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Shawn Marion, PF Michael Beasley, C Someone other than Old Shaq. That's pretty darn good.
3. Davidson College. Not only have they given the world Stephen Curry but they are giving their students a free trip to Detroit to go see the team play in the Sweet Sixteen. The school's Board of Trustees is offering free bus rides to the Sweet 16 site along with hotel rooms and game tickets. What? The best thing I ever saw my school give away was free coffee during finals. And, I'm pretty sure it was secretly decaf.
4. Vegas. First off, I don't think that these guys and gals out there ever really lose money during any big sporting event. But, I will say that those first four days of the tournament have got to be rough on the handicappers. Both in terms of sheer numbers and in terms of the uncertainty surrounding so many of the seeds from 3 through 13. If you looked last week you could find bets that were very winnable each day. Somehow #3 Louisville got about the same number of points (7 or 8) versus both their first round opponents, Boise State and Oklahoma. How does that make any sense? Especially considering that Oklahoma had only been getting 1 point in their first round game. There were other easy bets to make to but I feel like the 'Ville is the best example. Anyway, I chalk such things up to the fact that there are just too many games in too short a period of time. And, that's why I think all the sports books must love this weekend. There are fewer games. They all garner a lot of attention and the spreads will be really rough on bettors who are already sucked in by the Madness in general and whatever small-time success they may have had last weekend.
5. Chris Webber. After a well-documented but unfulfilled (at least from a fan's perspective) career C-Webb hung up his high-tops yesterday. His balky left knee is keeping him from suiting up for Warriors so he had decided that he's done. He made two Final Fours and a few deep runs in the NBA playoffs with the Kings but he never won it all. I mean, I don't know if he picked up a state championship in high school, but that would've been it for this guy. His numbers are still exceptional and his talent undeniable but I don't think that he'll be remembered as one of the best of his generation. Even if he may have been. He'll be remembered for calling that time out and for taking that money.
Benched. Them damn, long-hairs. In his infinite wisdom NFL Commish Roger Goodell may ban long-hair from the NFL. And, AARP readers rejoice. He may also destroy Troy Palamalu's locks just to be sure that the evidence of his long-hairedness doesn't fall in to the wrong hands.