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Thursday, February 19, 2009

1980s: The Golden Age of Wrestling

By Ben

andrethegianthulkhoganAnyone who grew up in the 1980s remembers watching WWF on Saturday mornings, and begging their parents to buy the occasional pay-per-view event. Though Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling was around, it was a mere pretender to Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (later renamed World Wrestling Entertainment). Here are the most popular wrestlers in the 80s:

hulkhoganHulk Hogan. His name is synonymous with wrestling, and there’s a possibility WWF wouldn’t have been as popular if it weren’t for his high-energy theatrics. Hogan is Heavyweight Champion for life. By escaping the Iron Sheik’s camel clutch and pinning him to win the title in 1984, Hogan kick-started the Golden Age of wrestling. Anyone remember the words to the Hulk Hogan theme song? Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Real name: Terry Bollea
Signature move: Atomic leg drop
From: Tampa, Florida

Memorable moment in WWF history: Hogan pins Sheik

andrethegiantAndre the Giant. Weighing between 460 and 540 pounds throughout his career, and standing 7′4 tall, Andre was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” More than any other character, he was the main attraction in this theater of freakishly big, strong and athletic people. First wrestler in the Hall of Fame.
Real name: André René Roussimoff
Signature move: Piledriver
From: Grenoble, France
Died: 1993

Memorable moment in WWF history: Hogan slams Andre

randysavage“Macho Man” Randy Savage. His distinctive husky voice was even more fun to mock than Hogan’s, and he always wore a bandanna and sunglasses. He was managed by his real life wife, Miss Elizabeth (who, after the marriage ended, was found dead of a drug overdose in the home of pro wrestler Lex Luger). Savage is the Mario Lemieux to Hogan’s Wayne Gretzky.
Real name: Randall Poffo
Signature move: Diving elbow drop
From: Columbus, Ohio

Memorable moment in WWF history: Savage marries Elizabeth

roddypiper“Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Note: Roddy Piper was a Canadian, not a Scot! Known for his signature kilt and bagpipe entrance, Piper was one of the most hated wrestlers, but also BY FAR the funniest. His quick wit and unpredictability made him my favorite. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Real name: Roderick George Toombs
Signature move: Sleeper hold
From: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Memorable moment in WWF history: Snuka on Piper’s Pit

steele_george3George “The Animal” Steele. This guy used to eat the turnbuckle during his match. Do you believe he was once a teacher? Also acted alongside Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
Real name: William James Myers
Signature move: Full nelson
From: Detroit, Michigan

Memorable moment in WWF history: Steele vs. Savage

ultimatewarriorThe Ultimate Warrior. The complete package for a wrestler. He pinned Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania VI.
Real name: James Brian Hellwig
Signature move: Gorilla press drop
From: Indiana

Memorable moment in WWF history: Warrior vs. Honkey Tonk Man

ironsheikThe Iron Sheik. With the Iranian hostage crisis still fresh on everyone’s minds in the mid 80s, the Iron Sheik, who was actually from Iran, was perhaps the most hated wrestler ever, alongside tag team partner Nikolai Volkoff. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: Khosrow Ali Vaziri
Signature move: Camel clutch
From: Tehran, Iran

nikolaivolkoffNikolai Volkoff. The big Ruskie used to sing the Soviet national anthem before matches to a chorus of boos. Note: He wasn’t even from the Soviet Union, but still very much hated during Reagan’s Cold War era. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: Josip Nikolai Peruzović
Signature move: Bear hug
From: Yugoslavia

Memorable moment in WWF history: Hogan vs. Volkoff

jakerobertsJake “The Snake” Roberts. Often a bad guy, at least once a good guy, this one-time crack addict was interesting because of the python named Damien that he carried around.
Real name: Aurelian Smith, Jr.
Signature move: DDT
From: Stone Mountain, Georgia

Memorable moment in WWF history: Jake Roberts vs. Andre, John Studd refs

dogJunkyard Dog. A fan favorite with a chain around his neck who entered the ring to the song “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: Sylvester Ritter
Signature move: Powerslam
From: Wadesboro, North Carolina
Died: 1998

hillbillyjimHillbilly Jim. This redneck, complete with a straw hat and overalls, was most fun when he wrestled alongside Uncle Elmer, Cousin Luke, and Cousin Junior.
Real name: Jim Morris
Signature move: Bearhug
From: Mud Lick, Kentucky

kingkongbundyKing Kong Bundy. A classic bad guy, Bundy was fun to watch when he wrestled the big names, like Hogan and Andre the Giant.
Real name: Christopher Pallies
Signature move: Atlantic City Avalanche
From:Atlantic City, New Jersey

Memorable moment in WWF history: Hogan vs. Bundy in cage

bigjohnstuddBig John Studd. If you’re from Maryland or Virginia, you’ll remember Big John Stud for his Wild World commercials. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: John William Minton
Signature move: Backbreaker
From: Butler, Pennsylvania
Died: 1995

Memorable moment for Marylanders:

titosantanaTito Santana. Another good guy, appeared in the first nine WrestleManias, but only had a 2-7 record. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: Merced Solis
Signature move: Flying forearm
From: Tocula, Mexico

jimmysnukaJimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Loved jumping off that turnbuckle. In the Hall of Fame.
Real name: James Reiher
Signature move: The Superfly Splash
From: Fiji

Memorable moment in WWF history: Muraco vs Snuka, cage match

rickysteamboatRicky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Beat Macho Man in WrestleMania III in one of the greatest matches ever.
Real name: Richard Henry Blood
Signature move: Diving crossbody
From: West Point, New York

Memorable moment in WWF history: Steamboat vs. Savage

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Ten Of The Weirdest Athlete Endorsments Ever


Companies are always looking for a superstar athlete to help push their product. Sometimes the pairing just leaves you wondering who exactly is calling the shots. Here are 10 of the weirdest and strangest. Make sure to check out the commercials at the end to relive a couple classics.

You haven't truly arrived in your sport before you start getting endorsement deals. Michael Jordan has Nike, Tiger Woods has Gatorade and Peyton Manning has just about everything. The athletes below though had ten of the funniest pairing you can find.

Karl Malone (Rogaine) - Rogaine was still a relatively new product, and getting the balding Malone as a spokesman seemed like a good idea. If only they did a follow up on those ads with him in the barber shop. Nowadays, his barber isn't needed with the cleanly shaved head look. Did the Mailman give up on the product, or did it just not work?

Joe Namath (beautymist panty hose)
- Not much to say about this one. Perhaps the strangest of them all. The commercial starts out showing only Namath's legs, before revealing that it is indeed a man, and indeed Broadway Joe. Namath was always known as a character with one eye always on the limelight, but this decision was just odd and disturbing.

OJ Simpson (Hertz)
- This is just too easy to make fun of. What is OJ running from? It's funny and tragic that he would be running in the future with not quite the same smile he has in this commercial. Did he rent a white Bronco? Again, it is not hard to see the irony in this, so to spare you cheesy lines, I'll stop.

Fred McGriff (Tom Emanski Videos)
- This ad campaign I guess makes the most sense (baseball player endorsing a baseball instructional video) but it's too cheesy and classic to be left off. The hat, the finger point and sweatbands make this perhaps the lasting memory most casual baseball fans will have on the Crime Dog. It's kind of a shame though, since he was a solid first baseman.

Tiger Woods (Buick) - I remember an older Buick ad that had someone saying "B-I-C-K, B-I-C-K, that's not how you spell Buick. The only thing missing is U." Well, I doubt Tiger is that average "U" in line for a new Buick. Does anyone actually believe this multi-millionaire drives one of these things?

Muhammed Ali (d-Con) - The Greatest of All-Time was still a risky spokesman at the time d-Con took a chance on him. He was too outspoken and considered a risk to most. You get what you can get though, and that meant killing pests. I must say this advertising campaign worked, because to this day Ali pops into the heads of people with a pest problem that lived in that era.

Lebron James (Cub Cadet)
- Much like the Tiger Woods/Buick ads, Lebron pitching for a lawn mower seems a little odd. Can you see a 6'8", 250 lb. basketball player out there cutting his grass? I think it would be hard for him to even fit on that thing. Maybe State Farm has him covered for any lawn mower mishaps.

Rafael Palmerio (Viagra) - Another case of "if we only knew what we do now," Palmerio pretty much went from a underrated hitter who consistantly put up solid numbers, to a performance enhancer (in more ways than one). Before he lied in front of congress about using steroids, he cashed in on Viagra money. The drug was a global phenomena in the late 1990s, so I imagine he made a pretty penny. I have to applaud him for putting some pride aside and taking on the task. I wonder if he'd lie to congress about taking Viagra like he did with the steroid issue.

Joe Dimaggio (Mr. Coffee)
- Bob Ueker gave himself the nickname "Mr. Baseball." Ernie Banks is known as "Mr. Cub." Dimaggio? Well, besides later in his life being known as the "Greatest Living Baseball Player," he was the face of Mr. Coffee. The machine he endorsed was revolutionary at the time, and the retired baseball great had a lot of influence over what morning beverage people would drink. To me though, the whole thing came off like a Mr. Roger's Neighborhood episode.

Dan Marino (Isotoner Gloves) - A Miami Dolphin his entire NFL career, he has become an adopted son of Vice City. You know, the same Miami where you don't wear gloves to stay warm. He's from the Steel City, but besides those who actually live in Pittsburgh, everyone else identifies him as a Florida man. Maybe they could make him some driving gloves to prevent him from burning his hands on the steering wheel on a 110 degree day in July.

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Armstrong's bike stolen after race

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A one-of-a-kind bicycle belonging to U.S. cycling legend Lance Armstrong was stolen from a team truck in California just hours after he rode it Saturday on the first day of a nine-day race.

Lance Armstrong's bike was stolen after he competed  in the first day of the Amgen Tour of California.

Lance Armstrong's bike was stolen after he competed in the first day of the Amgen Tour of California.

Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong is racing in the Amgen Tour of California this week as he attempts another comeback after retiring from the sport in 2005.

Armstrong's first comeback came in 1998, two years after he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. Doctors gave him a less than 50 percent chance of survival.

Armstrong announced the bike theft on his Twitter account Sunday morning and posted a photograph.

"There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off. Reward being offered," he wrote.

The bicycle that was stolen is not the one Armstrong rides every day during the race. The stolen bike is used only for time trials, a race in which cyclists ride individually at staggered intervals over a set distance and try to get the best time.

The thieves took four bicycles from a truck Armstrong's Astana team had parked behind a hotel in Sacramento. The other three bicycles belonged to team members Janez Brajkovic, Steve Morabito and Yaroslav Popovych, Astana said.

Armstrong, 37, won the Tour de France, considered the premier bicycle race in the world, a record seven times from 1999-2005.

The 750-mile Amgen Tour of California ends Sunday. It is the second major race in which Armstrong has participated since announcing his comeback in September.

He raced last month in the Tour Down Under in Australia, finishing 29th.

Armstrong said he is aiming for another Tour de France victory this summer and was not expected to contend in the Australian race, which he used to gauge his fitness level after more than three years out of the saddle.

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Police: No charges against Phelps despite marijuana pipe photo

Sheriff Leon Lott said authorities seized the marijuana water pipe shown in the photo but couldn't prove Michael Phelps had smoked from it.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) -- Now that Michael Phelps won't face drug charges, he can try to distance himself from a photo that showed the Olympian smoking a marijuana pipe.

A South Carolina sheriff decided Monday after a highly publicized investigation that he simply didn't have enough physical evidence to charge the 14-time gold medalist.

"We had a photo and we had him saying he was sorry for his inappropriate behavior. That behavior could've been going to a party," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

"He never said, 'I smoked marijuana.' He never confessed that," the sheriff said.

Phelps, who lost a major endorsement and faces a three-month competition suspension in the fallout from the photo, said he was ready to put the ordeal behind him.

"For me, it's all about recognizing that I used bad judgment and it's a mistake I won't make again," the swimmer said in a statement. "For young people especially -- be careful about the decisions you make. One bad decision can really hurt you and the people you care about. I really appreciate the support my family and fans have shown me."

The photo showed Phelps smoking from a marijuana pipe at a party in November when he visited the University of South Carolina.

Lott said authorities seized the marijuana water pipe, known as a bong, in the photo during the investigation but couldn't prove Phelps had smoked from it.

Holding a bong is not a crime, he said.

"They're sold in stores. We're kind of sending a double message," Lott said. "You can buy rolling papers at any convenience store in the world, but we're telling kids not to smoke dope."

Phelps didn't get through the scandal unscathed, though. USA Swimming suspended Phelps for three months in the wake of the photo, and Kellogg Co. said it would not renew its endorsement deal with him.

And while the swimmer won't face any charge, eight people were arrested during the investigation when a small amount of marijuana was found in raids on two homes. The bong was found in a car.

Seven people have been charged with simple possession of marijuana, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail or a $575 fine. Another person was arrested for driving under suspension.

The sheriff, known for his tough stance on drug crimes, said ignoring the photo would have sent a message of tolerance.

Phelps' "bad decision and the highly published photo placed me and the Richland County Sheriff's Department in a no-win situation. Ignore it and be criticized or address it and be criticized. I chose to do what was right," said Lott, a Democrat who was first elected in 1996.

Lott rose from patrol officer to captain of the narcotics division in the early 1990s. He was well-known in the county for wearing stylish suits like the drug agents on "Miami Vice" and driving a Porsche seized from a drug dealer.

The sheriff said the investigation involved two narcotics officers that logged 25 hours over about a week. He said the house where the November party took place and another suburban home near Columbia had previously been investigated for drugs.

His investigation was criticized in newspaper editorials, on talk shows and by defense attorneys who questioned whether the sheriff was being overzealous because of Phelps' celebrity status.

Even if the sheriff had the evidence needed, he acknowledged he could not force Phelps to return to South Carolina to face a misdemeanor possession charge.

One of the attorneys representing the three students arrested said the accused were all in their early 20s. Attorney Dick Harpootlian said the police kicked in the doors with guns drawn during the raids and found less than a cigarette's worth of marijuana in the house where the party was held. The other raid netted about four or five cigarettes worth, Harpootlian said.

The lawyer expects his clients to either have the charge dismissed or for them to get a conditional discharge, which allows an offender to avoid punishment as long as they comply with certain conditions for six months and stay out of trouble.

"We hope these kids are treated the same as any other kids," he said.

The photo surfaced in the British tabloid News of the World on Feb. 1. The swimmer, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, never disputed its authenticity.

Lott said the person who took the photo sold it for $100,000. He would not identify the photographer or say how he knew the amount.

The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics while Phelps was taking a break from training.

This isn't the first embarrassing episode for Phelps after an Olympic triumph. In 2004, a few months removed from winning six gold and two bronze medals in Athens, the swimmer was arrested on a drunken driving charge at age 19. He pleaded guilty and apologized for the mistake.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press.

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Zheng Jie: China's tennis ace

(CNN) -- In July 2008, a month before China grabbed the sporting headlines for the Beijing Olympics, Zheng Jie made her own bit of sporting history for China.

Zheng Jie was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam tournament semi final.

Zheng Jie was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam tournament semi final.

Entering Wimbledon as a wild-card and ranked 133, Zheng beat Ana Ivanovic, who was then the world number one, en route to a place in the semi finals. It was the first time a Chinese player had reached a Grand Slam tournament semi final.

Despite losing to eventual champion Serena Williams, it was a reward that vindicated the hard work and dedication the 5 feet 4 inch player has devoted to her game, and made the 25 year-old a pioneer for Chinese tennis.

"After my performance at Wimbledon when I returned to China, I was welcomed by a huge crowd at the airport. I was thrilled that I could turn so many people's attention to the tennis," she told CNN.

Zheng grew up in Chengdu in Sichuan and donated her winnings from Wimbledon to the Sichuan earthquake relief fund -- her parents and many of her friends still live in the disaster-affected province.

She followed up her Wimbledon performance with a bronze medal on home soil at the Beijing Olympic Games, which was an even sweeter feeling than her Wimbledon run.

"To me [the Olympics is] a wonderful memory of my career path. When I watched the five-star flag rising up in my own country, it's hard to describe or express the feelings of pride with words," she said.

Zheng has been on the pro tennis tour since 2003 and found Grand Slam doubles success in 2006 -- winning the Australian and Wimbledon titles with Zi Yan -- but her singles displays in 2008 represented a new progression in her career and alerted the world to the potential of Chinese tennis.

Zheng's parents didn't play tennis themselves but encouraged her to take up the sport just to stay fit, but Zheng became hooked on the game.

Because of her small stature she was often overlooked in favor of taller and stronger players when opportunities arose to train in the U.S. However, such snubs did not dent her ambition.

"Actually I played really well, but just because of my physical qualities coaches didn't think I was fit for tennis. But I really like playing tennis and I was ambitious. If you say I can't make it, I'll prove it to you that I can. With such a mentality, I persevered to make it to this level of tennis," she said.

Don't Miss

Zheng had an injury affected 2007, but since returning to the game she carries onto the court a small bottle containing her bone fragments in order to remind her of how fortunate she is to be able to compete.

"Even though the injuries made my world ranking plunge, it also made me grow up a lot," she told CNN.

"During the period I was injured, they invited physicians, therapists, doctors, a whole big team supporting me to help me recover in such a short time. I reckon that without the state welfare, I wouldn't be the position where I am today."

Mental toughness, skill and a will to win have propelled Zheng to the top of Asian tennis. A trail-blazer in her own right, she may prove to be the first of many Chinese players to make a significant impact in the tennis world in the years to come.

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Dubai denies visa for Israeli tennis player

By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer

In this Jan. 19, 2009 file photo, Israel's Shahar Peer reacts as she plays AP – In this Jan. 19, 2009 file photo, Israel's Shahar Peer reacts as she plays Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki …

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The top official in women's tennis reprimanded the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for blocking an Israeli player from a premier Dubai tournament, calling the decision to deny her a visa "regrettable."

But the absence of Shahar Peer could extend beyond the matches under way. The WTA Tour is planning to review its future in Dubai, and the UAE — which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel — could face a possible blow to its ambitions of becoming an international hub for big-ticket sports.

"Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it's regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right," WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott said in a statement issued after the UAE's last-minute decision.

Peer, ranked 48th, had been scheduled to play Monday in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a joint ATP and WTA event which includes all the top 10 women's players.

"All the players support Shahar. We are all athletes and we stand for tennis," said Venus Williams. "The players have to be unified and support the Tour whichever direction they take on the issue."

Reigning French Open champion Ana Ivanovic said: "I really don't like sports to be mixed with politics."

Peer broke barriers last year in Qatar when she was the first Israeli to play in a WTA Tour tournament in the Persian Gulf. But the UAE — locked in a rivalry with Qatar to host major sports events — could face setbacks if the WTA and other federations grow skittish of planning events with the prospect of Israeli athletes being blocked.

Last month, Peer was the focus of protests in New Zealand over Israel's recent three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants. She was provided extra security at the ASB Classic tournament there.

Tensions have been high between Israel and Arab countries since the assault, in which about 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

Emirates officials did not respond to repeated calls and e-mails for comment. A brief statement by the Dubai Tennis Championships organizers said Peer was notified of the visa rejection on Saturday and "therefore did not travel to Dubai" after finishing a tournament in Thailand.

The UAE has no diplomatic relations with Israel, but Israelis with dual citizenship have entered the country for international sporting and business events using second-country passports. On some occasions, Israeli passport holders have been allowed entry for meetings held by the United Nations or other international agencies.

It was not clear whether Peer was traveling on an Israeli passport.

Peer's brother and spokesman, Shlomi Peer, said the 21-year-old player applied for a visa months in advance and was assured by tournament organizers that she would be allowed entry.

Scott said the current tournament will proceed, but WTA tour officials will "review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament."

Original here

Beckham reluctant to return to US

By Jonathan Stevenson
BBC Sport in Milan

David Beckham
Beckham came off in the Milan derby with an injury in the second half

David Beckham says he would be reluctant to return to the LA Galaxy as he seeks to make permanent his loan spell with Serie A club AC Milan.

Galaxy are unhappy Milan failed to meet a Major League Soccer deadline over any move on Friday for the 33-year-old.

"I know it will be difficult to go back after everything that's happened," he said after Sunday's Milan derby defeat.

BBC Sport understands that AC Milan representatives will fly to Los Angeles this week for further negotiations.

The England midfielder added: "I've said I want to stay at Milan and I haven't changed my mind, but it's out of my hands."

Beckham had to come off early in the second half of AC Milan's 2-1 defeat by Inter Milan because of an injury to his right leg.

However, it is understood the midfielder will take part in training on Monday and travel to Werder Bremen on Wednesday for Milan's Uefa Cup tie.

Big players should absolutely play in big teams and Beckham is one of those
Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic
"There will be more talks this week between the two clubs and hopefully, as I've said before, they can come to an agreement," said Beckham, who is on loan in Italy until 9 March.

"Milan have made it clear that they want me for the rest of the season and so on, so we'll have to wait and see.

"I hope things will go the way I want them to, of course. But if I have to go back, I will be professional, because that's what I have to do."

Sunday's defeat left AC Milan nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter.

"We're quite far behind them now and we needed to win the game, but you never know," said Beckham.

"This league is strange, you can win one week and lose the next, so there's a chance, but it's a slim chance.

Highlights - Inter Milan 2-1 AC Milan

"I was struggling a bit because I got a kick on my calf playing for England on Wednesday and it didn't really clear up, and then I got another kick on it tonight, it's just one of those things."

Inter Milan's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Beckham belongs at Milan - a place where he can show his true quality.

"I haven't followed his story every day it's true, but big players should absolutely play in big teams and Beckham is one of those," Ibrahimovic told BBC Sport.

"He has done well for Milan, he is a good team player and has helped them a lot since he arrived at the club.

"I think he is becoming very important for them, especially in the way he plays, because he is a great team player and they have other players with different qualities."

Galaxy have increasingly adopted a tougher negotiating stance over Beckham and on Friday insisted he must go back to Los Angeles after the Major League Soccer deadline passed.

Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has dismissed Galaxy's stance as a "tactic", while the Serie A club's coach Carlo Ancelotti thinks a move is still possible.

Beckham joined Milan on loan in an attempt to revive his international career after England head coach Fabio Capello said he needed to be playing more competitive football.

The England international, who equalled Bobby Moore's England record of 108 caps for an outfield player in last week's 2-0 defeat by Spain in Seville, has become a regular for Milan since his arrival in January.

However, with England set for nine internationals from the end of March until October, including six qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, a return to the MLS could see Beckham left out of the national squad.

Milan, who have had a £5m bid for the 33-year-old rejected, have so far failed to meet the Galaxy's valuation, which is reportedly in excess of £10m.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star has settled in quickly at the San Siro, impressing both Ancelotti, his team-mates and rival managers with his professionalism and work ethic.

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The Nextology of Michael Jordan: Part III - Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway

The Hoop Doctors love Michael Jordan. That’s got to be pretty obvious to everyone by now. So in honor of Michael, and to discourage the media from pretending to be clairvoyant in the future when it comes to comparing young ballers to the greatest to ever play, every week I will be shining a little light on each of the media’s shortcomings when it has come to these ridiculous and presumptuous predictions.

These posts are not intended to disrespect any of the players compared to Jordan in any way. They all had excellent careers and were or are tremendous basketball players. It is not your fault someone with very little knowledge of the game or even the skill to play this game decided to call you the “Next Jordan”. Part III to my series called “The Nextology of Michael Jordan” will be looking at Anfernee ‘Penny’ Hardaway:

But to take a good look at how different their careers were, I think you always have to start off by taking a birds eye view of the comparison by checking out their individual career stats. Here is the statistical comparison below in this chart:

A.H. Stats: 15.2 ppg 4.5 rpg 5.0 apg 1.6 spg 0.4 bpg .458 FG% .316 3P% .774 FT%
M.J. Stats: 30.1 ppg 6.2 rpg 5.3 apg 2.4 spg 0.8 bpg .497 FG% .327 3P% .835 FT%

By a look at the gross statistical differential between Michael Jordan and Anfernee Hardaway’s careers you would assume Hardaway was the least like Michael Jordan of all the player’s compared to the great one. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Before Hardaway’s career was plagued by injuries, he was arguably one of the closest players to be compared to Michael Jordan. Although not quite as accomplished of a scorer at the time, in Anfernee’s second and third season in the NBA he was averaging over 20 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. He did all of this while playing second fiddle to Shaquille O’Neal on the offensive end. Penny was shooting over 50% from the field during those years, and theoretically could have been a much more prolific scorer had he been the first option offensively for the Magic instead of Shaquille O’Neal. You can’t blame Magic management though for this choice, as Shaq was a greater than 60% shooter from the field and the second most dominant big man in the game at the time.

Anfernee (who I will refer to by his nickname ‘Penny’) in his second year in the league went head to head with Michael Jordan and won. Sure he had a little help from a well known guy by the name of Shaquille O’Neal, but still he led his team the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 and had to get by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the process. At the time people starting calling Penny “The Next Jordan” because he was a slashing guard of about the same height at 6′7″ (Jordan 6′6″) who could play the point guard, shooting guard, or small forward positions for the Magic. Just like with Jordan’s Bulls, most of Orlando’s plays used to run through Penny. Hardaway also had a great mid-range, back to the basket game with a great turnaround jumper. Penny most likely patterned his game in that regard after Jordan, who loved to back down smaller defenders into an area where he could abuse them with pump fakes, footwork, and a lethal jumper.

But after all was said and done however, that Penny Hardaway/Orlando Magic victory over the Jordan Bulls in 1995 would have a black mark next to it since it was the year MJ came back more than half way through the season breaking his first retirement. Analysts would eventually say that Jordan was not yet in game shape having been playing baseball instead of basketball during his hiatus. That line of thinking was ultimately cemented as fact when Jordan and the Bulls went on to win 3 more NBA titles in the following years from 1996-1998.

Four knee surgeries later for Anfernee Hardaway, and he was stripped of his explosiveness and ended up finishing out his career playing spot minutes for both the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. One of the most magical things about Michael Jordan was not only his consistent and maintained greatness throughout his career, but his ability to stay healthy and dominant. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was conditioning, but regardless of why, Jordan was able to sustain his brilliance. There is probably more ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’s’ following Penny Hardaway’s career than almost anyone else, but at the end of the day he was nowhere near the player Michael Jordan was, and definitely didn’t live up to the tag of “The Next Jordan”.

Tell us your thoughts below on Penny Hardaway being once called ‘The Next Jordan’…..Also stay tuned next week for Part IV in the “Nextology of Michael Jordan” series by Dr. Anklesnap.

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Did Selig allow MLB to become the WWE?

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Bud Selig, as the commissioner of baseball, turned a blind eye to steroid abuse and didn’t care about it.

“I don’t want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn’t care about it,” Selig told Newsday.

“That annoys the you-know-what out of me.”

Good, let’s get the you-know-what out of the way because it’s annoying to listen to a guy whine after he helped baseball turn into something comparable to professional wrestling.

“In the early ’90s, the federal government came into pro wrestling and tried to put Vince McMahon in prison for steroid use of wrestlers,” Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler told the online news program, Your Turn.

“My question is: They’ve now determined 104 baseball players failed their steroid test in 2003 – 104! They indicted Vince McMahon, why aren’t they indicting Bud Selig?”

Bud Selig, Vince McMahon, MLB, WWE, all in the same quote. Ah, what a legacy. Just like wrestling, the last 15 years of baseball saw champions crowned, games won and records broken for reasons other than fair athletic competition.

Baseball hasn’t been an actual sport in years. The guy in charge of what will go down as the game’s worst era since systematic racial discrimination is so conceited he’s trying to claim don’t blame me, I just run the place.

“The reason I’m so frustrated,” Selig said, “is, if you look at our whole body of work, I think we’ve come farther than anyone ever dreamed possible.”

Indeed, who’d have ever dreamed that Alex Rodriguez would hold a nationally televised press conference to detail his performance-enhancing drug regimen, all while an ex-Congressman was claiming Roger Clemens was about to be charged with lying under oath, all while Barry Bonds was preparing for a federal perjury trial, all while Miguel Tejada is awaiting his sentence, all while …

Photo Pamela Anderson.
(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

McMahon, who beat the conspiracy to distribute steroids charges in 1994, actually ran an honest operation compared to Selig. While Hulk Hogan may have claimed he was just “eating his vitamins,” anyone over the age of 12 understood the entire thing was make-believe, just entertainment.

Not Selig. Not baseball. They clung to an illusion they either knew wasn’t true or should’ve known wasn’t true. When confronted repeatedly with facts that the game was a sham, they reacted at a glacial pace.

Selig is so surrounded by yes-men and so comforted by apologists in the media – or organizations willing to suspend anyone who mocks him – that he believes his own lunacy.

All that buzz that the players were juiced? Selig claims he asked a couple of “good baseball men” and heard all the guys with Popeye arms hitting moon shots were the product of the bat or the ball or just talent.

It’s like the producers of “Baywatch” saying they thought Pam Anderson was all natural.

Like Selig, the producers counted the money because the public doesn’t always care. That’s Bud’s echo chamber defense – look at the financial health of the game! Fine, Selig made baseball money, loads of it. If, like McMahon, he wants to be judged on that alone, strip-mining the sport for profits, then fine.

He can’t leave it at that though. He seeks justification that he is really some guardian of the game, a moral crusader who is saving America’s pastime, the innocent victim who couldn’t notice what so many people in baseball claim was impossible to ignore.

He’s the one claiming it was A-Rod alone that “shamed the game.”

Photo Former professional wrestler Jesse (The Body) Ventura is shown in full regalia in this photo taken from the WWF’s “The Wrestling Album” released in 1985.
(AP Photo)

“You can’t tell me for one minute that Bud Selig and the owners didn’t know,” Ventura said.

Consider that in 1998, Rick Helling, then of the Texas Rangers, asked everyone at a union executive meeting, “Are you serious? Can’t you see what’s going on? Are you seriously going to let these guys get away with it?’ ” according to Joe Torre’s book “The Yankee Years.”

That’s not a whisper campaign, that’s someone shouting from the mountain top. Selig wasn’t at that meeting, of course, but does anyone believe that in an era of that kind of confrontation neither he nor his people ever heard any stories from anyone about anything?

“[In the mid-1990s] most major league players were confident that [MLB] knew what was going on,” wrote steroid dealer Kirk Radomski in his book “Bases Loaded.” “The implied message was that if baseball was going to allow Bonds and [Mark] McGwire and [Jose] Canseco to get away with it, why shouldn’t they do it?”

Selig is trying to pull A-Rod’s initial defense – “talk to the union” – and yes, MLBPA leader Donald Fehr is Selig’s partner scourge to the sport. But this is where Selig doesn’t understand a thing. He points to his inability to get the union to move on the issue as strictly the union’s fault.

“We were fought by the union every step of the way,” he said.

This is why Selig should’ve resigned upon completion of the labor dispute that caused the 1994 World Series to be canceled.

His arrogance kept him on the job even though he lacked the ability to do it. The union wasn’t going to work with him. They didn’t trust him.

If there really was nothing he could’ve done, it was just proof why someone else should’ve been doing it. Yet Selig wouldn’t, and won’t to this day, do the proper thing and step down.

Even as the game has pushed to clean things up, Selig has been uneven. His outrage is about defending his legacy and little else. He funded the Mitchell Report, but if not for the IRS forcing Radomski to talk, it would’ve just been a public relations ploy.

“Baseball had set up Senator George Mitchell to fail,” Radomski wrote. “Baseball did everything possible to make sure he wouldn’t prove anything. … The Mitchell Report was supposed to be a whitewash.

“[It] would state that whatever problems with steroids there are in baseball, they were isolated or already dealt with.”

There was one problem.

“Baseball didn’t plan on me getting involved,” Radomski wrote.

Baseball’s straw man commissioner never was very good at planning.

Now he’s left dealing with scandal after scandal, wild calls for his indictment and a place in history that will paint him as one the worst things to ever befall the game.

All he can do is count his money, stomp his loafers in protest and hope someone outside his cadre of sycophants will buy a single word of his you-know-what defense.

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David Ortiz speaks on the steroid issue

by Mark Fuery, Boston Sports Examiner

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said he wants to see players who test positive for steroids banned for one year.

“I think you clean up the game by testing…You test positive, you’re going to be out. Period,” Ortiz said Monday after the first day of workouts.

Ortiz said he wants every player to be tested three or four times a year. Anyone who fails one of those tests will face a harsh suspension, which Ortiz feels will help clean up the game.

Ortiz also added that he thinks recent testing has worked as a deterrent and makes players think twice about taking any performance enhancing drugs because of the potential penalties for a failed test. A harsher punishment, like the one-year suspension proposed by Ortiz, should make players think even more about the consequences of doping.

The current penalties are a 50-game suspension for the first offense, 100 games for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third. Any player receiving the lifetime ban may apply for reinstatement after two years.

His comments come one week after the shocking revelation that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez failed a steroid test in 2003. Rodriguez later admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Texas Rangers, but claimed that he did not know exactly what he took.

Ortiz gave Rodriguez credit for coming clean and admitting guilt, but also acknowledged that the controversy surrounding Rodriguez has done damage to the game.

“It was a little bit tough for the game," Ortiz said. “At the same time, people have to give the guy credit because he came out with what he said at the point of his career where he had done it all."

Like Rodriguez, Ortiz will be looking to put the past behind him in 2009, but for different reasons. Ortiz is coming off an injury plagued season in 2008, which resulted in his least productive season since coming to Boston.

Even when he was in the lineup, his injured wrist affected his production as he hit only 23 home runs and saw his batting average drop to .264. Both were his lowest since joining the Red Sox in 2003.

So far Ortiz has reason to be positive. Just last week Manager Terry Francona said he expects Ortiz to be healthy in 2009.

Ortiz shares the positive outlook of his manager. “I’m feeling fine right now,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz will face his first test on Wednesday, when the team holds its first full squad workout.

For more on Red Sox spring training, see Five things to watch at Red Sox spring training.

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'Oil Can' Boyd looking for comeback at age 49


"Oil Can" Boyd went 78-77 with a 4.04 ERA in his 10-year career. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

It's been 18 years since Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd last pitched in the Major Leagues, but he figures he's still got some gas left in that tank.

The 49-year-old wants an MLB team to give him a look this spring, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Says Boyd, "I have nothing to lose, and all a major league team has to lose is 15 minutes. Give me 15 minutes and I'll show I can still pitch. That's all I want."

And he says he's still got some pretty good stuff, claiming his fastball is in the low-90s and his changeup and curveball are as good as ever.

Boyd finished with a 78-77 career record and a 4.04 lifetime ERA over a 10-year stretch with the Red Sox, Expos and Rangers.

The report says he got serious about the comeback two weeks ago when he pitched at a Red Sox fantasy camp.

He says Satchel Paige, who pitched into his 60s, is another big reason he wants to come back.

"Satchel being my idol and knowing he didn't come into the game until he was in his early 40s, that's always been in the back of my mind."

So why now, after all these years?

"After surgery in '87, it took me 10 years to feel good," he told the Globe.

"I wasn't on the field, started gaining weight. All of a sudden, my arm has healed. The arm strength is there and it's there consistently. The more I throw, the better it feels."

After catching for him at camp, ex-Red Sox catcher Mike Stanley vouches for him, saying "He looks no different to me now than when I caught him in Texas. He still has the same passion. I don't know if he was getting to 90 because we didn't have a gun, but he still had the same stuff. The same tight slider, curve, fastball."

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