Remember about our Friday mailbag, and there are still a couple of spots open.
From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, foreground left, redirects the shot of Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, foreground center, as Heat's Dwyane Wade, foreground right, watches during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals basketball series on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Chicago. The Heat won 85-75. (AP Photo/Charlie Arbogast)
Welcome to the party Udonis Haslem, the Miami Heat forward who has battled injuries all year but returned in a big way Wednesday night in the Heat's impressive 85-75 win.
The series is now even at 1, and the blowout vibes and the Chicago juggernaut that was the talk of Game 1 seems like a long time ago.
In addition to Haslem's return, LeBron James delivered a string of haymakers and the ultimate knockout blow in the fourth quarter Wednesday as Miami grabbed home-court advantage. If James gets to the point where we consider him clutch, look out.
Side note No. 1: James has more bounce in his step in these playoffs. It may be motivation from the heat he received for leaving Cleveland. It may be a determination to prove everyone wrong. It may be he's realizing his championship window does not have an indefinite shelf life. But, it may also be that he simply has more in the tank since he did not have to carry his team, night-in, night-out for 82 regular-season games and every playoff contest.
Side note, No. 2: What do we expect from Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs tonight? What will Kevin Durant and the Thunder do to stop him/outscore him? The 5-at-10 is genuinely excited.
In this file photo, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010, in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won 20-17. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Big 10 meetings
Most of the time, the spring meetings for major college athletic conferences are about a couple rounds of golf, collecting the bowl checks and seeing highly educated people wearing leisure wear that ranges from awkward to awful. So it goes.
Well, button our boot straps if the Big Ten didn't go off and develop a couple of interesting storylines Wednesday.
First, Gene Smith, THE athletic director at THE Ohio State University, said he is unchanged and full supportsv embattled football coach Jim Tressel. Well, OK then, Gene. You have been heard. Smith's public reaffirmation could mean that either Tressel knows where all the bodies are buried in Columbus or Tressel may be taking some bullets for his bosses. Ball's in your court NCAA — we saw your not-so-subtle threats and innuendos with Bruce Pearl and the University of Tennessee. What are you going to do with Tressel and THE Ohio State University.
Second, the Big Ten started discussions about paying athletes "a living expense," which could be a sum of money to help athletes connect the ends between scholarships paying tuition and the costs for things such as incidentals and transportation. Big Ten officials tossed out a range between "$2,000 to $5,000" and said they were simply at the discussion stages of these proposals.
It's an interesting concept that will certainly have the attention of every conference around the country. The big boys like the SEC and the Big 12 could never let the Big Ten have a recruiting edge like giving players cash and not violating rules. (Yes, the 5-at-10 realizes the punchlines here are limitless.) Plus, the smaller conferences that could not afford these stipends would have a hard time luring any players — recruits or transfers — from the big schools.
NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks during a news conference at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009. The NBA's all-time leading scorer was diagnosed last December with chronic myeloid leukemia, he told The Associated Press in a recent interview. (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)
All we need are the pigeons
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, AKA Lew Alcindor, AKA Roger Mudoch from "Airplane," has his gogles frosted because the Lakers did not get him a statue outside of the Staples.
C'mon Lew. ("His momma called him Clay, I'm gonna call him Clay.")
Does Kareem deserve a statue? Absolutely. But here's saying that Kareem is actually fifth in the statue line for the Lakers — behind Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn, Jerry West and Kobe Bryant. (Johnson, Hearn and West already have statues, as do Oscar de la Hoya and Wayne Gretzky.)
The bigger question is about this new trend of statues. Apparently retiring numbers has become soooooo last year that now the really big stars need statues on the concourse outside the arenas.
Who knows what's next beyond statues — we've grown from Ring of Honors to retired numbers to statues — so we're going to need to set some guidelines. Here are some suggestions from the 5-at-10 (who feels we may deserve a statue in the coming days):
— You have to spend at least 90 percent of your career with that franchise, and you have to retire from the sport with that organization;
— You have to have contended for multiple champinships or won a title if you were player/coach or have to be a beloved member of the fan base if you're an announcer/administrator;
— There are some intangibles that must be considered;
— There can only be a set number, and that number varies depending on the franchise (the Lakers deserve a few more statues than, say, the Clippers or Hawks or whomever)
Thoughts? Let's say there are three statues outside of your favorite college football team, who are they? Discuss.
In this Tuesday, April 7, 2009 photo, football draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. pauses while taping at the ESPN Zone, in Baltimore. Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of Kiper's 1984 debut on ESPN's draft coverage, and while his demeanor and hair haven't changed all that much, his popularity certainly has. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Feeling the drafts
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. debuted his Big Board for the 2012 draft. OK, the 5-at-10 loves the NFL draft. You know this.
While our feelings about the draft are well-known, it is impossibly too early to debate the merits of Kiper's rankings — especially since there could be small or big changes to the draft
process will be in the future.
However, Kiper's rankings can offer a glimpse to all SEC football fans about which teams will start the season atop the divisional projections.
There are five SEC players ranked in Kiper's Top 25 — three Alabama players (Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson and Courtney Upshaw) and two South Carolina players (Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gilmore).
One other (NBA) draft note: Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn joked how interesting it is that the NBA draft lottery always seems to generate compelling storylines. This came almost immediately after the Cleveland Cavs, who lost LeBron James in the offseason, won the top overall pick over Kahn's Timberwolves, who have never had the No. 1 overall pick despite being with the Clippers at the bottom of the NBA food change. Be careful David Kahn, because Godfather David Stern does not play in matters of conspiracies and does not have a public sense of humor. One more misstep and Kahn could be sleeping with the "Fish that Saved Pittsburgh" in the professional basketball world.
An undated photo provided by the Auburn Public Safety Department shows Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr., 62, of Dadeville. Updyke Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011 and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University. (AP Photo/Auburn Public Safety Department)
This and that
— Auburn football beat writers got a crash course in jurisprudence Wednesday. "Al from Dadeville," the nutbar Alabama fan that posioned the oak trees at Toomer's Corner, was indicted on a slew of felonies. Elsewhere in the Lee County courthouse, four former Auburn players — Michael McNeil, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens and Dakota Mosley — were indicted on multiple felonies and a misdeamenor. That's a lot of lawyer quotes for sports writers.
— The Braves bullpen failed them late in a 5-4 loss at Arizona last night. Closer Craig Kimbrel had a potential game-ending double-play grounder glance off his glove in the D-Backs' two-run 11th. A runner scored from second base on a wildpitch, and the Braves ran into two outs at third base in the same inning. Tough loss.
— Tiger Woods is going to fall out of the top 10 of the world golf rankings next week. It will be the first time since 1997 Woods will not be in the top 10. According to Forbes, Woods still is among the top 10 celebrities in the world, and the top-ranked sports star. Here's Forbes' list, with how much cash each made in 2010:
1) Lady Gaga ($90 million)
2) Oprah Winfrey ($290 million)
3) Justin Bieber ($53 million)
4) U2 ($195 million)
5) Elton John ($100 million)
6) Tiger Woods ($75 million)
7) Taylor Swift ($45 million)
8) Bon Jovi ($125 million)
9) Simon Cowell ($90 million)
10) LeBron James ($48 million)
At this pace, these folks may be able to afford their own statues.