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Thursday Olybullets

That's right. Special deal, all through the Olympics -- two sets of bullets each day. Regular bullets, and Olybullets.

  • Carmelo Anthony is writing for the New York Times from Beijing: "Michael Phelps is, of course, from my hometown of Baltimore. I got a chance to talk with him last night at the Olympic Village. I met him before just growing up, but I hadn't met him since he won those six gold medals in 2004. So his whole life has changed. He's not from the same neighborhood as me, but we'll claim him. This is my first time to really get a chance to mingle and interact with him. We talked about spots back home, but we were talking about getting out to each other's events. He's going to bring some golds back to Baltimore and I'm going to bring a gold back. They can have our parade together in Baltimore. I'm amazed at what he can do in that water. He's like a shark. I've never seen anyone swim like that before. Swimming never caught my eyes before I saw him. But I told him I'm going to check him out on Saturday."

  • John Amaechi talking about going to the Olympics as an ambassador for human rights. (Via Ball in Europe)

  • An argument for athletes to be political, from an elite runner.

  • If they held the Olympics with only NBA players competing in every event, who would medal? I'll take Richard Hamilton in the marathon, but Ball Don't Lie has him losing to Allen Iverson.

  • Jazz guard Ronnie Price tells Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune about the Olympics: "I've got three teammates that are playing. I've got A.K. and Booz and Deron. I watch them as much as I can. Deron's playing great. I wish him the best. He's going to shock the world. There's going to be some things that he's going to do on the court that people don't realize he can do. He can really play."

  • Mark Conrad of the Sports Law Blog on facemaskgate: "Where I do have a problem, however, is when the USOC goes overboard to apologize for any act that may hurt the host's feelings. A case in point: the four U.S. Olympic cyclists who arrived in Beijing wearing USOC-issued face masks to protect against the well-document air pollution problem in the capital. After the pictures were widely circulated in the media, the cyclists apologized to BOCOG and claimed that they did so 'voluntarily.' However, it was reported that USOC officials were angry at the cyclists Michael Friedman, Sarah Hammer, Bobby Lea and Jennie Reed. Friedman was quoted: 'They told us the Chinese were mad and that this is a politically charged issue.' Politically charged? Give me a break. I could understand the USOC's displeasure if the cyclists engaged in cultural stereotyping or made racially or ethnically insensitive comments or criticized Chinese human rights policy, but they used the masks as a way to point out the pollution problems that have cast a pall over the games. The athletes' statement [found here] offered 'sincere apologies to BOCOG, the city of Beijing, and the people of China if our actions were in any way offensive. . . The wearing of protective masks upon our arrival into Beijing was strictly a precautionary measure we as athletes chose to take, and was in no way meant to serve as an environmental or political statement. We deeply regret the nature of our choices. Our decision was not intended to insult BOCOG or countless others who have put forth a tremendous amount of effort to improve the air quality in Beijing.' If the use of the masks was a 'precautionary measure,' why the offense? Maybe it was not the most diplomatic thing to wear them upon arrival at the airport, but these are the athletes that will have to compete in this likely heat, humidity and dirty air. It's a major safety issue and one that the Chinese are desperately trying to improve. At this writing, the reports are not particularly encouraging. Beijing was not forced to host the games and in doing so, they take center stage for praise and criticism. USOC and U.S. athletes cannot kowtow to every slight. As hosts to such a major event, BOCOG they should have thicker skin. And if the air problems cause injuries and illness, their offense to this minor incident will be the least of their problems."

  • And a counterpoint from James Fallows of the Atlantic: "I don't mean to judge them as people. They did the right thing in apologizing. But in wearing protective masks inside the Beijing airport they were acting like jerks. ... It's embarrassing enough for the Chinese hosts that the air looks so bad. It's tasteless, prissy, and showboating for visitors to rub it in this way. (Again, I'm talking about wearing the masks inside, in front of cameras, while standing around -- not sensible precautions for training.)"

  • Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog meets the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins for a jog through Beijing's smog. (Bog Smog Jog would be the headline, I guess.) There is video with hilarious music. There is laughter. There is a near accident with a bicycle. And there is this conclusion, from Steinberg: "Granted, I feel like death whenever I jog, but this time I felt like death covered with tar enveloped in exhaust fumes wrapped in insulation sprinkled with gasoline and tied together with a sandpaper bow. In all honesty, running at a slow clip for a very short distance, we undeniably got a lot thirstier and felt a lot crummier than we would have even in D.C.'s humidity."