July 7, 2004
Rudy T:
After flirting with Coach K (and his UNC rival), the Lakers finally make the smartest move and get a two-ring coach.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Kobe? Kiki ... Kiki? Kobe ... Call this week's meeting the "Uma-Oprah" introduction of the sports world.

The Nuggets signing Kobe is a terrible idea -- even ignoring the elephant-in-room irony of Kobe relocating to Colorado. Kobe in Denver would short-circuit Carmelo Anthony's Top 50 future before it ever really starts.

Jordan-Pippen II? Hardly. Melo is a Batman, not a Robin; he'd likely end up resenting Kobe as much as Kobe resented Shaq.

Now, how about Melo-for-Kobe, straight up? Before you spark the "Rocky Mountain high" jokes, admit the Lakers would have to consider it. It would actually be a better fit for both teams.

Denver could still go after a complementary player -- imagine Kobe with K-Mart? That's as good a 1-2 punch as Yao and T-Mac.

L.A., meanwhile, would have a young star to re-build around -- a star who is much more likely to play well with others.

Carmelo for Kobe: Win-win.

Nuggets' Cap Room
Let me return to reality: So what should Denver do with all its cap room? The hot rumor is throwing a crazy amount of cash at Manu Ginobili. But they really have three options, all much more Carmelo-complementary than Kobe:

He can pass, rebound, defend and do everything you want a shooting guard to do -- except shoot. But love the versatility.

Kenyon Martin
Great power forwards are standard equipment in the West, and -- no offense to Nene -- Denver needs one to compete.

Q Richardson/Darius Miles
Apparently conjoined. Quentin is underappreciated and has the right complement of skills, but this is clearly the third choice.

So how to spend that money?
Love Ginobili, but Denver should go hard for Martin and maybe sneak away with a bargain in Richardson.

Cardinals: Have won 5 straight; NL's best record, 5-game lead
Dodgers' Eric Gagne: New save streak begins (1 in a row!)
Freddy Garcia: Trade to contender, now new deal (3y/$27m)
Barry Larkin's retirement: Tells Reds he may keep playing
Marcus Vick: Like being a Jackson sibling, he's no Michael
Freddy Garcia: Loses to Angels (8 IP, 7 H, 4 R)
Roy Rumor
See Roy Williams' reaction to being approached about the Lakers job by UNC buddy/Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak? Williams squelched it (but not because of a terrible fit in the NBA, which it would be). Here was his reasoning:

"I couldn't tell Coach [Dean] Smith that after one year I'm leaving."

Not to read too much into this (or take it too far out of context), but does that mean that if Williams had been at UNC for, say, three seasons, he would have entertained the offer?

AL Wild Card
Too early to break it down? Going back to last August, the Red Sox and A's have developed one of the most underrated rivalries in baseball.

Credit the similarly Moneyball-ish front offices, Boston's perennial status as the AL East bridesmaid and the A's patented second-half playoff surge.

The drama comes early this year, where the Red Sox pummelled Barry Zito and the A's 11-0, bringing them within two of the A's for the WC. Tracking this battle the rest of the summer ...

Swimming Trials
Casual Olympics fans, if you dip your toe into one sport this month before the real action in August, make it this week's U.S. Swimming Trials. But no star system here: The top two finishers in each event go to Athens. Period.

You'll get a glimpse of two once-in-a-generation phenoms: Michael Phelps (good enough for an ESPN Mag cover) and Natalie Coughlin, profiled last week in the New Yorker.

ALF: Talk-Show Host?
Even before those collect-call ads, you saw this coming, didn't you? If only they would bust out Willie as the guest sidekick and the Ockmonics as the house band.

Isiah Thomas:
Textbook example of "wishful thinking": Knicks boss meeting with Kobe Bryant
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: The Parasite That Ate New York
Gammons: MLB notes
IN: NFL training camp previews
Handicapping the HR Derby
Ken Griffey
He's back!
Vlad Guerrero
Appropriate for AL's MVP
Jim Thome
Coming easy to him now
Sammy Sosa
If his back holds up
Barry ... no!
Will Bonds participate!?

HR Derby lineup: With "500 Club" members Sosa, Junior and Raffy (plus guys like Vlad and Thome), this may be the best derby ever ...

The NCAA has Mike Williams' reinstatement application. No need to wait; this is a no-brainer (then again, it IS the NCAA) ...

If Ohio State was smart, they would hire Xavier's Thad Matta in the same conversation they interview him ...

Time to rev the Johan Santana bandwagon? Pitched first career complete game and a career-high 13 Ks (Didn't we do this last July?) ...

Let's be very clear: "Streetball" cred is nice, but money is better. Rafer Alston near $29 mil deal with Raptors ...

Tour de Lance Watch: Only days in, he's already gaining on the leaders. Yes, I know -- call you when they reach the big hills ...

Gaining "umpathy": Thanks to Davis, Polk for the hospitality as I umped their annual summer softball game on the Shea Stadium field ...

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