Down with science, up with Nellie   

Updated: April 24, 2007, 11:24 AM ET

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Floyd Landis held a press conference Monday to intensify the rhetoric in his attack on the French lab that -- if you listen to the Landis camp -- is intent on defaming the cyclist's good name with bad science.

The problem with the press conference was evident early: This "Landis press conference" included a prepared statement by Landis, clumsily delivered. Other than that, it was all handlers and lawyers, spinning madly but going nowhere, like a roomful of guys on stationary bikes.

There were just a few questions, none for Landis. That seems about right. With the latest report that additional backup samples from last year's Tour de France also tested positive for synthetic testosterone during last week's retesting, this is no longer about Landis.

Now it's about picking apart sentences and throwing enough dust in the air to create a diversionary cloud of confusion. Now it's about divining motives and questioning scientific practices.

It's clear most people want to believe Landis, but how many times can someone claim negligence on the part of the lab and cry conspiracy? At what point does the public reach the point of exhaustion?

There was a reporter from Playboy on the conference call, and during an essay-length question he intimated that he has been able devote a lot of time to investigating the issue. His conclusion might be found in his comparison of the testing process to the House of Un-American Activities.

I came away with the hunch that Playboy is coming out in favor of Landis. I caught the vibe early -- some time around the Un-American Activities reference -- but I didn't nail it down till the reporter said "Bravo!" after one of Landis' attorneys caught the wave and agreed to invoke McCarthyism as he savaged the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the French lab.

You know what the NBA needs? It needs Warriors-Mavericks is what it needs. Lucky NBA.

The matchup is a fascinating study, and the NBA would benefit greatly from a No. 8 seed knocking out a top seed, especially one as good as the Mavericks. It would go a long way toward silencing all the people who claim the playoffs don't get interesting until the conference finals.

And the people who say the league isn't interesting at all, ever, but those people are a different story.

You want to know how thoroughly Warriors coach Don Nelson has already won the mind-game aspect of this series? He got the best team in the NBA to completely alter its normal order of business to adapt to the tactics of a team that had to win five out of every four games over the final quarter of the season -- I think the math is right, but it could be off a game or two -- just to finish above .500 and make the playoffs.

I still believe the Mavericks will win the series, by the way, but the conviction is far weaker today.

The main reason is Mavs coach Avery Johnson's decision to counter Nelson's small lineup with a small lineup of his own.

What do you do, Avery? You could go big and slow the game down. You could pound and plod. You could shorten the court and control the glass. In other words, you could play to your strengths.

Instead, you gave way too many minutes to Devean George and two to Erick Dampier. You made your owner's blood reach temperatures measured in four digits of Kelvin.

Bum Phillips once famously said Don Shula was such a good coach "he could take his'n and beat your'n, and then take your'n and beat his'n." What Nelson did was a variation on the theme: He took his'n and beat your'n while making your'n play like his'n.

Or something like that.

Avery, don't you see? This is what the man wants. He wants you to abandon your game and play his game.

Your game won you 67 games during the regular season. How many games did his game win you?

This Week's List
This will probably never be the basis of a reality show, but it's nonetheless a very important observation: Baron Davis is the best lumberjack-looking point guard ever, edging Dave Twardzik.

Watching Mavs guard Devin Harris flail and flop leads you to just one conclusion: Vlade Divac lives!

Good news for Disappearing Dirk: The star system as it relates to the officiating in the NBA figures to help Nowitzki even things up on Wednesday night.

I'm in no position to say he married the wrong woman, but I'm pretty sure he divorced the wrong woman: Jean Strahan, Michael's ex, sold all his stuff at a garage sale over the weekend, and instead of putting flyers on telephone polls she apparently advertised by alerting the media.

Just wondering: Is A-Rod one of those True Yankees yet?

You watch the carnage under the baskets at all the playoff venues, and you realize one thing: There's no such thing as a freebie after the regular season ends.

Oh, but when his teammates asked him about it he said he had something stuck in his eye: After his team lost Game 1 to the Rockets, Andrei Kirilenko cried in the locker room, reportedly because he didn't feel he received enough playing time.

And finally, because it takes only 19 hours out of your weekend: Be sure to watch the NFL draft Saturday and Sunday; we hear it's a big deal.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.


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