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Shooting from the lip

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Best honor

He never won an NBA championship. He is probably best known for something he said off the court rather than anything he did on it.

But Allen Iverson received a well-deserved honor Saturday: His No. 3 jersey was retired by the 76ers.

Iverson, 38, is famously known for his "We're talking about practice" speech in which he inferred that practice wasn't important, certainly not as important as a game. (You know, he was right.)

But it will be a shame if that is the lasting memory. We should remember his four scoring titles and his 2001 MVP award when he pretty much single-handedly took the 76ers to the NBA Finals. He is a surefire Hall of Famer. We should also remember his competitiveness. Despite his famous "practice" speech, anyone who watched him play even once cannot deny that he gave every ounce of energy he had from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

Here's the other thing we need to remember: the impact he had on young players, particular young African-Americans who followed Iverson when they were growing up. New NBA commissioner Adam Silver put it well when he said, "I always thought even at the time of Allen Iverson's prominence in the league, he was representative of his generation."

And of future generations. Years from now, ESPN or HBO or someone will produce a documentary on Iverson and we will learn that, in many ways, Iverson might have had more of an impact and cultural influence on younger generations than just about anyone who has ever played the game, maybe more than even Michael Jordan.

Best line

I've just about had enough of the NHL's outdoor games. Saturday's game between coach Joel Quenneville's (above) Blackhawks and the Penguins at Chicago's Soldier Field was fun for a few minutes until you realized that the snow made for a clunky, slow game. If these games have taught us anything, it's that one a season is enough.

Still, it did allow for NBC announcer Doc Emrick to pull out a great line as heavy snow fell during the first period. "It's like a snow globe with action figures," Emrick said.

What a great line.

Worst team

ABC/ESPN probably wants to wring the collective neck of the Knicks. The Knicks are a marquee team in the biggest media market and were supposed to be good this season. That's why ABC/ESPN put them on the Sunday schedule so often.

But the Knicks are 21-39 after getting blown out 109-90 by the Bulls on Sunday in a nationally televised game.

That's becoming fairly routine. Even ABC, almost in frustration, threw up a graphic Sunday that showed in games played before 3 p.m. this season, and most were on national TV, the Knicks were 0-6, losing by an average of 24 points. That was before Sunday's 19-point loss.

Poor ABC. The Lakers and Celtics, probably the two best-known franchises in the league, are awful, too.

Worst sport

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari picked up two technical fouls and was ejected during No. 17 Kentucky's 72-67 upset loss to South Carolina on Saturday. He didn't talk to reporters after the game. Kentucky did email a few quotes to reporters from Calipari, who claims he had to rush to do his radio show.

Sounds like a pretty lame excuse.

You get ejected with your team down by double digits, then it cuts the deficit to one and then barely loses and you don't speak to reporters?

Even more lame.

Best return

Check out the MLB Network's coverage of spring training games. The best part is the network often picks up local team broadcasts, allowing viewers to hear announcers from other cities. Of note, the MLB Network picked up NESN's coverage of the Red Sox against the Orioles on Sunday. Jerry Remy, the former Red Sox second baseman and a longtime analyst for the team, returned to the booth for the first time since August, when his son, Jared, was charged with murder in the stabbing death of Jared's girlfriend.

Most surprising comment

Jack Nicklaus joined Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller during NBC's final-round coverage of the Honda Classic on Sunday, but his most interesting comment came when he sat in with Randy Moss and Curt Byrum on Golf Channel's "Spotlight Coverage" of the Honda.

Nicklaus is the all-time leader in major victories with 18, four ahead of Tiger Woods, who withdrew Sunday with back spasms. When asked about Woods, Nicklaus said: "Tiger is so talented, he's such a good player. I still think he's going to blow by my record, I really do — if he's healthy. … As you start to get older, you have problems, everyone has problems. If Tiger can stay physically healthy he's got probably 10 more years and that's 40 major championships."

Best rip job

I'm always raving about HBO's boxing coverage and part of the reason it's so compelling — well, aside from outstanding announcing and production — is I almost always see something I've never seen before. During the undercard Saturday, Orlando "Siri" Salido won a unanimous decision over Vasyl Lomachenko even though Salido landed maybe a half-dozen punches below the belt, none noticed by referee Laurence Cole.

And this is what you have to love about HBO Boxing. Veteran Jim Lampley wasted no time in crushing Cole's performance as the referee, particularly with this line, "I don't know whether it's because of blindness or incompetence."

Three things that popped into my head

1. The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday, and while the Lightning should hold on to Marty St. Louis, it does need to see if there's a good faceoff man available. Either that, or Tom Pyatt (below) should get more ice time.

2. Talk about being overlooked, unnoticed and underrated. While we all sit around talking about Syracuse, Duke and North Carolina, all Virginia has done is go 16-1 inside the ACC to win, arguably, the best conference in basketball.

3. There seems to be this feeling out there that the Yankees are too old, too slow and have too many holes to win the American League East. Man, I don't get that at all. I think that team is loaded and is as dangerous as anyone in baseball.

tom jones' two cents

tom jones' two cents

Shooting from the lip 03/02/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 2, 2014 10:01pm]
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