Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: C's are Carpetbag Champs

↵Today's Calls: Big Three vs. History, Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan, Marcus Thames vs. Ryan Braun, Lou Piniella vs. Tampa, Willie Randolph vs. Omar Minaya, Michael Beasley vs. O.J. Mayo, Chad Johnson vs. T.O., Paul Hewitt vs. Tim Brewster, Allisen Corpuz vs. Rocco Mediate and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: The NBA has a new blueprint for a champion. ↵

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↵Swindle a rebuilding lottery team for its superstar, preferably a superstar without a title but who possesses a maniacal hunger for one. (If you can import another lottery team's superstar to add to the narrative, but effectively be a third wheel, all the better.) ↵

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↵Then, roll the ball out and let them steamroll the rest of the league, thanks not to offensive firepower but defensive genius. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics. ↵

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↵I'm not dismissing the Celtics' path to the title; on the contrary, I am saluting it. ↵

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↵Why didn't Charles Barkley think of heading to a team as hungry as him? (I guess that's what he kind of did, bolting for Houston.) Why didn't Patrick Ewing? Why didn't Dominique Wilkins? Why didn't any superstar still yearning for the validation of a title ring? ↵

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↵Make no mistake: There is no shame in carpetbagging your way to a championship. None. (And certainly not when you set an NBA record for blowout in a closeout game: 39 freaking points.) ↵

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↵What we will remember about the Big Three experiment: That KG won his ring. That Ray Allen won his ring. That Paul Pierce won his ring. That Boston went from among the worst teams in the NBA to its best, in a single year -- a turnaround unprecedented in sports history. ↵

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↵Here is the only problem for teams that want to mimic the Celtics' strategy: There are three less ringless stars on the market. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, how appropriate that the Big Three dominated: KG and Allen each with 26; Pierce with 17, but capturing Finals MVP. (Hey, can we call it a Big Four? Rajon Rondo had a superb all-around game: 21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 6 steals.) ↵

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↵As for Kobe Bryant, his 7/22 FG shooting (particularly after that hot 4/5 start ... do the math) combined with the game's result, along with the series' result, should end any debate over his comparison to Michael Jordan. ↵

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↵OK, so what next for the Lakers? Interestingly, it comes down to who they DIDN'T have. If Andrew Bynum stays healthy next season and they keep the core of Kobe, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, they could certainly repeat as West champs. They would likely run into the Celtics buzzsaw in The Finals again, but Bynum could be the difference between losing in 6 ... and returning the favor. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Marcus Thames is unstoppable. He homered in a fifth straight game, and his last eight hits have all been home runs. ... Welcome, Jerry Manuel: Picking up where Willie Randolph left off won't help your cause. ... Would Tampa be as good as it is now if Lou Piniella was still managing the Rays? (Well, they beat Lou's Cubs last night). ... Power Surge: Ryan Braun, whose 2 HRs give him 20 on the season. ... Fantasy Stud: Mark Ellis (3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB). ... Wow: Who told Andy Pettitte it was 1997? 5H shutout with 7IP and 9 Ks. ↵

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↵As for Randolph, he says he is "stunned." There is something to be said for that kind of reaction to the manner and timing of his firing. But he can't really be totally stunned, can he? ↵

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↵Omar Minaya's spin/Quote of the Day: "I don't believe in firing a manager at the game in uniform. That would have been more disrespect to Willie Randolph. It wasn't going to happen. ... That's humiliating." (Oh, THAT was the humiliating part?) ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Bulls measure Michael Beasley at 6-7. Prediction: Forget the Bulls taking him at No. 1; and the size thing is all the pretext that the Heat's Pat Riley will need to draft O.J. Mayo at No. 2, ahead of Beasley. (Nevermind that plenty of great players were awkwardly sized; no one seems to think that Beasley has that kind of greatness in him. Fools.) ↵

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↵NFL: Sen. Arlen Specter won't call hearings about Spygate. On the one hand, that is a totally sensible position. On the other, we all know the NFL is totally hiding something about this, and it would have been interesting to see it on the hot seat of a Congressional hearing. ↵

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↵Chad Johnson will have ankle surgery, but it is expected he will be fully recovered and at training camp July 28. Meanwhile, T.O. a no-show at Cowboys camp. ↵

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↵College World Series: OK, it's time to get a little excited about Fresno State. Beyond being the first No. 4 regional seed to reach a CWS, they are one win away from the championship series. ↵

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↵CBB: Did Paul Hewitt switch jobs? Because I could swear that he was at Georgia Tech, not Quixote Tech. It is a marvelous notion of Hewitt's to shorten the college hoops season so that players might focus on academics. Marvelous ... and utterly naive. Give me my 40-game season. ↵

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↵CBB Recruiting: Indiana loses, again. What does it say when the highest-ranked uncommitted player -- who actually plays for a Bloomington, Indiana-based travel team -- spurns IU, even though he would have instantly been The Man on the team? It says "Yikes." ↵

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↵Euro 2008: France loses to Italy ... again. Which loss was the insult and which was the injury? ↵
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↵CFB: How awkward do things have to be when the coach's son transfers? Let's ask Minnesota coach Tim Brewster. ↵

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↵Golf: Know the name Allisen Corpuz. She is 10-years-old. She shot an 88 at U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship yesterday. She didn't make the cut; then again, she's only 10. Rocco who? ↵

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↵Sports Media: Lance Armstrong launches LiveStrong.com. It has huge funding and certainly has name recognition at the top. Combining wellness and social media is an interesting play, but if I'm on Facebook, can't I just find a widget to scold me for my lazy lifestyle? ↵

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↵The Last Word: The column lead shouldn't diminish something huge: KG got his ring. ↵

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↵I had a fun debate with another fan a few weeks ago, trying to come up with an NBA star -- even any mega-star in any team sport -- whose career was more empty without a ring than KG's. ↵

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↵KG was always going to end his career as a top 50 player. But, make no mistake: The ring is validation. As always, the ultimate validation. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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