Shanoff's W.U.C.: Kobe 61 Saves NFL Lull

Today's Calls: Kobe vs. MSG, UConn vs. No. 1 jinx, Courtney Paris vs. Joe DiMaggio, Roger Clemens vs. DNA, Kurt Warner vs. Brett Favre, Chris Paul vs. Jameer Nelson and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: If nothing else, Kobe Bryant has the most impeccable sense of theater. ↵

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↵Just when the NFL season is officially over and fans finally turn their full attention to hoops ... ↵

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↵Just when Andrew Bynum's knee injury seems to dim the Lakers' title hopes (again) ... ↵

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↵Kobe strolls into the NBA's most famous arena and drops 61. ↵

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↵61. Not just an NBA-high scoring binge for the season, but a new record at this Garden -- topping Michael Jordan's mythological "double-nickel" and Bernard King's legendary 60 in 1984. ↵

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↵Kobe now owns New York hoops, and makes the strongest statement possible that even without Bynum, the Lakers are still the NBA's team to beat. ↵

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↵And the "Post-NFL" season, typically a lull, gets off to a sick start. ↵

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↵CBB: What No. 1 jinx? UConn, the nation's newest top-ranked team, went on the road to No. 5 Louisville and stifled the Cardinals. Thabeet (14 pts, 11 reb, 4 blk) was disruptive inside and helped UConn's perimeter D force Louisville into panicky 5/17 3-pt FG shooting. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, in mid-major country: No. 11 Butler doesn't look quite as potent after losing at rising UW-Green Bay. (Stat of the Game: Butler had 16 turnovers; UWGB had 4.) ↵

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↵Women's Hoops: Courtney Paris' jaw-dropping double-double streak is over (a DiMaggio-like, never-to-be-broken 112 games) is over, but Oklahoma earned its win of the year by beating Tennessee in Oklahoma City. ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: I wouldn't hire Bob Knight. (Would you?) ↵

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↵Clemens Watch: Brian McNamee says he used certain syringes to inject Roger Clemens with steroids. New tests reveal that Clemens' DNA is in the syringes that McNamee turned over. Even though there is no evidence (yet) that there were steroids in the syringes, circumstantially, that's a killer. ↵

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↵Super Bowl Hangover: ↵• 2nd-most-watched SB ever: Right behind last year's game. Even though the matchup wasn't as "marquee," I think the combo of Arizona's Cinderella story, the cachet of the Steelers' franchise and -- let's face it -- that it's free entertainment in a terrible economy yielded the audience. ↵

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↵• Big Ben on Letterman: And he is totally self-deprecating, saying "I thought I blew it," on that game-winning TD pass to Santonio Holmes. Actually, the rest of us thought he blew it, too. It took one of the greatest catches in NFL history to bail out Big Ben. The difference between hero and goat is a toe-touch. ↵

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↵• Steelers 10-1 to repeat in SB44: I can understand Vegas putting Pittsburgh behind the Patriots ... but behind the Cowboys? What about this season's mess would make people think that Dallas is ready to be Super Bowl champs? ↵

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↵• What about Kurt Warner's future: No word yet, but Cards fans better hope he comes back, because Matt Leinart is not the answer at QB -- at least if Arizona wants to maintain its status as an NFC contender. ↵

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↵• The apology of the year: No explanation needed, is there? ↵

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↵Favre Circus, Cont'd: If the Super Bowl is over, it must be time for Brett Favre to demand the spotlight stay on him for a few months as he engages in his annual rite of self-gratification by dragging out the decision of whether he will deign to return to the NFL next season or not. (Memo to Jets: Drop him.) ↵

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↵NBA Injury Watch: ↵• Bynum out 12 weeks? I'll take the over. Last year, Bynum was supposed to "only" be out for 8-12 weeks, then ended up being shelved for the season. The Lakers will be better without Bynum than they were a year ago -- but good enough to win a title without him? ↵

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↵• Chris Paul, groin injury: Unlikely to sideline him for the long-term, but last night, it triggered a 17-point meltdown by the Hornets, who fell apart without CP3 and lost at home to the Blazers. ↵

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↵• Jameer Nelson, dislocated shoulder: And the Magic lost at home to the surging Mavs. (Presumably, Nelson will be recovered in time to make his first All-Star appearance in 2 weeks.) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Manny turns down $25 mil for a year, mainly because he wants 4 years, not 1. (Wanna bet Scott Boras still wants that $25M/year, even in a 4-year deal?) ↵

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↵Mets sign Oliver Perez for 3Y/$36M. Wow, $12 mil a year for a guy who averaged nearly 5 BB per 9 IP? Did his 10-7 record really justify nearly doubling his salary from '08? ↵

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↵CFB: Signing Day is tomorrow. Keep up with The Recruitnik. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Guess what? Sponsors don't really care about Michael Phelps' little house party indiscretion. Still unclear whether that is because Phelps is just that powerful of a brand or because sponsors recognize that pot isn't anywhere near as tarnishing as, say, PEDs. ↵

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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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