Shanoff's W.U.C.: Lakers, Phelps, Cassel

Today's Calls: Lakers vs. Celtics, Michael Phelps vs. USA Swimming, Matt Cassel vs. Todd Haley, Pat Summitt vs. the Field, Jameer Nelson vs. Ray Allen, Lane Kiffin vs. Urban Meyer, Memphis vs. Gonzaga and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The Lakers are the NBA's team to beat. ↵

↵

↵Maybe you suspected it on Christmas Day, when the Lakers snapped the Celtics' 19-game winning streak. But haters (and bitter Celtics fans) could still say: "Well, L.A. did have home-court advantage." ↵

↵

↵There is no doubt now: The Lakers went into Boston and beat the Celtics, snapping another long C's W-streak (12 games). At home, on the road: It doesn't matter; the Lakers appear to want it more than the defending champs. Kobe and Co. are taking these regular-season rematches intensely personally. ↵

↵

↵The Lakers' prize for sweeping the season series with their rival? If they end up with the same regular-season record (the Lakers are just a smidgen ahead right now) and both teams make it back to the NBA Finals, the Lakers get home-court advantage. ↵

↵

↵But, apparently, the Lakers don't need it. ↵

↵

↵USA Swimming suspends Michael Phelps from competing for 3 months: USA Swimming has a lot of chutzpah. They were more than happy to ride Phelps' success in Beijing. Now, for an offseason bong hit -- which isn't even against USA Swimming rules -- they will take him out of competitions? Ridiculous. ↵

↵

↵Can you imagine if the NBA handed out 3-month suspensions for every player who took a puff of pot? There wouldn't be a league left. USA Swimming is being overly harsh; the biggest star in the sport's history has earned the credit to screw up once (and barely that) without the overreaction of a 3-month ban. (I'm curious if they would hit him with the same ban if it would have kept him out of the Worlds.) ↵

↵

↵USA Swimming is pulling a CYA, presumably to placate their sponsors -- the same sponsors who only came on board (or stayed on board in a down economy) because they wanted to draft on Phelps' cachet and success. (Caveat: Kellogg's just dropped him; college kids with the "munchies" may never engorge themselves on Frosted Flakes the same way again.) ↵

↵

↵It would serve USA Swimming right if Phelps said he was seceding from his affiliation from the organization and would plan to swim as a "U.S. Independent." (Yes, I know that's not realistic, but I just think this decision by USA Swimming is so ludicrous, maybe THEY should be punished.) ↵

↵

↵Pat Summitt, 1,000 wins: She becomes the first college basketball coach -- woman or man -- to cross the 1,000-win milestone. It's one more moment to raise the debate over whether she is the greatest coach in the game today -- woman or man. Her record argues for putting her ahead of any men's coach. ↵

↵

↵NFL Offseason: Pats "tag" Matt Cassel. Let's review: From 7th-round pick that took a handful of college snaps to one-year NFL starter to $14.65-million QB. Unprecedented. ↵

↵

↵Sure, if Cassel stays with the team for a year, he is owed $14.65M. If Tom Brady isn't healthy, that’s a bargain; if Brady is healthy, he will be the highest-paid backup QB in history -- but a worthwhile insurance policy. Who knows how Brady's knee will hold up from Week 1 until the playoffs? ↵

↵

↵Otherwise, the Pats can always trade Cassel. (Don't expect any team to give up two 1st-round picks to acquire him, though.) ↵

↵

↵NFL Coaching Carousel: Todd Haley to the Chiefs imminent. Given this season's success of other first-year rookie head coaches -- Mike Smith, Tony Sparano, John Harbaugh -- expectations can and should be high for Haley to turn the Chiefs around fast. ↵

↵

↵Considering that Haley's only national exposure has been getting into spats with his star WRs (T.O., Boldin), I guess I'll reserve judgment until the season starts. But Dwayne Bowe -- you're on notice, mister! ↵

↵

↵Pro Bowl Buzzz: The lamest of all all-star games, because it happens after the season is over, in an inaccessible (if lovely and exotic) location. Perhaps some day this game will be relevant -- when it is played in the open week before the Super Bowl, at the site of the Super Bowl. ↵

↵

↵NBA All-Star Game: Ray Allen will replace Jameer Nelson, which is notable for two reasons: (1) Allen was an injury replacement last year, too (and he scored 28 points in the ASG), and (2) that gives the Celtics -- rather than the Magic -- the team with a league-high 3 All-Stars. Symbolism matters. ↵

↵

↵CFB Signing Day Hangover: Turns out the biggest "scandal" was Lane Kiffin talking trash about Urban Meyer losing a committed recruit to Tennessee ("I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him.") ↵

↵

↵Now Kiffin is apologizing (or "apologizing"): "If I offended anyone at the University of Florida ... I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention." Actually, to offend was precisely Kiffin's intention; that's why someone talks smack. (No worries, Lane: Payback will be ugly in September.) ↵

↵

↵CBB Mania: Cal hung 56 on Washington in the 2nd half to thump the Huskies in Berkeley. So much for UW's Top 25 ranking. ... Wisconsin isn't so bad this season they can't still tweak Illinois to snap that 6-game L-streak. ... Game of the weekend: Memphis at Gonzaga. (Big East Marquee: ‘Cuse at Nova.) ↵

↵

↵Bonds Watch: You know all those positive PED tests? Eh, nevermind. ↵

↵

↵Bad Idea Jeans: I'd like to hear about the first NFL player who signs up for gun training from paramilitary mercenaries. ↵

↵

↵Sports Media: "Joe Buck Now?" To answer Chris Littmann's question: No, I'm not interested in watching Joe Buck host a talk show. If he is offended by Randy Moss's mere pantomime, I can only imagine his ruffled sensibilities when he watches "Sopranos" or "Deadwood" or "Oz." ↵

↵

↵Hollywood: Steven Soderbergh to direct the movie version of "Moneyball?" And will Brad Pitt star as Billy Beane? ↵

↵

↵The Last Word: "I don't think the relationship can be repaired with the organization." -- Anquan Boldin, about staying with the Cardinals. ↵

↵

↵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. ↵

↵

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

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.