Shanoff's WUC: Olympics, NBA Stars, Daytona

Today's Calls: Winter Olympics vs. NBA All-Star Game, Lindsey Vonn vs. Mark Cuban, Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd, Danica vs. Daytona, LeBron vs. Dwight Howard, Tennessee vs. Kentucky, Tim Lincecum vs. the Giants and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The Winter Olympics can't catch a break. ↵

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↵It's not the Summer Games. No snow on the mountain. Lindsey Vonn, the biggest US superstar, has an injury that threatens her medal hopes. ↵

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↵And, at least this weekend, it is sharing the spotlight with (or eclipsed by) two major sports' biggest events of the year: The NBA All-Star Game in Dallas and NASCAR's Daytona 500, now a 2-day must-see because of Danica’s presence in the Nationwide race. ↵

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↵Here is the good news: There has always been an over-emphasis on star-making before the Olympics start, when the Games are best when the unexpected happens, the organically viral news, results and images. ↵

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↵Even Vonn's injury is intriguing: It's a must-see because of the new unpredictability -- does she overcome the injury, fail spectacularly or fall devastatingly short? ↵

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↵Dallas and Daytona have glitz, but the Winter Olympics has guts. Embrace the anonymity of the athletes and the sports. Fans have always been attracted to novelty. The Olympics' currency is the Google Trend. ↵

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↵In a world of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, "Faster, Higher, Stronger" can effectively be replaced by: "Did you hear about ...?" ↵

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↵NBA All-Star Weekend: It's big. Texas-sized big, with the game at Cowboys Stadium and projected to have 90,000-plus fans in attendance. That's a spectacle worthy of the NBA's biggest event of the year. ↵

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↵The Game: Hmm, no Kobe? No Chris Paul? No AI? No Derrick Rose? That's OK. There's still LeBron. And D-Wade. And Dwight Howard. And, making his debut in the grown-up's game, Kevin Durant. ↵

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↵Game MVP feels in the bag for Dirk in front of the hometown fans, but watch ex-Mav Steve Nash as a darkhorse. (The latest buzz is that Dirk will start for injured Kobe, which feels entirely appropriate. Mavs PG Jason Kidd was named as Kobe's replacement on the roster -- Kidd is another guy who should be popular with the fans.) ↵

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↵More Picks: ↵
↵Dunk: DeMar DeRozan ↵
↵3-Pt: Stephen Curry ↵
↵Rookie-Soph: Sophs ↵
↵Skills: Steve Nash ↵
↵H.O.R.S.E.: Kevin Durant ↵

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↵More than anything, the All-Star Weekend in Dallas is a chance for Mark Cuban to play host -- and I suspect he'll spare no expense to make sure that everyone thinks it was a smashing success. (See Last Word.) ↵

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↵Cavs beat Magic for 13th straight W: But LeBron knows that these regular-season successes are meaningless: "You want to win those games, of course. What you do in the regular season is good, but once the playoffs start, everyone is 0-0." ↵

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↵Spurs beat Nuggets: The obvious lesson? George Hill should apologize for racy Internet self-portraits of himself more often. Starting in place of Tony Parker, Hill played great. ↵

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↵NASCAR: For a non-NASCAR fan, the Daytona 500 is the one day a year I will tune in. I continue to love that the sport puts its biggest race right at the beginning, the ultimate symbolism of "Gentlemen, start your engines." ↵

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↵(Of course, the biggest news of the weekend has nothing to do with "Gentlemen." It is the stock-car regular-season debut of Danica Patrick in the Nationwide DRIVE4COPD 300. Does it eclipse the 500? That would depend on how high she finishes.) ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Games of the Weekend ↵

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↵Tennessee at Kentucky (SEC) ↵
↵Ohio State at Illinois (B10 - Sun) ↵
↵Maryland at Duke (ACC) ↵
↵Rhode Island at Temple (A-10) ↵
↵UNLV at San Diego St (WAC) ↵
↵Memphis at Tulsa (C-USA) ↵
↵Xavier at Florida (Non-Conf) ↵
↵West VA at Pitt (Big East - Fri) ↵

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↵Dominique Jones Watch: Is South Florida-Marquette an NCAA knock-out game for the loser? Let's say yes, and emphasize that if Jones shoots 3/17 FG like he did the other night against ND, it'll be another L for USF. ↵

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↵MLB Super-Arbitration: Tim Lincecum should set a new record for arbitration -- he wants $13M, and he's worth every dime. The bigger intrigue is if he and the team can work out a multi-year deal in advance of today's hearing. Lincecum has earned a deal that should be up there in the Top 3 richest in baseball. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Johnny Damon to the Tigers for 2Y/$14M? That seems like a high price to replace your old centerfielder with the guy who your old centerfielder replaced on his new team. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Mike Vick the best fit ... in St. Louis? Would certainly make the Rams more intriguing -- and as long as they are going to be terrible, they might as well be interesting. ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: While it wouldn't surprise me that Rick Pitino has some wanderlust, I don't see him interested in the Nets job (short of LeBron joining the team). Now, another college coaching job ...? ↵

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↵CFB Coaching Carousel: Teryl Austin, most recently the Arizona Cardinals DB coach, is the new defensive coordinator at Florida, replacing Charlie Strong, who turned the Gators' D into one of the Top 3 units in the nation. The Gators lost a bunch of star defensive players to the NFL Draft, but the 2010 2-deep is as talented as it has ever been, and UF still has holdover coaches Dan McCarney (D-line) and Chuck Heater (DBs). ↵

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↵Fashion: No more grandpa glasses for JoePa? Say it ain't so! (More power to him for getting eye surgery, but he just won't look the same without those oversized black frames with the Coke-bottle lenses. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "You know, the Super Bowl is obviously bigger on TV. Obviously. it's a bigger cultural event, no question about it. But just in terms of a big-time party weekend, the All-Star blows it away. I mean, people go to the Super Bowl for their team, and it's the most important game of the year. People come to the All-Star game specifically for the party. The game itself is kind of secondary." -- Mark Cuban, on the Super Bowl versus the NBA All-Star Game. ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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