Shanoff's WUC: Celts, Wooden, Pac-16, Harper

Today's Calls: Ray Allen vs. Rajon Rondo, John Wooden vs. Immortality, Pac-10 vs. Big 12, Bryce Harper vs. the MLB Draft, Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Stephen Strasburg, Tiger Woods vs. the U.S. Open, Joey Logano vs. Kevin Harvick, Tom Thibodeau vs. Tom Izzo, Charles Oakley vs. LeBron and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Let's save the sentimentality. ↵

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↵The Celtics are washed up? Ray Allen -- at the tail end of his career -- had a career-defining performance last night with nothing but ice-in-the-veins shooting. ↵

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↵The Big 12 is about to implode? I'm sure there are plenty of fans of the old Southwest Conference that can tell you that life goes on -- that your favorite team is still your favorite team, no matter what conference it plays in. ↵

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↵Bryce Harper is a jerk? So what? He isn't going to command the highest signing bonus in baseball history for being a nice guy -- just for hammering the heck out of the baseball. And you'll still buy the jersey. ↵

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↵Sad about John Wooden's passing? Fair enough, but if you're younger than, say, 45, you have no memory of Wooden as coach, just Wooden as legend. ↵

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↵And we honor him more if we spent more time trying harder to apply all those simple Woodenisms that got talked about all weekend. ↵

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↵If last week was about the feel-good Galarraga-Joyce Imperfect Game, this week is off to a start about getting stuff done. ↵

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↵More on all those stories and more, after the jump. ↵

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↵NBA Finals: Celtics make their stand. In the 1st half, it was all about Ray Allen's breathtaking display of shooting -- 7 3-pointers, en route to a Finals-record 8 made 3s. In the 2nd half, it was all Rajon Rondo, who racked up a triple-double while leading the Celtics to the upset win in L.A. to snatch home-court advantage from the defending champs. Any lingering questions left over from Game 1 about the Celtics' fitness? Nope. ↵

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↵Remembering John Wooden: For some legends in sports and life, hyperbole simply doesn't cover it. For John Wooden, it was the combination of larger-than-life success on the basketball court with a remarkable philosophy for life, profound for its modesty. As a kid, I remember being so blown away the first time I read through Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" that I hand-copied it and tacked it above my desk for inspiration. If the tributes to Wooden over the last 48 hours have done anything, hopefully they have either introduced or reminded people of Wooden's wisdom. ↵

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↵"Pac-16": Let's try to make some sense here ... ↵

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↵• The Pac-10 has given its commissioner authority to expand, aggressively -- as in: invites to Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and either Colorado or Baylor, depending on whom you ask. ↵

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↵(This is extraordinarily ironic, given that the Pac-10 has been the most vocal roadblock to a college football playoff because they profess to care so much about "tradition.") ↵

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↵• This was presumably in a response to the Big Ten's long-rumored expansion plans (now more imminent?), which reportedly include Missouri and Nebraska -- both of which have been given an ultimatum by the Big 12 to stay loyal or not ... by the end of the week. ↵

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↵(This is also ironic, given that the Big 12 seems to be in no position to be making ultimatums about anyone, given that it is about to be as defunct as the old Southwest Conference it helped replaced.) ↵

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↵• Everyone agrees that Texas is the big prize of the Big 12 -- even the SEC -- but UT would like to see itself as the gem of the Big 12 and its accompanying big, new, money-minting TV deal. ↵

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↵(Could Texas negotiate a deal where the Big 12 ex-pats create a new "Flyover" division of the Pac-10 and, commensurate with their superior product, get a disproportionately bigger part of the subsequent TV deal?) ↵

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↵• Speaking of the SEC, they could complicate things by making an offer to, say, Texas and Texas A&M -- even A&M alone would give the SEC a critical foot-hold in Texas. This could impact the Pac-10's strategy. ↵

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↵(To complicate things, it sounds like Texas Tech could be a state-mandated add-on to any deal that involves Texas.) ↵

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↵• The upshot: It's a land-grab. Look for Mizzou and Nebraska to call the Big 12's bluff and jump to the Big Ten. That will accelerate the Big 12 folding and the Pac-10 expanding (cue sad trombone for Kansas). The SEC will likely expand, too. ↵

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↵MLB Draft: Bryce Harper, the phenomenon, will be today's No. 1 overall pick, going to the Nats and giving them a potentially huge bat to pair with Stephen Strasburg, who makes his debut tomorrow. Note Nats GM Mike Rizzo indicating Harper's shift to the outfield from catcher. ↵

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↵This isn't just so he has a faster development curve to get his bat to the majors; it undercuts agent Scott Boras wringing out a higher signing bonus because a big-hitting catcher is more valuable than a big-hitting outfielder. (Boras will still get whatever he wants, which will likely be the biggest bonus ever.) ↵

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↵More MLB Draft: Harper, then ...? Get ready with SN's final mock draft. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵• Ubaldo Mania: 11th W. ↵

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↵• Strasurg vs. Lincoln: Not happening. ↵

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↵• Salvaging pride: The O's ↵

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↵• "Injuries": So about Ollie Perez ... ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Blackhaws now just one win away from their first title in nearly a half-century. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: Tied for 19th at the Memorial, 12 shots behind winner Justin Rose. If his goal was to lower expectations for him at the U.S. Open, he has succeeded brilliantly. ↵

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↵NASCAR: The highlight of Denny Hamlin's win at Pocono? Young Joey Logano confronting 2010 Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick after the messy end to the race. Here's a Logano money quote about Harvick: "It's probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family, tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault." Uh, this isn't over. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Tom Thibodeau, the most highly regarded assistant coach in the NBA, will get his first shot at a head-coaching gig with the Chicago Bulls, which is about as good of a situation as a rookie coach can be dropped into: The Bulls have Derrick Rose and the cap money to make a run at Dwyane Wade or a big. Of course, along with that comes some pretty tough expectations: Not just making the playoffs, but joining the small group of elite teams competing for a championship. ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Tom Izzo will NOT be the next coach of the Cavs. He hasn't said anything. It is simply a non-starter, and the Cavs have to know that. Not sure why they are even bothering to float the idea of pursuing him. At this point, the team is so far out of the LeBron conversation they seem desperate. (Perhaps they should be.) ↵

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↵Oh, and Charles Oakley reminds every has-been that they can make the media radar if they just say something provocative about where LeBron should go. ↵

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↵(The same thing happens with Brett Favre: Anyone who has an opinion about whether Favre is coming back or retiring makes headlines. Even kickers.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Success is the peace of mind that is a direct result of doing your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." -- John Wooden. ↵

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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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