The Opening Pitch: Even Michael Jordan thinks LeBron is a Scottie Pippen.
That's the shorthand: Real stars are "Michaels" -- they carry their teams themselves. More than that, they want to carry their teams, to be The Man.
Very talented but entirely supporting players are "Scotties" -- which is kind of offensive to Pippen, but nonetheless an easy way to label a player as a mere "running-mate." He either can't be or doesn't want to be that uber-star.
MJ hedged a bit, but you couldn't ignore the underlying sentiment:
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. ... In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
Now, who knows what MJ would have done 20 years ago, if he had the chance to play with Barkley or Ewing or Drexler. But you know he would never have left his team to play for someone else.
In one interpretation, I still think that LeBron sees himself as transcending the old-school partisan basketball battle lines in an unprecedented way -- rivalries are for chumps, when you can team up and dominate.
But in another perspective, Jordan makes sense: LeBron is taking the lame way out and has self-identified himself as a weak-willed second-fiddle who has revealed himself to perhaps not have the mindset of a champion.
In that way, it is unfair to call LeBron a "Scottie" -- after all, Pippen did win six rings. LeBron is more like a "Barkley." (And, for the record, Barkley himself thinks that LeBron is a chump for making the move.)
Meanwhile: Dwyane Wade needs a new metaphor.
Golf: So how'd that whole "reclaim mojo" thing work out for Tiger at the British Open? Oh.
NBA Free Agency: Brad Miller is one of those entirely underrated signings that we will come back to next spring when the Rockets are making a run at the Western Conference title. If Yao can stay healthy -- and even if he can't -- Houston will be very tough.
(The Bulls also continue their terrific summer with the signing of Ronnie Brewer, a versatile and athletic shooting guard who new coach Tom Thibodeau could turn into the team's designated defensive stopper.)
NBA Summer League: It figures that John Wall would put up the Summer League-high in points. (31 on Friday night in a win over the Hornets.) He sat out the team's finale on Saturday and will likely never play Summer League again, but his instant legend is secure. He was also named most outstanding player of Summer League.
MLB Talking Points:
• Cubs beat Halladay: Series win boosted by my appearance at Wrigley?
• McCarver inserts foot: Opens mouth.
• Walk-Off Watch: Twins' 4-run 9th
• AJ Burnett sorry: For anger-management issues?
• Ubaldomania: Pitches today vs. Marlins.
• Injury Watch: Pettitte's groin.
• Fantasy Stud: CJ Wilson (Career-high 10 Ks).
NFL Offseason: Uh, sure. You can have Adrian Peterson -- enjoy those game-killing fumbles! -- and I'll take Chris Johnson. Not only will I have a better RB, but I will have a more valuable all-around player AND win my fantasy league title.
(I think it's time to consider the Ravens as a strong favorite -- perhaps THE favorite -- to win the AFC. They already had a monster D; now they have a good offense to go along with it. That is not too far off from the profile of another trendy pick to win the AFC: The Jets.)
CFB Countdown: No. 46 UCLA. If Rick Neuheisel can't make up ground on USC over the next few years, given the way the Trojans are hamstrung by the NCAA, Bruins fans should demand he get fired. This year needs to show promise.
"Scandals": Drinking in college? By underage students? And they're football players? Say it ain't so!
CBB Offseason: The only silver lining of Dean Smith's progressive neurological issues is that he had such a remarkable career that the rest of us have more than enough memories to ensure the coach has a hallowed place in history.
The Last Word: To follow up Friday's post, the first MLB game for my kid was a blast. Wrigley couldn't have been a better setting -- aside from the melting Chicago heat -- and although we didn't make it to the thrilling (and ultimately game-winning) 8th-inning HR by Aramis Ramirez, we did stay through the 7th-inning stretch, fueled by cotton candy and the ol' kids' standby: The ice-cream-in-a-mini-helmet. I think the Cubs have a new fan.
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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