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Sports Meme Power Rankings: The NBA Hates Having Money Edition

Spencer Hall's Sports Meme Power Rankings list the top 10 most-discussed sports stories on the Internet and beyond each week. These are determined by a rigorous process that incorporates a complex formula involving none of your business.

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1. UP LIKE THE HOPES OF CONFIDENT MILWAUKEE BUCKS FANS EVERYWHERE: Happy Lebronakkah! Apologies, Milwaukee. You're a fine city, blessed with some lovely fin-de-siecle architecture, friendly people, bratwursts on every corner, and the Safe House, the CIA-themed bar where I drank myself blind one night in 2004 before boarding a flight to Florida. You have nothing to apologize for, though you might want to say a quick "sorry" to the woman who listened to me drunkenly shout at her for two hours about the unheralded greatness of the film Innerspace. 

(I stand by this opinion to this day, as it is Martin Short's one and only cinematic masterpiece. I should also mention I passed out and drooled on this woman's shoulder, too. WHY'D YOU MAKE ME DROOL ON A HELPLESS WOMAN MILWAUKEE? ) 

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Milwaukee gets singled out as one of 24 places that have no chance of signing LeBron James, and indeed are not even trying. LeBron will be going to one of five places, each with its own charms, to be sure. Los Angeles has glamour, New York has unparalleled marketing opportunities, Chicago has the pieces already in place for a championship team, and Miami is very close to other warm places you can easily fly to where you won't learn to hate humanity with an unquenchable fire. 

But what of LeBron's great passion no one is considering in all the speculation about his mother, his motivations, and his legacy? I speak of course of LeBron's deep passion for raising rare specialty chickens in an urban environment. 

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Chicago: Chicago, IL. Can have unlimited number of chickens if use is only for pets or eggs; cannot have if use is to slaughter. Must be penned. 

Cleveland: No roosters, but up to six hens. You have to have a license, but prior to 2009 this was not even an option, since keeping chickens was banned under Cleveland city codes until last year. Why'd they change it, you ask? I think your answer averaged 29 points a game last year and rhymes with "LeBron," but like Cleveland's efforts to keep him it's too little and too late.

(Seriously: a license to keep a chicken? It's not like you can drive or shoot a chicken, right? Chickens don't fire bullets, do they? If they do, I'm very disappointed in the lack of ambition they've shown in allowing themselves to be eaten so frequently.) 

Los Angeles: Number of chickens you can keep is unlimited. Chickens may not be within 20 feet of owner's residence, and must be at least 35 feet from any other dwelling. If you play for the Clippers, chickens will be strangled in the night by owner Donald Sterling for no reason besides reminding you how awful a human being he is. Sorry, it's the law. 

Miami: Picky, picky: may have up to 15 hens, no roosters, contained at least 100 feet from neighboring structures, some neighborhoods exempted, chicken poop has to go in garbage, blah blah blah. The full code re: chickens in Miami is longer than the actual number of written laws enforced in the city of Miami at any point in its history. Dwayne Wade will just blame them anyway for whatever goes wrong if/when you don't win instant championships, Lebron, and you don't want to put the chickens through that. 

New York:  New York City, NY. Color me shocked: you can keep an unlimited number of hens in the city itself, since they are considered pets. Delicious, oh-so-trusting pets. No roosters may be kept, because New York City is full of sexist city council members who have something against the noble cock and all the racket it can cause. 

Astonishingly, New York is the most chicken-friendly city of the five, and thus the one with the secret trump card in the Lebronakkah sweepstakes. Keep your blinged-out candies, your imperious Russians and mogul rappers staring from the sides of buildings. The friend of the chicken is a friend to LeBron, and as legitimate and well-sourced a guess as to where he ends up right now as any. (Or at least as legitimate as anything Stephen A. Smith has to say on the matter.)  

DOWN LIKE A CLINT DEMPSEY NOT-DIVING DIVE IN THE BOX: World Cup One/Au Revoir, Les Etats-Unis. Nike must have a commercial at the ready for any event, like newspapers and magazines who have celebrity obits just sitting at the ready for every event. We sit not even a week removed from the United States' hard-fought loss to Ghana in the first stage of knockout play in the World Cup, and Phil Knight's marketing Borg has well-framed, well-edited youngsters incandescent with pride thanking the US team for their entirely respectabel showing in the tourney. 

That whole "not diving" thing is only applicable if we exempt Clint Dempsey, the one American player who despite his toughness enjoys a nice screaming roll in the grass. The rest of the team falls like all American players do when a dive is required: not with Italian antics or Iberian drama, but like a red, white, and blue oak tree being felled slowly by a weak-swinging lumberjack with a dull axe. Watch Jozy Altidore sometime when he dives, and you will see a man who looks less in pain and more like someone stricken with a sudden case of vertigo. 

Pride and backslaps all around, sure, but the United States team faces growing pains now. Do they keep Bob Bradley, the manager whose primary expertise consisted of adjusting quickly to mistakes made by United States manager Bob Bradley? Can American players continue to find playing time in the EPL and beyond, thus exposing them to the international game even further? Most importantly, can American players begin to enjoy the same degree of scrutiny over their sex lives that--yes? Yes, they can

/wipes tear

Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived as a national team. 

3. UP LIKE THE SETTING ON HIS GASTRIC BAND AFTER A TRADITIONAL ARGENTINE BARBECUE: World Cup Two/Diego Is Not Nervoussshhh. With eight teams left, we should remind you that Diego Maradona has not lost a game yet as a World Cup manager despite running over a cameraman after a practice, promising to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if Argentina wins, having his dog attack him in the run-up to the Cup, telling reporters who did not believe in him to "suck it and keep sucking," and allegedly hitting on a female journalist at the cup.  

Add in "mocked an opponent's accent' to this list of illustrious achievements, since Maradona (in response to some testy remarks by Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger about Argentine tactics) asked the Germans "Are you nervoushhhhhh?" Soccer brings the world together, but so does one other thing: making fun of thick German accents. (Especially in song.) 

4. UP LIKE YOU ON STILTS WALKING INTO AN NBA GM'S OFFICE: The NBA Is Building A Money Furnace, And Invites You To Keep Warm Next To its Glowing Heat. Joe Johnson is a good basketball player by all accounts, and a very good basketball player by some. He now stands to make more in salary per month than Cristiano Ronaldo, and without all those pesky European taxes, for being something around a 20/5 guy for the Atlanta Hawks. He's 29 years-old, and the contract is six years long. 

Sure, it's a war-damaged condo on the beach in LIberia without a security system. BUT IT'S SO AFFORDABLE AT ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS A MONTH! 

Amir Johnson averaged 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game last year for the Toronto Raptors. He was just given a five-year, $34 million deal. 

She's bipolar, sure, and I've only known her for three weeks. She didn't mean to fill my truck with bees. It's a sign of love, plus she was really bored, and I'm to blame for living so close to an active beehive. The temptation was really too much. I'm telling you, when I wake up in the night and see her open eyes staring at me from two inches away, I keep thinking the same thing: this is the one! 

The Minnesota Timberwolves signed Darko Milicic--that Darko Milicic--to a five year, $20 million deal. 

I like the used 1991 Plymouth Sundance, but...can I pay more for it? I mean, $56,000 seems like such a small price to pay for such a classic car. 

The NBA at this exact moment in free agency is the old aristocrat attempting to blow his spoiled, horrible children's fortune before they can get their hands on it. If you'd like a piece of the pie, don a trenchcoat, walk into an NBA GM's office on stilts, and demand a free agent contract. They'll be some negotiation, of course, but after five minutes or so you should walk out the door with at least a five year, $15 million deal based on height and a pulse alone. 

5. UP LIKE SHOTGLASSES HELD BY ESPN EXECS: Roger Federer And Andy Roddick Are Highly Paid Spectators.

Executives are always thrilled when favorites bomb out of major tournaments, and when two of the top television draws eat it before the semifinals they begin drinking openly in the production booth. (This happens in the blowout stages of football games, and is the real reason the camera starts to lecherously wander the stands for attractive women eating pizza, thus combining the two great lusts of all drunks: ladies and stacked combinations of starch, fat, and meat.) 

At least Serena Williams still has [YET ANOTHER RUSSIAN WOMAN DOOMED TO DIE AT THE HAND OF SERENA WILLIAMS] to face in the women's final. 

6. UP LIKE THE HAND OF A O.G. CAKE-SLAPPER: Mike Vick's Former Associates Introduce You To The Enlightenment Era Art Of Cake-Slappin'. Mike Vick's birthday party shooting will blow over, both since Vick left the party early, and because it is a truth universally accepted that sometimes parties in Virginia Beach end with non-fatal shootings. (The good ones, at least.) 

This should be noted for posterity, however: 

An unidentified eyewitness told the newspaper that shooting victim Quanis Phillips, a codefendant in the Vick dogfighting case, tapped or slapped on the hand of Vick's fiancee, Kijafa Frink, as she fed Vick cake. He said little cake touched Vick's face, but words were exchanged.

CAKE-SLAPPIN' IS SOOOO GANGSTA. 8-Ball and MJG have to do a song on this now. 

Rose in my hand

Your girl in my lap

Sucka got a question

Got some cake for me to slap? 

Straight g in the spot

hundred thousand at the trap

We ain't fightin in the club

We just got the cake to slap 

Got the frosting on your grill

Cause you too slow to react

You a busta and a fake

And your cake is gettin' slapped

Press it, sell it, and pop the bubbly, gentlemen, because that is hot platinum sex on two legs. Royalty checks best be headed this way.  

7. UP LIKE CARLOS QUEIROZ'S TENURE AS PORTUGAL'S COACH: Cristiano Ronaldo Is A Coach's Best Friend 

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via 24.media.tumblr.com

Cristiano Ronaldo is all about accountability. Clarification: someone else's accountability. 

"How do I explain Portugal's elimination? Talk to Carlos Queiroz,"

Ronaldo then donned a mankini, dove into a tub of baby oil, and emerged glistening in a pair of $1500 sunglasses to look for answers by a pool in an exclusive Mediterranean resort. 

8. UP LIKE THE ANGRY FISTS OF A THOUSAND DOUBTING FRENCHMEN: Lance To Race His Next (Last) Tour de France. This is the last Tour de France for Lance Armstrong, who promises to be a good teammate as long as he is not photoshopped in any way while riding on his bicycle. If that happens, all bets are off, brah, because only two things enrage Lance Armstrong: being accused of doping, and having a number photoshopped onto that sweet American Apparel t-shirt he spent eighteen bucks on, dog. 

9. UP LIKE THE SMILE WRINKLES ON DANA WHITE'S FACE: Fedor Emelianenko Goes Down At Strikeforce. Fedor accidentally fed his arm to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu monster at last week's Strikeforce, an event receding into the past as we speak but still shocking because, you know...it's Fedor, the flabby but indomitable Russian capable of knocking people into alternate time zones. 

Much like the cake-slappin', we would like to rescue this bit of internet greatness from going down the memory hole without mention: Dana White's reaction to the defeat on Twitter. 

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The incongruity between shaved-head, testosterone-forward White and the teeny emoticon: that's what makes this so delicious here. 

10. UP LIKE A HOPELESS FOURTH QUARTER PASS INTO TRIPLE COVERAGE: The Ever-Present Brett Favre PR Death Star and Country Bear Jamboree.  He's throwing to high schoolers! His bicep didn't shear off the bone when he wound up to throw! WRANGLER JEANS MAY YET HAVE A SPOKESMAN TO EMBODY EARTHINESS AND LEADING THE LEAGUE IN SMILES. Really, he and Lance Armstrong are the same person at this point with one discrepancy: Lance Armstrong has only given up one ball in a time of crisis. Favre has given up too many to count at this point.