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My disdain for the NBA is, to be frank, trumped by desire to see the city of Cleveland win a championship in anything before I die, so I've called my travel agent and had him book me a seat on the LeBron Bandwagon. My beef with the NBA is that it's largely unwatchable, but the Cavs have an aesthetically pleasing style of play. Thanks to the NBA League Pass free preview I've seen just about Cavs every game, and I haven't once dozed off. This isn't my first flirtation with NBA fandom, by the way. In its Bird-Magic heyday it was totally watchable. Nor is it the first time I've hitched my wagon to the Cavs. The Cleveland teams of the early '90s were terribly underrated. Sure, they couldn't beat the Bulls if their lives depended on it, but top-to-bottom they were really solid. (I'm serious. Mark Price, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty is a pretty impressive trio. Throw in Hot Rod Williams and Craig Ehlo and now you're cooking with gas. The rather obvious problem: no Jordan. But no dead weight, either.) At any rate, fellow Daily Blogger (for the many readers who've asked why this is called the Daily Blog if I only write once a week: it's called the Daily Blog because each day an SI writer blogs; we rotate daily) Chris Ballard listed his top five NBA teams to watch and inexplicably left the Cavs off the list. How can you not want to watch LeBron? And is there anything cooler than when an overhyped athlete lives up to the hype?
It's that time of year. Time to shine one's boots and pewter belt buckle, take one's tux out of storage and have the feather on one's tallest cowboy hat buffed. Yes, the annual NASCAR banquet is fast approaching, which means the season is wrapping up. A couple of things about the year that was. First, I've said it before and I'll say it again: the new points system was a great idea. Could use a little tweaking (I'd still like to see wins worth a little more), but you can't deny the interest it's injected into the sport. (Unless you're one of those NASCAR haters, in which case you've already skipped down to the next item or left the page entirely.) Second, kudos to Jimmie Johnson, who has all but overcome a nearly 250-point deficit to put some serious pressure on leader Kurt Busch. Third, I'm picking Jeff Gordon to win it all. Busch has been a little shaky the past few weeks and Johnson can't possibly win again (he's won four times in the "playoffs"). A 21-point deficit isn't much for Gordon to overcome. If he wins and leads the most laps Busch can finish fifth and still lose. So Gordon's the pick here. He's been down this road before, and after last week's late-race pit snafu (his crew committed a costly gaffe, getting the air hose stuck under a rear tire) his guys are going to be focused and looking for redemption.
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Good work by the New York State Athletic Commission in banning Evander Holyfield from the ring. Holyfield made $1.5 million to get his ass kicked by a journeyman named Larry Donald last Saturday. Really, though, Larry David could have pummeled Evander, who's 42. He landed 70 punches in a 12-round fight. The NYSAC suspended him indefinitely for "poor performance." Amazingly, Holyfield still wants to fight.
Nice to see Ohio State AD Andy Geiger ripping ESPN for having the gall to report Maurice Clarett's accusations against the football program, saying he's never seen "an institution attacked like this before." This guy does not get it. Andy, they're reporting the news. That's their job. You should be more worried about yours. I watched a documentary on Woody Hayes a few weeks ago, and while he might have been a bit too crotchety for his own good, he ran a program the way it was supposed to be run. He not only made his players go to class, he made them read a vocabulary book, and he'd quiz them to make sure they were. It's sad to see the beating the school's reputation has taken -- and it's happened on Geiger's watch.
One of my best celebrity sightings yesterday, if only for the fact that it was a two-fer: Keri Russell having pizza for lunch with Andrew McCarthy. (Previous best two-fer: Dan Hedaya, my favorite actor, dining with Burt Reynolds. Actually it was a three-fer if you count Burt's hairpiece.) Yes, Felicity dining with Blane from Pretty in Pink. Is that his defining role? It's got to be, right? Or Mannequin, or Weekend at Bernie's?
At any rate, I'm done here. Thanks for reading, and stay classy.
Mark Bechtel covers NASCAR for Sports Illustrated and SI.com.