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Notebook: Colangelo defends the indefensible
February 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM
LOS ANGELES -- Jerry Colangelo and I have a fundamental disagreement.

He thinks transparency and openness are bad things. I think they're good things. As a result, I remain a steadfast critic of the Hall of Fame selection process.

Smooth and composed as always, Colangelo withstood a barrage of questioning about a broken process at today’s Hall of Fame nominee announcement. It made news for its exclusion of former Pacers great Reggie Miller, but in a more typical Hall of Fame moment it also shunned the all-time leader in NBA coaching wins (Don Nelson) and a two-time NBA champion (Rudy Tomjanovich), while including what would be the 10th college women’s coach in the Hall.

While I have no particular animus against the nominee, Tara VanDerVeer, only 10 NBA coaches have been inducted and the league’s history is more than twice as long as that of women’s college basketball. I think we can all agree that’s completely ridiculous.

And the culprit, once again, is an opaque process in which a clique of unidentified insiders select the nominees and then, months later, the inductees.

To his credit, Colangelo genuinely wants to make the institution better. This year he's instituted some changes to address a pattern of oversights that left the Hall heavy with coaches and nearly barren of players.

Nonetheless, the Hall’s biggest shortcoming remains its near-total lack of transparency, and the minor modifications Colangelo came up with -- announcing the composition of the committee but not who is on it -- are mere window-dressing.

“The only thing we’re going to fall short of is specific names of people,” said Colangelo.

In other words, the only thing they’ll fall short in terms of transparency and accountability is … transparency and accountability.

“We’re trying to keep it pure,” said Colangelo in a moment of unintentional comedy. It’s 100 percent pure, alright ... purely corruptible.

Show me a secretive process, in any walk of life, and I’ll show you one rife with corruption, politics and pettiness. The only cure is the sunlight that a transparent selection process provides. This is why we instinctively recoil when things are decided for us in darkened back rooms.

"We're trying to protect these individual from being politicked,” said Colangelo, but what he’s really doing is protecting them from having to defend indefensible selections and exclusions. If he’s not going to identify the voters and their votes, there’s little to prevent backroom dealing and score-settling.

We don’t know why Miller, Nelson and Tomjanovich were excluded. But we do know that the process with the most transparency, baseball’s, is also the one that works the best, while the one most similar to the NBA’s -- the NFL’s -- has faced similar complaints about insiders patting each other’s backs.

“Some of the people who are doing the voting [in baseball] don’t mind all the calls and all the e-mails,” said Colangelo. “That’s a personal thing. There are those who would rather not be bothered with that kind of process.”

All at once now: Then don’t include them, Jerry!

Contrary to Colangelo’s belief, there are lots of people who consider this important enough that they’re willing to make defensible choices and stand up for them in public. Until we get such a system, the Hall of Fame will remain a flawed institution.

It’s unfortunate, because it plays an important role in preserving and communicating the game’s history. And while Colangelo has helped the institution tremendously in some respects, he’s going to have trouble gaining more respect for it until its secretive process is fixed.

“It’s my job to convince you and everyone else that this is a good system,” said Colangelo. On that we agree. As long as the current system is in place, however, he won’t succeed in his mission.

For Favors, the end nears

    Carmelo Anthony isn’t he only player at the All-Star game facing trade questions. New Jersey’s Derrick Favors -- the centerpiece in the Nets’ proposal to pry Anthony from the Nuggets -- was here too. He played in the Rookie-Sophomore game and had a relatively uneventful night with nine points.

    Regardless of whether he lands in New Jersey or Denver, he knows he only has to put up with this until Thursday.

    “I can’t control it. Whatever happens, happens,” said Favors. “I can’t wait for it to be over with. It’s been happening since the beginning of the season. I’m just tired of hearing about it.”

    Ironically, Anthony was on the opposite sideline as an assistant coach for the sophomores.

    Not the type of ceiling we usually talk about

      If they need somebody to re-paint the world-famous ceiling fresco at the Residenz in Wurzburg, Germany, we might have just the guy. Asked what he’d be doing if he weren’t playing basketball, Mavericks star and newly confessed Per Diem reader Dirk Nowitzki answered that he’d follow his father’s footsteps and have a painting business.

      “Be the tallest painter in Germany,” said Nowitzki. “I’d get all the ceilings without a ladder.”

      Nowitzki, now in his tenth consecutive all-star game, says it’s a different experience from the first time he came in 2002, in Philadelphia.

      “I was just in awe,” said Nowitzki. “Just being in the same locker room with Shaq, Kobe, KG back in the day, some of the guys that I looked up to -- it was an amazing experience. That will always be something special."

      “Then it gets a little more routine and you know the guys a little better and you know the circus around it now, and the whole hype. But the first time I’ll never forget. [It’s] all about soaking it in, getting to know the guys, enjoy the hype around it. I’m sure Blake [Griffin] and Kevin [Love] are both going to have a blast.”

      The loneliest table

        For the fifth straight year, Joe Johnson of Atlanta made the All-Star team. And for the fifth straight year, he had the most barren table at Friday's media day. While mob scenes surrounded Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, Johnson talked before an intimate gathering.

        I asked him about it, and it turns out he's fine with that.

        "Y'all know how I roll," said Johnson. "I don't cause a lot of havoc, I'm an easygoing guy. I come out to have fun, it doesn't bother me that there's not a lot of reporters around my table. I just enjoy the moment."

        For Johnson, it's the game, not the fame... and his relative anonymity has its advantages.

        "I think what a lot of guys tend to lose is that when we started playing basketball it wasn't for the fame or the money. It was because we love the game, that's all it was about."

        "I love the fact that I can get up and go to the mall from time to time.... not to say I won't be noticed, but I won’t get bum-rushed. I enjoy that I can lead a normal life a little bit."
        John Wall wins Rookie Challenge's MVP Award with 22 assists (Video)
        February 19, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        John Wall won the MVP award at the NBA Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam Friday night, as he guided the Rookies to a 148-140 victory over the Sophomores by scoring 12 points and dishing 22 assists, the most in the game's 17-year history. The previous high number of assists was the 17 provided by Chris Paul in the 2007 game.

        Now, I can hear the naysayers already, and let me just say this: I know the game didn't count. I know DeMarcus Cousins (33 points, 14 rebounds) probably should have been at least the game's co-MVP. I know the defensive intensity was not, shall we say, at a high level. I know that there were 288 points scored in a 40-minute game.

        But ... take a look at this pass from Wall to Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and if you don't have at least some reaction to it, then I say you're lying.


        High Winds and Falling Temperatures
        February 19, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        Overnight: Clear, Bright Increasing Winds

        Temperatures: Falling Low 40s by Dawn | Wind: NW 20-30 mph

        Saturday: Sunny but Very Windy and Much Cooler

        Highs: 49-54 | Wind: 25-35 Higher Gusts

        Sunday: Sunny AM Increasing Clouds PM

        Highs: Near 50 | Wind: Light

        A cold front with strong winds has swept across the area.  A HIGH WIND WARNING tomorrow/Saturday for winds that could be up to 50 mph in the high ground west and north of DC.  Even in the immediate metro area winds will be around 30 mph and higher gusts so there could be some power outages.  The intense storm way to our north in southern Canada will move off later Saturday so winds will rapidly diminish and then some clouds, which might produce some needed showers by Sunday night, will spread in Sunday afternoon.  Light winds Sunday and no big storms in sight

        No Articles Found
        February 19, 2011 at 7:21 AM
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        House catches fire in NE D.C.
        February 19, 2011 at 6:54 AM

        A fire broke out in a house in NE D.C. Friday night.

        No injuries were reported from the fire, which occurred at about 6:30 p.m. at a single-family house on the 2800 block of Channing Street.

        Fire officials said flames could be seen burning through the roof of the house.

        Tyren Devin Hyman sentenced to 41 years for killing mother of five
        February 19, 2011 at 6:33 AM

        A 32-year-old D.C. man was sentenced Friday to spend 41 years behind bars for a fatal 2007 shooting of a mother of five.

        Tyren Devin Hyman had pleaded guilty to second degree murder and assault with intent to kill.

        Hyman met the victim, LaDonna Carter, 31, and her friend on Aug. 15, 2007. During their encounter, he became convinced that Carter stole money from him. She denied that she stole from him.

        Authorities said Hyman shot and killed Carter in the 3600 block of Bangor Street SE on Aug. 16, 2007 after she and her friend got out of his car. During the shooting, he also shot and wounded Carter’s friend.

        Hyman was on supervised release at the time of the killing.

        United reacquires Brazilian midfielder Fred
        February 19, 2011 at 6:25 AM

        D.C. United added yet another midfielder to the club's roster today, announcing that it had acquired the rights to the Brazil-born Fred from the New England Revolution in exchange for a 2nd-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. This will be Fred's second go-round with United, as he played for the club between 2007 and 2009.

        “We are excited that Fred will be back in a United jersey,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper in a statement. “He will make our already deep midfield that much deeper and give us a great attacking player who can create and score goals. Fred is very motivated to return to D.C., and we look forward to his contributions.”

        Fred (full name: Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva) scored 11 goals in 72 MLS appearances for United in his three years with the club before being traded to the Philadelphia Union in January of 2010. He scored four goals in 25 MLS games for the Union, who did not offer him a new contract after the 2010 season and made him eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft instead.

        The 31-year-old Fred was selected by the Revolution in the second round of December's Re-Entry Draft, but he refused New England's contract offer and chose to look for work overseas, unsuccessfully.

        Fred, whose 19-year-old brother Junior Carreiro also plays for United, is not to be confused with the Brazilian international Frederico Chaves Guedes, who is also known as Fred and currently plays for the Brazilian club Fluminense. He joins a crowded United midfield that includes designated player Branko Boskovic, U.S. International Dax McCarty, MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar, and stalwarts Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta and Conor Shanosky.

        High wind warning in effect for D.C. area Saturday
        February 19, 2011 at 6:04 AM

        Tonight: Clear, Becoming Windy

        Lows: Around 40 | Wind: NW 10-20+ m.p.h.

        Saturday: High Winds, Sunny and Cooler

        Highs: Low 50s | Wind: NW 20-30 m.p.h. Gusting to 60 m.p.h.

        Sunday: Increasing Clouds, Cooler

        Highs: Upper 40s | Wind: SE 4-8 m.p.h.

        A High Wind Warning is now in effect for the majority of the D.C. area from 5am to 9pm Saturday. In addition, a Wind Advisory is in effect for the same time period for Southern Maryland and Stafford County and points south. No, I am not finished yet... A Storm Warning is also in effect for the Potomac River as well as the Chesapeake Bay. What does this all mean? It's going to be very windy tomorrow, and at times dangerously windy. Winds will gust from 50 to 60 m.p.h. at times through the area and may gust to near 70 m.p.h. along the Bay.

        The cold front is moving through the region this evening and winds will begin to pick up through the overnight hours. Temperatures will fall from the perfect 70s, to the 30s and lower 40s. Tomorrow will be windy, sunny and cooler with highs in the lower 50s. The winds will again be the big story with gusts possibly bringing down trees and large branches. High profile vehicles may also be prone to the high winds which could be strong enough to attempt to switch lanes of traffic for you.

        The winds will slacken Saturday evening and overnight and temperatures will fall into the 20s once again by early Sunday morning. Sunday will be cooler with highs in the upper 40s. Clouds will begin to increase through the afternoon hours as a warm front moves to the northwest of the region and a few sprinkles are not out of the question either late Sunday.

        Be sure to send in your weather pictures to iwitness@wjla.com

        Michael Hase, USAID official, charged with stealing government property
        February 19, 2011 at 5:54 AM

        An U.S. Agency for International Development official was arrested and charged with stealing government property.

        Michael Hase, 62, was taken into custody on Feb. 17 at Dulles International Airport. He was ordered to stay in the D.C. area, placed on electronic surveillance and barred from taking out funds from a $2.45 million investment account without approval from the court.

        According to an arrest warrant, Hase was the controller for USAID in Armenia from May 2005 through Sept. 2009.

        As controller, Hase was responsible for loan default payments due from Armenian banks received U.S. government funds.

        Authorities allege that Hase instructed an Armenian bank to forward a loan default payment of $19,335 to his personal account.

        A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Hase for March 18, 2011.

        High winds may knock out power over the weekend (Update)
        February 19, 2011 at 5:15 AM

        Update 5:15 p.m. Pepco will be scheduling extra crews and contractors to be on-call during the weekend due to expected high winds, according to a statement from the utility company.

        If your power does go out, you will need to call Pepco at 1-877-Pepco-62 to report it. That is the only way Pepco will know that you have no electricity.

        Original post Enjoy today's beautiful weather because things could get ugly over the weekend — the National Weather Service has just issued a high wind watch for Montgomery County, and the county is warning residents that isolated power outages may begin Saturday morning.

        The watch will  be in effect starting tonight and lasting through Saturday evening, with sustained winds between 30 to 45 mph and gusts blowing up to 60 mph (see scary graphic here). All of that is bad news for residents since those high winds have a tendency to knock over trees and branches onto power lines.

        We all know that snow storms cause all sorts of roadblocks for those trying to restore power, but did you know wind is an even more menacing force? Crews can't even go up in bucket trucks when the wind gusts above 40 mph, so if the wind is gusting all day long, you may be waiting around for awhile.

        Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey says “We’re very much aware of the high wind situation and Pepco is preparing for it."

        Hainey and co. are in the midst of modifying their battle plan to attack possible weekend outages, and they should have some more detailed information later this afternoon. We'll update once we know more.

        High winds expected tonight, tomorrow
        February 19, 2011 at 5:13 AM


        High winds expected tonight
        February 19, 2011 at 5:13 AM


        Melvin Taplet convicted of murder-for-hire plot
        February 19, 2011 at 4:27 AM

        A Maryland man who wanted his former girlfriend’s friend killed was found guilty Friday in a murder-for-hire plot.

        Melvin Taplet, 49, of Elkton, was found guilty of use of a facility in interstate commerce to commit murder-for-hire. He is set to be sentenced in March and faces up to 10 years behind bars.

        Authorities said Taplet wanted to kill a friend of his former girlfriend. He blamed the friend for sabotaging his relationship.

        Taplet offered a man identified only as “Jay” $1,500 as a down payment to kill the friend. Over the next few months, he offered $7,000 to carry out the crime, authorities said.

        Unknown to Taplet, authorities were investigating the case. Taplet was arrested before anyone was harmed in the case.

        New library catalog up, but they're still working out kinks
        February 19, 2011 at 4:21 AM

        Arlington Public Library stuck to its estimates of 'less than a week' for installation of a brand new library catalog system, but there are still a few parts of it that aren't available, as some users have noticed today. Installation began Feb. 13 and the new system went live Feb. 17.

        The email notifications for holds are still not available, although you can find out if your hold is ready by signing on to your account online, according to the library's Twitter feed. You also can't place holds through the mobile version of the catalog right now, the library reports. 

        The online payment for fines is also not working, so you'll just have to let those ride for a few more days. The catalog itself is working, however, and those logging on for the first time will be asked to create a pin number for the new system. Stay tuned to the library's Twitter feed and website for updates.

        Redskins' Brandon Banks released from hospital today
        February 19, 2011 at 4:15 AM

        Redskins kick and punt returner Brandon Banks has been released from an Arlington hospital today, almost exactly one week after he and his friend Christopher Lee Nixon were stabbed outside The Park at Fourteenth nightclub in Northwest D.C., allegedly by 24-year-old James Shorter after a verbal altercation between the three men turned violent.

        Banks was stabbed in the chest and required a tube to be inserted in his chest after the knife nicked his left lung, causing it to collapse. He spent the first four nights after the stabbing at Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C. before being transferred Wednesday to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

        Banks' agent, James Gould released a statement on his client's condition which is quoted in full below:

        “Brandon Banks was released from Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington earlier today. The tube was removed from his chest, and his lung is fully inflated. Brandon should be fully recovered and able to resume offseason training in three to four weeks. He will continue to follow up with Redskins team physician, Dr. Anthony Casolaro throughout this process.

        “Brandon would like to thank Dr. Casolaro and all of the nurses at Virginia Hospital Center for their care and all of his fans, teammates and the Redskins family for all of their support.”

        Banks was signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State prior to the 2010 NFL season. Banks played in 13 games for the Redskins and recorded 1,586 total yards on punt and kickoff returns, as well as one touchdown.

        Jim Graham's former chief of staff Ted Loza pleads guilty
        February 19, 2011 at 4:10 AM

        This post will be updated.

        Ted Loza, the former chief of staff to D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Friday to two felony counts of accepting gratuities and one misdemeanor count of making false statements, ABC7 reports.

        Loza faces up to 4 and a half years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the likely range is a term of 8 to 14 months of incarceration and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $20,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

        Loza was arrested in 2009 and accused of accepting bribes and free trips from an undercover FBI informant in exchange for backing legislation that would have benefited the taxi industry. Loza has always maintained his innocence.

        He is scheduled to be sentenced May 12.

        America's Next Top Model seeks tall local women to create drama
        February 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM

        Do you want to be on top? Are you not here to make friends, but rather to win? Do you have a relationship, parent, religious belief, eating disorder, or attachment to hairstyle that could potentially be exploited in a competitive group situation? Head out to the America's Next Top Model casting call, which will hit the D.C. suburbs tonight and tomorrow in search of women 5'7" and taller who can staff the 17th cycle of Tyra Banks' modeling-themed lady circus.

        According to the application for the show [PDF], producers are looking for women between the ages of 18 and 27 who will help the show hit that delicate balance between maximum drama and criminal liability. Below, the most pointed questions on this year's app:

        Have you ever been to a nude beach? If so, what was it like? (Won't it be ickier when the naked people are around you, also naked, on national television)

        What are you most ashamed of, either now or in your past? (Are you available to relive the worst moment of your life repeatedly for the American public?)

        When was the last time you hit, punched, kicked, or threw something in anger? Please provide details. (And did you throw the thing you threw directly at her, or just close enough to build an episode arc around it without posing any real physical harm to the target?)

        If you are married or in a relationship, how will your partner feel about the potential two-month separation? (And how will your partner feel when we hire six male models to drink champagne with you in a hot tub around the 6 week mark?)

        How often do you get drunk? How do you act when you get drunk? (Are you willing to do things you don't want your boyfriend to later watch you doing on TV, while drunk? )

        What are your thoughts on religion? (How do you share these religious thoughts, while drunk?)

        What types of people would you NOT choose to live with you in the house? (No cheating by purposefully writing down the types of people you actually would choose to live with!)

        Have you ever had a restraining order issued against you? (Was the restraining order issued by Tyra Banks?)

        Describe your relationship with your mother. (Is she available for long public phone calls questioning your worth as a daughter? Will you cry about it, at length?)

        Wind gusts in D.C. Saturday could reach 60 mph; batten the hatches
        February 19, 2011 at 3:41 AM

        UPDATE: On the temperature front, Bob Ryan reports that the record high at Reagan has been broken. It hit 77 degrees today.

        On the red-flag warning front, the Maryland highway department is reporting that a major brush fire has broken out on Maryland 100 (aka Paul Pitcher Memorial Highway) near I-97. Expect "major delays."

        Original: So now we’re under two separate National Weather Service alerts for a weekend that will truly blow.

        First, there’s a high wind watch from late tonight into Saturday evening; expect frequent gusts of 40 m.p.h. all the way up to 60 m.p.h. These winds could cause electricity failures and falling trees and boughs. The NWS is advising people to secure loose objects in their yards or bring them inside so they don’t become kites. Pepco says it's preparing for outages.

        There’s also another red flag warning running from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The cold front racing our way is bringing “precious little moisture” with it, says the NWS. The dry air along with these immense winds will create perfect conditions for big fires to spread.

        Where does 60 m.p.h. rank on the impressiveness scale? “That’s pretty hardcore,” says ABC7 meteorologist Brian van de Graaff. If you’re going hair-gel shopping in preparation, van de Graaff recommends Crew Fiber for its mix of holding power and non-oily texture.

        Where is this wind coming from? A low-pressure area tracking across Canada is dragging a cold front over us. The warm southwest wind that today tied the record high at Reagan National (76 degrees) and broke the record at Dulles (74, above the old 73 record) will shift to turn northwest on Saturday, bringing in cool air and creating a tight pressure gradient with rushing gusts of air.

        Venice, the Pyes and Tom Stoppard: Art and theater 3-day weekend picks
        February 19, 2011 at 3:34 AM

        Presidents giveth and they taketh away: You're getting a three-day weekend thanks to President's Day, but, as D.C. Advocates for the Arts point out, President Obama's new budget will slash support for District arts groups, mainly in the form of halving the National Capitol Arts and Cultural Affairs program. The least you can do with your long weekend is to check out some of these cheap and free arts events:

        Friday, Feb. 18:
        The District's new literary journal The Folly will unveil their first issue at Marvin Pharmacy Bar tonight, toasting their debut with $2 PBRs. The contributors list is chockablock with local artists and tastemakers, including street artist Decoy, fashion writer Holly Thomas, illustrator Elizabeth Graeber and photographer Christopher Chen — not to mention mega-collector Mera Rubell.

        Two pop-up projects — the Mount Pleasant Temporium and Garment District — open today. For the former, check out our photo gallery, and tonight's free event at 7 p.m., featuring music by DJs Bent, Rat, Trash, and Mothersheister of Radio CPR. Tomorrow evening, Speakeasy DC will host a storytelling session. Garment District is hosting Light it Up, and for $10, you can preview the exhibition and hear music by Stereofaith, Chris Nitti, Trevor Martin and others. Artists featured throughout the pop-up's duration include Bridget Sue Lambert, AnaMarie Paredes, and Thomas Drymon.

        Saturday, Feb. 19:
        Curator's Office unveils a new show from local darlings Nicholas and Sheila Pye, who are concurrently showing a new film at the Phillips Collection. Amend features six photographs exploring their romantic separation from each other, including faking their own deaths. Opening reception 6:30-8 p.m.

        Artists J.J. McCracken, Jan Razauskas, and Millicent Young discuss their exhibition, climate, control, at Civilian Art Projects on its last day, with curators Kristina Bilonick and Karyn Miller. Earlier this month, I wrote about the show: "climate, control refers not to the temperature – though that certainly contributes to the success of McCracken's science-fair-project-like work – but to the artist's surroundings, and how she manipulates them to create her work. Same goes for Jan Razauskas, who paints every day objects, evoking the coolness of an empty, air-conditioned suburban four-bedroom home, and Millicent Young, whose horsehair and found wood sculptures make her the nymph-like, ponytailed Martin Puryear of the woods." The discussion begins at 4 p.m.

        Sunday, Feb. 20:
        The National Gallery's newly-opened Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals explores the competitive art of view painting, the beautiful cityscapes that were popular with collectors in the early 1700s. Curator Charles Beddington introduces the exhibition in a free lecture at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery auditorium.

        Monday, Feb. 21:
        Company members of Constellation Theatre, who are probably still out of breath from all of the running around and door-slamming in their zany production of On the Razzle that I saw last night, will be hosting a free reading of one-act plays by Tom Stoppard. One of them, The Real Inspector Hound, is a play-within-a-play spoof of Sherlock Holmes and theater criticism. Tickets are distributed at the door beginning at 7 p.m. at the Source, for the reading, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

        For a reading in a more intimate setting, Forum Theatre's Naomi Wallace Festival continues with a 7:30 p.m. presentation of the playwright's The Fever Chart at private residence. The Fever Chart addresses unrest in the Middle East for which the Guardian wrote, "Sometimes it is the quietest responses to humanitarian disaster that make the loudest impact." RSVP at tickets@forumtheatredc.org to learn the location.

        Single-Track Mind: The big Orange-and-Blue-Line disruption is upon us
        February 19, 2011 at 3:25 AM

        Metro riders, this is your last warning. Starting tonight at 10 p.m. and going through the Monday holiday, there will be no service on the Orange and Blue Lines between Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza, and the Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations will be closed entirely as the agency undertakes a large-scale repair project.

        This is a big deal. So take note.

        If you dare travel the Orange or Blue Line through downtown, there are a couple of ways around the detour. The first is to take a free Metro shuttle bus. These will be running continuously along the route, with Metro employees guiding you to where you need to be, and the agency in fact has a pretty good reputation when it comes to handling these shuttles.

        Your other option is to remain on the rails and transfer around the detour. If you're heading east through town on an Orange or Blue Line train, you would transfer to the Red Line at Metro Center, take that to Chinatown, and hop on a southbound Green or Yellow Line train to L'Enfant Plaza, where you can climb aboard the Orange or Blue again. If you're heading westbound through town, you would just reverse those directions.

        Judging from the decent weather we're looking at for the weekend, the better bet might simply be to head above ground and jump on one of those shuttles. The buses run every few minutes, and you won't have to worry about stringing together two really long transfers together if you barely miss a train or two.

        But your best option of all? Simply avoid the Orange and Blue Lines altogether.

        How to see all the Oscar-nominated films
        February 19, 2011 at 3:23 AM

        I get it. Not all of us can be film reporters. Some of you have to save gunshot victims in the E.R. or resettle Sudanese refugees. You don't have time to laze around in movie theaters. But with a long weekend ahead, you might actually have a free moment to catch up on all these good movies your friends won't shut up about. If you're only interested in the 10 Best Picture nominees, and haven't seen a single one, then let me direct you to AMC's Best Picture Showcase, which includes the opportunity to see five each on consecutive Saturdays, or all 10 films in a row. Can't swing it? There other options. Here's a complete guide to the various ways to see all the Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Documentary (Feature), Foreign Language Film, and Short Film (Animated, Live Action, and Documentary).

        West End Cinema

        • Short Films (Documentary), The Social Network, Inside Job, Winter's Bone

        E Street Cinema

        • Short Films (Animated, Live Action), Black Swan, The King's Speech, 127 Hours

        Bethesda Row

        • The King's Speech, Black Swan, Biutiful

        Avalon Theatre

        • True Grit, The Fighter

        AFI Silver Theatre

        • The Social Network, Black Swan

        Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse

        • The Social Network, Winter's Bone, Inception

        P&G Old Greenbelt

        • True Grit

        National Geographic

        Foreign Language Films

        National Archives

        Free from Feb. 23-27 at the William G. McGowan Theater (info here):

        Documentary (Feature), Short Films (Animated, Documentary, and Live Action)

        AMC Best Picture Showcase

        At the AMC Hoffman Center, Potomac Mills, Loews Rio Cinemas, and Loews Shirlington:

        Saturday, Feb. 19, beginning at 11 a.m.: Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Fighter

        Saturday, Feb. 26, beginning at 11 a.m.: Winter's Bone, Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network, The King's Speech

        At the AMC Georgetown:

        Saturday, Feb. 26, beginning at 10 a.m.: Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Fighter, Winter's Bone, Black Swan, Inception, The Social Network, The King's Speech

        Pick an animal to head your civic association (Poll)
        February 19, 2011 at 3:17 AM

        A civic association over in Annandale inadvertently elected a dog as its president, The Washington Post reports today.

        Former president Mark Crawford served three times and couldn't run again. No one would step up to run, and so he put up his terrier, Ms. Beatha Lee, for a vote while neglecting to mention her species. She was elected, and residents were understandably shocked. From the story:

        Crawford and the nominating committee carefully scanned Article V of their bylaws on officer qualifications. Resident of the neighborhood. Check. Attained the age of majority. Check (in dog years). "Our charter language did not mention that a human had to serve," Crawford said. "The way it was phrased was very accommodating, to be frank."

        All of this is obviously bizarre, but we also had to ask: really, if your neighborhood's civic leader had to be an animal, is a dog really the best choice? Take our ridiculous poll below:


        Which species of animal is most qualified to serve as president of a civic association?
        Suspicious item closes I-395 on-ramp in SE
        February 19, 2011 at 3:16 AM

        UPDATE 3:50 P.M.: MPD says the ramp and streets have reopened and the package has been cleared.

        ORIGINAL: A suspicious package investigation has closed the ramp leading to southbound 395 coming from South Capitol Street SE. South Capitol St. going back to M St. SE and I Street SE/SW in that vicinity is also closed at this time.

        MPD tells ABC7 the suspicious item is some sort of tank.

        TBD is tracking this and all D.C.-area suspicious packages on Tumblr.

        D.C. United's goalkeeper injuries force Onstad back into action
        February 19, 2011 at 3:14 AM

        43-year-old D.C. United goalkeeping coach Pat Onstad has been forced back into action after injuries to the club's top two goaltenders have left them short a safe pair of hands in net.

        A spokesman for D.C. United confirmed to TBD in an e-mail that Onstad has begun training in the club's preseason camp out in Ventura, Calif. along with fellow goaltenders/protegees Chase Harrison and Joe Willis, while United General Manager Dave Kasper told the Washington Post that the club was working on finalizing a short-term playing contract for Onstad, and the former Canadian international will start tomorrow's preseason friendly against the Ventura County Fusion in Oxnard, Calif. 

        United expected to be well-covered at the goalie position before the start of this season. However, that changed when veteran Steve Cronin fractured his left wrist in training last week. The injury will not require surgery, but Cronin will likely be placed on injured reserve, which would automatically rule him out of United's first six league games and make him ineligible to return until the April 29 match at Houston Dynamo. Meanwhile, United's incumbent goalkeeper, Bill Hamid, has recovered from shoulder surgery, but is in a race against the clock to be match-fit for United's season opener March 19 against Columbus.

        "Pat is our best option in goal right now for the situation we’re in,” United coach Ben Olsen told the club's official website. “Pat is an extremely experienced player that can bring stability to our backline – we are very lucky to have him.”

        Prior to joining D.C. United as a coach this past December, Onstad had played for a total of eight seasons in MLS, first with the San Jose Earthquakes, and then with Houston. The Dynamo did not renew Onstad's contract after the 2010 MLS season, making him a free agent. Onstad announced his retirement after passing through the MLS Re-Entry Draft unselected.

        Hurricane season 2011, the movie trailer (Video)
        February 19, 2011 at 3:10 AM

        Do you love extreme weather? Then you'll get a big kick out of this Michael Bayish movie trailer promoting this year's hurricane season. "Don. Katia. Rina. Whitney. Are you prepared?"

        High winds and cooler air coming in
        February 19, 2011 at 3:03 AM

        Overnight: Partly Cloudy, Very Windy and Colder

        Lows: 37-42 | Wind: W-NW 20-35

        Saturday: Sunny but Very Windy and Much Cooler

        Highs: 49-54 | Wind: NW 25-35 Higher Gusts

        Sunday: Sunny AM Increasing Clouds PM

        Highs: 45-50 | Wind: Light

        A strong but dry cold front with very strong winds will sweep across the area the next few hours. This will bring an end to our record high temperatures and in some areas the warmest February day in more than 5 years. Very strong winds overnight and a Red Flag Warning is in effect. The winds will stay strong Saturday evening with plenty of sun and then as high pressure moves over Saturday night and Sunday winds diminish, but some moisture from the west will bring in clouds. Believe it or not, there's even the chance (only 30 percent probability) of some wet snowflakes toward the Blue Ridge and northern Maryland by Sunday evening. Still no big storms in sight.

        Shorter advice columns: Pretty pretty princesses and emotional vampires
        February 19, 2011 at 3:00 AM

        Truncating the week's advice columns:

        It is a bit ridiculous for your mutual friends to have to pass notes to get you and your ex-boyfriend to talk after class. Do not contact your in-laws regarding their ongoing campaign to convince your husband to annul your marriage. Some people delight in boisterous young kids; everyone else suffers. Your fairy tale princess upbringing has instilled you with nonsensical ideas about gender rolls that you apply unevenly to your relationship in an attempt to recoup some of the egregious funds you spend on rent. It is not permissible for your spouse to have a "secret friend" if they respond to your discovery of said friend by screaming at you and maligning your competence and dignity. [Carolyn Hax]

        In order for your life story to transcend the limits of the personal, you must be driven by the engine of what your story means. [Dear Sugar]

        Being alone on Valentine's Day is better than being told "I'm sorry, it's malignant." You did not overreact when you canceled your date with the woman you met online who pretended to be a less attractive woman in order to test your superficiality. Your ex-best friend did you a favor when she slept with your husband, thus removing both of them from your life. If your coworker is carrying on an affair with a married man, confront her, not the man's wife. When your husband begins to undergo a gender transition, include yourself in her counseling sessions in order to decide whether the marriage will survive the shift. You married a jerk. Greet your ex-girlfriend as naturally as possible. Try thinking about marriage while practicing yoga in order to determine if your bridal nausea is related to your current relationship or the institution in general. There is a thin line between an "emotional partner" and an "emotional vampire." The "Wild. Teen (S-E-X)" movie you discovered on your father's computer is nothing to be concerned about. Turn the conversation away from your romantic life by asking for your friends' thoughts on Egypt.  A gift certificate for a car cleaning is a poor Valentine's Day gift; a newly-cleaned car with a jar of nice hand cream in the front seat is an excellent one. [Dear Prudence]

        If the woman you have been dating for two weeks demands that  you give your relationship a "title," inform her she should be lucky you've memorized her name. Napkin rings are not mere decorations, but a means of identifying who used which napkin to avoid anyone's being stuck at the next meal with someone else's stains. All engagement rings, like all brides, are by definition beautiful. [Miss Manners]

        It is entirely possible that you bore your wife of ten years just as much as she bores you. Stop talking to your girlfriend about how great the sex is with her. "Lesbian" can now be employed as a verb to describe the act of over-communication. The straight guy who engages in oral sex with other men and orders custom-made dildos for personal use is not straight. [Savage Love]

        D.C. area crime watch: Former Graham aide to appear in court
        February 19, 2011 at 2:30 AM

        Happy Friday, Washington. Man alive, your TBD reporter needs a weekend. Blotter Blotter begins after the jump.

        State Lines

        • Ted Loza, a former aide to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham is due in court on Friday afternoon. Loza, Graham’s former chief of staff, is expected to accept a plea deal in a bribery case that cost him his career.

        Loza is accused of accepting trips and bribes in exchange for backing legislation that would have helped the taxi cab industry. The hearing’s scheduled for 3 p.m. today in D.C. Superior Court. (TBD)

        • The woman facing criminal charges in connection to a crash that killed one person and left striker Charlie Davies with serious injuries might still be drinking, according to court documents.

        Maria Alejandra Espinoza agreed to abstain from alcohol as a condition of her release, according to the Washington Post, however a recent court filing alleges that she has consumed some alcohol.

        Espinoza is charged with involuntary manslaughter and maiming while driving intoxicated in connection to the October 2009 crash, which killed Ashley Roberta. (Washington Post Crime Scene blog)

        • What happened at the Townhouse Tavern this month? (TBD Neighborhoods blog)

        • The woman accused of tossing her 2-year-old granddaughter from a mall walkway in November was scheduled to appear in court Friday.

        Authorities say 50-year-old Carmela Dela Rosa dropped Angelyn Ogdoc from a walkway connecting the Tysons Corner Center to a parking garage. Ogdoc died a day after the incident. Dela Rosa has been charged with murder. (Washington Post Crime Scene blog)

        All Points

        • OK, TBD’s just gonna say it. Alabama fans are THE WORST. (USA Today)

        • "I just want to know how to feel," says a teenage girl, mourning her best friend. (St. Petersburg Times)

        Two pedestrians hit by cars in Woodbridge, charged with traffic violations
        February 19, 2011 at 2:26 AM

        Yesterday two young men were hit by cars in Woodbridge as they tried to cross Jefferson Davis Highway. Both of the men were flown to local hospitals with injuries, and both of them were ultimately charged with "careless interference with traffic" for crossing outside of the designated crosswalks.

        At around 5:19, Elmer Stephen Hernandez, 19, was crossing the highway near Mount Pleasant Drive in Woodbridge when he was struck by a Ford F-150 truck. Hernandez's injuries weren't life-threatening, and after being charged he was released with a summons.

        A little over two hours after Hernandez's crash, Saul Alberto, 31, was crossing in the 14200 block of Jefferson Davis Highway when he was hit by a Volkswagen Passat. His injuries weren't life-threatening, either, and he was released with a summons as well.

        Although it would be nice to have mercy on someone who was just hit by a car, "You can't cross the street anywhere you want, especially on Route 1," says Prince William police spokesman Officer Jonathan L. Perok.

        The charge is a traffic offense -- not a criminal one -- and could result in a fine.

        Townhouse Tavern targeted in federal cocaine raid
        February 19, 2011 at 2:09 AM

        On the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 10, Dominic Boone was escorted out of Townhouse Tavern, the longtime Dupont-area dive bar he runs and also resides above, in a set of handcuffs. Neighborhood blog Borderstan couldn't help but take note, as the whole thing went down in broad daylight on the 1600 block of R Street NW, but details were scarce until now.

        Here's what happened: A joint FBI/D.C. Police task force had shown up to execute a warrant [PDF] in search of, among other things, "Cocaine ... paraphernalia related to the preparation, packaging, and use of narcotics, firearms, ammunition, books, records, receipts, tally sheets, money orders, bank records ... paper work linking the defendant to the premises, and any other evidence related to drug trafficking."

        Authorities thought they had good reason to suspect Boone, known to friends and regulars simply as "Dom," of selling drugs. A known informant, an individual described in court records as someone who had provided "specific and detailed information about a number of drug traffickers" to D.C. Police, had convinced them that Boone was one of his dealers.

        To prove it, the informant met two FBI agents at a nearby location a couple of weeks back and was subsequently "searched and found to be free of any drugs or money," the accompanying affidavit reads. The agents then handed the informant some cash, watched as he entered and then exited Townhouse Tavern a short time later, and subsequently received from said informant "a number of Ziploc bags" containing what turned out to be cocaine.

        Slam dunk case, right? Not quite, as it turned out.

        When the task force showed up last week to conduct a search, they did find a number of the items on their list in the third-floor apartment Boone maintains above the bar. Among them: "a smoking glass pipe with marijuana residue, a plastic bag with empty zip lock bags, a notebook, papers, mail matter in the name of the defendant, a rolled dollar bill with white residue ... and empty plastic bags with green and white residue." And in a locked storage room that was separate from the apartment, "a loaded 12 gauge shotgun." It was more than enough to place Boone under arrest.

        But it wasn't, in the end, enough to sustain charges. With no actual stash of drugs in evidence, Boone ended up being arraigned in U.S. District Court a week ago for what amounted to transporting a firearm across state lines. That charge has since been dismissed, and after spending just a few nights in jail, Boone's already back home at Townhouse. Which is exactly where I found him Thursday afternoon, sporting a crisp white PBR T-shirt, relaxing on the patio with a cold beer.

        When he took over management of the bar 18 months ago, Boone says he quickly discovered he had his work cut out for him to clear out what he describes as the "unsavory characters" who often came into the bar.

        "When we took over, it was one of those issues we had to deal with," says Boone. "I wanted this to be a place where you could bring a date, and I think we're there now. But when we first bought this place, I wouldn't even bring my dog in here. We'd be cleaning up at night and finding little baggies on the floor."

        Boone also brought in an almost entirely new staff, a move that was met with a certain amount of consternation among the old regulars.

        Then he fixed up the disgusting bathrooms. And installed a fleet of flat screens to replace the handful of dusty tube TVs that always seemed to be showing Jeopardy!, no matter what time of day. The kitchen has been renovated and is once again serving food. The floors are (mostly) no longer filthy. And most impressive of all, wonder of wonders, he somehow managed to get rid of the funky smell that hovered in the downstairs hallway and occasionally wafted into the bar at large.

        "We're really passionate about this place," he says.

        Which is all well and good, but doesn't explain the long list of drug paraphernalia seized from his own upstairs apartment. Is Boone dealing drugs on the side? "Not at all," he says. "Not at all. Not at all."

        He believes the police informant's actions were part of a self-serving set-up that was aided by Townhouse's lingering reputation. "I mean, I knew the guy," he says, but "this was someone I hadn't seen in six months." Suddenly, Boone says, this person showed up out of the blue talking about "letting bygones be bygones," a message Boone claims he didn't understand since they had never had a specific falling out, they had just never really liked each other in the first place. "Imagine someone who had gotten themselves into some trouble," he says. "Maybe they were looking for a way out of something."

        "This was a case where the reality just wasn't at all what it first appeared to be. It just wasn't the case at all. There was nothing there. And that's really all I have to say about it," Boone says.

        As for the shotgun, Boone says that it "was something that was there when we got here," and that basically, he never did anything about getting rid of it. "I don't condone it, I wasn't raised that way, I'm not a hunter," he says. "But when you stumble upon something like that ... mistakes happen."

        The potential irony of last Thursday's raid is that while it gives Townhouse a bit of a black eye, it will also likely scare the cocaine crowd away, something Boone claims is exactly what he wants. "We want to have a better clientele in here," he says.

        Friday Bullets
        February 19, 2011 at 2:08 AM
        When Tim Donaghy talks scandal
        February 19, 2011 at 12:33 AM
        M. Haubs of The Painted Area interviewed Sean Patrick Griffin, author of an important new book about the NBA referee betting scandal.

        Haubs does a brilliant job of digging into, among other things, the way referee Tim Donaghy himself has controlled this story in the media.

        There are many examples, but one of that caught my eye is that Donaghy has said that one of his co-conspirators, James Battista, was incredibly flashy. Griffin discredits a lot of what Donaghy has to say, and in talking to Haubs goes particularly hard in destroying this idea:
        That is the most factually incorrect part of [Donaghy's] book.

        Granted, it may not be the most important point of his book, but that is one of the most absurd comments, among other absurd comments. Battista is the guy who showed up in federal court one day in shorts and a golf shirt. That is Battista's wardrobe. And anyone who's ever known him, knows him as a "fat slob."

        As Battista describes in the book, part of that was for business reasons, it wasn't just for comfort, it was because he didn't want to be a somebody. That was what he had learned years ago, that you don't want to draw attention to yourself.
        TrueHoop TV talks MVP
        February 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM
        Celtics join Bulls in Anthony Parker hunt
        February 18, 2011 at 11:19 PM
        Anyone up for some non-Melo trade chatter?

        Thought so.

        We’ll fire in the tidbits as we get them leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade buzzer:

        Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge wasn’t kidding with his recent proclamation that the Celtics want to make a deal before the deadline.

        The Celts, according to sources briefed on Boston's thinking, have joined their conference rivals from Chicago in pursuit of Cavaliers swingman Anthony Parker.

        The Celts covet an extra playoff-tested shooter/defender as much as the Bulls, with Marquis Daniels out indefinitely and Delonte West missing much of the season so far. Yet it remains to be seen whether either of the two teams is willing to meet Cleveland's asking price.

        The Cavs are seeking a quality draft pick or a young big man with promise in exchange for Parker, who’s averaging 11.5 points and shooting 47 percent on 3-pointers in February.

        A Pacers blog on Reggie Miller
        February 18, 2011 at 10:47 PM
        Tim Donahue on Eight Points Nine Seconds (a website named in honor, it ought to be pointed out, of a few seconds of Reggie Miller's careeer):
        Reggie Miller won’t make the Hall of Fame this year.

        Apparently, he wasn’t even deemed good enough to be on a list of finalists that included Maurice Cheeks and Reggie’s long-time teammate and friend, Mark Jackson.

        Now, I love both of those players, but anybody who thinks they belong in the Hall ahead or instead of Reg is -- quite simply -- drunk.
        Running the wrong way
        February 18, 2011 at 10:39 PM
        I first read it last summer. By then it was well on its way to becoming just about the biggest deal ever to runners.

        You might have heard of Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run." It has so changed the leading edge of American running that among some serious runners now it's just called "The book." (Google or YouTube it -- a mighty and pitched battle, inspired in large part by the book, rolls on.)

        "Born to Run" is built around worthy anecdotes focused on a remote Mexican tribe of super-runners. But the meat of the manuscript is the idea that the way almost everybody runs is just plain wrong. Inefficient, it causes injury, and -- most offensive of all -- it's a contrivance. A modern invention.

        Before 1966, writes McDougall, it was not common at all to have your heel strike the ground first. That started, basically, with Nike co-founder and track coach Bill Bowerman:
        His experiments left Bowerman with a debilitating nerve condition, but also the most cushioned running shoe ever created. In a stroke of dark irony, Bowerman named it the Cortez -- after the conquistador who plundered the New World for gold and unleashed a horrific smallpox epidemic.

        Bowerman’s deftest move was advocating a new style of running that was only possible in his new style of shoe. The Cortez allowed people to run in a way no human safely could before: by landing on their bony heels.

        McDougall explains in detail that the arch of the human foot is one of nature's great shock absorbers. By landing on the midsole, runners can engage it to their great benefit. Landing on the heel, on the other hand, puts all kinds of forces where nature never intended them.

        Reading this book left me unable to run in a manner I considered "normal." I thought about every step, every day, and basically felt dumb -- with all that book learnin' jangling around in my head -- if I continued striking, as I had for decades, on my heels.

        Six months later, I'm the owner of things like Ijinji toe socks and Vibram five fingers. My kids think I own those products to amuse them (gloves for your feet!) and while that's a benefit, I have them because they're designed to let the foot work in a more natural manner. Landing on the midsole with each step is my new norm, and running is less taxing on my body than ever. I dont' just believe McDougall is on to something, I feel it.

        Research cited in McDougall's book and elsewhere suggests that such a shift in running form will so a lot to reduce the likelihood that I'll get injured running.

        But then, of course, having had this personal transformation in running form that McDougall, I couldn't help but notice that ... NBA players run. All over the court, all the time.

        Should NBA players be running differently? Could we be reducing NBA injuries with these kinds of things?

        On HoopSpeak, John Converse Townsend does not split hairs, suggesting that just as NBA players hone their form shooting or coming off screens, they really ought to start honing their running form. It's a fascinating conversation that might sound a bit out-of-left-field in basketball today, but that I suspect will hang around the sport for years, just as it is now front and center in running.
        First Cup: Friday
        February 18, 2011 at 6:40 PM
        • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: "After Derrick Rose put the finishing touches on a Jordanesque fourth quarter in a 109-99 victory Thursday night over the weary Spurs at the United Center, it was fair to ask. We knew this marquee matchup would feature the best team in the NBA. But seeing Rose respond to a rousing pre-game pep talk from Tom Thibodeau with a career-high 42 points, can we be sure which team that was? 'It worked,' Rose said of his coach's rare rah-rah approach. First there was the speech. Then came the statement. Nobody rolls their eyes anymore when the Bulls say they can beat anybody because they keep proving it. They did it again against the Spurs, who arrived carrying a 46-9 record and left hoping the next Rose they see is in a garden. 'He's something, huh?' Thibodeau said. And a national TV audience answered, 'Uh-huh!' So too are the Bulls. They already beat the Celtics, Heat, Lakers and Magic on the same floor so maybe we no longer should be surprised. From now on we should expect such excellence from a team 22 games above .500 and 25-4 at home. I know this was billed as a 48-minute measuring stick and the victory indeed will cause some skeptics to reassess the Bulls' place among the NBA elite. But a victory that never was in doubt mostly reinforced the Bulls are the most surprising team in the East and Rose is the MVP of the league."
        • Herb Gould of the Star Tribune: "Remember the Alamo? Mindful of their trip to San Antonio last November, when they let the Spurs put together a memorable comeback attack, the Bulls were determined not to let the defense rest Thursday night. With Rose scoring a career-high 42 points amid chants of ‘‘MVP,’’ they achieved their goal. In what some wide-eyed Chicago fans were viewing as an NBA Finals preview, the Bulls headed to the All-Star break on a high note, beating San Antonio 109-99. 'I was just trying to do whatever it takes to win,’ said Rose, who scored the Bulls’ last 10 points. ‘If it led to me shooting the ball, thank God the shots were falling tonight.’ ‘Wow!’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ‘What do you want me to say? Good-looking kid, great demeanor, doesn’t beat his chest. Class act on top of his phenomenal play. All those qualities are going to serve him well.’ After reminding everyone that this game only counts as one win, even the circumspect Tom Thibodeau joined the chorus casting their MVP votes for Rose. 'I can’t imagine anyone doing more, not only individually but for our team,’ the Bulls coach said."
        • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "The highlights had barely begun after the Spurs’ loss to Chicago Thursday night before the national naysayers were already slicing through the Silver and Black. Both teams had barely left the United Center court after Chicago’s 109-99 victory before a familiar critic was harping about the Spurs. 'I hate to say it San Antonio because you’ve got some nice guys on that team,' TNT analyst and Hall of Fame member Charles Barkley said almost gleefully. 'But the Spurs are overrated.' Yes, the 'o' word came out from the mouth of the Chuckster. So what else is new? Even after the loss, the Spurs remain atop the NBA with a 46-10 record. No other team is within five games of them heading into the All-Star break. But still, Barkley argues that their body of work against the top contenders isn’t strong. ... So it’s understandable that the Spurs’ record hasn’t been marked with a lot of so-called statement games. And that body of work led to Barkley agains discounting them, saying that Dallas remains the best team in the state and would wear down the Spurs in a potential playoff series. The Spurs have been the healthiest team of the potential NBA title challengers this season. And that good health has been the major reason the Spurs have charged to the best record in the league so far. To really appreciate how good this Spurs team is, you have to watch them every night and analyze the performances they get up and down the roster on a regular basis. It’s hard for some of the national analysts to understand that unless they watch them play regularly."
        • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The Mavericks think they have a way to conquer their bad habit of giving up big leads. They’re going to go into playoff mode. According to owner Mark Cuban -- and confirmed by coach Rick Carlisle -- the Mavericks are going to treat the 26 games after the All-Star break like a boot camp for the playoffs. They have to, according to Cuban. That’s the only way they know how to take care of one of the most pressing issues confronting them. 'That’s something we have to focus on because it’s a lack of focus at different points in the game,’ Cuban said. 'We have to start practicing at playing playoff basketball now, which is something the coach has started preaching.’ The Mavericks have coughed up numerous 20-odd point leads this season. They have been burned on a couple of occasions and hung on for tougher-than-they-should-have-been wins in others. 'It’s something we’re addressing,’ Carlisle said."
        • Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: "So how exactly is this supposed to work at NBA All-Star Weekend? Does it play out like that episode of “The Wire’’ in which Omar Little, West Baltimore’s Robin Hood, finally gets locked up and has to stare down the angry convicts he has stolen from? Will it be like Charlie Sheen having to spend three days locked in a wine-and-cheese party with his scorned ex-girlfriends? Will every Eastern Conference All-Star spend the entire weekend with teeth rather than fists clenched? This season, the Celtics have gone from city to city like outlaws, embracing the idea of being not just the bullies but the villains. And now, with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo all named to the team and Doc Rivers coaching it, the bad guys essentially are in control."
        • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: "Get ready for an awkward NBA All-Star Weekend. There will be a standoff between players and owners, the uncomfortable alliance of the Celtics and Heat and, of course, LeBron James might get booed during player introductions before Sunday’s game. If you don’t think it could happen, then you haven’t been paying attention this season. James has added another phenomenal season to a legendary career, but it hasn’t exactly been a pleasant experience. The delivery of his decision to sign with Miami was a public-relations disaster, and James seemed downright miserable to begin the season. Gradually, he seemed to grow comfortable with his new role as the NBA’s super villain, the most popular player in the league who everyone loves to hate. 'Fans are passionate,' James said. 'They believe that you should live your life and your career through them, and when you don’t do that, they automatically turn. I know that personally.' James uttered those words Wednesday before flying to Los Angeles with teammates Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and James Jones."
        • Bruce Arthur of the National Post: "Stop it. Stop it right now. Don’t get excited, or curious, or get your hopes up. Of course, since this advice is centred around talk -- foolish, kernel-of-nothing talk -- of the NBA returning to Vancouver, and since Vancouver itself stopped caring about the NBA a long time ago, telling people not to get their hopes up is just redundancy. The only reason this is a topic at all is that NBA commissioner David Stern, in a podcast conversation with espn.com’s Bill Simmons, started talked about cities that have expressed interest in an NBA team, should one have to be relocated. ... I’d be thrilled to be wrong on this. A new collective bargaining agreement could create a more feasible cost structure, sure -- the league is aiming to reduce player compensation and increase league-wide parity, since a majority of owners feel left out of the Lakers/Celtics/Heat gold rush these days. Maybe that would lower the bar to Vancouver’s re-entry back into the NBA’s foreign orbit. But two years ago, in another podcast on espn.com, Stern said, 'I don’t think we can go back. I think that was a great city, and I think we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.' He was right on all counts. Too bad."
        • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "When the Blazers' invested $32.5 million in the restricted free agent from Utah over the summer, most pundits -- and Blazers fans alike -- shook their head in a different way, questioning the logic behind dolling out so much money to an undrafted player with just one season of NBA experience. But Matthews has more than fulfilled expectations. Since moving into the starting lineup at shooting guard for the injured Brandon Roy, Matthews is averaging 18.4 points per game. He's scored more than 20 points 22 times this season -- second-most on the team behind Aldridge. Among second-year NBA players, Matthews ranks third in scoring average (15.6 points per game), first in three-pointers (105) and second in free throws (189). ... But ask anyone in the organization, and they likely will tell you Matthews' value extends well beyond statistics. He never misses a game. His demeanor oozes 'chip on your shoulder.' And besides his penchant for flashing a set of 3 Goggles every now and then, Matthews is all business, all the time. In a way, he's altered the way the franchise prioritizes talent. 'We'll use him as the benchmark in terms of our future draft picks and any future trades,' assistant coach Bill Bayno said. 'We'll try to get guys close to him. The toughness. The coachability. The unselfishness. But mostly the toughness. To get a guy that brings what we call a pit bull attitude; that's how you win in the playoffs. It's not just skill. You look at the Celtics. They have that killer, I'll-fight-you-to-get-a-ball attitude. Like physically fist-fight you. And Wesley brings that.' Only two Blazers have played in all 56 games this season -- Matthews and Aldridge."
        • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "Anthony Tolliver usually opens up a book or magazine when he settles into his seat on the Timberwolves' charter flight to road games. Most of the publications deal with real estate or the business world. The Timberwolves forward claims he has become so versed on money matters that he can dissect stock market listings and determine which ventures are worth buying or selling. Tolliver's knowledge of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement led to his appointment, by default, as the Wolves' player representative a month ago. 'He had all the answers in the meeting and was explaining things,' point guard Jonny Flynn said of a meeting Wolves players had with lawyers from the NBA players union. 'We were all looking at him. We figured why not make him our player rep?' Tolliver, 25, did not have a sudden revelation about finance after signing with the Wolves as a free agent in August. The two-year, $4.8 million deal is his first guaranteed contract in a sporadic NBA career. Long before that, Tolliver had developed a passion for learning about money. ... Much of Tolliver's financial focus came from the desire to complete his education. Tolliver remembers that finishing school was 'non-negotiable in our family.' When Tolliver was given a basketball scholarship to play at Creighton, he assured his mother he would get his degree, which he did in four years. 'I didn't want to be trying to get my degree for five or six years,' Tolliver said. 'I was blessed with a different mind-set when it came to education. I didn't know any other way. I wanted to get it done.' "
        • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "He admits he's taken a liking to his nickname, 'Skyenga.' Guard/forward Christian Eyenga took flight on Wednesday in the Cavaliers' 104-99 upset victory over the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The rookie from the Republic of Congo had the most impressive dunk of his career. It came with the outcome on the line. The Lakers had cut their deficit to 72-71 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Eyenga got the ball on the baseline. He slipped, placed his hand on the court to steady himself, and elevated. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder looked like he vaulted off a trampoline, to which Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol can attest. Eyenga threw down his slam over the outstretched arms of Gasol, who was helpless in trying to defend. He was earth-bound. Eyenga was already airborne. 'I try to attack the basket every time,' Eyenga said. 'Yes, it's my best dunk.' "
        • Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press: "The playwright behind the Broadway play 'Lombardi' is moving from the gridiron to the hard court. Eric Simonson is working on 'Magic/Bird,' a new play that will chronicle the lives of basketball Hall of Famers Earvin 'Magic' Johnson andLarry Bird. Producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo were encouraged by the response to 'Lombardi' -- the story of legendaryGreen Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi now on Broadway -- to push ahead with a second sports-themed play. 'We've been fired on by the experience to keep on going and feel that it can be a really thriving series,' Kirmser said Thursday in a phone interview. The story will trace the two basketball stars' rivalry and friendship from their days as rookies in the NBA to their appearance on the Olympic Dream Team in 1992. Johnson and Bird were key parts in the storied struggle between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics during the 1980s."
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