Just a few thoughts É

• I'm not sure if anyone understands how hard it is for a guy who is only 5-10 to score 54 points in an NBA game. Man, what an accomplishment for Damon Stoudamire. Small people don't get easy shots in that league. And they don't get dunks.

And with the Blazers, Stoudamire doesn't get a lot of easy fast-break baskets because the team doesn't run much.

I hope Stoudamire's big game helps people understand, too, that no matter what else happens, the player known as 'Mighty Mouse' is a tough, gritty guy who always plays hard. And being a short man in a tall man's profession is not an easy way to make a living.

• I hate it when people hold Peyton Manning personally responsible for the failures of the Indianapolis Colts. It goes a lot deeper than one guy. Let's not write him off as a perennial loser just yet Ñ it took Michael Jordan seven seasons to win his first NBA title.

Isn't it funny how we judge quarterbacks by the championships they've won, but we don't do that with running backs or offensive tackles or anyone else in a helmet?

• I don't like it, either, that weather has such an impact on pro football. Yeah, it's kind of fun to watch one of those ice-bowl games on television from the comfort of my living room, but it's not necessarily a fair way to decide a championship, because poor conditions favor inferior teams.

And I have no interest in sitting in 10-degree wind-chill temperatures watching one of those games.

• I don't care what they say, if Paul Allen can fire his longtime confidant, Seattle Seahawk President Bob Whitsitt, anything can happen with the Blazers. Yes, that means Maurice Cheeks could be fired at midseason.

Problem is, the Blazers may be so far from playoff contention in another couple of weeks, there would be no use dumping him.

• I disagree with those who think baseball's steroid policy doesn't have teeth.

Those people point to track and field's two-year steroid ban. Folks, come on Ñ two years of track is equal to about 10 days of baseball, when you talk about income. And if you flunk the test in baseball, they're going to keep testing you.

Besides, while a lot of teams would love to employ steroid users, few will want to take a chance on a guy who once used steroids, was caught and is now being monitored. That's too risky Ñ either he won't be as good without them or he's sure to be caught again.

• OK, I'll come clean. I know I may be the only person in Portland willing to admit it. I miss the NHL.

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