With the start of the NBA season just around the corner, a few rants to relieve the brain of some congestion:
• Rant No. 1: Michael Jordan holds up the Denver Nuggets for $150,000 extra in guarantees for his appearance in the Washington Wizards' exhibition in Denver this week.
Sorry, even if the money goes to the Wizards, not Jordan, that's criminal. Let's not set a precedent for the game's stars with appearance fees, as they do in tennis. Otherwise, let's wipe out the preseason and just get on to the regular season after training camp.
• Rant No. 2: Shaquille O'Neal says he will play in the 2004 Olympic Games, if Phil Jackson is the coach.
Sorry, Shaq, such an ultimatum doesn't fly. If one player is going to be dictating coaching assignments for our national teams, I'm done paying attention. Plus, Jackson has never been involved in the process of working his way up the ladder with the various national teams, as other coaches have done. To name him out of the blue is a slap in the face to others who have embraced the system rather than ignored it.
• Rant No. 3: Through a Mandarin language Web site, fans in China will be able to vote on players for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game.
Hmm, wonder who they might vote for É talk about stuffing the ballot box.
It's all part of Commissioner David Stern's fascination with globalization, and it's ridiculous. And by the way, if Yao Ming is the starting center in the Western Conference, do you think Shaq will show up for the All-Star Game? Yeah, sure he will.
• Rant No. 4: It's not an original thought, but a good one: Can't we switch the nicknames of the New Orleans Hornets and the Utah Jazz, since Utah is the Beehive state?
• By my count, 17 former Trail Blazer players or coaches are coaching with other teams.
Former Blazer players include head coaches Rick Adelman (Sacramento) and Lenny Wilkens (Toronto) and assistants T.R. Dunn (Denver), Lionel Hollins (Memphis), Jerry Sichting (Minnesota), Terry Porter (Sacramento), Johnny Davis (Orlando), Dave Wohl (Orlando), Craig Neal (Toronto) and Steve Henson (Atlanta).
Former Blazer coaches include head coaches Adelman and Rick Carlisle (Detroit) and assistants Davis, P.J. Carlesimo (San Antonio), John Wetzel (Sacramento), Elston Turner (Sacramento), Tim Grgurich (Phoenix), Dick Harter (Boston) and Tony Brown (Detroit).
Other coaches with Oregon connections: Boston head coach Jim O'Brien and Milwaukee assistant Don Newman are former University of Oregon assistants; Minnesota assistant Greg Ballard is a former Oregon player; Boston assistant Lester Conner is a former Oregon State player; Miami assistant Erik Spoelstra is a former University of Portland player, and Milwaukee assistant Ron Adams is a former Blazer scout.
• Ex-Blazer assistant Jim Eyen is keeping busy as a regional scout for Golden State. Eyen also is serving as a consultant for pro teams in The Netherlands and Germany, and he flew there late last month to stage a clinic and help with training camps.
Eyen, his wife and two children have maintained their home in Lake Oswego since his dismissal from the Blazers in July 2001.
'We love the Portland area,' Eyen says. 'We will stay here until there's a good enough reason to leave.'
• Former Oregon State defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo reveals he is gay in an interview for Tuesday's 'Real Sports' on HBO. Tuaolo says he retired after five NFL seasons in 1999 largely because it was difficult and frustrating to keep his sexual orientation a secret. Locker room jokes about gays 'made me go further and further into depression, further and further into shame' and contemplate suicide, Tuaolo says in the interview, parts of which were published in The New York Post.
• Gary Payton says he will make good on his promise to donate $3 million to Oregon State, though it probably won't happen until the Seattle Supersonics' free agent-to-be signs his next contract. The money will go toward the 60,000-square foot Gill Coliseum annex that will cost from $8 million to $10 million. It's scheduled for completion in about two years and, of course, should be called Payton Place.
• Warner Pacific has a fund-raising drive to to raise $7 million for a new gym. Athletic Director Bart Valentine says that goal was set with tongue in cheek.
'It is more likely we will refurbish the gym rather than build a new one, so we probably don't need $7 million,' Valentine says. 'But we have had some interest from some of our prosperous alumni, so that's encouraging.'
• If you want to touch the Heisman Trophy, you're in luck. It will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 at Portland Motorcycle Co., 1133 S.E. 82nd Ave., as it makes its way on a tour throughout the country.
Instead, I suggest that you stop by the Portland law practice of Terry Baker, the 1962 Heisman winner from Oregon State, and ask respectfully if you can palm his dome.