In basketball, the intrigue with the physical has always been devoted to the extremes of height -- the very tall and the very short: say, Yao Ming at 7-foot-6 or Nate Robinson at 5-9. That makes the fascination with LeBron James' body all the more unusual.
He stood 86 floors above the earth, staring down at lower Manhattan from a corner of the observation deck at the Empire State Building. Liu Xiang, the reigning gold medalist and world-record holder (12.88) in the 110-meter hurdles, had just completed a half hour of interviews with the broadcast press and had a minute to himself before a small army of print reporters met him. He turned his lanky body toward the fence, stretched his arms, and looked at the skyline below him.
Maybe the Houston Rockets didn't get the memo, the one that said their success was supposed to end when Yao Ming could no longer be a part of it. Maybe they forgot that you can't compete in the Western Conference without a dominant center and that their 7' 6" model was lost for the season on Feb. 26 with a stress fracture in his left foot. Maybe they weren't told that their 12-game winning streak was supposed to disappear with Yao; instead they capped off a perfect February and, with a 103-89 home victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, matched a franchise record with 15 straight wins, vaulting them into fifth place in the West.
On the eve of the big Texas presidential primary, it's only fitting that two teams from the Lone Star State would be battling it out atop these Power Rankings. Yes, the Rockets and Spurs are this week's choice to head up this ticket. They get the edge over the similarly high-flying Lakers for now, though the race is tighter than the delegate count between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
After sputtering to a 13-15 start, an opening to the season that earned "Most Disappointing" honors from nearly every corner of the sports media universe, the Rockets have spun off seven wins in their last 11 games. A modest profit, to be sure, but one more befitting a team expected to contend in the Western Conference after winning 52 games last season.
Kobe Bryant didn't get traded. The league's new Big Three shined in its debut. And one city welcomed NBA basketball back to town (New Orleans) while another moved a step closer to losing its team (Seattle).
Remember when high-impact NBA rookies were all peach-fuzzed kids right out of college? Those days are long gone. As the 2007-08 season gets set to tip-off, the top rookie is just as likely to be a world-weary European free agent sporting full facial hair and maybe a championship trophy or two from some international competition.
When I first visited the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve, I expected to see an untouched paradise. While it is still beautiful to the naked eye, behind the scenes, all is not well. While there, I learned that the famous sharks of the Galapagos were under siege for their fins.
Houston Rockets' star center Yao Ming married longtime girlfriend - and basketball player for the Chinese national women's team - Ye Li at a posh hotel in his hometown of Shanghai on Monday, reports the Associated Press.
The birth certificate from the Democratic Republic of Congo makes him out to be 40-years-old. But his NBA colleagues have long joked that the document must be forged because Dikembe Mutombo is years older than that. The punch line? That comes when Mutombo laughs along: Eyes squinting, cheeks bursting, his laughter fills the room like music in a jazz club, and he looks young enough to be a student at Georgetown all over again.
Injuries to big-name players come up every season, but this year has been especially brutal. Shaquille O'Neal. Yao Ming. Lamar Odom. Paul Pierce. Chris Paul. Michael Redd. Those are just a handful of the big names currently out of commission.
The NBA's injury bug is starting to frustrate. Not only has it taken its toll on some of the league's best teams, but it's also starting to shake the infrastructure of these vaunted and venerated Player Rankings. No Yao Ming, no Pau Gasol, no Shaquille O'Neal, no Carmelo Anthony (he pulled a hamstring running from Jared Jeffries), no Paul Pierce, no Chauncey Billups, no Chris Paul, no Chris Bosh, no Rashard Lewis -- we're too close to having to throw in Devin Brown at No. 20 just to round out the list, and nobody wants that. Devin Brown doesn't even want that.
The NBA has committed its share of fouls in recent years -- it's never a good thing for a player to go after a fan in the stands -- but franchise values keep rising and corporate sponsors are jostling to get into business with the league. A big reason why is China.
On the eve of the Athens Olympics, the most pressing issue has nothing to do with security, last-minute ticket sales, or whether the concrete will dry on all those down-to-the-wire construction projects.