FROM BIRD TO XENA: BELIEVE IT OR NOT

The Live Albom . . .

* OK. Admit it, Red Wings fans. You were looking for the national anthem singer extra closely Thursday night, just in case something else happened . .
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* What’s funny about Lucy (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) Lawless’ spilling out of her top while singing the anthem Tuesday night is this: Nobody ever wants to hear her sing again, but a lot of men now plan to watch her TV show.

* Speaking of hockey, I’m sure Steve Yzerman took time to visit the movie studios on this trip to Southern California. After all, he’s a hot commodity after “Scream,” the film he made under his big-screen alias, Skeet Ulrich.

* And while we’re on the subject of hockey and movies, never let it be said that the Wings’ locker room isn’t cinema- friendly. Yzerman is a big fan of art films. Darren McCarty is known as the quickest critic on the team, able to thumbs up or thumbs down with lightning speed. And Brendan Shanahan is reigning champion of the Wings’ unofficial No. 1 pastime, “Name Three Stars In The Movie, Then Name The Movie.”

* The idea is to pick a film in which one of the three actors didn’t have a big part, then stump your opponent. For example: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Tim Robbins. Answer: “Top Gun.” Robbins had a bit part.

* Now you know what they talk about on the bench.

* Larry Bird was a great player, but I’m not sure he’ll make a good coach. Knowing the game is one thing. Getting others to play it is another.

* My bet is Bird, who has never coached anywhere, is experimenting here. He figures, why not try it, for a couple of years, at $4 million per? If he fails, at least he didn’t have to move far from home.

* But Magic Johnson didn’t like coaching in his short stint. Bill Russell never really got the job done. The trick to coaching in today’s NBA is managing personalities, not X’s and O’s. Bird was never really tolerant of certain behavior. And unlike when he played, he won’t be able to just take the ball away and shoot it himself.

* Then again, if anyone can make it as a coach, it’s a former Celtic. Consider K.C. Jones, Don Nelson, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Dave Cowens. And whom do the Celtics hire? Rick Pitino, a New Yorker.

* Speaking of the NBA, whatever sun Dan Majerle didn’t get as a kid growing up in Michigan, he is certainly getting in the NBA. Every time I see him, he looks as if he got out of a tanning booth. Also, the older he gets, the more he looks like the Lions’ former quarterback Bob Gagliano.

* By the way, what exactly were the Philadelphia 76ers thinking? For $5 million a year, you should get two Larry Browns.

* Barry Sanders’ holding out until he gets more than Scott Mitchell is childish and insulting. Otis Thorpe made more than Grant Hill this season. Did Grant quit? Everyone knows Barry’s money is coming. Meanwhile, he has a contract. If he wants to continue to be known as a man of honor, he should honor that.

* The Anaheim-Detroit series may not answer many questions for Ducks fans, but it answered one for me. I always wondered what Macaulay Culkin would look like when he grew up. And now I know. Teemu Selanne.

* The good news is that Tigers pitcher Willie Blair will be OK. The bad news is, until he got hit in the jaw, most Detroiters had never heard of him.

* Those college basketball loyalists who insist players aren’t taking favors from outsiders should consider the Marcus Camby incident. His acceptance of money, jewelry and women from an agent just cost UMass $151,000, and erased its Final Four appearance from the record books. And you know what? At one point, Camby and the school insisted he never took anything.

* I’m glad the Knicks are playing well, but if they make the finals, assistant coach Don Chaney may have to cancel his summer concert tour, where he uses his stage name, Teddy Pendergrass.

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