MIAMI VICE? U.S. LOSS ADDS DISORDER TO COURT

Hear ye! Hear ye! The nation’s first Sports Court is now in session. Step forward, and ye shall be heard. Ye shall be judged. Ye shall be sentenced.

And I don’t wanna hear any complaints.

CASE 1: The people vs. U.S. basketball team.

CASE SUMMARY: Tired of no air-conditioning, of spicy food, and of all that

Spanish, the U.S. men’s basketball team at the Pan Am Games left the athletes’ village in Havana and flew to Miami between games, staying at the exclusive Mayfair House hotel, where rooms cost up to $600 a night and feature

hot tubs and VCRs. Despite all this, the U.S. lost Thursday to Puerto Rico in the semifinals.

Defendant’s plea: “The days of Boy Scout camps are over,” says Bill Wall, executive director of USA Basketball. “You can’t equate us with team handball

players.”

JUDGMENT: You’re damn right, Bill. Team handball has more class. Since when did your players — including such blockbuster stars as Jim Jackson, Adam Keefe and Tracy Murray — deserve special treatment? I don’t care if you had Magic and Michael; at the Pan Am Games, all you were was another group of participants. What you did disgraced your country, embarrassed the other athletes and insulted a nation where the average citizen can’t afford mud. Obviously, you need a geography lesson, Bill: It’s Cuba, not La Costa.

And on top of all this, you lost! To Puerto Rico! Extra laps in the hot tub tonight!

SENTENCE: Because you enjoy American comfort so much, I hereby sentence you — and your team — to six months at the Motel 6 in Waco, Texas.

Next? CASE 2: James Edwards vs. Detroit Pistons.

CASE SUMMARY: Edwards, in the last year of his contract, felt he was underpaid. He wanted to renegotiate. The Pistons said no. Edwards said “trade me.” The Pistons did. To the Clippers. Edwards, angry and resentful, threatened to fly to Italy — where he has signed with yet another team.

Edwards’ plea: “How about a little gratitude?”

Pistons’ plea: “Have a nice day in LA.”

JUDGMENT: Despite the fact that Edwards, scheduled to make $933,000 next season, has enough money to buy and sell this court 100 times, it was the Pistons who were being cheap here. They squeezed Edwards like a dishrag the last few years, relying on him to spark the team when everyone else went cold. How many nights did his streak shooting keep Detroit in the game? Edwards was a starter, just like Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman and Isiah Thomas, yet Laimbeer now makes twice as much as Edwards, and Rodman and Thomas make nearly three times as much. Sure, Edwards is older and slowing down. And Jack McCloskey figured, why renegotiate a depreciating asset? That’s good business. It’s also a little cold.

Trading Edwards to LA for guard Jeff Martin — who? — was obviously an attempt to dump Edwards’ salary, so McCloskey could make room for Orlando Woolridge, who has worn out his welcome in plenty of other towns. I’m not sure why Jack loves Woolridge so much, other than he costs less than Edwards and runs a little faster. But didn’t James help win two championships in this town? Isn’t that worth something?

SENTENCE: McCloskey must grow a Fu Manchu mustache and sit with his legs crossed, Buddha style, until the end of this season.

Next? CASE 3: Pete Rose vs. Howard Cosell.

CASE SUMMARY: Cosell, a bitter and fading former sportscaster, writes a book in which he claims Rose, thanks to his gambling-on-baseball controversy, actually caused the fatal heart attack of commissioner Bart Giamatti, who passed away a week after banning Rose from the game.

Cosell’s plea: “I tell it like it is.”

Rose’s plea: “Hey, Giamatti didn’t go through half the stress I went through.”

JUDGMENT & SENTENCE: Both of you should be sent to a sandbox and whacked over the head with a little plastic shovel. CASE 4: Mike Tyson vs. The Beauty Contest.

CASE SUMMARY: Tyson was asked to appear at the Miss Black America pageant. By the time it was over, women were screaming that he fondled them, and in one case, committed sexual assault.

Pageant’s plea: “Mike Tyson is a serial buttocks fondler,” the pageant said in a lawsuit.

Tyson’s plea: “Huh?”

JUDGMENT: Tyson has now taken more slaps from women than he has from opposing fighters. A “serial buttocks fondler”? Whoa. Mike. Let me explain. A beauty pageant isn’t a fruit stand. You don’t squeeze the merchandise. Women are people, they have been for, gosh, a long time now. Didn’t Robin Givens teach you anything?

SENTENCE: Every time he tries to squeeze a woman, Tyson must punch himself in the face. CASE 5: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Their Reputation.

CASE SUMMARY: Despite having the best talent in baseball the last few years, the Blue Jays have consistently choked down the stretch. Now they have lost seven of eight and, clinging to first place, they arrive in Detroit for a series that might determine the American League East.

Blue Jays’ plea: “We have suffered enough. We request to be relieved of our choker reputation.”

JUDGMENT: Too bad. This court is in Detroit.

Next?

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