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Monday, Dec. 2


M E D I A W A T C H
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki is an iconoclast, and not just because of his hair.
(Glenn James, NBAE/Getty Images)

TAKE IT TO THE (MAGAZINE) RACK
This week, Media Watch takes a look at two international men of mystery.

First, we'll introduce you to The Deutsche Marksman, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. "What?" you say. "We know Dirk."

Yes, but do you know how he prepares for the rigors of the NBA season? Ah ha! We thought not. Thanks to this week's Sports Illustrated, Nowitzki's unorthodox training secrets are revealed: fencing, one-legged jumpers, chess and walking on his hands. In a league where success breeds imitation (Zone defenses anyone?), maybe you'll see more 7-footers walking on their hands. Then again, maybe not.

Our second mystery man, or Manu, is Spurs' rookie Emanuel Ginobili. In ESPN the Magazine, Manu is wearing a cowboy hat, looking slightly like Kid Rock in shorts. While the talent is there, Ginobili's health hasn't been. Nursing a sprained ankle, Ginobili has been half the player he knows he could be. But the Argentine has come a long way from being a 5-5 17-year-old to one of the more intriguing rookies in the NBA.


THERE GOES MR. JORDAN

While I was loudly digging in to one of the 15 pies or into the 30-pound turkey my mother made (don't ask, she's crazy), quietly, on Thanksgiving, Michael Jordan announced his retirement for the third, and final, time. When this season is over, Jordan will be done. (Washington Post)

Before he returned to the NBA with the Wizards, Jordan had mentioned that he was "99.9 percent" sure he wouldn't play again. But to show you the strength of that tenth of a percent, Jordan returned. What about this time?

"It won't be no points, zero," Jordan said. "It would be 100 percent, I'm sure."

OK, we believe you and so do several of his teammates, who would like to make Jordan's final season memorable for all the right reasons. (Washington Post)

Reaction among sportswriters across this great land ranged from relief, apathy and, some, just piled on. (Chicago Sun-Times)

But is the reaction to Jordan's retirement and the feelings toward Jordan different for the fans? Do you still like Mike or is it time for him to take a hike? Let NBA.com's Click and Roll know what you think and we'll print the best responses.

DREAM TEAM REDUX

In the Washington Post's Jordan retirement article, author Steve Wyche points out what kind of class the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Which has a pretty cool feature about Hall of Famers retiring, then yielding to basketball's siren song once again) may be welcoming soon:

"If Jordan, a five-time league most valuable player who led the NBA in scoring a record 10 times, retires, he could be leading a brigade of future Hall of Famers who have already stepped away or could do so at season's end.

"Wizards assistant coach Patrick Ewing, a longtime great with the New York Knicks, retired before the season. Longtime Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon also retired and San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson has said this is his last season. Utah's guard-forward tandem of John Stockton and Karl Malone could be playing their last seasons. Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who is not playing this season, could be forced into retirement because of a kidney ailment."

Impressive, isn't it?

YAO WOWS 'EM OUT WEST

The Houston Rockets and Yao Ming made a West Coast swing, going 2-3. But the big story was the big man in the middle and how he could draw crowds, both on and off the court.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE
"I think Yao Ming is like the new Bruce Lee. He introduced some new ideas to the American people."
-- Tang Yinjie, a graduate student from Shanghai (Houston Chronicle with an assist from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
In an age where everything is done and desired in an instant, one writer urges patience. (Seattle Times)

But while some have taken a wait and see attitude when it comes to Yao, others have taken a score of friends and a plane thousands of miles because they couldn't wait to see Yao in action. (Houston Chronicle)

SIMPLY THE BEST ARGUMENT

Remember (because it was soooooo long ago) when we asked you about who you thought was the best player in the game today? Well, two ESPN.com writers took a crack at it. Here's how it played out.

Peter May will take Tracy McGrady, while Mitch Lawrence came to Kobe Bryant's defense. (ESPN.com)

MORE HOOPS STUFF

NBA ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE
Sean Patrick Thomas, who was in Barbershop, hoops with the Clippers in the NBA Entertainment League.
(NBAE Photos)

ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE
The NBA Entertainment League is in full swing and you know how the celebrities come out to watch the Lakers? Well, they also come out to watch other celebrities play basketball, as evidenced last week Britney Murphy (starring opposite Eminem in "8 Mile"), Ashton Kutcher's real-life girlfriend and co-star in the upcoming "Just Married," showed up to root on Ashton and his Clipper teammates Breckin Meyer (Kate & Leopold), Sean Patrick Thomas (Barbershop), and Scott Speedman (Felicity).

What's it like to score three points in a quarter? Ask Nuggets coach Jeff Bdzelik: "I had more fun having my wisdom teeth pulled." And that was without Novocain. (Rocky Mountain News)

Here's a headline you never expect to read: Grizzlies, Lakers still taking shape. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Gary Payton is the ultimate Seattle SuperSonic. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

And, as you know, Payton and Jason Kidd go way back. (Seattle Times)

Patience is a virtue for Wizards rookie Juan Dixon. (Balitmore Sun)

With the Pacers at 14-2 as of Monday, we know Isiah Thomas can coach. (Indianapolis Star)

Doc Rivers needed to put his Big Three on the court at the same time. (Orlando Sentinel)

COUNTDOWN TO 70:

Bibby
Welcome back from the holiday. While you were away, the Kings went 3-1 last week to improve their record to 14-5, and keep their preseason hopes of reaching 70 wins alive. Mike Bibby's prediction still has legs, even if he hasn't played yet.

Win No. 14: 103-84 over Rockets
Loss No. 5: 90-74 to Wolves
Wins needed to reach goal: 56
Games remaining: 63
Bibby's line: On injured list
America, can you embrace Allen Iverson? (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Could Big Dog have been sweatin' it in Miami this season instead of the ATL? (Yes, I listen to OutKast.) It almost happened. (Miami Herald)

Former NBA player Grant Long hopes for one more shot. (Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)

John Thompson is still coaching Dikembe Mutombo. Though this time, he's receiving a little help from his son. (New York Times)

Every Sunday, NBA beat writers put together notes columns by doing what I do, pilfering from others. Here's one of the more interesting notes columns from this past weekend. (Denver Post)