***The NBA needs Lebron James to emerge as the next superstar--on and off the court. And, Lebron looks ready to become the next Jordan-like prescence. His performance in Game 4 against the Pistons was unforgettable. And he's put his team on his back to get them to the NBA Finals. Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Lebron doesn't have anyone in Pippen's class. And Larry Hughes, arguably the Cavs' second best player, has been hurt. Having said that, I like the Spurs in five.

***The Rams are starting to garner some national media attention. On "NFL Live" on ESPN, analyst Michael Smith picked them to win the NFC West. And former Bears QB Jim Miller predicted that the Rams offense would emerge as one of the league's very best on his satelite radio show.

***I'm sitting down with Jim Haslett this week. The conversation will air on Sports Sunday(June 10). For those that don't know, Haslett was an old school hard-nosed linebacker for 8 years in the NFL. Every once in a while, we saw that personality emerge last season. They saw it a lot in New Orleans. I'm hoping we see it more often in 2007. His former Bills teammate Fred Smerlas contends that they used to drive around Buffalo and have "ugly contests." They'd walk up to a random house, knock and ask whoever answered which one of them was uglier. The one that got picked won 20 bucks. It should be noted that those alleged contests took place early in their careers when they were still in the early 20's.

***Very few households in the U.S. are tuned in to the Stanley Cup Final and that's a shame. It's been a very entertaining series. Not to beat a dead horse, but the NHL continues to decline under Gary Bettman. When will the owners wake up? Kudos to NBC for putting Canadien t-v legend Don Cherry on the game four broadcast. He and Brett Hull were great together.

***The Edwardsville baseball and softball teams both advanced to the Elite 8. What sport doesn't Edwardsville excel in? It's a high school sports powerhouse. I know the enrollment is sizeable but it takes more than numbers. Having Ed Hightower in place as the superintendent is a great start. And then there is the school--a first class facility that puts some area colleges to shame. And for my money, Tim Dougherty runs the best football program in the area. The won-loss record and quality of student-athletes are impressive.

***The Hancock family has yet to withdraw the frivoulous lawsuit. Shame on them. Pathetic.

***Speaking of pathetic, the Brewers continue to allow the Cardinals to remain within striking distance. Great article by Rick Hummel this week shedding some light on how this year's Central Division ranks among the all time worst divisions. Right now, it's awful. So, if the Cards can tread water until Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder return, who knows? That said, Walt Jocketty should be a busy man as the trade deadline approaches later this summer if the Cards are still contending. The organization would owe it to the guys who would have kept the team in the race.

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