The morning links, (Almost) All-Blogger Thursday edition, size XXL:
Detroit-based Beyond Boxscores comes down like a ton of torn tickets on alleged bookmaker Rick Tocchet, making the case for zero tolerance on sports gambling of any kind: "Why do I hold such an anti-gambling stance? I guess it's because I don't want there to be any indication that the sports we watch are contrived. I don't even want to consider the possibility that the miracles of sports history were, perhaps, not quite so miraculous."
Down in Carolina, the Acid Queen bounces off Jes, head-fakes Mirtle and goes hard to the net:
"Unless the League does something serious in response to this to distance themselves from the people involved--even Wayne Gretzky, if it comes to that--then I really do think that there will be some serious and potentially irreparable damage done to what little image the NHL has left."
There's tons more out there, and it has Vancouver Canucks OpEd running for cover. Can't blame 'em.
Elsewhere, the Raptors went into overtime last night (again) and lost to the Spurs 125-118 (if nothing else this season, these Raptors are entertaining in their all-offence, no-D approach, the Spurs shooting an unbelievable-in-any-universe-but-the-Raptors' 59 per cent off Tony Parker's slashing setups). I'll take the blog rant lead: as good as Mike James' fourth quarter was (check out the Popcorn Machine's GameFlow -- James had 18 points in the fourth to go with two rebounds, two assists and a steal), his ball-hogging overtime period undermined it all. No Tim Duncan (out with flu), old pal Sean Marks (where'd he get that jump shot?) and Rasho Nesterovic fouled out, and James is still putting his head down and hell-bent driving? No wonder they didn't get a field goal in nine overtime possessions. Oh, one more thing: the just-like-old-times moment came when Antonio Davis missed a triple putback from two feet away late in regulation that would've avoided overtime entirely, but A.D. actually played all right in his 33 minutes, 12 over his season average.
Three more hoops items I've been holding in the queue: Raptors HQ has their usual excellent Euro roundup; and with Chris Bosh a cinch to be named to the all-star team tonight, here's a Bosh-KG parallelogram from Aaron Miller; and from Raptorblog, Scott Carefoot welcomes back Antonio Davis. (And yeah, it's not a blog, but I'll make an exception for Bill Simmons' latest, for the priceless Vince Carter yarn at No. 11 alone).
And from the non-bloggers out there:
Morning links Lines of the Night are back! In the NBA, we give you Gilbert Arenas, coming to an All-Star Game near you: 45 points, with that 23 of 25 from the line setting a franchise record previously held by Moses Malone. And in the NHL, Flyers rookie Mike Richards steps up in lieu of missing Forsberg and Gagne with three goals on three shots, and Philly keeps pace with the streaking Rangers.
Team Canada update: Jay Bouwmeester in for Scott Neidermayer.
Team Egypt update: Mido -- the man, the moaner.
And finally, a Rome newspaper has come up with a novel approach to counter extremist Ultra fans: hand out copies of Life is Beautiful.