AL HAMNIK: Six sports nuggets worth their weight in gold

2013-07-23T18:30:00Z 2013-07-25T17:23:03Z AL HAMNIK: Six sports nuggets worth their weight in goldAl Hamnik Times Columnist
July 23, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

Here are six sports nuggets you won't get while channel surfing and yawning through the 10 p.m. news:

BIG IS BETTER: Indiana native Greg Oden, a former No. 1 draft pick of the Portland Trailblazers in 2007, is staging another comeback. Maybe.

The 7-foot free agent has appeared in only 82 games for his NBA career due to numerous knee surgeries, and last played on Dec. 5, 2009.

Yet teams are knocking at his door after hearing he is considering a comeback. Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Sacramento and San Antonio are all in the hunt, with the Heat and Spurs considered co-favorites in landing Oden's services.

If Oden was a broken down 6-3 shooting guard, he'd be delivering pizzas somewhere. No NBA executive or coach would give him the time of day.

BIRD DROPPINGS: Pacers' forward Paul George told Slam Online about the day team president of basketball operations Larry Bird walked in at practice two years ago, a ball rolled over to him, the Hall of Famer rolled up his sleeves and ...

"He made about 15 in a row and then walked out like nothing just happened," George said. "It was the craziest thing I've seen. We were speechless. We didn't know whether to keep shooting or just end practice.

"It was sweet, man."

Bird wasn't nicknamed Larry Legend because it was cute. If you're a young fan and missed his career with the Celtics, I feel bad for you.

STANLEY CUP OVERKILL: At the risk of sounding treasonous, enough of these Blackhawk followup stories and photos of players hauling the Cup around to every bar in the universe, amid beer salutes and raucous cheers.

The Hawks are champs. Whoopie and congrats. But the parade is over. It's time to move on. Sterilize the Cup and store it away until the 2014 season.

No more hugging and kissing. This is not your long-lost uncle Mort or a saintly relic.

HOLEY SOX: Did you catch the White Sox's sloppy 7-3 loss to Detroit on Monday night? "Catch" is the operative word. The Sox allowed five unearned runs, thanks to three errors.

They now have 64 as of Monday night, compared to 70 all last year.

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been horrible. He needs a court order to stop ground balls.

STAND AND BE COUNTED: Merrillville grad Mike Neal, his promising career with the Packers hampered by injuries, is being moved from defensive end to linebacker. And he likes it.

"(Coaches) are doing it for the purpose of using me a little more," Neal said. "The majority of my snaps have been at outside linebacker so I get a better feel for it.

"Linebacker enables me to use my speed and quickness. When you stand up, you can see the whole field and are able to adjust quickly. At (defensive) end, all you see are feet."

The ex-Purdue star says he's the healthiest he's been in some time. S-h-h-h-h. Don't jinx yourself.

SQUEALING WITH DELIGHT: Carolina Panthers' General Manager Dave Gettleman refers to his first- and second-round draft picks — defensive tackles Star Lotulelei of Utah and Purdue's Kawann Short of East Chicago — as "hog mollies."

The move will enable AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly to freelance and make more plays while freeing up double teams on Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy — who combined for 23 1/2 sacks last season.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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