Mark Story

Is Wall more Melo or Mayo?

Fast-break points while you plan your "stay-cation."

21. Carmelo Anthony. The 2003 NCAA championship banner hanging in The Carrier Dome is testament to why "a special talent" justifies a college basketball program taking a one-and-done player.

20. O.J. Mayo. The agent-initiated mess at Southern California is testament to the risk a college basketball program is taking when it signs a one-and-done player, even one with special talents.

19. John Wall. Like Anthony, he is a difference-making talent capable of taking a team to the proverbial "next level." Question is, does he come with Mayo-esque baggage, too?

18. Kenny Walker. The former UK hoops star is solidly on the John Calipari bandwagon: "I think people are going to love his brand of basketball," Walker says. "And from a personality standpoint, he's got enough (personality) to fill this job. That's a big difference."

17. The recently engaged Bruce Pearl. On the Tennessee coach's Facebook page, someone posted "congrats on your engagement. But I was hoping you would hold out for me."

16. Rajon Rondo. Other than Denver's Chauncey Billups, no player in the current NBA playoffs has done more to positively augment their reputation than the former Kentucky guard.

15. Chuck Hayes. When he left UK, you just knew that Hayes — who is listed at 6-foot-6 and might be closer to 6-41/2 — would end up starting at center (and playing pretty darned well) against the Lakers in an NBA playoff series, right?

14. The good Mark Cuban. The Dallas Mavericks boss is the ideal team owner for fans: He cares about winning and is willing to put his money where his mouth is to try to succeed.

13. The bad Mark Cuban. As Cuban's antics toward Kenyon Martin's mother show yet again, too often the Dallas Mavericks boss allows his emotions to lead him into classless behavior.

12. The best show on TV (non-Mad Men division): For my money, you can't beat the TNT NBA studio show with Sir Charles, Kenny the Jet, C-Webb and EJ. Night after night, a hoot.

11. Tony Kornheiser. I'm going to miss Mr. Tony on Monday Night Football.

10. Southern Belles: Louisville. Sure, reality TV is played, but you won't be able to stop yourself from watching the Belles, will ya, Kentucky?

9. UK football player facing the most pressure (non-Mike Hartline division) in 2009. It's sophomore cornerback Randall Burden, who inherits the mantle of upholder of the LaGrange, Ga., pipeline from past Cats Wesley Woodyard, Braxton Kelley and DeMoreo Ford.

8. Does Burden feel the pipeline pressure? "Yeah, I do a little bit," he said. "Wesley, Braxton and 'Moreo are always on me about holding up the tradition."

7. Rachel Alexandra. I hope the filly's connections pass on The Belmont Stakes. Having beaten the boys in The Preakness, nothing she would prove by winning in New York would justify the physical risk that going a mile-and-a-half would inflict.

6. Mine That Bird. That second in Baltimore said loud and clear that the gelding's victory in Louisville was no fluke.

5. Calvin Borel at age 14. If you'd like to see the ebullient jockey as a teen, my former colleague, Maryjean Wall, has pictures of a young Calvin that she took while working on a story in the early 1980s about "bush" racetracks in Louisiana posted at maryjeanwall.com.

4. Calvin Borel now. Having won the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Derby (with the ride of a lifetime) and The Preakness, the Louisville resident is making a strong bid (with Angel McCoughtry presently the main challenger) for my vote as the 2009 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year.

3. Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. Bruton Smith now says it appears there won't be a Cup race in the commonwealth in 2010 because the racetrack's former owners won't drop their appeal of the dismissal of their anti-trust suit against NASCAR.

2. The blame game. I agree with former Speedway owner Jerry Carroll that there is something whacked about making villains out of the group that invested $152 million of private money to build a NASCAR-quality track in Kentucky in the first place.

1. The wisdom of Kenny Rogers. Still, when it comes to allowing the appeal of a suit that has already been dismissed once to block a Cup race from finally coming to the commonwealth, I can't stop thinking about a line from The Gambler:

Ya gotta know when to fold'em.

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