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Success of Anthony, Phelps brings local flavor to ESPYs

BALTIMOREANS recognized during Wednesday night's ESPY Awards were Carmelo Anthony, male college athlete of the year; swimmer Michael Phelps, three-time world-record holder currently in Barcelona, Spain, for the world championships; Johnny Unitas, who died last Sept. 11; and Diane Geppi-Aikens, the Loyola College women's lacrosse coach who died of cancer June 29.

It was a stirring, stellar representation.

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Dating game: ESPY Awards host Jamie Foxx, meanwhile, spilled some interesting beans about Keyshawn Johnson dating Serena Williams.

This makes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver and the No. 1 women's tennis player the hottest sports couple this side of Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra ... or Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson and new Monday Night Football reporter Lisa Guerrero ... or Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones ... or Sergio Garcia and Martina Hingis ... or Ray Knight and Nancy Lopez.

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Another ESPY highlight: LeBron James to Julius Erving: "You're old school and I'm no school."

Ring's the thing? Alex Rodriguez was asked if next time he would forgo a big contract in free agency for a chance to play on a contending team (re: Gary Payton and Karl Malone to the Lakers).

"Basketball's completely different," A-Rod said. "In basketball, one or two great players can make you a contender. In baseball, you need 18 guys."

Another smooth play from the Texas Rangers All-Star.

Vote is in: American League All-Stars' Mike Scioscia for Manager of the Year.

After Annika: Club pro Suzy Whaley tees it up with the men at the Greater Hartford Open next week. What's the biggie?

European vacation: Tiger is in Sandwich. Lance is in Toulouse. Thank goodness for those tasty satellite dishes.

Barry Bonds vs. Babe Ruth: This debate won't end anytime soon. In fact, never.

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Tyger, Tyger burning bright: As Diana Ross once sang. No wind, no rain, can stop him. Death to slump talk. Still, how long before Nike has to retro-fit those dicey drivers?

Ephedra on trial: The widow of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler filed a $600 million suit against the makers of Xenadrine RFA-1, the weight-loss pill a coroner's report said contributed to Bechler's death. Can you spell S-E-T-T-L-E-M-E-N-T?

The vote is not in: Next time for baseball, the World vs. the United States - similar to what the NHL did to spice up the All-Star format. World starters could be Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki, Andruw Jones, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez and Jorge Posada. For the United States, it could be Jim Edmonds, Garret Anderson, Vernon Wells, Hank Blalock, Rodriguez, Bret Boone, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens and Jason Varitek.

Billie clubbed: Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King fired Jennifer Capriati, refused to let Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport report late to the D.C. site this week and is without the injured Monica Seles and Venus Williams. Who's she going to call, Rosie Casals?

A good year for phenoms: North Baltimore Aquatic Club's Phelps, 18, joined Ian Thorpe as the only swimmer to hold three world records. James, 18, is the real deal, making the Cavaliers a hot ticket. Michelle Wie will overcome her bad caddie father, just like Serena and Venus and Tiger and everyone except Todd Marinovich overcame an overbearing sports parent.

Carolina blues: With his Wizards contract extension in the bank, maybe Jerry Stackhouse should buy an Outer Banks beach house. No messy rental agreements.

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Iron Mike: Kudos to director David Michaels for the Beyond the Glory documentary about Mike Tyson on Fox Sports Net. Tyson again proves an endless source of fascination. Like a sad, sick self-fulfilling prophecy, Tyson's the animal he thinks we think he is.

Before Don King, the rape conviction, the Evander Holyfield ear-biting, the arrests, divorces, the joke bouts and lamb-like loss to Lennox Lewis, the footage of Tyson's early bouts is a reminder of what Tyson once was: a surreal force in the ring.

His one-round KOs were bursts of rage and skill and controlled violence. The punches were frightening, but not nearly as scary as the interviews captured on tape of the pummeled psyche of this man who was destroyed before the old trainer Cus D'Amato plucked Tyson from the Catskill, N.Y., detention center at age 13.

World Cup intrigue: It's either good for the Women's World Cup or bad that the United States drew Sweden in its first-round, round-robin group. The game is on. The Swedes are the toughest team not seeded No. 1. Now the Sept. 21 opener at RFK won't be the celebratory walkover some might have expected for the U.S. women. The odds of the United States playing in championship match Oct. 12 just inched higher.

Drive for five: Win or lose, Lance wins.


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