NBA shows foresight in labor deal by avoiding blind spot of the NHL


THE NBA MADE history this week by becoming the first major sports league ever to learn from somebody else's mistakes.

The NBA, apparently sobered by the fact that no one is even wondering what happened to the NHL anymore, settled its simmering labor dispute with the players quickly and relatively quietly ... without resorting to an 11th-hour game of chicken or months of public recriminations.

"We decided to back away from the abyss," said union chief Billy Hunter.

The compromise was in stark contrast to the NHL labor impasse, in which negotiators were still arguing over the specific meaning of the word "abyss" when the sport tumbled into a vast bottomless crevice and vanished for the entire 2004-05 season.

Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction. Boxer Mike Tyson is having trouble getting the proper permits to build a large pigeon coop in the back yard of his new home in suburban Phoenix.

Tyson reportedly owns 350 pigeons and -- I'm just guessing -- is a big fan of the classic 1950s movie On the Waterfront, which features Marlon Brando as a washed-up boxer who finds solace in raising pigeons.

If Ironic Mike really wants to identify with a classic movie, however, he might try One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Formula One president Bernie Ecclestone has been getting some heat for his demeaning remarks about female racing sensation Danica Patrick and women in general, but I guess you have to give him credit for holding firm to the image of womanhood that was instilled in him when he was growing up in the 1930s.

The 74-year-old racing executive made headlines last week when he answered a question about Patrick by stating that women "should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."

No doubt, there will be pressure on him to resign for such an insensitive comment -- not to mention the Michelin tire fiasco on Sunday -- but maybe he can get a job as senior correspondent for The Man Show.

Patrick has expressed some consternation at Ecclestone's comments, but she hasn't exactly been the poster child for political correctness, either. She appeared in a sexy 2003 spread in FHM, a popular men's magazine, which -- among other things -- proved that she does, indeed, have a big weight advantage over the male drivers in the Indy Racing League.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was just getting used to the idea that he had signed on with a moribund expansion franchise with no chance to win. Now this.

The Rays somehow managed to go from eight runs up to nine runs down in a 20-11 loss the New York Yankees that just might be the most embarrassing single game in franchise history. Devil Rays officials are still sifting through the scorecards of hundreds of other embarrassing games to make sure.

In a related development, the Devil Rays showed some resilience yesterday when they bounced back with a 5-3 victory at Yankee Stadium. Either that or the Yankees were just tired from running around the bases for 35 straight minutes in the eighth inning the night before.

This is a real headline from Japan Today: "95-year-old man breaks 100-meter world record for seniors".

Kozo Haraguchi ran the 100-meter dash in 22.04 seconds to shave nearly two seconds off the world record for the 95-99 age group. I'm guessing he celebrated by continuing to breathe.

Word on the street is that Philadelphia sports stars Terrell Owens and Allen Iverson will be the victims of celebrity pranks on upcoming episodes of Ashton Kutcher's MTV series Punk'd. There's also talk that Eagles fans will be the victims of a cruel joke on another popular television show -- the NFC championship game -- in January.

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