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Sports Watching & Wondering

John Randolph Rogers

Before Tiger Woods came on to the scene, I had never watched a Golf Tournament on television. I had a few friends who did, and I could not imagine what it was that interested them. It seemed to me that there were so many more interesting things to do.

Then I watched Tiger Woods in his first tournament at the Masters in Atlanta. There was a historical aspect to him playing there, and I wanted to be a witness. He seemed alone and so vulnerable as he teed off for the first time. Some pundits and experts had predicted that he would be too awestruck to play well. It turns out that they were wrong and Woods won the tournament by about 20 strokes, and a golf television addict was born.

Before I realized what was happening, I found myself watching him on all four days when he was playing in a tournament. If I could not watch the entire match, I would watch as much as I could. I rarely missed a Sunday because that was when Tiger put on his red shirt, and he was usually at his best.

When Woods had his knee surgery, there was a real possibility that he might not play competitive golf again. Even though he did not talk about it, he had to be aware of that possibility. I have been around a number of great athletes who were rehabbing from surgery, and every one of them had days where they doubted that they would be able to resume their careers. Despite their dedication and best efforts, some of them were never able to perform at the championship level again. This is especially true after knee surgeries. It is a thought that must have crossed even Tiger's mind.

Since I thought that he would have to play at least three or four more tournaments, and since he was five strokes behind, I did not watch the last tournament until late Sunday afternoon. I clicked on the television and there he was, only one stroke behind at the 16th hole. This led to him making a sensational 18 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Unbelievable! No Hollywood writer would dare make this up.

LeBron James was a guest on the 60 Minutes television program last Sunday. I found him to be a likable, impressive young man. At the age of 23, he has developed his extraordinary basketball skills. With a height of 6 feet 5 inches, and a weight of 260 pounds, he is an irresistible force. My own prediction is that he will lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first of many NBA Championships this year.

In addition, James appears to be a friendly, serious, ambitious young man who has already started building his own Empire. He is, in effect, his own business manager. He has several of his friends working for him, and they appear to be bright and ambitious. While James is an athletic superstar, he is not a diva, and he has superior people skills. There have been many rumors that he ultimately plans to leave Cleveland and play basketball for the New York Knicks. He has not said that he would do that, and he seems to be very satisfied in Cleveland. I think that he will stay there.

We will have gone to press before the Lakers play the Charlotte Bobcats this week. This is an intriguing match on many levels. This is coaching legend Larry Brown's first year with the team. Last year the Bobcats were worse than the Clippers, and you can't get much lower than that. This year they have won 33 games, while the Clippers have won only 18. If they can make up two games, they will be in the Playoffs. The Bobcats have won four of their last five games against the Lakers.

It is also interesting to note that former Laker Vladimir Radmanovic is now with the Bobcats. He has been there for about two months, and he has increased his scoring average to 9.3 points per game from the 5.9 that he averaged with the Lakers.

Radmanovic is a three-point specialist, and when he is hot, he can unmercifully torch his opponents. The egomaniacal Phil Jackson often ridiculed Radmanovic's play before he was traded. I just have this feeling that this will be payback time for Jackson, and that Radmanovic will light him up, and that the Bobcats will take another victory from the Lakers.

He might ask Jackson, "How do you like me now?" If the Lakers win, then the print in this column will disappear, and you will not be able to read my latest mistakes.

I am picking North Carolina to win over Connecticut for the NCAA National Championship.

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