Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Luke's checked his list and checked it twice. Here are the six things I'm wishing for in sports as we approach the New Year:
1. A healthy Nene. The Allen Iverson trade made all of the headlines but the Denver Nuggets only as far as Nene's knee allows. A healthy Nene allows the fragile Marcus Camby to defend the weak side of the defense, block shots and get rebounds instead of having to bang with the opposing teams best post player. Anyone who has watched the Nuggets knows they're an elite team when they play defense. When they don't they're the seventh or eight seed in the West.
2. A USA win - at anything. USA hockey, USA basketball, USA baseball, USA Golf and USA Soccer all fell flat like Britney Spears popularity. The only U.S. team to not go down was the Little Leaguer's from Columbus, Ga., in the Little League World Series. Here's hoping a team of Red, White and Blue wins something. I don't care what it's at. Just win.
3. A college football playoff. Right now in the NFL the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts are holding the two top spots in the BCS with Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys sitting at three and four. Do you realize how ridiculous that sentence is? It has to be done but it won't. The payouts to Big Ten and SEC in light of Ohio State and Florida for playing in the national title game - $17 million apiece. Why would a president of a university want to have a playoff system that would reward fans with that kind of skadole on the table?
4. Put Mark McGwire in the Hall of Fame. I don't care if he took steroids. I don't care if he wouldn't answer questions at a Congressional hearing. I don't care if it's like he fell off the face of the earth after his retirement due to the steroid scandal. McGwire saved baseball and gave me one of, if not, the most memorable sports summer of my life in 1998. I don't think I'm alone in saying that.
5. Jay Cutler please succeed. Hey, I am not a Broncos fan by any means. I am a Buffalo Bills fan no matter what pain it causes. But when Cutler met with Denver media after the draft, I caught him alone on the practice field. He looked like I would in a suit and tie - extremely uncomfortable. The best thing about him, besides his arm, saavy and pocket presence? The kid is a normal guy. We talked about horse shoes and girls. Cutler will be good in football and good for the city of Denver.
6. A happy and healthy holiday season to everyone. Enjoy the family, enjoy the food and enjoy the festivities.