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Random sports thoughts from Ben, the enigma

J ordan, Jordan, Jordan. That is the only thing I've heard all week in the sports world. Not that I don't like the guy, but this story has been dragging on for far too long. Fine, he's back. As soon as there are some current highlights or legitimate news items about him, then perhaps we can come back to this story. Until then, here are my thoughts on the comings and goings in sports this week.

Hockey? Already??

The National Hockey League is set to begin its 2001-2002 season tonight. Am I the only one in complete disbelief about this? I know it happens every year at this time, but seriously, someone should clue the NHL in on a little secret: Very few people care about hockey until football season is over.

For a league that is struggling to increase its popularity with the masses, you would think it would wait at least until there was a possibility of snow outside to start playing. Don't get me wrong, I do like watching hockey ... in February.

A.I.'s rap career over

Allen Iverson has decided not to release his infamous hip-hop album. Good, bad, don't care? As a musician, I can't say I was expecting Iverson's album to be a masterpiece or very innovative musically. But as far as personal expression goes, I think people overreacted to the lyrics Iverson wrote and the impact they would have made.

He did say people's negative reactions affected his decision to release the record, but only in that it took the fun out of the project. Granted, this might have been the mature choice for Iverson to make, but he has never once claimed to be a role model. And it's just not cool to mess with someone's dreams.

Nice guy of the week award

Not to downplay the amazing relief efforts that continue at Ground Zero in Manhattan, but former Maryland basketball standout and current Houston Rocket Steve Francis helped out some of his fellow Terrapins this week. Francis was playing in a pick-up game at Cole Field House in College Park last Monday when tornadoes ripped through the campus, killing two students and leaving almost 700 homeless.

Thursday night, over 100 of those students, many living in the Campus Recreation Center, were treated to a banquet dinner by Francis. Though it may not have been a huge sacrifice, it's nice to know that it doesn't take a national disaster for the giving spirit to continue.

Tyson, king of the interview

Mike Tyson reaffirmed his status as the king of sports interviews yesterday. Tyson is in Denmark to take on Danish opponent Brian Nielsen on Oct. 13. Tyson spoke to a Danish television station at the gym where he was training and reeled off another spoken gem.

The Associated Press reported that Tyson said Nielsen "is in a lot of trouble because I am going to destroy him." Tyson was then asked what it would take for Nielsen to beat him. Tyson's response: "That I chop off both of my arms."

Times Square alert

The Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki currently leads the American League in hitting with a .348 batting average. The next closest hitter, the Texas Rangers' Frank Catalanotto, has a .340 average and has at least two guys hoping he catches up to the Japanese rookie sensation.

Rob Dibble, former "Nasty Boy" pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds and current sidekick on "The Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio, promised earlier this year to run naked through Times Square if Ichiro wins the AL batting title. Yesterday on the show, Dibbs offered Catalanotto his Harley and Patrick offered him an official Dan Patrick bobblehead doll if Catalanotto passes Suzuki.

For the good of humanity, we only can hope their bribes work so this out of shape former ballplayer is spared his dignity.