5-at-10: Best basketball player on the planet is in Iowa, a great shoe box, golf’s new champion

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 76-73. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates after an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 76-73. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Best basketball player on the planet

There's a lot to get to today, and no, I could not care less about the Pro Bowl announcements.

Yawn.

(Side note: People, make sure you use "could not care less" properly, because if you say "I could care less," then you are actually saying whatever you are trying to describe as unworthy of caring actually has some caring merit. It is now — and forever — "could NOT care less," OK?)

Anywell, let's move to the first thing today and I start here:

Is Iowa hoopster Caitlin Clark the most dominant basketball player alive?

We ask this with these stats, per the Twitter.

In 15 games so far this season, Clark has more than 450 points, more than 100 rebounds, more than 100 assists, and her team has more than 90% of those games.

And, thanks to OptaStats, "In the last 25 years, the only other NBA, WNBA or Division I men's or women's player to put up those numbers over any 15-game span is LeBron James."

Wowser.

The hero we need

Golf is in a tough spot.

The PGA has a leader that makes Mark Emmert look competent.

The PGA has the same issues that every individual-driven sport has when there is no Tiger or Dale Sr. or Serena make the needle move.

The PGA, heck, let's be really honest here, faces the same problem newspapers have. Their loyal fan base is old people, and when they kick the bucket, the replacements are slow in coming.

"2019 was, like, all about golf, you know? Our economic model was sustainable. The LIV threat came along and all of a sudden we started to double the purses, and we're asking sponsors to double their investment, and we're giving them the same product," Mackenzie Hughes told reporters this week before the season-opening event in Hawaii. "Fans also, I think, are left wondering, like, do guys even love playing golf anymore, or are they all just concerned about money. All these guys going to LIV have made it pretty clear that it's all about money. I mean, growing the game, but also money. So, to me, that's disappointing, because, like, I don't play — like, in 2019 I didn't pick a schedule based on a purse. But now that I'm qualified for these (signature) events, I mean, obviously it would be silly for me not to play in these events. They are great opportunities. But, like, I just don't think it's right. I don't think that — again, we have the same product that we had in 2019, yet we want this, like, increased investment, not just increased, but increased in a big way."

But wait, Hughes had more to say — and this is the most meaningful words offered by a Hughes since maybe ending of "The Breakfast Club" almost 40 years ago.

"I just think that the product, I mean, while I think it's great, it's the same product. I just think fans are kind of left scratching their head thinking, like, what is going on ... The fan just wants to watch golf. I think you watch sports for an escape from other nonsense, but I think golf has brought a lot of nonsense onto its plate, and now you don't get just golf, you get a lot of other stuff going on. It's a bit of a circus."

I know what your thinking, friends. There are very few first names more PGA Tour-worthy than Mackenzie, but skip past that.

And I can't help but wonder where the line is for the casual fan to attend events.

Sure, we would all pony up a mortgage payment to watch Tiger at the Masters. (Have I mentioned lately that I have played Augusta National? Twice.)

And yes, I should have paid the price to watch Auburn win the 2010 national title. (We had a newborn and there was a blizzard ... and yes, I know there is likely no chance I will get that chance again in my lifetime. Shut up.)

Where were we?

Yes, the importance of sports realizing their place and value.

Hey I love sports. Truly. From growing up playing with every ball I could get my hands on (wait, that reads a little crooked, right, Spy?) to doing this for a living for now more than half my life, sports is at the core of who I am.

But I think back to the great line in "North Dallas Forty" when O.W. laments, "Every time I call it a business, you call it a game! And every time I call it a game, you call it a business!"

And that is neither good for the game or the business of sports as we know them.

Visor tip Mr. Hughes, may your par putts roll true and may your fairways be pure.

What's right about sports

So I posted the photo on Twitter this morning but needed to share with you folks here. We're family after all.

So my daughter is a seventh grader, and like most early teens, she's going through shoes and clothes at what feels like warp speed. Or, for "Spaceballs" fans, "ludicrous speed."

She passed on a pair of Nike basketball shoes to a friend of hers because they were too small.

Still in great condition but her foot is growing faster than her father's Christmas credit card balance. Alas.

But she included a note to her friend with the shoes, and gang, it made me tear up as a proud #girldad.

The note read, "You gotta box out if you're going to wear these shoes!"

Man, sports rule, right?

This and that

— This is sneaky big news. As UCF heads to its second season in the Big 12, Gus Malzahn landed a monster QB portal catch with former Arkansas stud KJ Jefferson joining the Knights. He could be a Cam Newton-kind-of-star in Malzahn's system friends.

This also is sneaky big news, but is Nick Saban starting to slip a bit? There are nine Tide players in the portal — including their starting center, who a lot of irate fans are blaming for the Rose Bowl loss — according to this story.

— Which do you think Rory McIlroy regrets more, his over-the-top feud with LIV now that Jon Rahm is headed to the dark side or breaking up with former tennis star Caroline Wozniaki.

— Speaking of LSU, the Tigers fired their DC, which makes all the sense in the world since a) they had the best offense in the country with a Hesiman-winning QB1 and b) still lost three games.

Rest easy Mark Hite. You were an asset to our community, sir.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with some UT football odds and ends.

Today's questions

It's an anything goes Thursday — AGT as the kids call it — and we'll start with this question for the group:

Is there any possible way to explain to folks under the age of, say 35, how risque the SI Swimsuit issue was back in the day?

I don't think so when skin is so readily available on any platform from anywhere.

As for the rest, fire away with your questions for today or Friday, and hurry up, because the mailbag is full.

As for today, Jan. 4, let's review.

"Night Court" debuted on this day 40 years ago.

What's the Rushmore of TV shows centered on the legal/justice system?

Go, and remember the mailbag.


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