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Jason Williams' injury a big topic at U.S. Open


Aug. 31
Some observations about a special week in New York...

I make an annual journey to the Big Apple for the first week of the U. S. Open tennis tournament. I enjoy watching tennis, though it was amazing how many people asked me about the injury to Duke guard Jason Williams.

As we all know, Williams broke a bone in his left hand. It looks like he will be in a cast for four to six weeks. If you look at a calendar, that puts Duke in great shape, because he should be ready for the start of the season.

Williams will hook up with Chris Duhon as the best backcourt in America. They will really dazzle as the Blue Devils will be the preseason No. 1.

Hey, I want to talk some tennis, baby! I've been having a blast at the Open, and there have been some great matches. However, a few things have bothered me.

Let's start with the new seeding process, where the men's and women's singles include 32 players being ranked. As a fan -- and I am not an expert like John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Tracy Austin or Pam Shriver -- I remember when there were some great early round matches. It was really something special. For example, a No. 2 seed could draw someone in the 18-to-25 ranking, setting up a great match. But the new seeding procedure limits the number of dynamite early matchups.

Another thing that bothers me is the length of some matches. I sat on Thursday with my wife and my buddy, research guru Howie Schwab, and his father. We saw Marat Safin battle for almost 3 hours. The bottom line is that five-set matches can go on and on for an eternity.

I feel that matches should be two-out-of-three until the finals; it would give a better opportunity for special upsets. Surprising results can really get your juices flowing. It would also give fans the chance to walk around and see other matches. It's pretty tough to leave a long match that goes four or five sets. Once you get entrenched in a match, it is tough to leave. You sit there and before long, the whole day is over.

Then, the championship should be best-of-five-set matches, both men and women. Just a thought from a fan who strolls through Flushing every year.

I also have a great time at the Open because I run into lots of players who I saw when they played as juniors. One day, I ran into Lisa Raymond's parents -- that's right, the No. 1 doubles player in the world. I remember her from the junior circuit and as a member of the Florida Gators, when she won the national championship.

I teased her mom and dad, saying her bank account keeps getting bigger and bigger. They said that she spends it as quickly as she gets it.

Everyone thinks of me as a sports junkie, whether it's basketball, tennis, football -- I can't wait to go to some Notre Dame and Florida games, baby! Well, while in New York City, I tried some culture, and it's not easy to do at my age! I saw "The Producers" (it was phenomenal), "Kiss Me Kate" and an off-Broadway production of "Sinatra."

Let me tell you, Williams and Duhon of Duke are special, but there is no better 1-2 combo in America than Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick! They are dynamic, dazzling and awesome, baby, with a capital A!

I also got to meet a former hoopster. I was asked to go backstage to meet ex-USC player Tom Selleck. Wow! I felt like a groupie, talking to him about his days with the Trojans. He told me how he played the role of Lew Alcindor as they prepared to face UCLA, because USC didn't have many big men.

I didn't know Selleck was also a jump shooter! But I wish I had half of his looks. My wife said to me, "Boy, is he good looking." I said, "What about me?" She said, "Nobody is stopping to say Dickie V looks good!"

One of the big news items from here has been the Danny Almonte story. Let me tell you, if there wasn't a problem, why were there two birth certificates? I think the saddest thing is having people cheat to win, teaching youngsters to do it at any cost.

It's very sad to hear that the young man did not go to school for 18 months. That's the most precious time, to learn about reading, writing and arithmetic. All he reportedly did was sleep and play baseball. To me, that is abuse at its highest level.

New York, New York. It's always an exciting and interesting place.

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