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BRANDON: Oden vs. Blazers?

Galen Rupp goes for a record


by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - GREG ODENIs it wrong to contemplate a Greg Oden-Robin Lopez match-up in the 2014 NBA finals?

Portland vs. Miami — that would be a wild championship series.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Greg Oden against LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez … and others, of course, not to slight Wesley Matthews, in particular, who would have a huge role for the Trail Blazers.

It would be Lopez, Joel Freeland and Blazers defensive help all trying to keep Oden from the basket — assuming the ex-Blazer No. 1 draft pick is healthy.

How many minutes Oden could go, especially in a series at the end of a long playoff run? I doubt that he'd get out of the teens.

But those would be must-see minutes.

If nothing else, though, Oden's return to the court Wednesday night for the Heat sparks the possibility that he could play against Portland on March 24, when the Blazers visit Miami's American Airlines Arena.

  • • Portland's Galen Rupp is slated to run the 5,000 meters at Boston University tonight in a multi-team meet — in an attempt to break the American indoor record of 13:07.00 set last year by Lopez Lomong of Lake Oswego.

    Other Alberto Salazar Nike Oregon Project athletes scheduled to run include Mary Cain and Shannon Rowbury in the women's 1,000, where the U.S. indoor mark of 2:34.19 could be under assault.

    by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - GALEN RUPPRupp also is penciled in for a shot to regain the U.S. indoor 2-mile record — Bernard Lagat ran 8:09.49 after Rupp set the mark with an 8:09.72. The 2-mile race comes during the Jan. 24-25 John Thomas Terrier Invitational, also at Boston U., which has an oval considered one of the fastest in the world.

    Matthew Centrowitz is expected to run the 1,000 there, aiming for the American indoor record of 2:17.86, while Cain, Rowbury, Jordan Hasay and Treniere Clement go after the women's indoor mile mark of 4:20.5 (Mary Slaney, 1982).

    Then, on Feb. 8, Rupp may try to break the men's U.S. indoor mile mark of 3:49.89 (Lagat, 2005) at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational at Boston University as well.

    • Thanks to stumptownblogger.com for posting a classic YouTube of Cassius Clay — in 1963 — appearing on The Steve Allen Show.

    Both men were at the top of their games. It's amazing to see the future Muhammad Ali so young and funny again, and to watch the reaction of the audience, which asked the heavyweight contender reasonably good questions, by the way.

    You can tell that Allen, one of the most talented and intelligent talk show hosts ever, already had grasped the specialness of the 21-year-old Olympic boxing champion. Allen gave Clay a ringing endorsement at a time when much of America wasn't so sure about him yet.

    I'm old enough to remember the intrigue about this upstart boxer from Louisville, Ky., and how most fight fans thought the "Big Bear" — reigning champ Sonny Liston — was going to shut that mouth of his with another knockout.

    Shortly after this show aired on TV, the boxing world got a big surprise.

    And Clay/Ali … as everyone knows by now and as you can tell from this old clip … well, there still has never been anyone like him.

  • • IndyCar, once a big deal in Portland every year during Rose Festival, continues to fight the battle for sponsors, races and public attention, and the series has some interesting changes in store for 2014.

    The season has been condensed into five months, starting March 30 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and ending Aug. 30 at Fontana, Calif.

    Detroit, Houston and Toronto will have weekend doubleheaders, and a new race on May 10 will have the cars and drivers tackling the road course on the inside of the famous oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    And, of course, the 98th Indy 500 is set for Sunday, May 25.

    The idea is to complete the season before the start of NFL regular-season games and make the IndyCar series easier for fans to follow.

  • • As the Portland Thunder prepare for their inaugural Arena Football League season, the Spokane Shock have new ownership.

    The Spokesman-Review reports that Brady Nelson has sold the team to a group of people from Washington and California in part because of rising costs and falling attendance.

    "AFL owners have picked up the tab for several struggling franchises experiencing ownership issues," the Spokesman-Review reports.

    "Nobody wants to stop doing the football side, that's the fun side," Nelson tells the newspaper, "but you have to look at it as a business and look at your family and your career."

    New majority owner Nadir Naini, who also is a minority owner of the Tacoma Rainiers Triple-A baseball team, denies rumors that the AFL franchise will move to Seattle.