Buh-Bye, Basketball

Ladies and gentleman, meet your newest Mavericks, Maurice Ager. Dude looks tough, which is nice.

You know those old eight-panel leather basketballs you grew up with? Gone. The old, American-dominated game you used to love? Gone too. First the NBA announced it was making a radical change to the sport's ball. Then last night the Toronto Raptors announced they were selecting some Italian named Andrea with the first pick in the 2006 draft. Somewhere, George Mikan weeps.

Your Dallas Mavericks restored some order late in the night by taking Michigan State guard Maurice Ager. He's athletic, has four years' college experience and can slash to the hoop. Give credit to ESPN-FM's (103.3) Chuck Cooperstein, who called the pick at around 5:30 p.m., or four hours early. Also give credit to the Mavs, who took a player that could possibly, conceivably, someday have the athleticism to actually guard Miami's Dwyane Wade without getting called for multiple phantom fouls. For a team with a late pick and a need for so little help, Dallas did better than expected in landing Ager. --Richie Whitt