Five things we learned from last weekend: March 1-3

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:

Magic Johnson had decided that when he waves a million bucks at LeBron James, the Miami Heat star is supposed to say “how high do you want me to jump?” Magic decided that the NBA’s mid-season slam dunk contest has gotten so lax, he’s going to spice things up — after the fact. On ESPN’s NBA pregame show Friday, Johnson said he’d pay $1 million to James — or anyone who can beat him in the dunk contest. He did it without putting his pinkie to his lips and imitating Dr. Evil.
“Please, LeBron, get in the dunk contest. I’m going to put up a million dollars. A million dollars from Magic to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner.” Johnson explained further Sunday that he “would like (James) to own NBA All-Star weekend, like Jordan did. He’s only owned the All-Star game itself.” James said Sunday he’s heard the offer, but isn’t sure what to do about it. Because, in the grand scheme of things, there’s probably a million other things he’d rather be doing that weekend than proving he can dunk.

Mike Trout will make $510,000 this season. That’s a 6.25 percent raise over the $482,500 he made last year. Who couldn’t take that? His agent, who said the Angels’ second-year outfielder isn’t impressed by the team’s contract renewal. Trout, because of his status, can’t really do nothing about — except perhaps do better than a .326 average, 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 129 runs and 49 steals he did as the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up. “In my opinion,” agent Craig Landis said in his statement, “this contract falls well short of a ‘fair’ contract and I have voiced this to the Angels throughout the process.” Fair? Talk to Clayton Kershaw after his rookie year, or his Cy Young Year. Fair will come. Eventually. In bushels. Until then, what would Magic Johnson give him to enter the NBA dunk contest?

Bulgarian national wrestling coach Armen Nazaryan has started a hunger strike to protest the IOC’s decision recently to eliminate the sport from the Olympics starting 2020. Nazaryan won Olympic gold as a wrestler for Armenia in 1996, then Bulgaria in 2000. There are better ways to make weight than to stop eating.

UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland says he’s being a realist when he told reporters after the Bruins’ triumph over No. 11 Arizona that we’d all seen the last of Shabazz Muhammad playing in Pauley Pavilion. He double checked the schedule to make sure — two games in Washington to end the season, the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas and, nope, no West Regionals scheduled for Westwood. Howland has already seen this happen to him with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Jrue Holiday — all who have gone on to become NBA All-Stars. Muhammad says he hasn’t decided what to do yet but was “really happy I came here and represented UCLA because it’s a great school and I just gained a lot of experience coming here.” Now, could someone show him where Royce Hall is?

Dennis Rodman paying a visit North Korea leader Kim Jong-un wasn’t just to make people there think Hollywood was filming of another “Rush Hour” movie — and we stole that line from “Saturday Night Live,” who had Jay Pharoah dress down as the one-time Lakers partyboy to explain what was behind this incredible journey. The problem was that Pharoah couldn’t also portray President Barack Obama and ask Rodman just what the heck he expected to accomplish as the first American to ever meet the son of the former dictator known for his perchance to create nuclear bombs despite the rest of the world’s concerns. This story coincides with one where the Lakers current meandering forward, Metta World Peace, insisted he’s not a dirty player, just really aggressive, which led to Denver’s Kenneth Faried having a piece of pointed elbow during a recent game. “It’s not like I (brought) this aggression to the league,” World Peace said. “I didn’t invent this. This is what we watched. This is what we saw. The Bill Laimbeers and the (Dennis) Rodmans. They played hard. And they wasn’t trying to hurt nobody. They just played hard. They played with passion. And we grew up wanting to play with passion. So when guys say we’re dirty, we’re just playing hard, man. We’re not playing dirty. We’re just playing, we’re reacting, we’re going hard. We want to win.”
In the end, it seems both Rodman and the former Ron Artest are really  interested in the same thing: World Peace.

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