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(Sports) Beas: Pacers picks and World Cup soccer

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Things I've tossed around while wondering when the last time was that three entertainment icons passed away in a 60-hour window of time the way Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson just did:

AND WITH THE 13TH PICK . . . The Indiana Pacers select a three-inches-shorter version of Jeff Foster only with better perimeter skills and less of a receding hairline. Taking 6-8 blue-collar forward Tyler Hansbrough out of North Carolina might be an important piece in Indy's character overhaul, but does it really matter if this latest good guy is seated next to the team Gatorade cooler most games?

Much as I would love to see Hansbrough prove critics wrong, his most important contribution, at least initially, will be that legendary work ethic during, before and after Pacers practices. No one is going to outwork the kid, so let's hope all that hustle and sweat become contagious.

AND WITH THE 52ND PICK . . . The Indiana Pacers select a point guard, even though they have two pretty good ones in T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack and another they can't seem to get rid of in Jamaal Tinsley. It will be interesting to see what's in store for A.J. Price out of Connecticut. If he and Hansbrough didn't know each other before, they soon will. They might even be best buds by season's end given all of those end-of-the-bench chats during games.

One thing is certain and that's that Indiana drafted two young men unaccustomed to losing. North Carolina and UConn are as good as it gets on the collegiate level. Think back to last year when Brandon Rush (Kansas) and Roy Hibbert (Georgetown) were drafted and you see what Larry Bird is trying to do here.

My thinking was that the Pacers use their second-round pick on a '3' who could supply instant offense off the bench when Danny Granger needed a breather. But at 52, the pickins' are slim. Bird knew this and took the best player available. If Indiana misses the playoffs yet again, Price might go in the books as the last player ever selected by Bird.

IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD . . . On Sunday, the United States takes on global men's soccer power Brazil in the championship game of the Confederations Cup tournament, the springboard to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Didn't know this? Yeah, you and millions of others.

Soccer isn't making strides in popularity in the United States as much as it's taking baby steps. In Brazil, Spain, England, Italy and New Zealand, every match is embraced like Americans do Super Bowls. Here soccer is the snot-nosed little brother of football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis and to some extent hockey.

If Landon Donovan and his teammates shock the world by beating Brazil, the U.S. team will immediately become media darlings. Letterman will come calling. Conan, too. Sports networks and Internet websites will beat this too-good-to-be-true story into the ground. Then after about a week Letterman will stop calling. Conan, too.

That's soccer. That's America. That's soccer in America.

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