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The biggest story of the NBA playoffs this year has to be the failure of the Cleveland Caveliers, holders of the best regular season record, in the second round. Doom-sayers all over the world declared it the defining moment of LeBron James’ career, a statistic-collecting, highlight-producing, regular-season-MPV-winning machine who “just doesn’t know how to win.”

The worst part of all this is smug Laker fans pounding their chests and claiming incontrovertible proof that Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James. It’s possible that he is, but you can’t really make that claim until both of them have retired and we can fully assess their performance.

There seem to be three main arguments here.

1. Bryant is a better individual player than James

Kobe is unquestionably a better three-point shooter. He’s also less prone to turning the ball over, and more effective from the free throw line. But LeBron shoots a higher percentage and scores more overall, and has a clear lead in rebounds, steals and blocks. At this point James has the statistical edge, although Kobe has proven himself more than 1,000 games. Let’s check back when both their careers are over.

2. Bryant makes his teammates better than James

This argument is pretty subjective. Sure, Kobe has played in and won more NBA titles than LeBron, but he also has had far stronger supporting casts for most of his career. There have been reams written about Bryant’s difficult personality and selfishness, whereas James seems like a fun guy to play with and does average more assists, but without actually being in the locker rooms of both teams it’s difficult to make a call.

3. Bryant wins championships, James does not

You can’t argue with the facts – Bryant has four titles, James has none. However, for three of Kobe’s titles, he was playing with one of the top five centres of all time, in a team coached by probably the greatest coach of all time. Let’s face it, LeBron hasn’t had those kind of opportunities, being hamstrung by poor coaching at the very least.

The harsh reality is that if James plays with mediocre teammates for the rest of his career and never wins a championship, he won’t go down as one of the greatest of all time, and Kobe deservedly will be regarded as the better player. For now though, I wish NBA fans would save their breath and argue about something else.

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Located about 80 km north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands hold an annual Grand Final and art day, when visitors can partake in the culture of the indigenous people as well as take in a football game of a reasonable standard. The event is held on Bathurst Island, the second-largest of the group.

Several galleries across the Tiwi Islands show their wares and give some insights into the production of the various carvings, paintings and textiles on sale. While the openings have the feeling of warehouse sales, they are definitely not places to find bargains. I suspect a dedicated collector would be better served doing their research and negotiating with artists separately.

With only 2,600 people, a huge proportion (35% according to Wikipedia) of the islands’ population play in the local Tiwi Islands Football League, a competition with a distinctive free-flowing playing style, spawning numerous AFL players. The rest of the population are fanatical supporters of their chosen team, little old ladies and young children screaming encouragement and abuse from behind (and sometimes on) the goal line, brandishing empty two litre Coke bottles and flags bearing team colours.

On this day the Imalu Tigers took on the Tapalinga Super Stars, with the Stars opening up a wide margin by the beginning of the final quarter, showing silky skills and more discipline than their opponents. At that point the Imalu players appeared to decide that if they weren’t going to win, at least they would put a few Super Stars in hospital, with some bone-crunching illegal tackles and shirtfronts setting off brawls seemingly every minute. While it was a disappointing end to the action on the field, the crowd was whipped to fever pitch, creating a manic atmosphere of fun for the spectators.

I was at the Weekend Australian Art Melbourne swilling as much free champagne as I could carry when I walked past a painting of Shane Warne. This wasn’t just any one-of-500 limited edition prints being slung by Wide World of Sports, this was a bigger-than-lifesize painting of Warnie bowling an undoubtedly deadly delivery at some off-picture opponent. I couldn’t help but remark “damn I’d love that in my living room” (meaning, of course, “how tacky is that, you’d have to pay me to take it”). My man Prontoid immediately suggested that it’d be far preferable to have an actual stuffed Warnie in one’s living room.

As long as he was properly cleaned, preserved and mounted, I’d have to say Prontoid was probably right. This got me wondering – is it actually legal to stuff a person (once they’re dead of course) and hang them up somewhere around the house? As usual, it was Captain Internet to the rescue – but I couldn’t turn up a lot of information about stuffing people until I came across this article in the Phoenix New Times. After a bit more digging it turned out that the article, while hilarious, seems to be a hoax. So for now I have to conclude that it’s probably not legal, and regardless would be pretty tough to find someone to actually do the job.

While obtaining a stuffed sports star’s corpse seems to be out of the question for the moment, it seems that a German bloke called Gunther von Hagens has developed a technique for preserving human tissue called plastination. He’s used this technique to construct Body Worlds, essentially an exhibition of corpses, which he tours through Europe and Asia. It’d be nice to see some Aussie representation in there – maybe a tasteful exhibit of the Moran family sitting down to dinner or something. I’ll be keeping an eye on developments.

End note: a Google search for Shane Warne initially turned up http://www.shanewarne.com, but visiting the actual site returned a 404 error. I wonder what the deal is there?