By Steve Czaban Special to Published Jan 01, 2003 at 5:10 AM

Another year, another 365 days of non-stop yelling at each other for a living. Well, at least that's my living. Sportstalk radio. What a scam, huh? OK, so technically, I didn't work all 365 days. And it wasn't all yelling. But 2002 was chock full of the absurd, hilarious, and simply unbelievable.

So in the sports media tradition of running with the herd (I mean, hasn't everybody done a year-end column?), I offer up my personal year-end compendium, in the wildly popular "Top-3 Categorical" format.

Man of the Year: Hootie Johnson

Stop snickering and listen. Who else this year forfeited millions of dollars on a principle? Who else was willing to endure personal ridicule to stand on principle? Who else refused to do the easy and convenient thing, in order to stand on principle? Who else was willing to suffer the loss of certain friendships within his own ranks, to stand on principle?

Had Hootie been like any other public sports figure, then he would have cut and run from what he believed in as soon as Martha Burk came calling. People call that selling out. Hootie ain't no sell out. We're talking one phone call to Sandra Day O'Connor, and the year long he-said, she-said would have never happened. He could go back to making millions from TV sponsors tomorrow, and stop being Jay Leno's nightly punch line.

In a world when too many people stand for nothing, or cower when facing the stormtroopers of political correctness, Hootie Johnson sticks out like a modern John Wayne. Hootie has taken the hard road, but the right one. Private clubs have the absolute right to determine their own members. Period. To cave on this essential right, just so Martha Burk has one more notch on her cranky Web site, is unthinkable now.

Burk has said that Hootie and the boys are "legally in the right, but morally wrong." Huh? How many things do you know that are legal, but immoral? Porn, I suppose. Maybe alcohol or cigarettes. To me, if something is legal in the freest most open country on earth, then it by definition has its own moral authority.

To Hootie, and standing on principle. My man of the year.

And now, to the fun stuff.

Top 3 Crime Families of the Year

3. Carolina Panthers. Steve Smith puts a teammate in the hospital with a film-room sucker punch/ Lamar Smith gets a DUI at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Chris Terry is accused of throwing his wife against a wall. One bad year? Perhaps with any other team, but not the Panthers who still have the gut-churning Rae Carruth and Fred Lane tragedies in their history.

2. Portland Trailblazers. Damon Blunt-amire and Rash-weed Wallace co-star in "Up In Smoke IV." Ruben Patterson back at it again assaulting his wife. Fights on the court and off. Fun time in Rip City.

1. The BCS. Meet cartel-commish Mike Tranghese (also in charge of, ahem, "waste management" in the Big East) and his dedicated "made guys" in the other Big 6 football conferences. Talk about "good earners!" The BCS will rake in an estimated $87 million this year alone on a raft of meaningless exhibition games. What a scam! Not since Tony Soprano flipped those slum houses on Freeland-Eisen Avenue has organized crime made such a killing. And like the mob who has juries, politicians, police, and unions in their back pockets, the BCS holds all the cards. But hey, it's not personal, just bidness.

Top 3 Lawsuits of the Year

3. Nolan Richardson v. University of Arkansas. Nolan taunts University into buying out his contract. They call his bluff. Hire Stan Heath, another African American coach. Nolan sues claiming he was discriminated against because of race. Facts and logic have already been dismissed from the case.

2. Michael Croteau sues the New Brunswick amateur hockey association demanding his son Stephen be awarded the MVP. Said his son was so distraught at the slight, he didn't want to play hockey anymore. A case tailor made for Jackie Chiles.

1. Hyashi v. Popov. One Barry Bonds HR ball, millions of dollars, a dozen lawyers and almost a year wasted for a judge to say: "Um, sell it and split the cash."

Top 3 Bad Lies of the Year

3. Jeff Kent claimed to have injured himself washing his truck.

2. George O'Leary claimed to have, well, he claimed a lot of things.

1. Chris Webber saying: "Money, what money?" to a grand jury.

Top 3 Fixes of the Year

3. South Korea gets to the Final Four in the World Cup. OK, so here's how it goes when you are the host country. The "Red Devils" beat Italy in a controversy marked game that saw South Korea get a penalty kick (they missed) and an 11-10 man advantage for most of the second half and OT after Totti got tossed for the Azzuri. The Italians were so crimped after this one, the guy who scored the winning goal for Korea (Ahn Jung Hwan) was kicked off of Perugia in Italy's Serie A league. Perugia president Luciano Gaucci snipped "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer." In the next game, Spain had not one but two goals disallowed by the ref, en route to a penalty kick loss that send the Red Devil faithful into delirium. Memo to self: never play South Korea in South Korea. In anything. Period. Just ask Roy Jones Jr.

2. Lakers beat the Kings in Game 6. Here are the simple numbers, and we are done debating this, so please hit delete on that email. Lakers had a 27-9 fourth quarter FT advantage. Kobe broke Bibby's nose with an elbow and there was no call. Scott Pollard fouled out in 11 minutes flat. Your witness.

1. Olympic Figure Skating. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse than Tonya and her hit-men, turns out the sport's biggest even was as pre-ordained as the Rock v. Triple H.

Top 3 Golf Upsets

3. Rich Beem stares down Tiger Woods at the PGA. For once, somebody stood up to Tiger and didn't flinch. Had anybody but a nobody like Beem done this, the golf press would have waxed poetic about somebody rising to the challenge. Instead, it was written as a fluke, which it emphatically was not. Beem played like a monster that Sunday, bombing drives, and sinking putts. Beem reached the 597 yard 11th in two, and drained a 10 footer for eagle that brought the house down with Tiger just a 2 holes ahead. When Woods saw the scoreboard standing over a 30 footer for birdie on 13, he saw Beem had eagled. Deflated, he bogeyed the next two holes before a furious birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish that came up just short. For once, somebody got inside Tiger's head knocked him on his heels. Classic championship golf.

2. Philp Price (world ranking #119) beats Phil Mickelson (world ranking #2) at the Ryder Cup. Another piece of hot-lead for the Mickelson haters to fire at lefty until he wins a big one.

1. CBS, the PGA Tour, and Tiger Woods all fail to break ranks with Hootie and Augusta. No doubt Martha Burk figured Augusta was a "soft target" in the PC war. She was wrong.

Top 3 Hypocrites

3. Indiana University. After canning Bobby Knight because he scolded a student in the hallway who was baiting him, IU won't suspend Mike Davis for embarrassing himself, the school, and the game of basketball by running onto the court like a banshee during a game last week to argue a foul call. Add to this the fact that holier-than-thou school President Myles Brand (the soon to be new NCAA boss) went on and on about how important IU's reputation was in light of the need to fire Knight. All the while, a full scale porno shoot was being conducted under Brand's nose at one of the dormitories. Nice.

2. Bill Parcells. Last winter, after jilting the Bucs at the altar at the last minute, Tuna said "that's it, I'm done with coaching. You won't hear my name associated with any rumors ever again." Yeah. Uh huh.

1. Allen Iverson. It's just practice, man! Now the guy wants to get on the Olympic Team, which needs (more than anything) about 2 months of good practice to come together and adapt to international rules so we can avoid another embarrassment like last summer. AI's shocked that his name isn't mentioned very often. Gee, wonder why?

Top-3 Anything For a Buck Moves

3. Manute on ice. ‘Nuff said.

2. Bobby Jo Williams Ferrell, finally dropping her "un-freeze Teddy" lawsuit when a judge agrees to distribute some $640,000 of the splinter's estate immediately, instead of years down the road as stipulated.

1. Dan Snyder markets the Redskins 70th Anniversary season. 70th? That's an anniversary? Gee, I can't wait until the 71st, 72nd, 73rd, and 74th anniversary seasons, as well! Can we get new home jerseys every year, uncle Danny?

Top-3 Deer Caught In the Headlights

3.Tod McCullough v. Shaq

2. Marty Morningwheg winning the coin flip, and choosing the wind, not the ball.

1. Bud Selig deciding All-Star Game should end in a tie.

Top-3 Really Bad Ideas That Just Wont' Go Away

3. An "outdoor" Super Bowl in NY/DC.

2. Pat Summerall announcing NFL games on Fox.

1. Tony Kornheiser's hair sweep.

Top -3 Things I'm Still Amazed About

3. Elvis Grbac goes from being the hottest QB free agent one winter, to retired the next winter, and not because of injury. Amazing, and yet really kind of pathetic.

2. There was no strike in baseball.

1. Yao Ming is actually good. Really good!

Top-3 Pointless Gender Stunts

3. Joey Buttafuco vs. China in "Celebrity Boxing"

2. Suzy Whaley accepting invite to GHO after beating the boys from the red tees.

1. Katie Hnida's DOA extra-point in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Top-3 Wives Who Just Need to Go Shopping

3. Brenda Warner for calling out Mike Martz on hubby Kurt's broken hand.

2. Mrs. Doug Christie for swinging her purse at Rick Fox during pre-season brawl.

1. Tawney Kitaen for getting cat-scratch fever with Chuck Finley in the car.

Top-3 Things I Wish I Could Have Witnessed

3. Najeh Davenport in that closet that night.

2. Tiger's thermo-nuclear 3-iron from a hanging lie in a bunker, uphill, 225 yards to 10 feet at the PGA.

1. How many hot chicks offered to "thank" Irishman Paul McGinley that night after sinking the Ryder Cup clinching point.

Top-3 Sports Mini-Series

3. The Ryder Cup

2. The World Series

1. Lakers-Kings

Top-3 Mike Tyson Quotes

3. I wish I could stomp on your children's testicles.

2. I usually have sex with female reporters.

1. "I'll f*** you till you love me."


Top-3 Sports Babes of the Year

3. Elin Nordegren in the morning

2. Elin Nordegren after a brisk workout

1. Elin Nordegren all gussied up for a night out.

Top-3 George Karl Disasters

3. From 1st place to lottery in just over a month.

2. Approving the Big Dog for Kukoc and Leon Smith trade.

1. 6th Place at the World Basketball Championships.

Top-3 Injuries

3. Latrell Sprewell punching his yacht because an uninvited guest had puked on the carpets.

2. Thomas Jones breaking his hand "answering the phone."

1. Marty Cordova missing a game for the O's by falling asleep in a tanning bed the day before.

Top-3 Reasons Why Instant Replay Doesn't Work Now, and Will Never Work

3. All of the King's VCR's still can't "un-blow" a ref's whistle.

2. The Redskins and Giants had a 10 minute replay delay. On Wednesday the following week, the NFL sent the Redskins a letter apologizing because despite the momentum sapping delay, the refs still ended with the wrong call.

1. Pass interference and holding remain the most game changing calls in football, and yet they are un-reviewable.

Top-3 Stadiums That Were Blown up

3. Capital Centre (dark, dingy, and with the last remaining projection replay screen in modern sports venues)

2. Riverfront Stadium (could architects have had any less imagination back in the 1970s?)

1. The Vet (hard and dangerous, just like the city)

Top-3 Really Good Things ESPN Did

3. Overhead camera on NFL games

2. Pardon the Interruption

1. "Down Low", the D-League reality show

Top-3 Really Bad Things ESPN Did

3. Mohr Sports

2. Season on the Brink

1. Tim Hardaway

Top-3 Senseless Deaths

3. Jayson Williams' limo driver

2. The old man who was beaten to death with his own cane in a golf-ball hunting dispute with another middle aged man on a Boston area golf course.

1. The Korean soccer fan who lit himself on fire in order to be the national team's "12th man" at the World Cup.

Top-3 Things We Didn't Ask For, and Don't Need

3. More college bowl games

2. Max Kellerman

1. Three year olds in major league dugouts

Top-3 Most Deservedly Hyped Athletes

3. Yao Ming

2. LeBron James

1. Michael Vick

Top-3 Guys For Whom College Is Just Not Sinking In

3. Cincinnati center Donald Little. Tied roomate down to a lawn chair, burned him with cigars and smashed a whiskey bottle over his head.

2. Arizona football player Justin Lavassuer. Just a week after going on ESPN to say how hurt he was that coach Macovic called him a "disgrace to his family" Lavassuer was caught speeding with over 100 pounds of marijuana in his trunk.

1. Florida State's Chris Rix, a born-again Christian (or so says his Web site) who overslept a final exam and missed the Sugar Bowl. It was a religion exam. We are not kidding.

Top-3 Quotes of the Year

3. Jennifer Capriati on Title IX. "I'm sorry, I have no idea what that is."

2. Mike Piazza: "I'm not gay."

1. Ricky Henderson, in response to Curt Shilling's claim that 50% of the major leaguers took steroids. "Well I'm not taking them, so that's 49% right there."

Top-3 "It's A Shocker, But..."

3. Bobby Valentine was unaware players still smoke pot.

2. Bobby Huggins had a near fatal heart attack.

1. Three WNBA teams went out of business.

Top-3 Dumb Steve Spurrier Quotes of the Year

3. Boasting that all of his ex-Gators on the roster were "cheap and available." Yeah, and for a reason.

2. Saying he expected the Redskins to compete for the NFC East crown because "heck, you only have to beat three other teams." The Skins were 1-5 in division play.

1. Saying he passed the ball 52 times in Jacksonville because he looked around the rest of the league that afternoon he had determined the weather was perfect for throwing the ball around.

Top-3 "Too Much Honesty" Quotes

3. Tiger Woods on a "million reasons" why the Amex Championship meant more to him than winning the Ryder Cup.

2. Barry Bonds on Leno presenting the players side in the baseball labor dispute by saying "Hey, it's not my fault you are not a major league player."

1. Matt Millen's "where are your testicles" diatribe on radio.

Top-3 Gambling Degenerates

3. The ex-frat boys who conspired to fix the Pick Six at the Breeder's Cup.

2. Al Michaels who never let a good over/under story line escape his attention during a MNF broadcast.

1. Pete Rose. His gamble that America was short on memory and long on "forgiveness" looks like it's about to pay off.

Top-3 Sportstalk Radio Arguments

3. The Tuck Rule

2. Sapp v. Clifton v. Sherman

1. Lakers-Kings foul calls.

Top-3 Bombs

3. Horry's buzzer beater in Game 5

2. Vinitieri's 45 yarder in the snow to tie the game against the Raiders. In my mind, inch for inch, and toe for toe, the greatest kick in the history of the NFL.

1. Barry Bonds off Troy Perceval deep into the Anaheim night.

Top-3 Dominant Seasons

3. Miami Hurricanes (34-0 and counting)

2. Annika Sorenstam (made Tiger's 2000 season look lackluster)

1. Barry Bonds (the numbers don't even compute)

Top-3 Utter Wastes of Money

3. Billy the Marlin making $75,000 a year


2. The NY Mets payroll (well over $100 million to go 0-fer-August at Shea)

1. Mike Tyson's financial documents showing $8,100 a month in "Tiger expenses"

Top-3 Dubious Moments in Photography

3. Charles Barkley appears on cover of SI in slave outfit and chains

2. Tiger's caddy Steve Williams throws a $7,000 camera snapped by a fan in Tiger's backswing into a lake at the Skins game.

1. Penthouse publishes "nude" photos of Anna Kournikova. One problem. It wasn't her, although I was told the woman did look good in just a bikini bottom.

Top-3 Things We Shall Not Speak of Ever Again

3. "Thunderstix"

2. "The Randy Ratio"

1. "Indisputable visual evidence"

Top 3 Sopranos Moments

3. Christopher sits on the dog/intervention scene

2. Tony vs. Carmela

1. Tony vs. Ralphie

Top 3 Quiet Superstars Who Deserve (but aren't asking for) More Hype

3. Marvin Harrison

2. Jason Kidd

1. Miquel Tejada

And finally ...

Top 3 Personal Hi-Lites

3. Not waking up in my own vomit on Bourboun Street. My first trip to the "sodom & gommorrah on the Miss--iss-ip" (as the Simpsons put it) was a success during Super Bowl week. No arrests, no hookers, no tattoos, and no need to go back for quite some time.

2. Co-hosting Jim Rome's show with a hung-over Leigh Steinberg. Right after the Steelers beat the Ravens at Heinz Field (with Steinberg client Kordell Stewart playing great ball before his swan dive the next week), Steinberg flew into DC on his way back to LA. How was he? Let me put it this way. I want to PARTY with that guy someday! Wearing a flannel shirt and sweats with a 5 o'clock shadow, it had to remind myself the guy was worth well over $100 million. He looked more like $1.93 this morning, but hey, he posted and stayed the whole three hours. War hard drinking super agents, rack me, I'm out!

1. Today Show Appearance with Katie Couric. One day, you write a column on Augusta National's no-women controversy, and the next thing you know you are slinging barbs with perky Katie before millions of Americans over breakfast. Not only did my shorts stay clean (no small feat), but I managed to make her laugh with my line about no Augusta members in my neighborhood. I've had my 15 minutes of fame, good night everybody!

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.