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Article posted: 1/25/2013 5:37 AM

How do you expect a champion to respond?

By

This is a tale of two athletes, one a champion (Serena Williams) and another a pretender (Dwight Howard).

Serena, one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, lost in the Australian Open to an up-and-coming American player, Sloane Stephens. After her defeat, Williams shook hands with Stephens.

She doesn't lose often, but when she does, Serena typically doesn't shower her opponents with compliments. Instead, there is always excuse -- a bad back, problem with her knee, jet lag, lack of sleep or too much candy.

She hasn't used the candy excuse yet, but Williams never gives the winner the credit she deserves.

Williams is a sore loser, but I guess that's to be expected of a great champion, or is it?

Are you a true champion at heart if you can't give proper credit to opponents after they beat you?

Then there is the biggest cancer in sports, the highly overrated and insincere Dwight Howard.

Here's a guy who has it all, if he could only realize it, and yet there are always issues. He sabotaged his team in Orlando, backstabbed his coach Stan Van Gundy, and just about left the franchise for dead.

Without Howard the Magic are now 14-27, which is no surprise. But the Los Angeles Lakers are 17-25 with Howard, which is a surprise.

Why anyone who has the money would give Howard the maximum amount is baffling to me. He is a coach killer and a problem in the locker room.

The Lakers are talking about trading him. Well, well, well. The team and organization of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal has a bust on their hands.

Columnist Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe said the other day that Howard was the most overrated basketball player of our time. I'm not ready to go there, but he's in the team photo.

A.J.'s puzzling departure:

I spoke at the St. Francis Father's Club meeting at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton last week, and had a blast. I asked a simple question of the heavily laden White Sox crowd, "How many of you are happy about A.J. Pierzynski being gone from the Chicago White Sox?"

Not one person raised his hand.

White Sox fans are still puzzled by general manager Rick Hahn's move to let Pierzynski walk, and I think it's safe to assume it was approved by executive vice president Ken Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

A one-year deal for A.J. would have been nice, and makes a lot of sense. I'm sure Hahn will be asked about Pierzynski at SoxFest this weekend. I'm looking forward to the response.

NFL picks:

I had a push with Atlanta and a win with the Baltimore Ravens for record of 1-0-1 last weekend, pushing my total record to 17-17-2.

I'll have my Super Bowl pick for you next week.

Program note:

Look for me on Mancow on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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