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More big splashes from state natives

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When West Virginians hit the big time in sports, they usually don't make ripples. They make splashes. From Jerry West to Mary Lou Retton to Randy Moss, those splashes are usually cannonball-like.Today, nothing is different.As you might have heard - and heard and heard and heard - Mullens native and former Marshall hoops standout Mike D'Antoni is the current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.To say not much is going right would be an understatement. His all-star cast has turned into an oh-no-cast.As of this writing, the Lakers were 17-24 and 141/2 games back in the Western Conference's Pacific Division behind the Los Angeles Clippers.But if you watch ESPN, you know that. You have no choice to know that. Commentator Stephen A. Smith yells it at you. (Stephen A., we get it. You didn't like the hire of D'Antoni. It's now seared deeply in our brains.) The Worldwide Leader In Sports reports on the Lakers, seemingly, by the minute.Nothing has changed of late. L.A. is still struggling, yet the network drones on and on about the team.Not too long ago, John Skipper, president of ESPN, was quoted as saying the network indeed went overboard on its coverage of the New York Jets, specifically Tim Tebow.Yet ESPN is back at it - before the football season has been completed. With its incessant, almost obsessive, coverage of a third-place hoops team, the network has given a new meaning to the term Tebowing.Sure, the Lakers are a glamour team, but Lord Almighty, enough. Try switching to cut-ins of Dallas, which won the 2010-11 NBA championship yet was 18-24 Tuesday afternoon and 14 games back in the Southwest Division. Heck, Boston was 20-20. Just, please, a break from the Jets, er, Lakers.Meanwhile, Buckhannon native and Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace was also making waves Tuesday.Wallace's job seemed somewhat insecure when 34-year-old Robert Pera bought the Griz and inserted Jason Levien as CEO. But the Mountain State native has been hanging tough and the team has fared well at 26-15, five games behind San Antonio in the Southwest as of Tuesday.Yet Wallace and the new ownership will undoubtedly be scrutinized after sending promising Marreese Speights as well as Josh Selby, Wayne Ellington and a draft pick to Cleveland for Jon Leuer.Leuer, you must know, was averaging 2.4 points in nine games played and was the 40th overall draft pick in 2011.
There are obviously reasons behind the trade. It's a salary dump. It gets Memphis under the luxury tax threshold. It allows for the signing of free agents who can help with the team's recent offensive struggles.Still, expect some backlash at Wallace.And finally, Anna Burns Welker was making waves.If you don't remember the name or state connection, allow me to refresh your memory. She is the wife of New England Patriot Wes Welker. She spent a year living in St. Albans before moving to Fayetteville, N.C., and landing the title of Miss Hooters International 2005.Last year at this time we brought you the story of her delightful grandmother, Betty Burns of St. Albans, who went to the Super Bowl courtesy of Welker.After the Pats' loss to Baltimore last Sunday, Anna Burns Welker posted a not-so-flattering Facebook note on Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
"Proud of my husband and the Pats," she wrote. "By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!!"It didn't take long for Burns Welker to post an apology, saying she was "deeply sorry" and she "let the competitiveness of the game ... get the best of me."However you feel about that, it was a busy day for Mountain State natives and connections.Love or hate us, we know how to make a splash.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, or follow him at      
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