Late-Season Injuries

Has the Avian Bird Flu made a comeback? Smallpox? The Black Plague? What in the name of Louis Pasteur is going on in the NBA, where superstars and semi-stars seem to be dropping off at a rate that makes a pandemic look like a pizza party?

The best way to make heads or tails of the situation -- and spin the madness in your favor over the last week and a half of the season -- is to lump the principles into three separate categories for analysis. Meantime, David Stern might want to get on the horn with the creators of "300." Some serious CGI work might be in order for the playoffs if the league keeps losing warm bodies. And Shaq might appreciate a good airbrushing of his abs.