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Game Plan

What smart fans should do this week
Author:

• CELEBRATE
Christmas with the NBA
The Lakers and the Celtics meet (on ABC) in the main event on the five-gameholiday schedule. The NBA will also roll out a funny new ad campaign thatpurports to go behind the scenes: Fans shrink down and ride a mini tour buspast LeBron James's pregame routine, through the Blazers' practice and underthe Lakers' bench. If you yearn to see Pau Gasol's ankles, Merry Christmas.

• ENJOY
That new network smell
Baseball's 24/7 cable home, the MLB Network, launches at 6 p.m on Jan. 1.Leading off: Hot Stove Live, an hourlong breakdown hosted by main studiopersonality Matt Vasgersian. Batting second: a replay of Don Larsen's 1956perfect game. If you miss them, fear not. The shows will be rerun through thenight. Hey, you try programming a baseball channel in January.

• WATCH
NHL Winter Classic
Let's see you go shirtless for this one, Bleacher Bums. On New Year's Day,Wrigley Field hosts the NHL's outdoor game, Red Wings versus Blackhawks. Theice will stretch from third base to first; goalies Chris Osgood and NikolaiKhabibulin will wield the coldest gloves in those spots since Steve Ontiverosand Pete LaCock. It's more than a curiosity. The rivals are fighting for firstplace.

• WATCH
The Rose Bowl
Penn State and USC meet in the Granddaddy for the first time since 1923, whenthe Trojans won 14--3 and the head coaches almost got into a pregame fight overthe Nittany Lions' late arrival. (No, Joe Paterno wasn't there.) Paterno andPete Carroll will be more respectful of each other, but the result could besimilar; USC is a heavy favorite. As New Year's Day bowls go these days, thisis a good one.

• RING IN
2009 ...
with Robbie Maddison (below) and Rhys Millen. The racers and stunt riders willmake spectacles of themselves—no small feat—in Vegas on New Year's Eve onESPN's Red Bull: New Year. No Limits show. Maddison will try to jump and landhis bike atop the Paris hotel's 96-foot-high replica of the Arc de Triomph.Over at the Rio, Millen will try to be the first to land a backflip in anoff-road truck.

The Pop CultureGrid

life. Why belittle more on TV?"

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ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES (LEBRON)

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GARY WIEPERT/REUTERS (HOCKEY FAN)

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SHELLY CASTELLANO/ICON SMI (ROSE BOWL)

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TOM GRILL/CORBIS (NEW YEAR'S FAN)

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ATLANTIS, THE PALM/GETTY IMAGES (LOHAN)

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ROBERT CIANFLONE/GETTY IMAGES (MADDISON)

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JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES (GRIFFIN)

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NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES (WHOOPI)

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DALE BERMAN/CORBIS (SHOE)

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CBS/PHOTOFEST (GRINCH)

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RICHARD DREW/AP (VANILLA ICE)

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JEAN BAPTISTE LACROIX/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (PRATT)

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GREG NELSON (THOMAS)

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JUAN OCAMPO/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (ARIZA)

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DAMIAN STROHMEYER (KESSEL)

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APTN/AP (BUSH)

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