Nakedly ambitious, or ambitiously naked, little-known U.S. tennis player Ashley Harkleroad made news this week at the French Open, announcing that she had posed nude for the August issue of Playboy. . . .
Other athletes who have bared all for the magazine include Amanda Beard, Katarina Witt and former UCLA high jumper Amy Acuff. . . .
Growing up in Flintstone, Ga., Harkleroad was nicknamed Pebbles. . . .
Yabba dabba doo. . . .
At the Indy 500, another ambitious woman, IndyCar superstar and swimsuit pinup Danica Patrick, looked as if she were ready to show us her fists. . . .
Anyone who has experienced road rage probably wonders the same thing: What was the petite Patrick going to do if she'd reached Ryan Briscoe? . . .
As Bob Kravitz noted in the Indianapolis Star, "She wasn't walking down pit row as much as she was pounding the pavement, even tossing her gloves like a National Hockey League-quality enforcer." . . .
Speaking of the NHL, you just knew the Pittsburgh Penguins were in for an uphill battle against the Detroit Red Wings when goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, leading his team onto the ice before Game 1, fell flat on his face. . . .
Finally, after Game 3, the Penguins have hope and Crosby. . . .
The team with the home-ice advantage has won the Stanley Cup finals every year the playoffs have been contested since 1997. . . .
If Brent Barry continues his motion toward the basket at the end of Game 4 on Tuesday night at San Antonio, Derek Fisher is probably called for a foul, Barry perhaps makes three free throws and Kobe Bryant is second-guessed from coast to coast for his ill-advised drive to the basket moments earlier. . . .
By the way, if the last-second play had unfolded the same way in the game's opening seconds, is there any doubt a foul would have been called? . . .
Barry and Antonio McDyess, who helped carry the Detroit Pistons to a series-leveling Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night, are linked by a 1995 trade that brought Barry to the Clippers. . . .
After making McDyess the No. 2 pick in the 1995 draft, the Clippers traded the former Alabama forward to the Denver Nuggets for Rodney Rogers and Barry, a former Oregon State playmaker who was the 15th pick that year. . . .
That was so long ago that the Lakers were still new to Los Angeles, Jerry West was a fresh-faced rookie from West Virginia and Phil Jackson was a (presumably) clean-shaven high school sophomore in Williston, N.D. . . .
Since then, the Lakers have reached the West finals 27 more times. . . .
When Arte Moreno and the Angels play host to the 2010 All-Star game, they may have a hard time coming up with a better idea than this: All 64 living members of the Hall of Fame have been invited to this year's game at Yankee Stadium. . . .
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, impressive in striking out the side Sunday in the first inning of his major league debut, averaged more than two strikeouts an inning during his senior season at Highland Park High outside Dallas, where he was the USA Today and Gatorade national high school player of the year. . . .
That was two years ago. . . .
UCLA, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton will play locally when the NCAA baseball tournament kicks off Friday, but perhaps the most interesting game for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of a rising star will pit San Diego and California at Blair Field in Long Beach, where Brian Matusz is expected to start for San Diego. . . .
Matusz, a 6-foot-5 left-hander from Cave Creek, Ariz., is projected to be a top-five pick June 5 in baseball's annual first-year player draft. . . .
Little-known fact: Rudy Tomjanovich and Kermit Washington, forever linked as the principals in probably the most horrific on-court incident in NBA history, both were drafted by Pete Newell, Tomjanovich going to the then-San Diego Rockets in 1970 and Washington to the Lakers three years later. . . .
Greg Newell, a former Pepperdine basketball player and youngest son of the former Cal coach and NBA executive, was an eighth-grader in 1970 and says he was so upset when the Rockets used the No. 2 pick to take Tomjanovich instead of Pete Maravich, his favorite player, that he didn't speak to his father for weeks. . . .
Those who know Greg realize it's probably no exaggeration.