The Most Entertaining Sports Stories of February 2014

Miscellaneous items and remnants are called "odds and ends", and they're so labeled because they aren't usually considered to be very desirable. However, such odds and ends also somehow possess a unique appeal. For example, when a chef is able to construct a delicious dish made from leftovers, he is likely to be praised for his inventiveness and resourcefulness.

The same can be said of odds-and-ends sports stories. While they hardly ever make the headlines of sports news, they're often the topic of water-cooler conversations because of their intriguing and novel nature. It's in recognition of their entertainment value that we recap February's most interesting "odds and ends" sports stories, their rankings determined by the monetary value involved in each story.

10 Bench-less Lakers Wins Game / Total Salary Paid to Inactive Players for the Night: $1.25 Million

Yes, the Lakers are having one of their worst seasons of all time. But last February 5, they somehow pulled off an unbelievable 119-108 away win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that's still in contention to make the playoffs.

D'Antoni's boys came into the game smarting from a seven-game losing skid and with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill all injured. As a result, the Lakers starting lineup consisted of Steve Blake, Jordan Farman, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, and Robert Sacre, with Chris Kaman, Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young serving as the team's reserves.

Surprisingly, the eight-man team built a 21-point lead by halftime, but they also unfortunately lost Young due to a twisted knee. That left them with seven. And then Kaman fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Farmar injured his leg. Five. Worse, with 3:32 left to play, Sacre fouled out. Four?

Well, NBA rules have it that teams aren't allowed to play with less than five players on the court, so the Lakers were assessed a technical foul, and Sacre was allowed to remain on the floor on the condition that each succeeding foul he committed would result in another technical.

In the end, with Kaman stretched out on a spacious bench, the Lakers handily won despite having only four eligible players.

9 Noah Curses Out Refs - Individually / Fine: $15,000

Joakim Noah was displeased with the second technical foul called against him in the third quarter of Chicago's 99-70 loss to the Kings last February 3, and he certainly let the refs know about how he felt. More specifically, the Frenchman unleashed individual f-bombs on all three of the game's referees. That resulted in a $15,000 fine. But Noah had apologized even before the disciplinary measure: "I shouldn't have acted that way. I apologized. I'm sorry."

Good job. And it seems like Joakim really is making an effort to better manage his temper. In a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb 28, Noah was hyped after making a layup that seemed to seal the win for the Bulls. He then sought acknowledgement from teammate Tony Snell, but the rookie gave him only a weak nudge. Joakim's displeasure at the lack of reciprocation was evident, but at least he didn't flip out.

8 Manu Ginóbili's Shoe Explodes / Cost: $35

Nike probably isn't enjoying this one: on February 27, Manu Ginóbili was defending against Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey when the sole of his left shoe suddenly detached, causing Manu's foot to push all the way through his footwear. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called a timeout, and a ball boy went to the Spurs locker room to grab a replacement for Ginobili's Air Max Closer IVs.

The incident didn't seem to affect the Spurs as they ended up winning the game, 120-110, with Ginóbili scoring sixteen points and dishing out nine assists.

7 Hulk Hogan Returns to WWE / Salary: Unknown

After more than six years of absence, arguably the most popular and recognizable figure in the history of professional wrestling is officially back with the WWE. The 60-year-old Hulk Hogan was welcomed on the February 24 edition of Monday Night Raw, and it has been announced that his first official role with the company will be as host of WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans.

Hulk is understandably excited by his return:

Words cannot express how excited I am to be back in the WWE family. I only have one question for the WWE Universe: Watcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild as the host of WrestleMania XXX?"

It hasn't been announced whether or not Hogan will be back in the ring as a wrestler.

6 First Openly Gay Active NBA Player / Salary: Unknown

A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images

Last February 23, 35-year-old center Jason Collins took the court in Los Angeles with 10:28 left in the second quarter to become the first openly gay active NBA player. The Brooklyn Nets had signed him to a 10-day contract.

The Nets management made it clear that they're not trying to make a statement by hiring Collins. General manager Billy King said the move to sign Jason was a basketball decision to add a defensive presence: "We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."

Collins may not have made waves statistically by playing ten scoreless minutes with two rebounds and five fouls in Brooklyn's 108-102 victory over the Lakers. However, his jersey was recently reported to be the top-selling jersey for the NBA Store and its website -- very unusual for a player signed to a 10-day contract.

The Nets have announced they will sign Jason for a second 10-day deal.

5 Man's Pants Used as Makeshift Flag at School Game / Savings: $14

Redditor dbeat04 posted a picture of a crowd appearing to sing the national anthem to a man's US flag-patterned pants. Apparently, the school didn't have an American flag on hand at what appears to be a wrestling meet.

It's noticeable, too, that most everyone in the picture appears to be taking the ceremony quite seriously.

4 Possible New Record for Biggest Wave Ever Surfed / Expected Added Value to Surfer: $10,000

Big-wave surfer Andrew Cotton appears to have broken his own world record by riding what is thought to be an 80-foot wave in Nazare, Portugal. The attempt was made after the St. Jude storm caused larger than usual waves. Cotton was assisted by fellow big-wave rider Garrett McNamara.

It was actually McNamara whose record Cotton initially broke last January 23. Garrett rode a 78-foot wave at the Praia do Norte beach last October 28, 2013.

Billabong is responsible for certifying such records, and Cotton will find out in May whether or not he will officially be recognized for setting a new world record.

3 Dwight Howard Deals with Angry Lakers Fans / Salary for Game: $250,161

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

Dwight Howard made his first visit to the Staples Center as a Houston Rocket on February 19, and Lakers fans made sure that Howard knew that they were not that thrilled to see him back. Right on Dwight's very first ball touch, they booed him loudly, then later cheered when he was issued a technical foul for taunting after throwing down a monstrous dunk. In fact, late in the fourth quarter, the Staples Center crowd began a "Howard sucks" cheer, and Dwight and his teammates sportingly joined the chanting.

Unfortunately for the Lakers fans, Howard played well and reminded them exactly what they were missing. He tallied 20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and an assist in 28 1/2 minutes to help the Rockets clobber the Lakers 134-108.

The taunting by Lakers fans didn't stop when the game ended. On his way back to the locker room, Howard was left hanging when he attempted to return a high-five to someone in the crowd.

2 Sochi Medalists from Russia Get Benz and Cash / Total Value of Bonuses: $5.2 Million

It's no secret how important the Sochi Games were to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Well, he showed just how happy he was that Russian athletes did so well at the Games by giving each of them a cash prize and a Benz. More specifically, each bronze medalist was awarded a GLK Benz and $52,000, each silver medalist, an ML and $76,000, and each gold medalist, a GL-Class and $120,000. In total, the Russian Olympians Foundation handed out $2,864,000 in cash and 45 Benzes worth more than $2,300,000.

Athletes like 15-year-old figure-skating medalist Julia Lipnitskaia, who are not old enough to drive, were also assigned a driver.

1 Fan Vote Determines Mayweather Opponent / Expected Fight Purse Total: $45 Million

Last February 3, undefeated light-middleweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. posted the following tweet:

Well, Mayweather's camp recently announced that Marcos Maidana received the overwhelming majority of the 200,000-plus fan votes cast through social media. As a result, the two will face each other in a title unification bout on May 3, the details of which are yet to be decided.

The 30-year-old Maidana currently holds a 35-3 win-loss record, 31 of his wins coming by way of knockout. In December of 2013, Marcos beat the previously undefeated three-time world champion Adrien Broner.

Amir Khan, who beat Maidana in 2010, criticized Mayweather for the time-wasting poll, and Floyd Jr. has responded by suggesting that Khan beat Adrien Broner in an undercard for the Mayweather-Maidana fight. Then Amir could face Mayweather.

Khan was not amused:

Mayweather made $41.5 million in his last fight with Saul Alvarez, while Maidana received $800,000 when he faced Broner. It's highly likely that their upcoming fight will earn them much more.

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