Behind the leadership of coach Lionel Hollins, the Memphis Grizzlies are going deep into the NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies knocked off top-seeded San Antonio in the first round and are in the middle of an intense Western Conference semifinal series with Oklahoma City.
Suffice it to say, Hollins has come a long way. Ten years ago, he was coaching the Las Vegas Bandits of the International Basketball League.
The Bandits drew more flies than fans for their games at the Thomas & Mack Center before the franchise ceased operations in March 2001. The day the Bandits went under, Hollins declared himself a candidate for the vacant UNLV job.
Max Good was on the way out after relieving Bill Bayno as the Rebels' coach for the final 22 games of the 2000-01 season.
"I'm interested in the UNLV job. I want to pursue it," Hollins, a 1971 graduate of Rancho High School, said at the time.
Hollins had a strong resume. He was a longtime NBA assistant and served as interim coach of the Vancouver Grizzlies. But he was overlooked by UNLV, which hired Charlie Spoonhour.
This sounds familiar: Also shunned was former Rebels star Reggie Theus.
"This is no knock on Reggie, but if he is a candidate, then I am a candidate as well," Hollins, who led the Bandits to a 20-11 record, told the Review-Journal.
Hollins obviously landed on his feet. But Theus lost out again last month when UNLV hired Dave Rice to replace Lon Kruger.
The list of coaches the Rebels could have had -- Larry Brown, Bob Knight, George Karl and Hollins -- is impressive.
And, no, Ernie Kent doesn't make that list.
■ DERBY WINNERS -- Aaron Rodgers might not have cashed a ticket Saturday, but he was a big winner at the Kentucky Derby. The Green Bay Packers quarterback was hanging close to Victoria's Secret model Marisa Miller.
Another Super Bowl Most Valuable Player made a different sort of impression at Churchill Downs.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sported a Panama hat, sunglasses and a blue-and-white checkered sport coat. While some bloggers mocked Brady's appearance, it's tough to mock Brady, an accomplished ladies' man.
An anonymous blogger on NFL.com described it best: "Is Brady having an old friend for dinner? (He) seems to resemble the look of Anthony Hopkins in the final scene of 'Silence of the Lambs.' "
■ IS PHIL PHINISHED? -- You knew this was coming. One day after the Dallas Mavericks bombed the Los Angeles Lakers and ended the Phil Jackson era, Jackson was rumored to be coming out of retirement.
Marc Berman of the New York Post quoted an NBA source and wrote, "Jackson to the Knicks in 2012? Don't rule it out."
■ ANYTHING FOR A BUCK -- Cincinnati Bengals star Chad Ochocinco has accepted a challenge to ride a bull at a Professional Bull Riders event this weekend in Duluth, Ga.
Makes sense. The outspoken wide receiver has been talking bull for years.
COMPILED BY MATT YOUMANS LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL