Welcome to the first edition of Rankonia, The Triangle's power rankings. Usually these kinds of things celebrate team or individual excellence. We're going another route here — we're celebrating athletes, teams, and coaches whose performances, on or off the field, speak to us in a deep, profound way that we can only articulate through the format of ranking. If you have any nominations for next week, by all means, take it to that start-up site, Facebook, or shoot us an e-mail. To the rankings!
1. Mario Balotelli, Manchester City
Friday night: sets house on fire after setting off fireworks in his bathroom. Sunday: scores two goals against archrival Manchester United and then drives around Manchester in a Bentley, high-fiving his fans. What did you do this weekend?
2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
As Everyday Should Be Saturday's mad-genius Spencer Hall put it, "Mark Dantonio rides with the motherfucking devil on a motorcycle made of dynamite and tears." Last year, the Michigan State coach had a heart attack following a nail-biting victory over Notre Dame. So what does he do in the last seconds of a tie game against Wisconsin on Saturday? He orders up a Hail Mary! I'm not having a heart attack! You're having a heart attack!
3. Tony La Russa, St. Louis Cardinals
In my best narrator voice: "What if I told you that putting a pitcher in simply to intentionally walk a batter wasn't a sign of a manager losing his grip on reality, but rather a highly complex, totally elegant way of communicating with alien civilizations that would only be understood decades into the future, after first contact?"
4. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
One, because he's Ndamukong Suh, and two, because he called Roddy White "Rodney" when explaining how Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan's scary ankle injury was actually karma coming back to bite the Falcons.
5. Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers
Nobody is having a more whimsical lockout than the Sixers forward. While his peers are touring the nation, putting on exhibitions and showing off their extrasensory abilities (ONIONS!), Turner is having a far more contemplative vacation. He's been sharing his thoughts, via Twitter, on everything from the impact Paranormal Activity is having on his family planning to his new dog.
6. Pusha T, rapper
Note to rappers: If you want to make the Rankonia list, putting Ric Flair samples in your songs is a good start. Had we been doing these back when Killer Mike dropped "Ric Flair" he would have made the list, easy. So it's only right that we applaud Pusha's use of The Nature Boy in his new song, "What Dreams Are Made Of." Bonus points for Pusha posting the entire Flair-o-logue on his site, which we will dutifully repost here:
7. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
There is something kind of sublimely sinister about Payton, post-leg injury, sitting in the booth high above the field and conjuring up the air raid that led to a 62-7 victory over the Colts.
8. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers
As suggested by Grantland's Katie Bakes, the veteran Flyers forward scored his first regular-season NHL goal since 2008 with this defense-splitting breakaway. The Czech legend then added his patented "salute" celebration, so we have to salute him back.
9. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Tashard Choice might have a bum shoulder, but even he would have to applaud Murray's 253-yard breakout game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
10. Drake's Shirt
As nominated by sartorial editor at large David Cho. Don't even really know what to say about this frankly transcendent garment.
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