Programming alert: Timberlake Doin’ Work for Nike, Kobe, Bron-Bron

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Kobe, LeBron and Justin Timberlake – a combo we may never have thought probable, but ESPN has them together for a documentary called “Dream Seasons 23 & 24,” a one-hour sponsored show (today, ESPN, 4 p.m.) with Timberlake narrating it.

It is “presented by Nike,” so consider the source. A lot of kids in third-world countries put in many hours editing this piece.

The ESPN blurb on it: “(This) will chronicle the past seasons of Cleveland’s LeBron James, the league’s MVP, and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. From Olympic gold in Beijing to the quest for each to lead his team to the top of the respective NBA conferences, the cameras will provide unique access into James’ and Bryant’s preparation and stellar performances on the court.”

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Take that iCarley, Vince McMahon, SpongeBob and stupid penguins .. the NBA rules cable (is that a good thing?)

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Rankings for the top 15 programs on cable networks as compiled by Nielsen Media Research for the week of May 11-17. Day and start time (EST) are in parentheses:

1. NBA Playoffs: Orlando vs. Boston (Sunday, 8:07 p.m.), TNT, 5.89 million homes, 8.38 million viewers.

2. NBA Playoffs: Lakers vs. Houston (Thursday, 9:51 p.m.), ESPN, 5.3 million homes, 7.35 million viewers.

3. NBA Playoffs: Orlando vs. Boston (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), TNT, 3.92 million homes, 5.23 million viewers.

4. NBA Playoffs: Houston vs. Lakers (Tuesday, 10:45 p.m.), TNT, 3.9 million homes, 5.18 million viewers.

5. NBA Playoffs: Denver vs. Dallas (Monday, 9:53 p.m.), TNT, 3.57 million homes, 4.83 million viewers.

6. NBA Playoffs: Boston vs. Orlando (Thursday, 7 p.m.), ESPN, 3.51 million homes, 4.79 millioin viewers.

7. NBA Playoffs: Denver vs. Dallas (Wednesday, 9:09 p.m.), TNT, 3.5 million homes, 4.57 million viewers.

8. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 10 p.m.), USA, 3.38 million homes, 4.94 million viewers.

9. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 9 p.m.), USA, 3.09 million homes, 4.41 million viewers.

10. “In Plain Sight” (Sunday, 10 p.m.), USA, 3.05 million homes, 3.94 million viewers.

11. “ICarly: I Date a Bad Boy” (Wednesday, 6 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.99 million homes, 3.89 million viewers.

12. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.97 million homes, 3.78 million viewers.

13. “Penguins of Madagascar” (Saturday, 10 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.954 million homes, 3.86 million viewers.

14. NBA Playoffs: Cleveland vs. Atlanta (Monday, 7 p.m.), TNT, 2.953 million homes, 3.94 million viewers.

15. “ICarly” (Saturday, 8 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.88 million homes, 4.31 million viewers.

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Our Daily Dread: They call it fun in the sun … we call it stuff to oogle at to support your team, sonny boy

Offerings of summer stuff that MLB.com has up on its site these days … for real:

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== Dodgers Women’s Swarovski Crystal Necklace Tank Top By Majestic Threads (linked here)
$44.99

100% ribbed cotton; stitched team logo applique with genuine Swarovski Crystals
Coverstitching at bottom hem line; longer length; feminine fit

That’s ribbed cotton, for her pleasure…. and yes, there’s an Angels version (linked here) if you’re into brunettes …

== Dodgers Women’s 2-pc Triangle Bikini Set by G-III Sport (linked here)
$39.99

80% nylon / 20% spandex; Light Padding; Team logo on left chest

Thanks for letting us know where the team logo is. … we’d never have spotted it.

== Dodgers Inflatable Cooler (linked here)
$44.99

32 quart capacity floating inflatable cooler features official team logo and coordinating stripes; 4 numbered cup holders and two plastic handles; made of thick, durable polyvinyl; cleans up easily with warm soapy water and deflates for easy storage. Size: 21″ x 35″

Let’s see Dodger fans bat this one around in the stands during a lull in play.

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== Threesource New York Yankees Pedal Car (linked here)
$89.99

What better way for your child to cheer for their beloved Yanks than driving the officially licensed MLB pedal car by ThreeSource? Our pedal cars provide interactive physical fun for your child and an opportunity to support their favorite team. Our cars are pedal powered allowing your child to pedal the car both forward and in reverse. Your Lil’ Yankee will pedal their heart away while racing towards another exciting season!

What kid going from Grand Central Station to the Bronx would consider driving when the subway or a taxi gets them to any destination? This youngin’ hasn’t been taught yet the proper way to flip off a pedestrian crossing in front of him. … This Dodger kid below comes closer (linked here), unless he’s just trying to get Roger Owens’ attention for another bag of peanuts.

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== Angels 36″ Inner Tube (linked here)
$19.99

Silk screened uniform stripe and team logo on both sides; made of tough .25mm polyvinyl.

Rides nicely on the waterfall in center field at Angel Stadium.

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== New York Yankees Watermelon Scratch-n-Sniff Child’s Cap (linked here)
$14.99

by New Era; Scratch the watermelons embroidered on the visor to release scent; Hair-safe velcro adjustable back; Child-sizing, 4-7 years.

Because scratching and sniffing a life-sized A-Rod doll just isn’t appropriate. … There’s also a Mets version (linked here), because, well, you know how New York can smell too much like Strawberry in the summer.

== Tampa Bay Rays “Beat New York” T-Shirt by Majestic Athletic (linked here)
$19.99

100% Cotton; screen printed

There is not a version on the Red Sox team site, for some reason. Or on the New York Mets’ site. Or … on any of the other 28 teams. Would seem to be a natural.

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== Wincraft Dodgers 5 Quart Galvanized Pail (linked here)
$15.99

These metal pails are made of rust resistant galvanized steel. They have a waterproof sealed bottom and are great for holding ice, water, dirt, or anything else you would like to carry or hold in these great decorative pail. Measures 7″h. x 9″dia. Made in USA.

Also sturdy enough to carry a Manny Ramirez urine sample.

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Zelasko’s pending Dodger debut reminds us all how shallow some can be when protected by anonymous comments

Jeanne Zelasko’s first shot at doing play-by-play for the Dodgers tonight (listen on www.dodgers.com/win) is also previewed here on this version of Deadspin.com (linked here), which links to a lazy City News Service wire version that the Daily News’ news section decided it needed to run today (linked here).

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Prep by reading all the inane comments that readers actually put into print in the comments part of the story (linked here)

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So someone finally figured out the real Donald (T-him-up) Sterling

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Deadspin.com (linked here) has excerpts from an upcoming ESPN The Magazine story on Clippers owner Donald Sterling that may be Burns-old news to some, but at least puts his resume in order when it comes to documenting his dislike for anyone who isn’t like him.

Would that apply to Blake Griffin? We’ll have to see how he reacts to that one soon.

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Allegations against Sterling come from lawsuits that have been settled, but that was only to prevent further shame. Elgin Baylor must be hoping that’ll be the end of his pending lawsuit against the sharecropper as well.

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So someone watched Lakers-Nuggets Game 1

ESPN says enough did to make it the most-viewed basketball telecast ever — pro or college — in the 30-year history of the network.

Tuesday’s Lakers-Nuggets Game 1 had a 5.8 rating (5.6 million homes; 8.05 million viewers) to break the ESPN mark of 5.3 million homes/7.3 million viewers/5.4 rating who saw its coverage of the Lakers-Rockets Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals less than a week ago.

In L.A., the game had a 13.2 rating; in Denver, it was 16.1.

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The Manny Diet … ever consider that, Peter Gammons?

From John Rolfe’s “Getting Loose” column on SI.com (linked here):

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As the mystery of Manny Ramirez’s chemical transgression continues to unspool — apparently elevated synthetic testosterone and not the female fertility drug hCG tripped him up — reader Joey of Dallas, TX … suggests that Manny may have had a legit reason for that hCG prescription that was discovered in his medical records (Manny’s, not Joey’s):

Please just look up hCG diet on Google. Why is no one in the media mentioning this usage? I have no clue why Manny was taking it, but y’all complete mischaracterize the drug as having no other legitimate uses.

Speaking for this humble media outlet, this space had never heard of the hCG diet (linked here). But alack and alas, research suggests that a daily hCG injection can help shed up to two pounds per day, and possibly more, when accompanied by a starvation diet of 500 calories. So perhaps Manny, who has been looking a little zaftig of late, was merely trying to shed some unsightly avoirdupois before bikini season begins.

We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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Our Daily Dread: The anxiety of overanalyzing the analyst

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The Tony Kornheiser -out, Jon Gruden -in storyline that ESPN has created for its 2009 “Monday Night Football” package seems to be something that needs instant dissection.

There has to be a truth in there no one’s telling us about. A Theismann-esque puss-filled boil ready to explode. A blackmail attempt gone bad. Or, the truth that Kornheiser really can’t pry himself out of the business class seat to use the restroom at 40,000 feet.

Truth is, we’re not all that interested in this one. Sure, it involves a sportswriter who was given a shot, but now he’s relented because of his fear of traveling in jet-propelled tincans. That’s a horrible hurdle to have in a job that requires travel sometimes. Like a welder afraid of fire.

We’re reading more and more and more about why this all happened, and not sure we really need to get sucked into this vortex of a story that really seems to be quite simple.

Newsday reports that Kornheiser asked ESPN boss John Skipper if he could have a limited schedule because of the travel. ESPN said no. So Kornheiser, who had another year on his four-year deal, and was probably going to leave anyway, just did it a year earlier.

Said Kornheiser on Tuesday’s episode of PTI: “Here’s the deal: I did three years, I thought I got better each year. I thought every once in awhile Jaws and I were actually getting close to you and I, Wilbon, and I’m grateful for the fabulous opportunity to be a sportswriter in the booth. But the truth is I hate flying, as everyone who knows me knows, and this year’s schedule has about 3 million flights in it.” In his Washington Post column, he also wrote: “I did it for three years, which is three years more than I ever thought I would do it, which is three more years than any sportswriter has ever done it. … I don’t leave with any regrets. I mean, who gets this opportunity? … But if you are paying attention, I’m open for business on radio. I would love to do radio again.”

If one really needs to dig their claws into some part of this, it’s the Gruden hiring. ESPN should have just hired Rachel Alexandra if it was simply looking for a fresh (long) face. … and a female to boot.

Gruden makes no sense on many levels. He hardly seems to committed to it. He hardly seems like the kind of person whose personality would make a difference on game telecasts, unless you can see his face on a picture-in-a-picture contort with each play. ESPN already has Mike Ditka, a walking soundbite, on staff, who could be as explosive on a live telecast and draw attention to it as anyone around. Yet, he wasn’t picked.

We’ll end it here. We’re finished with the subject. Time to play a little Madden ’08 to pass a few hours. We’ve added Michael Vick back to our roster and want to see how he does as a tight end.

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Until Theismann analyzes it, the play’s not over

Joe Theismann, fired three years ago as the analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” talks with Adam Schein and Jim Miller about the show replacing Tony Kornheiser with Jon Gruden on the Sirius NFL Radio show today:

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On Gruden: The man knows a ton about football. He understands the game. He’ll bring a perspective and I think he’ll play off of Jaws [Ron Jaworski] very, very well. I think it’s a very good move by them.”

On how long Gruden will stay: “I’d go an over-under on two (years). … Jon Gruden won a world championship [and he's] not coaching. Brian Billick won a world championship, not coaching. Mike Holmgren won a world championship, not coaching. Mike Shanahan won a world championship, not coaching. Bill Cowher won a world championship, not coaching. How about that for an alumni of Super Bowl Champion coaches that are not actively coaching in the game? I think that will change. I feel confident Mike Holmgren will be back in the game next year, Mike Shanahan will be back in the game next year [and] I know if the right situation came up for Brian Billick he would want to be back in the game. I’m not convinced that Coach Cowher will ever get back into football. Actually, I played golf with him this past weekend in a tournament and I looked at his face and I said, ‘It’s really something to see you without all those stress lines all over your face. You look like a 21 year old kid again.’ And he started laughing. And it’s just the nature of the business that wears you out. I think Jon’s going to have the itch to get back. Could be at the college level, could be at the professional level. I think either place he goes it would be very interesting for him.”

Continue reading

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What is ESPN, spinning forward? We’re all ears

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It’s only come up because ESPN execs had to do a song and dance (called “upfronts”) to advertisers, trying to convince them that their upcoming programming will be worth them investing into their product.

We’ve got this from TVWeek.com, which was there to see the pony show (linked here) with the 25-words or less summary: The ‘new male consumer’ wants more live events, more things happening on the screen, and better retention of ads that pop up.

Meaning, it adds up to more ADD programming. Thank goodness.

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