Coming Sunday: The Kelly Kulick Q-and-A

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Imagine Annika Sorenstam winning the Masters.

That might be the best analogy, to bowling fans, in explaining how Kelly Kulick broke a glass ceiling with am Ebonite last Sunday in Las Vegas.

After starting the PBA’s Tournament of Champions with a humbling 152 game, she took a deep breath and, by the end of the week, the TV cameras were capturing her mopping up the defending player of the year by 70 pins and becoming the first woman to win on the men’s tour.

She really has no choice. There’s no more women’s pro tour, not since 2003. The PBA sponsors seven women’s events, and because she won the PBA Women’s World Series last September in Detroit, she had an exemption into last week’s event, entering a field with 63 other former tour-stop champions.

So it’s not just like Sorenstam going into a PGA event in Texas and somehow winning. Kulick won a major.

She’s the focus of our Sunday Q-and-A. And just to let everyone know: This Jersey girl is 32, single, and unattached. But she’s not looking for a man who likes to bowl. It’s too competitive for a relationship.

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The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 22-29

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When it comes to incorporating the new iPad thing into my daily life, I’m thinking that I’ll be just fine hanging onto my Etch-A-Sketch for a couple more years.

But sports leagues are already bursting out with excitement about this thing.

MLB was bursting at its seems during the announcement by Apple’s Steve Jobs in San Francisco, when it was shown how cool it would be to watch a game on MLB.com with its mobile app. More than just those those stick figures moving around the bases. MLB is going to offer up its MLB.TV subscription ($119.59 for top-level, $99.95 for basic) that will be iPhone and iPad ready.

So we can actually take the gadget to a real baseball game and follow along? Amazing.

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This could be another of what they call a game-changer.

“We’ve seen what’s happened with the iPhone and a 3-inch screen,” said Tom Richardson, president of digital media consulting company Convergence Sports & Media, told the Sports Business Daily. “Can you imagine the possibilities with the larger real estate?”

Does it also mean the iPad can take giant-sized pictures?

More stuff we’ve been trying to get our peanut-heads around in the media world this week:

== TMZ Sports: Coming in March as “a separate site, but not as tabloid-y as expected” (linked here)

== A man threatened his wife with a knife when she canceled ESPN before the Super Bowl … does this story really sound real? He knows the game’s on CBS, right? And how to you just cancel ESPN? Isn’t that part of every package now? And what is “The Hour”? This is getting more play, and less doubt, than any story like it should. (linked here).

== CBS’ Super Bowl pregame plans (linked here) include Katie Couric, Dick Enberg and follows up with a new reality series about how your boss could be spying on you. No special “CSI” episode?

== Want to know how to beat a journalist’s deadline? Type fast (linked here).

== What Sirius XM will have for the Super Bowl — a channel in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Hungarian, Dutch … and the Colts and Saints’ home team broadcast. We’ll take the BBC. It sounds more interesting. (linked here)

== What ESPN and ABC plans to do with the FIFA World Cup (linked here)

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== Without Tiger Woods will anyone watch the PGA this year? Sounds like a great story idea from an editor. (linked here).

== Bloomberg’s Business News has its Power 100 for athletes (linked here) Top 5: Tiger, LeBron, Lefty, Pujols, Peyton Kobe is No. 12, Manny is No. 90 (not No. 99), and Candy Parker is No. 92. More to the media angle, there’s also a sidebar predicting a Dallas-Philly NFL game as the one what will traditionally draw the most TV attention (linked here). If only the league can arrange that for a Super Bowl someday.

== There’s a theory as to why sports does well on TV (linked here). The secret: Economic downturn. Wow. nuver thunk of that …

== We’re wondering why this screen grab isn’t more prevelant on the Internet — a college basketball student section showing their disapproval by means of hand signals (linked here).

== Media penis envy, Mr. Oden (linked here)

== It matters to someone that Charissa Thompson has opinions about the State of the Union Address … none very politically astute, just comparing the First Lady to a “tellitubbie” (sic) (linked here).

AND FINALLY:

== LeBron James has enough problems attacking water bottles. According to the Onion sports, he’s also steamed about this dunk contest app (linked here)

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The Media Learning Curve: Adding some color to an otherwise colorful story

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No matter where UCLA football analyst Matt Stevens, the subject of today’s media column (linked here), falls into our Top 10/Bottom 5 list, he already knows that it’s like to be loved, and hated, in L.A.

In doing some background on him, we found a clip from the Palm Beach Post on Oct. 12, 1986 (linked here), a game where Stevens was booed off the field during the second quarter of a UCLA game against Arizona and replaced by Brendan McCracken. The Bruins were losing 18-0.

By the time the contest ended, UCLA had won 32-25, with a 25-point fourth quarter, and Stevens threw for a career-best 22 of 37 for 284 yards.

“Playing QB in L.A. is great,” Stevens said in the story. “That’s the way it always is. You want to talk about someone getting booed? How about Rick Neuheisel? Was he getting booed when we were 0-3-1? … And look what a great quarterback he turned out to be.”

Stevens was referring to the guy he used to back up in the UCLA offense, but was now a volunteer assistant under head coach Terry Donahue.

Now, look at ‘em: Stevens is calling games and second-guessing Neuheisel as he calls plays for the UCLA offense from the head-coaching position.

Keep your friends close.

Some other things we should try not to forget:

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== ESPN2 has the Dick Weber Open Pro Bowling Association event from Fountain Valley (Sunday, 10 a.m.) For some reason, Bill Simmons, aka “The Sports Guy,” will join the broadcast team of Rob Stone and Randy Pedersen. What a treat. “I have not done bowling before, but Rob and I have been friends for years and he’s been wanting me to do a show, but our schedules never worked out before this,” Simmons said. Thank goodness it has now. Simmons, who said he has watched highlights of Kelly Kulick’s historic victory in the PBA Tournament of Champions last week, has never attended a PBA event in person. Might as well as be the first time you’re going to be a PBA analyst.

== ABC will push Magic Johnson , former star of “The Magic Hour,” do a sit-down with Lakers coach Phil Jackson that airs at halftime of Sunday’s Lakers-Celtics game (12:30 p.m., Channel 7). Last time the two talked for the record on TV, Jackson said he planned to coach only until the end of his contract — which ends this year.

== ESPN’s coverage of Sunday’s Pro Bowl from Miami has all the usual suspects: Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter on the extended pregame starting at 2:30 p.m., with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya handling the game at 4:20 p.m. Berman is supposed to have a Peyton Manning and Drew Brees halftime interview.

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== What’s all the fuss about where an 18-year-old will go college next year. You tell us. And this kid, who really blew it. ESPNU’s college football signing day begins at 7 a.m. Wednesday and runs until 4 p.m., while CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com go five hours live from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., then noon to 4 p.m. Two of the nation’s top-ranked prep recruits, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (Cretin-Derham Hall/St. Paul, Minn.) and defensive end J.R. Ferguson (Hargrave Military Academy/Frederick, MD.) are supposed to announce their college selections live in the afternoon segment. Henderson, who is Tom Lemming’s No. 1-ranked overall recruit and Parade Magazine’s National Player of the Year, is deciding between USC, Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Miami. Aaron Taylor reports from L.A. where he will visit with USC and UCLA during the day.

== The NFL Network has the Senior Bowl from Mobile, Ala., (Saturday, 1 p.m.) with USC’s Stafon Johnson playing for the first time since his neck injury. He’s with Tim Tebow on the South team, along with USC’s Jeff Byers, Charles Brown, Anthony McCoy and Taylor Mays, trying to impress the Seattle Seahawks to draft them. Bob Papa, Mike Mayock and Charles Davis call it from the booth with Paul Burmeister and Corey Chavous on the sidelines.

== AND FINALLY:

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== The Associated Press reports that British network Sky Sports says it will broadcast the world’s first live sports event in 3-D when Arsenal hosts Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Soccer fans will wear special glasses at nine pubs across Britain and Ireland, providing the public’s first taste of live 3-D soccer ahead of Sky’s dedicated channel launching in April.

Previous 3-D trials have been limited to closed-circuit broadcasts in Britain and the United States – including one on the giant screens at the Dallas Cowboys’
new stadium during a game – but the BSkyB channel will be transmitting Sunday’s match via regular satellite decoder boxes to selected pubs in Britain and Ireland.

Sky is claiming the 3-D milestone a week before England’s meeting with Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament was due to be the first.

The United States won’t witness live sports in 3-D until June, when ESPN broadcasts the World Cup.

BSkyB is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which holds a 39 percent stake.

Calling this the “world’s first live sports event in 3-D” does take some liberties, considering it’s only being shown to nine pubs across the British Isles. How is that different than ESPN showing the USC-Ohio State football game last September to selected venues, or the NFL Network trying out 3D with the Chargers-Raiders game a couple of years ago.

He who calls first first, shall be first.

And if this is 3D in England, don’t you think the glasses should look more like something Harry Potter would wear?

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Coming Friday: Matt Stevens balances the books

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Photo by UCLA
Matt Stevens, left, has been with Chris Roberts and Wayne Cook on the UCLA radio broadcast team for the last nine seasons.

Coming from the world of commercial real estate banker and investing his time as a UCLA radio analyst, Matt Stevens says he’s found a very nice balance in his life today.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” the 45-year-old Stevens said from his offices in San Diego.

A nice career as a UCLA quarterback — leading the team to the 1986 Rose Bowl over favored Iowa — followed by some time in the NFL, Arena League and even overseas, Stevens triumphed as a cancer survivor before embarking on broadcasting nearly 15 years ago.

After finishing his 9th season as the Bruins’ color man, and a good friend of current head coach Rick Neuheisel, Stevens gave us some insight into his career goals and why the last few years on the job have probably been his most enjoyable as our 18th annual best and worst of the L.A. media polls move forward to lay out our Top 10 and Bottom 5 of the TV and radio game analysts.

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Our Daily Dread: Mac Court, downsized

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Eighty-three years of playing home basketball games in one facility can get a little old.

Especially if you’re on the opposing teams.

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The University of Oregon’s McArthur Court — aka, Mac Court, best known as “The Pit” — goes away as the Ducks’ advantageous home pond after this season. The games that UCLA plays on its maple floor tonight and USC coming in Saturday are probably the last that either Southern California team will ever have to endure at the facility again.

Gratefully, no doubt. There’ll be no more cringing at the thoughts of coming to Eugene. Especially knowing there’ll be no more cemetary lurking across the street from the entrance.

Consider that the facility that today looks from the outside like a grand movie theatre or opera house was built in 1926 — three years before The Great Depression. Oregon played its first game on it Jan. 14, 1927 — a 38-10 victory over Willamette University.

Mac Court, which started with 6,000 seats and currently can accomodate about 9,000 — some with obscruted views — is the third-oldest Division I on-campus arena in the country, behind Matthews Arena at Northeastern University in Boston (opened in 1910) and the Rose Hill Gym at Fordham University (1925). It’s still not older than Hayward Field, the legendary track and field site on campus that opened in 1919.

But it’s so ancient, so rickety, it creaks. And leaks. A patron walking in the main corridor can get splashed by some soda dripping through the lower deck.

You just can’t replicate that at most other places in the country.

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Sadly, by the time the next Pac-10 season comes, the Ducks plan to move across campus to the new $200 million Matthew Knight Arena. That’s Knight, as in Nike chief Phil Knight, naming the place after his late son.

It’s a 12,541-seat multi-purpose facility on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and Villard Street, more visible from traffic coming in off Interstate 5.

And the new place comes with plenty of backlash.

One, it’ll be the most expensive campus basketball arena in the country. The lack of parking will be an issue. Students are worried about how close it to some on-campus dorms. Many academics who live on the part of the campus are also concerned about noise and security.

Plus, the building itself just looks out of place in the residental area.

Oh, and abandoning Mac Court is just wrong. But that’s what’s called progress in today’s world.

UCLA and USC would call it that. Especially if it makes the Oregon students not feel so entitled to be abusive to visiting teams. The so-called “Pit Crew” — about 1,000 students who take it upon themselves to make it as inhospititable as possible — have been part of the charm for Mac Court.

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Because of the Mac Court set up, the fans spread out over three decks are on top of the action, much like the old Boston Garden. It’s loud. It’s crazy. It’s hellish.

It’s advantage, Ducks.

“We would line up outside at least four to five hours before they would open the doors, which is then still one hour before tip off,” explained Patrick Brauer, a Southern California native who spent his four collegiate years at Oregon, graduating in 1999.

Brauer remembers when then-coach Jerry Green once bought all the waiting students pizzas before a big game against Arizona.

“It was a student’s dream to see the pizza delivery guy pull up and unload 30 pizzas, free of charge,” he said.

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What may contribute to the fans’ rowdiness is that they were also the official greeters for the visiting team — mostly because the bus bringing them in had to unload right at the front doors, because the back parking lot is too narrow for the bus to get into.

“Having to parade through the waiting students, the visitors are subject to harsh, profane-laced taunts,” said Brauer.

“Then an hour before tip off, they would allow the students to enter — a mad dash to get the floor section, which is limited. People would get smashed against the doors; I’m surprised no one really got hurt. The floor seats were the prime locations because that is where the die-hard fans sat and it was so close to the playing floor. Probably about five feet from the out-of-bounds line was the first row in the student floor section. The other student sections were behind one basket, and the entire third deck.”

Hundreds of students jumping up and down while the opponents shot free throws would make the backboards sway. A public address announcement to cease would only make it worse.

USC coach Charlie Parker said after a 95-83 loss at Oregon in Jan., 1995: “The crowd is always a factor. I think it intimidated our guys … We’re not really used to a crowd like that in our place. This was probably the most vocal crowd we’ve experienced all year and some of our younger guys didn’t handle it.”

Henry Bibby saw it from both as a former UCLA player and as a USC coach. He wasn’t impressed either way.

After a 73-69 Trojans’ loss at Oregon in 2002, Bibby called the Oregon fans “a disgrace to basketball. The things they say are a total disgrace to the University of Oregon. It should not be condoned by the Pac-10 or University of Oregon.”

Oregon coach Ernie Kent defended the atmosphere of Mac Court, but sent a letter of apology to Bibby afterward days after the game.

“I don’t mind people getting on people the right way,” said Kent in the Eugene Register-Guard. “But they need to keep the personal stuff out.”

That didn’t happen in 2008, when Kevin Love, the UCLA freshman, came to play in Eugene for the first time since he decided not to attend the school and stay in his home state.

After scoring 26 points with a freshman school-record 18 rebounds, Love had to endure what coach Ben Howland called “vile,” “disgusting” and “inappropriate.” Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny apologized to UCLA and Kevin Love’s family.

Bill Walton may wonder if Love got off easy.

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In 1974, Walton made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the famous “Lost Weekend” headline. After losing by four points a couple days earlier at Oregon State, the No. 1-ranked Bruins were upset again, 56-51 at Oregon. The story in SI reported: “The scoreboard, suspended from cables above the floor, actually rocked with the stamping.”

It was the first time since 1966 that a John Wooden team had lost back-to-back contests.

That was the last game at Mac Court for Walton, who played for the Portland Trail Blazers the next season and may have attended a few Grateful Dead concerts at the facility.

Funny, but the year prior to that one, when Walton was a junior, a spectator ran onto Mac Court and kicked him during a 72-61 UCLA win.

Walton will be the UCLA honorary captain honored before tonight’s game.

In 1995, the year UCLA finished 31-2 and won the national championship, their only road loss was at Mac Court, in the opener of the Pac-10 schedule. In what would be an 82-72 defeat, Bruins head coach Jim Harrick was ejected with two technicals and Tyus Edney’s mother got into a verbal exchange with the Oregon fans.

(Note: The record books note that UCLA has a 32-1 record that season. A home loss to Cal was later forfeited by the Bears. So the only blemish in UCLA’s record that season — at Oregon).

In 2007, Oregon upset another No. 1 UCLA team at Mac Court. The Bruins were 16-0 coming in, en route to another Final Four appearance with Howland.

Steve Lavin had long been gone by then. But a few of his most painful coaching defeats came at Mac Court.

A 97-81 loss to Oregon in 1998 happend when the Bruins were ranked No. 6. It was their fourth loss at Mac Court in the last five seasons.

Lavin’s last loss there: March, 2003, by a 79-48 score, which dropped the Bruins to 7-18.

“If I’m not mistaken, that was my last regular-season road game and the students were chanting, ‘Good Bye, Lavin,’ so with a minute to go, I gave ‘em a salute and they had fun with it,” Lavin said Wednesday, between rushing around to cover games for ESPN. “It was inevitable that I was getting fired, and they were relentless.”

Lavin’s recollections of Mac Court were that it “reeked of tradition, like a Wrigley Field or Fenway Park of basketball venues. It was a charming, venerable home court for them. The students were on top of you, the staircase to the bowels of the place were narrow, and once you got into the locker room, it was almost like a funhouse. The ceilings were so low, and the energy was palpable as the game got closer. It was like going into the gladiator pit. I also remember the showers were built for the Munchkins from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ We couldn’t use them. Maybe Tyus Edney could fit into them, but no one else.”

The fresh smell of popcorn once you entered the building was another immediate memory for Lavin. But that was after the bus would let the visiting team off and, with the Oregon students waiting outside, “it almost felt like an ambush, with Robin Hood and his boys ready.”

“I also remember back before it got a facelift, there was all that ivy on the building, which made it look like a haunted house and added a mystique to the place,” said Lavin. “I wish they’d have kept that.”

Other Pac-10 teams that have ventured into Mac Court have mixed emotions about it going away.

“We’re going down 50 stairs into the basement. It’s like 200 degrees down there, that disgusting green,” Arizona State junior guard Jamelle McMillian told the Arizona Republic recently before the Sun Devils played their last game at the place.

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ASU coach Herb Sendek disagreed: “I love the old buildings. Those places have so much tradition and history and you know, they smell like gyms. I’m always partial to those kind of venues.”

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson told the Tucson Citizen while Oregon may not have had the same kind of players as Duke, playing at Mac Court was more difficult than a contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“The locker rooms are below the floor so you can hear the students come in and yell, and stomp their feet,” Olson said. “Back when they had shag carpeting in there it was (awful). When they removed it I don’t think they ever found out what kind of bugs where in it. It wasn’t one of our favorite places to be.”

In 2001, The Sporting News named Mac Court as the “best gym in America.” In 1995, Sports Illustrated listed it as one of the 12 toughest places to play in all of college basketball.

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Like any building, it’s had to be patched up and repaired over the years. Over the last decade, it’s taken more than $5 million to fix things.

Oregon officials have decided not to tear the building down completely. They are likely to have the School of Architecture move into it.

In a 2009 report to the school’s president entitled “The Future Of McArthur Court,” it was written: “(The facility) is revered on and off campus by many, yet there are pressing academic space needs that reasonably compete for this area of campus. Mac Court’s 82-year historic presence on campus and its importance as a campus cultural icon are challenged by the needs of the 21st century campus, often in ways that we cannot yet predict. MacCourt, in its current state, is outdated. Like many historic structures, it was built for a different era, with ideas, technologies and needs of the time.”

Craig Robinson, who has only been Oregon State’s coach the last two seasons, told the Eugene Register-Guard about Mac Court: “I won’t miss it. That’s a hard place to play. It remains to be seen if they can re-create that at the new place.”

Students, and alums like Brauer, wonder as well.

“I was sad to learn about the closing of Mac,” he said. “There was something about walking through campus on game day with excitement in the air and pride of being able to see a great game like basketball in a historic building.

“The new place I don’t think it will be the same. Gone are the levels stacked on top of each other, the narrow hallways jammed with vendors. You probably won’t be able to smell the popcorn wafting in the air.

“I understand they want a new building to help recruiting and enlarge seating capacity, and in turning Oregon into Nike U, it will outfitted with high-technology lounges and concourses. That is what appeals to today’s sports fan. But I’ll still remember the simpler building of Mac Court.”

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What’s the biggest boner in NBC decision-making? Leno … oh, and that XFL thing ….

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The cover story for the Jan. 29 issue of Entertainment Weekly merits some scanning for old sports news.

It tries to list “TV’s 50 Biggest Bombs Ever!” — a complete list of “flops, blunders & really bad decisions.” OK, we get it.

But will NBC ever get it.

Jay Leno’s 10 p.m. show has superceded everything on this list, coming in at No. 1 — maybe because it’s the most recent act of stupidity.

Actually, as NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol explained earlier this week on The Dan Patrick Show (KLAC-AM 570 and DirecTV 101), it wasn’t so much putting Leno in that time slot but making a decision five years ago that it would terminate Leno’s deal and put Conan O’Brien in as “The Tonight Show” host. It tried to fix its blunder by hiring Leno back, trying to get best of both TV worlds. Ratings haven’t recorded it to be very successful, and affiliates were rumbling … but they couldn’t have stuck it out a little longer?

Back to the list…..

According to EW (as it likes to call itself), among the decisions by NBC to cancel “Baywatch” in 1990, the decision by NBC to air “Pink Lady and Jeff” in 1980, the decision to NBC to air a remake of “Bionic Woman” in 2007, and the decision by NBC to air “My Mother The Car” in 1965 AND 1966, here’s some other sports-related things you may remember that were blunderfully terrific in TV history (with the magazine’s ranking::

10. The XFL (NBC, 2001):

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NBC and the World Wrestling Federation teammed up for something that was going to compete with the NFL as far as …. we’re not sure. It wasn’t quality football. From the league that gave us “He Hate Me” and hot-tubs on the sideline of the L.A. Xtreme games at the Coliseum, the lesson learned here: “Tough-sounding team names don’t matter if the teams are just plain tough to watch.” They’re being too kind here. Only Tommy Maddux seemed to make anything of this. The former UCLA quarterback, who was the MVP of the league with the Xtreme, got a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers after this.

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11. Terrible late-night talk shows: The Magic Hour vs. The Chevy Chase Show.

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Magic Johnson’s show came and went in 1998. EW: “Magic’s low point came when he allowed Howard Stern’s crew to come spend an entire hour farting into microphones and telling him how horrible his show was.” Look back on all this from our experience: We were at Farmer’s Market in L.A. and someone was giving out tickets to see the Magic Hour being taped nearby at CBS Television City. Again, the tickets were free. Most people checking out the produce looked at the distributors were Hari Krisnas. From our recollection, Magic lasted just a month on the job. The syndicated show on Fox disappeared. Poof. Like Magic.

45. Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football: (ABC, 2000-2002)

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EW: “If there’s one thing football fans love, it’s for some know-it-all to club them over the head with obscure referencs that require an encylopedia to decipher.” Really, was that the problem? Or was the audience too dense to get jokes? Nope, it was that Miller, the “Saturday Night Live” star who also tried his own late-night shows, afternoon shows, cable shows and carnival shows, thought he was supposed to be a game analyst and add snarkiness when appropriate. Dan Fouts didn’t butt in enough and Al Michaels wasn’t sure who to turn to. Tony Kornheiser tried to be Dennis Miller Lite for a few seasons, and that wasn’t so bad. It’s just that it wasn’t so good.

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Oden: Sorry y’all had to see my junk on display

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The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden is apologizing for nude photos that have surfaced on the internet.

Oden says the pictures, taken with his cell phone and sent to a former girlfriend, were taken about 1 years ago. A friend told the 21-year-old Tuesday morning that the pictures were making the rounds on the internet.

“I would like to apologize to everybody: Portland, the fans, the organization,” Oden told reporters at the Blazers practice facility. “It was very embarrassing.”

Oden is out for this season after fracturing his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 5. He averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 21 starts.

The 7-foot-center was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State. He missed his rookie season after have microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Oden later told a local radio station: “Those pictures were taken and sent over a year and a half ago. I’ve definitely grown since then.” (linked here)
Nice way to sum it up.
Any reporter who has been in a locker room isn’t fazed by this, but apparently, the rest of the world is when it’s delivered on the Internet machine. Smell it Feel it See it for yourself if you must (linked here)

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The Laker White House crashers — Obama’s shoutout to Magic, Jeanie, Coach Phil, the ’91 Bulls, Kobe … even Mr. Dunk Contest guy … and a personal handshake for Khole

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AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Because we have somehow passed clearance and are linked into the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary email list, we’ve got the transcript of today’s ceremony where President Barak Obama had a few things to say — and a couple of digs to deliver — in the process of honoring the team that won last summer’s NBA title.

As it goes (in full transcript, complete with references to applause and laughter):

THE PRESIDENT:

Hello, hello! How are you? Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you so much, everybody. Please have a seat. Welcome to the White House. And congratulations, a little belatedly, to the Los Angeles Lakers for winning your 15th — 15th — NBA title, and fourth in the past 10 years.

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Before I say a few things about the Lakers, I just want to acknowledge some wonderful members of Congress and big Lakers fans who are here: Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congresswoman Laura Richardson, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congressman Brad Sherman, and Lucille Roybal-Allard. Please, everybody, give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Now, as folks here will tell you, the only thing that is better than playing basketball — the only thing that’s better than watching basketball is playing basketball — but I’m 48, and soon to be 49, and it’s a little harder these days to move around on the court, especially when you’re playing against kids who are half your age. But I still get enormous, enormous pleasure from watching great athletes on the court. And nobody exemplifies excellence in basketball better than the Los Angeles Lakers last year. (Applause.)

I want to congratulate everybody who helped make this team what it is — from the assistants to the front office staff, to the trainers and the ticket-takers, all the fans back in L.A. who bleed purple and gold. You all should be very proud. That’s you. (Laughter.)

I want to congratulate Jeanie Buss and the rest of the Buss family for guiding this team so well for the last 30 years. (Applause.)

I’m especially excited to meet Coach Phil Jackson, the Zen Master. (Laughter.)

I’ve been a fan of Coach Jackson’s ever since his days running the triangle offense in Chicago. I want to congratulate him on his tenth NBA championship — the most in history. I do want to point out that six of them came with the Bulls. (Laughter.) I just want to point that out.

You remember that, Magic?

MAGIC JOHNSON:

Yes, sir. (Laughter.)

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THE PRESIDENT:

’90-’91? Remember when — (applause.) You know, they won the first game and they were feeling cocky. (Laughter.) And Paxson was hitting all those shots. Anyway, we’re not — that’s not why we’re here. (Laughter.)

I was hoping that, Coach, you were going to bring some books for Republicans and Democrats in Congress maybe to get them to start playing like a team together. (Laughter.) Coach is famous for passing out books and helping people get the job done.

We are obviously honored to have one of the all-time greats in NBA history, Magic Johnson. (Applause.) Magic did pretty well during his time with the Lakers. He wasn’t bad. (Laughter.) And now a new generation is continuing his legacy. But obviously part of what makes Magic special wasn’t just how he played on the court, but also just the infectious enthusiasm about life and what he’s now doing with businesses and minority communities. He’s just been an outstanding leader in our country for a long time.

Of course, I’ve got to recognize Kobe Bryant – one of the most competitive players I’ve ever seen — (applause) — for being named Finals MVP last year, obviously already MVPs under his belt, the youngest player ever to reach 25,000 points in his career. And he’s playing with a broken finger. Now, if I was — if I had a broken finger, I would have trouble getting out of bed. (Laughter.) And he’s still leading the team day in and day out.

This is a team that never lost its focus last season — from the first tip-off to the final buzzer. I know that the Lakers have a tradition of ending each team gathering — whether it’s a practice, or a game, or a team meeting — by with the chant, “1,2,3, Rings.”

As Lamar Odom said, “We kind of always saw that light.” Everyone was willing to do what it took to get a little stronger, to play a little harder, and to bring home that title.

But I think it’s important to note that this team also knows that being a champ is about more than trophies and rings. It’s about being a winner off the court as well as on it — and giving back to those who are less fortunate. The Lakers and the NBA have always been about serving others — at home and around the world. And that tradition continued last week, when the NBA and the Players Association, led by Derek Fisher, pledged to donate $1 million to support relief efforts in Haiti. (Applause.)

Jordan Farmar and Pau Gasol are also donating their money to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. Pau pledged $1,000 for every point he scored against the Knicks — and I’m glad he dropped 20 — (laughter) — helping the Lakers to beat New York and changing the lives of Haitians thousands of miles away.

And earlier today, the team joined with our United We Serve initiative to hold a fitness clinic for kids from Stanton Elementary School right here in Washington, D.C. — teaching them about a few moves, but also how to live healthy and active lives.

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So I just want to again thank the entire Lakers organization for your service, for the great joy that you have given the city of Los Angeles, but also the incredible competition you’re your organization has graced the basketball court with for decades now.

If this season is anything like the last one — I know that you guys have your sights on the NBA finals — so we might see you here before long. But we are very grateful for your presence here today.

Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Now, one last thing. I was also told that Mr. (Shannon) Brown here intends to win the dunk contest — (laughter) — so we’ll see how that goes.

++++++++++

Left: President Obama greets Khole Kardashain, the wife of Lamar Odom, at Monday’s Lakers ceremony.

== More somewhat blurry photos from Jeanie Buss’ Twitter account, first with this one of Khole giggling under a President Clinton portrait …. man, if a pix is worth a thousand words (linked here)

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And these others:
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http://img124.yfrog.com/i/6q8j.jpg/

John Ireland made the trip:
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Felix named ’09 L.A. Sports Council Sportswoman of the Year

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AP Photo/Erik van Leeuwen

For her two gold medals at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin and making history as the first woman to win three consecutive world 200 meter titles, Allyson Felix was named 2009 Sportswoman of the Year by the L.A. Sports Council.

The former L.A. Baptist High of North Hills star and USC graduate, who also ran a leg of the U.S. 4×400 meter relay gold, won the same award in 2007.

She will be honored at the L.A. Sports Awards ceremony on Feb. 19 at the new JW Marriott Hotel in LA Live.

The five-time California high school state champion who broke Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks’ high school 200 meter time won gold at the 2008 Olympics in the 4×400 relay and took silver in the 200 meters in the ’04 and ’08 Games.

Previous winners are beach volleyball stars Misty May and Kerri Walsh (2005), Sparks center Lisa Lelie (2006) and Sparks forward Candace Parker (2008).

The L.A. Sports Council last week named the Lakers’ Pau Gasol as the Male Athlete of the Year for 2009.

The L.A. Sports Awards honor the greatest moments of the year in sports in the Los
Angeles/Orange County area. There is online voting at www.lasports.org where fans can pick the top moments in 15 categories through Jan. 31.

== Felix’s offical website: http://allysonfelix.com/
== Felix’s Wikipedia entry (linked here)

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