Mom, you’re gonna break the hoop

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AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig
Melissa McCafferty sits on a basketball hoop in protest on after Delaware Department of Transportation crews escorted by state police cruisers tore down basketball hoops today in Claymont, Del. Last fall, DelDOT sent letters to at least eight residents in the Radnor Green and Ashbourne Hills subdivisions saying their street-side basketball hoops violated the state’s Clear Zone law.

By Randall Chase
The Associated Press

DOVER, Del. — A Delaware mom climbed atop her family’s basketball hoop today in a short-lived bid to keep authorities from ripping it out and confiscating it.

Transportation workers and state police came to her neighborhood in Wilmington Friday morning to remove several basketball goals that officials said were too close to the roadway.

Several residents were sent letters last year warning them that the state’s “Clear Zone” law prohibits trees and other objects from being within seven feet of the pavement’s edge in a residential subdivision.

John and Melissa McCafferty said they’d gotten more than one warning letter, but that police cars and heavy machinery showed up without warning this morning to remove the hoops.

While their neighbors weren’t home, the McCaffertys decided to fight back.

Melissa, 39, parked her van underneath the goal, climbed the pole and perched herself behind the backboard, risking arrest. McCafferty said she could only think about how sad her 10-year-old daughter would be about the removal.

“To be honest with you, I really wasn’t thinking. All I was seeing was my 10-year-old’s face,” said McCafferty, who also has two teenagers who like to shoot hoops.

“They threatened to arrest me, and I told them that would be fine. I don’t mind going to jail for my kids.”

When a news photographer showed up, police and work crews gave up trying to add McCafferty’s hoop to several others they confiscated.

But they returned later, with a state police lieutenant again threatening to arrest the McCaffertys and impound their vehicles if they didn’t give up the fight. John McCafferty said he was in the process of trying to get a restraining order, but that the lieutentant refused to allow him to contact a judge

A front-end loader yanked the pole out of the ground and put it in a dump truck that hauled it away.

“I have a feeling that when some of the neighbors come home, they’re going to be devastated,” Melissa said.

A Department of Transportation spokesman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

John McCafferty, 46, said the pole has been on the property since the 1950s, long before the Clear Zone law was enacted, and that he believes it is exempted from the law.

In any event, McCafferty said, the basketball hoop sits in a quiet cul-de-sac with little traffic and has never been a source of contention until now.

“It’s been there for 61 years, and it’s created no problem until this year,” he said.

The McCaffertys said they and other residents believe the controversy stems from an anonymous complaint from an elderly neighbor upset about having to slow down for kids playing in the neighborhood.

“This is obnoxious,” he said.

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The Media Learning Curve: March 10-24

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Looking for work in the sports journalism business? Check the ESPN want-ads.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the story that ran on the Associated Press wire servies earlier this week reporting that ESPN will add 125 jobs at its Bristol, Conn., headquarters this year, primarily by moving jobs from its publishing division in New York.

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Ed Durso, executive vice president for administration, said consolidating ESPN’s operations makes “tremendous business sense.”

“We’ve been able to build a very unique thing here in Connecticut over the last 30 years, which is a production capacity on news and information and event coverage that is really in our view second to none,” he said.

ESPN is seeking to consolidate in one place its work developing programs for TV, the Internet, phones and electronic tablets, Durso said.

Interestingly, ESPN said it also anticipates hiring up to 70 employees for a child care facility it opened last year.

There’s something about ESPN needing more babysitters that seems to make the most sense in all of this story.

More after today’s media column where we successfully bash Charles Barkley’s barking on the wrong side of the fence (linked here):

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== A David Letterman Top 10 list that you’ve been watching too much college basketball — including on CBS:

10. “Answer the phone ‘Hellohio State?’”
9. “Been having erotic dreams about Verne Lundquist.”
8. “Named your kids Xavier, Duke and Notre Dame.”
7. “You’ve started injecting nacho cheese intravenously.”
6. “Begin each day by inflating your pants.”
5. “Ask your girlfriend to marry you using a dry erase board.”
4. “No number four – writer at Buffalo Wild Wings waiting for games to begin.”
3. “Actually know what TruTV is – honestly, people, what the hell kind of a name is that?”
2. “You’ve spent thousands on plastic surgery to look like Jim Boeheim.”
1. “Your wife refers to your fat ass as the ‘Big South.’”

== CBS’ “60 Minutes” plans a profile of fabled high school basketball coach Bob Hurley from St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, N.J., with Steve Kroft doing the piece (Sunday, 7 p.m.).

== Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket team up to carry the CIF state basketball championships this weekend, with Paul Sunderland doing play-by-play on four broadcasts. It starts tonight with the girls DII final between St. Mary’s of Stockton and Rialto at 6 p.m. (streaming on foxsportswest.com; delayed at 10:30 p.m. on Prime with Sunderland and Tracy Warren. The boys DII final of Archbishop Mitty in San Jose against Summit of Fontana airs live at 8 p.m. on foxsportswest.com and at 10:45 p.m. delayed on FSW with Sunderland and Dan Belluomini. On Saturday, the girls DI final between Mater Dei and Berkeley airs at 6 p.m. live on foxsportswest.com and then delayed at 10 p.m. on FSW with Sunderland and Warren. The boys DI final between Mater Dei and Concord’s De La Salle goes live at 8 p.m. on FSW with Sunderland and Belluomini.

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== Fox’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Car Auto Club 400 from Fontana (Channel 11, Sunday) starts with the 11:30 a.m. prerace show (Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond) from the Auto Club Speedway infield, while Mike Joy has the call with Waltrip and Larry McReynolds, with Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum in the pits starting at noon.

== The first column for ESPN.com by Poynter’s Kelly McBride (linked here) explains that she and Regina McCombs will write a monthly column, as well as a couple of shorter installments “as developments warrant.” She says “it’s no surprise that there are conflicts of interest and competing loyalties” as the company continues to grow and economic factors come into play, along with the changing landscape of journalism.

== Ian Darke and John Harkes call the U.S. men’s national team game against Argentina on Saturday (ESPN2, 4 p.m.) from East Rutherford, N.J.

== Showtime’s documentary series on the San Francisco Giants called “The Franchise,” which doesn’t debut until July 13, has a 30-minute preview set for Wednesday, April 13 at 9:30 p.m.

== This was the lead to an actual press release sent out by ESPN:

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ESPN Strikes Deals for Unprecedented Multiplatform Cricket Coverage in the U.S. through 2015, Including the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

Two four-year agreements to bring Champions League Twenty20 and major ICC events exclusively across TV, online and mobile

Furthering its commitment to cricket, ESPN today announced it has reached two multiyear rights agreements for exclusive live coverage of matches from Champions League Twenty20 and International Cricket Council (ICC) events, including the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, one of the most watched sporting events globally. The deals, signed with global rights holder ESPN Star Sports, will dedicate more than 1,000 additional hours of exclusive live cricket in the U.S. to ESPN3.com’s programming lineup.

“It’s a big day for cricket fans in the U.S., and we’re thrilled to be the network offering this passionate and underserved audience more cricket coverage than ever before,” said Damon Phillips, Vice President, ESPN3.com. “We’re removing the traditional pay per view barrier and making these world class events available to millions of fans.”

== AND FINALLY:

== FunnyOrDie.com has created “Great Moments in History with Gus Johnson” with the explanation: “March Madness is nothing without Gus Johnson, but none of these great moments in history would have been that important without him covering them either”:

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One more call from the square ring for Nick Charles

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Nick Charles, in his office, from a photo taken in April, 2010 for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cancer will soon claim Nick Charles. He knows he will die sooner rather than later. So does most everyone else who has been in contact with him lately.

In a small way to honor his contributions to the boxing world, HBO has granted the 64-year-old Charles a final wish – he’ll fly out from his Santa Fe, New Mexico home to Atlantic City, N.J., to be part of the network’s next “Boxing After Dark” telecast, calling the opening 12-round bout between up-and-coming featherweights Mickey Garcia of Oxnard and Matt Remillard of Hartford, Conn., on Saturday night (delayed at 9:45 p.m.).

Bob Papa, who would have called that Garcia-Remillard bout, as well as the nightcap between undefeated title-holder Yurirkis Gamboa and Jorge Solis, has graciously agreed to step aside and let Charles do the first fight, with analyst Max Kellerman and Roy Jones.

“It’s just a great thing for him, and for boxing fans, to hear him call a bout,” Papa said Thursday. “I’m just honored to be part of it. He’s been such a classy and dignified, polite person in our business. Such a gentleman. This will be really neat.”

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Charles, who introduced himself to the sports TV world in 1980 as the first sports anchor at CNN and then did many years with co-anchor Fred Hickman, has been battling bladder cancer that spread to his lungs since 2009.

Charles left CNN in 2001 to host Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” series, but had to take time off for chemotherapy. He was thought to be in remission in early 2010 but the cancer returned, aggressively, and Charles decided not to be numbed by the treatments and let the inoperable disease take its course.

HBO Sports executive producer Rick Bernstein decided to check in on Charles, who did some reporting for HBO pay-per-view boxing telecasts during the 1990s, after a reading a piece on him last month by Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski entitled “Lessons of the Fight Game.” (linked here).

Bernstein asked Charles if he’d like to call the opening bout for Saturday’s fight card. Charles accepted.

Married to CNN International producer Cory Charles, Nick has two children from a previous marriage (ages 39 and 36), an adopted child (24) attending Kennesaw State University and a 5-year-old daughter.

In 2008, Charles was given the Sam Taub Award for excellence in broadcast journalism at the annual Boxing Writers Association of America Awards dinner in L.A. His career has always been involved in boxing coverage in some way or another.

“They had me camp out in Miami after Roberto Duran’s ‘No Mas’ fight until I got an interview,” Charles told saddoboxing.com at the time about his days at CNN. “Theysent me to Japan to see Buster Douglas knock (Mike) Tyson on his butt. I was in camp with (Thomas) Hearns in Detroit and at home with (Marvin) Hagler. Though the years, I witnessed boxing history.”

Charles added that working on the ShoBox series, which featured matchups against many young fighters, taught him something.

“We usually have these young undefeated fighters who have never lost, and other times these guys who cannot afford to lose again,” said Charles. “It is all about acclaim and redemption, risk and reward. Ultimately in this series, people’s careers have either taken off or have ended.”

When Posnanski asks Charles in the SI story if he’d like to cover one more fight for television, Charles “smiles and admits it probably won’t happen. ‘It’s OK,’ he says. ‘I’ve covered a lot of fights.’”

Now, there’s one more.

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It might be the greatest sculpture of all time (made from a bunch of punching bags)

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Across the street from Staples Center, where statues already exist of Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Wayne Gretzky, Chick Hearn and Oscar de la Hoya, this one will l be erected in Nokia Plaze at L.A. Live on Friday, nearly three stories high …

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A bunch of balloons caught up in some scaffolding?

A rainstorm?

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Wait, those are speed bags like you’d find in a boxing gym …

Count ‘em: 1,300…

Still not sure? Walk around to the front and …

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Well, I’ll be dipped in clay, it’s Muhammad Ali.

The artist Michael Kalish strung the whole thing up — it’s called “reALIze” — with two miles of aluminum poles and five miles of cable. And it’s yours to admire until April 9 before it starts on a nation-wide tour.

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“I have a good relationship with Ali’s family,” Kalish told ESPN The Magazine about how the sculpture came about. “When I mentioned my idea for ‘reALIze’ to is wife, Lonnie, she loved it. Then it was a matter of finding the architects, engineers and designers necessary to bring it to life.”

Where does it go from here?

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“I want it to tour the world,” Kalish said. “There’s interest in bringing it to London for the (2012 Summer) Olympics, and I’d love for it to get to Zaire. he’s such a beloved figure; this needs to travel.”

The architectural firm of Oyler Wu Collaborative helped Kalish put together this 360-degree sculpture.

For more information, check out www.realizeali.com

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A wish, and a walk, for T.J. Peacock, and it keeps paying, and praying, forward

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There was an 11-year-old who wanted to meet Galaxy star Landon Donovan. A 6-year-old requested a day with the Kings’ Dustin Brown and was given the royal treatment. A 3-year-old simply asked to take his family to a Dodger game and meet a few players.

In 2010, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles was able to make good on 710 wishes for kids who had any kind of life-threatening medical condition. Nearly half of the wishes granted are amusement-park related. But almost one in 10 were to meet a celebrity – sports or otherwise.

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Twelve wishes were to meet a favorite pro basketball player. One wanted to be a USC football player for a day. Another wanted to meet his favorite horse jockey.

In many cases, the wishes take place out of the media spotlight. It’s a special moment for the athlete and the family. It’s mean to be that way.

“Every child has their own personal reason for wishing to meet a celebrity, whether they be an athlete or a Hollywood actor,” said Steve Vanderpool, the vice president and chief communications officer for Make-A-Wish L.A. (www.wishla.org), where more than 7,200 wishes have been fulfilled since this chapter opened in 1983.

“In my experience, no one has ever made media coverage a requirement for granting a wish and most are sincerely flattered that, out of all the wishes a child could have, they want to spend it on a chance to meet them.”

Jack Nicklaus, for example, was one of them. T.J. Peacock made that happen. But it seemed to be somewhat reciprocal.

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Nearly five years ago, T.J., who had been battling a brain tumor with surgery and chemotherapy, was able to have his wish granted – caddying a round of golf with Nicklaus.

T.J., who grew up in Downey with baseball as his passion, discovered that golf could be a real form of therapy. Round after round of radiation treatments were followed by more rounds on the golf course, even twice around the 9-hole South Gate par-3 course before it got too dark.

“He always had his clubs in the car,” said Diane Peacock, T.J.’s mother. “He’s had clubs in his hand since he was 5. I’d ask him if he just wanted to go home and lay down, but he wanted to go golf. I didn’t want him to play alone, so he’d ride in the cart and I’d walk behind him.”

T.J. made his Warren High School baseball team, but wasn’t able to play after his first seizure. He then made the golf team, and they made him the captain in his junior and senior year.

In May, 2006, Nicklaus was set to play the first round of golf on his signature course at the Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells. Make-A-Wish arranged for the 17-year-old T.J. to wear the white overalls with Nicklaus’ name on the back, pick out his clubs and help him read putts.

“It’s always been my dream to someday meet Jack Nicklaus,” T.J. said at the time.

“In this case, the honor is mine,” Nicklaus said. “He’s more than a golfer. He’s obviously a fighter. We can all learn life lessons from someone like T.J.”

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The day was capped off with T.J. giving Nicklaus the line on the final putt of the day on the 18th green – which Nicklaus rolled in for a birdie.

A couple of months later, after T.J. had been in remission and was doing well, the cancer returned. Nicklaus called the Peacock family house again to check not only on T.J., but his parents. The 15-minute conversation lifted their spirits.

“I was pretty amazed he’d take the time, and it mattered enough for him to do that,” said Diane. “He’s a wonderful man.”

When T.J. passed away in September of 2007, just four days short of his 19th birthday, Diane didn’t want the power of a sports wish to just quietly fade away.

Her wish: Pay it forward.

Each year, Diane has organized a group of family and friends, all wearing special “Team T.J.” T-shirts, to participate in the annual “Walk for Wishes” fundraiser. Three Saturdays ago, nearly 75 “Team T.J.” members did the two-mile walk around the Mattel headquarters in El Segundo, an event that drew more than 1,500 participants and generated nearly $200,000 in donations.

“It’s just about trying to thank all the good people in our lives who made things better for him and made his dreams come true,” said Diane, who, with her husband Larry, have two older sons, Travis (28) and Josh (35).

T.J. would be 22 this Sept. 24.

“Every parent says their kid is special,” she added. “But I don’t want anyone to forget T.J. and how special he was.”

As simple as that sounds, her wish had been granted.

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This is how Warren High School honored T.J. Peacock after his passing in 2007.

*****************

ALSO:

== A remembrance of T.J. Peacock’s day with Jack Nicklaus from Larry Peacock at Make-A-Wish’s website (linked here).

== April 29 is World Wish Day (linked here).

== Here’s is a recent feature done on T.J. by KTLA-Channel 5:

 

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And thanks to Team T.J. for allowing me to join the group on the “Walk for Wishes” day recently in El Segundo.

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