What’s the statute of limitations on getting someone a statue?


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will discuss it, on tonight’s episode of “The Colbert Report” (8:30 p.m., Comedy Central) and on Friday’s “Today” show (Channel 4, 7 a.m.)

His latest tweet on the subject: “I think the essence of my message to employers is learn to appreciate your staff properly especially when they are high producers.”

Following up on the tweets he made Wednesday about how he wasn’t holding his breath about getting a statue of himself erected outside Staples Center, Abdul-Jabbar appeared this morning on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike In the Morning” radio show and had this to say:

“It’s about a whole lot of smaller incidents that as they pile up on you, you get the feeling that you don’t mean anything to them. For example, I had to take a cut in salary. At the same time they tell me I had to take a cut in salary they’re paying the (head) coach $10 million-$12 million a year. You wonder how much you count when they tell you stuff like that.

“We were flying on a plane back from Orlando two years ago (after the NBA Finals) and they put me (a former assistant coach) in a tiny little seat that I couldn’t be comfortable in and there were empty seats up there where (other) coaches sat, which is where I usually flew with the team. It was little things like that, just little things that started to wear on me and make me feel like I wasn’t appreciated and I certainly wasn’t being treated like family.

“My tendency is to grin and bear it because I figured there must be something happening that I don’t understand and this is being done out of necessity. Once I get the idea that that wasn’t the case and it wasn’t, I figured maybe it was time for me to speak out. I’ve never been this vocal about anything. I’ve always tried to stay out of the fray and not be an object of controversy. It doesn’t suit me, but something needed to be said.”

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Gary Miller on the new ESPN book: I wonder if there’s stuff on the ‘souless, heartless manner’ in which employees are treated by upper management


Gary Miller’s time served at the ESPN compound: Eight years in Bristol (1990-’98) as a “SportsCenter” anchor and “Baseball Tonight” host, and working for the company through 2005 as host of “Up Close” and a general reporter.

Most notable achievement: On or off the court?

That no contest plea to disorderly conduct over an embarassing arrest during the 1997 ALCS in Cleveland, involving the need to urinate into an empty beer bottle at an open-bar party because the restroom lines were too long, will always be pinned to him. But we digress.

Gary Miller, meet Jim Miller.

“He had me at hello,” said Gary of the author who was writing a book about the oral history of ESPN, “They Have All The Fun: Inside The World at ESPN,” which will come out next Tuesday.

Gary Miller, currently a sportscaster at KCAL-Channel 9/KCBS-Channel 2, hosting the Dodgers pregame show, after a run as a local sports-talk show host at KSPN-AM (710), was familiar with Jim Miller from having read his acclaimed project on the history of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” Gary Miller says it “may be the greatest biographical background tome ever penned, and I was a huge fan and admirer from first reading that.”

Gary Miller say he thinks the reason why this ESPN book’s release comes with so much anticipation versus others written about the company over the years has to do with the track record of authors Miller and Tom Shales.

“The other ESPN books (written in the past) were so lame its hard to describe,” said Miller. “Dan (Patrick) and Keith (Olbermann, who wrote “The Big Show” in 1997) was basically about them and their show, which the excerpts already released are much more interesting in terms of offering context than that entire book. At least it was written by talented creative brilliant people.”


Then there was the 2000 piece by Mike Freeman, a New York Times columnist, called “ESPN: The Uncensored History.”

Says Miller: “Freeman’s farce was so poorly written and researched its unimaginable that he was actually employed by the New York Times. He included several what he thought were titillating things about me, one of which was excerpted in Sports Illustrated, but never spoke to me or tried to. Not even about the Cleveland incident. That book was also basically written by Olbermann, with some input from Charley Steiner and Chris Myers. Just pathetic.

“I’m looking forward to this one because of not only participating in it, but trusting the authors, and even during our conversations, finding out things I had no idea about even from the eight year span I spent in Bristol. Plus their style is so compelling, it makes for incredibly entertaining and engrossing reading. I’m far enough removed from Bristol and the mothership, and most of my stuff is known anyhow, that I’m not afraid of any backlash. I’m comfortable with the way I interacted with and treated co-workers that I have no fear of sniping or character assassination. And if there was, Jim would have given me the opportunity to react to it or verify it.

“I think the excerpting has been brilliant, and created a buzz we haven’t seen about a book in a long time, and think of the bios that have come out recently like Keith Richards and Steven Tyler. I’m most anxious for the Olbermann portrait. he most brilliant, complex, difficult co-worker I’ve encountered.

“Also, I’m wondering if the soulless, heartless manner in which employees are treated by upper management is revealed. They did some positive things, but overall, the experience is really depressing and dronish.”

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We need some quality pro beach volleyball, but where? Check out the infield at Pimlico


With the Association of Volleyball Professionals prematurely going down in bankruptcy last summer in the middle of the season, who’s up for filling the void for some quality beach volleyball tournament?

The National Volleyball League wants a crack at it.

The NVL will take its event to the people — the infield of Pimlico for this weekend’s Preakness, in front of about 80,000 as part of its InfieldFest 2011.

They’ve got 32 teams of men and women, starting with prelims on Friday at Baltimore before the finals move to Pimlico on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The men’s final is at 2 p.m.; the women’s at 3:30 p.m. — with the Preakness going off at about 6 p.m. local time.


While most of the elite former AVP teams are playing overseas in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sean Scott (left) and Sherman Oaks’ John Hyden are this weekend’s top men’s team — they’ve beaten Olympic gold medal winners Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers six times over the years. Casey Patterson and Brad Keenan, who have been competing internationally, are also considered a favorite.

Lisa Rutledge and 2000 Olympian Annett Davis (the former partner of Jenny Johnson Jordan) are the women’s No. 1 seed.

The NVL was created last year by longtime volleyball player Albert Hannemann,a former AVP Executive Director of Player Promotions. They’ve got six events planned for this summer, including Malibu and Long Beach, along with Virginia Beach, Va., Aspen, Colo., and Miami.


A group called Corrigan Sports Enterprises has helped create this event.

“This weekend has been a long time coming for the players as well as beach volleyball fans around the country,” said Hannemann. “We are grateful to Baltimore Beach, Preakness and our sponsors for giving us the opportunity to bring an entirely unique element of entertainment and competition to the infield.”

All four courts will be streamed live online at www.thenvl.com.

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Charley Steiner’s freedom to participate in the new ESPN book: Some of the stuff Miller told him was ‘jaw-dropping’

Update Wednesday 5/18/11 at noon PDT: The publishers’ embargo on excerpts has been lifted today (Wednesday). Keep up on the blog posts from Deadspin.com and others on the official ESPN book Twitter account: http://twitter.com/#!/espnbook


Charley Steiner says he left ESPN on very amicable terms in 2002, after 14 years as a “SportsCenter” anchor to start a new career as a baseball play-by-play man.

Axes? Nothing to grind here. Or even slightly sharpen.

Get the point?

So he’s only got a sense of wonderment about what this new book, “They Have All The Fun: Inside The World at ESPN,” will reveal once it comes out next Tuesday.

“I’m absolutely fascinated by the interest, and how many may buy it and what impact it has on anything,” Steiner said on Tuesday night before doing the radio play-by-play of the Dodgers-Brewers game from Dodger Stadium. “All I know is what I’ve been reading on the Internet. I have no idea what’s in it.

“I just know I’ll have something to read on the flight home from Houston (where the Dodgers play next week).”

Steiner was one of the 500-plus people who talked to author Jim Miller or Tom Shales for his take on the company. Steiner said the only pitch Miller gave him some three years ago was that he was doing something on “how ESPN became ESPN.” A couple of hours later, after their first meeting, Steiner knew Miller’s resume, trusted him, and agreed to talk more. And more.

“He knew more about what was happening to me than I did when I was there,” said Steiner.

He agrees that the way the publishers have coordinated the mysterious release of excerpts only adds to the intrigue that has built in the days before it is available to the rest of the credit-card toting world.

“They’ve done a great of controlling the message,” he said.

So why does he think there’s such a tittering about this book, versus others done on the ESPN culture in the past? It has a lot to do with the previous work about “Saturday Night Live” that these two did years ago, and their track records for being high-level entertainment reporters.

“The previous books were pretty much focused on sexual innuendos – and they weren’t inaccurate,” said Steiner. “How much of that is revealed in this book, I don’t know.


“When you’re dealing with an oral history, you let the chips fall where they may. It’s not an editorial endeavor but an oral history with people’s names attached to it. We all had the option of saying, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ But (Miller) was a straight shooter, very thorough. He was very well prepared. I don’t know if there was a question that he didn’t ask.

“Some of the things he asked me were just jaw-dropping. How did he know that? It’s just mindboggling to me, after working there 14 years, all that has come out of Bristol and the face people will now spend money to read about it. They’ve done a great job of keeping things quiet. I was telling Miller that I’ll probably be at the Barnes & Noble at night standing in line as if a new Beatles album was coming out.”

Steiner says he regularly talks to former “SportsCenter” colleagues Bob Ley and Robin Roberts. He said he had dinner last week in New York with Keith Olbermann when the Dodgers were in town to play the Mets.

“It was like having a family there,” said Steiner. “We were together every day for seven years. Now we’re the dinosaurs.”

And you know how much kids are into dinosaurs.

Previous blog posts on the new ESPN book:
== An Entertainment Weekly excerpt (linked here)
== A GQ excerpt (linked here)
== Dan Patrick’s first take (linked here)
== More Dan Patrick on Keith Olbermann (linked here)

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An Entertainment Weekly excerpt of the new ESPN book: Drunken orgies, hallway hookups, and a bloated Berman — yo, Skipper!


With publisher Little, Brown and Company lifting its embargo on book excerpts, Entertainment Weekly was the first major publication to give more sizzling material from “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by Jim Miller and Tom Shales before its official release next Tuesday.

Among the stuff that EW found dirty/funny with some shelf life (linked here):


== “The company would have Christmas parties up at some horrible place in Bristol,” says former general counsel Andy Brilliant. “A couple of them were drunken orgies…. It became like a big frat party. There were a lot of drugs being done in the bathroom. There was quite a bit of screwing going on afterward, a lot of it extramarital. But everybody went back to business the next workday.”


== “There was screwing in the hallways,” says reporter Sal Marchiano of ESPN’s early days. “OK, maybe not in the hallways, but there were a couple of stairwell stories…. There were drugs in the building, that I knew. There was one guy who dealt pot.”

Don’t take the elevator! Head to the stairs!

== At one point in the ’80s ESPN kept an apartment in New York City. “I remember [an ESPN exec] coming in and saying, ‘We gotta get rid of this apartment…because the mail boys got a couple of our secretaries hooking over there,’” says former ESPN CEO Bill Grimes. “Hooking! That’s what he said…. ‘They’re making money after work when no one’s there. It’s getting out of control.’”

Hookers! Out of control!

== Sexual harassment got so bad that anchor Karie Ross actually stood up in front of 200 or so people in the cafeteria and demanded that it stop. Her plea didn’t have much impact. “No fewer than fifty cases of sexual harassment were reported by women on the staff to ESPN management in the first half of the 1990s,” the authors write.

No one cares, Karie!

== “I was introduced to [Chris Berman], and my title was mentioned,” recalls marketing senior VP Lee Ann Daly. “He was like, ‘Oh, goddammit, do we need another vice president?’ And I just said, ‘Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Berman.’ ….there was really no need to be a jerk. But that kind of stuck with me. I noticed that Chris Berman was rarely happy. He was always very difficult to please.”

Oh, happy day!


On SI.com, executive vice president of content John Skipper was asked during the ESPN upfront presentation in New York about the perception of “a frat-boy culture” on the company’s Bristol, Conn., campus — not so much in light of the book excerpts but of NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby being pulled off the air after being charged with a felony over a domestic incident with his estranged wife in Amherst, N.Y.. He pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges, said there was no violence between and him and his soon to be ex-wife and and apologized for the “unfortunate incident.”

“We do not condone that kind of activity,” Skipper said. “In fact, we’ve taken lots and lots of steps to create policies. We’re fairly stringent when people do things. We suspend people. We fire people.

“It is clear to everybody who works for us we are not going to tolerate it. It’s just human nature, human behavior. No, we don’t have a culture run amok. It’s a phrase everybody likes to use now. We have a culture of hard work, and achievement and serving fans. We have a lot of employees. A few of them, every now and then, do something stupid.”

Like talk to book authors.

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Memo to Leiweke: Why any more thoughts of the Vikings moving to L.A.’s Farmers Field look more bad than Goodell


(AP Photo/The Star Tribune)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference at the governors residence in St. Paul, Minn., today with Gov. Mark Clayton, left.

By The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said after meeting today with Gov. Mark Dayton and supporters of a Minnesota Vikings stadium that the league will contribute financially to its construction, and that he believes efforts to get the facility built are ensuring the team’s future in the state.

“I think the commitment here is to get something done and I think that will ensure the success of the Vikings,” said Goodell, after he was asked if he could envision a scenario where the team would leave Minnesota.

The NFL commissioner met early in the morning at the governor’s residence with Dayton, legislators sponsoring the stadium bill and state Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel to talk about the team’s partnership with Ramsey County to build a $1.1 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills.

Goodell would not reveal how much the league would kick in, saying he would release more details in the next few days. As part of its deal with Ramsey County, the Vikings pledged to pay $407 million, about 39 percent of the total project cost.

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Does anyone at KTLA remember that Harmon Killebrew used to work for the station?


Apparently not, although that’s obviously not the first thing you’d think of when constructing an obituary on the Hall of Fame slugger from the Minnesota Twins, who lost his battle with throat cancer today.

The remembrance of his life on the KTLA.com website (taken from sister media partner Los Angeles Times, linked here) mentions: “Killebrew retired after playing with Kansas City in 1975 and spent several seasons as a broadcaster, most of them with the Twins.”

But one of them was with the Angels. On KTLA. In 1983. With the late Bob Starr. Killebrew was with the Twins’ broadcast from ’76-’78, with Oakland (as a broadcaster and hitting coach) from ’79-’82, and then back with the Twins from ’84-’88.


And despite what many say, Killebrew wasn’t the model for the MLB logo. But you’d have a tough time convincing us of that (even after the guy who designed it in 1969 says it’s not true, linked here). He also told David Davis for his piece in the Washington Post the same thing long ago (linked here).

Meanwhile, check out this link to Killebrew’s other connection to the Angels — a 522-foot homer that he hit off a knuckleball from the Angels’ Lew Burdette on June 3, 1967 at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis. Although Ross Newhan says it was 570 feet (linked here) and the seat was green.

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ESPN can be upfront about it: No new Cowherd show, for one


This CBS sit-com idea from the mind of ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that we made mention of in last Friday’s media column isn’t gonna fly.

It’s out of development. Deepest apologies to Damon Wayons and Eliza Dushku, who were set to be part of the cast.

The radio show host/”SportsNation” sidekick tweeted that CBS decided it was a no-go: “Network passed on my sitcom. On to plan B. In talks with Charlie Sheen for new show “Almost Winning.” Taste that CBS”

The blog SportsGrid.com has already said: “Tough the show never aired, in a way, we already miss it. Why? Because everyone banding together to make fun of Colin Cowherd’s sitcom was great fun.”

Where one door closes, another opens. But not at ESPN.

Today, the Worldwide Leader in Sports has its day to do its so-called “upfronts” — releasing new information about upcoming shows that will hopefully motivate ad sales. ESPN is doing a big Times Square thing with Michelle Beadle and Scott Van Pelt asked to step away from their own shows and pimp what’s coming up. The Laker Girls were also available (somehow) to participate in this.

What’s there to know?

== A new afternoon lineup on ESPN2 starting Sept. 12 will include “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable,” giving the Miami Herald sportswriter his own 30-minute gig at 1 p.m., hopefully limiting his time available to go to “Around The Horn” or sub on “Pardon The Interruption.”

== “Numbers Don’t Lie,” a half-hour show weekdays at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN that ” tackles the biggest sports stories of the day by providing historical and numerical perspective.” With a host TBA, a former player TBA and an “expert” TBA. It usually means they’re crunching the numbers to find the right, economical fit.

== Three new documentaries that will air starting in October:
= “Catching Hell – The Steve Bartman Story”
= “Renee – Renee Richard’s Story”
= “Play On,” the story of Johann Olav Koss

Other stuff from the ESPN release:
= ESPN will conduct a formal bid process to determine the X Games host cities. Final cities will be selected in 2012 for a three-year agreement.
= The launch of the ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com website with Time Warner Cable, making it the first ESPN Spanish-language site for a city.
= Kenny Mayne’s “Wilder World of Sports” is a six-part digital series going global.

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More from DP on KO, working through the jealousy times at ESPN and what could be in the new book


More from Dan Patrick (from the previous blog entry, linked here) on his syndicated radio and TV show this morning, in light of what could be coming out of the new book, “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, what has already been revealed in a GQ excerpt, and what probably wasn’t included in the 1997 book that he and Keith Olbermann wrote capitalizing the success of their partnership at the net:

On the Keith Olbermann information released:

“Everything I read on Keith’s story and how people viewed him was accurate … There was stuff I didn’t know first-hand, but I was aware of second- and third-hand. …

“But what stood out was that on one hand, you have the brilliance of Keith. What he could do and bring to a show. But you also had the other side … what he can bring to a show that can bring it down. You end up at the end of the day almost even. Keith was great on TV. I thought he changed ‘SportsCenter’ and changed sportscasting but then he got off the air and you had to deal with all the other things there.

“A lot of jealousy went on there. A lot. The 6 p.m. Eastern show, a lot of jealousy with the 11 o’clock show. Because we were 11, and we didn’t know who was watching. There never released any ratings. Which I found interesting in the (excerpt), John Walsh, the former boss, said the ratings went up after Keith left – that’s interesting because we never got to see any ratings when we were there. And then all the sudden the ratings became important?

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