Play It Forward: May 23-29 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:



(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
During a photo shoot at the Indianapolis 500 starting grid last October, 33 cars driven to victory in the race are put on display to celebrate the Speedway’s 100th anniversary. The front row, from right, is the 1911 Marmon Wasp driven by Ray Harroun, the 2010 car driven by Dario Franchitti (center), and the No. 1 1961 roadster driven by A.J. Foyt 50 years ago to win his first of four Indianapolis 500s.

IRL: Indianapolis 500, 9 a.m., Channel 7:

We hope we have as much tread left on our tires when we reach 100 years old. The Brickyard, celebrating its centennial anniversary, may put as much pressure on this field as it did for Ray Harroun to win the first one in 1911.


“It’s a great pressure to have. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay, the only American to win an IndyCar race since April 2008, in the middle of last week. “It’s part of history, part of American history.” And now, he’s history, having failed to make the field during Sunday’s “Bump Day.” Danica Patrick pushed her way into the ninth row, while while Brazil’s Helio Castroneves, who could become the first foreign-born four-time race winner, starts inside the sixth row. Marco Andretti also put himself back in the field after he was bumped by England’s Alex Lloyd.



Tennis: French Open, first round matches: 3-to-11 a.m., Tennis Channel:

Who’s there: Novak Djokovic, and his phenomenal streak. And Maria Sharapova. Who isn’t: Defending doubles champs Serena and Venus Williams. And Andy Roddick. Which may explain how, for the first time in 40 years of computer rankings, no U.S. tennis player — man or woman — is ranked among the world’s top 10. Save it for Wimbledon. ESPN2 continues Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Channel 4 has third-round play on Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m. to noon).

NBA playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 4: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m., ESPN:

Which Russell Westbrook shows up on the Thunder home court this time? The one who had a team-best 30 points in Game 3? Or the one from Game 2 sitting on the end of the bench in the fourth quarter? The former UCLA standout has been one of the most scrutinized players this post season, trying to will his team back from a 2-1 deficit against the Mavs. Fact is, Dallas can wrap this up at home by Game 5 (Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN), with a Game 6 at Oklahoma City (Friday, 6 p.m., ESPN) and a Game 7 in Dallas (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN) if needed.

MLB: Dodgers at Houston, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

The most exciting thing to happen at an Astros game in Minute Maid Park this year was a week ago, when a fan celebrating his 27th birthday ran onto the field in the top of the 9th inning, sprinted from the right-field corner across the outfield, used that crazy grass slope out there behind the center-field flag pole to easily climb over the fence away from security in pursuit, then lifted himself up on another couple of sections and escaped through one of the arches. All while the fans in the stands stood and cheered. He was caught — turns out, he’s a former local college baseball player, and fans of the Astros know his name better than any of the team’s current starting pitchers. If the new ownership of the NL Central basement-dwelling Astros, who have the worst record in the league, has any marketing savvy, they’d sign him to a minor-league contract. The series moves on with games Tuesday (5 p.m., Channel 9) and Wednesday (11 a.m., Prime).


MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 13:

Former Angels closer Brian Fuentes might actually get a round of applause if he makes an appearance for the A’s. He’s 1-5 with an ERA above four after his last outing against the Giants. Meanwhile, Jered Weaver, 0-4 after a 6-0 start, tries to right the ship for the Angels. Tyler Chatwood, responsible for giving up seven runs in two innings during a 14-0 loss to Oakland last week, must be relieved that he’ll miss appearing in this four-game set that continues Tuesday and Wednesday nights (7 p.m., FSW) and Thursday afternoon (12:35 p.m., FSW).

NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 5: Tampa Bay at Boston, 5 p.m., Versus:

All tied up at two, without much rhyme, reason or rhythm, the Lightning and Bruins are now immersed in a best of three. A winner can be determined in Game 6 back in Tampa (Wednesday, 5 p.m., Versus) with a Game 7 if needed back in Boston (Friday, 5 p.m., Versus).


NHL playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 5: San Jose at Vancouver, 6 p.m., Versus:


Two-man advantages seem to fit the Canucks well. They’re up, 3-1, in this series with a prime opportunity to close it out at home tonight. If we need a Game 6, it’s in San Jose (Thursday, 6 p.m., Versus) with a Game 7 in Vancouver (Sunday, 5 p.m., Versus).

NBA playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 4: Chicago at Miami, 5:30 p.m., TNT:

C’mon, just look at Pat Riley. He doesn’t want to be back on the bench again? They’re going back to Chicago after this for Game 5 (Thursday, 5:30 p.m., TNT), but will there be a need for a Game 6 in Miami (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., TNT) or a Game 7 on Memorial Day in Chicago (5:30 p.m., TNT)?


MLS: Galaxy vs. Houston, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

London is calling David Beckham again – but not for a royal wedding. He wanted to participate in a “testimonial game” Tuesday for his retiring former Manchester United teammate and close friend Gary Neville. More power to him. His plans would be to leave old England later in the week to meet up with the squad for Saturday’s game at New England (5 p.m., FSW).


Golf: 72nd Senior PGA Championship, Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky.; first round, 9 a.m., Golf Channel:

Not to be confused with the Senior Open Championship (July 21-24 in Surrey, England), the U.S. Senior Open Championship (July 28-31 in Toledo, Ohio) or the Senior Players Championship (Aug. 18-21 in Harrison, N.Y.). Tom Lehman, with three wins in eight Senior Tour events this year, is the Senior PGA Championship defending champ. Golf Channel has the second round Friday, while NBC has the weekend (Saturday and Sunday, noon.). Meanwhile, on the PGA Tour, Justin Day defends his title at the Byron Nelson Championships (first two rounds on Golf Channel; final two on CBS).


MLB: Dodgers vs. Florida, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:


The Marlins won two of three against the Dodgers in Miami back in late April — only giving in on the last game of the series in extra innings. Marlins’ 21-year-old right fielder Mike Stanton, the former Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks standout who has yet to put in a full big-league season, leads the team to this point in homers and runs scored. The bigger news: Marlins ace Josh Johnson, with an MLB-best 1.64 ERA, is on the DL with a sore right shoulder and could be out until early June. The series concludes with games Saturday (7 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1 p.m., Prime).

MLB: Angels at Minnesota, 5 p.m., FSW:

The day before this series, the Twins will have held a memorial service at the ballpark for the late Harmon Killebrew. Maybe that’s a blessing — taking away any attention from the fact that the franchise has the worst record in baseball to this point and is last among the 30 teams in scoring runs. The series ends Saturday (4 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (11 a.m., FSW).


MLS: Galaxy at New England, 5 p.m., FSW; Chivas at Columbus, 4:30 p.m., Prime:

Why leave the Home Depot Center vacant on a Saturday night?

Soccer: UEFA Championships League final: Barcelona vs. Manchester United, 11 a.m., Channel 11:

Barcelona might be the best kickball team in the world, and Man-U is probably the most popular and valuable franchise in the world. Let’s meet up at Wembley Stadium for a rematch of the ’09 game in Rome, won by Barcelona. Winner gets the European Cup and a shot at Europa League champ Porto in the Super Cup in Monaco in August.

MMA: UFC 130: Rampage Jackson vs. Matt Hamill, 6 p.m., pay-per-view ($44.95):


When Rampage Jackson (31-8) steps into the octogon at the MGM in Las Vegas against Matt “The Hammer” Hamill (10-2), it’ll look as if he forgot to put the lock on his bicycle. What’s up with that heavy-duty chain around the neck?


If you’re local Pep Boys store doesn’t carry the steel links, go ahead and buy your own souvenir Rampage chain for $12.95 at the UFC online story (SKU ID #290283). There’s one review of the chain posted on the site from “so cool sewell” of Raleigh, N.C., who says it has “good length” and is “stylish,” and “I love to wear it and make friends laugh during fights. its great but just wish you had rampage’s name on it.” The bottom line: “No, I would not recommend this to a friend.”


NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 3 p.m., Channel 11:

The traditional second act to the day-long motorsports extravaganza, and Carl Edwards (below) has more incentive to add onto his All-Star win Saturday. Last year, Kurt Busch became one of the few who’ve won both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and this Coca-Cola 600 in the same season at Charlotte, collecting $1.4 million for the two wins. The others: Kasey Kahne (2008), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Jeff Gordon (1997), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Davey Allison (1991) and Darrell Waltrip (1985).

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It’s Out of the Question: Kareem’s bad dream

When does the statute of limitations run out on when a statue can be built for someone?

Or does Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have to get arrested before the world ends today just to get the Lakers’ attention?

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, six-time MVP and owner of six title rings decided to take some giant steps over the last few days to expose himself.

Stephen Colbert? The “Today” show? Apparently, Rachel Ray and “Judge Joe Brown” were already booked.


He’s telling everyone without trying not to sound as surly, bitter, jaded and detached as usual that when he got word recently about being next in line for a bronze replica outside of Staples Center, he wasn’t going to hold his breath. It’s based on the way he says he’s been treated by the organization over the last decade.

As if those running the franchise don’t have enough to fret about as they seek a new head coach (Kareem’s not in the conversation), reconstruct a team that’s just been embarrassingly swept out of the playoffs (with Kareem’s former protg, Andrew Bynum, putting the exclamation point on it) and wondering if there’ll be a work stoppage (without residuals from “Airplane!” to fall back on), the Captain’s latest public tour of frustration makes for some interesting reflection.

After all, he’s right.

The man who once had a street named after him outside the Lakers’ old digs at the Forum feels as if he’s been dumped in a back-alley dumpster.


The man who once had a place in the Hollywood Wax Museum is burning the candle at both ends now trying to get the public on his side.

Who’s to argue with the merits of his resume?

Tell your old man to drag his legacy up and down the court for 48 minutes.

It’s just that his method of his campaigning pretty much underlines why the big sourpuss doesn’t have one by now. Not at Staples or UCLA. Or even Power Memorial High in New York.

He’s gotta clean his goggles and take a different view of this.

What’s to stop him from commissioning a statue for himself? He can pose for it. He can plant it in the yard himself. He can even hand out complimentary polishing cloths to fans that happen to pass by and possibly gaze at it.

L.A.’s downtown pigeon population would endorse it. They may be too timid to land on the shoulders of Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn. But a higher-than-thou view perched atop the @KAJ33 sky hook is prime real estate.

Just watch out for the droppings below.


== What could Jerry West possibly gain for his front-office legacy by joining the Golden State Warriors’ front office as a paid advisor? Is he getting some bad advice?

== The Dodgers could use a left-fielder with some power, poise and personality, and Milton Bradley was just released again by the Seattle Mariners. Who’s game?

== Not that Andre Ethier should be finger-pointing, but is he missing the big digital, easy-to-email picture?

== Kirk Gibson, who’ll be part of the upcoming MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix as a coach (thanks to his manager role with home-team Arizona), is the only winner of a regular-season MVP award (Dodgers, ’88) who was never voted onto an All-Star team?

== Was it worth it, Lance Armstrong? Do we believe the bike messenger, or the message?

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Are the Dodgers, LAPD ignoring Leykis’ reward donation? Or is it just not the PC thing to do?


Getty Images
Los Angeles Police chief Charlie Beck talks to the media at Tuesday’s press conference at Dodger Stadium.

UPDATED at 4 p.m. Thursday:


Something’s not adding up to Tom Leykis.

The 54-year-old former FM-radio so-called shock jock announced on his website (linked here) back in early April that he wanted to pitch in $50,000 toward the reward money offered by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Dodgers that would be given to anyone whose information led to the capture of two suspects in the Dodger Stadium parking lot beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on March 31.

But when the LAPD announced Tuesday that they were increasing the total reward from $100,000 to $200,000, and that it included money raised by the Dodgers ($125,000), the L.A. City Council ($50,000), Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich ($10,000), the Giants ($10,000) and American Medical Response ($5,000), Leykis didn’t see his part in it mentioned.

“If you do the math, there should be more than just $200,000,” Leykis said Thursday afternoon.

So he started to make some calls.

“I got a whole education on the process,” he said. “And it’s a very troublesome response.”

Enough so that he says if someone doesn’t figure out why he can’t make a donation — and he’s willing to put the $50,000 in an escrow account — he’s rescinding the offer as of 5 p.m. Friday.

“At first I thought it was just an oversight,” said Leykis, whose “Tom Leykis Show” aired nationally, based in L.A., from 1994 to 2009 and is scheduled to return next April. “Maybe (police chief Charlie) Beck wasn’t aware of it — even though it was in 1,300 newspapers. I was shocked to find that wasn’t the case.

“And I want to make it clear: I don’t want to rescind it. I don’t need the publicity. I haven’t had a radio show on the air in two years. I’ve lived in L.A. 23 years. I’ve always had a good relationship with the LAPD, especially in Hollywood where I live. I thought I was doing the right thing, but now I’m being treated with what sounds like distain.”

That could be from the fact that Leykis has created a very non-PC reputation during his radio career. Many say Leykis broadcast an overwhelming mysogynistic message that essentially instructed men how to have sex with women by spending the least amount of money and time on them.

Still, he says as a longtime L.A. resident who wants to help the LAPD nab two suspects in a crime that has tarnished the city’s and the Dodger’s image.

Leykis is a long-time Dodgers fan (linked here), enough to where we offered him a chance to chime in on the public ownership idea of the Dodgers in the wake of the McCourt mess last October.

He responded (linked here): “I would love to see such a movement for public ownership of the Dodgers succeed. Unfortunately, I do not believe that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will ever allow his fiefdom to be penetrated with public ownership no matter how good our argument as a community. So I guess that what I really hope for is that someone who loves L.A. as much as I do such as Eli Broad or David Geffen will do the right thing for our community and run our team, not as a silly example of vanity and excess, but in the way that good citizens of means do such good for our community. I would gladly do it if I had a billion dollars.”

When he offered the $50,000 contribution on April 5, after finding out that the Dodgers had offered $25,000 to match the $25,000 from the L.A. City Council, making it a $100,000 total, Leykis thought he was helping the cause. (linked here).

Apparrently not.


At the time, Leykis said he had talked to Tony Perez, the communications director for the office of L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes (right), which was responsible for raising funds. Perez explained to him that there was “no mechanism” to accept public funds for police reward money.

“I said, ‘I understand that, but you have people offering rewards, such as the ambulance company, a billboard company, the Dodgers,'” said Leykis. “He made it sound like I would be included, and in six months, I’d be contacted to see if I wanted to renew the pledge if the suspects hadn’t been caught.

“When I called Mr. Perez back (Wednesday), he was belligerent with me. He said they couldn’t acknowledge rewards from private individuals.

“I said, ‘Then what are the Dodgers?’ He said, ‘They are an organization.’ I said, ‘No, they aren’t, they’re a limited liability company — an LLC — which is another name for Frank and Jamie McCourt. And from what I’ve been reading, they don’t have enough money to make payroll on May 31.

“What makes you think Frank McCourt can cough up $25,000?’ How is McCourt more likely to pay off a reward than I am? Enron was once an organization. Remember Lehman Brothers? If the Dodgers went bankrupt, you think a bankruptcy judge would make the Dodgers pay this reward? No.

“Obviously, I’m forcing the issue now. I’m doing it as a private citizen. I’m not a rabble-rouser. I’m not doing this in my company’s name. But if they don’t accept it, I’m rescinding it. Because, after all this, what’s the point?”

If Leykis’ $50,000 couldn’t be put toward the reward money, would it be better spent helping with the Bryan Stow medical fund that many have been supporting? Leykis agreed that would be a productive, but he has his reasons.

“If someone from the Stow family asked for help, of course I would,” said Leykis. “But in this case, I was taking it from the crime angle because I live in Hollywood — I can see the stadium from my house at night, and its nine miles away.


“I have a good friend, Detective Ralph Sanchez, the lead officer in the Hollywood Hills, who I’ve known a long time. I’ve always supported the LAPD, on and off the air. For me, this was a way to help the police, by upping the reward.

“I just believe there are forces afoot here preventing me from doing it.

“Is the reason because McCourt is now the LAPD’s newest partner? He has to hire all these LAPD officers who get the overtime to station around the stadium. Has he told them not to mention my reward because it’s embarassing to him? It seems that way.

“Why play politics with a reward? Is there a reason why his money is good, but mine isn’t? And why can’t the city help coordinate reward money? They collect money for earthquakes in Mexico. And an average person can’t get involved in offering reward money? Why not?”

Leykis said he has since spoken to an assistant at Beck’s office, as well as the city councilman representing his district, Tom LaBonge.

Attempts to contact Perez at Reyes’ office have not yet been successful.

The Dodgers declined comment.

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Ebersol’s departure from NBC raises more questions than answers — any clues, Kabletown?


He butted heads with the company’s new management after years of convincing NBC higher-ups for years why it was worth taking huge financial losses in becoming immersed in televising the Olympics.

He’s not getting any younger. And maybe it’s just time.

The resignation today by NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol, an annual selection to The Sporting News’ list of the Top 100 most powerful people in sports, ends a run after 22 years as the network’s top sports executive.

In December 2003, Ebersol agreed to a nine-year contract to continue running NBC Sports and the Olympics through 2012. The New York Times reported that he intends to stay at NBC through the end of this June, leaving before NBC covers the ’12 Summer Games in London.

NBC Sports exec Mark Lazarus has been promoted to take his place.

Incoming NBCUniversal chief executive Steve Burke has been battling with Ebersol over how the network should move forward in Olympic bidding negotations. He’s also made changes in NBC Sports to push a greater involvement with its cable partners, especially those owned by Comcast Corp., which recently took over NBC.

“Dick Ebersol is an incredible talent whose contributions to the company over the last four decades in sports, news and entertainment are unsurpassed,” Burke said in a statement. “Dick has masterfully produced everything from the Olympics and Sunday Night Football, to the Triple Crown, NHL games and major golf and tennis events. In the entertainment world, he helped create Saturday Night Live, one of the most significant programs in television. We will miss his intellect, experience, and passion for the television business.”


Ebersol, who turns 63 this summer, has previous heart surgery and survived a plane crash in 2004 that took the life of his younger son, Teddy, said in a statement: “What I have enjoyed most is working so closely with so many truly outstanding and incredibly talented people over decades of producing some of the greatest events in the world. Those relationships are what I cherish most. I have always said this business is about relationships and I have been fortunate enough to have more deep and meaningful friendships than any man could imagine.

“It has been a sincere privilege to tell so many remarkable stories that have inspired me throughout my entire career. Some of my favorite memories come from reading letters and talking to viewers who also have been moved by such powerful stories.

“I simply want to say thank you to all of those people who have touched me so deeply throughout my career.”

On today’s SiriusXM’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo show, Bob Costas said Ebersol’s call to him this morning to explain what was going on was “the first that I had heard of it. But he sounded very much at peace with his decision and the exact reasons are his to explain.”

At age 20, Ebersol joined Roone Arledge at ABC as an Olympic researcher, learning about the importance of the event as a network asset while working at the 1972 Munich Games — and that included making it a prime-time, tape-delayed production, no matter what time zone it came from.

When he ascented to NBC Sports chief in 1989, Ebersol was executive producer for the ’92 Barcelona Olympics. In 1993, he got the network to commit billions of dollars for the rights to the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Two years later, he got the rights to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City — packaging the two together for the first time. That led to NBC getting the rights to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, as well as the 2006, ’08 and ’10 Winter Games.


In 1992, Ebersol was awarded the Olympic Order, an honor periodically bestowed by the International Olympic Committee to recognize remarkable contributions to the Olympic Movement.

Ebersol said he would not attend the IOC meetings next month that involve the U.S. TV bidding rights for the 2014 Winter Games in Russia or the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. ABC/ESPN and Fox are expected to be among the heavy bidders.

His fingerprint on most recent NBC ventures was orchestrating the network getting “Sunday Night Football” and hiring John Madden and Al Michaels to broadcast it. He also worked a revenue-sharing deal with the NHL.

On the negative side: He partnered with Vince McMahon to create the XFL in 2000. At least technical innovations came of it, including the overhead camera.

Ebersol helped to create “Saturday Night Live” with Lorne Michaels for NBC as well in the 1970s. During his run there, he met future wife, actress Susan Saint James.

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