Griffin or Die: Clippers’ star finds intern work at comedy site

The Associated Press

Blake Griffin is going to work for Will Ferrell instead the NBA.

This week, the Clippers All-Star forward is interning at Funny Or Die, the comedy website co-founded by Ferrell and Adam McKay. Griffin arrived at the site’s L.A. offices Tuesday to begin three days of work in video production.

He will help write, shoot, edit and act in several videos for the site. Funny Or Die quickly creates digital comedy videos, often with celebrity guest appearances.

Griffin said he’s a big comedy fan and an avid viewer of Funny Or Die. As an intern, he hopes to learn more about film production.

“Just to get an inside look at how things are run here is exciting to me,” Griffin said. “I don’t know what interns at Funny Or Die are like, but I’m about to find out, I guess.”

Mike Farah, president of production at Funny Or Die, pledged that Griffin will be treated like other interns. He noted that the 22-year-old Griffin is, after all, about the same age as most of the site’s college interns. (The others, of course, may not be able to dunk over midsize sedans.)

“We’re going to put him to work,” said Farah. “He’s shooting a series of videos, and he’s also coming to meetings. He’s basically doing everything that an intern does.”

Griffin counts “Old School,” “Wedding Crashers” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” among his favorite movies. On Funny Or Die, he likes Zach Galifianakis’ mock interview series “Between Two Ferns.”

“I’ll go see a bad comedy over a good action movie any day,” Griffin said.

Though Griffin averaged 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game last season, he says he’s not above fetching coffee in his week as an intern.

“I don’t mind doing stuff like that,” he said. “It’s not a problem for me.”

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Net gain for Israel: Farmar flocks to Tel Aviv

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By Jeremy Last
The Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel — Greeted at the airport by fans singing and banging drums, New Jersey Nets guard Jordan Farmar said today he is excited about playing during the NBA lockout with Israeli champion Maccabi Tel Aviv, a club he followed as a youngster.

Aside from Israel’s own Omri Casspi, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Farmar is the only Jewish player in the NBA.

He is one of the highest-profile players to play for Maccabi, the runner-up in the Euroleague last season and an organization he said is “committed to winning.”

Farmar, the former Taft High of Woodland Hills and UCLA star won two NBA titles with the Lakers before joining the Nets in 2010, will play for Tel Aviv as long as the lockout continues.

“I’m committed to this team, to the coaching staff and the organization for the time I am here and I want to do my part to help the team grow,” Farmar said at a news conference at Maccabi’s Nokia Arena. “Leaving at the end is not something I’m looking forward to … but there is a business aspect to it. Part of my contract says when the NBA restarts I have to go back.”

Farmar has been interested in Maccabi since he visited Israel as a youngster and saw the team play. Farmar’s parents divorced when he was a child. His mother is Jewish, and his stepfather is Israeli. His father, former baseball player Damon Farmar, is black.

After playing for UCLA, Farmar became the first Jewish player in the NBA since Danny Schayes – son of Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes – retired in 1999.

“Jordan is one of the best and most exciting and I believe most special guards who have come to Israel for a long time. We’re thrilled to have him,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “The great part of the story is Jordan wanted to come and we wanted him. It was really a decision of the heart rather than a professional matter.”

Farmar expects to adjust easily to the European game and fit in well with a deep Maccabi squad.

“I’m here to be a positive influence,” he said. “I’m a leader by nature, whether I’m on the floor or not. I’m not here to show anybody up. I’m just trying to be a member of the team, a positive influence and whatever they ask of me I’ll do.”

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Love is in the air … on the ground … in the sand

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(AP Photo/Jae Hong)
Kevin Love goes up to try to block a spike by Sean Scott in their first-round match this morning in Manhattan Beach.

Some of the photographic highlights of Kevin Love’s attempt to play in today’s qualifying round for the Manhattan Beach Open, but one that ended with a one-and-done against the No. 1 seeds John Hyden and Sean Scott 21-16, 21-15 in about an hour:

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(AP Photo/Jae Hong)
I’ve got your double-double right here: Kevin Love signals to partner Hans Stolfus during their first-round match this morning in Manhattan Beach.

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(AP Photo/Jae Hong)
Can you dig it: Love comes back to help Stolfus as he receives a serve …

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(AP Photo/Jae Hong)
Love can’t reach this one …

The 6-foot-10 Love told the Associated Press: “Obviously getting beat is never fun, but being competitive, playing against the best team in the country, a team that hasn’t lost all summer, was a lot of fun.

“It’s addicting. It’s an excuse to get on the beach and near the ocean. I definitely want to keep playing, see how good I can get. These guys, they have their 10,000 hours in, so I’m kind of struggling in that regard.

“It’s like having a good basketball sense, you got to have a good court sense out there and for me, I haven’t spent enough time out there on the volleyball court to really know.”

Added Stolfus: “We both said, ‘Let’s have as much fun as possible.’ If we went in too serious we’d put too much pressure on.”

Here’s a Stolfus blog about playing with Love on his UniversalSports.com site (linked here).

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The SI version of the Stow beating: The Day That Damned the Dodgers

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Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins revisits the March 31 Bryan Stow beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot in this week’s issue of the magazine (linked here), and tries to extract some new filters to use in telling the tale again.

Such as:

Los Angeles county supervisor Michael Antonovich: “What happened was the direct result of a culture [Frank] McCourt allowed to exist in and out of the stadium. It was barbaric.”

Antonovich emailed his spokesman, Tony Bell, on April 1 and told him to announce a $10,000 reward from the county for information about Stow’s assailants–which the Dodgers were not pleased with.

Antonovich says: “McCourt’s people called the office. They were upset we got involved. They wanted us to ignore it. They tried to sweep it under the rug.”

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The O’Hara legacy continues, spreading the gospel of volleyball to the Middle Eastern oil fields

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A couple of months ago, Mike O’Hara was invited to be flown half way around the globe to Qatar and give a half-hour speech to the leaders of nearly a dozen Middle Eastern countries about the value of sports to their cultures.

International diplomacy through athletics was hardly a new concept for O’Hara, a two-time UCLA All-American on two national title teams in the 1950s and a member of the winning tandem for the first five Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournaments.

After commandeering the first U.S. Olympic volleyball team that went to Tokyo for the 1964 Games, O’Hara, who got his business degree from UCLA and an MBA from USC, created of his own international sports management company that has sent him all over the map in search of opportunities like this.

It’s just that, coming up on his 79th birthday, O’Hara might not have been sure who was going to listen to him anymore.

“I wanted to speak freely about the subject,” he said. “I wanted them to know if they didn’t spend capital now for the improved health of their younger ones, they’d spend twice as much for it later.

“I told the position I’d be taking. They needed to hear it.”

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He didn’t even have to show them the self-published book that he recently wrote on the subject — “Volleyball: Fastest Growing Sport in the World! The Basic Guide to the Sport Challenging Soccer.” (linked here). O’Hara found it in three bookstores in Qatar while he was there, which is likely why officials from the country contacted its closest U.S. university affiliate, UCLA, to see if he was up for the journey.

He not only seized the moment, he spiked it clean. Through the gospel of volleyball.

That group of high-octane officials, which also included representatives to more than 30 Western and Eastern European countries, and 11 more from Asia, were at this annual think tank to discuss economic reform for their gas and oil industries, but O’Hara fueled a different discussion.

Profit from having more youths involved in volleyball, he said. Allow more girls to play, too. And do it in the schools already built in places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt and Yemen that are already established.

O’Hara couldn’t help but feel like one of the missionaries who years ago helped establish volleyball in poorer countries by stringing a rope tied to two trees and drawing lines in the dirt to mark off a court.

“A big-time missionary,” O’Hara said with a laugh. “Or more like Johnny Appleseed.”

If you weren’t sure about volleyball still emerging as one of the fastest growing sport on the planet – beach or indoor — O’Hara has a plan to remind everyone of where it’s been and where it can still go. And grow.

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Mike O’Hara, far right, with partner Mike Bright, pose with Miss California after winning their first Manhattan Beach Open tournament against another beach legend, Gene Selznick, second from left, and Mike Higer.

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Never resting on the five plaques that are still on the Manhattan Beach pier to commemorate his historic run from 1960-64 with partner Mike Bright (“he was a surfer dude who could really jump”), O’Hara’s post-beach resume after winning 38 open championships in the sand took him from coach and referee to broadcaster, commissioner and consultant on things such as:

== A co-founder of the American Basketball Association, supporting the introduction of the 3-point play in 1969-70.

== One of the architects of the World Hockey League (which signed teenager Wayne Gretzky to his first deal).

== Peter Ueberroth’s right-hand man in negotiating an overseas TV rights deal for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

== Launching a professional track and field circuit.

== Teaming with Jerry Buss to start the World Volleyball League in 1990, after creating a Team Cup league years earlier.

== Creating a sports called Wallyball – a version of volleyball to be played on indoor racquetball courts, that introduced the concept of rally scoring that was eventually adopted for the pro beach and Olympic beach game.

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O’Hara’s induction into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Mass., more than 20 years ago seems the most appropriate accomplishment to secure his legacy.

But he’s far from throwing in the beach towel.

“I’ve been trying to help volleyball all my life; it’s been real good to me,” said O’Hara.

The 51st edition of the Manhattan Open, which begins with elimination matches Thursday morning, gives O’Hara another chance to spread some seeds as he watches what he believes is the rest of the world passing up the Americans in volleyball superiority.

Most of the top U.S. teams, as a matter of fact, aren’t in Manhattan Beach this weekend, but overseas playing in FIVB events as the 2012 Olympics near.

“The rest of the world has made volleyball their own,” said O’Hara, who lives with his wife Arlen, in the Pacific Palisades. “When I found that out, I was shocked. Soccer, you’d think, would be less expensive than volleyball, but it requires so much real estate, a level field.

“I told the oil rulers: You’re not even going to spend a lot to make volleyball big in your countries. You administer it. You build it. You design it. It makes so much sense to them because they have such tremendous resources.

“The problem is so many affluent countries have the same problem getting their kids away from the computers and video games, and fighting childhood obesity issues.”

Paul Sunderland, a member of the U.S. men’s Olympic gold-medal-winning team in ’84 and longtime broadcaster of the beach game, says O’Hara’s legacy is “as one of the great players — forget about putting him in any generation. And he’s been a remarkable businessman as well, a real visionary. He’s incredibly smart, a hard worker and a super-competitive guy.

“I can see how his business background could get the gulf nations to see his point of view. If Mike sees a way to promote it, he can be a catalyst.”

The goal of O’Hara’s 176-page easy-to-tote paperback is both to record the history of the game from his perspective, and introduce the philosophies of others who still have a powerful voice about its future – like Doug Beal, the USA Volleyball CEO; beach legend Singin Smith; former women’s star Gabrielle Reece; Dr. John Kessel, the USAV director of membership development; assistant USA men’s national team coach Gary Sato, and Dr. Jonathan Reeser, a former FIBA medical commission member.

“I want people to know that volleyball is still a big deal, and I’m hoping there are a lot of groups who can still learn about the sport – from the kids, who need to get out of the TV room and do something healthy, to the parents; from coaches to college students, and even senior players on the beach,” said O’Hara
.
“There are an awful lot of audiences out there to enlighten. I don’t think this book will be finished until 10 years from now.”

It might take O’Hara shining his light on it for the seeds to keep growing.

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== More on Mike O’Hara:
= The website volleyballmike.com

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