Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Red Bull No Limits 2011: World record distances attempts in a snowmobile and motorcycle, downtown San Diego, Saturday at 8 p.m.:
It takes a leap of faith to do what Levi LaVallee and Robbie Maddison do in the name of collecting a paycheck. Mind if we watch? A year ago at this time, LaVallee was reclining in a hospital near Fontana. He was practicing for his planned world record snowmobile distance jump at Auto Club Speedway, went head over machine (see video above), and ended up with a cracked pelvis, broken ribs, broken vertebrae in his back and a dazed look on his face. So, the Red Bull annual New Year’s Eve event was canceled. But after three months in rehab, the seven-time Winter X Games medalist who once did a double backflip on his machine has got back on up his contraption and wants to try again, this time over San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park. There’s a 300-foot water gap and his plan is to break his own mark of 361 feet.
At the same time, Maddison (right), an Aussie living in Temecula, will try to exceed his record of 391 feet on a motorcycle — he’s pushing it to the 400 foot mark. “Jumping long distances is a passion of mine, and I’m excited to come back for New Year’s Eve and sail over San Diego Harbor,” said Maddison, who started this annual event in 2007 by jumping his cycle 322 feet over a football field in Las Vegas. The next year, he jumped onto – and off – the 96-foot-tall Arc De Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas. “It’s not all about getting the world record to me, it’s more about understanding this feat and the commitment ahead to achieving what most would consider an impossible jump,” Maddison said. So now we have the first Red Bull event where two guys will jump at the same time, right after the Chick-Fil-A Bowl ends. Unless someone chickens out.
Horse racing: Santa Anita meet opener, first post, noon:
The HBO series “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina around the world of horse racing, was shot all around Santa Anita and will debut later in January — right as the track’s 75th winter/spring meeting gets going. This one runs 79 days through April 22, highlighted by the Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday, March 3.
NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
Catch your breath yet? The Lakers have to make a quick trip after Christmas Day to our state capital to play the team many thought might be in Anaheim to start the season. If these Kings were at Disneyland instead, it would have made things much easier.
NHL: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
Apparently Darryl Sutter is up to speed now on how overtime and shootouts work. The Kings are all over the place this week, starting against the Coyotes — and likely against former Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera, who has replaced starter Mike Smith (groin injury) the last two games.
College football: Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.: Missouri vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m., ESPN2:
North Carolina lost four of its last six and cost their head coach his job. Interim coach Everett Withers tries to hold it together.
NFL: Atlanta at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
My wife says I snore like Drew Brees does in his new commercials. I’m not losing sleep over the comparison. The Saints QB is 305 yards shy of breaking Dan Marino’s NFL single-single passing record (5,084 yards in 1984), and a win by New Orleans (11-3) gives it the NFC South title.
NBA: Lakers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The Jazz shipped center Mehmet Okur to Jersey for a 2015 second-round pick the other day as they continue to stockpile young players and draft choices.
College football: Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit: Western Michigan vs. Purdue, 1:30 p.m., ESPN; Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.: Louisville vs. North Carolina State, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Western Michigan has already played two Big Ten teams. It lost to Michigan and Illinois.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
How’d the Clippers manage to get so much time off already? Tim Duncan has had enough rest already.
NHL: Kings at Chicago, 5:30 p.m., FSW:
The Blackhawks have won the last seven meetings, including Nov. 26 at Staples Center, 2-1. The Kings better stay on their Toews.
College football: Military Bowl in Washington D.C.: Air Force vs. Toledo, 1:30 p.m., ESPN; Holiday Bowl in San Diego: Cal vs. Texas, 5 p.m., ESPN:
The Longhorns and Bears had one common opponent this season: UCLA. Texas pounded the Bruins by 29 in week three. Cal lost by 18 in week eight. Advantage: Burnt orange.
College basketball: UCLA at Stanford, 8 p.m., FSW; USC at Cal, 6 p.m.:
In the preseason media poll, UCLA was voted the favorite to win the Pac-12, ahead of Cal. Wanna recount?
NBA: Lakers vs. New York, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Which Knick has the highest salary? Carmelo Anthony outearns Amare Stoudemire by $300,869. Not all that much, really, with both are taking in more than $18 mil this season. And they’ve added Tyson Chandler ($12 mil) and Baron Davis ($13 mil).
NHL: Kings at Winnipeg, 5:30 p.m., FSW:
Thrashers Jets are hovering around .500, second in the Southeast Division, just happy to be back in Canada. It’s the Kings first trip to Winnipeg in … how many years now?
College football: Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando: Florida State vs. Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; Alamo Bowl in San Antonio: Washington vs. Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN:
Maybe Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III comes back for his senior season, maybe he’s a first-round draft pick moving up since Matt Barkley is returning to USC.
NBA: Clippers vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
By this date, the Bulls will have played twice as many games at Staples Center than they have on their home court. Truth is, they haven’t been home yet. Their four-game, season-opening roadie ends tonight.
College football: Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas: BYU vs. Tulsa, 9 a.m., ESPN; Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, N.Y.: Rutgers vs. Iowa State, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Music City Bowl in Nashville: Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest, 3:45 p.m., ESPN; Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.: Iowa vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m., ESPN:
Oklahoma was everyone’s preseason No. 1, right? The Sooners still won 10 games. Iowa is back in Tempe for the second year in a row.
College football: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco: UCLA vs. Illinois, 12:30 p.m., ESPN:
Loser is assured of a losing record to cap a season they’re just as soon forget. Can Mike Johnson outcoach Vic Koenning? We’re not even sure which of the two teams they belong. At least it’s all for a good cause.
College football; Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern, 9 a.m., ESPN; Sun Bowl in El Paso: Utah vs. Georgia Tech, 11 a.m., Channel 2; Liberty Bowl in Memphis: Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta: Auburn vs. Virginia, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
John White IV, the junior out of Torrance, has been the Utes’ top offensive weapon, rushing for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns. Utes offensive coordinator Norm Chow bows out after this to coach at Hawaii.
College basketball: UCLA at Cal, 1 p.m., FSN; USC at Stanford, 4:30 p.m., FSW:
How many Bruins fans will leave the football game at AT&T Park after the first quarter and head to Berkley to try to make tipoff?
NBA: Lakers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., FSW:
Andrew Bynum can come play now. Will he wake up on time? It’s an early one.
NHL: Kings vs. Vancouver, Staples Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
This time, the Kings get the prime-time appearance, forcing the Lakers to the earlier start.
NFL: San Diego at Oakland and Kansas City at Denver, 1 p.m.:
College bowls take New Year’s Day off – instead, all 32 NFL teams are called to action on the final day of the regular season to finish off any rivalry disputes about who belongs in the playoffs. The AFC West could end in a three-way tie – let’s go to the rule book to see who’s earned it. Other highlights of the final day: Dallas at N.Y. Giants (Channel 4, 5:20 p.m.), Baltimore-Cincinnati, Pittsburgh-Cleveland, Chicago-Minnesota and Carolina-New Orleans.
NBA: Lakers at Denver, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
Mark Stein’s first NBA power rankings have the Nuggets at No. 9 (linked here), just two spots below the Lakers. Perhaps he forget to add a “1″ in front of the 9.
NBA: Clippers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
Brandon Roy has retired, Greg Oden is still out with knee problems and LaMarcus Aldridge had a heart scare. Otherwise, the Blazers and coach Nate McMillan are doing just fine.