It’s on the blog post right below this — a feature story on Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket reporter Patrick O’Neal, leading into the second week of the four-part best and worst of the L.A. sports media list (linked here).
What’s not in the story: How Patrick’s first name almost became “Rocky,” thanks to his dad’s love of boxing.
Here’s the explanation on the website of Patrick’s mother, Leigh Taylor-Young (www.lty.com) and how Patrick’s birth certificate actually lists his first name as “Young”:
September 14, 1967 was the day my son was born. I was convinced throughout my pregnancy that I would have a girl. I believe I felt that way because I was, at that time, very “soft” internally, extremely sensitive and vulnerable, and I had reached my level of tolerance for “changes.”
In the year prior to his birth, I had my first love affair, with Ryan, and had become a major television star where my anonymity and privacy had gone forever. … I had worked on Peyton Place until my fifth month of pregnancy. They wrote my character, Rachel Welles out of the show, by having her lose her mind and be sent to a sanitarium.
I was now free to enjoy my pregnancy without worrying if my stomach showed or if I would be able to make it to the rest room in time, between shots, to throw up. Ryan and I had married in my third month. I adored Ryan. Actually, it was more of an infatuation, as I had married someone quickly who I barely know as a person. We rented a beautiful house in Benedict Canyon that had been the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was the perfect place to have an enchanted pregnancy. There was a pool under trees, deer, roses everywhere and a lovely tennis court.
Ryan did me a great favor, he worked me out every day of my pregnancy. Sometimes he would have me run against a time clock, or simply have me run up and down the long driveway of our home. I started tennis lessons in my fourth month and was playing the day Patrick was born.
The night Patrick was born, Ryan was watching “Thursday Night At The Fights”, a television boxing extravaganza that was ritual TV fare in Los Angeles in 1967. A boxer, Young McCormick, was fighting that night and Ryan favored him. I was almost three weeks overdue. It was a hot September night and I was cooking dinner. I felt my first contraction while cooking, and two minutes later there was another. I served Ryan his dinner, sat down, said nothing and waited to see what would happen next. My contractions remained two minutes apart. We raced to the hospital. Patrick’s birth came quickly. I had only one hour of labor. …
Because I had been so sure I would only have a girl, I had chosen no names for a boy. Ryan became intent on naming the baby “Rocky O’Neal”. I suggested the name Patrick, as a compromise, as that was Ryan’s real first name. Ryan agreed, but wanted to add the name Young to Patrick O’Neal in deference to the Irish boxer who had been fighting that night. So Young Patrick O’Neal made his entrance, and blessed my life.
More photos of Patrick O’Neal as a little kid (linked here)
COMING UP:The 20th annual Top 10/Bottom 5 best and worst polls of:
=Jan. 27: Radio and TV game analysts
=Feb. 3: Radio and TV game play-by-play
This follows the first installment on the best/worst L.A. sports-talk hosts on Feb. 13.
And a followup: 20 years later, what ever happened to some of those who made the lists over the years?
It’s not an act when Patrick O’Neal describes his role these days as the primary host for Dodgers, Lakers and Kings telecasts on Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket.
“It’s a dream job,” he said the other morning, sitting at an eatery at the Grove complex near Farmer’s Market. “I am lucky, no question. I appreciate what everyone does to make it all work — the producers, the guys in truck, editing video.
“I get to work with Bob Miller, take bus rides to games with Vin Scully. I give a fist pump to the Chick Hearn statue every day I go to work at Staples Center.
“It’s so cool. Seriously, I want to stay on this wave as long as possible.”
O’Neal may have an even greater appreciation for his role because of the road he took to find his passion, years after he discovered he didn’t have the nerve to pursue his first career – acting.
That Hollywood track would have seemed far more likely, considering his lineage.
Although it was a subject he didn’t really want to broach much during the earlier years of his sportscasting career, O’Neal is much more candid now about being one of four who call Academy Award-nominated actor Ryan O’Neal his dad. Patrick spent regular weekends and lived fulltime as a teenager with him at his Malibu house, including when Farrah Fawcett was there.
Patrick’s mother, Emmy-Award winning actress Leigh Taylor-Young, met Ryan on the Fox lot set of the TV series “Peyton Place” more than 40 years ago before they married. That’s the same place where Patrick got his first sports broadcasting job years later.
(Photo, left, of Patrick O’Neal with his parents, from www.lty.com)
The O’Neal family tree, of course, includes his older half-sister and Academy Award-winner Tatum, once married to former tennis star John McEnroe. Patrick is also the father of two daughters, 14-year-old Sophia and 10-year-old Veronica from his relationship with actress Rebecca De Mornay.
As much as there often seems to be O’Neals in the news — Ryan and Tatum did a reality-TV show last summer on the Oprah Winfrey Network that focused on them patching up their relationship – Patrick is the one cultivating the sports news on a nightly basis.
“My passion was always sports, and I owe a lot of that to my dad,” said Patrick of Ryan, who grew up as a Golden Gloves boxer and once co-managed the career of prizefighter Hedgemon Lewis in the 1970s. “We’d watch thousands of games together. There was never any bedtime. Stay up and watch the Kings, Lakers, whatever was on.
“Our bond was always sports. Without that, there’s no way I’m able to do this.”
Aside from being “very proud” of his son’s career, Ryan O’Neal said the one thing that impresses him most about Patrick’s TV work is that “he’s iron. You never see his nerves. He’s never caught short. He looks like he’s been doing this all his life. I’m very impressed, really.”
Ryan says “Patrick just shrugs” when asked at how he’s able to know so much information about all the sports teams in town.
“It’s just easy for him,” said Ryan. “He sure makes it look easy.”
Patrick credits his professional work ethic to his father, who, despite just turning 70 and having two knee replacements, often calls him for a paddle-tennis challenge.
“I just read the Jerry Kramer book, ‘Instant Replay,’ where he talks about how it might have been difficult to play for Vince Lombardi (with the Green Bay Packers), but he loved the guy like a father and all they did was win championships,” said Patrick. “My dad always pushed me athletically. We’d work out non-stop. Sometimes it might be hard, but he always wanted to win.
“I never got caught up in (any kind of Hollywood-type lifestyle). I loved sports and I love my dad. He’s totally my hero.”
The 44-year-old Patrick calls his upbringing “awesome,” a stable childhood shared with divorced parents who always had celebrity friends in their midst, especially for Monday Night Football parties.
After attending high school in Pebble Beach, where he was intrigued by working at a 50,000-watt student-run radio station, Patrick had enough of an interest in communications that he studied it for two years at the University of La Verne, with intentions of transferring to USC. But wanting to give acting a try, he was diverted, and landed movie and TV parts on “Beverly Hills 90210,” “China Beach” and “Die Hard II.”
But after a time, the grind of it all wore him down.
“My batting average as an actor is .025,” laughed O’Neal. ” I always knew I wasn’t getting the job when I saw Brad Pitt (at the casting call), and I’d talk myself out of a lot of rolls that way.”
His last audition was in the late 1990s for the Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg HBO movie “Band Of Brothers,” a spot he thought was a sure thing.
“Now I’ll see Tom Hanks at a Laker game and thank him for not giving me the part,” said O’Neal.
Within six months of that last rejection, O’Neal gladly took a midnight-to-5 a.m. update anchor shift at the Fox Sports Radio studios in Sherman Oaks. That evolved into a talk show. Which got him more local TV anchor work at FSW.
Some 12 years later, he hasn’t had to look back.
Daily News Staff Photo by Michael Owen Baker Patrick O’Neal, left, works with Norm Nixon and Kiki Vandeweghe before a recent Lakers telecast for FSW.
“Having roots here and growing up as a diehard L.A. sports fan, Patrick is incredibly well versed on the teams we cover and has cultivated longstanding relationships amongst those organizations, said Tom Feuer, the executive producer of FSW/Prime Ticket. “He continues to work hard at his craft and his preparation for each and every event is unsurpassed.”
Kings analyst Jim Fox has been impressed how O’Neal has come a long way to where, “in all honesty, he’s the smoothest guy on the broadcast.
“From my perspective, I can’t thank him enough. He’s got a lot of information, but he often takes a back seat to feature the analyst. He sees the big picture of the broadcast. I like to defer to him now. He’s more than just a set-up guy. I trust him a lot. He’s really part of the team.”
O’Neal said he doesn’t think “most people even know or care” about his family’s background, as long as he remains a credible, reliable reporter on the games they’re watching.
The irony would be if some casting director now wanted to hire him to play the role of a TV sports reporter.
“I’ll bet you that doesn’t happen,” O’Neal said, laughing. “I know I could do it. But I’m not your typical looking sportscaster, the guy with the perfect hair, standing there. They won’t even hire me for that.”
Getty Images Bob Hope, second from left, is flanked by former presidents Gerald Ford, left, and George H.W. Bush, far right, as well as standing president Bill Clinton, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and PGA Tour golfer Scott Hoch during the 1995 Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Linda Hope has a vested interest in the success of the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge, far beyond what takes place this weekend at La Quinta Country Club.
Her father, Bob Hope, invested more than just his name to the event the previous 44 years, before the title changes were the first noticeable alteration for the event.
Since the legendary entertainer’s passing at age 100 in 2003, the golf tournament has struggled to keep its identity in the desert. Former President Bill Clinton’s involvement with his foundation have kept it from disappearing all together.
It’s the hope now of Linda Hope that her father’s legacy will continue to be an underlying thread to connect the past to the future. Still a TV producer living in Toluca Lake, she discussed how she saw that happening while she was at the tournament, including the unveiling of the new winner’s trophy today in her father’s honor.
Q: Does it feel to you as if the transition from what was known as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic to the Humana Challenge is moving along the right way?
A: Very much so. Dad would be excited to see all this. He was a real showman and first one to realize it was getting not as exciting as had been in early days. And this really brings back a new energy to the game, and the tournament and to the desert charities.
Q: Could you dad see the day coming when the event would eventually change, even while he was involved?
A: He’d always talked about the fact that Chrysler was a longtime sponsor, one of Dad’s sponsors, and he was concerned, and voiced it, on what would happen when Chrysler and he was no longer with the event. Chrysler had the ongoing commitment, but then the way the market reacted and circumstances made it impossible to have that level of corporate sponsorship. Dad would be the first to recognize it and also be thrilled that Humana stepped in with an eight-year commitment.
Q: He would have OK with, for example, having it condensed from five rounds to four?
A: I think he would have. It makes more economic sense, and I think he’d still feel it was a good challenge for the player. That had been a problem, not being able to get a lot of the top players who told him it was just too big of a commitment to make. And truthfully, the desert elements sometimes worked against the tournament, with the winds and sometimes the rain. It’s a beautiful setting, but when there were arduous conditions, it made it even tougher.
You know, my dad’s career was based on change, recording it and reacting to it, with his topical sense of humor. I don’t think he’d be adverse to say this was a good move.
Q: The emphasis of the Humana Challenge is all about getting more exercise. How did that fit into your dad’s work schedule?
A: It was an integral part. Every single night of his life, he’d take a walk after dinner before going to bed, at least a mile at a brisk pace. I know, because sometimes I’d be with him. He’d get his golf club, which he always walked with – maybe for protection but he was secure with it – and frankly, he’d go for walks around the downtown areas of some of the cities that may have been a little scary. But somehow he had an angel on his shoulder and never had any problems with that. I think of stars today with their huge entourages and security. Dad never had that. People stopped him all the time to talk to him.
He was also a big believer in massages – he’d have one almost every day for the last 40 years or so, and that was really important for circulating and his well-being.
Q: He was good with his diet as well?
A: Pretty good. Mother made a point to have balanced meals and green vegetables and fish and starch foods. But that was when he was home. When he was away, I’m sure with hotel food and banquet dinners, it wasn’t as good. But he was always conscious of his weight, and my mother would always warn him about putting on extra pounds. Although he loved his lemon meringue pies.
Q: In 1995, Bill Clinton played in the Bob Hope event as a sitting president. How gratifying would have been to your dad to have President Clinton involved in keeping it moving?
A: He’s been absolutely wonderful. He and dad had a special relationship and Dad adored him. It turned out they were friends for many years. Dad first met him at the University of Arkansas when he was doing a show and the President, who was then governor, came up afterwards and met Dad, and he felt he had such an amazing amount of charisma and would go very far, which proved to be true. Many years later, when he was president, there was a knock at the door when my parents were staying at the Waldorf Towers in New York. Mother was in her bathrobe and getting ready to have supper and she opens the door, and there’s President Clinton, no body guards to be seen, and she invited him in and they had a wonderful visit. He was charming and captivating.
He has taken that affection for my dad and insisted that dad be a part of this event. They’ve named the pro-am after Dad, and created a very stunning trophy in his name for the winner.
Q: So physically you can see the changes, but emotionally does it feel the same?
A: It really does. One of the things I found interesting, we were just out the other morning at a place called The Living Desert, a habitat for animals and desert plants and all that. The man guiding the tour said to me, ‘They can call it the Humana Challenge, or anything they’d like, but to all of us, it’ll always be the Bob Hope Desert Classic.’ And I’ve heard that so many times. They’ll say that on the local TV coverage, too. It’s still in people’s minds, just like the Dinah Shore LPGA event even though it has changed sponsors years ago. It’s interesting how that happens. I think it’s wonderful and a lovely thing that people still care about what Dad was trying to do and had so much fun with it. So many good times and memories that are imprinted on everyone.
Q: What was the most important element of the tournament to keep going – the pro-am? The charities tied to it?
A: They’ve certainly stuck with the same desert charities that have been recipients of the purse – particularly the Eisenhower Medical Center, which was a real favorite of my Dad’s. He gave the property for its construction and wanted it named in honor of his friend. The funding is very important to it continuing as a hospital. The pro-am is also so vital to the fun part of the event and that was dad’s favorite part, to call upon his friends who loved golf and tried to get them to come and be part of the tournament. Now, President Clinton is able to bring in a lot of those people to be part of this.
Q: Maybe there’s a time when President Obama, who seems to be quite an avid golfer, gets an invite?
A: You can be sure Dad would have been on the phone working to get him out here. He enjoyed his playing days with all the presidents and I think also allowed them the opportunity to get a break from all the things they have to deal with, all the pressures. With President Obama, you never know. We’ll see if he’s elected again and make he can make time for it.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts after receiving a Lakers jersey as a gift from global cultural ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar today at the State Department in Washington.
This press release just sent out by the office of the U.S. Secretary of State:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a New York Times’ best-selling author, to discuss his new role as a global cultural ambassador.
During the meeting today, Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States’ strong commitment to engaging young people worldwide and to using people-to-people diplomacy as a means to create opportunities for greater understanding.
Secretary Clinton and Abdul-Jabbar discussed his upcoming trip to Brazil as a Cultural Ambassador and the strong relationship between the people of the United States and Brazil.
“I am excited and honored to serve my country as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State,” said Abdul-Jabbar, who has focused his efforts after his NBA career on engaging youth through socially-minded projects and education. “I look forward to meeting with young people all over the world and discussing ways in which we can strengthen our understanding of one another through education, through sports, and through greater cultural tolerance.”
From January 22-28, Abdul-Jabbar will travel to Brazil to meet with underserved youth in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. As a Cultural Ambassador, Abdul-Jabbar will lead conversations with young people on the importance of education, social and racial tolerance, cultural understanding, and using sports as a means of empowerment. In addition, he will participate in basketball clinics with young people in both cities.
Since his retirement in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar has devoted himself to projects focused on African American history and socio-economic justice. His 2011 documentary “On the Shoulders of Giants” sought to highlight these issues. He has also launched the Skyhook Foundation, which works to improve children’s lives through education and sports.
In June 2011, Abdul-Jabbar was honored at the White House by President Barack Obama and received the Lincoln Medal from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The medal honors Abdul-Jabbar’s commitment to education and equality which reflects the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln.
More information regarding Abdul-Jabbar’s travel to Brazil will be forthcoming. He will continue his public service as a Cultural Ambassador throughout 2012. Information on upcoming trips will be released at a later date. Stay tuned for updates via Twitter at @ConnectStateGov.
Photo from Ellen Kershaw/Regal Books Ellen (center) and Clayton Kershaw pose with Hope, the orphan they met in Zambia that became the inspiration for the Kershaw Challenge last season.
Ellen Kershaw has no doubt that her husband Clayton’s 2011 Cy Young Award-winning season was the result of a purpose-driven fastball.
It started just a few weeks after they were married in December, 2010. Ellen convinced Clayton to come with here on a return trip to the village of Lusaka, about a 10-hour plane flight from Los Angeles through London, serving as the capital of Zambia in southern Africa.
Or, about as far away as possible from the comfort zone known as the mound at Dodger Stadium.
There, on a different mound of dirt, the 6-foot-3 Dallas native can attract so many of the local orphans that, according to Ellen, he’s “like a human jungle gym – he’s got five kids on him at all times.”
Inspired to do more, and as a result of the creation last season of the “Kershaw’s Challenge – Strikeout to Serve,” Kershaw committed $100 for every one of his league-best 248 strikeouts last season.
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Golf: PGA Tour Humana Challenge, La Quinta, Thursday through Sunday, Golf Channel, noon to 3 p.m. (first two rounds) and noon to 4 p.m. (last two rounds):
The stick-and-ball event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic has not just a name change and bigger purse, but a revival under the direction of former President Bill Clinton, whose foundation has taken over and tried to push better health through positive changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle. Because the Hope was all about wine, women and late-night carousing? One coup for Clinton was getting Greg Norman to compete for the title. “How do you turn down the president?” said Norman. “It’s important to get an event like this back to the level it once was.” Outside of getting Tiger Woods to commit — he passed, again — organizers were able to procure Phil Mickelsen, Zach Johnson, Anthony Kim, David Toms, Trevor Immelman and Bill Haas to challenge defending champ Jhonattan Vegas (above). Last year, Vegas shot 27-under to win as a rookie. Celebs are still welcome, and the field that includes Alice Cooper, Julius Erving, Don Cheadle, Smokey Robinson and Morgan Freeman (no George Lopez?) will will be divided among the La Quinta Country Club, the Palmer Private Course and the Nicklaus Private Course each day. Sunday’s final round will have pros only. The key to this PGA event is that it’s the first each year in Southern California, making taking some of the thunder from the event in February at Riviera Country Club. Would they ever consider flipping the two?
NBA: Clippers vs. New Jersey, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The annual MLK doubleheader could have been milked to the max by the Kardashian family. Now, it’s just more like an episode of “Modern Family.” For starters, Nets center Kris Humphries must be thankful for the early tipoff against the Clippers, since he can get in and out of L.A. before ex-wife Kim even rolls out of bed. As Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum writes this week, there’s been an outpouring of vitriol for Humphries, recently named the NBA’s most disliked player, after his 72-day marriage to Kim. McCallum says that the fans who’ve heckled him with cardboard cutouts of his ex during his games are planting their flag on the “wrong side of this culture war.” Not that a guy who used to fart his wife’s face during episodes of “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” is to be celebrated. But he’s the one who just signed an $8 million contract, and Kim’s the one who just got dropped from a Sketchers endorsement.
So then, later in the day, Lamar Odom, husband of Khloe, makes his return as a new non-productive member of the world champion Mavs. Maybe he’ll be more distracted by the gossip stories going around that says he spent a night with strippers in a Washington D.C. club last week with Shawn Marion and Delonte West as the Mavs were in town to be celebrated by President Obama at the White House. That happened days after Robert Kardashian’s former wife, Jan Ashley, and his widow, Ellen Kardashian, claimed that Khloe was not a Kardashian. As if Odom, averaging just 6.6 points (on 29.5 percent shooting) and 4.8 boards in a career-low 19.8 minutes per game through the Mavericks’ first 12 games, isn’t having enough problems. There’s always drama, isn’t there?
NBA: Clippers at Utah, 6 p.m., Prime:
The Lakers handed the Jazz their first home loss of the season, but needed overtime. The Clippers … they’ve only had three roadies so far? Goodness.
NHL: Kings at Vancouver, 7 p.m., FSW:
Sendin alert: Hendrik leads the league in assists, while Daniel isn’t far behind, while also in the top 10 in scoring.
NBA: Clippers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW, ESPN:
As long as the Mavs are still hanging around in town, might as well make a stay of it, have a sleepover at Lamar’s, a visit to the “Tonight Show” and allow Mark Cuban to take one last tour around Dodger Stadium.
NBA: Lakers at Miami, 5 p.m., TNT:
Kanye West, Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Landon Donovan, Hope Solo, Larry Fitzgerald, Serena Williams, Jerry Rice and that dude from “Parks and Rec” don’t have much of a need to learn how the “Kobe System” works in the new Nike ads. They can surely afford the $180 price tag, though. If they really wanted to make the commercial over-the-top, they could have added LeBron James to the audience, taking copious notes. Anyone who saw a week ago how the Clippers figured out the blueprint on defeating the Heat — make LeBron go to the free-throw line ASAP with the game on the line — should give the Lakers some clues. These two national attractions have one more meeting — at Staples on March 4.
College basketball: UCLA at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., FSW; USC at Oregon, 6 p.m.:
The Beavers’ ability to lead the conference in scoring at 83.7 points a game, field-goal percentage (49) and assists (17.9) seems to contradict their record. Because Craig Robinson’s team is still next to last in scoring defense (71.9).
NHL: Kings vs. Calgary, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Kings made sure to give coach Darryl Sutter (left) a convincing victory last week in Calgary against his brother, Brent (right), who’s coaching the Flames. It was their first matchup as coaches, probably won’t be the last — the teams have two more meetings after this.
NBA: Lakers at Orlando, 5 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
If the Lakers are allowed to leave Andrew Bynum as a deposit and pick up Dwight Howard at a later date, that could be arranged.
NBA: Clippers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
A leaner, meaner Kevin Love continues to be among the league leaders in rebounds, and is tops in minutes played, so it shouldn’t be such a question any more if he deserves an All-Star selection. The Clippers, meanwhile, are still near the bottom in team rebounds, but Blake Griffin is individually in the top five.
Motocross: Monster Energy Supercross, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m.:
The Dodgers have agreed again to cover up the infield with plywood and tarps, bring in the dump trucks and rent out the place for the AMA dirt jumpers. God bless ‘em. Here’s the only time when loge level seats ($60) are more expensive than field level ($50), pavilion seats ($35) give you a better look than the best dugout-section spots (they aren’t even on sale) and kicking back in the top deck ($20) provides the best opportunity to smuggle in medicinal marijuana without drawing much attention. Doors open and qualifying starts at 12:30 p.m. Ear plugs required.
College basketball: UCLA at Oregon, 1 p.m., FSW; USC at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
E.J. Singler scored a 24 points when seventh-seeded Oregon overpowered No. 2 seed UCLA, 76-59, in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals at Staples Center last March. Singler is averaging 12.6 a game, second to senior guard and University of Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph’s 15.1 this season for the Ducks, who are 9-2 at home so far.
NHL: Kings vs. Colorado, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Three weeks ago, Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov bested Jonathan Quick in a shootout for a 2-1 win, when the Kings couldn’t prevent Ryan O’Reilly from tying the game with 5:43 left in the third period. Colorado is 7-0 in shootouts this year and has lost only once in their last 19. Meanwhile, J.S. Giguere (2.14 GGA) has seen something of a career rebound with the Avs in the nets.
NFL playoffs: AFC championship: Baltimore at New England, noon, Channel 2; NFC championship: San Francisco at Green Bay, 3:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Now that Tebow is toast, and the Packers hangover is over, those who choose to view this as a harbinger as a Harbaugh Reunion Super Bowl in a couple of weeks overlook a couple of key factors. Such as, the AFC’s No. 1 seed is still alive and willing to meet John’s Ravens (above), and there’s a Giant hurdle in the way for Jim’s 49ers (right). Then we can start talking about HarBowl II. Oh, brother.
Running: Rose Bowl Half-Marathon, 8 a.m.:
If you quit halfway through, do you get a quarter’s worth of credit on your Boston Marathon application?
NBA: Clippers vs. Toronto, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
End the week just as it started: A hoopish twin-bill, where Lakers fans noticing the floor under their chairs much stickier from the spilled Clipper slushies that don’t always get mopped up.
Pro bowling: PBA Cheetah Open, Fountain Valley, final, 6 p.m.:
PBA Tour rookie and Upland native Josh Blanchard was the guy who took that fall on his approach shot and fell into the gutter during match in Las Vegas last weekend. The 25-year-old’s hand got stuck in the ball as he was trying to release it, he lost his balance and he slipped on the oily lane. “I would have never dreamed in a million years that it would have gotten this much attention,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason and I’m actually having a lot of fun with it. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to turn it into a positive for the sport.” Positively. Now we’re watching pro bowling like we do NASCAR — where’s the accidental spinout? Blanchard is competing in this event, so the odds are he might pull it off again. “I’ve bowled at Fountain Bowl many times and I’m confident I can do
well there,” he said. For the first time in its history, PBA will be stream the Cheetah
Open live in its entirety on the www.pba.com’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. After Friday and Saturday qualifying, the top 24 make it to Sunday’s match play rounds.
A defender caught in a moment of isolation against Harold Miner must have felt as if he was lost in a dark tunnel without a headlamp.
In his three years as an All-American at USC, from 1990-’92, the man they called “Baby Jordan” and winner of the national college player of the year award could explode baseline for a dunk, back up for a fade-away left-handed jumper or find another way to make the crowd come to its feet.
But once the cheering stopped, Miner was somewhat blindsided.
He had only four seasons in the NBA after the Miami Heat drafted him 12th overall. Despite winning two All-Star dunk contests, he’d logged only 200 games, averaging 9.0 points a contest, his knees giving him constant problems.
It led to his own isolation.
Friends couldn’t find him, even though he was nearby in Las Vegas. USC was at a loss on how to ask if the former Inglewood High star who remains the Trojans’ all-time leading scorer and owner of 13 school records wanted to come back and have his number retired.
It took awhile, but now Miner is ready.
At halftime of Sunday night’s USC-UCLA game at Galen Center, Miner’s No. 23 will be officially be lofted, and fans will be given a bobblehead doll in his likeness.
Miner also did us the honor of answering a few questions about how he’s handled his time away from the Jordan-esque spotlight, and what he focuses on these days instead:
The Pierce College Athletic Hall of Fame wants to honor him. The organizers have a seat for him at the induction ceremony set for Monday at Woodland Hills Country Club.
But two-time JC All-American, who went on to star at UCLA, then contribute to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first two Super Bowl championships in the mid-1970s, will likely be a no-show.
Because no one can find him.
“It’s too bad, really, because he deserves to be in this,” said Pierce athletic director Bob Lofrano. “He’d be perfect for it. It’d be nice, but . . . but . . .”
For those who remember seeing Allen play – like Lofrano, a baseball player at Pierce just before he arrived – there are warm feelings.
At 6-foot-2 and with a long, effective reach, Allen played tight end at Pierce, with quarterback Mark Harmon was throwing him passes in 1970 and ’71.
The two went together to Westwood. Allen switched to defensive back, became a team captain, and earned the nickname “Spiderman.” He had an interception return for 101 yards, a school record.
In one of the Steelers’ most productive drafts, Allen was taken in the fourth round, No. 100 overall — after Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert and John Stallworth, and before Mike Webster. Allen came into his own as a nickel back.
When his career ended in Detroit at age 29 after eight NFL seasons — 110 games, 31 interceptions, six fumble recoveries — Allen came back home to L.A. He got married and started a Laundromat.
But the business went under. Allen sold the family home. He battled drugs. He separated from his wife.
He became a transient.
Some three decades later, Pierce wants him back.
Lofrano said no one at UCLA had his contact info. The Steelers checked with the NFL Players Association and came upon a phone number and address in Victorville, where apparently the soon-to-be 60 year old Allen has pension checks sent.
Lofrano put in a couple dozen calls, just hoping someone would pick up. He kept leaving messages.
“Mark Harmon told me, ‘This fits him to a tee. I don’t think he wants to be found’,” said Lofrano, who also mailed Allen a program for the event.
“A lot of people tell me to just move on. Mark said there had to be some people who’d be far more appreciative of this honor. He told me to drop it.
“I don’t look at it that way. I want our athletes to know there was someone from the L.A. City School District (Allen was a Los Angeles High grad, who was an All-City swimmer and Olympic hopeful) who came to Pierce, made it to a major college and played in the NFL.
“That’s why I want to go ahead and honor him.”
The plan is for former Pierce teammate Jim Fenwick to accept the certificate in Allen’s place.
Who knows if Allen even has any of his Super Bowl rings. If he has someone to take care of him.
Or if he even cares.
Allen may be only remembered now as another cautionary tale.
“But what a great story if he somehow returned,” said Lofrano. “Wouldn’t that be something?”
What’s in today’s weekly media column (linked here): The Top 10/Bottom 5 list of the Southern California sports-talk circuit. KSPN-AM (710)’s Marcellus Wiley, the feature story to go with the list, is the former NFL player who you’ve likely seen on an ESPN show but has himself a nice future in the media business. As long as he doesn’t lose his train of thought. Seriously.
It starts with a feature on KSPN-AM’s Marcellus Wiley that accompanies the Top 10/Bottom 5 list of the local sports-talk guys.
The following weeks will cover the best and worst of the TV anchor/reporters, the radio and TV game analysts, and then the play-by-play guys. And because this is something of a magic number — we started it at the L.A. Daily News in 1993 — we’ll attempt to do a “whatever happened to” column in mid-February after all this blows over.
Any reader comments before and after are welcome. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your favorites and disfavorites, in any category, and we’ll weigh it into our decision.