Play It Forward: Jan. 16-22

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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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):

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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?

MONDAY

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NBA: Clippers vs. New Jersey, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

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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.

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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?

TUESDAY

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.

WEDNESDAY

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.

THURSDAY

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).

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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.

FRIDAY

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.

SATURDAY

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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.

SUNDAY

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NFL playoffs: AFC championship: Baltimore at New England, noon, Channel 2; NFC championship: San Francisco at Green Bay, 3:30 p.m., Channel 11:

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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.

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Q-and-A: Harold Miner, looking at his major contributions to the USC basketball program 20 years later

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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.

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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:

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It’s out of the Question: What happens when you don’t want to be found, Jimmy Allen?

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Where is Jimmy Allen?

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.

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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.

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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?”

Like a 101-yard return.

== More on Allen’s NFL career at Pro-Football-Reference.com.

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Weekly media column version 01.13.12

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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.

More on Wiley and his career: His Wikipedia page, his Facebook page , his Twitter account (along with a shot of him with Tim Tebow), his ESPN bio and his NFL career stats on Pro-Football-Reference.com.

What’s not in today’s media column: More quips from Wiley about how life works in his world these days:

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Coming Friday: The launch of the 20th annual best and worst of the L.A. Sports Media

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Here’s your annual heads up.

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 thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com for your favorites and disfavorites, in any category, and we’ll weigh it into our decision.

The 2011 lists:
== Radio talk-show hosts
== TV personalities
== Game analysts
== Game play by play

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