Why the Clippers have told Darrell Bailey, aka ‘Clipper Darrell,’ to cease and desist

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“It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!!” wrote Darrell Bailey on his blog today (linked here).

For more than a decade, a season-ticket holder and a self-professed fan of a team that otherwise had few, Bailey says he felt “vindicated for all the years we as Clipper fans have gone through trials and tribulations and NOW we have a team that can win it all.” But now he says he is “stripped of my identity.”

He says the team has fired him. Told him to stop showing up.

The Clippers say otherwise, that he’s been trying to unlawfully monetize his perceived association with them.

Either that, or they feel he’s too much a goofball to be linked to now that they’re kinda good now.

In a statement by the team, Clippers management calls Bailey’s claims “absurd and unfounded,” and since he was never a team employee, he can’t be terminated.

“The Clippers have never engaged Mr. Bailey’s services,” they said. “When he has been in need, the organization has regularly provided him a seat for games. No good deed goes unpunished.

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Costas’ ‘Tonight’ debuts … uh, tonight

NBA commish David Stern, NHL commish Gary Bettman and WBC welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather will go down as the first guests for Bob Costas’ new “Costas Tonight” hour-long interview show that airs on the NBC Sports Network starting at 5 p.m. tonight.

Costas paired up with an interview show is not new territory. It goes back to his sit-downs with all kinds of celebrities on “Costas Now” for HBO a few years ago, “Later With Bob Costas” on NBC back in the late ’80s and early ’90s and even “Costas Coast to Coast” syndicated radio show. The MLB Network has been using him to do sit-downs with former baseball greats from the past. Costas also recently contributed to the new NBC series, “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” getting Jerry Sandusky to make a fool of himself.

What you’ll get tonight, based on the interview transcripts (the show was taped Tuesday), is Bettman talking about how concussions are “a serious issue,” and Stern calling the Jeremy Lin phenomenon a “frenzy on a global scale.”

We’re most interested in Mayweather’s fair-weathered remarks about a potential fight with Manny Pacquiao while he squirms in his seat in Studio 8G at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (see video above).

Costas will also get a small parting shot at HBO by throwing out a question related to Bryant Gumbel’s commentary about the NBA lockout a few months back, where he called Stern “some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating the NBA men as if they were his boys.”

Bettman: “Let me answer first, because I worked with David for over 12 years. That is probably the most ignorant, stupid statement I’ve ever heard. Anybody who knows David knows that nothing could be further from the truth.”

Stern: “Thank you, friend Gary. I actually, you know, sort of enjoyed it to a degree because the flood of phone calls that I got from a very diverse community said ‘What is this guy’s problem?’ And I said, ‘His ratings are going down, it’s a slow news day, he wants some headlines.’ And I wouldn’t say anything publicly, it was taken care of by Charles Barkley and Jesse Jackson.”

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As long as you don’t call Mike Stanton ‘Francis,’ he’s cool … with Giancarlo

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By Steven Wine
Associated Press

JUPITER, Fla. — His mom calls him Cruz.

Teammates call him Bigfoot.

Most baseball fans know him as Mike Stanton, precocious slugger for the Miami Marlins, but his first name is actually Giancarlo.

“The man of a million names,” said the former Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks standout.

He likes them all, but with spring training cranking up and Stanton touted as a future home-run champion, he said today he prefers Giancarlo.

For the first time, that’s the way he’s identified on the Marlins’ roster. That’s also the name on his paycheck and above his locker. That’s what team owner Jeffrey Loria calls him.

But Stanton’s dad calls him Mike, and many of his relatives call him Mikey.

“I respond to many names,” he said. “It’s all good.”

The Marlins expect to see his surname in a lot of headlines this year. He has 56 career home runs, and in the past 40 years only Ken Griffey Jr. (60) and Alex Rodriguez (56) have hit at least that many before their 22nd birthday. Stanton turned 22 in November.

“This kid has potential that’s unbelievable,” new manager Ozzie Guillen said.

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Wednesday night NFL football? Why not

The NFL doesn’t have its 2012 schedule out yet, but it already has made clear today that the annual season-opening game featuring the defending champion New York Giants will be on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 8:30 p.m., (EDT) on NBC — moved up a day as to not conflict with President Barack Obama’s Thursday night speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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Truth is, Mike Tyson as a Vegas act has been done before

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You’ll been in Vegas a few extra weekend anyway, suffering from March Madness hangover, with no real reason to stay any longer. Why not stop extend the stay and head over at the MGM Grand and catch Mike Tyson’s new one-man show during a break in the NBA schedule?

Because, you’ve remember the final scene from “Hangover 2,” and you know better. Or you caught the YouTube clip of him singing “The Girl from Ipanema” on a Brazilian television show, and, again, you know better.

And you saw how the movie “Raging Bull” ended with Jake LaMotta trying to become a lounge act, and you still know better.

It’s surreally unbecomming for everyone involved. Kind of like the upcoming Beach Boys’ reunion tour.

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SPI Entertainment announced today the “world premiere” of what they’re calling “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth – Live on Stage,” where the former heavyweight champ of the world does an “electric” and “no-holds-barred” rendition of his life. The show runs from April 13-18, with performances nightly at 8 p.m. at the hotel’s Hollywood Theatre.

The press release says Tyson “will thrill audiences with untold stories, peeling back layers of tragedy and public turmoil while unfolding his tale of triumph and survival. In an up-close-and-personal setting featuring images, music and video, Tyson, in an intimate and theatrical setting, will share the stories of his life and experiences as a professional athlete and controversies in and out of the ring.”

Tickets start at $99.99 plus tax and service fees. Special VIP packages are $499.99 and include a meet-and-greet and photo with Tyson. They go on sale Friday at noon.

For more info: www.MGMGrand.com.

Or, just rent the 2008 James Torback documentary, “Tyson” (linked here) on Netflix. It’s far less expensive, and you can shower off easier afterwards.

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Play It Forward: Feb. 27-March 4 on your sports calendar

UPDATED: MONDAY, 10 a.m.:

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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NBA: Lakers vs. Miami, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:

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Have you been studying Lakers’ game film during the All-Star break? We’re not sure what genre it belongs in. And now, as things seem to be heating up at Staples Center, the Heat arrives for a nationally televised game. So on that note, we pose this question: Might The Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest find it’s to his benefit, and ours, that he goes silent movie on everyone the rest of the way? No more publicly second-guessing about coach Mike Brown’s strategy on how to get the Lakers on track as the second half of this abbreviated season begins. Look at your stats: career-low numbers in points, rebounds, steals, shooting percentage, three-point percentage and all that while averaging 23 points a game. With World Peace as a starter, the team may be above .500, but he’s averaging 4.0 points and 35.7 percent at the free-throw line. And as Brown can tell anyone, the stats don’t back World Peace up as any remarkable defender right now, either.

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Some have speculated that he could have some trade value right now as GM Mitch Kupchak tries to figure out how to fix things. But the 31-year-old World Peace is stuck in a five-year deal that brings him more than $14 million through 2013-14. Not even the Dallas Mavericks find that attractive. The last time the Lakers faced Miami, World Peace played 22 minutes off the bench, had seven points, one board and three assists. No wonder the Heat won 98-87 back on Jan. 19. LeBron James supposedly shook off flu-like symptoms with a cough and chest congestion to score 31 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier also did his usual job shutting down Kobe Bryant, who had 10 points through three quarters and finished with 24.

MONDAY

NASCAR: Daytona 500, 4 p.m., Channel 11:

Drive, Part II: If it rains again, we’re not sure when the Sprint Car season opener will get done. When today’s already delayed restart was rained out again, NASCAR pushed it back to under the lights and in primetime for the first time in its history. “We hope to have ‘Lady and gentlemen, start your engines,’ at 7:02 and then warm up and go to green flag,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said. “We believe this is a reasonable expectation.” More info at this link.

NHL: Kings at Nashville, 5 p.m., FSW:

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The Help? You be the Kings need it. The league’s trade deadline lands today. Does GM Dean Lombardi have any more last-minute housecleaning? Shipping off Dustin Brown can’t be a good sign. No, the team that practices on Nash Street in El Segundo didn’t get Rick Nash, but now they’re in Nashville trying to make do with his former Blue Jackets teammate Jeff Carter, who is back with Michael Richards. If the rumors for why Carter and Richards were shipped out of Philly were true, perhaps there is a clear winner in the trade: all the bars around Staples Center. Seriously, John Carter (left) is the person the Kings should be hunting down. Immediately. Except he’s not out in the theatres until March 9. Until then, a Dustin Brown hat trick every now and then keeps it interesting.

TUESDAY

NBA: Clippers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Wanderlust: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were just teammates a couple of days ago in Orlando. Ricky Rubio should have been there, too. Remember, it was Rubio’s 3-pointer, followed by Love’s 3-pointer, that tied and beat the Clippers last time at Staples, 101-98, on Jan. 20.

NHL: Kings at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Channel:

Something Wild: Minnesota 21-year-old goalie Matt Hackett throttled the Kings during his first NHL start back on Dec. 8 in a 4-2 win. He’s only been in two games since then, and lost both, including 4-1 at Dallas on Feb. 24.

WEDNESDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

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The Descendants: The Beach Boys are back in the studio around Hollywood tuning up for a 50th anniversary tour. Too bad Kevin Love can’t help Uncle Mike make one of the greatest rebounds in music history. By this time, maybe Kobe’s bloody nose will also stop.

THURSDAY

College basketball: USC vs. Washington, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m.; UCLA vs. Washington State, Sports Arena, 7 p.m.:

The Vow: If the Bruins and Trojans can promise their followers that they’re game-ready for the Pac-12 Tournament next week, here’s a chance to prove it. Neither of these games are on TV — instead, Fox Sports West has a much more attractive Colorado at Oregon matchup.

NBA: Clippers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Prime:

Moneyball: How can these Kings afford to keep a home in the state capital? This is the start of a six-game, nine-day road trip for the Clippers that will eventually take them down to Houston, up to Minnesota, over to New Jersey and back down to San Antonio.

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Golf: PGA Honda Classic, first round, noon, Golf Channel:

Trees of Life: In Palm Beach Gardena, Fla., the tour leaves the West and goes East in preparation for The Masters in a month. Rory Sabatini won it last year. This year’s field includes Tiger Woods, who’ll be playing at the PGA National for the first time as a pro, as well as Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. NBC has the last two rounds Saturday and Sunday.

FRIDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

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Safe House: The Lakers’ home record continues to keep them in the race for the Pacific Division title. Especially when Denzel Washington is in his courtside seat.

NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:

Big Miracle: The Suns make the playoffs this year.

SATURDAY

College basketball: UCLA vs. Washington, Sports Arena, 11 a.m., Channel 2; USC vs. Washington State, Galen Center, 3 p.m.:

Underworld Awakening: Seriously, an 11 a.m. tipoff? Just so CBS can cram it into a triple-header of college hoops today.

NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

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Gone: By the time this game comes around, the Kings and Ducks could have changed positions in the Western Conference standings. Which sounded impossible just a couple of months ago. The Mighty Ducks’ coaching change — one that didn’t include Gordon Bombay — has finally worked its way out. The Kings have won three of four meetings this season, but two of them were by shootout, including the last game on Dec. 22 when coach Darryl Sutter made his debut behind the Kings’ bench. They’ve only got one more head-to-head battle, on March 16.

SUNDAY

NBA: Clippers at Houston, 4 p.m., Prime:

Red Tails: The Rockets won three in a row heading into the All-Star break, but can’t get a break in the Southwest DIvision since San Antonio and Dallas are in their way.

MLB exhibition: Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Yankees, 10 a.m., MLB Network; Houston vs. Washington, 1 p.m., MLB Network:

Throw in Minnesota vs. Boston at 5 p.m. on tape, and the MLB Network comes through on the first day of exhibition baseball from Florida.

NASCAR: Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 500, Phoenix International Speedway, Channel 11, 11:30 a.m.:

Iron Lady: Danica Patrick’s first real week on the NASCAR circuit wasn’t so bad. So far, at least. She won the pole for the Nationwide event at Daytona before finishing 38th on Saturday because of a crash knocked her into a wall on the 49th lap (below). Maybe it’s time for her to get a dragon tattoo. Fontana used to be the second stop on the circuit after Daytona, but now, it’s nearby suburban Phoenix, sponsored by a sub shop where you might see Michael Strahan doing his own tire drills and Apolo Ohno skating over cars at the finish line. Fontana eventually lands on March 25. If it keeps raining in Daytona, Fontana may be the first stop.

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As the Kings’ season continues to melt away, they hook up with a solar energy company

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The Kings are finding every which way to lose these days — if it’s not being on the wrong end of a 1-0 shutout, then it’s blowing a 3-0 lead to rival Phoenix.

As their playoff chances appear to be melting away by the day, why not bring in a Canadian-based solar energy company that can naturally speed up the process?

Canadian Solar Inc. is “a perfect fit … to become a first-time sponsor of the Los Angeles Kings,” said the company’s chairman and CEO, Dr. Shawn Qu, in a press release. “The Los Angeles Kings have already made exemplary efforts in sustainability. This latest partnership highlights our commonality and provides a meaningful platform for a strong brand and renewable energy message.”

Renewable goal scoring might seem to be a more pressing need as the Kings seek sustainability in the Western Conference playoff race.

Apparently, a solar-powered light bulb went off in the heads of the Kings’ parent company, AEG, to make this partnership happen.

“At AEG, we pride ourselves on being a sustainable organization. Partnering with a preeminent sustainable company like Canadian Solar is a no-brainer,” said Bill Pedigo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Partnerships for the Kings.

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Play It Forward: Feb. 20-26 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday at 4:30 p.m., TNT:

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What in the name of Max von Sydow is the NBA thinking of putting its star power head-to-head as a TV event against the 84th Academy Awards (Channel 7, 5 p.m.)? A different viewer demographic helps, most likely those who prefer things extremely loud and incredibly close. Except that when you consider the host, Billy Crystal, is the most notable Clippers fan, and if Jack Nicholson is anywhere near the Kodak Theatre he’ll be trying to get updates on how Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are getting along with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

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The delayed start of the lockout season pushed back this annual exhibition to a night that’s been reserved for Hollywood royalty, but maybe the real question should be: In a condensed 66-game schedule, why even have this event? Because, the NBA has always been about showing off its own version of “Moneyball.” And by staging this in Orlando, the topic of conversation will likely turn to the plight of Magic’s Dwight Howard, starting at center for the East. Will he stick around or pursue his own money dreams somewhere else in a couple of weeks? It may not have the ramifications of LeBron James’ “Decision,” but it’s going to tilt the balance of the league no matter what happens. Heck, he could be the starting center for the West next season. The other story creating buzz — anything related to New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin — has him included now in the “Rising Stars Challenge” on Friday (TNT, 6 p.m.), where “coach” Shaquille O’Neal added him to his team, along with second-year player Griffin, going against Charles Barkley’s hand-picked squad led by Kyrie Irving. Lin will also be somehow involved in the “Shooting Stars” competition on Saturday (TNT, 5:30 p.m.) and he could be included as some kind of Baron Davis-like prop for Knicks teammate Iman Shumpert during the dunk competition. It isn’t too late for someone at the Academy Awards to fly him out for Sunday’s ceremony to have him present the best animated feature Oscar.

MONDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT, FSW; Clippers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m. Prime:

L.A.’s version of the President’s Day doubleheader is a head-to-head, remote control challenged event. Kobe Bryant scored 30 against the Blazers in their only previous meeting back on Jan. 5, but Gerald Wallace had 31 in Portland’s 11-point home win. The Clippers face a Warriors team that’s lost three in a row, and this is Golden State’s only game in “the City” over a stretch of eight out of nine on the road between Feb. 17 and March 5. TNT has added the Boston-Dallas game (5 p.m.) to its doubleheader telecast.

TUESDAY

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(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick eyes the puck before stopping a shot on goal during the first period of Saturday’s game against Calgary — a 1-0 loss.

NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 6 p.m., FSW:

How many 1-0 losses in a row can the Kings absorb at this point in the season and still make the playoffs? Let’s not test that theory any longer, since they’re now 9th in the Western Conference in an offensive spiral, flying on a prayer and the lack of a wing who can score. “It’s been the same thing for this team all year — finding ways to score goals,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said after their loss to Calgary on Saturday. “It’s definitely frustrating, and it’s been frustrating all year. I don’t want to say we didn’t work hard — we did.” Coyotes goalie Mike Smith handed the Kings their previous 1-0 loss last week, allowing Phoenix to slide past them into the No. 7 spot in the West. This is the last Kings-Coyotes matchup in the regular season.

Series: “Real Sports,” HBO, 10 p.m.:

Whatever happened to Leigh Steinberg? One of most powerful sports agent in the world, he’s now 62, living with a roommate in an apartment in Southern California, fighting an addiction that he says cost him everything. See Armen Keteyian’s report on the former superagent’s fall from glory.

WEDNESDAY

NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

Lamar Odom doesn’t need his wife, Khloe Kardashian, going on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to defend his honor. But she felt compelled to do so anyway the other night, saying he simply “wears his heart on his sleeve” as she promoted the new season of “Khloe and Lamar” on the E! Channel. This “Dallas”-style drama that former Laker is involved in how has him averaging just 21 minutes a game (eighth on the roster), enough to score 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists a game for the still-defending champs.

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NBA: Clippers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

Blake Griffin surely will remember how he got Mozgov’d on a dunk attempt when these two met last time at Staples Center — Timofey Mozgov’s hard foul changed Griffin’s demeanor in the Clippers’ 21-point loss on Feb. 2. Sure, it was payback. But Griffin couldn’t see that one coming?

NHL: Kings at Colorado, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Channel:

The network takes this one for national exposure, and J.S. Giguere, the Avs goalie who led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup title in 2007 and was the playoff MVP in 2003, could be ready to show up at full strength after having been day-to-day with a groin injury. Giguere was the goalie of record against the Kings in a 3-1 win back on Jan. 21 and his GGA (2.13) is getting into the neighborhood of Jonathan Quick’s 1.87.

Golf: WGC Accenture Match Play, opening round, 9 a.m.:

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From the Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona, Luke Donald returns to defend his title after he defeated Martin Kaymer 3-and-2 in last year’s final that was interrupted a bit by some rare snow and sleet. Donald never played the 18th hole all week, wrapping up all his wins early. “I’ve always thrived at match play,” said Donald, who posted a nasty 78 in his last round at Riviera on Sunday and fell far in the final leaderboard. “It’s a bit of a different strategy to it that makes for very interesting TV. I enjoy the challenge of one-on-one. It’s a tough challenge. It’s a tough format, because you can have days that you play well and go home. … Every match you feel like it’s do or die.” Late last week, Rory McIlroy announced he will make his PGA Tour debut at this event. Golf Channel has Day Two on Thursday (11 a.m.) and Day Three on Friday (11 a.m.) before it goes to NBC and Channel 4 for Saturday (11 a.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.).

THURSDAY

College basketball: UCLA at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m., FSArizona.net; USC at Arizona, 6 p.m., FSArizona:

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There’s a scenario of seedings for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament that could pit the Bruins against the Sun Devils in a 7-10 matchup and 12th-seeded Trojans against the Wildcats in Thursday’s first-round action. The Sun Devils’ 7-foot Russian, Ruslan Pateev (right), and 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski gave the Bruins’ front line some problems in their last meeting, until Pateev fouled out and UCLA came back for a 17-point win in early January.

NBA: Lakers at Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m., TNT:

No surprise the Western Conference front-running Thunder is 12-1 at home this season. There’s a lot of energy in the arena called the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Don’t worry: If Durant goes off for 51, Westbrook adds 40 and someone named Ibaka goes off for a triple-double in this game, it’s already been done before.

FRIDAY

WWE Raw Tour, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.:

It’s not the Grammys, but an incredibly similiar scripted simulation. The promoters insist that R Truth will battle The Miz, John Cena will face off against Kane, Dolph Ziggler will challenge CM Punk, and there’ll be a “special appearance” by Chris Jericho. Whatever that entails.

SATURDAY

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College basketball: Santa Clara at Loyola Marymount, 8 p.m., FSW; Cal State Northridge at UC Irvine, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

St. Mary’s and Gonzaga have stayed ranked in the Top 25. BYU is next in the WCC standings. Does that mean LMU, which stunned the Gaels and knocked off Valpariso in a “bracket buster” last week, has enough to navigate its way to an NCAA Tournament bid? The Lions already have 10 conference wins, the most since the 1989-90 Bo Kimble-led team made it to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. This is the final game of the regular season before the conference tournament in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the Matators wind down their Big West schedule (with one more next week). CSUN ranks in the bottom 15 of the 334 Division I teams in field goal percentage (38.8 percent).

College basketball: UCLA at Arizona, 11 a.m., Channel 2; USC at Arizona State, 5 p.m., Prime:

Travis Wear scored a career-high 20 points and twin brother David Wear added 14 points when the Bruins won their first Pac-12 game, 65-58, against the Wildcats at the Honda Center back on Jan. 5.

NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 5 p.m., FSW:

The Blackhawks have pulled out of a nasty skid, winning three in a row coming into the week after a nine-game losing streak. It got to ugly that Jeremy Roenick, the former Kings and Chicago star, suggested that team could trade All-Star Patrick Kane to get a reliable goalie before the Feb. 27 deadline. Anyone up for Kane to L.A. for Jonathan Bernier? At least this isn’t an afternoon game.

SUNDAY

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(AP Photo/John Moore)
Paul Menard (27), David Ragan (34) and Michael Waltrip (55) wreck coming out of Turn 1 during the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona last Saturday.

NASCAR: Daytona 500, Channel 11, 9 a.m.:

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New Fox race analyst Michael Waltrip (right) was asked what driver he expected big things from as the 2012 Sprint Cup season opens. “The most popular answer will be Kasey Kahne,” he said. “Kasey won late in the season at Phoenix and now he is joining Hendrick, the team that has won five out of the last six championships. People will have their money on him. Another guy you better watch out for is Denny Hamlin. Denny raced for a championship in 2010 but struggled in 2011. However, he has a new crew chief this season in Darian Grubb who is coming off a championship season with Tony Stewart. I think Denny and Darian will be a potent combination.” Why wouldn’t Waltrip mention himself? The two-time winner of “The Great American Race” will drive the No. 40 Toyota for newly-formed Hillman Racing. If he makes the field, it’ll be his 27th start in the 500 and 75th start at Daytona International Speedway between the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series. No other driver has more starts. And we can’t remember the last driver who started the day in the broadcast booth and ended it as a driver in the Daytona 500, as Waltrip hopes to do after he finished last in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout, completing just eight laps before he was taken out in a crash (above). Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle put Roush Fenway Racing on the front row during pole qualifying, with the rest of the field to be determined with the two 150-mile races on Thursday.

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Weekly media column version 02.17.12

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Staff photos by Hans Gutknecht
Among the USC students in attendance at Thursday’s Olympics broadcasters panel discussion: Second-team All-Pac-12 center Khaled Holmes (far right, in red with glasses), who received his bachelor’s degree in communication at USC in the spring of 2011 and is working on a master’s degree in communication management. Entering his redshirt senior season, Holmes was named to the conference all-academic team.
Below: USC professor Jeff Fellenzer, left, along with Jim Lampley, Jim Nantz and Al Michaels turn to watch a video of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics where Michaels is calling the final seconds of the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the men’s semifinal hockey tournament, still considered the greatest U.S. sports moment in history.

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What’s include in today’s weekly media column (linked here): A panel discussion at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism provides a lesson for Al Michaels, plus more on the Kansas City Royals’ hiring of Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc, the new tweeks to “March Madness On Demand Live” and the “Jaws”-dropping decision by ESPN regarding “Monday Night Football.”

What isn’t included:
== Highlights of IOC president Jacques Rogge visit to USC on Wednesday as part of the three-day examination of the Olympics, as covered by Neon Tommy, the Annenberg Digital News service (linked here) and the Daily Trojans newspaper (linked here)
== How the Annenberg TV Network (ATVN) covered the start of the conference (linked here)
== The MLB Network’s “Baseball IQ” gameshow is down to the final eight contestants — and one is the Angels’ Shane Demmitt, the assistant equipment manager from Northridge, who will go up against Hall of Fame director of communications Craig Mulder on Tuesday (6 p.m.). The two semifinal shows air on Thursday, Feb. 22 (6 and 6:30 p.m.), followed by the championship (7 p.m.)
== ABC has the first broadcast network coverage of the New York Knicks since the Jeremy Lin explosion (Sunday, 10 a.m., New York vs. Dallas). ESPN did the Knicks’ game against the Lakers last Friday night. Interesting, as many New Yorkers can’t follow the Knicks on local TV since the MSG channel has been blacked out in a dispute with Time Warner Cable.

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How ‘Undefeated’ brought P. Diddy to tears — and on board as its exec producer

Sean Combs saw the documentary “Undefeated” and became unhinged.

“I was crying like a baby,” the rapper more famously known as P. Diddy admitted Thursday morning.

So moved by the film that is one of five nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary feature category, the multi-media entrepreneur Combs signed on as the executive producer after The Weinstein Company acquired the rights to distribute and possibly remake it somewhere down the road.

“Undefeated,” which opens in L.A. and New York on Friday and nationwide on March 2, is an inspiration story of life lessons told by Los Angeles-based filmmakers Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin that are centered on the 2009 football team at Manassas High in the innercity of North Memphis, Tenn., which has its best season after years of underachieving.

Volunteer head coach Bill Courtney is the “White Shadow” who changes the culture, with one of the storylines about an undersized offensive lineman named Montrail “Money” Brown suffering a severe injury but works hard to come back for the playoffs.

That’s the player Combs identified with most – he broke his leg in the last day of camp going into his senior year at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx, New York and never got to play.

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“I went from the guy whose name was called every two seconds to one where anyone barely spoke to me again, said Combs, whose son, Justin, just received a scholarship to play football at UCLA as a cornerback. “You might as well not be on the team anymore.

“When ‘Money’ got hurt, he was lucky to have a different kind of coach help him (Courtney). I never got that chance. That was my first heartbreak – it wasn’t a girl. And that stayed with me. You pray to have people in your life like Coach Bill believing in you. That’s how I related to it.”

Courtney says the movie hasn’t changed him much from his role as a father of four, a husband and the owner of his own lumber yard.

“It can’t change me,” he said Thursday. “If you let something like this define you, then you’re ignoring too many important other things. Other than getting to meet a lot of really neat people, I’ve got my eyes oepn to the fact that a person like Sean who is a celebrity really is a generous human being as well.

One of the lines Courtney uses in the movie is that football doesn’t create someone’s character, but it reveals it. The movie reveals a lot of Courtney’s character to the world.

“I don’t care who you are, there’s going to be days when things hit you in the mouth and you lose faith in people, but one of the things this movie has done for me is restore my faith in successful people who are doing amazing things and aren’t just motivated by the almighty dollar.”

Combs said any kind of remake of “Undefeated” has not been determined. It could be more of a dramatic script that takes on the life of Courtney’s football coaching.

“The focus now is to just get it out into theatres, and the other parts will come in time,” he said. “That’s all part two. It’s still his (Courtney’s) life.”

“Undefeated,” which appeared briefly in L.A. to receive Oscar consideration last year, will play at the Rave 18 (in the Howard Hughes Center off the 405 Freeway near Culver City) and the Landmark (in the Westside Pavilion near UCLA).

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