Play It Forward: June 25-July 1 on your sports calendar

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




X Games 2012: Thursday through Sunday, Staples Center and vicinity, Channel 7, ESPN and ESPN2:


Not sure why, but we haven’t been sleeping well lately. There’s been this recurring dream — OK, call it one holy nightmare — where the giant Randy’s Donuts sign has snapped off its moorings over by the 405 in Inglewood, gained speed as it rolled way over to Staples Center and then somehow morphed into this spinning monster that chases cars all over the place. Add to that some toxic green waterfalls, death-dealing taco trucks and even a mythical kraken, and maybe we should stop watching promos for the latest X Games invasion into downtown L.A. after binge eating foot-long jalapeno dogs at Pink’s.

Now that would be a real natural disaster if it ever came alive.


Things are about to get real, the TV spots insist (linked here), but the real news is how early this 18th version of the Gen X never-ending docudrama – slash – “Jackass” free-for-all stunt show has decided to kick off in June for the first time. This thing is old enough to vote now, and many of the top competitors are exercising their right to be part of the U.S. Olympic movement — a residual effect of how far this has come to being accepted as a staple to the “legit” Olympics in London from late July to early August. This is the 10th straight year that ESPN has planted it ramps and crash barriers in our area code, and the kids are still talking about how a year ago, Travis Pastrana fell down bigtime trying to do a rodeo 720 (“the toilet paper roll”) in the motocross, Shaun White won a skateboard vert gold to break Pierre Luc Gagnon’s three-year winning streak, and Liam Doran drove off in the Rally Car event on his first try. This year, the Moto X Freestyle highlights the first day Thursday (6:30 p.m.) inside Staples Center, with the Skateboard Big Air final on Friday (6 p.m.) on Chick Hearn Court and the Skateboard Vert final on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at the Nokia Theatre leading up to the final day’s highlights: Skateboard Street final on the event deck, the BMX Big Air final (6:30 p.m.) on Chick Heart Court, the Moto X Enduro (8:30 p.m.) in Staples Center, plus RallyCross final at Lindsay Plaza (3:30 p.m.). Here’s the complete schedule (linked here).

Yet, the thing that we’re anticipating most is the Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare in nearby Gilbert Lindsay Plaza from 11:20 a.m. to noon on Saturday. X Games RallyCross driver Tanner Foust and Hollywood stunt driver Greg Tracy will try to break a world record for racing two vehicles through a six-story double vertical loop. Breaking who’s record again? The two will get up to about 52 mph (seems kinda slow), drive into a 66-foot tall loop (seems kinda small) and hit seven times normal gravity as they drive through it (seems kinda stupid). It’s just like your Hot Wheels do on a daily basis, without a mini driver, on the new Double Dare Snare track set. We’re telling you, it’ll be boss.



(AP Photo/File)
Roger Federer (2009), Novak Djokovic (2011) and Rafael Nadal (2008) after winning at Wimbledon.

Tennis: Wimbledon, first round, 3:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., ESPN2:


On the men’s side, there’s Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer winning 28 of the last 29 majors. The top-seeded Djokovic is the defending champ here, Nadal won it twice and Federer has six Wimbledon titles among his 16. Sorry, but Andy Murray’s chance of winning Great Britian’s first Grand Slam title on its hallowed grounds since 1936 … can he at least get to the semifinals? Against Andy Roddick?
The women make it much more interesting — six different players have won the last six majors. Maria Sharapova (left) waltzes in as the shiny favorite, having lost the final a year ago to Petra Kvitova, who is ranked No. 4 these days. Venus Williams (five Wimbledon titles) is back and Kim Clijsters will make news in playing in what’s likely her last appearance here. ESPN takes over from NBC as carrying this event from start to finish — no more tape delays. Most weekday action will happen on ESPN or ESPN2 from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. ABC will also have a three-hour review of the first week during the “middle Sunday” off day (noon) and re-air the men’s and women’s finals on July 7 and 8 at noon after ESPN carries them live. Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico, Cliff Drysdale and Hannah Storm will call matches and host in the studio, with John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver providing commentary.

Swimming: U.S. Olympic trials from Omaha, Neb., 3:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network:


Michael Phelps is scheduled to compete in seven events, with rival Ryan Lochte entered in 11. Whether they actually follow through is another story. “It’s safe to say he’s entered in more events than he’ll actually swim,” Bob Bowman, Phelps’ coach, told the USA Today. The rivals could go head to head in six events, starting with today’s 400 meter IM, a gruelling race that the 27-year-old Phelps set a world record at the 2008 Bejing Games but has vowed not to do again. Over the next eight days, we could see Phelps and Lochte also compete in the 200 IM (Lochte is the current world-record holder), the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 fly and 200 backstroke. On the womens’ side, Natalie Coughlin is entered in five events, including today’s 100 fly. She and 45-year-old Dana Torres are in the 50 free (that final isn’t until Monday, July 1). The drama of the weekend will be if 40-year-old Janet Evans can be one of the eight qualifiers in the women’s 800 free semifinals on Saturday (Channel 4, 8 p.m., delayed) to reach the Sunday finals (Channel 4, 7 p.m., delayed) and finish in the top two. “It’s fair to call her a long shot,” said her coach, Mark Schubert. Evans was sixth in her final tuneup meet last month, an 8 minute, 49.36 second time that was 15.71 seconds behind the winner. She was sixth at an April meet in 8:46.89.

MLB: Dodgers at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m., Prime:


The Dodgers, who won two of three from the Giants in L.A. back in early May, may come home from this roadie six games up in the NL West, or tied for the lead. The most interesting pitching matchup comes in the finale Wednesday (12:45 p.m., Prime) when San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.07), who hasn’t won since April 28 and gave up four runs in five innings when losing to the Dodgers on May 9, faces Chad Billingsley (4-6, 4.15), who couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead against the Angels in his last start.

College World Series final, Omaha, Neb., Game 2: Arizona vs. South Carolina, 5 p.m., ESPN:

If they need one more to decide this thing — which could be the Gamecocks’ third straight title — then Game 3 is Tuesday (5 p.m., ESPN).


MLB: Angels at Baltimore, 4:05 p.m., Prime:

The Angels already won two of three against the Orioles back in April, and the capper to this strange two-game set (Wednesday, 4:05 p.m., Prime) puts 7-1 Jered Weaver against 8-2 Jason Hammel.

WNBA: Sparks at Tulsa, 5 p.m.:

Also: Thursday at San Antonio, 9:30 a.m.



(AP Photo/Jon Super)
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo does an overhead kick by Czech Republic’s David Limbersky during the Euro 2012 quarterfinal match between Czech Republic and Portugal in Warsaw lastThursday.

Soccer: Euro 2012 semifinals: Portugal vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m., ESPN:

Defending champion Spain, trying to win a third-straight major title, expect a tougher test from Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in this one than it got in the quarterfinals against France. Winner takes on either Italy or Germany (Thursday, 11:30 a.m., ESPN) in Sunday’s final from Kiev, Ukraine (11:30 a.m., ESPN).


MLB: Dodgers vs. N.Y. Mets, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:


The Eric Karros bobblehead giveaway –and if only Ross Porter was there to make that announcement — marks the opener of this four-game series that seems to have everyone’s attention in the baseball world, because after R.A. Dickey throws his knucleball at the Dodgers on Friday (7:10 p.m., Prime), the series moves to Fox on Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11) and then to ESPN on Sunday (5 p.m.).

MLB: Angels at Toronto, 4:07 p.m., FSW:

The split four games in Anaheim back in May, and that included the Angels’ Jerome Williams registering a 4-3 win against the Blue Jays. Williams, on the 15-day DL and unable to return until after the Fourth of July, will throw a simulated game while the team is in Baltimore has he tries to recover from leaving during his last start with shortness of breath and a lot of anxiety. This four-game schedule continues Friday (4:07 p.m., FSW), Saturday (10:07 a.m., FSW) and Sunday (9:07 a.m., FSW).

NBA Draft, in Newark, N.J., 4:30 p.m., ESPN:

After the league-owned New Orleans Hornets take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick — and that’s no reach, even for a 6-foot-11, 19-year-old shotblocker — then it’s up to Charlotte to nab Wildcats teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2. Or not. Or the Bobcats bob and weave and snatch up Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. Will the Celtics trade up to get Austin Rivers?

Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic trials from San Jose, 2:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network:


Three members of the women’s 2008 Olympic Team have qualified to compete in this one — All-around champion Nastia Liukin (left), who won five medals in Beijing; Alicia Sacramone, the 2010 world vault champion, and Bridget Sloan, the 2009 World all-around champion. The men’s field of 15 includes 2012 U.S. all-around champions John Orozco and Jordyn Wieber as the four-day competition concludes on Channel 4 on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (9 p.m., delayed)

Golf: PGA AT&T National at Bethesda, Md., first round, noon, Golf Channel:

Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk and defending champ Nick Watney are in the field at the Congressional Country Club. Channel 2 has the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday.


MLB: Philadelphia at Miami, 4:10 p.m., MLB Network:

Trade rumors around Phillies starter Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.03) will only heat up if he’s sharp, as usual, in this anticipated match up against the Marlins’ Josh Johnson.



Allyson Felix, right, competes against Carmelita Jeter in the women’s 100m semis at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials last Saturday.

Track and field: U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., 9 p.m., Channel 4 (delayed):

Allyson Felix can’t allow any photo finish to determine whether she’ll represent the U.S. again in the women’s 200 meters. After that Kodak moment in the women’s 100 last week, where she tied for the final spot with Jeneba Tarmoh and they still haven’t figured out how to decide it, the former L.A. Baptist and USC star knows there are two Americans quicker than her over 200 this season — but only the first three again here will be running this for the Americans in London later in July. She’s won three individual world championship gold medals, but her only Olympic gold is in the 4×400 meter relay in 2008. “Of course I want the individual gold, but I’m at a place right now where I don’t let the sport define me,” she has said. “I know I’ll be OK if it didn’t happen…but I want it really bad so I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen.” Tarmoha is in the field again. Meanwhile, Channel 4 also has Sunday’s final day at 7 p.m. (delayed).

MLS: Galaxy at San Jose, 7 p.m., ESPN2:

It shouldn’t be news when the Galaxy (6-8-2) racks up a three-game win streak, piles up nine points in seven days, and climbs into fifth place in the Western Conference. But that’s what they’ve got to grab onto these days heading into the so-called California Classico.


Cycling: Tour de France, Stage 1: 5 a.m., NBC Sports Network; 1 p.m. (delayed), Channel 4:

They’ve made defending champ a favorite, with Bradley Wiggins a close second. Tour of California champ Robert Gesink is right on their tails.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

It’s Out of the Question: Seek a worldly friend, now … one who can afford an island


We probably should be seeking a friend for the end of the world.

From the Instagram tweet we just received from Skip Bayless — because, you know he’s way out there, without an oxygen supply — the Earth’s axis has apparently reached a tipping point to where little is making sense anymore.

What do you make of this?


== While Abraham Lincoln is in my cineplex killing off vampires, college football has emancipated the Bowl Championship Series and sunk its teeth into – egads -a four-team playoff.

Pending university president endorsement and an understanding of how the millions in proceeds will be unequally divided.

Did you ever think you’d live long enough to see this happen?

How soon before that expands to eight, then 16, then 32 teams — the end of July?

Then again, if this idea is such a long time in coming, why wait to put into effect until 2014? Is this so that the ’12 and ’13 champions feel less entitled – particularly noting that odds makers have USC as the 9/2 favorite to win the bogus championship this fall, over 5/1 LSU, with 10/1 Oregon waiting in the wings, and UCLA swimming around in the 200/1 pool?


== Dutch scientists say they’ve created a strain of the bird flu so easily spread that it’s possible a deadly virus could set off a global pandemic in humans. Just as Kings’ fans are hopelessly infected with Stanley Cup fever and want no part of an antidote.

The team announced it’s having a party for the famed trophy Monday on the Hermosa Beach Pier, then driving it up the strand toward Manhattan Beach in a mini parade.

Does stainless steel Stanley prefer 30 SPF sun screen, or would some Coppertone really give it that a new bronze tan?

When does the NHL acknowledge that palm leaves and sand castles speak more to puck fans today than Maple Leafs and Saddledomes?


(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Heat president Pat Riley celebrates in the locker room after Game 5 of the NBA finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

== The credit ratings of more than a dozen giant global banks have been slashed as the European economic turmoil is about to wreak havoc and trigger another recessionary downtown, yet the Miami Heat players are about to put their NBA championship trophy in the local safe deposit box at the First Bank of Spoelstra and expecting it to reap ginormous return.

LeBron James, when he’s finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, says he’ll be starving for seven more titles, to make good on his promise when he took his talents from Cleveland to this land of decadence.

Does that mean Stand Pat Riley plans to be around for all ’em, and then tell everyone this should be his NBA legacy as a GM, no matter what he ever did on the sidelines for L.A. Showtime?

Slick move, coach.

Did you also realize that Heat 12th man Juwan Howard, hanging on for his 18th season, is the first member of the 1991 University of Michigan Fab Five to have ever been a part of a Big Ten title, NCAA title, or NBA title squad?

We now go to TV commentators Chris Weber and Jalen Rose for their analysis.

By the way, what’s the most proper way to say this: The Heat are the champs? The Heat is the champs? Or the Lakers aren’t any closer to being the champs today than they were six months ago?

Is there anything in the NBA bylaws that prevent the Buss family from going to in an effort to raise money to improve the roster?


== There’s a tech billionaire who conned a pineapple billionaire out of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, buying it for about $500 million – or $1.5 billion less than what he could have had to get the Dodgers. It came on the same day that NCAA has told UConn its basketball team isn’t welcome to March Madness next season because its student-athletes didn’t perform very well in the class room.

The same goes for UC Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield and nine other schools.

Are you thinking what we’re thinking?

The field is set for the 12-team Non-Sanctioned March Badness College Quiz Bowl Tournament sponsored by The 7/Eleven Slurpee Brain Freeze.

The three-night, four-day event can be held in the Jack Lord campus library at University of Hawaii at Lanai.

If such an exotic place even existed on Google maps.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Lightning struck from IBA playoffs after opening game

i-2ac7b488ab5d9002a99c963d8174a93c-Trayvon Lathan dunk 6-22-12.jpg

The Los Angeles Lightning lost its first game of the season after holding a halftime lead, and picked the worst time to do it.

Former UCLA star Billy Knight scored 17 of his 30 points in the final quarter and Chris Ayer added 24, but the Lightning’s late rally fell short in 148-145 loss to the Kenosha Ballers in the IBA quarterfinals at Gary, Ind., on Friday night.

The Lightning, leading 24-6 in the first five minutes, up 41-26 after one period and clinging to a 68-66 advantage at the half, found itself trailing by 13 points in the fourth quarter with 5:58 to play.

L.A. pulled to within 146-145 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Jan Burris and Knight with 16.5 seconds remaining. Kenosha (8-8) went up by three when Brandon Morris, who had a game-high 36 points, made two free throws.

Burris missed a 3 for the Lighning, but Quiande Moore missed two free throws for Kenosha with 2.6 seconds left. The Lightning failed to get off a 3 to end the game in attempt to tie.

The Lightning finished 12-3 record with a largely new roster. This was the first time L.A. did not have a former NBA player on the team. In 2010, they had five ex-NBA players — Bryon Russell, Toby Bailey, Fred Vinson, Juaquin Hawkins and Tyus Edney.

“I’m real proud of the guys,” said L.A. coach Ron Quarterman. “They played hard all the way to the end and never gave up. This is a good group and I’m looking forward to next year.”

Knight hit 10-20 from the field, including 5-11 from downtown.

“We didn’t play with the same energy that helped us get that 18-point lead in the first quarter,” said Knight. “We got a little complacent. It’s not fun to lose in the first round of the playoffs. We didn’t play hard in the second and third quarters and it cost us.”

Former USC standout Jerry Dupree contributed 24 points and six rebounds while Hassan Stephens had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) for L.A.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The presidental voice of Title IX: From the Obama family


From an op-ed piece published today in Newsweek, President Obama reflects on the impact of Title IX on its 40th anniversary:

Coaching my daughter Sasha’s basketball team is one of those times when I just get to be “Dad.” I snag rebounds, run drills, and have a little fun. More importantly, I get to watch Sasha and her teammates improve together, start thinking like a team, and develop self-confidence.

Any parent knows there are few things more fulfilling than watching your child discover a passion for something. And as a parent, you’ll do anything to make sure he or she grows up believing she can take that ambition as far as she wants; that your child will embrace that quintessentially American idea that she can go as far as her talents will take her.

But it wasn’t so long ago that something like pursuing varsity sports was an unlikely dream for young women in America. Their teams often made do with second-rate facilities, hand-me-down uniforms, and next to no funding.

What changed?

Continue reading “The presidental voice of Title IX: From the Obama family” »

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Q-and-A: Leslie Leslie, on growing up a Title IX baby, teaching today’s kids, and, good gracious, still fighting for what’s right


(Michael Owen Baker/Daily News Staff Photographer)
Lisa Leslie gives a kiss to her daughter, Lauren Lockwood, 5, while designing a Girl Scout patch in her Calabasas home on Thursday to honor the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary. Leslie is a former Girl Scout and the limited edition patch she designed will be auctioned off on eBay July 5-15 with proceeds benefitting the Girl Scouts.

Lisa Leslie turns 40 on July 7, and as much as she may dread the thought, there’s significance of her date of birth.

It came two weeks after the Title IX bill was signed into law in 1972, and six days after it took effect.

Blessed with height and athletic skills is one thing. But timing is important as well.

i-2180fd85c5275a38b2585b971b381627-leslie book 1.jpg

The former WNBA Sparks and USC star out of Morningside High doesn’t feel entitled, though. Even though ESPN just included her in the top five of the most influential female athletes of the last 40 years, Leslie remains a torch bearer for all that’s right with sports, not just equal rights.

It’s like the title of her 2009 autobiography, written with Larry Burnett: “Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You: The Making of a Champion.” She knows where’s she’s been and what she needs to do to go forward.

As today marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX signature from President Nixon, we caught up with the four-time Olympic gold-medal winner at her basketball academy inside the Westwood Recreation Center not far from the UCLA campus to talk about how she puts this monumental occasion into context, and intends to play it forward, while she’s living in Calabasas and raising two small children with her husband Michael Lockwood :


Q: How do you refer to yourself in regards to this occasion: A Title IX baby? First daughter? Suffragette?

A: I’ve called myself a Title IX baby – but I’ve been called a lot of things (laughing). To be one of the first children of Title IX, an amazing piece of legislation, has really changed my life and created the path I’ve gone down. It’s sad to think of where I’d be without sports – not just success on the court, but the person I’ve become, from competition, getting through hard times, when things don’t go your way, getting along with other people, it’s made me a much better person. A good person.

Q: So it’s you, and Mia Hamm and also Summer Sanders who were born right around the Title IX birth. Olympic champions, great role models. What great company you have there.

A: All three of us are moms, too. We probably talk more about being a mommy than we talk about sports and what we’ve done.

Q: So is it true that when you were in the ninth grade at Morningside High you read about Title IX in a text book? What did that mean to you then? Did you have a concept of what it was all about?

Continue reading “Q-and-A: Leslie Leslie, on growing up a Title IX baby, teaching today’s kids, and, good gracious, still fighting for what’s right” »

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply