Play It Forward: Dec. 31-Jan. 6

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant is surrounded by the Clippers — and former teammates — Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom during their first meeting of the season on Nov. 2. (AP Photo)

NBA: Lakers at Clippers, Staples Center, Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime, TWC SportsNet:
Magic Johnson saw the Clippers playing on Christmas Day and . . . thought he’d seen a magic act. “I thought I would never, ever see ‘Showtime’ again,” the Lakers’ Hall of Famer said on the set of the ESPN halftime show during the Clippers-Denver game on Dec. 25, having just watched the Clippers score 42 points in the second quarter to take a 67-48 lead, highlighted by driving dunks by Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes, alley-oop dunks by Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and back-to-back 3 pointers by Barnes and Chris Paul. “I was the architect of ‘Showtime’,” Johnson reminded us. “The Clippers? That’s ‘Showtime’.”
And as for the Lakers? It’s time to show what they’ve learned in the second meeting of the four scheduled this regular season between the Staples Center tenants.

Clippers forward Caron Butler reacts after scoring as time expired in the first half against the Lakers on Nov. 2. (AP Images)

After the Lakers absorbed a 105-95 loss to the Clippers on Nov. 2, then-coach Mike Brown was trying to explain why his 0-3 team needed Kobe Bryant to play 43 minutes on a bruised foot, because the 40 points he scored at least made it close. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro couldn’t make any assessment of which team was better. “It’s too early to tell anything yet, other than we have to keep getting better.”
The Clippers have been much better – the league’s best record to date – while the 15-15 Lakers would not be in the playoffs if they started today.
After this, the two will get together again on Valentine’s Day, then on April 7. Let’s not even assume both will be playoff bound yet.

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50 years later, the ’63 Rose Bowl has stayed golden on its golden anniversary

UPDATED BELOW WITH LINKS

Go ahead and defend the 2006 version of the Rose Bowl as the grandest of them all.
In that BCS-orchestrated title matchup of No. 1 USC against No. 2 Texas, Vince Young dancing into the end zone with 10 seconds left has become the lasting image of the Longhorns’ 41-38 victory, leaving Pete Carroll, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush languishing on the sidelines.
What could be more memorable than that one?
The ’63 Rose Bowl is ready for another comeback, 50 years later.

“When you think of the all the great teams that have come and gone, and all the great games along the way, that one in 1963 — it’s held up as the icon,” said Tom Kelly, the 85-year-old former USC play-by-play voice who was in the national radio booth that day when No. 1 USC somehow captured John McKay’s first national championship by outlasting No. 2 Wisconsin, 42-37.
Pete Arbogast, the current voice of USC football, was an 8-year-old who got two tickets to that Rose Bowl as a Christmas gift, and went to the game with his grandfather.
“We were even with the goal line, and so far down on the press box side of the stadium that when the Wisconsin players stood up – which is most of the game – we all had to stand just to see the field,” recalled Arbogast, among the 98,698 on hand.
What Kelly saw from the press box, and Arbogast tried to witness from nearly down on the field, has held up against the test of time, with a golden glow on its golden anniversary as Rose Bowl No. 99 is set to be played on Tuesday.

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Play It Forward: Dec. 24-30

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

NBA:
STAPLES CENTER CHRISTMAS DAY DOUBLEHEADER:
Lakers vs. New York, Tuesday, noon, Channel 7
Clippers vs. Denver, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime:
So who’s the lucky group of employees on the schedule to have to leave home early on Christmas Day, open up the downtown arena bright and early to let the Lakers in, change out all the hardwood in the late afternoon, then come back around midnight to make sure it’s all locked up after the Clippers are finished?
A year ago, the league had to use this Christmas Day event as its regular-season launch party following months of labor unrest. The Lakers lost by a point to the Bulls, and the Clippers, in Chris Paul’s debut, had a 19-point win at Golden State.
Since the NBA started doing Christmas Day games in 1947, the Knicks have actually made the most of it, with 47 appearances. Despite a sub-.500 record (22-25) on the holiday, New York still has the most victories on this day. Kobe Bryant has the honor/annoyance of having played in a record 14 Christmas Day games – with the Lakers losing nine of them. But considering how the Lakers performed in Steve Nash’s return from a broken leg on Saturday, this could be a game where the Lakers, on a four-game win streak, actually reach the .500 mark. They’ve only been even or one game over .500 four times this season. Steve Nash’s return from his broken leg last Saturday at Golden State takes the surprise away about how the Lakers may operate in this new offense under coach Mike D’Antoni. The Clippers and their 13-game winning streak will be the talk of the nightcap, with Billy Crystal expected to slide out of his courtside seat at some point and  join Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy at their midcourt broadcast table to comment on how things transpire.

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The L.A. News Group Sports Person(s) of the Year for 2012 …

UPDATED: 12/22/12 8 AM:

We’ve announced it today, under that umbrella title of the Los Angeles News Group title instead of a specific newspaper in the chain such as the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press-Telegram, Tribune, etc. All for one and one for all.

Aside from the ideas we had of who deserved it, we also wanted to bestow special recognition of the So Cal star women athletes of the 2012 Summer Olympics, who we’ve put into one block candidacy:

Getty Images

==Allyson Felix, the former L.A. Baptist High star and USC-educated sprinter, who broke through after taking silver in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 to finally capture gold in the 200 meters at London. Add to that her participation on two winning relay teams, becoming the first woman since 1988 (Florence Griffith-Joyner) to take home three gold medals. It was plenty enough to have her be rewarded with the 2012 Female World Athlete of the Year from the IAAF. Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 12.21.12

 

A look at the new ESPN/ABC “NBA Countdown” set under construction at the L.A. production center for a Christmas Day debut (photo by Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

What made it into this week’s version (as we recklessly assume the end of the world didn’t happen on schedule): ESPN/ABC is all set to unveil a new NBA Countdown set on Christmas Day — can you wait that long? More on Mike Breen being asked again to do a Lakers-Clippers doubleheader on the holiday from Staples Center, plus other notes.

What could have but didn’t quite make the cut because of Mayan restrictions:

== In the media year-ender from SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, there’s praise for Joe Buck, “Inside the NBA,” Gonzalo Le Batard, Doris Burke and Bob Valvano, and well deserved knocks on Skip Bayless, Victor Rojas (thanks for the pop), “Numbers Never Lie,” Colin Cowherd, and, again, Skip Bayless.

== NBC Sports’ Radio network — because there isn’t enough with ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio and the new CBS Radio Network — starts as a weekend of programming on Jan. 5 with on-air talent such as former KCOP-Channel 13 sports anchor and So Cal sports talk host Newy Scruggs. Where will you find it in L.A.? Still not sure, if at all, as all this leads up to a weekday 3 a.m.-to-4 p.m. lineup (PDT) starting April 1, with a push from Dial Global Radio Network. There isn’t much traction yet on having distribution, so L.A. isn’t the only place wondering how this will unfold. More info: www.nbcsportsradio.com.

== The NFL has decided to go with live streaming on line and on mobile phones the CBS upcoming coverage of Super Bowl XLVII, making it at available on NFL.com, CBSSports.com and NFL Mobile from Verizon. Last year’s Super Bowl was the first to live stream, gaining 2.1 million users — the most-watched, single-game sports event ever online. The NFL also said NBC’s coverage of the two Jan. 5 wildcard games, as well as the Jan. 27 Pro Bowl, will also video stream, also on NFL.com and NBCSports.com.

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Favor Hamilton, in the favor business

In this 1999 file photo, Suzy Hamilton reacts after winning the women’s 1,500 meter run at the USA Championships in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Associated Press

Struggling in her marriage and mired in depression, three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton coped by turning to a life of prostitution, working for an escort service based in Las Vegas.

“I do not expect people to understand,” Favor Hamilton wrote today in one of a series of posts to her Twitter account after The Smoking Gun website reported on her double life. “But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.”

The Smoking Gun said the 44-year-old has been working for the last year for a Las Vegas escort service that booked her for dates there, as well as in Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. Continue reading

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They call it a work of enduring importance to American culture, that little NFL Films doc

The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today selected NFL Films’ 1967 production They Call It Pro Football for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, the NFL announced..

“These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture,” said Billington. “They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”

Previous additions include ”Casablanca,” “Gone with the Wind,” “The Graduate,” “Knute Rockne All American,” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The National Film Registry was established by Congress in 1989 and spotlights ”the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage,” said Billington.

In The Library of Congress’ press release, it says:

Before “They Call It Pro Football” premiered, football films were little more than highlight reels set to the oom-pah of a marching band. In 1964, National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle agreed to the formation of NFL Films. With a background in public relations, he recognized that the success of the league depended on its image on television, which required creating a mystique. “They Call It Pro Football,” the first feature of NFL Films, looked at the game “in dramaturgical terms,” capturing the struggle, not merely the outcome, of games played on the field. Written and produced by Steve Sabol, directed by John Hentz and featuring the commanding cadence of narrator John Facenda and the music of Sam Spence, the film presented football on an epic scale and in a way rarely seen by the spectator. Telephoto lenses brought close-ups of players’ faces into viewers’ living rooms. Slow motion revealed surprising intricacy and grace. Sweeping ground-to-sky shots imparted a “heroic angle.” Coaches and players wearing microphones let the audience in on strategy and emotion. “They Call It Pro Football” established a mold for subsequent productions by NFL Films and has well earned its characterization as the “Citizen Kane” of sports movies.

The late NFL Films president Steve Sabol made “They Call It Pro Football” mandatory viewing for all NFL Films staffers. NFL Films named its NFL.com blog after the movie and has posted the final five minutes of the movie for viewing (http://nflfilms.nfl.com/fact-figures/).

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Mohr on: Fox Sports Radio rubber stamps Rome’s replacement

Following the heads up we had in last Friday’s column, the Fox Sports Radio Network, in association with Clear Channel, officially named comedian Jay Mohr as the new 9 a.m.-to-noon weekday sports-talk host, filling the spot that Jim Rome creates when he moves to CBS Sports Radio at the first of the year.

Mohr’s first nationally syndicated show originating from the L.A. studios of Fox Sports Radio will be Jan. 2.

“After spending the last 15 years guest hosting, I couldn’t be happier to get the opportunity to host my own show!” Mohr said in the press release, complete with the exclamation point. “I’m looking forward to talking sports, connecting with listeners, and interviewing amazing guests every day, while being a part of the Fox Sports Radio family.  It was worth the wait.”

Carl Anderson, the exec VP of programming for Premiere Networks, said Mohr has “done a great job guest hosting for Premiere Sports and Fox Sports Radio’s flagship station AM570 Fox Sports LA, and I know his sense of humor and extensive sports knowledge will provide just what our listeners are looking for. He’s a perfect addition to our leading, multi-platform, sports entertainment lineup.”

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The L.A. sports holiday gifts that can’t help but be regifted

Yes, Virginia, these items actually exist for the L.A. fan who are in need of an exquisite, team-specific holiday gift,  bound to bring minutes of pleasure – and still available with a rush order:

For the Dodgers fan:
Item:
A sculpted and enameled pewter money clip
Where: Amazon.com
Price: $21.97
The pitch:  Sure, you can find one of these things much less expensive — there’s a stainless steel model with the “L.A.” logo for just $7.75 — but now’s not the time to be cheap. The way things have been going at the Ravine, enjoy the windfall of cash that new ownership brings. This one is four ounces of a status symbol that shows you’re not only willing to flash some large currency at the concession stand, but you insist on overpaying for everyone.

For the Lakers fan:
Item:
A purple-and-gold rhinestone pacifier
Where: Etsy.com
Price: $13.75
The pitch:  The wait is almost over for Nash, Howard, Gasol, Kobe and Metta to step on the court together and rally to capture that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Until then, pacify your thoughts with this high-end, handmade binky which comes with a sateen ribbon. They recommend you hand wash and hang dry, if that’s possible through all your hand wringing. There is also the warning (for real): “Do not use on older babies that will take the pacifier out of the mouth and bite the rhinestones on the other side.” Same goes for adults.

For the Kings fan:
Item:
A collectible team bank
Where: ESPNShop.com
Price: $49.99
The pitch: The actual listing says: “Save up your pennies for the next game with this Caseworks NHL collectible bank.” Not even the “durable acrylic construction” can handle the irony that fills this thing up as you help generate more off-ice revenue for the league’s players and owners to haggle over. And once it is filled, you still won’t have enough to buy the cheapest seat in Staples Center if they ever decide to get the Stanley Cup tour resumed.

For the Clippes fan:
Item: Harvey’s Seatbelt Baguette
Where: Zappos.com
Price: $128
The pitch: How many times a game does Ralph Lawler have to remind you to fasten your seatbelts? Here’s a chance to actually have one to latch onto in a moment’s notice — because the bags are made of actual automobile seatbelts. “There’s no need to get your knickers in a twist while sporting the winning colors,” says the item description. But then, these aren’t made for Knicks fans.

For the UCLA basketball fan:
Item:
A six-foot “True Blue” pet leash
Where: Fanatics.com
Price: $19.95
The pitch:  “Keep your spirited pup under control on your daily walks . . . the perfect accessory for a Bruins fan and his furry best friend.” More functionally, these can be endorsed by howling coach Ben Howland as a most effective way to keep players from leaving the roster just before the start of the Pac-12 conference schedule. Imagine how Josh Smith could have benefited with a choke chain and one of these keeping him away from the extra Milk Bones.

For the USC football fan:
Item:
A unique T-shirt gift package
Price: Approx. $34.
Where: USCbookstore.com; SunBowl.MyShopify.com
The pitch: The first stop is at the USC book store, to scoop up one of the “Unfinished Business” T-shirts that originally sold for $20 but can now be had for just $10. Wait any longer and it could go down to $5. Next, hustle over to the Sun Bowl official site to procure a snazzy Sun Bowl T-shirt ($24) that’ll identify you as one sharp SoCal dude when you head to El Paso, Tex., for the New Year’s Eve bowl game that everyone’s talking about. If you want to attempt the trifecta on this package, snoop around the UCLA campus and see if you can find the latest, greatest T-shirt for sale:  “I Don’t Give A Rat’s Ass about USC,” a quote from Bruins coach Jim Mora that’s been a hot item.

For the Angels fan:
Item:
A Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim North Pole Sign
Where:
FoxSportsShop.com
Price: $24.95
The pitch: Forever Collectables ends the confusion about where the Angels are actually located this time of year. At least, in relation to Los Angeles, the North Pole and the pot of gold they seem to have found to acquire Josh Hamilton. “Makes a great holiday decoration,” says the website blub, but only the small print points you to where this was actually made: In China.

For the Galaxy fan:
Item:
Beckham by Beckham 2.5 ounce Eau de Toilette
Where. Target.com
Price:  $17.39
The pitch: David Beckham may be gone, but his odor lingers on. The worldly “woodsy” scent contains “notes of sandalwood, cardamom, amber, grapefruit, nutmeg, bergamot, violet, patchouli and star arise. (Check the Galaxy roster again; we recall Caramom, Bergamot and Patchouli as three of the team’s top defenders). It says the stuff is only for “casual use,” which may  best depict how the local kickball team used Becks for some six years before releasing him to the rest of the world, triumphantly with an MLS Cup wedged under each armpit.

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