Five things we learned this past weekend: Jan. 4-6

Getting up to speed on the water-cooler conversation as the next work week begins:

We’re led to believe the NHL owners and players have a tentative agreement in place after four months of posturing, and all it needs is some language clarification (English and French, presumably), some legal fine-tuning, ratification on both sides, training camps opening a soon as Wednesday, a 48-game season starting as soon as later this month, and a Kings’ banner-raising ceremony somewhere in all that. It’s embarassing the way the Kings’ fans reacted when tracked down for local TV crews at the El Segundo rink — all were so pleased that the delay was over, and so looking forward to coming back to Staples Center to see the team play again. Stanley Cup hangover, be gone. For starters, we’ll side with Toronto Globe And Mail columnist Jeff Blair: The best thing the NHL can do to regain any of the fans’ trust is to banish Gary Bettman and sidekick Bill Daly into the cornfield. Then, we stop acting like sheepish enablers. As tough as it might be, stop supporting the NHL sponsors, watching the games, being taken for granted. Check out the Facebook page “Just Drop It” started by Kings fan Steve Chase, who never renewed his season seats after the 2004-05 lockout (video above). Now’s not the time to drop the ball on this opportunity.

Kobe Bryant takes the inbounds pass, casts off a 3-pointer, misses, Denver rebounds. Two-point-six seconds left, and the Lakers trail by five. “This crowd is stunned,” said play-by-play man Bill Macdonald. “Everyone watching at home on television, as stunned as we are.” Honestly, most Lakers followed passed “stunned” a few weeks ago. More stunning is that James Worthy even bothers to show up for the post-game shows any longer. “Sour grapes . . . sour grapes . . . you take a bite of that apple and it’s just really sour,” Worthy said after Sunday night’s loss. Seems to sum it up just as sweet as anything else. 

Watching Ray Lewis play in his final home game was something special. But not watching the video of how RG3 ended up ending his season. Joe Theismann isn’t even interested in reviewing that. But in light of conflicting stories on who really allowed the Washington Redskins QB go back onto the field — coach Mike Shanahan vs. Dr. James Andrews — this is going to lead to all kinds of knee-jerk reactions. Don’t hurt youself joining in the conversation.

 Watch for yourself how an “exclusive” ABC “Nightline” report tries to depict USC team doctor James Tibone as some kind of negligent drug pusher – injecting former Trojan linebacker Armond Armstead with enough generic Toradol to give him a heart attack. The story, for starters, might be slighly more credible had not ABC reporter Brian Ross been assigned to it. His Jim Gray-like smarminess in the way he conducted himself in the report includes getting himself kicked out of USC practices and a Sun Bowl press conference for something as basic as failing to get the proper credentials to be there in there in the first place. Not that it’s any surprise Ross’ credibility is in question. That said, the smugness again displayed by USC coach Lane Kiffin (at least he’s not wearing sunglasses and a hoodie) in dismissing Ross’ line of questioning makes everything worse. Great pull by Daily News reporter Scott Wolf for the reference to John McKay’s 1966 book on how to work with the media on getting the correct information out to the public rather than try to fight on and on and on about it.

Don’t assume Notre Dame has the prayer market cornered for tonight’s college football national championship. And not just because Alabama head coach “Saint Nick” Saban is described as “an active, church-going Catholic” by the Birmingham News.

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