Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NHL SEASON OPENERS: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, Saturday at noon, Channel 4; Ducks at Vancouver, Saturday at 7 p.m., FSW:
The only banners that the Kings have on their wall of fame inside their home dome is something about a Smythe Division title and a Campbell Conference claim in the early ‘90s that, honestly, mean nothing much to today’s fans. Was Dustin Brown or Jonathan Quick even born then? The bedsheet of infamy that will now be fluttering from the rafters – and not the wall — when this 2013 season finally starts with an elaborate pregame show should receive a far more rousing reception. Better late than never, eh? “We’re going to do something different,” Kings governor Tim Leiweke said of the move to the ceiling decorations, “so we have room to hang the others.” The Stanley Cup champs are returning almost entirely in tact, with a 48-game sprint ahead of them through April 27, all against Western Conference foes. That includes four against the Ducks, who, lest we forget, they also have a Stanley Cup in their history sometime. Way back when. We seem to recall. When Emilio Esteves was their coach?
BEST OF THE REST:
NBA: Clippers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers opened the season with a nine-point win over the Grizzles at home, watching Jamal Crawford come off the bench to score 29 points in 30 minutes in his first game, and the team convert 21 turnovers into 29 points. In other words, it looked too easy. The rest of the Clippers’ week: at Houston (Tuesday, 5 p.m, Prime), at Minnesota (Thursday, 5 p.m., TNT) and vs. Washington (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Prime), following the Kings’ season opener.
NBA: Lakers vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Surely, the Kings could squeeze another game in here, to at least draw an interested crowd.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Loyola Marymount at San Diego, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Because we haven’t seen the Lions of Westchester play a full game yet, and we’re still interested. The warmup: North Carolina State at Maryland (4 p.m., ESPN2).
NBA: Lakers vs. Miami, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Nope, there’s never a good time to play hostess to the defending NBA champions when they’re blowing through L.A. with their chest expanded. At least it’s not on Christmas Day with everyone watching. Oh, wait. It is still a national telecast. Neither Pau Gasol nor Dwight Howard could be back for this one, pending injuries.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. Oregon State, Pauley Pavilion, 6 p.m., ESPNU; USC vs. Oregon, Galen Center, 8 p.m., ESPNU:
A nine-game win streak for the 14-3 Bruins, who’ve jumped out to a 4-0 mark in the Pac-12, has to account for something in the next rankings. UCLA hasn’t started the conference with a 5-0 mark in nine seasons.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cal State Northridge vs. UC Davis, Matadome, 7 p.m.:
Oh-and-five? Oh, no. The Big West competition has provided a big goose egg for the Matadors, who started the season 6-0 but now are teetering on an overall mark of .500. The Matadors finish the week vs. Univesity of the Pacific (Saturday, 7 p.m.). Also in the Big West, conference leaders Long Beach State travels to UC Riverside (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and Cal State Fullerton (Saturday, 6 p.m.)
SPECIAL: “Oprah Winfrey and Lance Armstrong: A Worldwide Exclusive,” 6 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN):
When an Associated Press reporter tracked him down Sunday as he was out for a morning run, Armstrong admitted he was “calm … at ease and ready to speak candidly. I hope we’ll talk for a couple of hours.” We hope we get an early transcript from this Monday interview so we can decide ahead of time whether it’s worth our 90-minute window of viewing. David Eldridge, the cycling writer for Australia’s The Sporting Journal website, writes: “So Lance Armstrong has finally had a gutful of being a clam. Hoo-bloody-ray. The world’s most despised bloke on wheels has agreed to have his shell of silence prised open on international television by the confessional butter knife that is Oprah Winfrey, and the stinky decay that lies within promises to be eye-watering. … It’s time for Armstrong to stop thinking of himself and spare a thought for those swimming in his bulldust.”
NBA: Chicago at Boston, 4 p.m., ESPN; Oklahoma City at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Since Dirk Nowitzki’s second season with Dallas in 1999-2000, the team has made the playoffs 12 straight years and won the title in 2011. The playoffs look slim this year, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban says he won’t trade his star. “No matter what,” Cuban added. Not even to the Lakers for Dwight Howard?
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA vs. Oregon, Pauley Pavilion, 1 p.m., Channel 2; USC vs. Oregon State, Galen Center, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
The Ducks, who handed Arizona their first loss of the season last week, have five players averaging between 10.1 and 11.6 points a game, with freshman guard Damyean Dotson, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder out of Houston, qualifying as the high scorer so far. As for Oregon State (10-6, 0-3), it still has President Obama’s brother-in-law making the executive decisions.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The inaugural Raycom College Football All Star Classic, Montgomery, Ala., noon, CBS Sports Network;
The 88th East-West Shrine Game from St. Petersburg, Fla., 1 p.m., NFL Network;
The 2nd NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Home Depot Center, 3 p.m., ESPN2:
As the cream of the crop holds out for next week’s Senior Bowl, UCLA will be represented in these three games by offensive lineman Jeff Baca, tight end Joseph Fauria (above), and cornerbacks Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price (East-West), receiver Jerry Johnson (Raycom) and defensive back Andrew Abbott, linebacker Damien Holmes and running back David Allen (NFLPA). USC defensive lineman Wes Horton will also go to Tropicana Field to show off.
NFL: NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: San Francisco at Atlanta, noon, Channel 11; AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Baltimore at New England, 3 p.m., Channel 2:
A Falcons-Ravens Super Bowl? Please, don’t kid us like that. Patriots-49ers could do much better for the future of the shield. By the way: The 49ers are 1-3 in NFC championship games away from home – their only win at Chicago in 1988 before taking Super Bowl XXII. San Francisco has also lost five of its last six games at the Georgia Dome – their only win in 2001, on a Terrell Owens game-clinching TD pass reception in overtime. Another intriguing sidelight: Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was the 49ers head coach from 2005-08, posting a 18-37 record. Nolan will have to try to figure out how to contain Colin Kaepernick, who, in just eight career starts, including last weekend’s playoff opener, has come up victorious over Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
GOLF: PGA Tour Humana Challenge, at La Quinta, final round, noon-4 p.m., Golf Channel:
Need a little controversy? Before 1999, every winner of this event, going back to when it was called the Bob Hope Invitational, got a lifetime exemption. Then it was changed to a 10-year exemption. David Duval, who won in 1999 by shooting a 13-under 59, reported on Twitter last week (his name is @david59duval) that he didn’t get a sponsor invite. “I guess having the defining moment in the history if the event doesn’t matter,” he wrote. Granted, the 41-year-old has been in the 125 money earners just once in the last 10 seasons, and last year he made the cut in just three of 17 events. But still. …
Phil Mickelson, the ’02 and ’04 Bob Hope Chrysler winner, becomes the headliner, using this as his ’13 Tour debut, and defending champ Mark Wilson is back. So are the pro-am celebs like Alice Cooper, Michael Bolton, Craig T. Nelson, Ozzie Smith and Eric Dickerson, whacking it around on the Palmer PGA West, Nicklaus PGA West and La Quinta Country Club courses . Can Bill Clinton, whose foundation is a title sponsor and likely to take in a round if he’s available, give DD an ex-presidential pardon to go after the $1,008,000 winner’s share? Remember, it’s back to just four rounds, starting Thursday, with all coverage on Golf Channel.