Play It Forward: Jan. 14-20

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Kings fan Bailey Miller posted this tattoo he received last month on his Twitter account (@KingsDude182).

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:

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Sunday Q-and-A: Dr. James Andrews cuts to the chase — there are ways to prevent kids in the operating room

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III needed three different repairs on his right knee this week by Dr. James Andrews after injuring it in the Redskins’ playoff loss to Seattle. (Photo by Getty Images)

This time, Dr. James Andrews had an up-close-and-personal encounter with Robert Griffin III’s right knee.

The renowned athletic surgeon spent hours at his Florida clinic on Wednesday to repair the lateral collateral ligament, reconstruct the partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and fix up the medial meniscus for the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback.

Dr. James Andrews watches from the sidelines during the 2013 BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame on Monday, Jan. 7. He operated on Robert Griffin III’s knee two days later. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

He also needed just a couple of seconds to insist his own reputation was hardly damaged after a rehash of conflicting reports that he allowed the former Heisman Trophy winner to return to a game last December without fully examining his tweaked knee on the sidelines after it happened..

“Of course not,” Andrews said the other morning, asked if he was concerned how his actions were perceived. “People don’t understand what goes on down on the football field. The coach (Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan) didn’t know what we were really saying. I’ve put that all behind me now.”

The NFL Players Association also confirmed its own findings that Andrews and the Redskins’ medical staff did nothing wrong. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell concurred.

It’s not as if Andrews, on the Alabama sidelines during their BCS title game victory over Notre Dame on Monday, needed any more excitement this week.

He said he wasn’t at liberty to explain how RGIII’s surgery went, only that he’s “well on his way to recovery” and, after eight months of projected rehab, he’ll likely start the 2013 season.

“He’s such a great kid, unbelievable,” the 71-year-old Andrews said of the 22-year-old.

Interestingly, USA Today tracked down Robert Griffin II for his opinion of the surgery. Quoting him in Friday’s editions, RGIII’s father declared the injury was “not as bad as everybody thinks. . . . When he sees his coaches and everyone else, it’s going to be like nothing ever happened.”

Along with that vote of confidence, Andrews might want to slip RGII a copy of his new book, “Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, For Athletes, Parents and Coaches – Based on My Life in Sports Medicine” (Scribner, $25, 270 pages, with Don Yaeger).

Not to imply that RGII falls into the category of parents who are often are the ones blinded most by their child’s athletic potential, and get caught up most by delusions of grandeur. But there’s a trap door there, and almost any dad or mom can look guilty at some point of pushing their children unnecessarily past their natural athletic resistance, unaware of the proper training methods, and the results can be expensive.

Which is where Andrews often comes in.

To his credit, he is trying to take the lead in preventive medicine, rather than reactive repairing. He’s had too many first encounters with young athletes on an operating table.

Andrews explained how this new reference book, the proceeds from which will go toward a sports injury campaign organization he helped launch in 2009 (www.stopsportsinjuries.org), can be put to its intended purpose:

QUESTION: How disheartening – if that’s the right word – is to see a 14-year-old pitcher nowadays come into your office expecting you to magically fix his elbow?
ANSWER:
Well, let me tell you, you just look at him and say, “Why did this happen? What can we do to prevent this?” And the parents are the ones who say, “We’ve done everything we could to make sure our son had a chance to develop in a sport,” but most times, they’ve had no clue the injury risks involved. They claim, “We didn’t know he could get hurt doing that.” It’s all a matter of education.

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A mini Kings Fan Fest breaks out in El Segundo … but still, no schedule?

The Kings’ Jordan Nolan signs autographs for young hockey players at the Kings’ El Segundo facility after a Saturday morning workout.

The consensus is that the Stanley Cup champion Kings will open the 2013 season on Saturday, Jan. 19, with a nooner against Chicago at Staples Center. And the Ducks will go to Vancouver on the same night, starting a 48-game regular-season sprint toward the playoffs.

But then, no schedule has been released. Yet. Because the NHLPA has yet to get ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement. Officially.

With that, no official practices can take place — except the Kings had 10 players take the ice at their El Segundo facility for an hour this morning between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., skating and doing drills on their own. The group included captain Dustin Brown as well as Jonathan Bernier, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson, Alec Martinez and Jarret Stoll.

King and Nolan took time to sign autographs for Jr. Kings teams that were using the adjoining rink for their practices.

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It’s Out of the Question: Can Oprah break Lance into a million little pieces?

O.J. Simpson once had his chance of media-theatre redemption  with Chris Myers. We came away unsatisfied. Alex Rodriguez had his chance with Peter Gammons. We weren’t convinced. LeBron James had his chance with Jim Gray. What a talented train wreck.

Tiger Woods did it without a caddy — he just admitted he screwed up his marriage in front of cameras, family and hand-picked friends, then did a walk-off.

With that kind of reference point, what are the chances of Lance Armstrong channeling his inner soul and owning up to his misdeeds on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel? We aren’t remotely interested, to tell you the truth.

An athlete can use the media to get his message across — explanations, apologies, career decisions – but it’s up to the media meathead to make sure to make him squirm.

Considering all the hell Armstrong once went through in beating cancer, why should he fear a middle-aged woman with a house-wife following on a network very few can even find on their TV?

Once upon a time, Oprah broke author Jim Frey into a million little pieces after he admitted he fabricated much of his tale of redemption that was so powerful she had recommended it as a “book club” selection. She took it personal, and dropped the hammer.

(And for the record, she apologized for her harsh treatment later. Why?)

Does Armstrong need to fear the same kind of arm-twisting? Hardly. This is a hand-packed, soft-serve interrogation. Morley Safer would be turning over in his grave if he wasn’t still alive.

As Oprah struggles to remain relevant, Armstrong has it worse.

We’re not even led to believe we’ll find out next week just what Armstrong is peddling this time. We’ve heard his spin cycle too many times to even care.

David Eldridge, the cycling writer for Australia’s The Sporting Journal website, wrote it best: “So Lance Armstrong has finally had a gutful of being a clam. Hoo-bloody-ray. … . It’s time for Armstrong to stop thinking of himself and spare a thought for those swimming in his bulldust. Oprah awaits. I wonder if she will remember to check what ‘gifts’ Armstrong leaves under the seats for the studio audience?”

== One of the new things they’re going to put into the renovated Dodger Stadium clubhouse is something called a “quiet room.” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly learned about such a space of meditation from talking to former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, and thought there was some merit in it.

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Weekly media column version 01.11.13

 

Staff photo by John McCoy

What made it into this week’s column: Why Jay Mohr remains a stand-up guy in his new role as morning sports-talk host, thanks to his kids getting him up earlier than any professional man should have to roll out of bed.

A year ago, while on the set for the movie “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” Jay Mohr got a visit from then-8 month old son Meredith. (Photo from www.celebbabylaundry.com)

What could have made it in but did not?

Why, more Mohr quotes, of course. Such as:

 == The biggest surprise to hosting the show so far:

The audience is the biggest surprise, their level of enthusiasm. To me, I had this idea going in: ‘Let’s act like I’m guest hosting and in a month people will realize, oh, my gosh, he’s still here.’ But on Day One, people were calling in, almost choosing sides – I’m riding with you, man. I’m fired up.  They seemed as excited as I was and that makes you very grateful. You don’t get that on a movie set. Crips driving in from Diamond Bar carrying sandbags to put in front of Jennifer Aniston’s feet so she hits her mark aren’t the ones saying, ‘So glad you’re here, buddy! Yeah! Acting! Do it!’ But it’s important to people, right now.

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