In appreciation: How Bill Sharman’s actions spoke much louder than his whispers

la-sp-sn-bill-sharman-hall-of-fame-basketball--001The winter of 1974 should have been one of complete discontent for Bill Sharman.

The Lakers were only halfway through a season that would become the most miserable in L.A. franchise history — a mere 30 wins, the fewest since the team managed to record 25 during their final year in Minneapolis before needing to get out of town.

But this was less than three years removed from the NBA championship in this city. How could the euphoria dissipate so quickly?

Sharman already had a view of the bigger picture.

When owner Jack Kent Cooke hired him prior to that historic ‘71-’72 season, Sharman had been primed for a long-term rebuilding process. The careers of three future Hall of Famers — Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor — were close to ending. By the ‘74-’75 season, all of them were gone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s arrival was an endless summer away.

If not for Sharman, who both as a competitor as well as one of the nicest people you’d ever want to be around, that fiasco of a performance could have much more demoralizing.

Sharman wouldn’t allow it.

As a Lakers ball boy during that “Wonder Years” period of middle-school awkwardness — no wonder the team had job openings, just apply to trainer Frank O’Neal and wait for a quick return call — I was fortunate enough to have some access to how this transition was going to take place. It came mostly from the perspective of looking up to a locker room full of players, some of whom had no idea they’d be far more famous in the coming years later, while others may still not have figured out their best years were behind them. Continue reading

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Bill Sharman (1926-2013)

444779795_640Bill Sharman preceded Phil Jackson by about 30 years as the coach  who figured out a way to unite a star-driven Lakers squad, point them toward an NBA title and turn Los Angeles into a basketball town. In some way, Sharman would also have a hand in the next nine franchise championships as well.

bill-sharman-300cLong before Larry Bird or Paul Pierce became Lakers tormentors as members of the Boston Celtics, there was the sharp-shooting Sharman, knocking the Lakers out of countless title games.

And long before Gus Williams, Harold Miner or Paul Westphal were All-Americans at USC, there was Sharman — the first one in school history.

9375543Before long, the Basketball Hall of Fame had to induct Sharman twice – as a player in 1976 and a coach in 2004.

When Sharman died Friday peacefully at his Redondo Beach home at age 87 surrounded by his wife Joyce and his family, and less than a week after suffering a stroke, all factions of the basketball world were rightly trying to claim a piece of his legacy.

So, too, were the Dodgers – he signed with Brooklyn to play baseball, and did so for five minor-league seasons before he was called up in 1951. Continue reading

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Weekly media column version 10.25.13 — So Bruckheimer and I were talking about the days we used to sit way up in the Forum nosebleeds …

people_4The focus of this week’s sports media column:

From the blog post we had Thursday about the Kings’ latest multi-media/marketing campaign, which creatively pairs fans of the team — such as architect Frank Gehry and producer Jerry Bruckheimer — with players to talk about their common bonds.

Above, and below, are more video clips from that series on the Kings’ website.
“Years ago, we’d probably never consider taking a player out of uniform when we were still trying to get people to know that hockey was in L.A.,” said Kings VP of marketing Jonathan Lowe. “A player with a uniform hung over his shoulder would have been too risky. But it’s really just an evolution of our brand. Certain brands can do that. I think we’ve generated enough momentum in this market that we can finally look at something like this.”

The media notes also include a followup on Lee Corso’s embarrassment, Tim Howard’s EPL playing/broadcasting doubleheader and poorer IRL TV ratings after last Saturday’s finale in Fontana.

What could have been included but is relegated to this space: Continue reading

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What’s behind this “We Are All Kings” campaign? You are, in a large sense … and all your new, cool friends

Matt Greene, the Kings’ 30-year-old defenseman, shakes hands with Michael LaVere, an 88-year-old World War II veteran from West Hills, still able to fit into his Army first lieutenant uniform.

They’re about to have a conversation. But what could they possibly have in common?

“The missions I flew were quite dangerous,” the Brooklyn native LaVere explains as he looks up to the 6-foot-3 Greene towering above him. “There was about a 50 percent loss rate. But we survived.”

Watching this video on the team’s “Kings Vision” website link, here’s the part where you gulp.

“I guess it’s the same thing when you’re on the ice playing hockey,” the animated LaVere lightens the mood with a laugh.

“Ah, a lot different stakes,” a humbled Greene tries to counter.

“I mean, you can get hurt down there too, I know,” answers LeVere.

Read more on the Daily News website, linked here….


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NFL ’13 TV lineup for L.A. in Week 8: Where the league seems to be taking a massive bye week (including another game in London)

al-bundySan Diego, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee have the week off, because the stress has been just too much so far. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams march forward with sexless matchups:

5:25 p.m., NFL Network: Carolina at Tampa Bay (with Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan)

10 a.m., Channel 2: Miami at New England (Jim Nantz and Phil Simms). The rest of CBS’ games in this window: Cleveland at Kansas City (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts) and Buffalo at New Orleans (Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf).

Jacksonville players warm-up during practice at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Bagshot, England today. The Jaguars face San Francisco on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Jacksonville players warm-up during practice at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Bagshot, England today. The Jaguars face San Francisco on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

10 a.m., Channel 11: Dallas at Detroit (Dick Stockton, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin). The rest of Fox’s games in this window: San Francisco vs. Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London (Chris Myers, Tim Ryan, Jennifer Hale) and  N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)

1:25 p.m., Channel 11: Washington at Denver (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver). Fox also has Atlanta at St. Louis (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Molly McGrath).  CBS also has Pittsburgh at Oakland (Spero Dedes, Rich Gannon) and N.Y. Jets at Cincinnati (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)

5:30 p.m., Channel 4: Green Bay at Minnesota (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

5:40 p.m., ESPN: Seattle at St. Louis  (with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Walters)

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