Media column version 10.24.14: Considering the (un)source of the ESPN ‘hit piece’ on Kobe Bryant

JEANIEWhat made it into this week’s column, linked here:

So there was Lakers president, governor and valued Buss Family Values member Jeanie Buss at the crack of dawn this morning, invited onto “SportsCenter” and “The Herd” and “First Take,”  to give a counter-point to the ESPN piece that Henry Abbott negotiated about the life and times of the franchise as it relates to Kobe Bryant’s self-centered existence.

JEANIE2“Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” she said in one felled soundbite. “I read the story, I don’t agree with any of it. If there is somebody that’s on our payroll who is saying things like that, I’ll soon get to the bottom of it and they won’t be working with us any more. That is an unacceptable comment, especially when it’s anonymous. I don’t buy any of it, I don’t agree with any of it and I have no doubt that Kobe will make people regret every saying (those things)..

“I don’t like reading that kind of stuff, I don’t want to hear about it. The Lakers fans know what Kobe is about and they quickly defended him as did many other people.”

Our own first, second and third take of the ESPN “hit piece” is what we’re focused on this week, now posted.

What will be content with being included in this list of noteworthy achievements:


== ESPN’s justification for putting Chicago’s Derek Rose, not Bryant, on its NBA preview issue (but note the misleading headline refer at the bottom of the cover).

cover5== Remember when Bryant was a staple for ESPN magazine covers (including the very first one in 1998, with Alex Rodriguez, Kordell Stewart and Eric Lindros? What happened there?):
cover7== A nicely played 2,660-word counterpoint by Drew Garrison of And a breakdown of anonymous sources from CBS’s Matt Moore.

== Should we take the word of Flea that the ESPN Bryant piece is off target? Only if Phil Jackson re-tweetes it apparently. Or what about the Paul George tweet that is tagged #MediaReachingAgain.

== As for what Skip Bayless added to the noise, saying Bryant’s 2003 rape charge gave him more media street cred and “sizzle”: Why not suspend him and give him more attention? Here’s also the first take on that one.

cover17== In light of Bryant missing from the Lakers’ exhibition game in Ontario on Wednesday night — the second in back-to-backs — as well as the scheduled final exhibition Friday in Las Vegas, consider the analysis of ESPN/ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy as it relates to what is and what isn’t fan friendly in the game today.

During a conference call with reporters hours before he, Mike Breen and Mark Jackson called the Clippers’ exhibition game against Phoenix, Van Gundy was asked about how the league appears to be in fine financial shape these days:

“The one thing that the NBA through this era of prosperity has to be very aware of is what they can do for the fan. Because prices continue to go up. Everything around the live viewing experiences continues to increase. And I just think we have to keep the fan in mind. Sometimes when you’re in this prosperity era, where everything is going well, we can lose sight of who are the main reasons for our successes – the great players, the people who drive the business aspect, but it’s also the fans that continue to buy the product.
“And I think we have to look out as all this money is getting passed around. How can we make it better for the fan? Is there a way to cut concessions or ticket prices to make it more affordable? I think it’s something we need to explore.”
jeff-van-gundyAs a follow up, concerning the idea of cutting games from 48 to 44 minutes, Van Gundy added:
“I think this goes to the fan idea. I think fans oftentimes get an inferior product on back-to-back games, and I think that has to be the number one thing that gets addressed for the fans and for the players – the elimination or the drastic reduction of back-to-back games. And I think it starts with the owners giving up preseason games. There’s no need,  and I’ll tell you how you know there’s no need for these preseason games – it’s because no one plays in them. And yet we charge the same prices.
“And so let’s stop with the ruse that we need seven preseason games or eight preseason games to get a team ready. So let’s play two games, three games, and start the regular season two weeks earlier so we can eliminate some back to back games. Let’s not have as long a period at the All-Star break … And let’s extend the season a week or two in the regular season … or the goal should be to totally eliminate back-to-back games. I think that more so than the number of games of 82 or the length of a game of the 48 minutes needs to be changed.
“Because again, as a fan, they deserve our very best and you never want to give your players excuses, but to expect them to play great after playing the night before and flying three hours to a different time zone to have the same energy I think is a stretch, and it  leads to a lot of bad basketball and doesn’t give the product that we should be giving our fans.”

== A nice shout out during Fox’s World Series Game 2 coverage to John Lowe, the Detroit Free Press baseball writer who said he was leaving the business after 35 years ito become a college lecturer. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal wrote this nice piece on Lowe, a USC grad who started covering the Angels and Dodgers for the Los Angeles Daily News from 1979 to 1984, including the Dodgers’ 1981 World Series run. He spent two years at the Philadelphia Inquirer — where he developed the baseball stat for pitchers known as the “quality start,” and the last 28 years in Detroit.

== Among the “23 (more) facts, tried and true, about the widening world of sports television,” Comfy Couch Slouchy Norman Chad points out: “When Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1950, the average lifespan of an American male was 65.6 years; in 2015, he will begin his 66th year broadcasting Dodgers games.” The other 22 listed here are equally insightful.

== Or we could just go with this tweet from the longtime executive producer and writer for “Late Show with David Letterman”:

== Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Molly McGrath have the Fox Sports 1 call of USC at Utah (Saturday, 7 p.m.); The Pac-12 Network drags Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth and Lewis Johnson to do UCLA at Colorado (Saturday, 11 a.m.).

== ESPN’s “College GameDay” originates from Baton Rouge, La., and that’s where Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will remain to call the Ole Miss-LSU game (ESPN, 4:15 p.m.), rather than the contest disguised as the more important on the ESPN/ABC prime-time  schedule: Ohio State at Penn State (which has Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe, at 5 p.m. on Channel 7).

== Why the Pac-12 Network’s Rick Neuheisel sees the deck stacked against the conference once the College Football Playoff polls start coming out next week, and how an eight-team playoff will only result from the mess:

== John Strong and Kyle Martino call Saturday’s Galaxy-Sounders MLS game from Seattle (Channel 4, 11:30 a.m.) in the final regular-season game that will determine the Supporter’s Shield.

== Today’s Sports Business Daily reports an 8.8 overnight rating for Fox’s Game 2 coverage of the Giants-Royals World Series, up from the 8.0 overnight mark from Game 1, which was the lowest-rated MLB championship game in TV history.

== A Fox Sports press release this week warns East Coast viewers to set their alarms for 9 a.m. on Sunday if they want to catch the network’s coverage leading into  Detroit vs. Atlanta played at Wembley Stadium in London (9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff). That’s not as alarming as having to rise at 6:30 a.m. on the West Coast to see the same game on Channel 11 with Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Charissa Thompson? As the game concludes, the L.A.-based Fox NFL Sunday crew will do its usual Sunday pregame show from 9:30 to 10 a.m., but it’s not leading into any game on the West Coast. The second part of the Fox doubleheader isn’t until 1 p.m. when it has Philadelphia at Arizona. CBS also has two games in L.A. on Sunday: Seattle-Carolina at 10 a.m. followed by Indianapolis-Pittsburgh at 1 p.m.

Lipinski-and-Weir== NBC Olympics execs decided that Terry Gannon, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski will be replacing Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic on its figure skating coverage, starting with the ISU Grand Prix Skate America competition in Chicago (Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 4, joined by Tracy Wilson and Andrea Joyce). The network says Hamilton, part of the network skating coverage since 2002, will stay as a “special contributor” during the U.S. Championships and Winter Olympics.
“Johnny, Tara and Terry were breakout TV stars in Sochi,” said NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell in a statement. “We’re excited that viewers will be treated to this team’s informative and entertaining commentary for many years to come, all while looking fabulous. We thank Tom, Scott and Sandra for their many years of excellent work on Olympic figure skating. They set the bar high.”

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