Weekly media column version 12.19.14 — How the Kobe Bryant reality show plays out for those who played the game

This week’s topic trending enough to entice a sports media column posted here:

“I have things I want to get off my chest … I don’t have the patience to sit and write a book, so I’ll do it this way,” Kobe Bryant says in the trailer of a documentary called “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” which Showtime released this week, promoting the fact it will air the entire piece on its network once it’s done sometime in February. The film is created and produced by the Lakers star and directed by Gotham Chopra.

429641_1280x720If you’re looking for some deeper meaning of what that doc title means, there’s a piece Bryant wrote for Derek Jeter’s The Players Tribune where he used the word “muse”  to describe Michael Jordan, whom he just passed on the regular-season all-time scoring list this week.

All of that kind of fits into the Kobe storyline of the 2014-15 season — he’s become his own reality show, as fans are consumed in watching how someone who achieves personal accolades almost on a nightly basis also handles the adversity of team around him constantly losing.
The Lakers have a Christmas Day appearance — again — on the opening of a TNT doubleheader, at Chicago, at 5 p.m.. It’s prior to the Clippers’ home game against Golden State that may have more at stake. But in the opener, Kobe drives decisions.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0105360b421e970b-800wiWe’ve asked Reggie Miller, Chris Webber and Greg Anthony to talk about what still keeps them enthralled in the Kobe saga — and whether or not Bryant’s practice outbursts is worthy of news.

What we could have included but will put it here instead:

==  The SI.com best-and-worst list of the sports media in 2014.

== USA Today’s gallery of the best sports photos from 2014. And more from SI.com.

TMZ's Harvey Levin ends up sitting courtside next to actress Vanessa Hudgens and actor  Zac Efron at a Lakers' Staples Center 2009 playoff game. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

TMZ’s Harvey Levin ends up sitting courtside next to actress Vanessa Hudgens and actor Zac Efron at a Lakers’ Staples Center 2009 playoff game. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

== Media members who made the 2014 “Most Influential People in Sports Business” by the Sports Business Daily include ESPN’s John Skipper (at No. 2, behind NBA commissioner Adam Silver), CBS Sports’ Sean McManus (at No. 6), Turner Sports’ David Levy (at No. 8), NBC Sports’ Mark Lazarus (at No. 11), Fox Sports’ Randy Freer and Eric Shanks (at No. 12), MLB Advanced Media’s Bob Bowman (at No. 25), and Harvey Levin of TMZ (at No. 50)

298_298_alexi-lalas-espn-villains-of-the-2014-world-cup== Alexi Lalas has nothing but great things to say about ESPN as he’s decided to leave that network and join Fox as a game and studio analyst for their super-sized coverage of the sport going forward. Just as Fox announced last week it added former UCLA goalie Brad Friedel to help with coverage of UEFA Champions League and Europe League, England’s FA Cup, the MLS, U.S. men’s national team games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Lalas will do the same, starting in January. Lalas, the former Galaxy defender and franchise GM, had been with ESPN since 2009 and last appeared at the MLS Cup game from StubHub Field in Carson. Lalas, who lives in Manhattan Beach, said the location of the Fox L.A.-based studios versus the ones in Bristol, Conn., played a part in his decision of switching employers, but moreso was buying into Fox’s plans to cover the sport.
“I wanted to be part of something and at a place I believed in,” Lalas told Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated. “Just because someone is interested in you does not mean you belong there. Talking to the executives at Fox, there was a real desire to do something big and bold when it comes to soccer on television over the next eight years …
“It’s a much shorter commute and that is important to my family, but that in itself was not the reason I signed. It was an accumulation of things that made the move right.”

== Verne Lundquist, Greg Anthony and Allie LaForce call UCLA’s basketball game in Chicago on Saturday against Kentucky (Channel 2, 12:30 p.m.), following the Ohio State-North Carolina game (Channel 2, 10 a.m.)

== Next Thursday’s lineup for NBA Christmas Day games includes Kevin Harlan, Webber and David Aldridge doing the Lakers-Bulls game from Chicago for TNT at 5 p.m., followed by Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Rachel Nichols on the Clippers-Golden State game from Staples Center on TNT at 7:30 p.m.

== A communications company’s 19th annual list of the best and worst communicators includes Donald Sterling, Roger Goodell and Stephen A. Smith. You can guess which list they made.

== Is Jon Gruden really done with coaching and sticking with ESPN after signing another extension?

== A recap of the ninth class inducted this week into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

grab-2014-11-30-16h03m16s63-978x490== How did lipreaders of New England quarterback Tom Brady has been caught on CBS’ cameras saying during a game against Green Bay on Nov. 30  lead to three complaints filed with the FCC? The Hollywood Reporter reports that since there was no audio of Brady cursing, any action by the FCC “would be unusual – if not unprecedented.”
CBS reported afterward that its coverage of that 26-21 Packers win did an overnight rating of 19.2, equaling the highest-rated NFL game to date.
After reading excerpts of the viewer complaints, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann remarked on his show this week, while noting those three represent 0.00000095 of the country’s population: “Here’s my reaction if I’m the FCC — I go to their houses, I rip the cable out of the walls and I say, ‘Problems solved’.”

== Arizona basketball fans who’ve started a petition would like it if ESPN and/or the Pac-12 Network never let Bill Walton (the dad of former Wildcats star Luke Walton) call one of their games again.

== SI.com’s Jon Wertheim, writing on the future of our sports viewing with or without the cable company’s assistance, points out what can happen if and when a-la-carte packaging comes for sports channels, as we’ve been campaignig for in light of DIrecTV’s stalemate with the Dodgers’ SportsNet L.A. existence. Would we pay $30 for a stand-alone ESPN channel, or bundle of its channels?

sisam== Remember that deal Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel struck with Michael Sam for some kind of reality show after the openly-gay University of Missouri linebacker was drafted by the St. Louis Rams? Nothing became of it — Sam decided to focus more on his pursuit of making it to the NFL, which still hasn’t happened after he’s been cut now by two teams. OWN has transformed its plans now into a 90-minute documentary called “Michael Sam” that will air Dec. 27 at 6 p.m., followed by Winfrey interviewing Sam.
Meanwhile, Outsports.com says the shot of Sam kissing his boyfriend after the Rams drafted him is “easily the sports image of the year” as far as it is concerned. Outsports.com also calculates that 108 athletes and officials came out in 2014.

== Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is on notice.

== Mike Wise’s interesting last column at the Washington Post before he heads off to help ESPN launch a new “Black Grantland” with Jason Whitlock starting sometime in 2015. Wise will continue to be in our all-time favorite list going back to his 2010 Twitter hoax that proved a lot of points — and got him suspended. All for the betterment of the medium. If that can be said.
Wise’s hiring wasn’t officially announced by ESPN until Thursday, when the network also said that former ESPN The Magazine senior editor and writer Jeff Bembry and urban culture and music writer Justin Tinsley would also be coming aboard.

== Really, ongoing odds on Bill Simmons’ future? What about going to “Black Grantland?”

== One of the features on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown,” leading into a Cincinnati-Denver game: Rick Reilly revisists Rich Goins, a former Denver part-time sports talent on KRFX 104.3 FM who, during a team losing streak in 1990, decided to live up on a billboard until they won another game. He ended up there 33 days. Because the Chargers finally came up on the Broncos schedule.

== Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski join Terry Gannon in NBC’s Stamford, Conn., studios, while Tracy Wilson is on-site in Barcelona, Spain, for the network coverage of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating final airing on tape Sunday at 1 p.m. on Channel 4 with the men’s and ladies’ free skate.

== Karch Kiraly, the U.S. National Women’s volleyball team coach, will join Beth Mowins and Holly Rowe in covering the NCAA women’s volleyball semifinals and final from Oklahoma City. The winner of Thursday’s semifinals — BYU-Texas and Stanford-Penn State — face off Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

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