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) Continue reading “Weekly media column version 12.19.14 — How the Kobe Bryant reality show plays out for those who played the game” »

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Play It Forward Dec. 15-21: If UCLA basketball thought Gonzaga was a handful … here’s No. 1 Kentucky


Details/TV: At United Center in Chicago, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 2:
9780143127086_p0_v1_s260x420You might remember that in his latest book, “Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out,” Kentucky coach John Calipari wrote about how he despises the NBA rule that entices college kids to play just one year before they’re lured into thinking they’re professionally ready. “I’ve made it work for the teams I coach — and for the players — as best I can. But I don’t like it one bit,” he wrote. “Some people say I’m renting players or I’m working the system. Let me make this very clear: I want to coach players for four years.” So look at what the No. 1 Wildcats have here: Of the five who started in their runaway 84-70 triumph over No. 21 North Carolina the other day, improving to 11-0 this season, there was two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. And was only because another star junior, Alex Poythress, couldn’t play because of a season-ending knee injury in practice. For UCLA (8-3), it’s a freshman, two sophs, a junior and a senior who’ll get some optimal TV time in this contest, even if Steve Alford’s team may not be ready for it (you saw that game against Gonzaga, right?) UCLA hasn’t played Kentucky since a 73-68 win over the Wildcats in the 2006 Maui Invitational. We’re not sure if any of the players on each current rosters were even born then. This is the second half of a made-for-CBS neutral-site, “Final Four”-feel doubleheader, following North Carolina-Ohio State in the 10 a.m. opener


The Kings’ next two games — Tuesday in St. Louis, and Thursday at home against the Blues — might see the return of 42-year-old Marty Brodeur in the net, as he makes good on a one-year contract with St. Louis (20-8-2) with Brian Elliott out and Jake Allen trying to cover things up. … The Clippers, losers of two straight after nine wins in a row, face Detroit at home on Monday, as the Pistons have won back-to-back road games to polish up their record to 5-19 …  More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: So, Matt Kemp never put the ‘fun’ in fundamental?

May xx, 2013: Matt Kemp grimaces as he destroys his left ankle trying to cross the plate on a force play in a 9-2 win over Washington. (AP photo)

July, 2013: Matt Kemp grimaces as he destroys his left ankle trying to cross the plate on a force play in a 9-2 win over Washington. (AP photo)

The fundamental flaw in the Dodgers’ dastardly dispersal of Matt Kemp should be obvious – how do you simply give him, and a $32 million check, to a division rival that you have to compete against 19 times a year, including on opening day?

Most Dodgers fans who aren’t already overwrought with the ovewroughtness of the whole thing know there’s a second part to that question: How many of those 19 games will Kemp actually be healthy enough to play in?

6a00d83451b84f69e20120a560997f970cAnd the fundamental reason for that reality can’t be overlooked: Kemp never has and likely never will understand the fundamentals of the game.

Six years after he became the Dodgers’ regular center fielder, he’d continue to misjudge fly balls as if they were Frisbees thrown at him from home plate.

Eight years after his call-up, he’d still get picked off first base for no apparent reason other than he was leaning the wrong way.

From this day forward, it’s a guarantee that he’ll forget that the simple duty he has at the plate with a runner on third and less than two out is not to over-swing on the first pitch and pop out to the third baseman.

Kemp’s gifted athletic ability could often erase some of those mistakes – and when that happened, it was MVP-quality work on his resume. But only for short windows at a time.

That gift has been eroded by years of major injuries, some of them caused by his fundamental lack of fundamentals.

Continue reading “It’s Out of the Question: So, Matt Kemp never put the ‘fun’ in fundamental?” »

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Cover up and hide: Before Matt Kemp was @TheRealMattKemp — and a real deal sent him down San Diego way

Matt Kemp may have been the Dodgers’ most sought-after magazine coverboy since … Steve Garvey?
In light of the Dodgers’ trade, we’ve put a collection of tweets together marveling at all the times Kemp became front and center on a local periodical.
Now it’s time to turn the page … and stay classy:

22covv14_promo didn’t nix going to SD? Did someone lose a 1-on-1 game recently? No more fun n games?


Continue reading “Cover up and hide: Before Matt Kemp was @TheRealMattKemp — and a real deal sent him down San Diego way” »

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Weekly media column version 12.12.14: A dozen more things to pick up over the next 12 days before the national holiday gets all up in your chimney

The versions of "Unbroken" about Louis Zamperini come in all shapes and sizes these days, awaiting the release of the movie on Christmas Day.

The versions of “Unbroken” about Louis Zamperini come in all shapes and sizes these days, awaiting the release of the movie on Christmas Day.

What made it into the main event this week:

During the course of 2014, we’ve hit on some of the more intriguing sports-related books that we’ve actively sought out to write about. That includes the recent Al Michaels autobiography, new books by Dirk Hayhurst, about Nolan Ryan and Walter O’Malley, and the pursuit of the truth about Babe Ruth’s Called Shot from our annual 30 baseball book reviews last April, and there are even more we didn’t get around to mentioning.
Aside from those previous endorsements, here are the 12 suggestions we have for media-related gifts from this past year that we think will enhance the moment for someone dreaming of a sports Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus for the rest of us:

From the print book world:

== “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” by Laura Hillenbrand:
IMG_2762If it’s not broke, there’s nothing to fix here — grab any of the versions that’ll be out now (original, adapted young adult, large print, audio) of the beyond-real life account of Louis Zamperini, four years after the first edition. It may have the “now a major motion picture” sticker on the cover — which will be accurate when the PG-13 movie version made by Angelia Jolie comes out on Christmas Day. If you can track down a signed copy from the late Torrance High and USC Olympian, cherish it more. His signature phrase before his autograph was “Be Hardy.” And if you want another accounts of his life, how about one first-person: “Devil At My Heals: A Heroic Olympian’s Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II” which first came out in 1956 but has been reissued in paperback about 10 years ago. There’s also the 2014 book, “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In” with David Rensin.

== “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances,” by Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal:
9781449459956_p0_v3_s600From the guy who also wrote, “How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You” has put together a cartoonist’s guide as to why obesity is plotting to kill you unless you stop the process of treating your body “like a fast-moving dumpster” and eventually get inspired to ultra marathons as he did. Mark Remy, an editor at Runner’s World, says of this: “All runners wonder, at some point or another, why we do what we do. Mr. Inman’s explanation is the best I’ve ever seen. And the funniest. Because he is clinically insane.” There shouldn’t be any other words necessary to force you to run and find this book. Literally, run.

== “The Golf Book: 20 Years of the Players, Shots and Moments That Changed the Game,” by Chris Millard:
81cH04WEU5LThis may coincide with The Golf Channel’s existing for 20 years, but the purpose is also to give those who’ve covered the game a chance to explain the pros and cons for how the sport has embraced all these things like  iPhone GPS, high-def TV graphics, the abolishment of metal spikes, hybrid clubs and even advanced agronomy (that would be the uniform condition of the turf, including ways the fairways are groomed). Funny, but so many of the stories seem to circle back to Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book.
In other words: Keep it simple, stroker. That should include advice to Tiger Woods, prominently featured.

== “Eleventh Heaven: Ed O’Bannon and the 1995 National Basketball Champions UCLA Bruins,” by Rob Miech:
81BSOKgqEMLIn the court of law, O’Bannon’s decision to right a wrong – and winning his five-year anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA for its rules that prohibited athletes from being paid for use of their names, images and likeness — has raised his stature again. Twenty years after the Wooden Award winner lead the Bruins to their only non-Wooden coached national title, O’Bannon’s actions are viewed again through Miech, who writes: “For someone born and bred in Los Angeles, the timing of the title was poignant for Ed O’Bannon. His gargantuan role in restoring UCLA to prominence came during a dearth on the Southern California sporting landscape.” Miech also calculates that team played only a combined 640 games in the NBA, nearing just $9.1 million. O’Bannon accounted for half those games and a third of the money.

== “I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever,” by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster:
51LDLFrdYXLOthers have tried this kind of buddy trip before, with vary degrees of success. But this is the one that should be adapted into a screen play. You’ve got two recent Harvard graduates (they worked together on the famous “Lampoon” and already have impeccable credentials on their resume) who want to do this thing for different reasons — Ben is the Red Sox fan who loves the game; Eric is the L.A. native who wants to see the country for what it’s worth and isn’t much of a baseball fan. They’re also analytic guys who set up various algorithms to make sure they complete this car trip in 30 days. But then there are weather issues. And time zone conversions they overlooked. Plan A becomes Plan X. Game 20 was in Anaheim to see the Angels, after leaving Arlington, Tex., and driving 21  hours in a 26-hour window, with a stop in Long Beach to visit Eric’s father and grandfather. Game 23 is at Dodger Stadium, coming down from Seattle on I-5 (on a trip that somehow had them heading back to Seattle at one point by accident), to capture what became a Yasiel Puig moment. A race that started in Yankee Stadium ends Toronto. On Canada Day. Fittingly, we guess. That’s the great American trip.

From the print photography world:

SMALLO9SelBL== “John Severson’s SURF” (Damiani/Puka Puka, 212 pages, $45). The founder of Surfer Magazine in 1960 started selling his oil paintings and prints about the California and Hawaiian surf culture at Long Beach State way back when, and now he has a place to publish his photographs and original art work. Now we also get to see surf posters that he did to accompany the movies he made 50 years ago. Wrote Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times SundayStyles section: “The book serves as a dual purpose as a celebration of a Zelig-like life to envy and as an implicit slap across the cheek of those status-conscious, white collar elements that are getting even fresher in their advances upon the wave-riding lifestyles that he helped start in the 1950s.”

51PsXQGV8tL== “Chasing Epic: The Snowboard Photography of Jeff Curtes,” (AMMO books, 84 pages, $39.95). The scenery is one thing, the athletes like Shawn White who look Photoshopped on to it are even more spectacular. To be fearless in this pursuit of pushing the snow-flaked envelope is something that someone like Curtes has to be as well in how he captures the moments, framing the mountainside against the sky and using the sun as the natural spotlight. It’s almost too perfect.


From the film world:

== The Los Angeles Kings 2014 Champions Blu-ray:
91-RsErl4lL._SL1500_ You’d think we would have rushed out to get this by now, eh? The NHL-produced 90-minute highlight reel from the Kings’ Stanley Cup run last summer was out in late July for $29.99. We’ve seen them lately in the $18.99 range. Are we already jaded because we ran out and bought all the stuff related to the 2012 championship? Maybe so, but it’s time to rectify the situation.
And for what it’s also worth: Track down the Kings’ official 2014-15 yearbook called “Sweet Sixteen,” a recap at every win that led up to the 2014 title, written by Jon Rosen and produced by the team’s staff led by Jeff Moeller and published by Professional Sports Publications.

== The collection at RareSportsFilms.com based in Naperville, Ill.: We constantly comb this for something new of something old. The latest one restored and released on DVD: The first two innings (45 minutes) of a black-and-white version of Vin Scully calling a Dodgers-Giants game on Memorial Day 40 years ago at Candlestick Park off a KTTV telecast. There’s also the Dick Enberg call of a complete Angels’ game in Milwaukee on July 16, 1972 from a KTLA telecast (the 1-0 game features two complete games in an hour and 50 minutes). Both are $29.95, plus $4 for shipping.

From the graphic art world:

FutbolisArt_TShirt_Blue_700px== “Futbol is Art … Be an Artist” is a stunning silk-screen unisex $29.99 T-shirt created by L.A.-based American Apparel and offered by SendaAthletics.com, a Berkeley-based fair trade soccer ball company that operates under the ethically-enhanced business model of guarantying living wages to the adult artisans around the globe who create the products. This shirt, according to Senda, is “inspired by the magic that happens on pick-up courts every day, and our view of soccer as a way to bring joy, friends, and good times into our lives.” American Apparel, by the way, articulates on its website of a vertical integration that insures its factory workers are the “highest paid worldwide for the manufacturing of apparel basics, and significantly more than California’s minimum wage … For them, higher pay is often a path to the American Dream for their families.” All purchases also help Senda contribute to helping non-profit partners (http://sendaathletics.com/senda-ambassadors/our-nonprofit-partners/). As for the Senda balls: The come from Pakistan, where 70 percent of soccer balls are made. But you can know these are far more ethically produced. More info: sendaathletics.com/sweatshop-free/.

From the multi-media art world:

bk08ghij== African Trash Art is the label under which some of the most creative use of recycled spark plugs and metal wiring come together as striking sculptures of athletes playing basketball, golf, tennis and weight lifting. The fairly-paid artisans from Burkina Faso created these pieces that go to about 7 inches tall and run $24 on the SwahiliModern.com website. Full disclosure as well: The statues are avallable for sale  at the new Ten Thousand Villages store in Redondo Beach. This is a fair-trade, non-profit store that I helped launch, giving up the full-time writing position with the Los Angeles News Group to become the store manager. I am no longer a paid employee of the store, working only on a volunteer basis. My wife is the board chairperson. All profits and donations go toward paying the rent, a couple of staff employees and what’s left is for buying new product — such as these pieces of art.

== A Dodger Stadium blueprint: Maybe not the original etchings, but an 11×17 inch retro creation by Blueprint Place, an Etsy.com store that seems to do a reverse engineering process on famous places with ammonia activate paper “on mid-century technology machines” to give it that amazing finish. At $14.99, there’s a cool blue print of the Dodgers’ blue home can be found using the search engine at www.etsy.com.

il_570xN.694358714_n47jThe other media notes of the week we’ve decided to add here:

== For those who missed Dick Enberg’s oh-my moment from a San Diego press conference after he was named the Ford Frick Award winner by the Baseball Hall of Fame, tear up as you listen to the great former San Fernando Valley State professor and once-glorious Angels play-by-play man describe it.
Here’s a link to video where Enberg is getting a congratulatory phone call from Vin Scully, one of committee voters for the award and a recipient some 32 years ago. And from the San Diego Union-Tribune story, which may now get buried by Matt Kemp news.

Also congrats to the Detroit News’ Tigers beat writer Tom Gage for his selection as the 2015 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, putting him into the Hall’s writers’ wing. Gage, on the beat for 36 years, won in a vote that the Baseball Writers Association of American says was the closest since the mail-balloting process started in 2002. The late Furman Bisher from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution finished second, with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy third.

scullychristmas== That reference to “A Vin Scully Christmas” on last Sunday’s “I Won’t Be Home For Christmas” episode of “The Simpsons” (Season 26 Episode 9) did not escape our amusement, shown as a graphic as Marge Simpson was flipping through the TV options of what kind of Christmas music to play in the background during her decorating. Along with it, of course, came the Harry Shearer imitation of how the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster could work in a version of “The Night Before Christmas” into a broadcast: “And the baseball exclaimed as it flew out of sight: This ballpark is shorter in left field than right. … Martinez swings and misses. (Laughs) Yes, I’m recording this during a game.”

635535730677282631-USP-MLS-MLS-CUP-FINAL-NEW-ENGLAND-REVOLUTION-VS-L-69294020== Number crunching at the Sports Business Daily came up with more than 1.6 million viewers taking in ESPN and UniMas coverage of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup championship over New England last Sunday. ESPN (964,000 in 2014 vs. 505,000 in ’13) and UniMas (678,000 vs. 517,000) both had sizeable increases over the title game a year ago in a game marking the career-ender for Landon Donovan. It was ESPN’s largest MLS Cup game since 2011 (featuring the Galaxy and Houston, drawing 1.04 million, David Beckham’s first championship in L.A.). Boston (3.2) and Providence (1.9) were the top two ranked cities for the MLS Cup based on ratings, with L.A. coming in third at 1.7.

== Fox Sports says it has added former UCLA star goalie<strong> Brad Friedel</strong> back as a studio and game analyst for UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and England’s FA Cup coverage as well as the MLS, U.S. men’s national team matches and the FIFA Women’s World CUp in 2015. The 43-year-old Friedel, currently playing for the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, worked at the network in the 2012 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals and did BBC work for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  “I’m looking forward to this next phase of my career,” he said. “I enjoy the media work and analysis, and the Fox Sports bouquet of soccer rights is compelling.”

== A nice piece by Ed Sherman on Pasadena-based John Schulian, whom we have had nice conversations with in the past regarding his John Lardner book, among many others. Continue reading “Weekly media column version 12.12.14: A dozen more things to pick up over the next 12 days before the national holiday gets all up in your chimney” »

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