Gooble, gobble, gobbledegoop: How Sterling, D’Antoni, Nash, Voynov and Chivas USA headline our turkey table for 2014

147742_600Donald Sterling got a really nice mention in the year-end issue of GQ magazine, the one focused on its “Men of the Year” accolades.

Sure, this comes with a giant asterisk, because the nefarious list that the former Clippers owner made was far from gentlemanly. He was one of 25, along with sporties such as Derek Jeter, Roger Goodell, Dwayne Wade and the Brazilian soccer team, lumped into a lineup of “The Least Influential People of 2014.”

Deadspin.com’s Drew Magary wrote about Sterling in that piece:

“The racist/slumlord/pervert/nudist ex-NBA owner displayed a remarkable lack of power in 2014. He failed to keep his girlfriend from recording him saying a bunch of horrible (stuff) about black people. He failed to keep the NBA team from taking over his Los Angeles Clippers. He failed to keep his wife from selling the Clippers to that bald guy from Microsoft. He failed at every attempt to sue his way back into ownership. He failed to win even a shred of our sympathy in a hilariously misguided interview with Anderson Cooper. And the best part is that it all caught him completely off guard.”

147837_600And we’d always thought of Sterling as more of a scatter-shooting guard than an off guard, but we get the point.

Thursday, when we give overwhelming thanks for all the things we are supposed to appreciate in our lives, we know there is a tomorrow when we’re trying to calculate our depreciation of our Friday assets: The Tupperware container of crushed cranberries, a bag of off-green green beans with Bac-o-Bits and two cans of yams that didn’t even get opened.

The leftovers.

boro-sterlingSterling, in our L.A. sports world of 2014, has become one of those leftovers. Because we’re so over him.

On our scale of 1-to-10, he’s the No. 1 person we’ll be referring to 10 years from now in analogies of something that’s gone incredibly wrong.

We serve him up as the main course on our turkey day. On a tarnished sterling platter, obviously. All ready to be a leftover.

Say, why not make this a real pity party? For those who did such a spectacular job in falling from grace in L.A. this year, and likely to be gone for good from our line of sight in the future, take a spot at our November Nine table with the cornucopia of rotting gourds as the center piece:

Mike D’Antoni:
The former Lakers coach is best served cold, as our minced-meat appetizer. That’s because of the way he was carved up repeatedly by Kobe Bryant during the course of a 67-win, 87-loss staycation over two seasons. He came in as Mike Brown’s relief man, picked over Phil Jackson, yet it came to an inglorious end when the 63-year-old walked away from the organization in April because he wasn’t given a contract extension. The latest reports is he’s still looking for a gig, but turned down going back to his alma mater, Marshall University. Maybe they played too much defense to his liking.

nashSteve Nash:
Care for some extra gravy on those Nash-ed tater tots? Careful lifting the heavy ladle. It could lead to major back-to-back back issues. The future Hall of Famer who is the oldest NBA player under contract – he turns 41 in February – isn’t come back any time soon. Nor is the coach of his current employer waiting for a return call any more. Next time you want to send a letter of apology to unnerved Lakers fans, at least wait until this team puts together a three-game winning streak. In other words, never. Continue reading

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Play It Forward Nov. 24-30 on your sports calendar: Don’t discount UCLA’s Black Friday date with Stanford

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Eric Kendricks, Remound Wright Alex Gallardo/AP Eric blows past ucla. AP

Remound Wright gets past Eric Kendricks during Stanford’s win over UCLA last year. (Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 14
UCLA vs. STANFORD
Details/TV: Rose Bowl, Friday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
UCLA-Bruins-Stanford-CardinalPrior to last Saturday’s UCLA-USC contest, FiveThirtyEight.com prediction master Nate Silver gave the Bruins a marginal 8.2 percent chance of making it into four-team NCAA playoff bracket selected on Dec. 7. By Sunday morning, the percentage inched up to 14. “That may undersell the Bruins’ chances, however,” Silver writes. “If they beat both Stanford and Oregon, their chances will be about 50 percent, according to the model.” Will you take those odds? First things, first. Win here, and the Bruins clinch the Pac-12 South – their third in four seasons – and a meeting on Dec. 5 in Santa Clara against the second-ranked Ducks (who Silver pegs at 75.7 percent to make the final four, 44.2 percent to make the title game and 24.5 to win it all). But a UCLA loss ends any Pac-12 title shot, a probable Top 10 finish and a respectable 9-3 record going into the bowl season. Stanford (6-5, 4-4 in the Pac-12 North) finally became bowl-eligible by knocking off rival Cal last week behind four rushing TDs from Remound Wright (above). All five Cardinal losses came, at the time, against ranked opponents, including USC (13-10 in Week 2) and Notre Dame (17-14 in Week 5). The only real squirrely thing here is that UCLA has lost six in a row to Stanford, including last year’s Pac-12 title game. So on this Black Friday, would it behoove the Bruins to pull out those black “L.A. Midnight” jerseys that created such the fashion buzz with last season (and not the dirty gray “L.A. Steel” ones they wore earlier this season against Arizona)? So on this Black Friday, would it behoove the Bruins to pull out those black “L.A. Midnight” jerseys that created such the fashion buzz with last season (and not the dirty gray “L.A. Steel” ones they wore earlier this season against Arizona)?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 14
USC vs. NOTRE DAME
Details/TV: Coliseum, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11:

The week before the USC-Notre Dame game in 2012, Sports Illustrated decided to wake up the echos.

The week before the USC-Notre Dame game in 2012, Sports Illustrated decided to wake up the echos.

This battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh two years ago at the Coliseum was pretty bizarro – the top-ranked Irish’s 22-13 win completed a 12-0 regular season and secured a place in the BCS title game. The loss by unranked USC pushed the team to 7-5, a far cry from the program ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson threw for 217 yards and Mante Te’o had a key interception against freshman fill-in Max Wittek, as Matt Barkley was injured from the week before UCLA game. This Irish team may have had some national title aspirations when it started the season 6-0, winning by a combined score of 207-103 and climbing to No. 5 in the AP poll going into Week 8. Since then it has lost four of the last five — and even the win over Navy in that stretch wasn’t real impressive. The senior Golson has thrown for 27 TDs so far and is top 10 in the country with more than 3,000 yards passing, but he also has 12 interceptions. As for USC, previously suspended cornerback Josh Shaw plays in his last – and only – home game this season and will be introduced with the other seniors before the game. What’ll the response be?

Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers jumps over Sounders midfielder Micheal Azira during the second half of the Galaxy's 1-0 win on Sunday at Stubhub Center.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers jumps over Sounders midfielder Micheal Azira during the second half of the Galaxy’s 1-0 win on Sunday at Stubhub Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

MLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GALAXY at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Leg 2, At CenturyLink Field, Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN:
The Galaxy’s previous two trips to Seattle before their 60,000 fans this season produced a 3-0 Monday night win in late July (the Sounders were missing star center back Chad Marshall because of injury, and Clint Dempsey only got off two shots) and a 2-0 loss in the regular-season finale in late October (40 fouls were called and five yellow cards issued). If Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez remain the guardians of the Galaxy, already up with a 1-0 win in the first leg, we’ll see how they step it up, knowing the winner of this gets home field against either New England or New York in the Dec. 7 MLS Cup. The second leg of Revolution-Red Bull series takes place Saturday (noon, NBCSN).

THE BEST OF THE REST:

UCLA’s basketball team travels to Paradise Island near Nassau in the Bahamas to play in the “Battle 4 Atlantis” tournament, opening up against Oklahoma on Wednesday (11:30 a.m., ESPN), with a shot of playing North Carolina, Florida and/or Wisconsin when it ends on Friday …  California Chrome makes his final appearance of the thoroughbred season in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar (Saturday at 4 p.m.) … The Kings and Chicago Blackhawks face off for the first time since last summer’s Western Conference finals (Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m.) … The Thanksgiving Day NFL slate includes Chicago-Detroit (Channel 2, 9:30 a.m.), Philadelphia-Dallas (Channel 11, 1:30 p.m.) and Seattle-San Francisco ( 5:30 p.m., Channel 4) … Week 14 of the college football season has Arizona State-Arizona (Friday, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11), Oregon-Oregon State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7), Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2), Auburn at Alabama (Saturday, 4:45 p.m., ESPN) and Michigan at Ohio State (Saturday, 9 a.m., Channel 7) … the Clippers end their seven-game road trip at Utah (Saturday, 6 p.m.) … a link to the rest of it here.

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It’s Out of the Question: Buffalo wings it to Detroit, and L.A. goes dark again in NFL decisions

Workers clear snow from the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Snowed out at the stadium, the Bills are in Detroit to play their "home" NFL game against the New York Jets on Monday night.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Workers clear snow from the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Snowed out at the stadium, the Bills are in Detroit to play their “home” NFL game against the New York Jets on Monday night. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Catch any of that chill blowing through Los Angeles this weekend?

That’s the NFL giving us the cold shoulder. Again.

Before Buffalo shuffled off to Detroit to play its previously under-the-Doppler radar Week 12 contest against the New York Jets of New Jersey, the result of more erratic climate-changing snowfall in the N’East, why didn’t anyone at the league offices even considered sending Orton Party of 52 to our sleepy little outpost instead?

If only to demonstrate how much the city and/or league misses each other’s in-the-grasp moments?

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus speaks with the media after practice at the Detroit Lions' indoor  training facility in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus speaks with the media after practice at the Detroit Lions’ indoor training facility in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The good ol’ Coliseum, unused and unspoiled this weekend, may have even filled to beyond half capacity with just L.A.-transplanted fans of two N.Y.-area teams. They could have even made a nominal donation to get in.

In Detroit, they’re giving all the tickets away for free for anyone who wants to attend the Monday night matinee at Ford Field. First come, first serve.

And L.A., you’ve been served again.

If only for the novelty of it all, USC, which has tried to set NCAA women’s soccer attendance records at the state landmark it operates, might have had a creative strategy in staging the event on an otherwise open sunny Sunday or moderately moon-lit Monday.

Instead, the NFL muffed it, time-shifting this one to midtown Motown. As if Detroit needs another bailout – it’ll now get two NFL games called to its carpet over a four-day span this coming week.

Bills ownership says that because of the frightening forecasts in South Niagara Falls, and the possible inability to make Ralph Wilson Stadium safe for any sort of spectators, the team may have to flake out on its home game next Sunday against Cleveland, too. Options open to move it are Toronto, Pittsburgh, D.C., or even Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.

For a league that had no travel budget issues sending the Cowboys, Jags, Lions, Falcons, Dolphins and Raiders to London this season, and will actually make the Jags, Lions and Dolphins go back there again in 2015, what’s the problem with calling an L.A. audible?

We’ve got the cash to pick up the Bills. It’s the least we could do for once having them take O.J. Simpson off our hands. …

More questions to be answered at this link …

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Media column version 11.21.14 — The Jackson family values start to tug on allegiances during USC-UCLA week

43ad60cd35874a9567bf051101683a9eWhat made it into this week’s media column, posted here:

John Jackson will be on the sideline for Saturday’s USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. Not the John Jackson who’ll be in the radio booth on the Trojans’ coverage for the rivalry game on KSPN-AM (710).
imagesIt’s his son, John III, a freshman at Mater Dei high school — who has accepted a recruiting invite from UCLA. Bruins baseball coach John Savage wants to gauge his interest in the program, even though the Class of 2018 member and starting quarterback on the freshman football team has yet to start his high school baseball career. The Jackson Family Values will be a topic of discussion here, as well as John II’s approach in covering this contest 25 years after he left the USC program.
Jackson’s week isn’t just focused on USC-UCLA — he  also has to be in Valencia on Friday night to call the Upland-Hart CIF-SS high school football quarterfinal playoff game for Fox Sports West at 7:30 p.m.

What is best suited to be read in this spot:

John Jackson2== When John Jackson ran out of eligibility playing football at USC — he was a graduate student in 1989 — he was the school’s all-time leader in receptions (163), receiving yards (2,379), most catches in a game (11), longest TD reception (87 yards), set a Pac-10 record for catching passes in 37 consecutive games and set a Notre Dame opponent record with 14 catches for 200 yards.
In the 25 years since then, Robert Woods has nearly doubled Jackson’s career-reception mark. His career yards puts him 12th all time. Most catches in a USC game? Nelson Agholor had 13 in the first half last week against Cal.
All Jackson’s other records have been broken as well. And in Saturday’s USC-UCLA game, Agholor stands to pass Jackson on the career reception and yardage list.
Others like Keyshawn Johnson, Dwayne Jarrett, Johnny Morton and Marquis Lee have vaulted past Jackson in the last two-plus decades. It’s not as if Jackson played with quarterbacks who couldn’t throw — future NFL QBs Rodney Peete and Todd Marinovich were tossing the ball then — but it was a whole different game, and different USC philosophy of offense as well.
JJ 2“I have a different appreciation for the players who have passed me, obviously because the game has changed so drastically with the numbers of balls thrown per game,” Jackson said. “I might have been the last person picked to be any kind of career stat leader at USC because of my size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), but I pride myself on how I had my best games against the best opponents. When we were playing a school like Utah State in those days, I had little interest in being out there. We’d just run and I’d be blocking the whole game, then sit by halftime. Now those are the games when players seem to wrack up the most passing and receiving yards. I wish we had the bubble screen in our playbook back then. It was never a choice. I’d love to play in this style of offenses today.”
For what it’s worth, Jackson also set the school record for stolen bases on the baseball team with 52, playing his sophomore-to-senior year. That, too, has been erased since by Mark Smith and Seth Davidson.

== Jackson knows all about the two quarterbacks that he’ll be analyzing in FSW’s Hart-Upland playoff game Friday. In a FSW “Year of the Quarterback” feature program that has run this season, Jackson sat down, watched film and played catch, with Upland’s Tyler Hilinski and Hart’s Brady White. And here’s video proof:

== Saturday marks the 23th and final USC-UCLA football game that Bruins radio play-by-play man Chris Roberts is assigned to call — he’s retiring this spring after the basketball season ends.
The first one he did: John Barnes’ improbable performance in leading UCLA past USC at the Rose Bowl in 1992.
The first seven that he did — all UCLA wins.
The one he seems to remember most: The double-OT Bruins win in 1996, by a 48-41 count. But not for what you may remember.
wayne-cook-chris-kevin“The Pac-12 Network featured that game the other night, and it was pretty cool to watch it again — but I made an horrendous mistake during that one,” Roberts remembered Thursday morning after attending UCLA’s practice, and nearly 12 hours before he’d be calling the Bruins’ basketball game at Pauley Pavilion against Nicholls State. “That was the first year of the overtime format. Skip Hicks scores a touchdown on UCLA’s first possession of the second overtime, and I start saying, ‘Bruins win! Bruins win!’ Nope, we had to led USC have a turn. I’m thinking it was sudden death.”
Another one etched in Roberts’ mind: USC’s 50-0 victory over UCLA in 2011.
“I was talking to (broadcast partner) Matt Stevens about this recently — you have the game, then the post-game, and as a professional broadcast, there’s the basic rule to go to every break giving the score,” said Roberts. la_u_usc-ucla15_mb_576“It’s 50-0 early in the fourth quarter. You already felt terrible for (UCLA coach Rick) Neuheisel and UCLA, but every time we had a break — ‘it’s 50-0.’ How many times can you keep repeating that score?”
Roberts says he isn’t looking at this game with any bittersweetness attached to it.
“There’s nothing nostalgic about this last one, because I’m thinking, ‘They need to win this, then next week (vs. Stanford), then if they play Oregon in the Pac-12 championship, then … I’m looking at it that way. And from there I’m looking forward to basketball as well. Maybe it’ll be different when we get through this whole season.”
Because UCLA has the Stanford contest on Nov. 29, Roberts won’t be traveling to the Bahamas for the Bruins basketball team participating in a three-appearance tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday. Dave Marcus and Tracy Murray will call those games for KLAC-AM (570) starting with UCLA-Oklahoma on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (also on ESPN2)

== The ABC crew of Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe has drawn the assignment for USC-UCLA from the Rose Bowl (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7). Continue reading

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Q&A: Al Michaels books his career journey on growing up wanting to be like Scully but discovering other ‘Miracles’ along the way instead

 

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center "Kiss Cam" during a Kings game?

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center “Kiss Cam” during a Kings game?

If Al Michaels had decided to write a book about his life as network broadcaster just five years ago, it would have been missing the ultimate opening chapter.

LARGE0062314963The autobiography that comes out Tuesday called “You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television” ($28.99, HarperCollins, 288 pages) leads off with Michaels recounting the joy he and three generations of his family encountered sitting at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 – watching the Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

It reminded him about how he felt about sports as a 6-year-old growing up in L.A., where he eventually attended the first Kings game in 1967 back at the Long Beach Arena.

He wrote:

“I’ve covered a couple of thousand sports events all over the world. I’ve called Super Bowls and World Series and NBA Finals, the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics – and have hosted the Stanley Cup Final. A number of years ago, a colleague at ABC figured out that I’ve appeared on live prime-time network television far more than anyone in history. But from day one, I’ve always tried to follow the advice the legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy once gave me: Don’t ever get jaded.

“The Kings have helped take care of that. … When I go to a game, I don’t bring a media credential – I bring a ticket. I don’t have to prepare notes or try to gather nuggets of information in the locker room beforehand – I go straight to my seat. When I’m on the air, I work to be impartial. With the Kings, I can just be another fan who lives and dies with a team.”

SMALLBzO8USsIEAATn21 The Kings have thanked him not once, but twice now with special Stanley Cup visits to his home in Brentwood, so he and wife, Linda, their families can prolong the celebration.

Michaels, who turned 70 last week, could have been the Kings’ first colorman had owner Jack Kent Cooke not given the job to long-time friend Ed Fitkin to partner with Jiggs McDonald in the late ‘60s. In fact, Michaels once told us the story about how when he moved to L.A. as a 14-year-old in 1958, CBS did a game of the week and “I couldn’t wait for it. That was the only fix.” The Western Hockey League finally came to the L.A. Sports Arena.

But still …

“There was this annual thing that Gil Stratton used to do at Channel 2 every year where he’d read a letter asking Santa for certain things, and incorporate letters from viewers,” Michaels once told us. “I wrote a letter to Gil in 1959. And for some reason I didn’t use my real name. I signed it ‘George Exmont.’ I wanted Santa to bring us a National Hockey League team. He read it on the air in his newscast. My brother (David, five years younger) and I went wild. I loved Gil, because he was the only guy in town that gave you an NHL score.”

That story actually didn’t make it into the book. It was a story Michaels told us some 20 years ago for a piece we did on him for a Kings game program.

But Michaels, in his ninth season calling “Sunday Night Football” for NBC after 20 years of “Monday Night Football” for ABC,  remembers many other moments when the course of TV and sports history could have gone on a different path. He explained in a Q-and-A:

539wQ: We’ll skip to a chapter near the end of the book: You describe a meeting in a restroom with Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It’s 2003, at halftime during the Lakers-Spurs Game 5 playoff game — the Derek Fisher, 0.4-second finish – and you’re in San Antonio covering it for ABC with Doc Rivers as your analyst. Buss isn’t sure if Phil Jackson is going to come back to coach after the season. Rivers, fired from Orlando just a few games into that season, just agreed to coach the Boston Celtics the next year. So you run into Dr. Buss, and he admits to you that if Rivers hadn’t signed with Boston, he’d have been his first choice to coach the Lakers if Jackson left – which he did eventually. You’ve got this piece of information, finally decide to tell Rivers about what Buss said . . . and he gets quiet. “You know, I’m not sure if the ink on that Celtics contract is totally dry,” Rivers says. Did you think he might have changed his mind and gone after the Lakers job had things played out differently? Continue reading

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Play It Forward Nov. 17-23 on your calendar: As far as city ownership goes, UCLA’s claim is USC’s issue

1385873743000-USP-NCAA-Football-UCLA-at-Southern-California-001THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

USC at UCLA
Details/TV: Rose Bowl, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7:
7945776The master scoreboard shows UCLA has won just 30 of the previous 83 meetings. But since Bruins coach Jim Mora has figured out a way to go 2-for-2 in his first two seasons running the program, there are no doubts left about any kind of monopoly swing. “UCLA runs L.A. now,” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley could say with supreme confidence after he threw for 208 yards and ran for two touchdowns in a 35-14 win at the Coliseum last season — UCLA’s biggest margin of victory over USC since 1970 in a game where the Trojans came in favored by a field goal. Perhaps as a direct result of that, USC has its third different head coach on the sidelines in the last three years for this matchup.
Uscvictorybell-thumb-500x375-8722UCLA’s jump from No. 18 to 11 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, perhaps changing for the better when the latest is announced Tuesday, plus its home-field advantage, gives it a reasonable favored status — a field goal, by most oddsmakers. Plus, all that recent history thing, too. What other incentive is there to win? UCLA takes this one, and the last one against Stanford, and it wins the Pac-12 South. USC wins this one, and Arizona State loses one of its final two games, and the Trojans have the division title.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

GalaxyMLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
GALAXY vs. SEATTLE:
Details/TV: Leg 1: At Seattle, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
In the Landon Donovan-lives-to-play-another-round scenario, the Galaxy yielded the right to have home field for the second leg by losing to the Sounders in the season finale, 2-0, on two late goals by second-half substitute Marco Pappa. A 2-2 draw forged with Seattle in the next-to-last game of the season just a month ago came after the Galaxy had carved out a 2-0 lead at halftime. In their playoff history, the Galaxy have won the two previous series against the Sounders in 2010 and 2012.

BOXING: MANNY PACQUIAO vs. CHRIS ALGIERI
Details/TV: At Macau, China, Saturday at 6 p.m., HBO PPV ($69.95)
A month before this scheduled date to defend his WBO welterweight title, Pacquaio was playing in a pro basketball game in his native Philippines. “After he does (this fight), if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s OK with me,” said promoter Bob Arum. The 35-year-old Pacquaio (56-5-2, 38 KOs), still the lone congressional representative from the Sarangani Province of the Philippines, said basketball is good training for his footwork and balancing. Besides, the games are on Sunday, and he’s not training for fights on Sunday. Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) always has his bachelor of science degree in Health Care Management and a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition to fall back on. Chew on that.

Also:
The Clippers must figure out Chicago (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) before heading out on a seven-game, 11-day road trip that starts in Orlando, Miami and Memphis …Long Beach State meets up with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion (Sunday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Net) after facing Xavier and Kansas State … More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: When is class in session for USC-UCLA game?

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section  before the UCLA-USC game in 2012.  (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section before the UCLA-USC game in 2012. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Aren’t you the guy who got your really nice blue-and-gold UCLA jacket kinda messed up trying to jump-start my car after someone pushed it into a golf-course sand trap next to the Rose Bowl on a dark and rainy night after a football game a few years back?

200_sMa’am, can I thank you again for the way you cleverly passed your Trojan hat around Section 21 at the Coliseum that time when you  realized I had just ordered a half-dozen hot dogs from a vendor for my family, but I apparently lost my wallet when I was just up at the restroom and I couldn’t pay the bill, so you rallied a bunch of USC fans around me to help with donations?

Maybe you can question the loyalty of a UCLA or a USC fan during rivalry week. But nothing rivals those actions-speak-louder-than-words moments when respect, integrity and dignity cross over all that cross-town battle babbling.

But now we need words, so here’s this week’s call to action as the 84th edition of this Game that Prefers to Be Nameless comes up in Pasadena: In 84 words or more, can you give us a story about someone who fits the bill of an upper-crust, ambassador-at-large supporter for either the Bruins or Trojans football programs? First-person, third-person, or any person accounts of something recalled that might help re-establish etiquette standards leading up to and surrounding this contest?

Maybe this request stems from apparent systemic problems that ridiculously come up this time of year, mostly presumed to be student-conduct issues – you may have seen that the Joe Bruin statue on the UCLA campus was already sprayed “SC runs LA” in red paint. The answer is to put the giant bear back “in hibernation,” surrounded by plywood. The coach John Wooden statue is also under duct-taped wraps, just like the Tommy Trojan statue on the USC campus. Student guards are posted to sleep overnight on a constant watch, because the surveillance cameras pointed everywhere can’t catch everything.

Oh, those wacky pranksters. No harm, no foul. Hardy har hijinx.

We’re still dealing with this felony vandalism garbage?

qx8ofgh7tbhe1oql2ambYou’ve now been charged with finding the moral compass in the haystack. Apparently there aren’t enough examples of what sportsmanship looks like. Kids being kids doesn’t cut it.

So, tell us your experiences of a USC-UCLA moment when someone made their mark doing something with class instead of crass.

Pledging allegiance to the Trojan Republic or Bruin Democracy is not so much about how you’d like to be remembered. Isn’t this more about how you should not be forgotten?

Continue reading

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Media column version 11.14.14 — How former UCLA coach Ben Howland says answering reporters questions gave him prep work to a TV analyst job at NBCSN

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official's call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That'll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official’s call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That’ll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

What made it into this week’s column linked here:

Former UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland may not be in the Dick Vitale bubble conversation about gregarious, made-for-TV game analysts, but that’s the path of least resistance that he’ll take for the 2014-15 season — NBCSN will announce today that he’s been hired to do a package of Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association games, starting with the Barclays Center Classic event in Brooklyn (Virginia, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Rutgers) on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the eve of a full-court scramble of the first night of college basketball on TV — ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks are the ones to have blazing Friday — we’ve talked to Howland, who is also returning as a studio analyst on Fox Sports 1, about how this works into his schedule a full season removed from Westwood, still living in Santa Barbara, and no doubt still considered a viable coaching candidate somewhere.

What seems just about right to log in here:

== We’re in full agreement with Deadspin.com about declaring Daniel Tosh the winner based on scientific evidence for how rebuttal rip-off of ESPN’s “Sports Science,” in response to how an ESPN fellow stole his “web redemption” segment for that singer who tripped and fell while doing the Canadian national anthem. When we saw the “Tosh.0″ episode as it ran on Comedy Central Tuesday, we couldn’t want to see the blowback. We did appreciate the one responder to the Deadspin.com post who wrote in headline style: “Guy Whose Entire Show Is Ripping Off Other People’s Content Upset That Someone Ripped Off His Content.” That’s how it works in today’s world o’ borrowing. And ESPN says it did not do anything wrong in trying to offer a snarky response.

== NBCSN says this morning that Wednesday night’s Kings-Ducks game from Anaheim had a 1.01 rating in L.A. — the second-best rating for an NHL regular-season game in the L.A. market on the cable channel. The first: Last season’s Kings-Ducks game from Dodger Stadium (2.38 rating). Better perspective: The 1.01 rating is more than 400 percent better than what the Ducks did on an NBCSN game in L.A. last season (0.2) and nearly 100 percent better than what the Kings did on NBCSN games in L.A. a season ago (0.55).

== More on the Dead-o-Spin radar: “The funniest man at ESPN” is, of course, Norman Chad, having just wrapped up the World Series of Poker for his 12th year at the network calling this thing. Almost as funny is how it took 4,400-plus words to quantify that obvious fact in a profile on him posted Tuesday about Chad.

== We choose to lay out and let you read these Grantland Dictionary: Sportscasting Edition entries to the fullest. Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Nov. 10-16 on your sports calendar — Steve Alford’s season on the brink isn’t Year 2 at UCLA, is it?

UCLABruins.com

UCLABruins.com

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: 2014-15 SEASON OPENERS:

UCLA vs. MONTANA STATE
Details/TV: Pauley Pavilion, Friday at 9 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

USC vs. PORTLAND STATE
Details/TV: Galen Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network:

CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE at SAN DIEGO STATE
Details/TV: Friday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports San Diego

LONG BEACH STATE at BYU
Details/TV: Friday at 4 p.m.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT vs. S.E. MISSOURI
Details/TV: Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 6 p.m.

PEPPERDINE vs. FRESNO STATE
Details/TV: Firestone Fieldhouse, Friday at 7 p.m.

Steve Alford turns 50 years old later this month. And with that, a lot of us are feeling just a little bit older right now. For a simple reference point, flip back to the late ‘80s when John Feinstein’s book “A Season on the Brink” included the process by which Indiana coach Bob Knight tried to recruit the  hot-shot high school sophomore Alford. Now that the baby-faced Alford enters his 20th season as a Division I basketball coach, it this a make-or-brink moment for Year 2 at UCLA? He molded a 28-9 record and a Pac-12 Conference tournament championship in his first year, and that turned out to be pretty sweet – as in an eventual Sweet 16 appearance. But missing from this year’s roster are Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and the Wear twins. Alford’s replenished with five freshmen, including Kevon Looney, who had a team-best 12 rebounds in an exhibition win over Azusa Pacific the other night, and 7-footer Thomas Welch, from Redondo Beach out of L.A. Loyola High. On the opening night of college hoops – where No. 1 Kentucky risks its credibility hosting Grand Canyon,  No. 2 Arizona stays home for Mt. St. Mary’s and Louisville’s Rick Pitino coaches against his son, Richard, the head coach at Minnesota, in Puerto Rico (ESPN, 4 p.m.) — the Bruins saddle up with the Bobcats of the Big Sky Conference for a tip-off so late, it’ll already be Saturday night in the East.
reggie-theus A few hours earlier,  Cal State Northridge will take on a much more challenging task. Coach Reggie Theus, also starting his second year, decided to measure his team up against No. 16 San Diego State, and follow that by going to Tucson to face the Wildcats (Sunday, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network). This Matadors team will end up playing at Oregon and at Louisville this season. Their Big West rivals at Long Beach State, where coach Dan Monson recently agreed to a five-year contract extension, put UCLA and Kansas State on its schedule early on as well. But for starters, the 49ers go to West Coast Conference challenger BYU in Provo, Utah, hoping their core group led by Mike Caffey, Nick Faust and Tyler Lamb are up for the challenge.
532a5d9b5b291.imageAs for the region’s WCC teams, Loyola Marymount turns to alum Mike Dunlap for his first year when the Lions host their own LMU Classic against SE Missouri and Boise State on back-to-back nights. Pepperdine, with alum Marty Wilson starting his fourth season as coach, take on Fresno State, which went 21-18 a year ago. The next night, there’s USC, a miserable 11-21 last season, going without a senior and with 11 sophomores and freshman. Andy Enfield’s  second season begins a matchup against the Big Sky’s Portland State.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

dm_140826_mlb_braden_on_kershaw_trout1103USC goes Thursday night against Cal at the Coliseum (6 p.m., ESPN) as the prelude to facing UCLA and Notre Dame … The Baseball Writers Association of America is expected to give out its AL and NL MVP Awards to the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw on Thursday (3 p.m., MLB Network) … The Clippers have to wonder if Gregg Popovich is going to put out all his veterans when they meet San Antonio (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) … The Kings and Ducks have to play each other five times in the regular season, but they’re going to knock out two of them in one week (Wednesday at Honda Center, 7 p.m., NBCSN; Saturday at Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW, Prime) … John Force is in position again to win another Funny Car title when the NHRA’s 50th Auto Club Finals happen at the Pomona Fairgrounds (Sunday’s finals start at 3:25 p.m.; qualifying begins Thursday) … Oh, right, the Lakers … they’re going back-to-back in Memphis (Tuesday, 5 p.m.) and New Orleans (Wednesday, 5 p.m.) before coming home for San Antonio (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Golden State (Sunday, 6:30 p.m.). You’ve been warned …. And there’s even more at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: If a hunger to win won’t be satisfied by these Lakers, then where do we get our fill?

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley's weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

His friends at TNT are already projecting what Charles Barkley’s weight will look like as he waits out the first Lakers win of 2014. (Photo: TNT)

Charles Barkley has made a solemn vow that he won’t eat another meal until the Lakers win a game. And you thought Tommy Lasorda on Slimfast was cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment?

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie  Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers' opener on  Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kobe Bryant sits on the bench after rookie Julius Randle breaks his leg in the Lakers’ opener on Oct. 28, (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

On the “Petros and Money” sports talk show, they’re holding a “Lakers Win Watch 2014” prediction contest. Kinda like “Storm Watch,” only it affects more people in L.A. Bill Macdonald, the Lakers TV play-by-play man, picked this coming Wednesday in New Orleans. He was laughed off the AM dial.

Over on the Lakers’ home station, Colin Cowherd likened the team to “the circus that comes through town, doesn’t treat the elephant well and makes everyone uneasy.”

Easy there. It all could be fixed in a jiff by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, knowing how the league can fix things when it needs to.

The man who has already made Donald Sterling disappear said this week he’d raise the minimum age for any player entering the league from 19 to 20 years old if he could. By the executive power vested in him by all the TV partners, can’t he automatically raise the minimum win total for the Lakers to a dozen by April, 2015?

Lawrence Tanter_ credit-Gary Friedman  Los Angeles Times  March 23, 2011This could be the point when Lawrence Tanter tantalizes the Staples Center crowd by introducing tonight’s starting lineup “for your Los Angeles Losers” with a microphone that loses its power. And if you’re trying to divert your attention from the scoreboard, check out those “Loser Girrrrrrls.”

The black jersey didn't help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night.  (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

The black jersey didn’t help Kobe Bryant and the Lakers scare off the Clippers in their first meeting of the season on Halloween night. (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

It’s more and more appropriate that these lakers – and let’s go with the lower-case “L” at this point, because there are too many of these scarlet letters to count at this point — be con- demned to wear their black alternate jerseys, the ones with the sleeves. So when the Black Mamba is wearing his black armband, it’s not too noticeable.

There has to be a tipping point soon when Nike asks Kobe Bryant to film a commercial where he gets the entire city of Los Angeles to huddle up and “be relentless.”

Sorry, is that slogan taken?

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