Play It Forward: March 2-8 on your sports calendar — Luc Robitaille, you’re lucky statue No. 7

w640xh480_REU_115172THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

NHL: KINGS vs. PITTSBURGH
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West:
We’ve never really thought of Luc Jean-Marie Robitaille as a statuesque figure in Los Angeles sports history. But even with our artistic eye, maybe we missed something. They’ve already got a half-dozen bronze beauties scattered about in Star Plaza outside of Staples Center, and some of them actually performed inside that arena that opened in 1999.
img_5157There’s the likenesses of former Lakers stars Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. And the Kings’ great one, Wayne Gretzky. None of them created Staples Center memories, though. Boxer Oscar De La Hoya actually fought inside the place. Once. And lost. The late Chick Hearn called plenty of games for the Lakers there, so, sure, give him his due. But the lucky recipient of statue No. 7 – or “Luuuuuuuuuuc” as the fans will chant – may finally be the most worthy. In 14 years with the Kings, spread out over three entry points in his 19-year career, he became the franchise leader for goals with 577, and the NHL record-holder for a left-winger with 668 goals and 1,394 points. The Hockey Hall of Famer was just a ninth-round draft pick in 1984 – more than 100 spots after the Kings thought that eventual Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Tom Glavine was a better prospect. But Robitaille ended doubts about his skating ability when he won the Calder Trophy (as the top rookie) in 1986, scoring 45 goals in 79 games. His career-best 63 goals came in the Kings’ Stanley Cup Final run of 1992-93, when he acted as the team captain.
nhl_a_robitaille_d1_576Just last month, Robitaille turned 49 – you’d never guess by looking at that baby face – and since he has taken over as the franchise president of business operations, the team has won its first two Stanley Cups. Maybe it’s his mom who is really behind all this.
So now, here’s someone who played at least a few seasons at the end of his career in the facility. Julie Rotblatt Amrany, Omri Amrany and Itamar Amrany, the sculptors who had a hand in the prior six statues, will unveil their 19-foot, 2,500-pound piece they did on Robitaille in a ceremony that starts at 6 p.m. prior to the Kings-Penguins game.
This has also got us to thinking – why aren’t there any L.A. female athletes honored yet? Remember Lisa Leslie?
The Kings’ road trip continues at Edmonton (Monday, 6:30 p.m., FSW) before they are back home against Robitaille’s boyhood favorite team, Montreal (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW)

HORSE RACING: 78th SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
Details/TV: Saturday at 4 p.m.
SharedBeliefLosAlamitosDerby2014_8BEN298_1_r620x349It’s been 75 years since Seabiscuit won the 1940 Big Cap, and ever since then, this $1 million 10-furlong event for horses four years old and up has stayed true to Hollywood endings ever since. Three of the last four event were claimed by Game On Dude, who set the record a year ago by running it in 1:58.17. But now that he’s retired, who’ll step up? It’s our belief that Shared Belief shouldn’t have any trouble winning this one. Mike Smith rode the 4-year-old past rival California Chrome in the Feb. 7 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in a rematch of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Chrome was on the entry list for this event as of last week, but most believe he is prepping for a run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 instead.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
NLWTMNRIIMXGHYH.20150220164218USC and UCLA have two meetings set up — in basketball (at Pauley Pavilion, Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN2) and in baseball (at Dodger Stadium, Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network) … The defending MLS champion Galaxy open the 33-game regular season already — Friday at StubHub Center against Chicago — unless a players’ strike delays everything, as has been reported  … The Dodgers (Wednesday, 12:05 p.m., SportsNet L.A. vs. Chicago White Sox) and Angels (Thursday, 12:05 p.m., Fox Sports West vs. Milwaukee) start the MLB exhibition season in Arizona … The Clippers’ trip to Golden State (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) ,ay not look much like their previous Christmas Day encounter (a 100-86 win over the Warriors at Staples Center) .. the rest of the week at this link.

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Media column version 02.27.15 — As the ESPN world tosses, turns, churns … and sometimes gets burned

UPDATED: FRIDAY, 1 p.m.:
No weekly column in print or online for the LANewsGroup, but these items that have dashed across the high-speed sports wire may be worth examining, just for the record:

== You may not have noticed the subtle tribute that ESPN has been paying this week to senior vice president and director of news Vince Doria, who is retiring Friday after 23 years with the company. They’ve pulled out some of the “This is SportsCenter” commercials where Doria appeared as himself — including one (above) where he had to fire the Angels’ Rally Monkey.
Tough job. For Doria, and the chimp. No rally here.
The former Boston Globe sports editor and executive editor of The National Sports Daily decided to join the company in 1992, and served as executive producer for a couple of years on ESPN Classic. The best summation of what he’s meant to ESPN came from the company communications man Josh Krukewitz, who noted in a piece for the company website noting that Doria was part of launching the ESPY Awards, then helped get ESPN2 up and running.
But his most noteworthy contributions were in setting the tone for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” making sure ESPNEWS did what it was supposed to do, and then, for the last 15 years, steer news coverage.
At a time when ESPN’s longtime heavyweight execs Al Jaffe and John Walsh have also recently retired, Doria’s departure signals another time to wonder where the network will go from here.
One of the things we respect about Doria: He was given a Twitter account, but never used it, he told Ed Sherman at Poynter.org.
“One of the things about social media is that there is the potential to make a reporter lazy,” Doria told Sherman. “I see all these stories based on tweets. The context is not fully understood. There’s no ability for follow-up questions. The current nature of media is if you have something, get it out there. It may not be fully vetted, but if it sounds interesting, let’s do a post. I’d like to see more context than here’s what an athlete tweeted last night.”
From his lips to our editors’ ears.
“We’re talking about an editorial and journalistic lodestar, a titan in his profession – the man who guided us through mighty accomplishments and through occasional choppy waters,” said ESPN’s Bob Ley. “And with the other side of his facile brain, he has fired a monkey on television … Clearly, a Renaissance man.”

== And then there’s Keith Olbermann, one of Doria’s delirious dilemmas over the many years, and maybe one who should reconsider his own use of Twitter.

Olbermann decided to tweet that out, which explains why ESPN decided it would be best to bench him for four days (excluding Monday) because of a Twitter fight he couldn’t win with Penn State students.
The news he created for ESPN.com was enough to merit (?) a piece on the front page of USA Today on Wednesday under the headline “Broadcasters Go Wild — Again,” tying him to another outbreak of stupidity by Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly.
Again, we know Olbermann often can’t get out of his own way, and it leads to more speculation that this could be the next beginning of the end in another career implosion.
This is the ying/yank package you get with the explosive genius and ESPN has to know this by now. You take the very good with the somewhat maddening stuff.
Although, you’d think they’d assign someone to at least babysit him, just to make sure he doesn’t play with matches.
Is Jack Haley around?

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Play It Forward Feb. 23-March 1: Rousey’s Cat fight shouldn’t give her a bad rap

Ronda Rousey got to kick it in the Gulf of Mexico on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition shoot.

Ronda Rousey got to kick it in the Gulf of Mexico on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition shoot.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

UFC 184: RONDA ROUSEY vs. CAT ZINGANO
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m., pay per view (suggested retail price: $60 high definition/$50 standard definition):
With a snazzy 10-0 record in the octagon, more new movie deals coming up and a SI swimsuit appearance showing off her talents, the only rap on Ronda Rousey at this point in her career must be . . . maybe we’ll just Eminem rap about it. On the first track of his latest album “Shady XV,” Eminem is “throwing shade” as the kids say with some lewd references to the UFC women’s bantamweight champ, capped off with call her “a slaughterhouse in a blouse.” Is that the kind of stuff that ups her street cred at all?

“I feel like getting rapped about by Eminem is like getting armbarred by me,” Rousey recently said on a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show. “It might not be so pleasant if you’re on the other side of it, but it’s so skillfully done you have to be honored.” So maybe that’s the song she’ll have to pick as she marches into the octagon to take care of business against Zingano, the No. 1 contender with a 9-0 record and a personal friend of Rousey.
ufc-utopia-ranking-the-15-best-fights-between-ufc-181-and-ufc-184_513493_OpenGraphImage Because the UFC middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belford was canceled because of Weidman’s injury, the Rousey-Zingano bout becomes the co-main event with former boxer Holly Holm (7-0) making her UFC debut against Raquel Pennington. Rousey will be fighting in Southern California for the first time since she retained her title with a first-round arm bar submission on Liz Carmouche in UFC 157 at the Honda Center back in February, 2013. That was last time the UFC was in Southern California. Staples Center last hosted an event in August, 2012, and had been scheduled to have UFC 176 last August, but it was canceled due to injuries.
The first bout begins at 3:30 p.m. The prelims are at 5 p.m. The event will also be carried live in movie theatres that have deals with Fathom Events. Other bouts include Lake Forest’s Jake Ellenberger against Fresno’s Josh Koscheck, L.A.’s Alan Jouban against Australian Richard Walsh, Ventura’s Tony Ferguson against Hawaii’s Yancy Medeiros and the so-called “Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz, from Lake Forest, against Brazil’s Roan Carniero.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
The Kings and Ducks meet in Anaheim (Friday at 7 p.m., Channel 13, Prime Ticket) having split their first two contests, one on a shootout and the other in OT … The Kings and Ducks have home games against Detroit and Ottawa before this encounter. …. The Clippers have to face Memphis twice — Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center (Prime Ticket) and then Friday at Memphis at 5 p.m. (Prime Ticket). Their only previous meeting was back on Nov. 23 – a 107-91 loss at Memphis when Marc Gasol scored 30 points with 12 rebounds. … UCLA hangs out at Pauley Pavilion for Washington (Wednesday, 8 p.m., ESPN2) and Washington State (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., FS1) … Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine meet at Firestone Fieldhouse for the last West Coast Conference game of the regular season (Saturday at 3 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … more at this link.

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Media column version 02.20.15 — KSPN-AM (710) cuts news update staff because … (sorry, no more reporters left to collect the facts)

Are-You-Always-This-Stupid-Best-Demotivational-PostersApologies, but no media column online or in print this week. So what else is worth including in this part of the show:

ESPN radio reporter Beto Duran listens in on a Dwight Howard Lakers press conference in 2013 covering for KSPN-AM (710). Photo by Brad Graverson 2-27-13

Beto Duran listens in on a Dwight Howard Lakers press conference in 2013 covering for KSPN-AM (710). (Photo by Brad Graverson/LANG)

== Another stupidiotic sign of the media times, or a sports radio station that has ill-fated plans believing no news is good news:
KSPN-AM (710) program director Mike Thompson has done some questionable cool sculpting of his own on (tr)Ash Wednesday by eliminating the sports update positions that were held by Beto Duran, Dave Joseph and Pete Fox, leaving Jeff Biggs as the lone survivor, according to sources. The philosophy has to do with what else is going on at ESPN Radio, where the Colin Cowherd show and Mike Golic-Mike Greenberg shows eliminated their national update person, apparently deciding that anyone who needs scores and news can get them from their mobile phone, computer or yelling at the guy in the car next to them at the red light who is listening to another L.A. all-sports station. Those valuable extra minutes are then folded back into the current show and granted back to the hosts to address anything that’s breaking, in the hope it can be fixed.
More local programming also appears to be on the horizon for KSPN as part of this decision, giving credence that the Kamenetsky brothers may be accumulating more air time, as well as Biggs, a former Angels talk host at KLAA-AM (830). Reports are also that Kelvin Washington and Travis Rogers have been hired to work a 5-to-9 a.m. shift at the station — the first two hours on the radio leading into Cowherd with the second two audio streaming.
funny-stupid-people-images-pictures-bajiroo-fun-photo-gallery-world-25You can’t upgrade the station’s energy output with your feet firmly planted in a puddle of water. Sending away these particular three reporters who have been the direct conduit to local teams by attending press conferences and providing live updates only short circuits the flow of information. It may look electrifying when you crunch salary numbers to please the accountants, but it only delivers a weaker message to listeners. Employees like Duran (who we profiled here in 2013), Joseph and Fox — as well as the recently released Mark Willard — add value that a station can’t mark up as collateral damage when parceling out air time.

radio_1921== Add to that, the Jan. 2015 ratings for Southern California radio, as released by Don Barrett’s LARadio.com, notes that all-sports  KSPN-AM (710) was tied for 28th at 1.3, fairly decent considering the Lakers’ woes. When compared to the rest of the field, it’s actually at the top of the heap. The Dodgers’ and UCLA’s KLAC-AM (570) was at No. 38 with 0.6. The Kings’ new home, KABC-AM (790), is 35th at 0.7.
KFWB-AM (980) holds down last place in the book (41st overall) with a 0.2 rating and “continues to struggle with its format flip last fall” and a name change to “The Beast” despite airing Clippers games. LARadio.com notes today that program director Owen Murphy, who helped put the thing on the air, has left the station already.
With all that, neither the Angels’ KLAA-AM (830) or ESPN Spanish language affiliate KWKW-AM (1330) made the ratings list.
In at No. 1 overall was KOST-FM (103.5) at 5.6.

2015-ss-sj_rendering_960x540== Guess we shouldn’t feel slighted — again — that NBCSN will dispatch Dave Strader, with Eddie Olczyk and Brian Englom, to call the Kings-Sharks NHL outdoor game from Levis Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday night. Kathryn Tappen will also host a studio show on site, and Carolyn Manno has been added as a reporter.
Strader and Engblom also called the Kings’ game in Colorado for NBCSN on Wednesday — meaning it’s two straight games where the Kings’ Bob Miller and Jim Fox won’t provide the TV soundtrack.
So why wouldn’t NBC have recruited the dean, Doc Emrick, on this special game?
They have him slotted to call Boston at Chicago in the middle game of an NBC network triple-header on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Thing is, Olczyk is also going to be there with Emrick and Pierre McGuire, apparently leaving San Jose on a red eye to get there in time.
NBC’s “Hockey Day in America” telecast Sunday starts with Washington at Philadelphia (9 a.m., Channel 4, with Chris Cuthbert and Anson Carter) and ends with Minnesota-Dallas (5 p.m., NBCSN, with Gord Miller and Bret Hedican). NBC’s studio show emanates from Lake Placid, N.Y., with remembrances of the Miracle on Ice game 35 years later.

== FYI: Fathom Events also has the Kings-Sharks game live in selects L.A. movie theaters — Regal L.A. Live near Staples Center, the Howard Hughes Center Cinemark near Westchester and the AMC Puente Hills 20. Reserved tickets run $15 for adults and $8 for children and are best purchased online to secure the best seats. Continue reading

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Play It Forward Feb. 16-22 on your sports calendar: Can Bubba bubble up to the top at Riviera again?

8262488-850x560THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

GOLF: PGA NORTHERN TRUST OPEN
Details/TV: At Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 2:
1392593457000-USP-PGA-Northern-Trust-OpenSo there was Bubba Watson, nine shots out and tied for 40th going into Saturday’s third round of this classic L.A. tour stop a year ago. Ever since his breakthrough win at the Masters in 2012, the 34-year-old had developed a nice gallery of followers, but hadn’t rewarded them with much. But then the most recognized lefty not named Michelson, with his big pink-shafted driver, put down a 64 for round three, finishing his back nine in 30 that included a bunker shot out of the par-3 fourth hole that woke the crowd up. For Sunday’s final round, Watson charged hard from the start — four birdies in six holes, and a birdie putt from 15 feet at No. 8 suddenly gave him sole possession of the lead. He didn’t give it up. Somehow, he put up another 64, and as the only player to shoot bogey-free all weekend, the tournament was his at 14-under. Watson’s march was two strokes better than Dustin Johnson, who closed with a 66, and he also outlasted local favorite Jason Allred, the Pepperdine grad who somehow qualified for the event on the previous Monday and shot his own 64 in the second round.
00003475476538As Watson celebrated his fifth PGA event to end a 41-tournament drought, there was Allred, a longtime junior golf friend, one of the first to fist-pump him. Allred’s $388,600 payday for finishing tied for third was more than he had made in his previous 58 PGA events combined. And he wasn’t even sure if he’d finish the event since his wife was due to deliver their third child. “I’ve known him since, man, we were 14 or 15,” Watson said. “I was cheering him on, probably his biggest fan, especially inside the ropes. I want to see a friend like that do well.” Inside the ropes, Watson went on to win the 2014 Masters by three and hit a high of No. 3 in the world golf rankings. The year played out pretty nice for Allred, too. His daughter arrived healthy. He made the field in eight other PGA events after that. And Pepperdine inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame last October. Since Allred still doesn’t have his PGA Tour card, and he didn’t get a sponsor’s exception, he paid his fees and will go back to Monday’s qualifying event at Industry Hills (along with former World No. 1 David Duval and 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman) to see if he can squeeze back in at Rivera again. All the best.
Golf Channel has Thursday and Friday coverage starting at noon; Channel 2 has the CBS coverage on Saturday and Sunday starting at noon.

NHL: KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
Details/TV: At Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Saturday at 7 p.m., NBCSN:
B87QES0CQAEVhP5.jpg largeThe sight of Katy Perry’s now-famous “left shark” at the recent Super Bowl halftime show inspired Kings’ mascot Bailey to tweet out during the telecast: “Finally, the San Jose Sharks make it to a championship game,” along with a photo of it helplessly flapping its fins. Roar to that. Whatever evil lurks within the mascots’ minds for this first-of-its-kind NoCal outdoor meeting is worth watching here. No two NHL teams have faced each other more times since the 2010-11 season than the Kings and Sharks — 41 meetings, including extended playoff encounters the last three seasons. The Kings’ outdoor experience consists of a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at Dodger Stadium last season. The Sharks have a 68,500-seat football stadium to fill, and don’t plan to tank. Maybe next year, let’s send these two to Las Vegas, eh?
The Kings, winners of four straight and four points behind the Sharks in the Western Conference, start the week with a home game versus Tampa Bay (Monday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket), whom they defeated 4-2 earlier this month, and then go to Colorado (Wednesday, 7 p.m., NBCSN).

ALSO THIS WEEK:

UCLA’s game at No. 7 Arizona in Tucson (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN) has piqued the network’s interest as it decided to send its basketball version of “College GameDay” crew to Tucson – the show begins 11 hours before tipoff. The Bruins (16-10, 8-5) have won five of their last six but are just 2-5 on the road in conference. …  The Clippers return from the All-Star break against San Antonio at Staples Center (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) ….   Matt Kenseth is the defending champ at the Daytona 500 (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11), but soon-to-retire Jeff Gordon starts on the pole … Early-exit UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has his shot to impress the NFL teams at the scouting combine (at Indianapolis, Wednesday-Saturday) … More at this link.

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Media column version 02.13.15: There are constant epic Kings reveals from the EPIX Stadium Series documentary series

An "LA" piece of art with stacks of pucks created by Dustin Brown is included in the EPIX Road to the Stadium Series look at the Kings and Sharks as they prepare for their Feb. 21 outdoor game in Santa Clara.

An “LA” piece of art with stacks of pucks created by Dustin Brown is included in the EPIX Road to the Stadium Series look at the Kings and Sharks as they prepare for their Feb. 21 outdoor game in Santa Clara.

What’s part of this week’s column posted here:

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 4.16.15 PMThe sparkle of a Kings’ outdoor NHL game may have come and gone with last year’s appearance at Dodger Stadium against the Ducks. But as the lead-in for their Feb. 21 encounter against the San Jose Sharks in Santa Clara, this four-part EPIX “Road to the Stadium Series” series from Ross Greenburg Productions has plenty of behind-the-scenes revelations that fans of the team will appreciate if they have yet to access it. Most noteworthy: coach Darryl Sutter’s inside the locker room demeanor versus what kinds of non-sound bites he usually gives the media.
Meantime, access the first two episodes at www.epixhd.com, with episodes 3 and 4 coming the next two Tuesdays.

What else we felt was right and just to include:

coltudor-0718_gsd1h0ubq-1dean2-jpeg-embedded-prod_affiliate-156== A documentary that Greenburg’s production company began on the life of former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in early 2014 will become a one-hour Showtime special to premiere on March 25, the network announced this week. George Roy directed and edited it, and Steve Stern wrote it.
Among those who will appear in the doc are Charlie Scott, the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC, and former Tar Heel stars Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, Eric Montross and J.R. Reid.
Smith died at the age of 83 last Saturday and, while there was no cause of death given,  his family said five years ago that he suffered from a progressive neurological disorder.
“We did understand that he was not well, and I think the fact he struggled with  Alzheimer’s has not been talked much this week,” said Greenburg, who did not interview Smith for the piece. “We didn’t know he was going to pass just before we would air this. It’s kind of amazing. We were planning on doing it for March, right around the NCAA Tournament, but it’s interesting to do this now because instead of a documentary it becomes an obituary.”

WHITLOCKlaptop== TheUndefeated.com is the impactful name they’re going with at ESPN for the new site devoted to sports, race and culture that will launch this summer and lean on the voice of  columnist Jason Whitlock as its editor-in-chief.
Whitlock explained in a statement that the name is inspired by a famous quote from poet Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
So no more do we lazily just call this the “Black Grantland.”
“Maya’s quote perfectly captures the African-American journey and the spirit athletes and all Americans try to embrace,” said Whitlock. “It’s wonderful to see our collective vision coming together.”
As something of a test run for the site, ESPN.com posted a 9,000-word profile of Charles Barkley, the Turner Sports analyst and NBA Hall of Famer, by TheUndefeated.com writers Jesse Washington and Justin Tinsley, who pose the question: Is Barkley the modern day Muhammad Ali, a voice for the ages on race. Or Jack Johnson, a provocateur with no real agenda?
ESPN also warns the story contains “explicit language.”

086== As much as we enjoyed honoring the life and times of former NFL Films chief Steve Sabol upon his passing occurred in 2012, we tend to smile even more reading about the ground-breaking accomplishments of his father, Ed, the actual NFL Films creator and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who died this week at the age of 98.
Sabol founded NFL Films in 1964 and ran it until ’95, winning 52 Emmy Awards in the process.
Here is his obit written by the Associated Press.
ap383386239744_custom-78fabe3f4df30c839cd96fe0b4346630fa732aef-s800-c15As Steve once said: “My dad has a great expression. He always says, ‘Tell me a fact and I’ll learn, tell me the truth and I believe, but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.’ Interestingly enough now, my dad’s story is going to be in Canton and hopefully that will live forever, too.”
Here’s a column on Ed Sabol by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom is entitled “I love this man (even though I never met him)”
In a discussion on “Pardon The Interruption,” Tony Kornheiser said: “I always wondered why it took the NFL so long to put Ed Sabol in the Hall of Fame. He got in at (age) 94. Who was more important than him?
Added Dan Patrick as he made it the first topic on his Tuesday radio show: “(Ed and Steve Sabol) are the most important people in NFL history. If I said (Ed Sabol) transformed the NFL, I’d be shortchanging his legacy. He didn’t change the way we think about football, he changed the way we view sports. He also changed movie making as well. …
edsabolx-large“Other leagues have tried to copy NFL Films, but it’s not easy because you have to try to copy the passion of the Sabol family. They turned a hobby into a company. And they’re gone, but the legacy will live on. … The Sabols, and rightfully so, they’re Hall of Famers. People may say it’s Joe Namath or Pete Rozelle or Vince Lombardi … they made the game bigger, but I thought the Sabols made the game better.”
Bob Ryan, the former VP of NFL Films and the company’s fourth employee hired, told Sports Video Group that “Ed loved Hollywood movies, and that’s what he wanted our movies to be like — as did Steve. The sports fan will always like your movies, but he wanted little kids and women who didn’t give a damn about football to see the artistry and majesty of the game. John Facenda, original music, sideline sound — all were innovations of his.”

Obit Dave Goldberg== One more AP obit, this time about one of its own — NFL writer Dave Goldberg who died Sunday at 73. It points out that his pet peeves about the business concerned “if reporting was losing its standards, with less fact-checking and excessive use of anonymous sources.” We checked that out, and it’s true.
Goldberg described himself on his Twitter account: “old guy who is said to know a lot about football (and futbol) but hopes he knows about other things too. Retired (almost) so I read a lot.”

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Play It Forward Feb. 9-15 on your sports calendar — Want to wake up in a city that never sleeps and see some NBA All-Stars? Funny you should ask …

Thanks for stopping by to pose for the 2015 NBA All-Star poster. Now, take a seat with the other injured L.A. stars.

Thanks for stopping by to pose for the 2015 NBA All-Star poster. Now, take a seat with the other injured L.A. stars.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

64th NBA ALL-STAR GAME
Details/TV: At Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., TNT:
countdownweb8s-1-webStart spreading the blues. The sights, sounds and smells of Christina Aguilera kickin’ it with the Rockettes aren’t that the genie-in-a-bottle moment we need to bring Kobe Bryant or Blake Griffin back into the starting lineup for the Western Conference in this annual exhibition. Last time we spotted the Black Lama, he popped up on “The Tonight Show” last week with his right arm in a sling, then reminisced with Jimmy Fallon about how back in the day they were sent on a late-night beer run together and had to bribe the guy inside a Pink Dot on Sunset Blvd.
461979452_10Griffin, meanwhile, has this crazy elbow thing come up at the wrong time and he could be slinging it as well for awhile. Substitute picks DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Lillard directly benefit from the Bryant-Griffin excused absence. But that doesn’t excuse why DeAndre Jordan, the league leader in rebounds and second in blocked shots, still isn’t here. At the most very least, L.A. will be represented by the Clippers’ Chris Paul – unless he gets expelled for another rant about a rookie referee. What else could possibly draw you into this one? Try to spot Phil Jackson moping around in the stands. Maybe Pau and Marc Gasol exchange some short-pants tugging – two former Lakers, as they were. And if you happen to spot Luke Walton on the West bench, it isn’t a mirage – he’s Steve Kerr’s assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. Anyone else gets hurt, we’re counting on Kerr to have Walton suit up. Anyone else gets hurt, we’re counting on Kerr to have Walton suit up. So if you’re jonesing for some All-Star memorable moments, maybe check this out in the meantime.
Also:
Dunk contest (with Minnesota rookie and former UCLA player Zach LaVine competing against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee), 3-point contest (with the Clippers J.J. Reddick against a field that includes Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Steph Curry), skills challenge and shooting stars competition is at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on Saturday, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Rising Stars Challenge in Brooklyn is Friday, 6 p.m., TNT

ALSO THIS WEEK:

The Clippers’ final stop on the eight-game Grammy road trip at Dallas (Monday, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) will hit a huge sour note for if they can’t stop a four-game losing streak …  The Kings also have one more roadie to play, in Columbus (Monday, 4:30 p.m.) before returning home Thursday to face Calgary (7:30 p.m., FSW) … UCLA lost by 18 last time in Oregon, but have a Valentine’s Day date prepared this time around at Pauley Pavilion (Saturday at noon, Channel 11) …  Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine get one more shot at No. 2-ranked Gonzaga on Thursday and Saturday … The PGA Tour’s stop at Pebble Beach for the annual pro-am brings Bill Murray back into the mix … More at this link.

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Media column version 02.06.15: A notebook, written on onion skin, and whatever’s left of Hannah Davis’ groincloth

No official column online or in print this week, so just filter through these items of note:

== Count us as surprised by the CBS/Turner Sports had the onions to officially announce this week that Bill Raftery and Grant Hill would effectively replace Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony as Jim Nantz’s analysts on the NCAA Final Four and April 6 national title game.
Raftery has put 33 years into calling NCAA Tournament games and 23 years on radio during the Final Four. The 71-year-old is well deserving of the elevation to this perch after all these seasons. His long-time commitment to CBS, while also doing games for ESPN and, lately, Fox Sports 1, on the Big East is finally being rewarded.
“I’ve been there a long time,” he said of the Final Four in an interview with USA Today.
“Unfortunately when I coached (at Seton Hall, from 1970-81) I couldn’t get my team there so I’m making it up for it now.”
635585554461327138-USP-NCAA-BASKETBALL-LOUISVILLE-AT-PITTSBURGH-70305400Raftery would have been the likely choice to replace Kerr. But with Hill, however, he has only worked in the studio and still seems to be getting his broadcasting feet wet. The former Duke star parlayed a famous college career into 18 NBA seasons, his last with the Clippers in 2013. Raftery actually called some of Hill’s games at Duke, including the 1994 Final Four when Hill’s Duke team was in it.
You’re not asking us, but someone like Reggie Miller would have made a bit more sense than Hill for the third chair. Unless TNT saw too much of a conflict with him doing NBA games — which would not make sense because Kerr had the same issue a year ago.
Kerr since left the group to coach the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the Western Conference this season; Anthony was suspended by CBS after his arrest last month for prostitution solicitation and he entered a not guilty plea in the case this week.
The new Nantz-Raftery-Hill will appear for the first time on the Big Ten tournament semifinals and title game March 14-15, which does not give the trio much time to find its chemistry.

IMG_2955== Has anyone been able to explain yet how Sir Nick Faldo went bangers-and-mash on his Super Bowl pick — correct team and score — hours before the game was played, as it stood there in graphic form on the CBS’ PGA Tour telecast from Scottsdale that morning? Maybe he gets his rightful recognition when he joins Golf Channel on the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines on Thursday at noon.
(When I pointed this out to Jim Nantz earlier this week via email, he replied: “Just one of the many reasons why Her Majesty deemed him worthy of Knighthood.”)
FYI: A year earlier, David Feherty correctly predicted the Seahawks would win Super Bowl XLVIII — and even had the 43-8 win over Denver right.

== The day after, Cris Collinsworth still couldn’t believe the Seahawks’ play call. And the media sure piled on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on, even with the Today show flying Matt Lauer to Seattle for an ‘exclusive’ followup?

== How did Al Michaels figure out off the top of his head that little-known New England rookie Malcolm Butler made the game-saving interception at the end of the game? He explains on an interview this week with the Mighty 1090 in San Diego. But Michaels won’t finish the conversation until he talks about minor-league hockey and how the NHL top affiliates are dotting Southern California cities.

== In light of the story about how the Atlanta Falcons pumped in crowd noise during their games, Michaels recalls a similar issue when he covered the 1987 Twins-Cardinals World Series.

doug-baldwin-dump-1== NBC Sports’ own “Pro Football Talk” blog gives Super Bowl producer Fred Gaudelli another opportunity to dispute a Deadspin take on why the network decided to cut away from the touchdown celebration by Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. “In every telecast there are always decisions we would like to have back,” says Gaudelli. “This isn’t one of them.”
Our only issue with this decision is there was no verbal explanation by the broadcasters why the Seahawks were given a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. It kind of glossed over that aspect.

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Buck the stereotypes: Brazilian domination and the Pro Bull Riding tour returns to Anaheim

p2_story_MoraesEight years ago, we recall having an intriguing hotel-room sit down with pro bull riding star Adriano Moraes. It sticks with us because of how deep this athlete got about his faith, his immortality and his pride in what he was accomplishing, considering his roots from poverty in Brazil.

Turns out, they’ve put up a statue of Moraes in front of the PBR headquarters in Colorado (above).

“That son of a gun did good…I am not scared of saying he is the greatest guy that ever rode bulls until somebody proves me wrong, but they haven’t done that yet,” says a beaming Moraes, who was world champion three times, during an episode of Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” that airs tonight at 10 p.m.

This also comes up as the PBR Tour makes its annual visit to the Honda Center in Anaheim this weekend. Brazil’s Valdiron de Oliveira won last year’s Anaheim stop, with countrymen Emilio Resende and Claudio Crisostomo finishing second and third. Five of the top-10 riders last season on the PBR were from Brazil.  Five of the last seven world champions have been Brazilian.

Americans may outnumber Brazilians on the PBR Tour, but as far as who is the toughest, U.S. rider JB Mauney says in the piece about the riders from Brazil: “They don’t give up. They don’t quit. They try hard every single time. And in my eyes, that’s what a cowboy is.”

Moraes, who first rode on the PBR tour more than 20 years ago, says in the story with reporter Bill Whitaker: “Most of us, like me, I was born on a shack of dirt floor, didn’t have running water, didn’t have electricity and I made it to this.”

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Play It Forward: Feb 2-8 on your sports calendar — John Force more than equals mass times Funny Car acceleration

1444-000709THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

DRAG RACING: NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
Details/TV: At Pomona Fairgrounds, Thursday-Sunday:
PC1-450x225Never thought we’d admit it, but the most-missed reality show from our DRV stash is the one a few years back called “Driving Force.” It lasted just two seasons, but in the process, Funny Car legend John Force became the A&E Network’s funny man, appearing to be a flame out as the high-profile dad of a high-octane family. Maybe it didn’t look like he could handle being the father of four girls – especially three daughters who followed him into the sport – but that was the charm of it. Dude really tried. Somewhere in the mess was John’s wife, Laurie. She lived in the family house in Yorba Linda with the daughters, while John lived in a condo up the street because “he’s impossible to live with,” she said on the show. ESPN described the series as “Charlie’s Angels in fire suits going head-to-head with a dysfunctional dad who’s a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and A.J. Foyt.” Not to mention someone who looked as batty as Gary Busey constantly thrown under the family bus.
driving-force_L If there were another Family Force reality show in the makings – and they’ve supposedly reconnected with some Hollywood types to look into that – this would have been a great way to reset it, in the 2015 NHRA season opener. Here’s the storyline: The 65-year-old Force, who is the all-time NHRA wins leader (141) and 16-time champion, was dethroned from the Funny Car division last year by Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan. But he ditches his former ride and comes in with supped-up Chevy Camaro, wanting to defend his Winternationals title and telling everyone: “There isn’t anyone who loves drag racing more than I do. I’m like a little kid. I feel like I’m 16 years old again. … I’m a bad hombre when you put me in a fire suit.” Now can you not be fired up? ESPN2 has the Sunday finals airing on tape at 4:30 p.m.

la-sp-sn-nhra-force-chevrolet-20150115-001THE REST OF THE WEEK:

The latest list put out by Scout.com of its Top 25 signing day high school football classes has listed USC at No. 5 in the country, best in the Pac-12, and UCLA at No. 13, second in the conference. We’ll find out Wednesday … The Clippers are at Oklahoma City (10 a.m., Channel 7) and the Lakers are at Cleveland (12:30 p.m., Sunday) when the 57th Grammy Awards takes place at Staples Center … the Kings’ road trip includes a stop at the White House before visiting Washington’s Capitals (Tuesday, 4 p.m., FSW) … And if you’re apt to take the bull by the horns, then the Pro Bull Riding stop in Anaheim over the weekend is where to go. More at this link.

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