Play It Forward Dec. 5-11: Clippers-Warriors brings together win leaders

ar-161209774-jpgmaxh400maxw667The Clippers’ Staples Center meeting Wednesday with Golden State (7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime Ticket) is the first of four regular-season “Game of Thrones”-type throwdowns – all scheduled to be nationally televised — arriving at the quarter pole of the season. Based on their current performances, the Warriors, playing at a .850 clip and winning 17 of their first 20, on a pace to sniff the 70-win mark, but with plenty of opportunity for a slip-and-fall along the way. The Clippers, who managed to turn out of a three-game losing streak after winning 14 of their first 16, already know what that means.
The storylines coming in: Warriors coach Steve Kerr admits to trying marijuana for his back pain after his recent surgery – it didn’t really work – and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers seems to have mellowed out and he’s now fine (and fined $15,000) after his outburst on the last road trip.
More for the week ahead for the Lakers (taking on the Knicks), UCLA (facing Michigan) and the MLB Winter Meetings at this link.



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2016 sports books for the holiday season: They’ve made the short cut

shortcutIt’s worth your time to head over to Wendy Parker’s list of her Top 15 sports books of 2016 at her site.
biblioictureIn addition, here’s a quick reference to the six lists we’ve compiled that break down some choices for the gift-giving season — some we recommend more highly over others, but we realize that the subject matter alone is worth it for some:
== Best sellers that may catch your eye first
== The ones we earmarked during the course of 2016
== General interest that may go under the radar
== Larger than life (coffee-table sized)
== Football, soccer … whatever kicks it
== Top shelf contributions from hockey
== And then there’s Roland Lazenby’s “Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant”

Bonus list:
== The New York Times’ Sunday book review section of recommended books posted today lists:
= Price’s “Playing Through the Whistle” (on our “Best Sellers” list)
= Jessica Luther’s “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape” (released Sept. 6)
819z3htxisl= Alejandro Danois’ “The Boys of Dunbar: A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball” (released Sept. 13)
= Art Chansky’s “Game Changers: Dean Smith, Charlie Scott and the Era that Transformed a Southern College Town” (released Oct. 17)
= Phil West’s “The United States of Soccer: MLS and the Rise of American Soccer Fandom” (released Nov. 14)
= Dave Hannigan’s “Drama in the Bahamas: Muhammad Ali’s Last Fight” (released Aug. 2)

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Sunday Media: He calls himself ‘Black Mamba,’ but for biographical purposes, Kobe Bryant is a ‘Showboat’

kobebookTo set the scene for this sports media holiday gift-giving season, we talked to author Roland Lazenby about his project released in October called “Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant” (Little, Brown and Company/Hatchett Books, 625 pages, $32).
While the bulk of the Q&A with Lazenby will soon post online, here is more to the interview, as well as links to book reviews:

Q: There’s always a decision about whether or not to interview the subject in a project like this. Kobe has many media platforms, including, to reveal himself. What are the pros and cons of doing a book like this without Kobe’s participation?
The pros are that it’s an independent book and in Kobe’s case, where he has already done a documentary on himself and would likely do his own book, a lot of people these days like to control their own narrative. That’s understandable. But a biography tries to get an independent look and explain the figure. And not just sports figures, but cultural figures who have a big presence in the life of a city. Continue reading

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2016 sports books for the holiday season: Best sellers may catch your eye first

Adding to what we’ve posted for the Sunday media: If you’re going strictly by what ranks highest for the moment on the New York Times or lists, these are worth considering but just be careful and don’t judge the book by … you know the rest:

51wedo-9xul== “Shaken: Discovering our True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms,” by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory, WaterBrook publishing, 224 pages, $25 (released: Oct. 25). The blurb: Your circumstances do not define you,
your identity does. If he could make red caps and hand them out with that phrase, he probably would as he pursues his latest athletic dream of playing pro baseball. It’s a top seller in the “Christian Personal Growth” category.

== “Courage to Soar: A Body In Motion, A Life in Balance,” by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford, Zondervan, 256 pages, $24.99 (released Nov. 15). The blurb: It’s No. 1 in Amazon’s “Teen and Young Adult Sports Biographies” for her inspirational message of succeeding after a life that started with her on the Foster care system to a spot on the 2016 Olympic gymnastics team, and more gold medals.

== “Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre,” by Jeff Pearlman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 448 pages, $28 (released Oct. 25). The blurb: “Grand, gritty, and revelatory, Gunslinger is a big sports biography of the highest order, a fascinating portrait of the man with the rocket arm whose life has been one of triumph, of fame, of tragedy, of embarrassment, and — ultimately — of redemption.” From the author of the 2014 hit “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s” comes this predictably well research bio on the former Green Bay Packers QB one would have expected to come in a book jacket made of recycled Wranglers jeans.

Continue reading

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2016 sports books for the holiday season: Ones we already earmarked during ’16

We would not have mentioned them (some more in depth than others) if we didn’t enjoy them to start with and expand it into something more:

51flabt1ejl== “The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers,” by Michael Leahy, Harper Books, 496 pages, $26.99 (released May 10): From our review in March: “A lengthy read, but hardly a heavy one, with plenty of foundation and prose and content to carry it from chapter to chapter without any sense of getting dragged down by what might have kept some of these Dodgers less than happy at the time. The enlightenment is appreciated. If Roger Kahn can hang much of his literary success on the writing of “The Boys of Summer” about the 1950s Dodgers, then Leahy seems to take this to the next time period, letting the participants who were Los Angeles entertainers/residents/World Champions reflect in brutal truths about their connection to the O’Malley tradition.” We also had this Q&A with Leahy.

== “Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers,” by Michael Fallon, University of Nebraska Press, 472 pages, $34.95 (released May 1): From our review in March: “So, if you’re looking at these Dodgers as if they were an artistic expression, you might say Los Angeles was going through its Blue Period. Within Fallon’s framework, you might be able to revisit it with a more critical eye and really see it for what it was – far more interesting than maybe we gave it credit for when we lived through it.”

51hdtuf1x7l== “Making Waves: My Journey to Winning Olympic Gold and Defeating the East German Doping Program,” by Shirley Babashoff with Chris Epting, Santa Monica Press, 272 pages, $24.95 (released July 12): Her story also was told in the documentary, “The Last Gold,” which we reviewed. We talked more to her about the book at an event at the LA84 Library when she revealed this story about the time she met Bruce Jenner as part Team USA competing at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal: “He was sitting in this van with a couple of officials when I got in and I was kinda like, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and he didn’t really say anything to me. So I thought maybe he was just concentrating on something. I tried to talk to him again and he just wouldn’t give me the time of day. I was just like, ‘I don’t know why this guy’s mad at me.’ And now I realize … he just wanted to be me.”
(Also in this neighborhood: “Find A Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream,” by Diana Nyad, Vintage Books, 320 pages, $16.95, released in paperback June 28) Continue reading

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