Play It Forward Feb. 8-14: The NBA’s Valentine’s gift to you is more love for Kobe Bryant

Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)

Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
65th NBA ALL-STAR GAME
Details/TV: At Toronto, Sunday at 5 p.m., TNT
logoexFor Kobe Bryant’s 18th and final All-Star appearance, we can see a best-case scenario — the players yield as he goes off 20-plus points and wins his fifth game MVP recognition.
The not-so-best scenario: He throws up a few airballs early, turnovers, frustration kicks in, and those in Toronto began to jeer him in English and French.
We asked the TNT studio analysts which one they anticipated.
“There’s no best-case, worst-case, we’re just going to celebrate him and just have some fun,” said Charles Barkley, who retired in 1997, the year before Bryant played in his first All-Star game at Madison Square Garden.
“I would just like to see him big in a big moment,” added Kenny Smith. “If the game is close, I think he can get the basketball and create an opportunity for himself. He doesn’t have to have a big game, just make some big shots.”
Former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who played with Bryant on the West All-Star team five times and against him three other times with the East, gave this opinion: “When it comes to All-Star games, you don’t have to play all 48 minutes. Remember when Magic (Johnson) came back (in 1992) and he call out Mike (Jordan) to play (one-on-one) and the crowd went crazy, he called out Isiah (Thomas) … It would be exciting if (Bryant) called out LeBron (James) or D-Wade (Dwayne Wade) … If you get a couple of instances where you hit a couple big shots, the crowd goes crazy ….”

LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS Co-winners of the MVP award Phoenix Suns' Shaquille O'Neal and Lakers' Kobe Bryant hold up their trophy after the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix.

Co-winners of the MVP award Phoenix Suns’ Shaquille O’Neal and Lakers’ Kobe Bryant hold up their trophy after the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

O’Neal, who shared a game MVP award with Bryant in 2009 at Phoenix, added: “If his legs are good, he’s feeling good and his stroke is going, knowing Kobe, he will go for the MVP… It’s all about certain storylines, and the first part of the storyline is the Kobe tour. If he can get MVP that would be the second part of the storyline. The last part of the storyline is we would like to get a championship or make the playoffs, but that’s definitely not going to happen.”
So Shaq is on the record with that prediction now.
So here’s another crazy suggestion: Why doesn’t Bryant use this as a walk-off moment? The rest of the Lakers’ season can’t be anything to really go back for. Hit a game-winning jumper here, take off the jersey, throw it to the crowd, and it’s all done. On Valentine’s Day, let’s just kiss and say goodbye.
Too dramatic?
Also this weekend: “All Star Saturday Night” skills challenge/dunk contest, Saturday at 5 p.m., TNT; NBA D-League All-Star game, Saturday at 11 a.m., NBA TV; Rising Stars Challenge game, Friday at 6 p.m., TNT; All-Star Celebrity Game, Friday at 4 p.m., ESPN.
Also Friday: NBA TV has the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 finalists announced (10:30 a.m.). Shaquille O’Neal is among those eligible with Yao Ming and Allen Iverson.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
U.S. OLYMPIC MARATHON TRIALS
Details/TV: At L.A. Live, Saturday at 10 a.m., Channel 4
31st LOS ANGELES MARATHON
Details/TV: Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica pier, Sunday at 6 a.m., Channel 5

Meb Keflezighi wins the 118th Boston Marathonin April, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Meb Keflezighi wins the 118th Boston Marathonin April, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The weekend where the Fitbit gets a real workout. A day before the annual L.A. race, those who aim to be one of the three men and three women who are part of Team USA for the Summer Games in Rio need to step up here. Former UCLA and Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, 40, is a crowd favorite on the men’s side, and former Agoura High runner Deena Kastor, 42, is looking for a way to get in on the women’s team. The Trials course starts at L.A. Live with a 2.2 mile loop around downtown, heading back to Staples Center and the Convention Center before a trip around the USC campus, Exposition Park and the Coliseum, then heading back north on Figueroa to the finish. Opening ceremonies are at 9:15 a.m.; the men start at 10:06 a.m. and the women at 10:22 a.m.
The next day, the traditional run from downtown to the ocean commences with a pair of Kenyan runners (Daniel Limo and Olga Kimaiyo) trying to defend their men’s and women’s titles. The elite women begin at 6:45 a.m., with the elite men and the rest of the full field at 6:55 a.m. The wheelchair race begins at 6:30 p.m., with handcycles at 6:32 a.m.

FINISHING THE WEEK:
The 56th NHRA Winternationals are a go at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona (Thursday-Sunday) … UCLA and USC basketball go to play the Arizona schools on a Friday-Sunday tour … The Clippers are at Philadelphia (Monday) and Boston (Wednesday) while the Lakers are at Indiana (Monday) and Cleveland (Wednesday) before the All-Star break … The Kings, also booted out of Staples Center because of prep work before the Feb. 15 Grammy Awards, spend the week in Boston (Tuesday), Brooklyn (N.Y. Islanders, Thursday), New York City (N.Y. Rangers, Friday) and New Jersey (Sunday) …  More at this link.

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Sunday media: On Simms, Carey, Colbert and whatever else CBS has to throw against the SB50 wall

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

As soon as we figure out a way to break down the media X’s and O’s on Super Bowl 50 with an assortment of pertinent Q’s and A’s, we’ll let you know.
But until then:
Q: Phil Simms will likely suffer the most media-induced CTE — critically traumatizing encroachments — before, during and after this Super Bowl telecast. Commercial breaks won’t break his way, either. Why doesn’t CBS just use Boomer Esiason, who actually called a Super Bowl for ABC with Al Michaels in 2000?
020116superA: Analyze this — Simms, making his eighth Super Bowl TV appearance (six on CBS, two on NBC), is second only to John Madden’s 11 for an analyst. It’s as if he’s been wearing his Super Bowl XXI MVP award (and that first all-expense-paid trip to Disneyland) as a protective flak jacket. All to the chagrin of Denver followers, who once started a Change.org petition to get him banned from CBS Broncos games.
Anything really change after that?
One problem with Esiason – and many often mistake him with Simms if they’re in the same room – is CBS has already run him into the ground.
He’s done his CBS Sports Radio shows all week from San Francisco (with the time shift, it’s a 3-to-7 a.m. proposition). He did his episode of “Inside the NFL” for Showtime. He co-hosted a network special about the “best” Super Bowl commercials of all time.
Not only will he be involved in the CBS studio show but he’s also breaking away to be the game analyst on the Westwood One Radio broadcast with Kevin Harland, Mark Malone and James Lofton (available on “The Beast” 980-AM and Siriux XM NFL Radio Channel 88.)
So there is that option of turning down the TV sound and turning up the radio. As long as Esiason’s vocal chords hold up.
“(CBS Sports chairman) Sean (McManus) just said show up with a full voice or you’ll get kicked off the set,” said Esiason earlier in the week on a media conference call, already showing signs of fatigue.
We’ve got more at this link….

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It’s Out of the Question: What’s the silver lining to the NFL’s golden anniversary of Super Bowls?

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Congrats on surviving long enough to witness the spectacle of the Super Bowl that should be sponsored by the letter “L” but instead is branded by the number “50” as well as the symbols “$” and “@” and “#” and other random acts of emojis.
What does 50 means to the NFL today?
Gold.
Appropriately enough.
To the league’s marketing department, this is a best-case scenario to celebrate, and hallucinate, a connection the sport has from its corporate partners to the pan-handlers in the street.
(Please, just this week, think of that later group as descendants from those who bravely came here in the mid-19th Century to pan for gold in this very spot where you too can set up a “Cash For Gold” pop-up store, with Joe Montana as your spokesman.)
More questions that can be possibly answered at this link …

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Weekly media notes Super Bowl 50 edition: X’s and O’s for consumers of the non-L game

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton has video taken of him on a phone during the media event in San Jose earlier this week. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton has video taken of him on a phone during the media event in San Jose earlier this week. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Coming up for Sunday:

We make an attempt to break down certain X’s and O’s of the media coverage for Super Bowl non-L with whatever Q’s and A’s are most effective. Covering the usual suspects, like Phil Simms’ track record with Broncos fans, the “rules analyst” issue and why the pregame show, at four hours, is more than enough.

What is worth delivering now, the Super Bowl 50 edition:

htra148_vv028_h== The esteemed Dick Enberg, who was a reporter for KTLA-Channel 5 for the first NFL-AFL title game at the Coliseum, tells the San Jose Mercury News about his most memorable Super Bowl moments — he broadcast eight of them and attended eight others, including the last one in his new hometown region of San Diego.
But then again, we have this one Super Bowl memory … Enberg, in the Coliseum locker room for NBC, interviewing the L.A. Rams quarterback after he led a miraculous comeback against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Super Bowl … but maybe that was just a movie
Maybe …
220px-Heaven_can_wait_poster“It was like having a Super Bowl experience without the added pressure from the media — and all my mistakes could be edited out,” Enberg recalled this week about shooting his scene for the 1978 Warren Beatty-Buck Henry movie, “Heaven Can Wait,” where Beatty starred as Joe Pendleton/Leo Farnsworth/Tom Jarrett after going from backup QB to the hero of the Super Bowl win with an out-of-body experience. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best picture, best director (Beatty/Henry), best leading actor (Beatty), best supporting actor (Jack Warden), and adapted screenplay. It won for best art direction/set decoration.
Enberg said his scene was in a revamped Coliseum locker room and his lines called for him to interview “Jarrett” amid the chaos of the celebration as well as Beatty’s character not focused on the questions because he was being told that his spirit was leaving Jarrett’s body.
(Please, rent the flick for a better encapsulation).
“We had some of the Rams players in the room as extras, as well as USC and UCLA players in Rams’ uniforms, and one of them was George Youngblood, a retired defensive back for the Rams in the ’60s,” recalled Enberg, the Rams’ radio play-by-play man from 1966 to ’77 before joining NBC full time.
enberg“I’m trying to interview Beatty — he was also the director, and as we shot scenes, we had video that we would go back and look at to see if we needed to reshoot it. There was  someone off camera reading James Mason’s lines to Beatty and Beatty’s answers to my questions don’t make any sense.
“At one point, Youngblood kind of got into the scene and as I held the microphone with my right hand, I kind of shooed Youngblood away with my left hand. Beatty saw that on the replay and said, ‘Enberg, let’s keep that in.’ He loved that shot, and they ended up using it in a lot of promotional material.
“Eventually, Beatty sent me a photo of that scene with a handwritten note that said: ‘Enberg, this is the scene where you’re turning down Dustin Hoffman’s part in “Ishtar”,'” Enberg said with a laugh, noting the reference to Beatty’s critically panned movie from 1987.
The other memorable moment from that day that took maybe a dozen takes and several hours of shooting was Enberg had to call an Angels’ game that night in Anaheim. He remembers that because they went through several cases of champagne to recreate a locker room craziness, that “the ‘athletes’ were at first kind of tame but as the day went on, they started drinking it, and breaking bottles and my blue sports coat was just soaked. I get to the Angels game and (broadcast partner) Don Drysdale smells me coming and says, ‘What did you do, fall in a (bleep) pile?’ I had to burn that sports coat.”
As fate would have it, the Rams and Steelers did play in a Super Bowl, just a year after the film’s release, and it was at the Rose Bowl instead of the Coliseum.
Foreshadowing?
“Maybe they should have entitled it, ‘Heaven Couldn’t Wait’,” said Enberg.

(Noah Graham/CBS)

(Noah Graham/CBS)

For the Mercury News series, the paper also quizzed Jim Nantz, Bob Costas, Leslie Visser, Peter King and James Brown on their Super Bowl memories.
And as part of CBS’ four-hour pregame show Sunday that begins at 11 a.m., the six living Super Bowl play-by-play men (out of 11) talk about their experiences: Enberg, Nantz, Joe Buck, Greg Gumbel, Al Michaels and Jack Whitaker, the later of which we profiled last week.

== The CBS pregame show starting at 11 a.m. has the usual studio crew (Brown, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Tony Gonzalez, Bart Scott). Plus Ian Eagle and Gumbel. Plus current NFL player Brandon Marshall. Plus former NFL QB Trent Green. Plus former Raiders CEO Amy Trask. Plus NFL Today “insider” Jason La Canfora, plus reporters Tracy Wolfson, Evan Washburn and Allie LaForce. Plus “contributor” Jim Rome.
But, ahem, no Visser? The 2006 winner of the Pete Rozelle Radio-TV Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame hasn’t really done much for the CBS NFL production in the last few years, but will be on a special Saturday edition of “We Need To Talk” (CBSSN, 4 p.m.)

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Weekly media notes version 02.04.16: The non-Super Bowl edition

(Above: Jim Fox and Brian Hayward get together on a Kings/Ducks telecast from 2012. As Hayward pulled out his Stanley Cup ring, he said he wasn’t sure if the Kings were ready to win one of their own. They did a few months after this aired. As well as 2014, when they defeated the Ducks in the playoffs).

The Super Bowl 50 related notes come sooner or later this afternoon.
But now, we’ve got these to pass on:

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

== As NBCSN grabbed the Kings-Ducks game from Staples Center for its coverage at 7 p.m. tonight, the network also saw it fitting to have the Kings’ Jim Fox take his usual Fox Sports West TV booth seat and work as the analyst with play-by-play man Gord Miller, who does most of his work at TSN in Canada. Also, the Ducks’ longtime Prime Ticket analyst Brian Hayward will serve as the “Inside The Glass” reporter.
hqdefaultIt’s the first time Fox and Hayward have ever done a game together, and NBC folks say they believe it’s the first time they’ve paired “rival” broadcasters on a national telecast of an NHL game.
“I understand and commend NBC for thinking market-related it would even be possible to do this,” said Fox this morning. “I think it’s fair to say the Kings and Ducks broadcasts are very different in style and focus and that probably won’t come through (tonight) because we are in very different roles. I probably won’t have the same Telestrator or be on during intermissions. But no one knows the Ducks like Brian and if can say the same about me with the Kings, so it will be a very well-rounded broadcast.”
Fox did one game for NBC last season — the Kings’ last game of the year against San Jose, working with Sharks’ play-by-play man Randy Hahn. Heyward has worked for several years on NBC regional NHL games.
_mgl5506Of course, much of Fox’s thoughts will also be with Kings’ 77-year-old Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller, who underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery on Tuesday and is said by all measures to be recovering well. Miller is supposed to have a five-day stay at Cedars Sinai Hospital before going home.
“I understand for Bob that it’s not a ‘Get Well Soon’ situation — it’s just get well,” said Fox, who has been getting updates from Miller’s wife, Judy, as well as the team. “There is no need for him to rush back. If all goes normal, I would expect him back at the end of the season (in April) and the playoffs. It’s not something were you get an X-ray and you’re back in six-to-eight weeks. The shock to the body has to be incredible.
“As I do this game, I think most people will agree that the broadcast Bob and I do (with the Kings) is objective, so this (NBC) assignment isn’t a huge adjustment. If anyone puts a label on us, it’s that we do a game ‘down the middle,’ which goes back to how Bob has always set the tone for the broadcast. The viewers may know who we may want to win, but it’s Bob who has always been as objective as possible for a local broadcast.”

CaF5yG8UsAAl1OA== The postscript to NBCSN’s coverage of Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game was that it drew 1.595 million viewers (a 0.9 rating) and peaked in the 3:30-3:45 p.m. PT at 1.89 million. That’s the most who’ve ever seen this exhibition on the network. Los Angeles, which gets the event in 2017, tied for ninth with the best TV market rating at 1.6. Buffalo and Pittsburgh were tops at 3.7.
And big ups to NBCSN for capturing this moment when All-Star Game MVP John Scott was congratulated by Chris Sutter, the son of Kings coach and Pacific Division coach Darryl Sutter, at the end of the telecast.

rpndex== Cal State Northridge will soon announce that former Dodgers play-by-play man Ross Porter will be involved in broadcasting Matadors’ baseball games this spring on the CSUN Sports Network.
The first CSUN game will be Friday, Feb. 19 against Cal State Bakersfield. Brandon Marcus, who will also share in calling CSUN baseball and softball this season, will join the 77-year-old Porter on that first broadcast. Porter will do 18 of the 28 CSUN home games this spring
More details to come …

== College basketball on the radar this weekend:
USC1920jpg-3746299_768x432= Ted Robinson and Don MacLean have UCLA at USC from Galen Center, tonight at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network.
= Roxy Bernstein and Corey Williams have Pepperdine playing host to Portland, tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
= Beth Mowins and Brad Daugherty have Gonzaga at Pepperdine for ESPN2 on Saturday at 9 p.m.
= A wildcard: Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke and Maria Taylor have ESPN2’s coverage of No. 1 UConn at No. 2 South Carolina on Monday. That’s women’s basketball if you didn’t read between the lines.

== Why North Carolina coach Roy Williams isn’t fond of ESPN guys talk about “green room” players. What does that even mean?

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