Play It Forward: June 22-28 — Lakers may have to call it in the air for that No. 2 pick

Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game at Duke in his only season of college basketball.

Jahlil Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game at Duke in his only season of college basketball.

Details/TV: At Brooklyn, Thursday at 4 p.m., ESPN:
In theory, they’ve eliminated the coin flip when it comes to NBA draft. Back in the day, the No. 1 pick was determined by a heads-or-tails call between the two last-place teams in each conference. (See: Lakers, Magic Johnson, 1979).

D'Angelo Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in his one season at Ohio State.

D’Angelo Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in his one season at Ohio State.

Then, the lottery came, with all its angst. What the process has brought to the Lakers this year is: A leap to the No. 2 spot, and more supposed indecision over who to pick. So, would a coin flip work here? Is Duke’s Jahlil Okafor coming up heads, or Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell landing tails? This scenario presumes that Minnesota doesn’t mess up the No. 1 overall choice of Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. Then, depending on what Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and his sounding board men believe, Okafor could be the next franchise big-man to make a name for himself – there aren’t many 6-foot-11, 275-pounders with his offensive skills out there. Or there’s Russell, the 6-foot-5, 175-pound guard, who could fit more into the thinking that to win in today’s game, following the Golden State Warriors’ latest championship blueprint. Think about what happened in 1984 — Houston had the No. 1 choice and landed future Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. That left Portland, at No. 2, with a decision – take either big man Sam Bowie from Kentucky or that shooting guard from North Carolina named Michael Jordan. The Blazers went big, and, well …

ts_130925mitchkupchakpresser-500x281Kupchak may be posturing at this point and a decision could already be made. But he’s not letting on. “We have a lot of photos in this building and a lot of those jerseys over there have the names of big men that we’ve retired and had success with,” Kupchak will say about drafting another Shaq/Wilt/Kareem type. But he’ll follow it up by saying: “You can argue that maybe the way to go is with a guard.” A few other outside-the-coaching box considerations: Take intriguing point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played professionally last season in China, or Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-footer who’s just 220 pounds out of Latvia and can shoot the 3s and run the floor like Dirk Nowitzki.
sfl-miami-heat-nba-draft-lottery-s040515Or, take Okafor, and trade him to Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins? The Lakers also have the 27th overall pick (taking it from Houston) and then No. 34 overall (fourth in the second round). The Clippers have no scheduled draft picks, giving up their No. 28 to Boston and No. 57 to Denver but still hanging around with some really nice new logo shirts.
Also: For those paying attention, the NHL Draft takes place Friday-Saturday in Sunrise, Fla. NBCSN has the first round Friday (4 p.m.), with the NHL Network carrying rounds 2-7 on Saturday (7 a.m.). The Kings have the 13th overall pick, Anaheim has choice No. 27. Edmonton has the first pick and is expected to take 18-year-old center Connor McDavid out of the Ontario Hockey League.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sunday Q&A: Joe Buck, on life as a dad, and as the son of a famous dad, and how it all links together at the U.S. Open

Joe Buck, center, is flanked by daughters xxxx and Trudy while in the 18th tower at the U.S. Open on Saturday. (Photo by Dan Bell/Fox Sports)

Joe Buck, center, is flanked by daughters Natalie and Trudy while in the 18th tower at the U.S. Open on Saturday. (Photo by Dan Bell/Fox Sports)

When Joe Buck towers over the Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington to finish up Fox’s coverage of the U.S. Open this weekend, his two daughters – 19-year-old Natalie and 16-year-old Trudy – will be somewhere nearby.

“They’ll probably standing in a corner of the tower and rolling their eyes and asking, ‘Why did we come here?’” Buck said. “Probably texting and Instagramming and Facebooking non-stop with their heads down.”

But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not far away will also be Buck’s wife, Michelle Beisner, an ESPN NFL reporter and host whom he married just more than a year ago.

Also very close will be his late father, Baseball Hall of Famer Jack Buck, who died 13 years ago this week.

jack-buck-joe-buck-001067864Although Joe Buck says he had more of a best-friend than father-son relationship with Jack Buck, and every day felt as if it was like Father’s Day, he might have a moment to pause and remember the times they used to get on the golf course together and made each other laugh.

Just before the 46-year-old Joe Buck began this weekend’s broadcast, he talked through the dynamics of Father’s Day 2015, as well as its past and future:

Q: Based on what you took away from your relationship with your own dad for the 30-some years you had with him, how do you maximize your quality time with your own two daughters while functioning in this business?
I think I do what most parents do – when I’m not working, or if I don’t have any responsibilities that I have to cover, I’m with them. The thing is when they’re older, their priorities isn’t always being with their dad. I’m not talking about two kids that I need to tuck into bed at night. In fact if I did that now, it’d just be kind of creepy. I’m to the point where they know they’ve got me, I’m wrapped around their fingers, I’m there for anything and everything. The hard thing has always been that I’ve traveled and missed a lot of weekends, but that’s not the sad song. The truth of it is that it’s been great. Sometimes it feels like forever since I’ve seen them, and that can only be a week. Sometimes, I can drag them out (to an event) with me, and they’ll miss some school along the way, and some things with their friends, but they’ve gotten to see the country at least, if not the world, and be there pretty much with me every step of the way. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Weekly media notes version 06.18.15: With Joe Buck’s luck, the U.S. Open will give him flashbacks to the days he and dad on the golf course

 Jack Buck, the longtime voice of the Cardinals and postseason broadcaster, with his son Joe in their fifth year as a broadcasting team in 1995. Jack Buck died in 2002. (Leon Algee/Associated Press)

Jack Buck, the longtime voice of the Cardinals and postseason broadcaster, with his son Joe in their fifth year as a broadcasting team in 1995. Jack Buck died in 2002 at age 77. Joe, now 46, calls the 115th U.S. Open for Fox, which ends on Father’s Day. (Leon Algee/Associated Press)

What will end up as the Sunday Father’s Day feature column:

It’s was 13 years ago today — June 18, 2002 — when Jack Buck passed away at age 77.
In the New York Times obituary, it was noted that “Buck was among a shrinking fraternity of baseball announcers, including Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers and Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy of the Mets, who have been identified with their teams for decades.”
Since that obit, Harwell, (2010), Kiner (2014) and Murphy (2004) have also died.
On that day, Joe Buck called the St. Louis Cardinals’ home game against the Angels, then got over to the hospital afterward in time to say his final goodbye to his dad.
AR-150419587.jpg&maxW=960Today is the first of four straight days that Joe Buck says hello to a new challenge: Hosting Fox’s coverage of the 115th U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay in Washington with Greg Norman.
Joe will have enough on his mind, on the air from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. between FS1 and Fox Channel 11, to let it wander too far away from what’s in front of him to remember this date.
Is that Cole Hammer about to tee off or Cole Hamels? (“I’m going to do that at least four times today,” Buck said during today’s early broadcast).
When it comes to getting his head around his father’s passing — even on this anniversary — Joe Buck says that’s not necessarily that difficult any more.
“It’s funny, that’s hard for me to believe in some respect, but in others, it’s almost like he’s been gone forever,” he said late Wednesday as he left the Chambers Bay course following Fox’s last day of rehearsals and headed back to his hotel. “A lot has happened over the last 13 years in my life. A lot has been good — some things I certainly didn’t expect. The first few years he passed away, I found myself reaching for the phone at the end of a broadcast wanting to bounce questions off him or get his temperature on something I had just done. That’s not even in my mind any more.
“I have friends and family who mark those dates when somebody died and they’re aware of all that. I just don’t think like that. I don’t know. I’m so aware of him pretty much every day of my life, I have someone bring his name up or tell me a story maybe five, six, seven times a week — still — that he’s in some ways still with me.
“He died never seeing the Boston Red Sox were World Champions. It’s been that long ago. I just don’t get that wistful or emotional about it. I’ve had my emotion on it. Maybe because when he died I went into MC mode and was the master of ceremonies at his wake, which is just crazy to think about at Busch Stadium. I gave the eulogy at his funeral. I had to grieve in public. I don’t know if that turned off that emotion for me. Maybe I’ll have to spend an hour with Dr. Phil and figure that out.”
buckbeisnerJack Buck will be with Joe Buck in spirit, especially during Sunday’s Father’s Day conclusion of the event (unless there’s a Monday playoff).
But Joe Buck’s two daughters from his first marriage — 16-year-old Trudy and 19-year-old Natalie — will physically be near him this weekend, as will his wife, Michelle Beisner, a former NFL Network anchor who has been working lately at ESPN and hosted “NFL Live” recently She will be a member of the “Sunday NFL Countdown Crew.” Joe and Michelle were married in April, 2014.
We’ll have more on Joe Buck’s life following his legendary dad, and what it’s like going forward as a dad for our Sunday piece.

What we have here and now to mention:

== What is Joe Buck’s favorite curse word?
Damned if we knew, until’s Richard Deitsch decided to ask him right out of the box in this recent podcast. Because those are the things you can do on a podcast, even if it’s Sports Illustrated and not on HBO or Showtime?
Such a fk-in potty mouth when you get Buck rolling, apparently.
Buck also admits to putting together a new book about himself and his dad, and he’s in development with DirecTV to do an athlete-interview series.

== Buck also talks about, in this Golf Digest story, why he can’t curse on the air.
“I’m playing with [NFL quarterback] Carson Palmer one year in the Tahoe celebrity tournament. I can’t do anything right. Four-letter words are pouring out of me like I have Tourette’s. When it’s over, Carson and his brother, Jordan, say, ‘How do you do a broadcast without letting an F-bomb leak out once in a while?’ As I told them, when we go on the air, I kind of throw a switch in my brain where there’s no profanity. Throwing the switch has worked—so far.” Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play It Forward: June 15-21 — A Chambers Bay day for Dad, with Phil seeking his first fill of U.S. Open glory

Yes, that's a train going by the 16th hole at Chambers Bay golf course, which comes into play if someone really goes off the tracks near Pugent Sound in Washington during the 115th U.S. Open.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Yes, that’s a freight train going by the 16th hole at Chambers Bay golf course, which comes into play if someone really goes off the tracks near Pugent Sound in Washington during the 115th U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)


GOLF: 115th U.S. OPEN
Details/TV: At Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., Thursday-Sunday, Fox Sports 1, Channel 11:

There are some, like non-U.S. Open winner Phil Mickelson, who say they are pumped up by playing this Northwest gem off Puget Sound near Tacoma, a links-style track designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., that looks camera-friendly and down-right nasty. The later part is why others aren’t so complimentary.
Deal with it, says Greg Norman, the World Golf Hall of Famer whose best U.S. Open finishes were as a runner-up in 1984 at Winged Foot and 1995 at Shinnecock.
Orig_3781_large5 “The reaction is nothing different than any other major championship,” said Norman, part of Fox’s new broadcast team for this major. “When you go into it as a player, you either like the set-up or you don’t. The attitude that Phil Mickelson has is the right attitude to take. You have to go in with no white noise going through your head saying, ‘I don’t like this course because I don’t know how to play it.’ That white noise is going to be detraction to you, and you won’t perform well. So I know Phil has done his homework extremely well around there.” There is probably not enough time for everyone to get their reps in before the first round begins at 8 a.m. Thursday. Especially for those who have had to scramble to make it in by playing qualifiers. “Can they do 100 percent of their homework?” Norman asked. “No, they cannot because they don’t know the way the course is going to be set up by the USGA executive committee, which is part of the great theater that we’re going to have up there. Every day is going to be a different day. The USGA is getting exactly what they wanted, weather-wise, by choosing Chambers Bay. Phil Mickelson has a really good chance of hoisting a U.S. Open trophy because Chambers Bay will suit him.”
The irony is that Mickelson’s design company was one of the five finalists interviewed to create the course back in 2004, before Jones’ company won it. Construction began in January 2006, and less than eight months after the course opened in 2007, the USGA announced that it would have the 2010 U.S. Amateur as well as this 2015 U.S. Open played there. Since Chambers Bay becomes the youngest course to be awarded the Open, perhaps youth will be served if someone like Rickey Fowler or Jordan Spieth rise to the top of the leaderboard. Rory McIlroy comes in as the 5/1 favorite on, with Spieth at 7/1, Fowler at 18/1, Michelson at 20/1 and Tiger Woods, who was 14 over in his last event at the Memorial, at 33/1.
Seriously, what could better suit the golf gods on Father’s Day other than to see Mickelson surrounded by his daughters on the 18th green?
The first two rounds Thursday and Friday are on FS1 (6 a.m.-to-2 p.m.) and Channel 11 (2-to-5 p.m.), the third round Saturday is on Channel 11 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and the final round is Sunday on Channel 11 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Also: Fox prepares for its first U.S. Open golf coverage.

ALSO: Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

An update on If Whitlock demoted himself for the good of the project, that could not have been easy

Photo by Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer

Jason Whitlock, from his ESPN office in LA Live, on May 27. (Photo by Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer)

An ESPN statement released today about the future of, a project we wrote about in the May 31 editions:

As we continue to move forward in the process of creating The Undefeated – a new ESPN site focusing on race and sports – we have collectively decided to make some structural adjustments that will maximize the skill sets and strengths of our team, leading to the best possible output for the site and for all of ESPN.
To that end, Jason Whitlock will now be entirely focused on what he does best: creating distinctive and compelling content, which will live across various ESPN platforms. Jason’s thought-provoking perspective has always been a hallmark of his work and this will allow him to completely devote his time and energy to that. As a result, he will make significant contributions to multiple ESPN entities and programs. Since returning to ESPN, Jason has been instrumental in assembling the foundation of a strong editorial team, formulating the vision for the project and collaborating with our digital product team to develop the blueprint for the site.
Leon Carter – an experienced leader in journalism who officially joined the site in January after leading staffs at the New York Daily News and – will assume all day-to-day management of the site’s editorial processes and personnel on an interim basis.

Our immediate read on all this without having Whitlock’s response:
Those who assume this means Whitlock has already crashed landed as editor-in-chief likely don’t know how difficult a process it is to move from writer to manager of any kind of start-up. Acknowledging that now instead of later is more of a survival instinct for himself and the site.
We could sense in talking to him that he was ready for this challenge, but that doesn’t mean one is also equipped to handle it without some intense management training classes and buying into the day-to-day work that involves hiring, editing, team meetings, etc.
Some may be better as an offensive coordinator than a head coach. And Whitlock does not need to be “the face” of a site that deals with race and culture and sports for it to be successful.
“Hire slowly and fire quickly,” Whitlock told us about what’s he had to quickly learn as a manger.
If this is a painful “firing” of himself as the chief overlord, which could not have been easy, it might just be the right team-related move for everyone involved, and he can focus on writing, more his true passion.
Neither Whitlock nor others employed by the site have returned texts or emails for more insight, so until then, it’s difficult to speculate much further.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email