Sunday media: Run, Rich. Really. Run …

These are the kinds of things that actually happen this time of year:

As a TV event, the NFL Combine may combine boredom with vicarious exercise, both amounting to nothing productive from achieving a personal best.
But the one element that may not get so tedious: Measuring yourself against NFL Network anchor host Rich Eisen in his own 40-yard sprint.
Just when you think this thing has run its course …
In 2012, Gregg Rosenthal of ProFootballTalk wrote: “We’ve read a few suggestions in the Twitterverse that NFL Network’s Rich Eisen’s annual forty-yard dash has grown overhyped. Like the Combine itself. My response: People will complain about anything. Relax.
“The glory of a man trying to beat six seconds while sprinting in a suit replete with a pocket square cannot be denied. There is no game film with which to evaluate Eisen. It’s all about the 40.
“Eisen’s annual trot marks the entire beginning and end of the athletic season, like a Super Bowl title being decided on the season’s opening kickoff.”
Eisen will try to top a person best of 5.94 set last year, in Year 12 of doing this, when he gets on the field in suit and tie again Sunday.
The NFL Network will air it Monday.
As has been the case in recent years, there is also a charity component to this for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Read more at the official #RunRichRun site here. And at this press release about the run.
And here is the Sunday Media column about the run and how it has come to this point.

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The art of Hollywood movie sports trading cards with Cuyler Smith

A display of the very cool Hollywood sports-related illustrations by Irvine-based graphic artist Cuyler Smith remains at the Gallery 1988 showroom (7021 Melrose Ave in L.A.) through Saturday. The pieces are available for purchase — and if you do a little research, they would make an outstanding unique gift for anyone on any occasion.
Smith’s work caught the eye this week of the Kansas City Star’s Pete Grathoff in a piece he posted Monday, which highlights some of Smith’s creative takes on how stars in sports-based movies might look if they were portrayed on trading cards.
Smith explained to Grathoff that the first card he created was on the Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Duggan character from “A League Of Their Own” for a Hanks-themed gallery show, and the portrait seemed to lend itself nicely as a baseball card. The response was great, so he kept doing it.
“Each card in the series is special to me, so it’s really hard to choose a favorite,” Smith told us Tuesday. “I have had ‘The Sandlot’ set planned for awhile if that helps. I am a huge movie fan especially sports films. ‘The Mighty Ducks’ movies even inspired me to play ice hockey when I was younger.
“The series has been a blast to work on. There are a few collectors that have every card I have ever made including my first which only had an edition of 20. I collected baseball cards as a child and it is amazing to see the series take off and gain a following.”
Smith said several of the new cards are very close to selling out at the Gallery as well. There some complete sets of the show still available as well as packs that include a special card or a previously sold out artist proof from last year’s show.
He said he has plans to continue the series but it’s “nothing that I can announce just yet. I would also like to thank the entire crew at Gallery1988 for all of their help and support with my work.”
Smith got his Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation from Laguna College of Art and Design and his masters in illustration from Cal State Fullerton.
For more info, find Smith on Twitter or Instagram as well as his website, where the artwork continues to be for sale.
Just our luck this Roy Hobbs card is already sold out.

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Sports media notes version 03.01.17: On Bob Miller’s future and more

What’s worth getting out now before the weekend arrives:

== The Kings have called it  a “major announcement” planned for Thursday at 3 p.m. at Staples Center, hours before the team takes on Toronto, concerning the future of Bob Miller as their Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster.
Prime Ticket will air it live, and it will stream on the team’s website.
Here is how the Southern California News Group framed the story today.
Yet, the Los Angeles Times has posted a story that Miller “is expected to announce his retirement.”
The story is based on …  the ability to connect dots? Even if there were “sources” or “confirmation” from someone inside the Kings’ organization …. you want to take whatever this moment is away from Miller in the name of getting ‘news’ first?
If it becomes true that Miller plans to announce some sort of retirement plans, we’d rather hear it first from his point of view. This is his life and his story.
And there are more dignified ways of dealing with this sort of announcement rather than trying to get it out there before “everyone else,” including the primary subject.
Consider how, during Tuesday night’s Kings game in Calgary, the press conference was mentioned several times.
“So many questions surrounding Bob and his health, and Bob says, ‘I want to answer those questions’,” longtime partner Jim Fox said during the promo in the third period.
Ralph Strangis, who has been filling for Miller this month, added: “We’re all friends and fans of Bob. I’ve known Bob for a very long time, 25 years. It’s my honor as well as for all the other guys who have had a chance this season to step in and give him a little breather. We are honored to do it. We love Bob. Bob, see you on Thursday.”
Miller, 78, isn’t going away so quickly. The Kings have 13 games left at home, leading into the last one Saturday at 3 p.m. on April 8 against Chicago. The team finishes the regular season the next day at Anaheim.
Miller, who had a four-way heart bypass operation 13 months ago, said last Feb. 13 he would wait until he receives a health update from his doctors before deciding how to proceed through the rest of this season as he recovers from a mild stroke at the NHL All-Star Game. Listen to him on with Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete during their KLAC-AM (570) show on Monday afternoon.  Miller is careful not to lead anyone into thinking he’s about to walk away.
If it happens, we will be prepared.

== Coming up on its first year of operation, TheUndefeated.com continues to monitor and bring to light socially bolstered sports stories that we find important and maybe not so much so.
We expect to see improvements as the D.C.-based organization officially added, most notably before the end of Black History Month, retired New York Times writer Bill Rhoden as a columnist, editor-at-large and the creator of a Rhoden Fellows internship program to train aspiring African-American journalists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Bill’s pioneering career has been phenomenal, his body of work unmatched. We are grateful to have him leading a new initiative at The Undefeated to develop the next generation of Bill Rhoden,” said The Undefeated editor-in-chief Kevin Merida. “Thankfully for us, and for our readers, Bill will continue to write – his strong, brilliant voice is still needed.”
Rhoden took a buyout at the Times last July after 26 years.
“I look forward to passing the torch I received from Sam Lacy and many others to a vibrant, new generation.”
Lacy, the pioneer black sports writer and part of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was a mentor to Rhoden when he worked at The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper right out of Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Last week, The Undefeated added former Buffalo News executive sports editor Lisa Wilson to its staff as a senior editor.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
== UCLA’s contest against Washington from Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday at 8 p.m. goes to FS1 with Tim Brando, Jim Jackson and Steve Lavin (as well as Kevin Burkhardt on site as the host). Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. home game against Washington State lands on ESPN2 with Steve Quis, Sean Farnham and Jill Montgomery
== The Pac-12 Network has J.B. Long and Don MacLean calling USC’s games against Washington State (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) and against Washington (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
== The Pac-12 Nets and ESPN have coverage of the Pac-12 tournament from Las Vegas beginning Wednesday, March 8 and concluding Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m.
== In the West Coast Conference tournament, Pepperdine faces Pacific on Friday at 6 p.m. and Loyola Marymount meets up with BYU on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet. Barry Thompkins, Casey Jacobson and Kelli Tennant are on the broadcast team for LMU-BYU.
== Paul Sunderland, Mike Thibault and Elise Woodward have the Pac-12 women’s tournament championship from Seattle, Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Sunderland and Thibault also have the West Coast Conference women’s final, Tuesday at 1 p.m., on ESPNU

COLLEGES
== More live events of note from the Pac-12 Network:
= Ted Robinson and Eric Byrnes call the UCLA-USC baseball game from Dodger Stadium on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Continue reading “Sports media notes version 03.01.17: On Bob Miller’s future and more” »

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Play It Forward Feb. 27-March 5: The Lakers pick this night to see Boogie’s return

New Orleans Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday battle on the floor with Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins for the loose ball during the second half of a game on Feb. 10. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

As the Lakers prepare to play host to New Orleans on Sunday (6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet), the script seems to have flipped for “La La Land” and “The Pelican Briefs.”
Newly cemented New Orleans teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis scored or assisted on 67 of the Pelicans’ 99 points in their first game together last week after the trade deadline. But they still lost to Houston by 30 points.  They combined for 51 points and 29 rebounds one night later, and lost by 13 to Dallas, as New Orleans only had 34 second-half points.

DeMarcus Cousins (0) pats Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of the team’s game against Houston last weekend. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Somehow in this equation, one plus one must equal three, as former Campbell Hall and UCLA star guard Jrue Holiday ups his game as the established point guard here, the one who ultimately feeds the bigs. Holiday took a leave of absence from the first 12 games of this season as his wife, former UCLA and U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday, underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. New Orleans has played itself back into a contender for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and has less than two dozen games left to fix things and Holiday could be the biggest difference maker.
“He’s not one of the real vocal leaders, but I think he kind of leads by example,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said recently. “When he wasn’t with us, we didn’t have that on the floor — forget about all the leadership, he’s a talent, and you’ve gotta have talent in this league to win. So we missed the talent as much as anything, and then when you add in the leadership, and those other characteristics, it’s an integral part of this team that you’re missing.”
What’s missing from the Lakers, who missed on their attempts to acquire Cousins, can be seen on a nightly basis.
What else is on tap locally and nationally in the sports week ahead at this link.

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Sunday media: The ins and outs for Spectrum SportsNet “Lakers Insider” Mike Bresnahan

Spectrum SportsNet

By all transparent measurements, Charter Communications is in the Lakers’ business, with its Spectrum SportsNet covering the team as close to a 24/7 cycle as it can possibly do.
While the Lakers didn’t own this channel — the Dodgers later would do so with SportsNet L.A., produced and distributed by TWC, now owned by Charter – there was the understanding from the start that the franchise would be the marquee asset and get far more in-depth coverage, good or very good, than previous rights holders Fox Sports West and KCAL-Channel 9 could ever manage.
That’s what comes with a 20-year, $3 billion rights arrangement.
“The approval rights were born out of our desire to be more involved in how our brand is portrayed,” Tim Harris, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the Lakers, said at the time of the launch in 2012.
Mark Shuken, the TWC Regional Networks manager and senior VP at the time, added: “The Laker relationship is transcendent … (the channel) will share the truth” in partnership with the Lakers and “make sure their viewpoint is represented.”
There is favoritism in some ways, but to stay legit, it can’t go overboard. Fair and balanced isn’t always going to happen, no matter what mechanisms are in place.
Four years later, enter Mike Bresnahan into the Lakers’ coverage, a SSN employee whose job it is now to cultivate information from his connections.
The role he played in Tuesday’s coverage of the Lakers’ announcement that Magic Johnson would be the new president of basketball operations was how he conducted the live interviews during the half-hour presentation on SSN.
And it got watched: SSN reports that it got a .38 household rating in the 7 p.m. hour that day, after many repeats. That was the highest-rated “Access SportsNet: Lakers” non-game day show since the start of the 2015-16 season.
We caught up with Bresnahan to talk about how he fits into this role after years of covering the team front the print side as the Lakers’ beat writer for the Los Angeles Times for the previous 12 years.
Some of the outtakes:
His thoughts about how he wants to continue going to games, home and away, to generate information: “I don’t want to be just some guy prattling in a studio about what I think I know. I insist they send me out on road trips — I’ve already done four this season, including Oklahoma City (right after the Magic Johnson hiring).”
His incentive to make the move from print reporter to TV reporter: “I had done the Lakers beat for 12 years and felt I broke a ton of news, and maybe that was all I could do on the beat. I had the last 12 years of Kobe Bryant’s career. We had our ups and downs and didn’t see eye to eye, but I think there was mutual respect. I realized this was a good way to out on the print size after cataloging Kobe for so long. It seemed like a good time to try something new.”
On thinking of this as a career path: “(TV) hasn’t been that different. I’m green-lighted as a reporter to track stories. Basically, it’s just a different medium. Instead of behind the scenes in an interview with Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss, it’s broadcast for fans to see. I felt we needed to ask questions on the minds of the Lakers fans. I try to put myself in the chair of the fan. That’s what has always guided me. What does Joe from Encino or Fred from Carson want to hear.”
On whether he now feels he’s a performer in a TV show: “I still feel like I’m a guy asking questions, which is not always easy. When we had semicircles around players or coaches after a game or practice, I wasn’t the first to ask a question. I’d wait and then jump in. Now they want me to jump in to get the answers, so they can get it on tape and edit it for the postgame show. There is more speed and immediacy in that respect. I had some experience already as a reporter who would come onto the Time Warner Cable Lakers shows for the last four years, going in a couple of times a month. I know how I need to bring energy to the show. Now I have to do that almost every day I’m in. So there’s a transition even in that. And I wasn’t always getting haircuts or wearing suits all the time. We do have a mirror on the set below our table, but I haven’t used it yet. I’m not concerned if I have a hair out of place.”
On what he’s asked to do by Spectrum SportsNet: “They want to have more opinions in their discussions, as well as breaking news. That sounded good to me. It’s not like it’s going to be Stephen A. Smith versus Skip Bayless, which is fine because I’m neither one of those. I was intrigued by what they wanted to accomplish, break news in a different way to a different audience, and I really have been enjoying that. I watch TV differently now. I tape the show every day. I’m watching how people ask questions and learn from that. How body posture is important. Those were not the kinds of things I learned when I went to journalism school.”
On how other media reporters treat him now: “It feels like a pretty natural transition. Not like I’m feeling anything special. I’ve known these reporters before as people and I still talk to them about things. I’m never too far away from them and there’s no animosity. It’s actually been pretty chill. There are no jerks on the beat. Everyone has been supportive and cool.”
More about Bresnahan and the SSN approach in Sunday’s column at this link.

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