<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Sports]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California https://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usWed, 17 Jan 2018 22:21:24 -0800Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:21:24 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[No Lonzo, No Win: Lakers Now 0-8 Without Ball]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 19:49:48 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-to-Thunder-1-17-18.jpg

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their second straight game, as the Oklahoma City Thunder put up a 24-point beat down on the short-handed purple and gold.

Already without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to an Achilles strain during the first half and Kyle Kuzma to a joint sprain in his left hand in the second half.

The Lakers always faced long odds on the road against a playoff team like the Thunder, but Ball missing games appears to a mountain too tall for the Lakers to overcome. LA fell to 0-8 on the season when the 20-year-old no. 2 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft is unable to lace up his sneakers. Over those eight games, the Lakers have lost by an an average of 17.0 points.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Lakers stayed close for the first half, with Julius Randle scoring 16 points before the intermission. Caldwell-Pope also contributed 10 points before he went to the locker room in the second quarter.

After emerging from the intermission, however, the Thunder did not waste time to create separation. A 33-18 third quarter gave Oklahoma City a 21-point lead entering the final quarter. Considering the lack of personnel and the opposition's star power, this game was over, save for the clock counting down the final 12 minutes.

Eventually, the Thunder won 114-90 with Carmelo Anthony leading all scorers with 27 points. Stephen Adams added 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Randle failed to register a single point in the second half and still finished as the team's leading scorer on the night. Caldwell-Pope's 10 points before he left injured in the first half accounted for the only other Lakers' player to score in double figures.

On this night, the Lakers appeared to get out-muscled. The Thunder particularly dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Lakers 54-30, including a difference of 21-6 on the offensive glass.

Next, the Lakers return home and host the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cross-Country Skier Sophie Caldwell Secures Podium for US at Final Team Sprint Event]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:23:54 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+OLY+SOPHIE+CALDWELL+THUMB.jpg

Cross-country skier Sophie Caldwell had a photo finish in the final cross-country team sprint event Sunday, which led to a third-place finish for the US. She was joined on the podium by teammate Ida Sargent, who qualified for the Olympic team the day before.

<![CDATA[10 Fast Facts About Speedskating Star Shani Davis]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:39:15 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-901955760.jpg Thin crust or thick crust? Cubs or White Sox? U.S. Olympian Shani Davis loves Chicago, and he has plenty of opinions on the city's hottest debate topics.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Paul's Strange and Dramatic Return to L.A.]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:50:59 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*128/GettyImages-905424762.jpg

Breaking up is hard to do. 

There was no harder evidence of this fact then Monday night's drama at Staples Center as All-Star point guard Chris Paul returned to Los Angeles to face Blake Griffin and his former teammates. 

Break ups in all relationships are tough. They're emotional, and often times liberating. This was prevalent on the court (and off) as Paul and Griffin acted like two scorned lovers who relationship had fallen part, and they used their new significant others (teammates) as fodder in the whole ordeal. 

Paul gave the Clippers the best six years of his life. In turn, the Clippers franchise went from inconsequential to contender, igniting the best years in the team's history with the formidable "Big 3" of Paul, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. 

However, all good things must come to an end, and in the summer of 2017, Paul left for the Rockets and made sure to take some parting shots at his Clippers teammates and coaches on the way out, saying he did not agree with the "Clippers culture."

Paul scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds but it was his former team and their new "culture," that came out victorious in the reunion game. 

"It's always emotional when you lose," Paul said, "especially against your former team and stuff like that. All of the emotions that go into seeing familiar faces and stuff like that."

It felt proper for the story to see CP3 return in the black "Houston" jersey, loudly projecting "villain" for the Clipper fans who booed him whenever he touched the ball during the first quarter.

The fans were reminded by the video board just how good they had it together. Paul hobbling towards the series-winning basket over Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 in the first round of the 2015 playoffs is clearly the best moment in franchise history.

While the reunion felt emotional for one side, it didn't feel like that for the other. In fact one could say it was more like out of sight, out of mind.

"We didn't mention Chris [Paul] today," Clippers head coach Doc Rovers said, "we talked about the Rockets, honestly. Like I said before, Chris was great for us, Chris decided to leave us, so he's no longer a Clipper and we don't talk about him. We talked about Blake [Griffin], [Deandre Jordan], all the guys on our team, and that's what we did today, we talked about the way to win the game tonight. We knew it would be an emotional game in some way, we didn't know how, but we talked about that and said we're just going to play through the game, and I thought overall we did that."

In a way, the game looked like the phase in the relationship after the initial breakup where both sides reunite, remember the good times, but then quickly fight each other and remember why the separation was necessary in the first place. The game was certainly chippy from both sides and ended with Blake Griffin and Rockets forward Trevor Ariza getting ejected in the fourth quarter.

That argument on the court between the two forwards spilled over into the locker rooms after the game as reportedly, Paul led Ariza and teammates James Harden and Gerald Green into a side door of the Clippers' locker room while another teammate Clint Capela distracted the team by knocking on the front door of L.A.'s locker room.

Security quickly ushered the Rockets players back to the visitor's locker room and police were dispatched on the scene to make sure nothing escalated. Nonetheless, Griffin was one of the targets by Ariza, Paul and the Rockets, and it's certain that the end of their relationship played a significant part in the altercation.

"I was worried because emotions rob you of your talent and energy, and I thought tonight, tonight, we didn't allow that," Rivers said. "We kept playing with the same energy, we attacked on both ends of the floor and let's be honest, the way we play does get under people's skin, and I don't think it had anything to do with [Chris Paul]."

Throughout the end of last season and much of the ensuing offseason, there were plenty of questions as to why a team with Griffin, Paul and Jordan could not make it to the Western Conference Finals. Was it chemistry? Who couldn't gel with who? Thanks to this game, we have our answer.

Paul said after the game he talks to Jordan all the time, yet he never mentioned Griffin. In fact, he made a point of saying that the new-look Clippers should run the ball through their best player, "Lou Williams."

Williams led the Clippers with a game high 31 points. Which raises the question, did LA really win the CP3 trade?

Through the jostling and jawing that the schism in the previous Clipper teams was between the two stars. Now with them separated, a new rivalry in the NBA may have been born.

Sure, Paul gets to team up with James Harden in an augmented attempt to overthrow the dynastic Golden State Warriors, but in return, the Clippers got Williams, Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker. Williams is averaging a career high 23.3 points and five assists per game and it seems as if he alone is enough to give the Clippers an argument for the victor of the trade debate.

"[Lou Williams] is the guy," Paul said, "the go to guy, the guy they should play through and stuff like that. he is having a great year and is a tough man. They play the right way, they share the ball, move the ball and it's a good team over there."

Despite a slew of injuries and a nine game losing streak early in the season, the Clippers are still in the fight for the last two spots in the Western Conference playoffs. The current seventh seed and eighth seed will clash and break the tie on Wednesday when the Clippers host the Denver Nuggets.

Being a team that would be classified as underrated maybe new territory for the Clippers but that is not how Williams sees it.

"I don't think we're underrated," Williams said. "I think at this point we're just playing good basketball. I don't really want to put a title on it. We've played with numerous lineups and we've played with so many guys out, so to still be successful is good. We've got a lot of hungry guys."

CNHI's Tony Capobianco contributed to the story.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Rookie Lonzo Ball Ranks 11th in NBA Jersey Sales]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:15:20 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Lonzo-Ball-jersey-sales.jpg

While Stephen Curry and LeBron James continue to top NBA jersey sales, a new face appeared on the NBA's jersey rankings.

For NBAstore.com jersey sales based on data for the months of October through December of 2017, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball ranked no. 11 ahead of Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, the NBA announced on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Lakers ranked fourth in overall merchandise behind only the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers.

For the 2016-17 season, no Lakers player finished in the top 15 for jersey sales, which was a departure from the two-decade-long Kobe Bryant era. However, the new local kid from UCLA appears to be the right face for the franchise in picking up the metaphorical marketing torch Bryant placed on the ground when he announced "Mamba Out."

On the court, Ball is also filling the void left behind by Bryant.

With over half the season complete, Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 assists, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks in 33.9 minutes per game. His three-point shooting is finally up over 30 percent for the season, as Ball has improved as the season has progressed.

Recently, Ball has been incredible considering his age and level of experience. Over the past five weeks, Ball has played in 11 games and averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.3 steals in 36.5 minutes per outing. The Lakers are 5-6 with Ball in the lineup and 0-7 without the 20-year-old point guard over that stretch. In addition, Ball shot 39.0 percent from three-point land over the most recent five weeks, so his historically poor shooting start to the season is a distant memory at this stage and talk of reworking his shot over the summer also subsiding.

Undeniably, Ball's father has helped his son's popularity with headline making quotes, media generating public appearances and even a show on Facebook, but the 20-year-old Chino Hills native has displayed that he's a special talent and worthy of the hype train that dropped him off at the Lakers' station.

Without Ball, the Lakers have lost by an average of 16.0 points per game, while his presence has a notable positive impact on both ends of the court. As much as Ball is proving to be the star of the team on the floor, the jersey sales and merchandising numbers back up that Ball is the Lakers' star off it, too.

To see the full NBA Jersey and Merchandising Rankings: Click Here

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jamaica Sending Its First Women's Bobsled Team to Olympics]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:54:01 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jamaicabobsledteamwomen2018_1200x675.jpg

Jamaica’s women's bobsled team made history Monday, becoming the first female bobsled team from the island nation to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

They will compete 30 years after Jamaica sent its mens bobsled to the Olympics in Calgary, Canada, inspiring the movie “Cool Runnings." 

The women's team has been training in Pyeongchang, South Korea, site of the  2018 Olympic Winter Games, and in upstate New York since March, giving themselves the name "Gold Squad: Fire on Ice," according to team media coordinator Kathleen Pulito. The team is striving "to bring home the first Winter Olympic medal for the women's team!" Pulito said in an email. 

“A leap of faith and a dream come true later I will be representing my country as one of the first women bobsled athletes in the Olympics. I am overwhelmed with joy knowing that I have helped make history for my country. I am really grateful for this experience,” said Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian will pilot for the Jamaica team, in a press release.

Fenlator-Victorian previously piloted for USA in the 2014 Winter Games before joining Jamaica Bobsled and Skeleton Federation in 2015. 

Carrie Russell and Audra Segree were selected as brakewomen for Jamaica. 

The press release also said the Jamaica men’s bobsled team is ranked 31st on the Olympic Qualification list, one spot out of qualification. If any teams forego their selection, Jamaica would be next in line to make its 7th appearance in the men’s 2-man event on the 30th anniversary appearance since their debut in Calgary in 1988.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jamaica Bobsled Team/Facebook ]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Elgin Baylor Getting a Statue]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:22:46 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Elgin-Baylor-Lakers-statue.jpg

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers, STAPLES Center and AEG announced that Elgin Baylor will be immortalized with a statue in Star Plaza outside STAPLES Center on April 6th.

In a statement, Lakers CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss said, "I am thrilled that 60 years after the Minneapolis Lakers drafted Elgin, we are able to celebrate and honor him with a statue."

Buss added, "Not only is Elgin a part of the Lakers family, his contributions to the game of basketball earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. His list of accomplishments are unparalleled and I can't wait to see his statue at Star Plaza alongside the other Lakers legends."

Baylor's statue will be the fifth time a statue has been erected to honor a former Lakers' player and the 10th statue overall. Shaquille O'Neal was the last player to get a statue at Star Plaza, while legendary LA Kings broadcaster Bob Miller became the first person to receive the special honor in 2018.

Baylor was the no. 1 overall pick in the 1958 draft and played with the Minneapolis Lakers for two seasons before moving to Los Angeles with the team. In those early years, Baylor was the star of the team and finished his career as an 11-time All-Star. Known for scoring, Baylor still holds the NBA Finals single game record with the 61 points he scored at Boston on April 14, 1962.

Baylor also once scored 71 points at the New York Knicks, but his achievement came before the team moved to Madison Square Garden. Currently, the most points ever scored at MSG is 62 points by Carmelo Anthony. In comparison, Baylor's tally dwarfs Anthony's record, but Baylor's achievement against the Knicks is rarely mentioned.

Already a member of the Hall of Fame and with a jersey retired in the rafters at STAPLES Center, a statue of Baylor in Star Plaza is a deserving honor for an all-time Lakers legend.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Sports Spectacular]]>
<![CDATA[Rockets Players Try to Enter Clippers Locker Room After Loss]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:50:51 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*124/GettyImages-905441738.jpg

So much for a friendly homecoming.

Tensions were high on the court and off the court on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Staples Center, as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated former teammate Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets, 113-102, on Monday night.

After the game, an altercation broke out just outside the Clippers' locker room as Trevor Ariza, James Harden, Chris Paul and Gerald Green all tried to enter the Clippers' locker room after the loss. 

For those unfamiliar with the bowels of Staples Center, the Clippers locker room is adjacent to the visitor's locker room. Only a hallway separates the two rooms, and their is access to each locker room through the hallway. 

On many occasions, players from both the Clippers and the visiting team catch up in these hallways or exchange pleasantries away from the press or the public. 

However, there were no pleasantries exchanged on this night. 

According to a source with the Rockets organization, Ariza led the charge into the Clippers locker room looking to confront either Blake Griffin or injured guard Austin Rivers. 

Griffin and Ariza had both been ejected from the game with just over a minute lest in the fourth quarter, and Ariza could be seen exchanging words with Rivers before he left the court. 

According to the source, Rivers saw Ariza near the entrance of the locker room and told security, "Let his b---- a--- come in." 

The comment infuriated Ariza who was backed up by Harden, Paul, and Green. 

It was also reported that at the same time as the four players were trying to enter the locker room from the side, Rockets' center Clint Capela was at the front door of the Clippers' locker room, and knocked on the door. 

According to a Clippers staff member who opened the door, Capela stood in front looking to get inside before the door was shut on his face. 

"I saw it in our locker room," said Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers when asked what went down between the two teams. "Let's put it like this. Our whole team was in our locker room. Their [The Rockets] entire team was not in their locker room. I'll let you figure it out from there."

NBC LA sports reporter Michael J. Duarte was outside the locker room when the altercation broke out, and saw security push the Rockets players back into the hallway that divides the two locker rooms.

LAPD was called to the scene, as was extra security. Nothing ever got physical between the two teams as it was broken up and dispersed before anything could happen.

Police and security would not let members of the Clippers players head towards the Rockets locker room where friends and family usually congregate outside the "Chairman's Lounge."

"I don't know nothing about that," said Clippers' guard Lou Williams after the game. "You won't get a quote from me about that."

Harden and an entourage of friends also tried to go after Rivers in the locker room.

Eventually, Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Johnson all left through that area, but Austin Rivers did not.

The altercation first began on the court where Rivers, dressed in a suit, was on the sidelines during the game as he recovers from an Achilles injury. Rivers could be seen throughout the game trash talking players on the Rockets, and exchanged words with Ariza in the fourth quarter just before Ariza and Griffin were ejected with just over a minute left in the game.

After the game, Griffin would jokingly say that Ariza had asked him if he was still coming to his birthday party, but that Griffin was still not sure if he was going to attend. 

Things were chippy throughout the game, but they reached another level late in the fourth quarter when Griffin scored a basket with just over three minutes remaining in the game after he was fouled by Paul under the basket.

Paul immediately protested the call with the refs and Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni appeared to exchange expletives with Griffin.

After the game, D'Antoni said that Griffin "hit him with an elbow," and that's why they exchanged language. Referees issued both Griffin and D'Antoni for double technicals and then Griffin was ejected two minutes later after getting into it with Ariza.

Hours after the game, players from both teams sent out some hilarious tweets, memes and GIFs, subtlety, or sometimes not so subtlety, addressing the incident.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Still Winless Without Lonzo Ball, Lose on MLK Day]]> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 17:30:16 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-lose-on-MLK-Day.jpg

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Los Angeles Lakers had the honor of playing in a nationally televised game in the city of Memphis, where King was assassinated in April of 1968. While the day and moment was not lost on the Lakers, who visited the National Civil Rights Museum ahead of Monday's contest against the Grizzlies, the game was lost, rather predictably.

The Grizzlies took full advantage of the short-handed Lakers, who were without Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram--arguably the team's two best players. Ball was a late scratch with a sore knee, while Ingram was an even later scratch with a sprained ankle. Considering how close to gametime the two 20-year-olds were ruled out, neither expects to be sidelined for too long.

Monday was the seventh time the Lakers have played without Ball and the seventh time the team has suffered defeat under those conditions. It is also the third time Ingram has missed a game, and the Lakers lost all three of those games. MLK Day was the second time both Ingram and Ball missed a game together, and obviously, the Lakers are winless without their two young stars sitting out in tandem.

The defeat in Memphis snapped a four-game winning streak for the Lakers and proved to be a major step back defensively for a team that had regained focus on that end of the court during its recent run. This game, though, is tough to analyze due to the injuries, which led to Lakers coach Luke Walton digging deep into his bench with two-way players Alex Caruso and Gary Payton II getting playing time.

Payton only joined the team earlier in the same day, so the 25-year-old point guard did not even have a chance to go through a practice before being tossed into the deep end by Walton. But Payton did not sink. He played an instrumental role in helping the Lakers make a late rally that cut a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to only eight points before the Lakers' comeback stalled out.

Eventually, the Lakers lost 123-114, meaning that the team has lost by an average of 16 points over the seven games Ball has missed.

The standout performer for the Lakers on Monday was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Over the past five games, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 16.8 points and 2.2 steals on 51 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting from three-point land.

Kyle Kuzma contributed 18 points off the bench. Rookie Josh Hart added 16 points starting in place of Ingram, while Larry Nance Jr. added 15 points and 11 rebounds off the pine to round out the Lakers to hit double figures in the points department.

Whereas the Lakers only had four scorers in double figures, the Grizzlies played a far more balanced game with eight different players scoring between 10 and 20 points on the night. Dillon Brooks led the way with 19 points on 6-8 shooting, while Tyreke Evans finished with 15 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in the victory. Evans has a habit of killing the Lakers and came within one rebound of a triple-double on this occasion.

Next, the Lakers wrap up their road trip in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Simone Biles: I Was Sexually Abused by Gymnastics Doctor]]> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:44:23 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_16273701850851.jpg

Simone Biles, the golden girl of the 2016 Olympics, added her name Monday to the list of gymnasts who say they were molested by team doctor Larry Nassar, NBC News reported.

The revelation came on her social media accounts — one day before a weeklong sentencing hearing where Nassar will hear from nearly 100 victims.

"I am not afraid to tell my story anymore. I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar," she continued.

Biles' statement follows similar disclosures from three members of the 2012 "Fierce Five" team — McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. They are not expected to be at Nassar's sentencing, but 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher will testify at the marathon hearing.

Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lonzo Ball Has Sore Knee, Lakers Sign Gary Payton II]]> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 09:16:07 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Gary-Payton-II-Lakers-contract.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are into the second half of their season, and it appears that rookie point guard Lonzo Ball is dealing with a sore left knee that may keep him out of the MLK Day game in Memphis.

Officially, Ball is listed as questionable for Monday's game.

With Ball's availability in question, the Lakers did not waste any time in recalling point guard Alex Caruso from the South Bay Lakers, the team's minor league team. In addition, the team announced that it had signed Gary Payton II, the son of former Seattle Supersonics and Lakers point guard Gary Payton, to a two-way contract.

Payton went undrafted in 2016 and joined the Houston Rockets before being released and joining the Rockets' D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Vipers for the 2016-17 season.

Payton joined the Milwaukee Bucks in April of 2017 and even started six games for the Bucks in the 2017-18 season while on a two-way contract. Payton was waived in December after averaging 2.5 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 8.8 minutes with the Bucks and 18.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists with the Wisconsin Herd.

The Lakers signed Payton on a two-way contract with hopes that the 25-year-old can help provide more options at the point guard position, which has been heavily reliant on Ball and backup Tyler Ennis. Ball recently missed six games with a shoulder sprain, and the team went winless over that stretch, so the move to get Payton may fill a short-term need should the rookie miss time with his sore knee but also potentially provide a longer-term solution for Ball's backup.

The team recently released Vander Blue from his two-way contract to open the roster spot Payton now occupies. Payton should expect to play with the South Bay Lakers a fair amount if Ball is able to maintain his health for the remainder of the season.

With the team currently 6.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and on a four-game winning streak, a postseason berth is still a possibility but not likely. Payton is likely a player the team has scouted and views as a potential piece to help both the G-League and NBA club in the future.

With the signing announced on Monday, one would expect that Payton will be available to assist the team in Memphis.

The Lakers' MLK Day game against Memphis has a tip-off time of 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Several Lakers visited the National Civil Right Museum in Memphis on Sunday, evidenced by photos appearing on social media. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss joined NBA commissioner Adam Silver in touring the museum, though ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reporter that Buss did not have dinner with Lakers coach Luke Walton, as the coach has been ill. However, both Buss and Lakers president of basketball operations Eavin "Magic" Johnson took to social media to support their coach on Saturday after the coach's job became a national NBA story line in recent days.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chick Hearn and Bob Miller Immortalized Side-By-Side]]> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 08:20:47 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Bob+MIller+Statue.png

Two legendary broadcasters, side by side forever. 

Over the course of the 21st century, Staples Center has become a museum for the illustrious history of the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Kings.

Gold statues of the gilded gods of Southern California hockey and basketball such as Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal, and Luc Robitaille are scattered around the area outside of Staples Center known as "Star Plaza."

However, amongst the gods of athletic achievements, stand two mere mortals. Two men, forever linked by friendship and fate. Two men who will never be known for their stats or championships, but for their voices and stories. 

Those men are broadcasters Chick Hearn and Bob Miller. 

Hearn was the first broadcaster to ever be enshrined in bronze back in April of 2010, when the legendary Lakers' play-by-play announcer was given a posthumous statue in Star Plaza. 

Hearn called 3,338 consecutive Laker games between 1965 and 2001, and will forever be known for his catch phrases: "slam dunk," "the mustard came off the hot dog," and the "Jell-o is jiggling!"

Hearn died in 2002, and Miller, one of his closest and dearest friends was at the funeral. Little did he know, that nearly 16 years later, he too would have a statue in Star Plaza alongside his friend and fellow broadcaster. 

Miller retired at the end of the 2016-2017 season for the L.A. Kings, and the franchise paid tribute to their longstanding play-by-play announcer by erecting a statue in his honor less than a year later. 

On Saturday, just before the crosstown rival Anaheim Ducks took the ice against the Kings, the team immortalized the legacy of Miller with a statue next to Hearn in Star Plaza, followed by a a banner that was raised to the rafters, joining the likes of other retired stars, Gretzyky, Robitaille, Rob Blake, Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, and Dave Taylor. 

Miller, 79, received the ceremonial honor in humble fashion, saying that, "Nobody starts their career saying, 'I'll have a statue outside of Staple Center,'" and mentioned that what makes it special is that the statue and banner "are permanent."

What makes this extra special for Miller, in an almost poetic sort of way, is that if it wasn't for Hearn, he would have not been hired to be the Kings' broadcaster in the first place. 

"That means a lot to me because Chick, as I said, recommended me for the job 44 years ago and I always told people, I'm just sad that he's not here to see (the statue)."

Miller's career as a hockey announcer began in 1968 at the University of Wisconsin. At the time, the Badgers were only good at hockey and were only able to draw constant standing-room-only crowds in that sport, so the program director at the radio station that Miller worked in Madison made him the voice of that team. 

When the Kings's original announcer, Jiggs McDonald, left for the expansion Atlanta Flames in 1972, Miller sought the job and was backed by Hearn's recommendation. Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke hired California Golden Seals announcer Roy Storey instead. 

While Miller got to call his Badgers winning the 1972-73 NCAA championship, Storey was fired after one year on the job. Cooke then headed Hearn's advice, 39 years later, Miller was on hand to call the Kings winning their first Stanley Cup in 2012 and their second in 2014. 

"I think he'd be very proud of the guy that he picked was here for 44 years," Miller said on Hearn.

Miller's accolades include the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to members of the television and radio industries for outstanding contributions to their profession and hockey, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and membership in the halls of fame of the Kings and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

When asked what Cooke would say if he was still around to see the ceremony, Miller responded with his best imitation, "Dear boy, what did you ever do to deserve a statue." 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo]]>
<![CDATA[Former Kings Announcer Bob Miller Gets Staples Center Statue]]> Sun, 14 Jan 2018 11:04:30 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/AP_18014167922981.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings memorialized the career of retired longtime broadcaster Bob Miller on Saturday, unveiling a statue of him outside Staples Center and hanging a banner in his honor from the arena's rafters.

Miller's statue in Star Plaza is surrounded by those of other local sports luminaries such as Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Luc Robitaille. The statue was the second honoring a broadcaster, joining that of the late Laker broadcaster Chick Hearn.

Miller became the first non-player to be honored by the Kings with a banner inside the arena. He join a roster of Kings luminaries already so honored -- Robitaille, Gretzky, Rob Blake, Dave Taylor, Marcel Dionne and Rogie Vachon.

The unveilings were done prior to the Kings game against the Anaheim Ducks. All fans attending the game received a Bob Miller bobblehead.

Miller, 79, announced his retirement March 2, 2017. In April, he called the 3,353rd and final game of his 44-season career with the Kings.

"Due to four separate health incidents the last year, quadruple bypass heart surgery, a transient ischemic attack, a mild stroke and a stent placed in my left carotid artery, and with doctor's advice to slow down, it's time for me to retire," Miller said when he announced his retirement.

Miller became a hockey announcer in 1968, when the program director at his radio station in Madison, Wisconsin, told him he would be announcing a University of Wisconsin game the following Friday because it was the school's only team to win consistently and draw standing-room-only crowds.

Miller first sought to be hired by the Kings in 1972, when the team's original announcer, Jiggs McDonald, left for the expansion Atlanta Flames.

Hearn recommended Miller for the job, but team owner Jack Kent Cooke hired California Golden Seals announcer Roy Storey.

When Storey was fired after one season, Hearn again recommended Miller, and Cooke took his advice the second time.

There was a benefit to the one-season delay in joining the Kings. Staying at Wisconsin, he broadcast the Badgers during their 1972-73 NCAA championship season.

Miller had to wait 39 years to broadcast another title-winning team, when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012. They won again in 2014.

Miller's accolades include the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to members of the television and radio industries for outstanding contributions to their profession and hockey, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and membership in the halls of fame of the Kings and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Olympian Aja Evans Comes From a Family of Athletes]]> Sat, 13 Jan 2018 20:18:53 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/aja.jpg

On the brink of a second berth to the Olympic Winter Games, Chicagoan Aja Evans doesn’t hesitate when asked where she gets her motivation. Katie Kim reports.

<![CDATA[Magic Johnson Publicly Shows Support for Lakers Coach]]> Sun, 14 Jan 2018 19:18:01 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Coach-Luke-Walton-1.jpg

After the father of Lonzo Ball, the Lakers' rookie superstar point guard, suggested to ESPN that the coach had lost the locker room, no one in the Lakers' organization came to the coach's defense.

Initially, not giving the outspoken parent attention seemed like a reasonable move.

However, Ball was asked about his father's comments and asked, pointedly, if he liked playing for Lakers coach Luke Walton. The 20-year-old responded, "I'll play for anybody."

If his father's comments were sticks of wood and matches, Ball's response to the question about his coach ignited the fire that followed. Walton referred to the situation as "not ideal" but contended that it did not affect his coaching or what he was trying to do.

Still, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson had not publicly come out in support of their coach, who was riding a nine-game losing streak when Ball's father made his comments.

That same day, the Lakers won. Asked about taking Ball out early, Walton said with a straight expression, "His dad was talking s***, so I took him out early."

Walton quickly said he was joking, and the coach's ability to make light of the awkward situation was admirable. The fact that he had to seemingly handle the public response on his own seemed far less ideal than even the original comments that sparked the media frenzy.

Eventually, Walton got sick of the questions and stated that he wouldn't be speaking about the matter any further and would instead talk about what he was paid to do, i.e. coaching.

But then, ESPN NBA reporter Brian Windhorst went on a radio show and turned the small backyard fire into a potential wildfire when he said that the Lakers organization's muted response had led to front offices around the league thinking Walton's days were numbered and that former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was a prime candidate should Johnson, Pelinka and the Lakers make a move on the bench.

"Whatever you want to say about LaVar Ball, he has smoked out the fact that the Lakers do not support Luke Walton," Windhorst said on Rich Eisen's radio show.

Sure, the Lakers had been riding a winning streak and responded to Ball's father's comments with their play on the court, but the radio silence from the organization was sending its own messages about the future of the coach.

That all changed on Saturday.

Ahead of Saturday's game in Dallas, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss tweeted out a picture of her, Walton and Pelinka and included the hashtag "#InLukeWeTrust". The owner has been supportive of the coach and used the same hashtag prior to the comments from Ball's father and the media frenzy that followed, but this was the first public support displayed by the Lakers' organization's decision-makers since Walton's future on the bench had become a national story line.

The Buss family, though, has a publicized principal of doing research to find the best candidate for a job and then allowing that person to, well, do his or her job. As much as Buss' tweet of support meant in that it came from the owner of the Lakers, she hired Johnson to make basketball decisions. Walton's job was a basketball decision, so the opinion that carried the greatest weight was that of Johnson's, who remained silent.

After the Lakers won their fourth game in a row in Dallas, however, Johnson finally took to Twitter and displayed public support for the job Walton was doing. 

"So proud of my @Lakers players and Coach Walton for winning their 4th game in a row against the Mavericks," Johnson tweeted after the victory.

The Lakers' executive followed up with a second tweet, "Coach Luke Walton has the @Lakers playing some of their best basketball of the season right now."

And so, with two tweets, Johnson finally killed the radio silence and supported his coach. Was that so hard? Both tweets made sure to mention Walton, which was no accident. Combined with the support from Buss earlier in the day, one would imagine the Lakers finally dropped water on a fire that desperately needed to be extinguished sooner rather than later.

Note: According to images that appeared on social media, Johnson was in Hawaii on Saturday when a false alert for an incoming missile went out. The Lakers' executive was pictured in a makeshift bomb shelter.

Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed ]]>
<![CDATA[LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball Go Scoreless in Pro Debut in Lithuania]]> Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:02:33 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/AP_18013672553421.jpg

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball went scoreless in their pro basketball debut, finishing a combined 0 for 7.

The younger brothers of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball played in the Lithuanian league for BC Prienai on Saturday. Their team lost 95-86 to Lietkabelis Panevezys.

LiAngelo went 0 for 3 from the field in just over 9 minutes. His 16-year-old brother, LaMelo, played 5:16, going 0 for 4.

The brothers signed with the Lithuanian team last month after LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA. He was suspended indefinitely following his arrest for shoplifting during a recent tour of China.

That sparked a Twitter spat between father LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump.

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball combined for 29 points in an exhibition against the reserve team of Zalgiris on Tuesday. It was the first of five planned exhibitions designed to showcase the Ball brothers. Another is scheduled for Monday.

In basketball-crazy Lithuania, the game is often dubbed the "second religion" and attracts huge crowds to arenas even in small towns. There have been several Lithuania players in NBA teams, including Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis and Zydrunas "Big Z" Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Win Fourth Straight After OT Victory in Dallas]]> Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:44:01 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-beat-Mavs-Julius-Randle.jpg

After losing nine games in a row, the Los Angeles Lakers responded by winning their fourth straight game in a 107-101 overtime victory in Dallas on Saturday.

Julius Randle put in a monstrous performance with 23 points and 15 rebounds, though the active forward also tabbed seven turnovers. Lonzo Ball, the Lakers' rookie point guard, finished the day with nine points, seven assists and seven rebounds but zero turnovers in a positive performance.

Unfortunately, the Lakers lost forward Brandon Ingram to a mild ankle sprain in the second quarter after the 20-year-old had started brightly and led the Lakers to an early 11-point advantage after the first 12 minutes of the game. Ingram did not return to the game.

Predictably, the Mavericks, at home, made their push back into the game via Wes Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Smith finished the game with 23 points to share game-high honors with Randle, while Barnes and Matthews both contributed 17 points in the Saturday matinee.

With a minute remaining in regulation, the Lakers led by five points and looked set to celebrate victory. Then, Barnes led a late game charge, which was aided by a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed free throw, to bring Dallas level with 5.9 seconds remaining in the game.

Rather than go to the hot hand of Jordan Clarkson, who hit a couple big shots in the final three minutes of the game, LA gave the ball to Randle. The forward proceeded to use the majority of the clock before the ball squirted loose and looked like a turnover before Ball picked up the rock and attempted a desperation game-winner. The shot never had a chance and fell well short, and the game required five extra minutes to decide a winner.

In the extra period, Clarkson continued his hot shooting by hitting a three-pointer to begin the overtime session. The Lakers' sixth man made one more bucket in the overtime to give the Lakers a five-point lead with two minutes remaining in the game. Clarkson finished with 19 points and four assists on the afternoon.

The Mavericks, however, continued to fight back and cut the difference to three points with 42 seconds remaining in overtime. Then, Ball drove to the basket and didn't draw iron on his shot attempt, but Dallas-native Randle grabbed the offensive rebound and made the put-back to restore a five-point cushion for the Lakers with 18 seconds remaining.

The game was in the refrigerator, finally, and the Lakers claimed their fourth win in a row, with a winnable game in Memphis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next on the schedule.

Notes: Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, as the 22-year-old made 8-13 field goals on the day. The Lakers outscored the Mavericks 54-30 in points in the paint.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe's Coming Back to Your TV Screen]]> Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:05:13 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-5210663121.jpg

Retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant will host, write and produce "Detail," a basketball analysis show on ESPN aimed at young athletes, current NBA players and coaches looking for deeper analysis of an athlete's in-game execution, the network announced Friday.

According to ESPN, "viewers will experience unparalleled game observations from Bryant as if he were one of the players featured in an ESPN game played the day before. Bryant will provide a perspective aimed at helping young athletes, players and coaches see the game in a different way."

"Detail" will premiere in March and run through the NBA Finals. ESPN has ordered 15 episodes.

"Studying game film is how the best get better," Bryant said. "It's the university for a master's degree in basketball. I learned how to study film from the best coaches of all time -- Phil Jackson and Tex Winter. 'Detail' provides an opportunity to teach that skill to the next generation on large platform with ESPN."

"Detail" is the third project from Bryant's Granity Studios for ESPN. He provided content for ESPN's "NBA Countdown" show during the 2016-17 season and has provided short packages to the network this season titled "MuseCage Basketball Network."

The announcement was made in connection with ESPN's portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, which is being held in Pasadena.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[History of the American Football Dates Back to the 1800s]]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 23:00:37 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_49_09.Still002.jpg

Here is the reason why the American football is commonly referred to as "pigskin."

<![CDATA[Jimmy Ma Pushes Envelope in Figure Skating With 'Turn Down for What']]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:03:12 -0800 https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/20180104-Jimmy-Ma-19.jpg Ma spoke with NBC Bay Area to discuss why he chose to perform a hip-hop number during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships for the short program instead of a typical classical rendition.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez/NBC Bay Area]]>