L.A. Clippers celebrate “Ralph Lawler Night” honoring long time announcer

Clippers - past and present - came back to Staples Center Monday night for "Ralph Lawler Night."
Clippers – past and present – came back to Staples Center Monday night for “Ralph Lawler Night.”

Sports fans in Los Angeles have been spoiled listening to the play-by-play voices of the teams – both college and pro – that have called the City of Angels home.

Among the elite voices are the Dodgers’ Vin Scully, Bob Miller of the Kings and the late Chick Hearn of the Lakers.

The legendary voice of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ralph Lawler, is in that conversation as well of course. Currently in his 36th season calling Clippers games, he was honored with Lawler Night at Staples Center for Monday’s game between the Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Catch words or phrases like “Bingo!” after a three-point bucket and “Oh me, Oh my!” are what Clipper Nation have recognized all these years – good and bad.

How about “Lawler’s Law?” Late in the game Lawler, during Clipper telecasts on Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket after one of the teams gets its 100th point says, “First team to 100 wins. That’s the law.”

“Ralph is a true legend in Los Angeles sports,” said Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket Senior Vice President and General Manager Steve Sampson. “Monday’s celebration is a true reflection of his passion for the game and dedication to Clipper Nation.”

Scully, Miller, former Clippers players Gary Grant, Lamond Murray and Pooh Richardson among others were in the building to pay tribute to Lawler.

All fans going to the game received a special “Oh Me, Oh My” t-shirt. At halftime L.A. City Council President Herb J. Wesson presented a proclamation officially making March 9th “Ralph Lawler Day” in Los Angeles.

Lawler’s won three local Emmy’s for his announcing and has called 2.838 Clipper games (and still going) making him the third longest tenured broadcaster in the NBA.

To hear from Lawler and some current and former Clippers, click on the video with this story.

Clippers’ Jordan gets one last snub for spot on West All-Star team

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis will miss this Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in New York because of a right shoulder sprain that’s kept him of the line-up in New Orleans’ last two games.

You’d think Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would get a call from the commissioner’s office as Davis’ replacement but that call never came. Instead, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki got the call to replace Davis on the West roster.

The Jordan snub obviously didn’t come unnoticed by his Clippers teammates and head coach Doc Rivers. They understand offense sells and defense doesn’t especially in the all-star game where it’s non-existent.

In his seventh season with the Clippers, Jordan has been putting up all-star numbers as, easily, the best defender in the league averaging double-figures in rebounds and scoring with his points coming off rebound opportunities and five block shots per contest.

Clippers DeAndre Jordan (left) was snubbed for the West All-Star Team in favor of Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (right). courtesy: LM Otero/AP
Clippers DeAndre Jordan (left) was snubbed for the West All-Star Team in favor of Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki (right).
courtesy: LM Otero/AP

What they do know is if the Clippers have a legitimate shot at winning an NBA title as soon as this season, Jordan’s defense and rebounding will be a big reason why.

“Next year I’ll just have to average 20 points a game,” said Jordan after scoring 24 points and pulling down 20 boards in the win over the Rockets. The third straight game he’s had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the absence of forward Blake Griffin out with a staph infection in his right elbow. “At this point there’s nothing I can do about it (the all-star snub). I’ve moved on. It’s cool.”

“There has never been a team that’s won a championship without being a decent defensive team or a great defensive team.” Said Rivers when asked about the snub. “The defensive side is always forgotten in the All-Star Game. I think they should include the best defender.”

To hear more from the Clippers on Jordan’s all-star snub, watch the video accompanying this story.

This will be Nowitzki’s 13 all-star game appearance in his 17th season in the league. He won’t replace Davis in the West’s starting line-up. Golden State rookie head coach Steve Kerr will pick Davis’ replacement as the starter on the front line.

Relocation fee to L.A. could cost NFL owner & city upwards of $1 billion

Rams owner Stan Kroenke (left) is building an 80,000 seat stadium in Inglewood.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke (left) is building an 80,000 seat stadium in Inglewood.

Since the Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles in 1995, 22 of the 32 NFL teams have moved into new stadiums with all of them built at Los Angeles’ expense. That includes the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis where the Rams moved after the 1994 season.

The cost to the City of Angels is the privilege of being the home of a franchise in the biggest and most lucrative entertainment/sports industry: the National Football League.

Los Angeles – the second largest media market in the country also known as the Entertainment Capital of the World – has always been considered an NFL market.

For the last two decades L.A.’s game has been off the field being used as leverage by the owners threatening a move to the City of Angels in the process fleecing their current cities of taxpayer dollars to build these new multi-billion dollar stadiums. This has enabled the value of all 32 franchises to climb to an average of $1.4 billion apiece. That’s a total of $44.8 billion.

The Indanapolis Colts - who parked their team plane at LAX - are one of many teams using L.A. as leverage to get a stadium deal in their current city.
The Indanapolis Colts – who parked their team plane at LAX – are one of many teams using L.A. as leverage to get a stadium deal in their current city.

That “L.A. Leverage Game” for the league is a thing of the past with all these new cathedrals of the gridiron up and running. The St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are the three remaining teams needing new buildings. The Raiders and Chargers leveraging their respective cities with L.A. can’t work because the cities they call home and L.A. are all California cities and are thus subjected to the exact same laws. It’s absolutely known that all government entities in the Golden State will not earmark taxpayer dollars towards sports stadiums. It’s just no fiscally responsible.

For L.A. to get back on the field a stadium needs to be privately funded. Enter Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He’s partnered with the Stockbridge Group in Inglewood and is going to build an 80,000 seat stadium where the old Hollywood Park Race Track sits on his own dime.  Plans are for it to be done in time for the 2018 season with the Coliseum or Rose Bowl a temporary home for a team – or teams – moving to L.A. in the meantime.

Kroenke is buiding his NFL stadium in Inglewood as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project.
Kroenke is buiding his NFL stadium in Inglewood as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project.

Estimates are an owner looking to relocate his team to L.A. will have to fork up a fee of half-a-billion to a billion dollars. Were that to actually happen, that cost would be passed down to the L.A. football fan paying outrageous prices for personal seat licenses; a voucher to get you a ticket inside the stadium. Then there’s parking, the actual ticket to the game as well as concessions for food and drinks that would undoubtedly be astronomical all because of this relocation fee.

A team owner willing to move his team to Los Angeles and the fans that have waited a generation to be able to attend an NFL game in their home city SHOULD NOT be subjected to a hefty relocation fee.

The 32 owners have made multi-billions of dollars using L.A. as leverage and will make a great deal more once a franchise or two calls Los Angeles home. That’s WITHOUT so-called relocation fees.

Making an owner pay a billion dollar relocation fee to L.A. pales in comparison to the multi-billions of dollars Los Angeles has netted the league over the past two decades as a leverage piece.

According to Forbes franchise values have quadrupled in the last 17 years when most of the 22 stadiums were built. The Dallas Cowboys top the list at $3.2 billion with the newly crowned Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots coming in second valued at $2.6 billion. Both play in two of the 22 stadiums built since L.A. has been without a team.

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft purchased the team for $175 million in 1994 which is, coincidently, the last year Los Angeles was home to the Rams and Raiders.  Kraft’s franchise is now worth some 15 times his initial investment.  Thanks partly to the leverage game L.A. was forced to play.

On the field, L.A. has a rich NFL history with the Rams who called L.A. home for 49 years. They played 34 of them in “L.A. proper” at the Memorial Coliseum and the last 15 in Anaheim sharing the “Big A” with the baseball Angels.

The Raiders left their birthplace in Oakland calling the Coliseum home for 13 years before returning to the East Bay after the 1994 season. The Chargers inaugural season in 1960 was spent in L.A. before bolting south for San Diego where they’ve called home for over 50 years.

Since ‘95, if an NFL fan in Los Angeles wanted to see the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers among others in person, a two-hour and more than 125 mile drive to San Diego, or a five-hour 370 mile drive to Phoenix or an eight-hour drive or $200 roundtrip flight to the Bay Area have been the best options for L.A. fans to see these talents in person. That’s how L.A. used as leverage has affected the L.A. football fan.

Los Angeles has made multi-billions of dollars for all 32 NFL owners off the field and has a rich NFL past on it. Waiving any type of relocation fee to L.A. would be a reward for its football fans who have gone an entire generation without a team to call their own.

 

 

 

 

Lakers’ Bryant to have shoulder surgery Wednesday, Kobe done for the season

Injuries have cut short Kobe Bryant’s last three seasons with the latest being the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder suffered in a loss in New Orleans last week. Monday he got a second opinion on the injury which confirmed the tear and now Bryant will have surgery to repair it on Wednesday.

“Rehab for a surgically repaired rotator cuff takes between four to six months,” said Dr. Alan Byer in a phone interview Monday. Byers, an orthopedic specialist at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine California, said that time frame for rehabilitation is typical with this sort of injury which is usually associated with baseball pitchers.

Bryant came back from a torn Achilles tendon and a fractured knee enduring long rehabilitation in both cases. Now at 36 years of age, he finds himself with another long and sometimes painful rehabilitation process to get back on the court. Retirement is also a consideration for the 19-year Lakers veteran. That would mean leaving $25 million on the table he is scheduled to make next season.

“I don’t see Kobe as the kind of guy that wants to leave his legacy on these terms,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Monday. “I think he wants to go out on his own terms.”

Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw – Bryant’s ex-teammate with the Lakers and later a Lakers assistant under Phil Jackson – weighed in on if Kobe can and will come back from this latest setback. To see Shaw’s comments click on the video with this story.

Bryant played 35 games and made $23.5 million this season, averaging 22.3 points but shooting a career-worst 37.3 percent, well below his career average of 45.4 percent coming into the season.

Kobe is expected to be around the Lakers training facility to help the team and will be quite active in recruiting up-coming free agents to play in L.A. next season, presumably Bryant’s last, to try to make one last playoff run and go after a sixth championship.

Griffin named to 5th All-Star team; Clippers rout Nets, 123-84

For all-star forward Blake Griffin and the rest of his Los Angeles Clippers teammates, Thursday night’s 123-84 blowout of the visiting Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center paled in comparison to the news earlier in the day that Griffin was voted a starter in next month’s All-Star Game extravaganza at Madison Square Garden in New York. At the moment, he’s the best physical entertainer in the entertainment capital of the world – Los Angeles.

Being voted to his fifth all-star game by the fans, Griffin showed his appreciation leading all scorers with 24 points in just over 24 minutes of play breaking out an arsenal that included jumpers as well as his signature high-flying dunks.

Griffin received 700,615 fan votes giving the Clippers leading scorer his fourth-straight start for the Western Conference. Joining him as a starter are Lakers guard Kobe Bryant – who likely will be replaced after suffering a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, Memphis center Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

“It is a great honor to make the All-Star team,” Griffin said. “I want to thank all of the fans who voted for me as a starter. I am excited to represent the Clippers and Los Angeles in New York City next month.”

To hear more from Griffin on being named a starter for the West in the 64th All-Star Game next month, click on the video with this story.

Currently eighth in the league in scoring, Griffin leads the Clippers averaging 23 points per game. He also pulls down 7.5 rebounds per contest and a career-high five assists. He’s the only player in the NBA who can boast about such numbers he’s averaging in those three categories this season.

Griffin led five Clippers (29-14) in double figure scoring in Thursday’s blowout over the Nets (18-25). Center DeAndre Jordan worked another double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford each poured in 17 and Glen “Big Baby” Davis joined Crawford off the bench adding ten.

Perennial all-star Chris Paul dished out 17 assists in under 25 minutes, scoring just six points in the end. He and his head coach Doc Rivers are just two of three NBA players that can say that.

“It’s a huge honor to join Doc Rivers in any statistical category,” said Paul who’ll have to wait to be added to the All-Star team by the coaches. “Doc was maybe a lot better than most of us thought he was (laughter).”

“I did notice that,” said Rivers when asked if he noticed that particular stat. He added, “I welcomed Chris to the club. He though it was a big deal until he saw my name up there, and that went away.”

Los Angeles trailed early by three at 17-14 in the first to the Nets who played without injured starters Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams. After that it was all Clippers who led by as many as 46 points.

The Clippers are in Phoenix Sunday afternoon to take on the Suns and return home Monday hosting the Denver Nuggets in the second game of a back-to-back.

Rams back to L.A. headlines 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Although the second largest media market hasn’t been home to an NFL team in 20 years, the beautiful Los Angeles weather has made its annual January appearance just in time for some pro football.

80 degree temperatures have greeted this year’s out-going college seniors this week who are taking part in Saturday’s 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at StubHub Center in Carson.

With the game’s slogan being For the players By the players many current and former members of the National Football League Players Association are here to help mentor the draft-eligible players trying to impress the many NFL – and CFL – scouts eyeing the new talent from the stands.

The coaching staffs of both teams include former players and coaches with local Los Angeles NFL ties. Let’s not forget the Rams called L.A. home for 49 years prior to their move to St. Louis in 1994 and the Raiders had a “cup of coffee” playing at the Coliseum for 13 seasons prior to moving back to Oakland in 1994 as well.

Convenient because it appears Los Angeles’ exile from the NFL is just about done with talks the Rams could be moving back as early as this coming season but with 2016 a more realistic targetdate.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has partnered with a group in Inglewood to develop the almost 300 acres of land between the Fabulous Forum and the old Hollywood Park Race Track. Construction of an 80,000 seat stadium is part of what’s now called the City of Champions Revitalization Project.

The American Conference team is coached by Super Bowl champion Mike Holmgren. Included on his staff for the game are ex-L.A. Rams safety Nolan Cromwell as well as ex-L.A. Rams assistant coach Gil Haskell.

The National Conference team is coached by former St. Louis Rams head coach and assistant Mike Martz. His staff includes former L.A. Rams Jackie Slater and Keith Lyle who also played in St. Louis. Ex-St. Louis Rams Az-Zahir Hakim and Jeff Zgonina are also on his staff.

Milling through the stadium as scouts and mentors the list includes Ex-L.A. Rams running back Lawrence McCutcheon, current Rams running back Tre Mason as well as Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Of course the hot topic this week besides the game is the possible Rams move back to Los Angeles. I was able to ask some of these current and former Rams about a possible move. To hear what they had to say click on the video with this story.

Kickoff for Saturday’s 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is set for 1pm PST, 4pm EST. If you’re not attending the game you can watch t on ESPN2. Plenty of tickets are available and can be bought at the StubHub Center ticket office as well as on-line at collegiate.nflpa.com/ticketsandgear. Group discounts as well as discounts for the military are available.

L.A. Hamilton hosts Lincoln HS in quarter finals after beating Cleveland, 27-8

Junior quarterback Armani Rogers will lead Hamilton against Lincoln in tonight's L.A. City High School football quarter final match-up.
Junior quarterback Armani Rogers will lead Hamilton against Lincoln in tonight’s L.A. City High School football quarter final match-up.

The L.A. City’s Division 2 top-seed Hamilton Yankees will host the eight-seed Lincoln Tigers tonight in a quarter final football playoff match-up at Hamilton High School.

The Yankees (8-3) opened the playoffs last week at Al Michaels Field on the Hamilton campus by taking down the Reseda-Cleveland Cavaliers, 27-8. They are undefeated at home improving to 7-0 with the first round win.

The Western League Champion Yankees – who won their first league title since 1980 – were led by quarterback Armani Rogers. The 6’ 5” junior passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the win. He was also picked off twice in the contest.

A furious three-minute, three touchdown scoring barrage by Hamilton erased a slow, jittery start to the game by the Yankees.

Trailing the Cavs 8-7 late in the second quarter, Hamilton would score on its next three possessions. The Yankees put together a drive that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by senior Kyshawn Richards. That gave Hamilton a 13-8 lead after a missed extra point with about 2:30 left in the first half. The Yankees never looked back.

Hamilton’s defense was able to force Cleveland to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive. After a short Cavalier punt, the Yankees got the ball first-and-ten at the Cleveland 37.

Hamilton wasted little time from there. Rogers went up top on first down finding senior Kyree Wallace for the touchdown just inside the right, goal-line pylon. The extra point gave the Yankees a 20-7 lead going into halftime.

Hamilton received the second half kickoff and put the game away. Senor Russell Shaw took the opening kickoff and worked the reverse handing the ball to senior Jericho Flowers. He took off and raced down the right sideline for an 83 yard touchdown giving Hamilton the 27-8 lead and that was that.

For hi-lites of the game and post game interviews, click on the video.

The Lincoln Tigers (7-4) enter tonight’s contest after beating Granada Hills in last week’s playoff opener, 42-35. Hamilton’s football field doesn’t have lights so the school will bring in portable lights for the 7pm kickoff.

Last time Hamilton hosted a playoff game under portable lights was five years ago. The Yankees went on to win their first ever city championship taking the title in 2009.

The winner advances to next week’s semi-finals and will take on the winner of the other quarter final match-up between South Gate and University high school.

Rams fans from L.A. take over San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium wanting team back

Since attending the very last Los Angeles Rams home game as a loyal fan on Christmas Eve 1994, I can count the fingers on one hand the number of NFL games I’ve attended as a fan or media member.

As a member of the media I worked Super Bowl XXXII won by Denver over Green Bay in San Diego in January of 1998the final Broncos home game at old Mile High Stadium in Denver on “Christmas Eve, Eve” 2000– the Broncos first home game at the new Mile High Stadium September 10th 2011and, as a fan along with my wife, attended the San Diego Chargers final pre-season game of 2009.

20141123_130008
From left to right, Joe Ramirez, myself and Aron Gonzalez ready to welcome the Rams home – back in Southern California.

The one for the thumb occurred Sunday, November 22nd as a fan, back in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium, to watch the Chargers host the St. Louis Rams. The very same Rams I grew up with and considered part of my family up until the day they announced they were leaving for the Midwest not long after that 24-21 Christmas Eve ’94 loss to the Washington Redskins at Anaheim Stadium.

The first Rams game I attended in person in 19 years, 11 months.

When I was a kid in the 70s my Father, Henri, designed clothes for then-L.A. Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, general manager Don Klosterman, head coach Chuck Knox and some players. They were around my Dad’s store in Beverly Hills all the time so that made them my family. And when they were there, so was I.

The Rams are the leaders among three teams with stadium issues in their current homes favored to relocate back to Los Angeles as soon as next season. The other two are the Oakland Raiders and, ironically, the Chargers.

20141123_132014
A capacity crowd at the “Q” in San Diego of 66,000+ with at least 40% of it being L.A. fans of the St. Louis Rams.

Led by the Southern California Rams Booster Club  – the largest Rams booster club in the world – and the Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams movement, other Rams booster clubs from up and down California as well as Arizona and Seattle, Washington – that’s right, Seattle – organized and planned for a Los Angeles Rams takeover of the “Q” as soon as the schedule came out last year.

Takeover the “Q” they – WE – did.

RAMS AT Q 3 (720x737) (720x737)
Members of the Southern California Rams Booster Club – the largest Rams booster club in the world – enjoy some tailgating prior to kickoff.

It was an opportunity for L.A. Rams fans to relive some memories. Let’s not forget the Rams called Southern California home – playing at the Coliseum then the Big A – for 49 years prior to the move east.

It was also an opportunity to show Rams owner Stan Kroenke he has an L.A. fan base ready to support the team should he relocate them back to L.A.

Needless to say, the L.A. fans took full advantage of that opportunity.

According to the San Diego Chargers they sold some 20,000 tickets to Los Angeles Rams fans. Add those tickets bought through independent ticket agencies like Stub Hub – which is where I purchased my ticket – upwards of 35% to 40% of the 66,000+ football fans in the stadium for Sunday’s game were Los Angeles fans of the St. Louis Rams.

About an hour prior to kickoff Kroenke and Chargers owner Dean Spanos were having a conversation near the Rams bench. Rams fans from L.A. began chanting “Bring them home, Stan!” and “L.A. Rams!” He heard every chant.

Sitting in my seat right behind the west end zone I was stunned to see so much old school regal blue and sun gold jerseys, hats t-shirts and anything Rams from the L.A. days around that stadium. So were the Chargers fans.

RAMS AT THE Q 5
Rams owner Stan Kroenke (rt) sharing pleasantries with Chargers owner Dean Spanos before kickoff.

Chants of “Go Chargers, Go!” were met with as many “Defense, Defense!” and “L.A. Rams! L.A. Rams!” chants.

L.A. fans of the Rams took over the sections behind the Rams bench from end zone to end zone. Directly behind the bench banners with single letters spelled out:

L-O-S-A-N-G-E-L-E-S-R-A-M-S

RAMS AT THE Q
Fox TV cameras showing fans behind the Rams bench telling the world where they want their team.

All this was not missed by those players who played to the crowd throughout the game as well as the Fox television cameras and commentators. It was a playoff atmosphere.

Similar looking to the Big A, being at the “Q” reminded me of those Sunday afternoons spent at Anaheim Stadium watching the Rams “back in the day.” Ram fans on every seating level and every deck.

When they left for St. Louis I felt betrayed and indifferent from then on when watching them play. I was told they moved because we, I, didn’t support them because of the many things to do in Southern California. A complete slap in the face to my loyalty and love for the Rams, win or lose.

RAMS FANS SAN DIEGO
Members of the So. Cal. Rams Booster Club & Rams World Order in the stands behind the Rams bench.

Well, if that were the case, if we hadn’t supported the Rams because of the many things to do around here on a Sunday afternoon it stands to reason ex-owner Daniel Reeves – who brought the Rams to L.A. from Cleveland in the mid-40s – would’ve moved the team within five years. He didn’t and the Rams were here for 49 years.

Current Rams owner Stan Kroenke saw that love and loyalty for the team on full display on Sunday. For the Ram fans from L.A. doing all the chanting at the “Q” on Sunday, the takeover was a success.

To the NFL, the St. Louis Rams and the naysayers around the country who say L.A. never supported and won’t support a team, you’re wrong.

The Rams lost the game in a heart-breaking fashion they used to do often when they called L.A. home. With a chance to win late in the game, they turned the ball over losing 27-24.

For the Los Angeles fans of the St. Louis Rams, it was a win. Their message was heard loud and clear. They got plenty of T.V. time visually and audibly. They – WE – could be rewarded with a return of the Rams as soon as next season. A perfect time for a Golden Anniversary Celebration.

Your comments are always greatly appreciated.

Clippers host Chicago Bulls. Rose & Gasol out for Chicago

Ex-Laker and Bulls center speaks to the media prior to Monday's game at Staples Center against the Clippers. Gasol was a late scratch due to a strained calf.
Ex-Laker and Bulls center speaks to the media prior to Monday’s game at Staples Center against the Clippers. Gasol was a late scratch due to a strained calf.

Another early-season tall task for the Los Angeles Clippers as they host the former Laker Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls tonight at Staples Center.

This is the third early season test for the Clippers against one of the NBA‘s elite teams. L.A, lost the first two to Golden State and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

Coming off of a 99-90 loss to Indiana the Bulls (7-3) will be without guard Derrick Rose who is doubtful for the second straight game due to a hamstring injury. Due to the well-documented knee injuries the Clippers ( haven’t gone up against Rose since December 2011. Rose has averaged 31 points and 12 assists in his last three games against the Clippers.

Without him in the line-up Chicago’s a much different team relying on that front line of Joakim Noah and newly acquired big man and former L.A. Laker Pau Gasol.

Gasol has had a rebirth of sorts with the Bulls after the last three seasons with the Lakers where he felt unappreciated being included in many different trade proposals. The Spaniard is averaging 19 points, 12 assists and three blocked shots.

Unfortunately for the L.A. basketball fans, they’ll have to wait to catch Gasol in his bright red Bulls uniform. The two-time NBA champion with the Lakers was a late scratch because of a calf strain suffered in the loss to Indiana.

“It just felt sore and it was like tight.”” said Gasol prior to tonight’s game. “I was able to finish the game anyway. Limited but finished. It just didn’t recover quickly.”

Gasol went through shoot-around this morning at UCLA in hopes of playing tonight against the Clippers but the muscle cramped up and was even more sore.

“I really wanted to play this team (Clippers) badly.”

His next visit to Staples Center is January 29th when the Bulls will take on his former team, the Lakers.

The Clippers (5-3) are coming off of a 120-107 win over the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center which saw them play their best game of the season thus far.

Los Angeles is led by its “Big 3” of point guard Chris Paul (18 pts, 10 asst per game), forward Blake Griffin (24 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assts) and center DeAndre Jordan (9 pts, 12 rebs, 3 blks).

Jordan, who is playing in his 248th consecutive game, had 18 rebounds to go along with 12 points and seven blocks in Saturday’s win over Phoenix.

“D.J. is one of those guys that thankfully doesn’t miss games,” said Paul. “I almost couldn’t imagine him not out there, because he covers so much on the defensive end.”

To hear from Jordan and top Clippers reserve Jamal Crawford on tonight’s game and going up against a rejuvenated Pau Gasol click on the video with this story.

Tip off is set for 7pm.

The NFL in London could work with a little compromise

This coming Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars will play the third and final game of this NFL season’s International Series at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The series began as an experiment in 2007 by the National Football League to gauge interest of the sport in the European marketplace.

And although the second largest media market in this country – Los Angeles – is on the verge of landing not one but possibly two NFL teams as soon as maybe next season after being without a team for 20 years, the League is still hell-bent on putting a team across the pond in London by 2022.

Commissioned by the NFL and a London marketing agency, the accounting firm DeLoitte released its findings last week from their study that said an NFL franchise based in London could generate more than $255 million for Britain annually.

In British pounds, we’re talking 165 million.

Pounds. Dollars. No matter what currency you reference, that’s a whole lot of coin the 32 team owners can’t ignore.

So, what about the fans both in the States and the British Isles?

A majority of NFL fans here don’t like the idea of putting a team in London because of travel logistics and the idea that it would be similar to out-sourcing American jobs to foreign countries.

Tom Bateman, president of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots. courtesy: Tom Bateman
Tom Bateman, director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

As for the Brits, L.A. native Tom Bateman, the director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to merry old England for a week in October of 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the New England Patriots.

While there, Bateman spoke with British fans he discovered enjoy American football immensely but think the idea of putting a team in London permanently is a silly one.

I agree with the Brits. If a team is moved or an expansion team is awarded to London, would the league’s name be changed to the International Football League?

“Part of the appeal to the Brits is that each (International Series) game showcases different teams” said Bateman who added, “The NFL in the UK is a spectacle as much as it is a sport. Probably more so.”

British tailgaters at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
British tailgaters “dressed to kilt” at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

He also discovered an NFL game represents everything the British love about America.

According to Bateman the Brits love the fact that we’re a show off nation.

Really, no sport or league shows off more than the NFL.

“It’s flashy, spectacular, the uniforms, the helmets, the cheerleaders, the endzone celebrations, the sack dances, all of that.” Said Bateman continuing, “But as a sport, to the Brits it can’t hold a candle to soccer or as they refer to it, real football.”

Also on the NFL’s agenda, sooner rather than later, is reducing the pre-season schedule from four games to two while expanding the regular season from its current 16-game schedule to 18.

An 18-game schedule is something the Players’ Union isn’t too keen on for player safety and the extra two games don’t increase the players’ salaries.

What about a little compromise for all parties involved so the 32 team owners, the players and Britain’s annual economy can capitalize on the projected $255 million the NFL stands to generate should it have a permanent presence in London.

Since the Brits enjoy seeing different teams play each International Series game and the logistics of having a permanent team call London home seem a bit difficult to iron out, let’s give the Brits what they want.

America's Game - NFL Football - celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
America’s Game – NFL Football – celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

At the same time, let’s expand the regular season from 16 to 17 regular season games with the extra game for each team played each week at Wembley Stadium in London.

So what if it’s an odd number schedule. Only thing affected is a team finishing .500 which isn’t a huge deal in the grand playoff scheme of things.

This way, only teams with winning records would qualify for the postseason.

Make the 17th game match ups interconference games – AFC vs. NFC – with the match ups chosen with ping pong ball machines much like the ones used to choose the World Cup soccer groups or the NBA Draft Lottery and do it during Super Bowl Week for games in the upcoming regular season. Cut the pre-season to just two games.

You’ve added a game while having an entire regular season schedule – 16 weeks – in London with the Brits seeing all 32 NFL teams in different match ups each game and year.

It becomes a “pseudo Super Bowl” each week in London because the logistics time wise of having the Super Bowl in London – which has been discussed – just won’t work for NFL fans in the States who want to see the biggest game and spectacle on U.S. soil and rightfully so.

After all, it is America’s Game. Somewhere all 32 teams need to always call home.

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