These two franchises played for the championship in three out of four years in the early seventies with the New Yorkers taking two of the three meetings garnering the Knicks their only two titles in franchise history.
For the time being, not so much.
What was once the household names of Jerry West vs. Walt Frazier and Wilt Chamberlain vs. Willis Reed has digressed to the not so household names of Jeremy Lin vs. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Hill vs. Andrea Bargnani.
Factor in both teams’ leading scorers and perennial all-stars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are out with season-ending injuries, Thursday’s game figures to have more of a Summer League match-up rather than a clash of two of the league’s storied franchises.
A little nostalgia from the benches is more what people are looking forward to when the lottery-bound teams meet Thursday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Knicks rookie head coach Derek Fisher returns to face a Lakers team he helped win five titles as a player. Assisting Fisher is Kurt Rambis who teamed up with Lakers coach Byron Scott during the Showtime Era helping the Lakers wn three of their five titles in the 80s.
And of course there is Knicks first year president and ex-Lakers head coach Phil Jackson who still happens to be Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss’ man. Jackson guided the Lakers to five titles in this new millennium.
So much more drama seems to be off the court than on it for both teams which makes this match-up so intriguing.
The Knicks – losers of five straight – have the worst record in the league while the Lakers – who snapped a five game losing streak of their own beating Detroit Tuesday at Staples Center – own the leagues fourth worst record.
Although this east coast-west coast rivalry isn’t what it used to be, it can return to what it once was with both teams getting healthy through the draft and free agency. Something both teams are banking on.
To hear from Derek Fisher and Byron Scott, click on the video with this story.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.