A bit of a dustup broke out on the web last night and this morning after Cam Newton was interviewed on the ESPN and local Los Angeles KCAL 9 Lakers-Suns telecast Wednesday night.
During the game, prominent Birmingham TV personality and WJOX-FM radio host Jim DunawayTweeted, “Hanging at Lakers-Suns… Pugh and most Auburn players in upper deck…Cam in lower bowl. Thanks Barkley for the tix.”
That Tweet along with courtside interviews that Newton did during the telecast was part of a chain reaction on Twitter and message boards across the country of people wondering if Newton had indeed gotten special treatment at the game that might amount to an NCAA violation. Read more…
Here’s my first SbB Powerless Rankings, which note the least influential prominent sports figures of the moment. The criteria is simple: The folks on the list would have no relevance if it weren’t for blind luck or undue support from their employers.
1 ) BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock: Most-despised man in sports, yet he has no power to do anything. Figurehead designed to distract fans from the actual, tiny cabal responsible for college football’s dark ages. Pie-in-the-face guy. Light a candle for him.
(‘Baghdad Bill’ Hancock)
2 ) Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio: Without relentless over-promotion by ESPN’s monopoly-enabled monolith, show wouldn’t exist. Perhaps the finest example of just how powerful ESPN has become as a sports marketing machine. Greenberg at least has a semblance of talent in a controlled setting - witness his SportsCenter performances.
3 ) The McCourts: The underfunded couple was handed the Dodgers by Bud Selig and MLB Owners to artificially limit payrolls in MLB’s larger markets and the NL West. Stole $120M from franchise to fund their personal lifestyles. Anonymous in L.A. outside the ownership suite - even despite the recent TMZ.com coverage.
4 ) Mark Cuban: Great at selling tickets and advertising but too enamored with his own, overrated basketball IQ. Needs to hire good basketball people and get out of the way. By alienating other owners and David Stern, doesn’t have nearly the influence in league matters that he should.
5 ) Jim Nantz: Rakes in millions in salary and perks from CBS gig, but would one less person watch a CBS sports telecast if he wasn’t calling the game? From local radio appearances, appears to have an interesting personality and provocative opinions, but once he’s national he goes dullard on us.
Thursday night Larry Brown of LarryBrownSports.com has Charles Barkley giving the TNT audience the middle finger while the TNT NBA panel was discussing Kobe Bryant’s finger injury.
As Barkley was holding up his hand to display his fingers, he inexplicably (and deliberately) shot co-Hosts Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and the audience the bird. Worse, he followed that up by refusing to take Ernie Johnson’s “April Fools Day” life preserver: Read more…
Last week the media went nuts over a Forbes.com report from Michael Ozanian that claimed Michael Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Robert Johnson for only $175M - after Johnson originally paid $300M for the team.
More alleged details from Ozanian on the deal have since emerged. Read more…
RadarOnline.com keeps us entertained this morning with this delightfully predictable photo of alleged Tiger Woods mistress Jamie Jungers and Charles Barkley:
(What took so long?)
Jungers claims she hung out with Chuck and Woods in a private gambling room one night in Vegas at the MGM Grand.
“I gambled with him and Charles Barkley one night for hours. He played blackjack and I sat there with him [Tiger] while he played. He played $25,000 a hand or more and Charles played roulette behind us… he was playing several thousand himself.”
Barkley, a reported notorious gambler, apparently didn’t notice the serious flirtation happening between Woods and Jungers, who says Tiger managed to keep his attraction for her discreet in front of his celeb pals.
“He would occasionally put his hand on my leg but it was underneath the table. There was nobody around except the blackjack dealer, the roulette dealer and a cocktail waitress who would come in the room. There was nobody in that room except for myself, Tiger and Charles Barkley.”
That’s the same Barkley touting his valuable advice for the golfer on how to get his life together. Read more…
Here’s the thing about Charles Barkley: he may come off as contrarian and opinionated and anti-establishment or whatever, but that’s not really the case. He’s just in the normal early stages of Cranky Old Man Syndrome, in which COMS sufferers begin alienating themselves from the changes in the world around them. It wasn’t immediately obvious; Barkley’s frequent shots at his superiors could have been just a garden-variety case of a problem with authority.
(NERRRRRRRRRRDS! AND BIRRRRRRRRRDS!)
But now that he’s going after TWITTER, well, we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t diagnose the COMS earlier. It’s so obvious, in retrospect. He doesn’t hate authority because they tell him not to do things, he’s just not used to the culture of responsibility. And the kids, with their Twitter Tweet Twoodles or whatever they’re called? Well, Charles Barkley doesn’t much cotton to these computers today.
As I do with most issues in life, I have reserved judgment on this whole Shawne Merriman-Tila Tequila controversy until I’ve heard what Charles Barkley has to say. As we learned on Friday, the San Diego District Attorney’s office dismissed the case against Merriman, in which Tequila, real name Tila Nguyen, accused the Chargers’ star of choking her and throwing her to the ground.
Barkley, on ESPN Radio in Dallas, had some words of advice for Merriman. I’m not sure why — Barkley didn’t sound as if he knew exactly who Merriman was. But it was the first question he was asked, and he responded by bashing reality TV in general. Read more…
Sigh. Just 24 hours ago, the idea of Tom Watson winning the British Open and Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France didn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, we were all starting to believe that it all had to happen. Why would they come this far just to fail in the end?
Much has been written about Watson’s inability to hang on to a one-shot lead on the 18th at Turnberry, but lost in that shuffle was the news that Armstrong has basically conceded the Tour to his teammate Alberto Contador after falling behind in yesterday’s climb in the Alps. While Lance is still second overall, he finished ninth in yesterday’s stage and looks like he’s not going to be able to keep up as the Tour continues through the mountains over the next week.
“Lance Armstrong was my idol, but dropping him today wasn’t important — he was just like any other rider … It’s an honor for me to have him working for me,” Contador said.
In other words, this is my sport now. Armstrong, who is rumored to be starting his own team for next year, acknowledged that Contador was the best rider and that his goal now is to do what’s best for his team.
Wins by Watson and/or Armstrong would have probably ended up being the biggest sports stories of the year, if not among the best of the decade. These examples of the triumph of the spirit over the limitations of the body as we age are a shot in the arm of a lot of us could use. For the most part, we are faced every day with some reminder that we aren’t all we could be, and we accept it because we’re getting older. It’s the most convenient excuse, and perhaps the fact that they came up just short is enough evidence for us to keep using it. Golf and cycling are about as far apart in terms of their physical demands as you can get in the sports world. But the fact that a 59-year-old and a 37-year-old cancer survivor could come so close to reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports one last time has to be some sort of wake up call for the rest of us, right?
Speaking of wake up calls (and I hate to keep bringing this up), but it looks as if the nails are just about to be driven in the coffin of David Beckham’s MLS career. In his first home game since his return to the Galaxy, he was roundly booed and got into an angry confrontation with a fan during L.A.’s friendly with AC Milan (Beckham’s other team).
Though he claimed afteward that he expected some negativity, it was clear through his behavior that he didn’t expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. The main culprits were the Riot Squad, the Galaxy’s version of a wannabe European fan section. As you can see, they aren’t too happy that Becks backed out on the first half of the MLS season to play in Italy:
After hearing boos and coordinated chants and jeers throughout the first half, Beckham finally had enough and confronted the section of fans as he headed off the field for halftime. He says he went to ask them to calm down, but soon security was getting involved and escorting away a fan who appeared as if he wanted to engage Becks in some sort of physical altercation. The L.A. TIMES has all the particulars of a strange evening at the Home Depot Center.
Lost in all of the tension was the fact that Beckham actually played well, and was instrumental in both of L.A.’s goals in a 2-2 draw with Milan. After he delivered a perfect corner kick in the second half that Bryan Jordan headed into the net, he turned to the Riot Squad and stared them down as he raised his arms in celebration. I imagine that this battle isn’t quite over yet, even though Beckham tried to downplay it in his remarks afterward:
By the way, Los Angeles, way to treat your sports stars. You welcome Manny Ramirez, a proven cheater, back from his suspension as if he was returning from chemotherapy or something, but you get all over this guy. Nice.
• From the world of minor league baseball promotions, here’s footage of Chewbacca riding around in the Mystery Machine at a single-A game in Lowell, Massachusetts:
• More from the world of minor league baseball promotions: The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated last night’s game to preganancy, complete with a pregame Lamaze class, and the promise of free tickets for life to anyone who names their kid “Brooklyn” or “Cy.”