Oregon Duck Spied in NBA Seats Money Can’t Buy

Last night during the Lakers-Blazers game in Portland, longtime PDX media personality Dwight Jaynes noted on Twitter that Oregon running back Kenjon Barner was at the game and seated courtside.

Kenjon Barner Lakers Game Courtside Seat Photo

A photo of Barner, who is a junior at the University of Oregon and reportedly mulling entering the NFL draft, was included as part of a brilliant photo essay of Thursday’s Blazers-Lakers game by OregonLive.com photographer Bruce Ely.

Kenjon Barner Lakers Game Courtside Seat Photo

From images taken from the KCAL 9 broadcast feed, one can see that Barner’s courtside seat at the Rose Garden was located next to Lakers head coach Mike Brown - and just feet away from Kobe Bryant & Co.

If you listed the most desirous seat of all Portland NBA home games this season, sitting next to the Lakers bench is at the top of the list. Barner’s seat last night was the kind of ticket normally bought by someone to whom money is no object. And, as Jaynes also noted during the game last night, having deep pockets doesn’t always guarantee the right to acquire such a prized seat location.

Kenjon Barner Lakers Game Courtside Seat Photo

That’s why the right to buy such a high profile seat location is usually extended only to those who posess certain status that money cannot buy - with last night confirmation that such extra benefits indeed extend to current members of the University of Oregon football team.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Latest Hate Fee ‘Teachable Moment’ .. About Stern

Last month Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 by the NBA after he was caught by a TNT camera using a gay slur during a game.


Of charging Bryant 100 large, NBA commissioner David Stern told Mike Greenberg of ESPN radio, “I’m very happy with where we sit.

Last night the NBA playoffs turned out to be, once again, must-fee TV.

This time it was Joakim Noah who uttered a gay slur - the same used by Bryant a month earlier - also seen by a TNT audience.

Stern wasn’t shy about enlightening Bryant to the plight of gay rights with a gigantic fine and a scolding “teachable moment” diatribe on ESPN radio, but what of the lower-profile Noah?

Watch. And learn.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Kareem: Statue Steam or Netflix Stream Scheme?

On Monday night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Twitter account sent out an innocuous Tweet announcing a new deal for his recent hoops documentary to be streamed on Netflix. Three minutes before Jabbar’s Tweet, a virtually identical Tweet was sent out by Abdul-Jabbar’s manager Deborah Morales, who also directed the movie.

(Lakers: We Would’ve Bumped The Logo For Kareem Had We Known)

What followed those promo Tweets the next two days appeared to be a masterfully choreographed public relations campaign to drum up interest in the newly-announced online distribution deal for Abdul-Jabbar’s recent film project.

Kareem's Media Scheme For Netflix Streams

On May 17, a day after the initial pair of Tweets, Abdul-Jabbar manager Morales posted a press release announcing the Netflix deal on her public relations website. (Though the release was dated May 18.)

On the morning of May 18, Morales Tweeted a link along with what seemed like a rhetorical question (at least at the time): “KAJs Statue at Staples.. do you think he deserves it?”

WUT?

Three months earlier, Scott Howard-Cooper wrote the following on NBA.com:

Bryant is expected to get a statue after retirement as well, according to one person familiar with the thinking of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Elgin Baylor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are also likely to be put in the special category, at a later date. But being fitted for the ultimate of Lakers honors outside the home court doesn’t really matter.

Thanks to the link by already-noted statue aficionado Morales, we soon found out that apparently it does matter. At least to Abdul-Jabbar.

Morales’ link went to a just-published piece by Steve Greenberg of SportingNews.com that detailed Abdul-Jabbar’s dissatisfaction with not having a statue outside Staples Center. The piece by Greenberg included this passage:

In a subsequent statement passed along by his business manager, Abdul-Jabbar said: “I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history.”

(Misspelling all the more unfortunate considering it was “passed along” to Greenberg by Abdul-Jabbar publicist/movie director/business manager Morales.)

Six hours later, this Tweet was seen on Abdul-Jabbar’s Twitter account:

Rumor has it that I will be getting a statue. A caveat for all my fans-don’t hold your breath. Lakers don’t care about me. #KAJ33

With Abdul-Jabbar’s (sky)hook now sufficiently baited, the inevitable media feeding frenzy soon followed.

During some of his interviews the past 48 hours, Abdul-Jabbar revealed that the heart of his apparent discontent with the Lakers was not getting a playoff share after the last several postseason runs enjoyed by the club.

What Abdul-Jabbar failed to mention in that complaint was it was the players who did not vote him a share, not club management.

The same club management that awarded Abdul-Jabbar a playoff bonus anyway, along with a hefty seven-figure salary despite the fact that the NBA legend the past few seasons has been a “coach” with the club in name only.  (He was initially hired to tutor Andrew Bynum, but Bynum has since moved on from the relationship.)

It goes without saying, despite Deborah Morales’ Twitter account, that Abdul-Jabbar deserves to be immortalized in some manner by the Lakers in the future.

But if you asked Abdul-Jabbar what he preferred the Lakers cared more for, giving him a statue fifteen years ago or gifting him millions the past several years, with Abdul-Jabbar’s notoriously tenuous financial condition I’m not so sure how brave he’d be about slaying the Lakers these days.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Video: ‘Exhibit A’ On Why Phil Jackson Leaving LA

In the past few weeks, the main media has erroneously reported a supposed rift between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant that allegedly began when Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke up Gasol’s relationship with girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro.


That rumor, thanks to comments by Gasol as early as last Saturday, has now been completely debunked. Gasol has since confirmed he is still with Castro and nothing has changed in their relationship.

While that break between Gasol and Bryant never existed, now ex-Lakers Coach Phil Jackson confirmed yesterday a disconnect between himself and a key member of the Lakers basketball operation and ownership.

Wednesday, as Jackson conducted his final press conference as Lakers coach, he was asked by FOX Sports Radio reporter David Vassegh:

“Do feel you have a stronger sense of attachment (to the Lakers) other than Jeanie (Buss, Jackson girlfriend and daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) than you did with the Bulls?” 

Jackson reply:

“There are people in the organization, yes, that I have an attachment to. You know I haven’t spoken to (Lakers Exec. VP, Player Personnel and son of owner Jerry) Jimmy Buss this year.

“Jerry I see occasionally and we confer. (Lakers General Manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and I have our chances to be together and we have a good relationship. Those are people in that department that I have a relationship with.

“As far as management, if you want to call it that, there’s really not a relationship with that.”

Jackson couldn’t have slighted Jim Buss any more in his comments than he did with that remark.

Longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss has made clear on numerous occasions that Jim Buss will formally take over the basketball operation of the team when he relinquishes all control of the franchise. (Jeanie will continue to run the business operation.)

While Mitch Kupchak technically runs the Lakers basketball operation, eventually he will report solely to Jim Buss, though from Jerry’s comments last August, it sounds as if that is already the case.

During a press conference on August 17, 2010, Jerry Buss said of his role with the team’s basketball operation:

“I still talk to my son Jimmy at least twice a day. Some of those phone calls are as long as an hour. The large portion of the content of those phone calls is basketball. What we should do, what we’re doing. 

“In terms of (Lakers basketball) decisions, 80% of it goes with Jim and I throw in my two cents worth here and there.”

That Jim Buss did not speak to Jackson this season is very telling when it comes to the coach’s relationship to the future, formal overseer of the Lakers basketball fortunes.

If you’re wondering why Jackson is leaving L.A., there’s your ‘Exhibit A.’

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Video: Pau Gasol Addresses “Made Up” Rumors

Last Friday I addressed the message board-borne rumor that Pau Gasol had recently broken up with his girlfriend, which in turn was contributing to his poor performance for the Lakers in the NBA playoffs.

(What part of “lies” and “made up” does the media not understand?)

A source who works with the Lakers confirmed to me at that time that Gasol’s girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro most recently attended the Lakers game against the Mavericks with Gasol’s mother Marisa on Wednesday at Staples Center.

I’ve since confirmed that fact through two more Laker organization sources today.

During a L.A.-based CBS 2 report from Lakers correspondent John Ireland in Dallas on Saturday, Gasol was asked by a reporter:

“Is the chemistry okay with you and Kobe, are you guys on the same page?”

Gasol:

“It’s great. The chemistry has been great actually.  I think there’s been a lot of talk and rumors and stories made up that I don’t know where they come from. It’s unfortunate but it comes with the situation that we’re in. People try to find reasons, throw stones at us at this time. It’s part of the deal.”

Gasol added of the false rumors to Kevin Ding of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER during the same interview session:

“I don’t read them, but people close to me read them … affecting people very close to me.

” … (the) media tries to do their job the best they can and some try to do that.

“To me, it’s sad … because if there was any truth to it, you deal with it.

“But when they lie and make up stories, it’s not pleasant.”

After the Game 4 loss to Dallas on Sunday, Bill Plaschke of the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported:

“I have to learn from this,” Gasol said. ”I have to learn that when something happens off the court, you have to keep it off the court.”

The key line from Gasol came on Saturday, when he said of the rumors, “I don’t read them, but people close to me read them … affecting people very close to me.

If Gasol had indeed broken up with girlfriend Castro, who would he Gasol be referring to in the present tense?

If Gasol had indeed broken up with girlfriend Castro, why was Castrol at the Lakers-Mavericks game at Staples Center last Wednesday with Gasol’s mother Marisa?

As I wrote last Friday, with no obvious injury or personal issue to attribute Gasol’s mediocre playoff performance, the media always takes the easy route by reaching for something to ease their small minds.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Gasol: Media Smears Who It Does Not Understand

The talk here in Los Angeles about what was wrong with Pau Gasol started the moment he scored a paltry eight points and was a non-factor in the Lakers’ Game 1 home loss to New Orleans in the first round of the NBA playoffs in mid-April.

Pau Gasol Girlfriend Sivia Lopez Castro Photos

Even before the second round Dallas series, which has seen Gasol perform adequately - at best - in consecutive home loses to the Mavericks, the L.A. media was at a complete loss to explain Gasol’s postseason performance. So far the Spaniard has been been injury-free with his demeanor also giving the media no clue as to the condition of his game.

But when you’re a main media member in Los Angeles - and beyond - charged with breaking down the Lakers in the playoffs, chalking up a performance to the unknown isn’t unacceptable. So, in the case of Gasol, cooking up a theory about his lack of production, no matter how baseless and damaging to his personal life, is a job requirement.

Beginning last month during the Lakers-New Orleans series, that’s exactly what happened on a particular Los Angeles sports radio station. More than one host on the main outlet floated the idea that Gasol’s game was suffering because his relationship with girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro, who we introduced you to here last year, was breaking down.

The rumor spread from there to internet message boards, which naturally meant that the dubious claim would eventually find its way to bloggers who source their reporting from anonymous message board posts.

Pau Gasol Girlfriend Sivia Lopez Castro Photos

Which it did today.

I then decided to find out the truth after main media outlets - apparently unaware of the dubious posting tactics of blogs that primarily traffic in imaginary stories - began picking up those blogs ‘reports’ on Gasol’s so-called relationship breakup.

This morning and afternoon I talked to two people who work with the Lakers on a daily basis. Read more…

Video: Lakers Owner Tried To Blackball The Logo!

January 14, 1964 is the most important day in NBA history.

Jerry West survived Lakers Owner blackball threat at '64 All-Star Game

(Video below courtesy Mike Trudell at Lakers.com)

That day the best players in the game, including Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, barricaded themselves in Boston Garden locker rooms before the NBA’s 14th annual All-Star Game - refusing to play.

Before the season NBA players had demanded to commissioner Walter Kennedy that NBA owners recognize their newly-created players union. As part of that recognition, the owners were to set up a pension plan for the players, who also attempted to direct the league to require each team to staff a medical trainer while also cutting down on unreasonable travel and game schedules.

Kennedy and the owners completely ignored the demands, only to have the players refuse to play in the NBA’s first-ever nationally-televised all-star game a few months later.

And I do mean refuse. They were serious.

So what happened? Let Jerry West tell you: Read more…

Frozen Logo: Jerry West Statue @ Staples Revealed

Two days before its official unveiling as part of NBA All-Star weekend festivities, Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS snapped a shot of the new Jerry West statue gracing Chick Hearn Court at Staples Center:

Jerry West Statue outside Staples Center

West joins a bronze pantheon of L.A. greats outside Staples that include Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Chick Hearn and Oscar de la Hoya.

Greetings From SPORTSbyBROOKS Girl Cecilia And The Great One

Hoffarth snapped the spoilerific photo with his cellphone during the few short moments it was visible as workers quickly affixed the 14-foot-tall frozen logo atop a one-and-a-half ton granite pedestal.

Longtime Los Angeles journalist Hoffarth’s reaction to the West statue: Read more…

Billion Dollar TV Deal Saves Team For Buss Family

Yesterday Joe Flint of the LOS ANGELES TIMES and this morning John Ourand of SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reported the Lakers have agreed to a 20-year local broadcast rights agreement with Time Warner Cable for an eye-popping $3 billion.

Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss, Jerry Buss

(Jim Buss (ctr) helps run Lakers basketball ops with Mitch Kupchak (l))

Though Flint also reported that Time Warner officials “dismisssed” the $3 billion figure, I’ve been told by multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations today that that number is accurate, with one source noting to me that the reported $3 billion number “may actually be conservative.”

So as of the 2012-13 season all Lakers game in Los Angeles, except for national telecasts, will air on cable. Currently, the games here in L.A. are broadcast on over-the-air station KCAL 9 (CBS) and cable channel Fox Sports West.

As the English and Spanish cable channels TWC will air the games on don’t yet exist, TWC still has to convince Direct TV, Dish Network and the Cox and Charter cable television operations to pick up those new sports channels at what Ourand reported Time Warner Cable Exec VP/Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer calling a “reasonable” financial basis:

“We are seeking to work with all of the distributors to find a reasonable basis to get full distribution of the network. We want the Lakers to be available to everyone regardless of who their provider is.”

Flint reports that in order for TWC to pay that enormous broadcast rights fee, it will have to charge a rate significantly higher than what Fox Sports West currently charges satellite and cable companies to broadcast Lakers games in Los Angeles:

Consumers may feel some pain as a result of the deal. Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are generally some of the most expensive programming for distributors. Typically, RSNs cost between north of $2.50 per month, per subscriber. Given the high cost of the Lakers, Time Warner Cable will likely be looking for north of $3.50.

You can expect Cox, Charter, Dish and DTV to publicly balk at such a fee hike, but TWC apparently has a plan that it hopes will make them more amenable. From Flint:

Time Warner Cable, which has about 2 million subscribers in Southern California, isn’t looking to stop with the Lakers. In an interview, Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief programming officer of Time Warner Cable, said the company would be “looking at all available sports in the marketplace.”

Next on their list could be the Dodgers. The team’s current pact with Fox’s Prime Ticket channel expires in 2013.

In other words, if TWC were to have the Lakers and  Dodgers for its new sports channels, it’d essentially have a gun to the head of Cox, Charter, Dish and DTV. Though it is important to note that Fox Sports West has a favorable contractual arrangement with the Dodgers and, from what multiple sources within the team tell me, is more likely to retain those rights.

If this Lakers TV deal sounds unusual, it isn’t. There are other markets in which cable companies have jumped into the sports business, but this is TWC’s first foray.

While this is big news for Lakers fans, the more important part of this story is what it will mean to the ownership of the team.

From Flint:

Witmer said the move to get into business with the Lakers is part of its overall desire to “control our economic destiny.”

Read more…

ESPN Anchor Plagiarizes Lakers Reporter’s Story

In a blog entry in the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER Tuesday night, longtime Lakers beat reporter Kevin Ding made a serious accusation of an ESPN-TV anchor.

ESPN Will Selva plagiarizes Kevin Ding of OC Register

Ding claimed that ESPN News anchor Will Selva had plagiarized his December 26 story about the Lakers in the Register, reading the lede of Ding’s piece word-for-word in his open to Lakers-Spurs highlights on ESPN News early Wednesday morning.

Ding:

Hey, Will Selva of ESPNEWS. Glad you liked my last column so much. Try not to plagiarize it next time.

I got back to my hotel room late Tuesday night after the Lakers-Spurs game and turned on ESPNEWS’ “Highlight Express” show. Imagine my shock when anchor Will Selva proceeded to use the first several paragraphs of my column looking forward to the game as his lead-in to the highlights.

I mean, word for word.

Christmas isn’t over yet, Lakers fans.

The big game, it turns out, will be the game after the supposed Game of the Year.

In San Antonio on Tuesday night, the Lakers will be out to give themselves and their fans the much-needed gift of hope.

Honestly, it wasn’t my best lead, come to think of it. Sorry about that, Will.

Unbelievable.

Thanks to a website that transcribes virtually every word said on ESPN TV outlets, I was able to check up on Ding’s damning accusation of Selva today. Read more…