February 1st, 2016
Blake Griffin did the most “Clipper-esque” thing imaginable. He punched Mathias Testi, one of the equipment managers, in the face. Since these two are friends, what was this really about? Did Testi buy a Nissan instead of Kia? Actually, sources close to Jock Talk LA have the real inside scoop. Testi is involved in developing and promoting a clothing brand called The Datum Line. The Datum Line features clothing for adults and children, including accessories like socks and hats, and is symbolic of “hard work” Blake and DeAndre Jordan have been helping him promote the Brand, and have even invested in it. Those sources indicated to me that “it was about money, and Blake’s investment in the brand.” So Griffin is just like Vinny Chase in Entourage, while Testi is Turtle, although I don’t ever remember Vinny punching Turtle after he invested in that brand of Tequila. On and off the court, the Clippers are still “Clippin”. Despite winning 16 of their last 19 games, everybody knows the Clpps aren’t for real with or without Blake Griffin. This team is ticketed for another early playoff exit. The Clippers marketing team might want to re-think this one…..
On the other side of the hallway, the Lakers are challenging the 76ers for the worst record in the NBA. I’m not so sure how excited the Lakers should be over that since the worst team has only won the draft lottery 4 times in 26 tries, which is just over 15% of the time. For the sake of pride, the Lakers need to win on Tuesday to avoid the longest losing streak in franchise history. As for D’Angelo Russell, I have no problem with his level of confidence, or even cockiness if you want to call it that. You don’t make it to the NBA without having some of that, and you can’t strive toward being one of the best without having that belief in yourself. It’s Byron Scott’s job to reign in some of that perceived cockiness, and to harness it into developing Russell into an elite player. We didn’t really see that last week when Russell tried to take over a game against Dallas last week, yet Scott benched him for it. I don’t agree with how Byron does things, however, I can’t say that it doesn’t work. Look at Julius Randle, who is balling again after struggling for a bit, and having his own issues with Byron. Look at Jordan Clarkson as well, who is much more consistent this year, and on his way to being a very good player.
On a much more sad note, yesterday, the Laker family lost Marge Hearn. Marge was the widow of long time Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, who passed away in 2002. Marge was 98 year of age. In many ways, she was “the first lady” of the Lakers, and had some beautiful words to say about her husband when he passed away. Now she and Chick can finally be together again. RIP.
There are always going to be great players who are snubbed every year during the All-Star selection process. This year, the biggest All-Star snub has got to be Damian Lillard. Lillard has been playing out of his mind, and somehow has the Blazers in the 8th spot in the West. I would have taken Lillard over LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been good, but not great for the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki probably deserved a better fate as well. In the East, I would have taken Pau Gasol over Isaiah Thomas, but other than that, the coaches did good job. As for the Rising Stars game, I’m very happy to see D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson selected, but how the hell did Julius Randle not get picked? He has 16 double-doubles, which leads all sophomores, and should have gotten the nod over Nerlens Noel. Although there are some good international players on the world team, I think the USA vs The World format screwed a lot of people out of spots, like Myles Turner and Devin Booker, who might end up being a first team all-rookie selection.
To college hoops, where the Bruins may have salvaged a win against Washington State on Saturday, but they are still slowly circling the drain. I think the Bruins are going to have to win the Pac 12 Tournament to get in because they are on the bubble right now according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, and they haven’t given me any reason to think they are going to play any better before March Madness begins. Since the start of Pac 12 play, the Bruins have looked completely unprepared in nearly every game they’ve played in, and the game plan has been dependent on Bryce Alford getting blazing hot from outside the arc. Tony Parker went to the bench, Jonah Bolden was inserted into the starting lineup, and the Bruins had a more athletic look on Saturday. This is what happens when a highly touted recruit like Parker doesn’t get the coaching he was promised. Over at USC, Parker would probably be getting that better coaching from Andy Enfield. I suppose the trade-off though is that Parker is actually getting an education at UCLA, and can put together coherent sentences.
As for USC, we are halfway through the Pac 12 season, and they are near the top of conference. This team is now a lock to make the NCAA tournament, and is poised to do some damage. Not only are the Trojans winning, their basketball team is going Hollywood. Christian Bale showed up to Saturday’s win against Washington, along with D’Angelo Russell and Taj Gibson. The Trojans haven’t been this good at home since 1943, as they are now 13-0 at the Galen Center. If UCLA isn’t careful, their basketball program is going to slip into further irrelevance as the Trojans hoops program steals some of the headlines away from them. UCLA better start by beating the Trojans at the Galen Center on Thursday, and avenging the beating they were given a few weeks ago by USC at Pauley Pavilion.
Congratulations to the Dodgers Andrew Friedman, who found the other half of his brain temporarily, and re-signed Howie Kendrick. The Dodgers were poised to be significantly worse next year after already losing Zack Greinke, and employing a platoon of old guys and average players at 2nd base. At least Kendrick alleviates some of that with his reliable bat, steady clubhouse presence, and solid defense. They also got him at a very reasonable two years, and $20 million. 2nd base is just not a position that teams pay a premium for in Major League Baseball. I still think the Dodgers aren’t going to make the playoffs this year with their horse crap bullpen, and their mediocre pitching staff behind ace Clayton Kershaw. However, this move at least prevents them from being a total embarrassment. Then again, nobody will be able to watch the Dodgers embarrassment anyways since only 30% have Time Warner Cable.
We’re just 6 days away from Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a shame that all we’ve been hearing about is Cam Newton, and why people dislike the guy. I don’t think there’s any doubt that race plays a role in the minds of most people who dislike Newton’s antics, simply because most people who have these feelings aren’t even subconsciously aware of how race impacts how they look at certain people. It’s a sad fact of life that you would think we would be beyond. Nevertheless, the problem with this discussion is that we have two weeks of a build up a storied white quarterback, vs a polarizing black quarterback. It really takes away from the fact that Cam Newton should be the next face of the NFL. As for the game itself, I think the Broncos are going to keep it much closer than most people expect. It’s very hard to blow out a team with a great defense, and both of these teams have that going for them. I like Carolina in a close one, but the Broncos have been surprising me all season with how they’ve been winning ugly, so why stop now? I wouldn’t be shocked if they won, and surely would take the points.
The Chargers staying in San Diego for the 2016 season is a very sensible move. The only problem is that they must insure that they resolve their stadium situation this summer, because moving to LA after next season would just be silly. Have you ever met a Chargers fan living in LA? I’ve lived in Southern California nearly my entire life, and I have yet to do so.
So while I completely hated the new NHL All-Star Game format, the story of John Scott was incredible, and may have actually made the entire weekend a success. Scott was initially voted in as a captain as a joke by the fans. After being traded from the Coyotes to the Canadiens and sent to the minor leagues, the league tried to force him out of the game. Turns out that Scott was eventually allowed to play, and not only ended up on the winning team, the Pacific Division, but also won the MVP award. For a guy who isn’t even in the NHL, and about to have another child, it’s a nice story. Especially with his share of the $1 million his team won, and brand new car. This was basically a big “screw you” to the NHL. In fact, it makes you think that the league should find a way for the fans to vote a loveable journeyman into the game every year. The Pacific Division victory also marked the first time that members of the San Jose Sharks have been part of something that resembled an NHL championship team. I am happy to see LA getting awarded the 2017 All-Star game as well.
Then there was the other ridiculous all-star event yesterday, The Pro Bowl. This game is a bigger and bigger joke every year, yet nobody is laughing. It used to be that there was basically no hitting, but just tackling. Yesterday, there really wasn’t even tackling. I did notice that Eli Manning threw an interception though, so at least one player was giving his normal effort. They say that it was Charles Woodson’s last NFL game, but I’d argue that it really can’t be considered much of a game. Woodson and Richard Sherman even lined up on offense. Attending this game is becoming more and more of a punishment for players than anything else. Next years rosters will probably consist of 17 janitors, 12 homeless guys, 18 random Twitter users, 10 NFL execs, and you (if you don’t decline).