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But perhaps the most bizarre anecdote from the recent wave of Jason Collins news was the fact that notable comedian–and Rush fan–Jason Segel, was his backup center for the 1996 Harvard-Westlake High School basketball team.
According to a 1996 L.A. Times article Jason Segel was the team’s court jester (not surprised) and after entering the slam dunk contest, earned him the nickname “Doctor Dunk”.
From the article:

"I’m not nearly as skilled a basketball player as some of the other guys," Segel says. "But I have a lot of bravado."
Not to mention a made-for-the-highlight-reels dunk.
During Harvard’s two-week East Coast trip in December, Segel wowed a Florida crowd with a two-handed slam made with the front of his jersey pulled over his head. Before the dunk, Segel stood poised, calling for silence with outstretched arms. After the dunk, he dove headfirst into the stands.
"He put on an absolute show," Da Costa said.
Segel also keeps the team loose with impressions of everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kermit the Frog. He even does Hilliard.
"You spend five minutes around Jason and he’ll come up with a pretty good impression of you," Abusaleh said.
An aspiring actor, Segel has dabbled in bit parts and studied in England. After the season, Segel is scheduled to begin rehearsals for a school production in which he will deliver a 22-minute soliloquy on stage.
"I love getting up in front of people," he says.
His most memorable moment this season? The dunk, of course. Not because he made it but because Jarron allowed him to. Jarron qualified for the competition ahead of Segel but deferred to his teammate.
"He knew it was something important to me, so he stepped back and let me do it," Segel said. "I appreciated that."

What a crazy, awesome world. Hat tip to Andrew Ungvari for the article.
(via @DrewUnga)

But perhaps the most bizarre anecdote from the recent wave of Jason Collins news was the fact that notable comedian–and Rush fan–Jason Segel, was his backup center for the 1996 Harvard-Westlake High School basketball team.

According to a 1996 L.A. Times article Jason Segel was the team’s court jester (not surprised) and after entering the slam dunk contest, earned him the nickname “Doctor Dunk”.

From the article:

"I’m not nearly as skilled a basketball player as some of the other guys," Segel says. "But I have a lot of bravado."

Not to mention a made-for-the-highlight-reels dunk.

During Harvard’s two-week East Coast trip in December, Segel wowed a Florida crowd with a two-handed slam made with the front of his jersey pulled over his head. Before the dunk, Segel stood poised, calling for silence with outstretched arms. After the dunk, he dove headfirst into the stands.

"He put on an absolute show," Da Costa said.

Segel also keeps the team loose with impressions of everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kermit the Frog. He even does Hilliard.

"You spend five minutes around Jason and he’ll come up with a pretty good impression of you," Abusaleh said.

An aspiring actor, Segel has dabbled in bit parts and studied in England. After the season, Segel is scheduled to begin rehearsals for a school production in which he will deliver a 22-minute soliloquy on stage.

"I love getting up in front of people," he says.

His most memorable moment this season? The dunk, of course. Not because he made it but because Jarron allowed him to. Jarron qualified for the competition ahead of Segel but deferred to his teammate.

"He knew it was something important to me, so he stepped back and let me do it," Segel said. "I appreciated that."

What a crazy, awesome world. Hat tip to Andrew Ungvari for the article.

(via @DrewUnga)

Say what you will about ‘social media’ giving us fans entirely way too much insight to a player’s life, but if there is any athlete who has excelled in doing so since day one, it’s Steve Nash.

The story goes, according to the gentlemen behind this wondrous exchange (now under the collective monicker @LA_BEER_BROS, also a great twitter handle), that they were on the way to an L.A. Dodgers game and happened to spot Steve Nash in a taxi cab down the 110.

After getting his attention, they, like the Pilgrims before them, convince Steve to accept their symbolic cornucopia that is Keystone Light as a form of bro reciprocity. 

Success!

Reverse angle from BROS’ perspective

And of course, we all win. As a fan, this video makes you all sorts of happy. If you’re Steve Nash, this is a pretty excellent impromptu welcoming to the city of Los Angeles. Although, a more proper Angelino welcome would likely consist of handing off a baggie that was purchased from Buds on Melrose. But I’m sure Pau will show Steve around and they can both feel the pos vibes while wearing matching Messi jerseys.

(Photos and video courtesy of: @SteveNash and @LA_BEER_BROS)

After unsuccessfully surviving Sportsamgeddon (or Sportsachella) last weekend, the Los Angeles sports scene is entering not necessarily a new era, but a highly unusual one. One where up is down and down is up or just return of old favorites.
The Dodgers currently have the best record in baseball after reviled owner Frank McCourt sold the team in the spring. With the return of Matt Barkley and the end of its two year bowl ban, USC looks poised to return to prominence. Even UCLA football looks like it could bounce back with new coach Jim L. Mora. And of course, the Kings are only one game away from the Stanley Cup finals. On the flip side, the Angels are barely treading water in the American League following the big money signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Sadly, the Galaxy haven’t found a way to recover from defender Omar Gonzlez’s season ending injury. 
Which brings us to the Clippers and the Lakers. One team potentially bright future ahead and the other is heading for a dark and tumultuous summer. 
It’s difficult to not sound like an AYSO coach or soccer mom when talking about the Clippers’ season and playoff performance. Yes, they got swept by the San Antonio Spurs, but the Spurs are playing at a completely different level right now. The Spurs are playing total football. Looking at the positives of the Clippers situation, Blake Griffin learned or at least, hopefully learned a lot of playing against Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph for consecutive games. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are at turning point in their careers: do they continue on as raw athletic talent or do they become skilled players? It’s quickly becoming a punch line, but hopefully Griffin and Jordan spend some time with Hakeen Olajuwon or Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the off season. Better yet if Griffin is called to the Olympics, that experience could help round out his game more. 
The biggest hurdle that Clippers face this summer is their coaching situation. For an underachiever, Vinny Del Negro did fairly well in the playoffs. Del Negro rode with his veterans Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans down the stretch in that crucial game seven against Memphis. At times during the regular season, it seemed like the players weren’t buying into Del Negro’s system. Do the Clippers test the coaching market and attempt to find a coach that would appease Chris Paul and Blake Griffin? Coaches like Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan and the recently fired Stan Van Gundy are all available. While it seems incredibly unlikely, Donald Sterling could offer Phil Jackson enough money to come out of retirement. Stranger things have happen. 
Things seem a bit more cloudy for the Clippers’ Staples Center roommate, the Lakers. The angry mob that’s lighting the call board at 710 ESPN are probably bitching out Andrew Bynum for his disappearance from the playoffs after the first game against the Denver Nuggets, sending Pau Gasol to Orlando or Brooklyn, wondering why they traded Fisher and Odom, firing general manager Mitch Kupchak, and, of course, suggesting that there’s a conspiracy against the Lakers after David Stern wrongfully nixed the Chris Paul deal. Naturally, Kobe Bryant will go partially unscathed from the callers. 
Kobe Bryant certainly fought hard for basketball life in the playoffs, but there were many moments when Bryant appeared mortal despite his off season surgies. As I wrote before, the Oklahoma series was the part of the movie when the kid gets revenge on the bad guy who killed his parents in the first act. It’s the end of the line for one hero and another becomes a hero for the first time. 
At the same time, Kobe Bryant isn’t going to give up that easily nor will the Lakers. The Los Angeles Lakers don’t rebuild, they reload, as some one once said. Their salary cap situation makes certainly difficult to pull off a lot of trades or pursue free agents, but Mitch Kupchak and Lakers team president Jim Buss will find a way. For all of the shit we’ve given Jim Buss this year, he knew what he was doing with the attempted Chris Paul trade. That trade would’ve made the transition from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown a little smoother.
Would the addition of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams bring Bryant that elusive sixth championship? Maybe.
Another question to ask: how will handle Kobe Bryant handle this off season? Will he go on any local sports talk radio station and complain about the organization or will he just fly under the radar?  

After unsuccessfully surviving Sportsamgeddon (or Sportsachella) last weekend, the Los Angeles sports scene is entering not necessarily a new era, but a highly unusual one. One where up is down and down is up or just return of old favorites.

The Dodgers currently have the best record in baseball after reviled owner Frank McCourt sold the team in the spring. With the return of Matt Barkley and the end of its two year bowl ban, USC looks poised to return to prominence. Even UCLA football looks like it could bounce back with new coach Jim L. Mora. And of course, the Kings are only one game away from the Stanley Cup finals. On the flip side, the Angels are barely treading water in the American League following the big money signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Sadly, the Galaxy haven’t found a way to recover from defender Omar Gonzlez’s season ending injury. 

Which brings us to the Clippers and the Lakers. One team potentially bright future ahead and the other is heading for a dark and tumultuous summer. 

It’s difficult to not sound like an AYSO coach or soccer mom when talking about the Clippers’ season and playoff performance. Yes, they got swept by the San Antonio Spurs, but the Spurs are playing at a completely different level right now. The Spurs are playing total football. Looking at the positives of the Clippers situation, Blake Griffin learned or at least, hopefully learned a lot of playing against Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph for consecutive games. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are at turning point in their careers: do they continue on as raw athletic talent or do they become skilled players? It’s quickly becoming a punch line, but hopefully Griffin and Jordan spend some time with Hakeen Olajuwon or Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the off season. Better yet if Griffin is called to the Olympics, that experience could help round out his game more. 

The biggest hurdle that Clippers face this summer is their coaching situation. For an underachiever, Vinny Del Negro did fairly well in the playoffs. Del Negro rode with his veterans Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans down the stretch in that crucial game seven against Memphis. At times during the regular season, it seemed like the players weren’t buying into Del Negro’s system. Do the Clippers test the coaching market and attempt to find a coach that would appease Chris Paul and Blake Griffin? Coaches like Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan and the recently fired Stan Van Gundy are all available. While it seems incredibly unlikely, Donald Sterling could offer Phil Jackson enough money to come out of retirement. Stranger things have happen. 

Things seem a bit more cloudy for the Clippers’ Staples Center roommate, the Lakers. The angry mob that’s lighting the call board at 710 ESPN are probably bitching out Andrew Bynum for his disappearance from the playoffs after the first game against the Denver Nuggets, sending Pau Gasol to Orlando or Brooklyn, wondering why they traded Fisher and Odom, firing general manager Mitch Kupchak, and, of course, suggesting that there’s a conspiracy against the Lakers after David Stern wrongfully nixed the Chris Paul deal. Naturally, Kobe Bryant will go partially unscathed from the callers. 

Kobe Bryant certainly fought hard for basketball life in the playoffs, but there were many moments when Bryant appeared mortal despite his off season surgies. As I wrote before, the Oklahoma series was the part of the movie when the kid gets revenge on the bad guy who killed his parents in the first act. It’s the end of the line for one hero and another becomes a hero for the first time. 

At the same time, Kobe Bryant isn’t going to give up that easily nor will the Lakers. The Los Angeles Lakers don’t rebuild, they reload, as some one once said. Their salary cap situation makes certainly difficult to pull off a lot of trades or pursue free agents, but Mitch Kupchak and Lakers team president Jim Buss will find a way. For all of the shit we’ve given Jim Buss this year, he knew what he was doing with the attempted Chris Paul trade. That trade would’ve made the transition from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown a little smoother.

Would the addition of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams bring Bryant that elusive sixth championship? Maybe.

Another question to ask: how will handle Kobe Bryant handle this off season? Will he go on any local sports talk radio station and complain about the organization or will he just fly under the radar?  

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger really went in on Jim Buss and the current Lakers Management situation. 

So here it is: The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops.

Berger goes in greater depth, explaining that management has seemingly removed any one connected with Phil Jackson or replaced long term scouts and assistants with Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss’ other sons Jessie and Joey or Jim’s friends. According to Berger, the Lakers front office has more or less become a weird inbred child with a large collective of yes men. 
If the problem with the Lakers’ management continues to move in the direction that Berger believes they’re moving in, the Buss family could become the Al Davis of the NBA. A once great franchise seemingly out of touch with the rest of the sports world unwilling to adapt to the changes around them. 
In the grand schemes of Southern Californian Sports, it feels like sports fans are trading in one villain for another. Embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is finally selling the team, but now, Jim Buss and his rail bird buddies could drive the purple & gold into the ground. That’s what makes the rise of the Clippers this season even more interesting. Does the oblivious Clippers owner Donald Sterling sense a a change, or if you will, “Winter is Coming” for the Lakers and now is the time to capitalize? 

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger really went in on Jim Buss and the current Lakers Management situation. 

So here it is: The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops.

Berger goes in greater depth, explaining that management has seemingly removed any one connected with Phil Jackson or replaced long term scouts and assistants with Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss’ other sons Jessie and Joey or Jim’s friends. According to Berger, the Lakers front office has more or less become a weird inbred child with a large collective of yes men. 

If the problem with the Lakers’ management continues to move in the direction that Berger believes they’re moving in, the Buss family could become the Al Davis of the NBA. A once great franchise seemingly out of touch with the rest of the sports world unwilling to adapt to the changes around them. 

In the grand schemes of Southern Californian Sports, it feels like sports fans are trading in one villain for another. Embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is finally selling the team, but now, Jim Buss and his rail bird buddies could drive the purple & gold into the ground. That’s what makes the rise of the Clippers this season even more interesting. Does the oblivious Clippers owner Donald Sterling sense a a change, or if you will, “Winter is Coming” for the Lakers and now is the time to capitalize? 

The Battle For Los Angeles.
Photo By Barbara Davidson/LA Times.
(O&A)

The Battle For Los Angeles.

Photo By Barbara Davidson/LA Times.

(O&A)

NBA OFF-SEASON PREVIEW: LOS ANGELES LAKERS

World Champs.  Back to Back Titles.  Three peat.  You can throw around a lot of great words when you’re a Laker fan.  Here’s one I haven’t heard in a while:

Underdog.

Believe it or not, LA is the underdog. The city of Las Vegas is home to the tackiest architecture and interior design the world has ever known.  It’s also home to millions of cigarette smokers who have made it their billion-dollar business to predict the outcome of sporting events.  When Las Vegas came out in favor of the Miami Heat, my ears perked up.  What do they know?

For the Lakers, it works out perfectly because Las Vegas odds alleviate some of the pressure.  However, Laker fans understandably swoon at the news.  They show up, armed at the ready, to defend their squad.  Don’t worry, Laker fans, Uncle Neil’s here to make it all better.

This Laker team will be good.  Very good, by all accounts.  They could be great.  All they need to do is listen to my instructions below…

KEY ADDITIONS

Steve Blake.  I’m gonna list Steve here a couple of times for effect.  Steve Blake.  Steve Blake.  Without question, Steve Blake was the biggest addition to the champs.  There’s a reason why this guy came off the board to LA right away.  He’s going to be a crucial piece this season.  You’ve read it before, but Blake is a perfect triangle guy.  He facilitates the offense.  Creates shots.  Has the respect of the team, already, and he’s a scrappy defender who isn’t afraid to mix it up.

My only question is, will they let Blake replace Fisher in the starting lineup?  They should.  Fish is a proud player, a great Laker, and 100% necessary on this team.  But Derek Fisher needs to move into the Robert-Horry-on-the-San-Antonio-Spurs portion of his career.  Be the team leader.  Be the ice-cold, dead-eye shooter.  He’s just not a starting PG in this league anymore.  You can argue Fish knows the triangle best, but by January, Blake will catch him.

Three things to consider with Blake v. Fish:  1.) Blake is the better defender at this point.  2.) You love Fisher now, but can you imagine Fresh Fish for the Playoffs?  Haven’t seen it in a while.  It’d be fantastic.  3.) I suspect it plays out this way - Fish starts at the beginning of the season.  By January, it’s an even time split, and by the Spring, people are writing stories about how perfect a fit Steve Blake for the Lakers.

Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff are no small additions themselves, especially with the oft injured Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum.  Both have the ability to change the complexion of the Lakers from a beautiful, offensive squad, to a low-down, defensive nightmare. 

Barnes is in LA because the Ron Artest gamble just paid off.  Now they’re doubling down on the crazy.  Do the Lakers need Barnes to win the West?  No.  Do they need Barnes to beat the Celtics, Heat or Magic?  Probably.  Having a fresh defender, at all times, on Pierce, Lebron, Wade and Vince Carter will be a huge advantage.  Also, Phil’s known for unleashing players instead of reining them in, so here’s hoping Matt picks up the triangle, so we can watch the fireworks. 

DJ Mbenga was a lot of fun, but when Theo blocks 3 shots in 15 minutes of play, you’ll know why the Lakers are deeper than they have been in 30 years.  I like LA’s rookies a lot, frankly, but they probably won’t get much burn on a PJ-coached team.  Any run they do get is a positive for the future.

KEY ISSUE

Health

We know Bynum is on the shelf now, and I’m pretty sure he’ll get knicked up or knocked out down the road again.  The even bigger concern for the Lakers is Lamar Odom.  I don’t know if he’s ever played deep into a season (winning the ‘09-‘10 title), then followed it up by playing international ball (winning the ‘10 World Championships), with only a 2 week break before training camp. 

I can’t really call him the hardest worker in the league, and I’d be remiss to say his diet is on track.  Lamar plugs all the holes on the Lakers - 6th man, rebounding, ball handling, passing, team leadership.  If he goes down from wear and tear, or burns out before the Playoffs, LA’s in some trouble.

Here’s a certifiably stupid, downright cockamamie idea that makes ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD TO ME: 

Sit Bynum until mid-January.  Make him rehab, strengthen his core, work on his vertical leap.  Bring him back for late January, all of February and all of March.  He’ll hit his stride just as the Playoffs start mid-April, and LA’s chances of having Drew at 100% go up exponentially.  They can win the West without him, and nobody’s gonna beat the Heat for home court advantage throughout anyways.  Why doesn’t this make sense?

CONCLUSION

It’d be pretty great if the Lakers stayed in tune and mentally engaged all year, in what could be Phil Jackson’s last season.  Don’t hold your breath.

With that said, other than getting and staying healthy, this year will fall upon the sun-kissed, Spanish shoulders of Pau Gasol.  He needs more touches, and he needs to step up big time.  If he continues his trajectory of season by season improvement, and plays as the best power forward in the league, the Lakers will be in the catbird seat out West.

Parting Shots

And to think, I got all the way through this Laker Season Preview without one mention of you know who.  You know, the guy that brings it every night of every season.  Don’t want to say his name now, and ruin this streak I have going…

Kobe.

(Check me out at Got ‘Em Coach)

Matt Barnes is officially a Los Angeles Laker and clearly not a fan of Nick Van Exel.
Fun Fact: Barnes, a California native has now played for every professional team in California.

Matt Barnes is officially a Los Angeles Laker and clearly not a fan of Nick Van Exel.

Fun Fact: Barnes, a California native has now played for every professional team in California.

Just met Gerard Butler here at The Roosevelt Pool. He’s cool. 300 was off the hook.

Lamar Odom

I hope Lamar tweets about how upset he is when Adam Morrison steals his sixth man position on the Lakers cause Morrison in between epic bong rips (with a Pantera soundtrack!) is in the gym working his ass off right now. Kevin Garnett probably turned his basement into some bizzaro, creepy Clubber Lang esque gym and is going insane right now.

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