I was at the Lakers' shoot-around Sunday morning, and when Mitch Kupchak said to all of us fans that the team's focus this season was to bid farewell to Kobe Bryant and not develop the young players, the entire audience gasped. Did he actually tell us that Kobe's farewell tour was more important than the future of this franchise? Yes, indeed he did.
He also revealed to all of us the basic pitch the free agents heard last summer. It sounded something like this: Come play with Russell, Randle, Clarkson and Nance and live in L.A. And we wonder why no player in their right mind signed with his team. Forget the fact we have a guarantee from Jim Buss that he'll step away, it's time Kupchak hands in his resignation.
So this year is about "honoring" Kobe for all his past success. And to show his appreciation, Kobe doesn't show up to support his team when he doesn't play.
I guess for $25 million a year you can't expect too much. Sounds like he got tips from Steve Nash, who also was paid not to show up last year.
I happened to watch the exhibition played by the Lakers and Kings on Thursday night, which showcased a couple of All-Stars and an old guy voted in by the fans. Toward the end, I realized they were keeping score.
With one simple move, the Lakers can both (1) begin to play much better as a team and (2) give Kobe the recognition he craves on his farewell tour, while also allowing him to shoot as much as he wants.
All the Lakers need to do is trade Kobe to the Harlem Globetrotters.
Edward A. Ruttenberg
Rancho Palos Verdes
College football: It's almost over
How could Iowa be ranked No. 5 and Michigan State No. 3 by the selection committee? Their bowl performances were abysmal at best. The committee should be embarrassed at how far they missed the mark on their selections. Ohio State and Stanford should have been at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
It would appear ranking college football teams is neither an art nor a science but rather a political exercise behind closed doors and subject to massive human error and emotion, as evidenced by this year's selections. We are a long way from having the right method to select a national champion.
Robert J. Gagliano
We should have known a team nicknamed the Hawkeyes wouldn't be very focused the day after Trapper John died.
He's no Keith Jackson, but what a pleasure it was to have Brent Musburger announcing the Rose Bowl game. Despite a one-sided contest, I'm sure viewers once again enjoyed his low-key coverage. He doesn't rant and go ballistic like some of the newer/younger broadcasters who like hearing themselves talk. That in itself is a welcome relief, and asks the question why he was taken off regular-season coverage by ESPN in the first place.
The Heisman Trophy was awarded to Alabama's Derrick Henry on Nov. 7, when Henry had a huge game against Louisiana State and SEC/CBS mouthpieces Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson switched their Heisman hype/vote from LSU's Leonard Fournette to Henry. The die was cast; the rest of the season didn't matter. In this modern age, it's amazing nobody east of the California/Nevada border ever saw Christian McCaffrey play. Shockingly, 10% of Heisman votes were cast before McCaffrey destroyed USC on Dec. 5. It's shameful one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history was not acknowledged by the highest individual honor. His Rose Bowl performance confirmed this even more.
I might add had McCaffrey played at USC he would have won the Heisman. The Trojans don't win many games these days, but they have a great PR department.
Speaking as a dedicated UCLA football fan, I truly agree that the 2015 season ended with a thud with losses to USC and Nebraska. Nonetheless I feel compelled to disagree with the letter written by Mark Roth in which he proclaims that "Mora's legacy is no more impressive than that of his predecessor."
Mora is 37-16 with a 3-1 record against USC. Rick Neuheisel went 21-28 and was 0-4 against the Trojans. UCLA football is in deep need of repair, but let's not throw common sense out the window when the progress of the program is evaluated.
The hirings of John McKay and Pete Carroll were highly criticized, as were their initial performances. Each soon followed with a national championship. There is no magic bullet for hiring an exceptional college football coach. Give Coach Clay Helton and his staff a chance to show what they can do.
NFL in L.A. ... again
Is the con game over?
L.A. NFL fans love their flat screens. I doubt if there's even 30,000 who want $120 tickets, $25 parking, $15 beers and the turtle creep on the 405.
Even hotbed NFL cities are seeing less bodies in their stadiums due largely to flat screens. Ending up with half-empty billion-dollar stadiums in L.A. while spurning Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis is the NFL's worst nightmare.
I am nominating Bill Shaikin to take over baseball operations for our ruined Dodgers franchise. Bill clearly points out in his Jan. 6 article how the recent past and current Dodgers ownership and management continues to compound the problem-plagued Dodgers with poor current and future planning. What lies ahead in the upcoming season with the status quo of inept management will again be a team playing sub-par baseball against a loaded division of talent, without the proper local TV coverage and huge frustration in the stands at Chavez Ravine.
Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi stated that the Dodgers have no interest in bringing back second baseman Howie Kendrick. As a longtime Dodgers fan, I would like to know, Mr. Zaidi, why did you give away Dee Gordon and make the trade for Kendrick knowing full well that Kendrick would become a free agent the following year?
Thank you Dodgers brass for covering the Greinke fiasco with the latest bolstering: an expensive Japanese pitcher who probably needs Tommy John surgery in the hopes that he can pitch three to four more years. Translation: He might be ready to pitch in three to four years, and hello again, Jason Schmidt. Meanwhile, please enjoy the impressionistic stylings of Brandon Beachy, who has had three TJ surgeries and, when last seen, was giving up a Terry Mullholland-esque home run derby to an appreciative opponent.
If the Dodgers had as many quality relievers as general managers they'd be set.
Rest assured, all you Dodgers fans, things will get better. When Friedman becomes Firedman.
There were 1,389 players selected ahead of him in the Major League Draft of 1988, but Mike Piazza has been elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. L.A. fans should not begrudge Piazza for entering the Hall as a New York Met. The Dodgers unceremoniously let him slip away and he spent the majority of his career in New York after that. Piazza may have started out as a Dodger, but that's about it. The Dodgers organization has only itself to blame for Piazza's early exodus.
I used to be a Mike Piazza fan. But when he jumped ship in 1998 and then criticized the Dodgers organization that took a chance on him in 1988, he lost me (a Dodgers fan since 1958). If your only goals are money and egomania, you are no friend of mine.
Wouldn't you love to have been the person to tell Roger Clemens that he didn't get into the Hall of Fame and Mike Piazza did? Of course it would have been advisable to do it over the phone.
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