Chargers move to Los Angeles
It’s a move that’s still being debated. But believing their options for a new stadium were gone in San Diego, the NFL’s Chargers announced they were moving to Los Angeles and will eventually share the new stadium in Inglewood with the Rams. It hasn’t been pretty, though. Interest in the team has been low, and even the temporary stadium at StubHub Center has had trouble filling its 27,000 seats. But there is a cure, and that’s to win more games.
Turmoil in Lakers front office
The Lakers have not looked very good the last few seasons. The once-famous franchise seemed in tatters and the fans were restless. It fell on the shoulders of Jeanie Buss, who was in charge as her brother Jim was handling basketball operations. Then he wasn’t. In February, Jeanie fired Jim and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and brought back a legend. Magic Johnson was introduced as the new head of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s former agent, as the general manager.
Chris Paul leaves Clippers
The Clippers were always on the verge of greatness. They had, arguably, three of the best players in the NBA — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. But they could never get out of the second round of the playoffs. Paul couldn’t take that anymore. He didn’t like the chemistry and culture of the team. He quarreled with Coach Doc Rivers. So, almost as if it happened in a flash, Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets in June. And with it, the Clippers were headed for an inevitable rebuilding of the team.
Mayweather vs. McGregor
Somewhere P.T. Barnum is smiling. In one of the best marketing efforts ever foisted on the sporting world, fans were enthralled at the idea that an old legendary boxer meeting a young MMA fighter with no boxing experience could bring a $100 pay-per-view buy. But it worked. Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor by technical knockout in the 10th round. The August fight had about 4.4 million pay-per-view buys, although one of the promoters later said it was more than 6 million. (Exaggeration in these sports? Could never happen.)
L.A. gets 2028 Olympics Games
Los Angeles’ journey to being awarded the Olympic Games for a third time was very much a roller-coaster ride. First Boston was given the U.S. bid, but the city backed out. L.A. was there but then had to go up against a very strong Paris bid for the 2024 Games. Fearing it would get nothing, the L.A. bid committee cut a deal with the International Olympic Committee to get the 2028 Games, which were awarded in September. So the 11-year wait begins.
NFL protests and the president
President Trump said in September that NFL owners should fire players who sit or take a knee during the national anthem, in reaction to a movement started by Colin Kaepernick. What followed was a weekend-plus of protests by players, coaches and some owners to show their solidarity against the attack on the NFL. The issue was actually rather minor until it was escalated by the president, who continued his attacks. Things have quieted now as the league contemplates keeping the teams in the locker room during the national anthem.
FBI sting on college basketball coaches
This story will probably be bigger in 2018, but when the FBI charged 10 assistant basketball coaches, including USC’s Tony Bland, in an investigation of fraud and corruption in college basketball, the sport was rocked by more of what’s to come than what just happened. The FBI is looking into the unsavory way some players are acquired and shopped. Among the first major casualties was legendary Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who was fired without being charged.
U.S. ousted from the World Cup
The U.S. men’s soccer team had been to seven straight World Cups, and all it had to do was beat Trinidad & Tobago, a country whose population is about 1/325th as large. But they couldn’t do it, losing 2-1, eliminating them from next year’s World Cup in Russia. After the loss, coach Bruce Arena resigned (he had replaced Jürgen Klinsmann in 2016).
Dodgers reach Game 7
It was a story 29 years in the making. The Dodgers returned to the World Series for the first time since 1988. What transpired was one of the wildest, most exciting World Series in history. However, the Dodgers went down in seven games, losing the last 5-1 to the Houston Astros. It was an unsatisfying ending to a season in which the Dodgers won 104 games, the most in baseball. It also saw Cody Bellinger hit a rookie record 39 regular-season home runs.
UCLA football’s change at the top
A couple years ago, Jim Mora owned this town after turning around the fortunes of the UCLA football team. But good fortune does have an expiration date. After losing to USC, 28-23, in November, he was fired on his birthday. The search for his replacement was swift as UCLA proved more attractive than Florida to Chip Kelly, a great college coach at Oregon but unsuccessful in the NFL. The UCLA offer — and $23.3 million over five years — did the trick.
The Ball family
Where do you start? With LaVar Ball, of course. The outspoken father of Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo has become a media sensation with his constant chatter about the greatness of his sons and his shoe brand. Lonzo became the Lakers top pick and tore up the Summer League. The real season has been more difficult. Meanwhile, UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball was arrested in China, along with two of his teammates, for shoplifting. President Trump took credit for getting the trio out of jail and back home, and then got into a very public spat with LaVar Ball over his efforts. LaVar Ball reportedly sent POTUS a pair of his signature-brand shoes as a peace offering; a few days later he announced that he was withdrawing LiAngelo Ball from UCLA.