Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

People will watch this soap opera

The Dallas Cowboys will conduct preseason camp in Oxnard and HBO will be there filming for its series "Hard Knocks."

HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg expects that the Tony Romo-Jessica Simpson relationship -- coupled with always-entertaining Terrell Owens and the saga of recently acquired Adam "Pacman" Jones -- will bring the series its best ratings ever.

"It's fair to say this thing should go through the roof," Greenburg said.

Greenburg opened a news conference by joking about going to Cabo San Lucas or wherever else is necessary to tell the full story -- an obvious reference to the getaway trip Romo and Simpson made during a playoff bye week in January.

Then he quickly backtracked.

"This is not the E! television network," he said.

Trivia time

On this date in 2002, the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons, 66-64, in the lowest-scoring NBA playoff game in the shot-clock era. Who were the leading scorers?

Song sung bleu

Prominent Quebec publisher Michel Brule was surprised that the Montreal Canadiens played mostly English-language music at the Bell Centre during their playoff series against the Boston Bruins, and now he wants the Canadian government to do something about it.

Brule stood on a Montreal street corner last week and circulated a petition demanding the Quebec and Canadian governments set rules for music at the arena. The petition says two-thirds of the songs should be in French.

He said he collected 200 signatures in two hours.

Victory in da feet

Basketball analysts Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will go barefoot during Sunday's "Inside the NBA" show on TNT to promote Samaritan's feet -- a charity that wants to outfit 10 million impoverished children worldwide with shoes.

Viewers can only hope Barkley's feet aren't as ugly as his golf swing.

Survey says . . . recently posted its annual survey of PGA Tour players. The website polled 72 tour pros who were guaranteed anonymity.

A sampling of questions and responses:

Would you rather be paired with Tiger or Phil? Woods: 87%; Mickelson: 13%.

Do you know any pro golfers who have used performance-enhancing drugs? Yes: 6%; No: 94%.

If forced at gunpoint to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, whom would you choose? Barack Obama: 53%; Hillary Clinton: 16%; I'd take the bullet: 31%.

Olden Bear

Jack Nicklaus, who has 73 PGA Tour victories and 18 major titles, received the tour's lifetime achievement award this week, joining previous recipients Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Jack Burke Jr., Pete Dye and Deane Beman.

That can mean only one thing, Nicklaus joked: "It means I'm getting old. They don't give you a lifetime achievement award unless it's near the last thing."

Mad about you

Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen says he'll be remembered longer than mild-mannered types because he acts crazy from time to time.

"Who's the manager they remember the most?" Guillen said. "Billy Martin. They don't remember Sparky Anderson. They remember Billy Martin because he was the crazy one.

"Why do you think they like Lou Piniella? Because Lou is good? Great guy. Great baseball people. But people love Lou Piniella because he's [messed] up!"

Trivia answer

Paul Pierce of the Celtics and Jerry Stackhouse of the Pistons each had 19 points.

And finally

Oral Roberts won three baseball games in one day, sweeping a tripleheader from South Dakota State last Saturday. Think anyone bothered to call Ernie Banks?


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