The Sports Report: A look inside the life of an esports athlete

Esports player Gabriel Raulive-streams while fans log in and watch/ask questions on Oct. 26
Esports player Gabriel Rau, also known as “Bwipo,” is a Belgian pro who signed last year to play in the North American League of Legends competition for Team Liquid.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who is probably busy sorting his Halloween candy. Let’s get right to the news.

From David Wharton: Lunch is served in the team dining room, the chef preparing chicken piccata and fresh greens, but there isn’t much time to eat.

Players finish quickly and head for the opposite end of their training facility, past a glass-walled office where coaches pour over game data, past a lobby filled with gleaming trophies. They file into a darkened meeting room to watch film, then commence with practice.


That’s when things get heated, everyone keyed-up now, a coach muttering: “This is ridiculous. We have to play better.”

Life on Team Liquid does not quite fit the video-game cliché. These aren’t teenage boys huddled in their bedrooms, tapping away at keyboards, joking with friends online. This is a professional esports franchise and the mood is serious. When scrimmages finally conclude, many of the players return home to keep practicing on their own past midnight.

“You can go for 15 hours and, physically, you can keep up,” one of them says. “The question is, can you keep up mentally?”


Clippers forward Paul George reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Rockets in Los Angeles Monday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

From Broderick Turner: Tyronn Lue eased to his seat, plopped down to do his pregame news conference before Monday night’s game against the Houston Rockets and smiled. Before taking any questions, the Clippers coach offered this:

“Starters tonight — Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Paul George, Marcus Morris [Sr.] and [Ivica] Zubac,” Lue said.

There was a quick pause, allowing Lue to answer the question of why he made the change before it was even asked.

“Because I wanted to,” Lue said, laughing.


“I just wanted to do something a little different,” Lue said.

It worked out for Lue and the Clippers because Paul George wouldn’t have it any other way, his fingerprints all over their 95-93 win over the Rockets at Arena.


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Lakers forward Anthony Davis winces after injuring his back against the Nuggets Sunday
Lakers forward Anthony Davis winces after injuring his back against the Nuggets Sunday in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 121-110.
(Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press)

From Dylan Hernández: Who could have imagined this, Russell Westbrook checking back into the game in the fourth quarter and the Arena crowd breaking out in delirious cheers?

The Lakers won their first game of the season on Sunday night, but their 121-110 triumph over the Denver Nuggets was one of those wins that felt like more than a win.

The arena was rocking as the Lakers started to take on the blue-collared identity envisioned by first-year coach Darvin Ham. There were “Let’s go Lakers” chants for the team, “M-V-P” chants for LeBron James and a ceremonial dumping of water on Ham.

The euphoria of a previously winless team improving to 1-5 offered a temporary distraction from the enormous problem in plain sight.

Anthony Davis was limping.

Anthony Davis was grimacing.

Later, when Davis was asked about the level of pain with which he played, he replied, “A pretty good amount.”



Kanye West posing in sunglasses and a leather jacket
Kanye West’s antisemitic remarks have caused challenges for the Donda Academy basketball team he created.
(Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

From Luca Evans and Steve Henson: An elite training facility best known as Kobe Bryant’s destination the night of the fateful helicopter crash in 2019 that killed him, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others is currently a safe space for a dismayed collection of top high school basketball players.

The Sports Academy — known as the Mamba Academy under Bryant’s ownership before his death — in Thousand Oaks serves as the classroom, weight room, and basketball court for Donda Academy, a prep school whose future is in the balance because of the recent antisemitic rants of its owner, Kanye West.

Morehouse College was the latest to drop Donda Academy from its schedule Monday, canceling a Nov. 6 game the college was set to host between the Doves and Atlanta’s The Skill Factory because West’s remarks conflicted with the college’s values.

Donda players have their share of support. Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown has been an outspoken advocate for players on Twitter even after severing a business relationship with West’s Donda Sports marketing agency.

The team gathered Sunday for a Zoom call with Brown, Celtics teammate Blake Griffin and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who’s also made headlines lately after tweeting and then deleting a post highlighting an antisemitic film.


From Bill Shaikin: It was the Nightmare on Katella Avenue, and not just for one night. For the better part of a decade, the Angels and their fans sweated and dreaded the fear that Mike Trout would take his talents to South Philly. Trout would go home and win big, and the Angels would be stranded in purgatory.

In real life, there was a twist. The Philadelphia Phillies did get a center fielder from the Angels, and they did win big. Trout and the Angels remain in purgatory.

On Tuesday, as the Phillies play their first World Series home game since Trout’s senior year of high school, their center fielder is expected to be Brandon Marsh.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Marsh said.

Trout, the three-time American League most valuable player, has played 11 full seasons without winning a postseason game. Marsh, in his first full season, has won 10 in the last 24 days.


World Series Game 3 rained out; Astros and Phillies to play Tuesday

Justin Turner wins Roberto Clemente Award, awaits word on Dodgers future


UCLA coach Chip Kelly talks to UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson during a game
UCLA coach Chip Kelly talks to UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson during a game against South Alabama.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

From Ben Bolch: Does a Heisman Trophy candidacy exist if no one can see it?

UCLA has two of the nation’s most riveting players in Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but a second consecutive late start might send East Coast viewers to bed before Charbonnet jukes a defender or Thompson-Robinson zips a pass.

That leaves Bruins coach Chip Kelly as his stars’ chief lobbyist ahead of his team’s 7:30 p.m. PDT kickoff against Arizona State on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

“The only thing that’s sad about starting at 7:30 at night is we have a running back that’s No. 2 in the country in all-purpose yards and three-quarters of the country doesn’t get a chance to see him play,” Kelly said Monday of a game that will be broadcast by FS1. “How many people on the East Coast saw that run [against Stanford] that we just talked about for Zach? Part of being able to play earlier in the day is those highlights are shown throughout the day.

“I could tell you the highlights of all the games that occurred at noon ‘cause we were in our hotel room, we were here [at the Luskin Center on campus] and you could watch all of them. So part of the one thing that’s sad about playing those night games is the exposure that our student-athletes don’t get that other student-athletes get.”


West boy's Amari Bailey participates in the first half of the McDonald's All-American Boys.
Amari Bailey participates in the McDonald’s All-American boys basketball game on March 29.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

From Ben Bolch: The legend of Amari Bailey sprouted in a preseason scrimmage with no one watching and nothing at stake besides the respect of his coaches and teammates.

A shot caromed off the rim. Bailey sprinted toward the basket from the corner. The freshman guard rose for a putback basket that swung a taut game permanently in UCLA’s favor.

“He was two feet above the rim and that put us up five and salted the game away,” said Bruins coach Mick Cronin, recalling the recent scrimmage against San Diego State. “We’re talking about a guy known for having all his talent with the ball, here’s a guy soaring up there to make a hustle play to win the game and that’s after playing major minutes. You would think he would be somewhat tired and he’s playing against 22-year-old and 23-year-old guys and he’s 18.”


The Kings' Carl Grundstrom skates forward during the first period game against the Blues Monday.
(Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

From the Associated Press: Carl Grundstrom scored two goals in Los Angeles’ four-goal second period, and the Kings beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1 Monday night.

“Had a couple of chances there and it was nice to get two goals tonight,” Gundstrom said. “I just try to stay open. It’s always fun to score.”

Gabriel Vilardi, Anze Kopitar and Arthur Kaliyev also scored for the Kings, who have three of four. Jonathan Quick stopped 27 shots.


1913 — Notre Dame meets Army for the first time and comes away with a 35-13 win behind Gus Dorias’ 14-of-17 passing for 243 yards.

1938 — George Woolf, riding for regular jockey Red Pollard, leads Seabiscuit to a four-length victory over the heavily favored U.S. Triple Crown champion, War Admiral, in the Pimlico Special match race at Baltimore. A crowd of 40,000 spectators turn out for the winner-take-all match race with a purse of $15,000.

1946 — The first NBA game (known as the Basketball Association of America), the New York Knickerbocker beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

1959 — Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante revolutionizes his position — and the sport of hockey — by donning a facemask. Plante is struck in the face with a shot by New York Rangers forward Andy Bathgate at 3:06 of the first period. After receiving stitches to close a gash from the corner of his mouth all the way up through his nostril, Plante returns to the ice wearing a mask. The Canadiens win 3-1.

1964 — Cleveland’s Jim Brown rushes for 149 yards and becomes the first player to rush for more than 10,000 yards in a career as the Browns post a 30-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown with 10,135 yards had 47 games of 100-or-more yards rushing.

1966 — The NFL awards a franchise to New Orleans on All Saints Day.

1968 — Detroit pitcher Denny McLain wins the AL Cy Young award after finishing the MLB season 31-6.

1970 — Mercury Morris of the Miami Dolphins gains 302 combined yards (89 rushing, 68 receiving and 145 on kickoff returns) in a 35-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts.

1987 — Ibrahin Hussein of Kenya and Priscilla Welch of Britain win the men’s and women’s divisions of the New York Marathon, finishing the 26.2 miles in 2:11:01 and 2:30:17, respectively.

1997 — Tom Osborne reaches 250 wins faster than any coach in college football history as Nebraska beats Oklahoma 69-7, the worst loss in Sooners’ history.

2000 — Pat Riley earns his 1,000th career coaching victory as Miami posts its most lopsided win in an opener with a 105-79 rout of Orlando. Riley reaches the plateau in 1,434 games — fewer than any coach or manager in any sport.

2003 — DeCori Birmingham rushes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning score in the seventh overtime, in Arkansas’ 71-63 victory over Kentucky. The seven overtimes match the longest game in NCAA history. The Razorbacks also won that game in 2001, beating Mississippi 58-56.

2008 — Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree catches the winning 28-yard touchdown pass with 1 second to play, as the seventh-ranked Red Raiders beat No. 1 Texas 39-33.

2008 — Michigan’s 48-42 loss at Purdue drops the Wolverines to 2-7, ending Michigan’s string of 33 straight bowl appearances. Michigan, assured of its first losing season since 1967, also sets a school record for losses.

2008 — Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses sets single-game NCAA records with 57 completions and 85 pass attempts in a 34-31 double-overtime loss to Sam Houston State. Moses passes for 501 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, completing passes to 11 different receivers. The sophomore breaks the previous single-game attempts record of 83 set by Drew Brees at Purdue in 1998. The former record for completions was 56, set by Jarrod DeGeorgia at then-Division II Wayne State in 1996.

2009 — Meb Keflezighi, becomes the first U.S. man in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon. Keflezighi, who moved from his native Eritrea to San Diego when he was in the sixth grade, finishes with a time of 2:09:15 for a personal best.

2015 — Simone Biles picks up gold medals number nine and 10 on balance beam and floor exercise as the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships come to a close. Biles breaks the career record for most World Championships gold medals by a female gymnast.

2015 — Drew Brees passes for 505 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns, and Kai Forbath kicks a 50-yard field goal as time ran out, to give the New Orleans Saints a 52-49 victory over the New York Giants. New York’s Eli Manning connects on a career-high six touchdown passes.

2017 — The Houston Astros, led by George Springer, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 for first World Series title in franchise history.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Watch highlights of the Clippers’ win over the Rockets Tuesday at Arena.

Until next time...

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