The Sports Report: Frustrated LeBron speaks out after another Lakers loss
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Before we get to LeBron’s rant, let once again take a look at some of the best, favorite and most popular stories my Times sports colleagues did in 2022.
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From Dan Woike: LeBron James sat solitarily on the end of the Lakers’ bench during a timeout Wednesday night in Miami, the retired jerseys of his former championship teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade hanging above him.
Two days away from turning 38, James has a lot on his mind.
“I have multiple thoughts. I think about the day to day of how we get better throughout the course of the season. But how we get better from game to game,” he said. “I think about how much longer I’m going to play the game. I think about that I don’t want to finish my career playing at this level from a team aspect. I’ll still be able to be compete for championships because I know what I can still bring to any ball club with the right pieces.”
While James’ thirst for individual greatness has never been that well concealed – “Chosen 1” – it’s come in the context of competition, his teams always in it as long as he was on the court.
But Wednesday, after he scored 27 more meaningless points for a team that’s now seven games under .500 after a 112-98 loss to the Heat, James reflected on the someday ending of his career – and the circumstances he doesn’t want to be a part of.
“I’m a winner and I want to win. And I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships,” James said directly. “That has always been my passion, that has always been my goal since I entered the league as an 18-year-old kid out of Akron, Ohio. And I know it takes steps to get there, but once you get there and know how to get there, playing basketball at this level just to be playing basketball is not in my DNA. It’s not in my DNA anymore. So, we’ll see what happens and see how fresh my mind stays over the next couple years.”
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From Ben Bolch: Playing in every game of the Chip Kelly era means that Stephan Blaylock can tell you some things about perseverance.
The veteran safety has pushed through three losing seasons. Several rosters’ worth of turnover among teammates. Trash-talking from fans that cut deeper than anything said by an opponent. A bowl game canceled only hours before kickoff, leading to a flood of tears.
Unlike scores of others who bolted amid the frustration and disappointment, Blaylock remained, a UCLA fixture as steady as the bear statue in Bruin Plaza, as reliable as an eight-clap in boosting spirits.
“One thing I wanted to do while coming into this program was just change the culture,” Blaylock said, “and with change you’ve got to go through some difficult times.”
On Friday, he’ll put on his jersey one last time as part of what could be a celebratory sendoff.
It will be a school-record 56th game for Blaylock and offensive lineman Atonio Mafi when the No. 18 Bruins (9-3) face Pittsburgh (8-4) in the Sun Bowl, a farewell for two players uniquely qualified to give an oral history of the last five seasons.
It also might be the start of something special.
Even though UCLA didn’t reach its goal this season, extending its Rose Bowl drought to nearly a quarter-century, Blaylock said he believes the Bruins have put themselves on the cusp of glory. A victory over the Panthers would give UCLA a school-record-tying 10th victory while also providing a possible prelude to greater success in 2023.
“That would just motivate them to believe that, OK, we can’t get below this, the only thing we can do is get above 10 wins, 10-plus,” Blaylock said of his successors, “and if you can get 10-plus, I want to say you’re in a great spot for Pac-12 championships and many bigger games than that.”
From Jeff Miller: Without Sean McVay, it’s possible Brandon Staley might never have had a chance to do what he’ll do Sunday: coach against Sean McVay.
Staley was hired by the Chargers in January 2021 after helping the Rams’ defense finish No. 1 overall in the NFL.
Following only one — impressive — season on McVay’s staff, Staley received his first head-coaching job.
“It was an incredible year for both of us,” Staley said Wednesday. “I know that we accomplished a lot together. I certainly wouldn’t be here without him. There’s a lifelong friend there.”
The two buddies will meet as head coaches for the first time in the regular season Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
From Gary Klein: Rams coach Sean McVay is not surprised. Neither is cornerback Troy Hill nor safety Jordan Fuller.
When Brandon Staley coordinated the Rams defense in 2020, the unit statistically ranked as the NFL’s best. Now, in his second season as a head coach, Staley has the Chargers headed to the playoffs.
“The first time I met him, you could tell, like, he was a great football mind,” Hill said Wednesday. “He was all about ball.
“He would always say, ‘Can’t get tired of talking about ball.’ You could tell he really cared about it, and it was his passion.”
The Rams will face Staley for the first time in a regular-season game Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
Adam Henrique had two goals, John Gibson made 49 saves in his return after missing five games because of a lower-body injury and the Ducks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout.
Trevor Zegras had two assists to pass 100 career points, Troy Terry also had two assists. Each scored for Anaheim in the shootout. Vegas’ Adin Hill was replaced in the first period after allowing two goals on five shots, and Logan Thompson saved all 22 shots in relief.
The Golden Knights lost both games of a back-to-back against the Kings and Ducks teams.
The arbitrator shortening Trevor Bauer’s suspension and making him eligible to play this season has polarized Dodger fans. Some want him released immediately, some want the Dodgers to play him. What do you think?
Click here to vote in our poll and let us know. Results will be revealed in Friday’s newsletter.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1926 — Merlyn Phillips of the Montreal Maroons scores five seconds into the game at Chicago for an NHL record for the fastest goal from the start of a game. The Black Hawks win the game in overtime, 5-4. It would be matched three times.
1934 — The first college basketball doubleheader is played at New York’s Madison Square Garden. NYU beats Notre Dame 25-18 and Westminster defeats St. John’s 37-33.
1957 — Tobin Rote passes for four touchdowns and scores another to give the Detroit Lions a 59-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the NFL championship game.
1961 — Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scores 60 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at Hershey, Pa., the future site of his 100-point game.
1963 — Chuck McKinley and Dennis Ralston give the United States a 3-2 victory over Australia for the Davis Cup title.
1968 — The Baltimore Colts shut out the Browns 34-0 to win the NFL championship at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
1968 — The New York Jets beat the Oakland Raiders 27-23 in the AFL championship game.
1979 — Safety Vernon Perry sets an NFL playoff record with four interceptions to lead the Houston Oilers to a 17-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
1982 — Alabama’s Jeremiah Castille intercepts three passes to help beat Illinois 21-15 in the Liberty Bowl and send coach Paul “Bear” Bryant out as a winner. Bryant finishes his coaching career with 323-85-17 record.
1984 — Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers scores his 100th point in the 35th game of the season, a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
2006 — Texas Tech spots Minnesota a 31-point, third-quarter lead, then rallies for a stunning 44-41 overtime victory in the Insight Bowl, the largest comeback in Division I-A bowl history. The previous record for a bowl comeback was 30 points, set by Marshall against East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.
2007 — The New England Patriots complete a perfect regular season, finishing with a remarkable 16-0 record following a thrilling 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants. New England is the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule, and that one was only 14-0.
2011 — Baylor pulls out an incredible Alamo Bowl victory in the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history, beating Washington 67-56 in the wildest shootout of this bowl season. Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III isn’t dazzling, but Terrance Ganaway rushes for 200 yards and five touchdowns. The previous bowl record for a regulation game was 102 total points set in the 2001 GMAC Bowl between Marshall and East Carolina. That game went to double overtime and ended with a combined 125 points — which still stands as the overall bowl record.
2012 — Second-ranked Connecticut plays spoiler and streak-buster this time, snapping No. 1 Stanford’s nation-leading 82-game home unbeaten run with a surprisingly easy 61-35 rout. It’s the Huskies who saw the end of their NCAA record 90-game winning streak at Maples Pavilion with a 71-59 loss two years ago, almost to the day on Dec. 30. Stanford loses at Maples Pavilion for the first time since March 2007.
2013 — Peyton Manning is 25 for 28 for 266 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out the second half of Denver’s 34-14 win over Oakland. He finishes the season with NFL records of 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.
2014 — Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin becomes the most successful U.S. skier in the slalom at Kuehtai, Austria. The 19-year-old racks up her 10th career slalom win, beating the records set in the 1980s by Tamara McKinney and on the men’s side by Phil Mahre, who both had nine wins in ski racing’s most technically demanding event.
2016 — Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin uses a spectacular final run to win a night race for her third World Cup triumph in three days. Shiffrin is 0.33 seconds off the lead at the final split time before accelerating to win the race by 0.64 ahead of Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia. After winning two giant slaloms the previous days, Shiffrin continues her dominance in slalom by landing her 23th career win in the discipline.
2020 - Milwaukee Bucks break NBA record for most 3-pointers made by a team in a single game with 29 in a dominant 144-97 victory over the Heat in Miami
Compiled by the Associated Press
The Milwaukee Bucks make 29 three-pointers, with 12 different players making at least one. Watch and listen here.
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