Advertisement

The Sports Report: When did LeBron James first feel old?

Laker LeBron James flexes his arm during a win over the Rockets
LeBron James flexes his arm during the win over the Rockets.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Share via

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. LeBron James is still playing at an elite level despite this being his (checking my math) 303rd season in the NBA. He’s even playing against the sons of players he competed against in the past. Dan Woike talked to him about all of this in a story you should check out.

From Dan Woike: When did the Lakers’ LeBron James first feel old?

James had just scored 48 points in a 140-132 victory over the Houston Rockets against 19-year-old Jabari Smith Jr. and 22-year-old Kenyon Martin Jr. with both of their fathers in attendance — former NBA players whom James played against.

Could it have been the time James played the Memphis Grizzlies and saw Ziaire Williams on their team just two years after he played with his son, Bronny, at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High?

Advertisement

Or maybe it was tussling with Golden State’s Gary Payton II last year, a moment that triggered memories of being at big Gary Payton’s home in Las Vegas, where he watched little GPII jump into the pool off the landscaped grounds.

“There’s been too many of them,” he told The Times.

The sore ankles, the aching body, the bruises that take longer to heal, and the chairs that are all a little harder to get out of — it all reminds James that he, in NBA terms, is old.

Nights like Monday, though, cement it.

The same player who could barrel through a defense on back-to-back plays, yelling at the crowd that he’s “a bad mother—,” could use the same expletive in a totally different way in the locker room — marveling at how tired he was as he made his way toward the showers.

“I was extremely exhausted today, extremely tired. Body was sore from the battle that we had yesterday versus Philly,” he admitted. “I guess once I stepped on the floor for warmups and the crowd fills in, it’s my job to go out and play the best way I can. Obviously I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to make every shot. But I just try to lock in on the job at hand.

“And I could have very easily took tonight off, but I don’t feel like the momentum of our ballclub could use me taking a night off like tonight. I don’t feel like I wanted to sit on that loss with Philly last night. I wanted to kind of get that out of my tastebuds and see if we could win a ballgame tonight.”

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: Fallout from the Chargers’ dramatic wild-card elimination began Tuesday morning when the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback coach Shane Day.

The moves became official three days after the Chargers lost at Jacksonville 31-30 despite opening a 27-0 second-quarter lead.

The decisions confirmed that head coach Brandon Staley isn’t going anywhere.

General manager Tom Telesco also will remain with the team as he enters his 11th year on the job.

Advertisement

Continue reading here

CHARGERS POLL

Should Brandon Staley remain coach of the Chargers? Vote here and let us know. Results will be in Friday’s newsletter.

NFL PLAYOFF RESULTS, SCHEDULE
All times Pacific
Divisional round
Saturday
Jacksonville at Kansas City, 1:30 p.m., NBC, Peacock, Universo
New York Giants at Philadelphia, 5:15 p.m., Fox, Fox Deportes

Sunday
Cincinnati at Buffalo, Noon, CBS, Paramount+
Dallas at San Francisco, 3:30 p.m., Fox, Fox Deportes

Conference championship
Sunday, January 29

NFC: Noon, FOX, FOX Deportes
AFC: 3:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+

Super Bowl
Sunday, February 12, Fox

CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: Doc Rivers and Tyronn Lue, the longtime NBA coach and his former player-turned-protégé-turned-Clippers successor, still talk often.

Rivers characterized those conversations during the summer as “fun.” Then the season arrives.

Advertisement

It isn’t the frequency of their talks that changes – it’s the tone they take.

“I don’t know if we talk, or we commiserate,” Rivers said Tuesday, when his Philadelphia 76ers arrived at Crypto.com Arena to face the Clippers. “I don’t even know which one we do at times, but it feels like we do the latter more than the talk.”

Lue, for the last three seasons, has been presented with the same challenge Rivers couldn’t ultimately solve during his final Clippers season, in 2020: How do you build a cohesive championship contender without roster continuity? Just as injuries and workload-related absences limited Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the franchise’s pillars, to overlap for only 37 regular-season games during their first season, it has remained the case during their fourth. Tuesday marked only the 16th time this season, in 46 chances, that Leonard and George have played together.

The Clippers are now 9-7 in those games, and 23-23 overall, after their comeback from down 14 points could not be sustained in a 120-110 loss to Philadelphia.

Continue reading here

UCLA BASKETBALL

From Ben Bolch: Trying to keep its spot atop the Pac-12 Conference, UCLA will likely remain shorthanded against a team that likes to go deep into its bench.

Freshman guard Amari Bailey did not practice Tuesday as he continued his recovery from discomfort in his left foot that has sidelined him for nearly a month, putting his availability in doubt for the No. 5 Bruins’ game against Arizona State on Thursday night at Desert Financial Arena.

Advertisement

UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Bailey was progressing in his attempt to return from the injury he suffered when Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe stepped on his foot last month. Bailey aggravated the foot four days later against UC Davis and has not played since, sitting out the last five games.

Continue reading here

DUCKS

Kevin Hayes had his first career hat trick, Rasmus Ristolainen and Morgan Frost also scored and the Philadelphia Flyers rebounded from their worst loss of the season with a 5-2 win over the Ducks on Tuesday night.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1938 — Grover Cleveland Alexander is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. His 90 shutouts is second on the all-time list to Walter Johnson and his 16 shutouts in 1916 is still the major league record.

1958 — Canadian born Willie O’Ree becomes the NHL’s first black player for the Boston Bruins.

1972 — The Lakers’ Jerry West, hits a last second, 20-foot jumper to lead the West team to a 112-110 NBA All-Star victory over the East, as he garners the MVP award.

Advertisement

1973 — Orlando Cepeda becomes the first player signed specifically to be a designated hitter. He signs with the Boston Red Sox one week after the designated hitter rule is approved.

1976 — Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl for the second straight year. Terry Bradshaw’s 64-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Swann and Glen Edwards’ interception on the last play of the game gives the Steelers a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Swann, with four receptions for 161 yards, is the game’s MVP.

1992 — Brett Hull scores two goals with the help of linemate Wayne Gretzky to lead the Campbell Conference to a 10-6 victory over the Wales Conference in the NHL All-Star game.

1996 — Baseball owners break with more than a century of tradition by unanimously approving interleague play in 1997.

2003 — Michelle Kwan wins her sixth straight title, and seventh overall, at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Michael Weiss, despite splattering on his quad lutz, two-footing a quad toe and not doing a triple axel the entire competition, gets his third U.S. men’s title.

2004 — The New England Patriots earn their second trip to the Super Bowl in three seasons by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 24-14 in the AFC championship game. The Philadelphia Eagles fall one win short of the Super Bowl for the third straight year as the Carolina Panthers post a 14-3 win.

Advertisement

2005 — Earl Boykins breaks the NBA record for points in an overtime, scoring 15 of Denver’s 21 points in the extra period as the Nuggets beat the Seattle SuperSonics 116-110. The 5-foot-5 guard, the league’s smallest player, broke the record of 14 overtime points set by Butch Carter of Indiana against Boston on March 20, 1984.

2011 — Kim Clijsters starts her Australian Open run with a 6-0, 6-0 romp of three-time Grand Slam finalist and former No. 1-ranked player Dinara Safina. It’s the first time a woman who was once the top-ranked player in the world had ever lost by that score.

2014 — The NBA fines Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $100,000 for confronting referees and using inappropriate language toward them after the Mavericks blew a 17-point lead in the final 5 minutes of a 129-127 loss at the Clippers on Jan. 15.

2015 — Russell Wilson hits Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown 3:19 into overtime to lift the Seattle Seahawks to an improbable 28-22 victory over Green Bay in the NFC championship game. Outplayed much of the game and plagued by five turnovers, the Seahawks trail 16-7 with 2:09 remaining.

2015 — Tom Brady throws for three touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount runs in three more to lead the New England Patriots into the Super Bowl with a 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

2016 — Duke, after dropping three of its last five games, fall out of The Associated Press women’s basketball poll after 312 straight weeks. The Blue Devils entered on Nov. 29, 1999. It’s the third longest streak in the history of the poll since the rankings began in 1976.

Advertisement

2017 — Baseball Hall of Fame adds Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Pittsburgh edges Dallas in Super Bowl X. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

Advertisement