Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.
Let’s get to it.
Rams general manager Les Snead grew up about 2 ½ hours from Atlanta and worked in the Atlanta Falcons’ front office when the Rams hired him as GM in 2012.
Now he returns to watch the team he put together play in the Super Bowl.
Snead talks to Gary Klein about the moves he made and the reasoning behind them. Click here to read it.
But our new columnist, LZ Granderson, has decided not to take it easy in his first week on the job. He has a problem with Rams fans, or rather, the fact that not as many people as you might think have become Rams fans.
“I have no idea how many Rams fans are going to make the journey to Atlanta to see them play in the Super Bowl. I know Saints fans travel. I know Cowboys fans travel. I know Chiefs fans travel. I know Patriots fans will travel. But what about us?”
You can read Granderson’s column here, then email him your thoughts afterward.
When is the Super Bowl?
It will be on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
Who will win?
The last polls we did were successful, so let’s do it again. Who will win the Super Bowl? Click here to vote. We’ll announce the results on game day.
LeBron James won’t be on the court for the Lakers when they play the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, coach Luke Walton said after practice. Rajon Rondo, meanwhile, practiced without limitations and is likely to play Thursday, depending on how he feels before the game.
“With him and Rondo it’s going to be again, how he’s feeling tomorrow morning and take it from there, and see how he’s doing the next day after that and the next day,” Walton said. “When they feel ready to play then they’ll play.”
James has missed 14 games so far and the Lakers have gone 5-9 without him.
Tobias Harris scored 31 points as the Clippers defeated the Miami Heat, 111-99, a nice rebound victory after a poor performance in a loss Tuesday to the Dallas Mavericks.
“We kind of flushed it out,” Harris said of his conversation with teammates about how poorly everyone played in Dallas. “We kind of just talked about it like dang, we couldn’t make no shots. Me going around like, ‘You couldn’t make no shots, you couldn’t make no shots.’ We brought some light to the situation and was able to come out today and have that good energy.”
Helene Elliott takes the Kings to task (and rightfully so) in her new column. She talked to team president Luc Robitaille about the team. Here’s an excerpt:
“When we set out and we did our work at the end of last year and you take out that we missed Jeff Carter for over 50 games and we got 98 points, we kind of based this season off of that team,” Robitaille said. “And that was the reasoning for adding a player like Ilya Kovalchuk that would hopefully help us get a few more goals. And then you look at it if you win two or three more games you end up with 102 and 104 points, and it changes your position for the playoffs.”
That miscalculation by Robitaille and general manager Rob Blake is one of many mistakes that have consigned the Kings to defeat this season….
At least publicly, Robitaille hasn’t given up on mounting a playoff push. That means he’s not ready to implement a “Lose for Hughes” strategy and tank in order to get in the draft lottery and improve the Kings’ odds of choosing top-ranked forward Jack Hughes. That could change in the weeks before the Feb. 25 trading deadline, and it should. Making a brief playoff appearance is counterproductive to an organization that needs a massive infusion of talent through the draft and through trading whatever contracts they can off-load to teams seeking the final pieces to a championship roster.
“It’s going to be a challenge but I never count these guys out,” Robitaille said. “I will never count Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown out because I know they’ve done it in the past. We always believe in that. I expect them to play to win every day and I expect them to have a chance to make the playoffs. That’s the way our guys think and that’s the way I want them to think.”
That kind of thinking got them in this hole.
You can read the entire column by clicking here.
On the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, columnist Bill Plaschke gives his prediction for Super Bowl LIII between the Rams and the New England Patriots.
He also discusses Los Angeles having a team in the Super Bowl for the first time in 35 years, his feelings toward the Patriots, what it’s been like covering the Rams and his expectations for the big game.
Later, longtime prep sports reporter Eric Sondheimer talks about how the Los Angeles teachers’ strike affected high school sports, including the upcoming playoffs and the long-term ripple effect.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Best sports movies ever
It’s Oscars season, so The Sports Report is going to take advantage of that natural tie-in to poll all of you on what the best sports movie of all time is. We will break it down first by sport, starting with football. So, what are the five best football movies of all time? Remember, we’re asking for best, not favorite (unless they coincide of course). You can click here to vote, or you can email me your picks by clicking here. Almost 4,000 ballots have already been cast, so make sure your voice is heard!
A quick breakdown of the football nominees:
Any Given Sunday (1999): Starring Al Pacino
The Blind Side (2009), starring Sandra Bullock
Brian’s Song (1971), starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams
Concussion (2015), starring Will Smith
Draft Day (2014), starring Kevin Costner
The Freshman (1925), starring Harold Lloyd
Friday Night Lights (2004), starring Billy Bob Thornton
Gridiron Gang (2006), starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Gus (1976), starring Don Knotts, Ed Asner and Gus, the football kicking mule
Horse Feathers (1932), starring The Marx Brothers
Invincible (2006), starring Mark Wahlberg
Jerry Maguire (1996), starring Tom Cruise
Knute Rockne, All American, (1940) starring Pat O’Brien and Ronald Reagan
Leatherheads (2008), starring George Clooney
The Longest Yard (1974), starring Burt Reynolds
The Longest Yard (2005), starring Adam Sandler
Necessary Roughness (1991), starring Scott Bakula
North Dallas Forty (1979), starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis
The Program (1993), starring James Caan
Radio (2003), starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
Remember the Titans (2000), starring Denzel Washington
The Replacements (2000), starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman
Rudy (1993), starring Sean Astin
Semi-Tough (1977), starring Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson
Varsity Blues (1999), starring James Van Der Beek
The Waterboy (1998), starring Adam Sandler
We Are Marshall (2006), starring Matthew McConaughey
Wildcats (1986), starring Goldie Hawn
This date in sports history
1930: Primo Carnera makes his U.S. boxing debut by knocking out Big Boy Patterson in 1:10 of the first round.
1939: Eddie Collins, Willie Keeler and George Sisler are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1947: NFL owners vote to allow sudden-death overtime in playoff games and add a fifth official, the back judge, to games.
1973: Warren Spahn is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1982: The San Francisco 49ers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI.
1990: Clarence "Big House" Gaines gets the 800th victory of his college basketball coaching career when Winston-Salem State University beats Livingstone, 79-70.
2006: Mario Lemieux retires from the NHL for the last time.
Notable births on this date
1947: Soccer star Giorgio Chinaglia
1968: Olympic gymnast gold medalist Mary Lou Retton.
Ask a Times sportswriter
A new feature of this newsletter will be you, the loyal subscriber, being able to ask any Times sports reporter a question. Just click here to send me an email. Include in the email who you want to ask a question of and what your question is. I’ll pass it on and it will be answered in a future newsletter. Ever wanted to ask Bill Plaschke a question? Want to ask Tania Ganguli a question about the Lakers? Have a question for Sam Farmer about the NFL? Click here and ask away. But make sure you let me know which sportswriter you want answering the question.