The Sports Report: Is the spotlight too bright for the Rams?


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.


Bill Plaschke is a little worried about the Rams, because the spectacle of the Super Bowl might be getting to them. He writes,


“The Rams’ biggest obstacle to winning Super Bowl LIII could be the Super Bowl itself.

“The moment occurred at the start of Monday’s Super Bowl Opening Night media madhouse at the State Farm Arena.

Jared Goff, the Rams’ cool young quarterback, was standing at the front of a line of teammates waiting to be introduced and walk down a runway to a stage.

“But when his name was called, the confident leader hesitated. He stared out at hundreds of reporters milling on the floor, the biggest interview scrum of his life. He stared up into thousands of fans sitting in the stands, a strange collection of folks gathered in their official team jerseys just to hear players talk.

“Goff looked out, looked up, stopped for several seconds, turned around and glanced at his teammates, then finally took a big breath and walked into the great unknown.

“He looked as flustered as if he were facing a fierce pass rush, and later sounded like he had already been sacked.”

However, Dylan Hernandez is already looking past the Super Bowl and has a message for the Rams: If you win, don’t go to the White House. As Dylan writes, “The Rams are part of a conservative league that is popular in conservative parts of the country, but they have to think about the city they represent. They have to think about the remarkable diversity of their unique fan base.

“Los Angeles is the antithesis of Trump’s vision of America and if the Rams intend on becoming a symbol for the city, what they have to do is obvious.”

The second of our five-part series on team strategy asks the question “What is the Patriots’ plan to stop Aaron Donald?” Read all about it here.

Read how the Rams can use tape of the 2015 season AFC title game as a way to stop the Patriots. The defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos that game was Wade Phillips. The same guy leading the Rams’ defense this season.

Super Bowl podcast

This week, the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast goes behind the scenes at Super Bowl LIII with the Los Angeles Times reporters who will be covering Sunday’s game between the Rams and the New England Patriots.

On the latest episode, columnist Dylan Hernandez talks from Atlanta about what it’s like covering the Super Bowl — and everything leading up to it — for the first time. He also discusses the Rams’ strengths and weaknesses and offers his prediction for the outcome of the game.

You can listen to the podcast here.

When is the Super Bowl?

It will be on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

Who will win?

Who will win the Super Bowl? Click here to vote. We’ll announce the results on game day.


Brandon Ingram could be a big part of a potential trade for New Orleans star Anthony Davis, and on Tuesday he showed why. Ingram scored a career high 36 points in the Lakers’ 121-105 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Ingram made 16-of-20 shots, frequently scoring on dunks. JaVale McGee scored 17 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 12. No other Lakers player finished in double figures.

Best basketball movies

We are determining what the greatest sports movie of all time is by asking The Sports Report subscribers to vote for their choices, first divided by sport. Up next are the five best basketball movies of all time. You can vote by clicking here or by emailing me at Here are the nominees:

Above the Rim (1994), starring Tupac Shakur

Air Bud (1997), starring Air Buddy

The Air Up There (1994), starring Kevin Bacon

BASEketball (1998), starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone

The Basketball Diaries, starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Blue Chips (1994), starring Nick Nolte

Celtic Pride (1996), starring Damon Wayans

Coach Carter (2005), starring Samuel L. Jackson

Eddie (1996), starring Whoopi Goldberg

Fast Break (1979), starring Gabe Kaplan

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979), starring Julius Erving

Glory Road (2006), starring Josh Lucas

He Got Game (1998), starring Denzel Washington

Hoop Dreams (1994), documentary featuring William Gates and Arthur Agee

Hoosiers (1986), starring Gene Hackman

Just Wright (2010), starring Queen Latifah

Juwanna Mann (2002), starring Miguel Nunez Jr.

Like Mike (2002), starring Lil Bow Wow

Love & Basketball (2000), starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan

One on One (1977), starring Robby Benson

Rebound (1996), starring Don Cheadle

Rebound (2005), starring Martin Lawrence

Semi-Pro (2008), starring Will Ferrell

The Sixth Man (1997), starring Kadeem Hardison

Space Jam (1996), starring Michael Jordan

Sunset Park (1996), starring Rhea Perlman

Uncle Drew (2018), starring Kyrie Irving

White Men Can’t Jump (1992), starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson

Again, you can vote by clicking here or by emailing me at Remember to vote for five.

UCLA basketball

The Bruins were supposed the be good this year. UCLA’s 2018 class was ranked No. 6 nationally by 247Sports, after a 2017 class that was ranked No. 5 and a 2016 class that was ranked No. 11. Instead, the Bruins fired their coach and have continued to sputter along under interim coach Murry Bartow.

The problem: A lot of good individual players, but not much interest among them as playing as a team. Read more about it here.

USC football

Graham Harrell accepted the Trojans’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach position Monday night, according to Harrell’s father, Sam, who seems to do all the speaking for his son. I wonder if he will send in the plays for Graham too.


The Nevada Athletic Commission suspended UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov nine months and fined him $500,000 for igniting a brawl after beating former champion Conor McGregor at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena in October.

McGregor, who threw a punch at one of Nurmagomedov’s cornermen, was suspended six months and fined $50,000.

The commission gave Nurmagomedov the opportunity to reduce his suspension to six months if he makes an anti-bullying public-service announcement.

The suspensions are retroactive, so if Nurmagomedov’s is reduced, both men could resume fighting after April 6. If Nurmagomedov’s ban stands, he could return for the UFC’s high-profile International Fight Week card July 6 in Las Vegas.

Two of Nurmagomedov’s cornermen, his cousin Abubakar and former UFC fighter Zubaira Tukhugov, received 12-month suspensions and $25,000 fines for their roles in the episode.

This date in sports history

1936: After a contest to pick a new nickname for the team, Boston Braves fans overwhelmingly vote for Bees. The Boston Bees become the Braves again in 1940.

1978: Addie Joss and Larry MacPhail are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1983: The Washington Redskins defeat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17, to win Super Bowl XVII.

1994: Pete Sampras defeats Todd Martin, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, to win the Australian Open.

1994: The Dallas Cowboys defeat the Buffalo Bills, 30-13, to win XXVIII.

2000: The St. Louis Rams defeat the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, to win Super Bowl XXXIV.

2010: Serena Williams defeats Justine Henin, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to win the Australian Open.

Notable births on this date

1943: Former Mets and Dodgers manager Davey Johnson.

1955: Golfer Curtis Strange.

1957: Golfer Payne Stewart.

1973: NBA player Jalen Rose.

Notable deaths on this date

1948: Hall of Fame pitcher Herb Pennock

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.