Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Thursday 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.
If you believe everything you read, then Lakers coach Luke Walton’s job has been in jeopardy several times this season. And some vocal Lakers fans have been leading the call to dump him, saying he is not a good coach and does not run a good offense. After the Lakers lost to the woeful Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, many were convinced that was the last straw.
Not so fast.
According to Times reporter Brad Turner, there have been no internal discussions about Walton’s job status and Walton “will definitely finish the season.”
And it appears team Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and team owner Jeanie Buss are all in agreement about this.
Walton reminds somewhat of former UCLA coach Steve Lavin. Youthful, energetic, very likable, but somewhat limited when it came to designing plays. Would motivate his team to upset top-10 teams then would lose to teams they should easily beat. Walton is the same. Lakers defeat Boston one night, then lose to Atlanta. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
What do you think? Should Luke Walton be fired? Click here to vote.
Russell Martin was acquired in the offseason to replace Yasmani Grandal, a move questioned by many fans because Martin was so bad with Toronto last season, hitting just .194.
“I was horrible last year,” Martin said. “Still a tough out. Still can work a count. And still hit the ball hard — relatively hard — but it was a down year. I wasn’t as good as I can be. When you get older, they give you an excuse for you. Like, ‘You’re getting old.’ My body felt great last year. I got zero excuses.”
Read more about Martin here.
Yasiel Puig is with the Reds now and has already reported to camp. Andy McCullough was there to witness it all. An excerpt:
The prospects gathered in the outfield grass around the veteran. For more than an hour on Wednesday, as the rest of the Cincinnati Reds filtered into their clubhouse, a few young players received a tutorial on the path to big-league success. The lesson came from an instructor dubbed, in the words of one Reds staffer, “Coach Puig.”
Always catch the baseball with two hands, Yasiel Puig told them.
Never overthrow the cutoff man.
Always run hard when you leave the dugout to play the field.
And never, ever, try to mimic Puig’s own violation of these rules.
“I told the kids, ‘Do the right thing,’” Puig said. “Catch the ball with two hands — don’t do the same thing I do, because I catch the ball with one hand. That’s me.” Puig listed a few of the other former All-Stars assembled on the Reds roster. “They need to take the good things that Puig does, Joey Votto does, Matt Kemp. Don’t look into the bad things that we do. Because everybody does bad things in baseball, and bad things in life.”
NASCAR continues to shed fans and hopes to reverse that trend this season, starting with their biggest race, the Daytona 500. Times reporter John Cherwa takes a look at five questions NASCAR must answer. Click here to read it.
Tiger Woods is in town to play in the PGA Tour tournament at Riveria Country Club this week. He has played in the tournament, currently called the Genesis Open, 13 times.
“There’s no secret to this golf course,” Woods said Wednesday. “It’s right in front of you. …
“We wish we could play more venues like this that are so simple and straightforward, but that’s what makes it just a classic golf course. … You have to hit the ball well.”
Woods has rarely played well in the tournament. He tees off at 12:22 p.m. today. Phil Mickelson tees off at 7:22 a.m.
Odds and Ends
The Clippers routed the Phoenix Suns to strengthen their hold on the final playoff spot in the West… The Chargers announced they will not pick up the contract option for defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who has been with the team since 2011… UCLA announced plans for a $35-million academic facility on campus to support its athletes that will be named after principal donor Mo Ostin… Carl Hagelin of the Kings talks about the possibility of being traded…. Matt Harvey talks about joining the Angels and his troubles in the past… The UCLA gymnastics teams made it a special day for 6-year-old Make A Wish kid Joselin Palma… The UCLA men’s basketball had trouble with Cal, which was 0-11 in the Pac-12 Conference, before pulling out a 75-67 overtime victory.
In the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, NBA writer Brad Turner discusses the recent Anthony Davis trade saga between the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans and what it was like covering the developments as they happened.
“During the course of all this, it was exhausting on both sides,” Turner tells host Beto Durán. “I was always feeling challenged to try to find out what was going on, who to call, who to text, who to truly trust in all of this, knowing that both sides wanted to get out their narrative and both sides did.”
In addition to an in-depth look behind the scenes at the trade that never happened, Turner also discusses how Magic Johnson and LeBron James navigate in a different orbit than everyone else and the tampering investigation into Johnson’s dealings with Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.
Best sports movie
As we continue the quest to pick the best sports movie of all time, we move on to boxing. Vote for the best boxing movie by clicking here or by emailing me here. Vote for your four best boxing movies The nominees:
Ali (2001), starring Will Smith
Body and Soul (1947), starring John Garfield
The Boxer (1997), starring Daniel Day-Lewis
The Champ (1931), starring Wallace Beery
The Champ (1979), starring Jon Voight and Ricky Schroeder
Cinderella Man (2005), starring Russell Crowe
Creed (2015), starring Michael B. Jordan
Creed II (2018), starring Michael B. Jordan
Fat City (1972), starring Stacy Keach
The Fighter (2010), starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale
Girlfight (2000), starring Michelle Rodriguez
The Great White Hype (1996), starring Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson
The Greatest (1977), starring Muhammad Ali
Grudge Match (2013), starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro
The Harder They Fall (1956), starring Humphrey Bogart
The Hurricane (1999), starring Denzel Washington
The Main Event (1979), starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal
Million Dollar Baby (2004), starring Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood
Raging Bull (1980), starring Robert DeNiro
Real Steel (2011), starring Hugh Jackman
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), starring Anthony Quinn
Rocky (1976), starring Sylvester Stallone
Rocky II (1979), starring Sylvester Stallone
Rocky III (1982), starring Sylvester Stallone
Rocky IV (1985), starring Sylvester Stallone
Rocky V (1990), starring Sylvester Stallone
Rocky Balboa (2006), starring Sylvester Stallone
The Set-Up (1949), starring Robert Ryan
Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), starring Paul Newman
Southpaw (2015), starring Jake Gyllenhaal
When We Were Kings (2007), documentary
Here are the results of the three best hockey movies poll:
Slap Shot, named on 97.4% of the 4,135 ballots cast
The Mighty Ducks, 46.1%
Missing the cut
Mystery, Alaska, 30.3%
D2: The Mighty Ducks, 8.6%
Red Army, 7.9%
Others (in order of votes received): Sudden Death, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Slap Shot 2, Idol of the Crowds, Pond Hockey, Les Boys, Sudden Death, The Last Gladiators, MVP: Most Valuable Primate, The Love Guru.
Born on this date
1907: Jockey Johnny Longden
1913: Baseball broadcaster Mel Allen
1931: NHL player Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion
1935: Golfer Mickey Wright
1960: NFL player Jim Kelly
1966: NHL player Petr Svoboda
1970: Volleyball player Elaine Youngs
1972: NFL player Drew Bledsoe
1973: NFL player Steve McNair
1973: NBA player Tyus Edney