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The Sports Report: LeBron passes Jordan

The Sports Report: LeBron passes Jordan
LeBron James (Robert Laberge / Getty Images)

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.

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LeBron James

Let’s ignore the fact that the Lakers lost again on Wednesday and that Rajon Rondo finished the game sitting with fans rather than with his teammates. Let’s look at something positive: LeBron James surpassed Michael Jordan to move into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time points scored list.

“So many kids look up to me for inspiration and when I was a kid their age I needed inspiration and MJ was that inspiration for me along with some other people,” James said. “So sometimes I have no idea how I’m even in this position to be able to sit here, play the game that I love, play at a high level and be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game and obviously MJ being out of this world, so it’s pretty unique.”

Here’s the top 10:

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 38,387

2. Karl Malone, 36,928

3. Kobe Bryant, 33,643

4. LeBron James, 32,311

5. Michael Jordan, 32,292

6. Wilt Chamberlain, 31,419

7. Dirk Nowitzki, 31,362

8. Julius Erving, 30,026

9. Moses Malone, 29,580

10. Shaquille O’Neal, 28,596

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The top four all played for the Lakers as well as six of the top 10.

Earlier Wednesday, LeBron talked about how perhaps too much is being asked of the team’s young players.

“You have four guys in our top eight rotation that you have to really rely on, and it’s unfair to them to ask for so much when they’re in their second or third year,” James said. “We have Zo [Lonzo Ball], Josh [Hart], Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] and B.I. [Brandon Ingram]. And we had Zu [Ivica Zubac] at the time. That’s like five out of our top nine guys that we rely on, and they’re in their first and second year. You can’t find one other team in our league right now that has to rely on that much every single night from their young guys that’s in their first or second year.

“It’s unfair to those guys for us to continue to — we want them to learn, we want them to learn, we want them to learn — I want them to learn. But also we have to understand that they’re young as well and they’re going to make mistakes. You just try to limit the mistakes as much as possible. You look at all of the 16 teams right now, the best teams in our league right now, just look at the guys they rely on every single night to be able to come through for them. If they have a young guy it’s probably one or two of them. So it’s been tough on us. It’s been tough on us.”

Horse racing

There is still no explanation as to why 21 horses have died at Santa Anita since the track new meeting began on Dec. 26. As John Cherwa writes,

“Dr. Rick Arthur, chief equine veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board and UC Davis, has been studying the breakdowns since it first became apparent at the beginning of the year that numbers were up at Santa Anita. So far, he has found nothing that points to a particular type of horse or race or condition that seems to pose more risk than others.

“They are all over the place, from Battle Of Midway, a well-seasoned horse, to a first-time starter,” Arthur said of the lack of commonalities. “They are from 19 different trainers. There is nothing that links them together.”

“The track is still where everyone is looking first. Mick Peterson, a safety and soil expert from the University of Kentucky, was brought in last week to extensively test the surface. He found nothing unusual compared to tests that have been done the past two years.

“On Tuesday, Dennis Moore, who used to manage the surface at Santa Anita and still does at Del Mar and Los Alamitos, was brought in to do testing and measuring.

“Arthur has also been searching for something in the physiology of the horses, through necropsies — the equine version of an autopsy — that might point to some answers. He’s found no trend so far.

“It’s way, way too early to make any conclusions,” Arthur said. “We need to spend a lot of time and work to collate them and put them all together. Comparing and contrasting race records and training records also takes some time.”

You can see a list and quick bio for the horses that died by clicking here.

Tennis

It’s time for the annual tournament at Indian Wells, and will all-time great Roger Federer scheduled to play, our Helene Elliott takes a look at what has made him so durable. An excerpt:

“Roger Federer insists there are no great secrets to his tennis longevity and his ability to avoid the ruinous injuries that have slowed many of his rivals.

“He doesn’t swear by any specially concocted potions, and he shuns elaborate exercise programs that would take away from his family time. His postmatch recovery leans heavily on stretches and massages and listening to his body, nothing more.

“The day has only so many hours,” he said, “and at some point I’m just happy to sit on the couch and maybe watch TV or just play with my kids or go for a nice dinner with my friends and my wife instead of sitting in another ice bath.”

“In addition to his great talent and fluid style, he has benefited from good fortune and winning the genetic lottery, as he acknowledged during a news conference on Wednesday at the BNP Paribas Open. It helps, too, that he has surrounded himself with people who know what they’re doing and have his best interests at heart.”

Sports Podcast

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On the latest episode of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast, Lakers writer Tania Ganguli discusses what has gone wrong for a team that is on the verge of missing the playoffs despite having added James during the offseason.

She also shares a recent interview with veteran Rondo and talks about the mood of the players right now and what the future might hold for the team.

Odds and Ends

Brock Stewart is prepared to endure another minor league odyssey in Dodgers' system…. L.A. will be the center of the sporting universe for the next decade…. Angels' Matt Harvey is nervous but sharp in Cactus League debut…. Simona Halep, the world's No. 2 player, takes on BNP Paribas Open without a coach…. USC freshmen Elijah Weaver and J’Raan Brooks show some promise with more playing time…. UCLA aims to continue its recent success on final trip of regular season…. Matt Luff hopes his latest stay with the Kings lasts a long time…. Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has seemed to shake off his slump…. Mikey Garcia and his trainer-brother shaken by recent tragedies as Spence fight looms.

Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)

Dodgers vs. Angels, noon, FSW, AM 570, KLAA 830

Angels vs. Kansas City, noon

St. Louis at Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW

UCLA at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN2, AM570

USC at Utah, 7 p.m.

Born on this date

1938: Race car driver Janet Guthrie

1950: NFL player Franco Harris

1952: NFL player Lynn Swann

1959: Golfer Tom Lehman

1960: Tennis player Ivan Lendl

1960: Baseball player Joe Carter

1965: Golfer Jesper Parnevik

1965: NFL player Steve Beuerlein

1965: NFL player Flipper Anderson

1968: Baseball player Jeff Kent

1968: NFL player Ricky Proehl

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.

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