By Tom Hoffarth
In a post-Grammys/pre-Oscars prime-time Sunday night TV slot, the NBA All-Star game embraces all the trappings of self-congratulatory excess.
As much as we want to keep encouraging it, we’re doomed to soon reach a point of no returns.
Aside from the puffed-up exhibition game, this was just the latest edition of the LeBron Choice Awards. Because TNT still apparently knows its formula for drama.
Sporting a Lakers logo across his chest for the first time in this exercise, LeBron James took the court with the teammates he had picked during a televised draft. He got to dress them in black. Then, he demanded they not play defense, just defend his honor and consider joining him in L.A. ASAP.
Like the Grammys, the All-Star game had musical interludes (with necessary audio cuts). Like the Oscars, there could have been more controversy about who didn’t get enough live TV time. Unlike the Super Bowl, it promised scoring. And there was more preening than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Still, we’d have liked to see TNT sideliner Kristen Ledlow coax more barks from players and fewer clichés.
Here’s how we finished this up in Monday’s L.A. Times for the weekly sports media column …
Monthly Archives: February 2019
By Tom Hoffarth
02.18.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance
Having finally got caught on Netflix and finished up watching “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” it is time to ask: Where art thou, Lakers?
Buster, you best get back in the game.
The NBA All Star break may make us assume this was a mid-season exhibition, but check the calendar. Fifty seven games have elapsed in the Lakers’ 2018-19 schedule – with a meager 28-29 showing, two games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. With 25 games left, if the Lakers don’t win at an .800 clip, are they finished? Fortunately, there are no more meetings with the Knicks. First game out of the break is a nationally TV appearance at Staples Center against Houston (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and then on the road to (possibly) pay a visit to Anthony Davis at New Orleans (Saturday, 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) and give the roster a chance to see what it would have been like at home in the Smoothie King Center.
The Clippers (32-27, eighth in the West) claim they haven’t given up on this season, either, and start the last two month-run at Memphis (Friday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket) and at No. 2 Denver (Sunday, 2 p.m., Prime Ticket).
What art else this week?
UCLA and USC stay home to face the Oregon schools in Pac-12 mop-up games, the Kings and Ducks continue the battle of the Western Conference basement as a trade deadline looms, the Dodgers and Angels are allowed to start exhibition games — including against each other — and the Professional Bull Riding charges into Staples Center for the first time. Are you bullish on PBR? See more at this link…
A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WAS ROMO THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM DURING SUPER BOWL LIII? AND THEN SOME …
By Tom Hoffarth
Predictably, Tony Romo had a broadcast full of opportunities to show off his prognostication skills during his first Super Bowl as a CBS analyst on Sunday.
But the former Dallas Cowboy’s endearing goofiness and self-deprecating nature is what ultimately gave viewers enough to digest during a championship game that was otherwise as compelling as watching Andy Warhol eat a hamburger — a record-low offensive output for the New England Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams.
A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: WHY DOES CBS NEED A RETIRED NFL REF IN THE BOOTH FOR SUPER BOWL LIII? IT’S KINDA COMPLICATED
By Tom Hoffarth
Since 2010, when Fox coaxed NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira out of the league office and into its L.A. studio team as the on-call rules explainer, no network has balked at the opportunity to bring a referee onto its roster as a code breaker.
NBC snatched up Terry McAulay for its NFL “Sunday Night” package this past season. ESPN swapped out Jeff Triplette for Gerald Austin on Monday nights. Fox bulked up with Dean Blandino, another VP of NFL rules, joining Pereira and spilling over into college football broadcasts.
But isn’t it counterproductive to have some of the sport’s best officials leave for TV jobs calling for them to scrutinize the people in jobs they just left?
Gene Steratore, who’ll be in the CBS booth for Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII, a year removed after his time as the head referee in Super Bowl LII, gave us some time to explain what approach he will take and how these rules are still in need of interpretation for the fans with our L.A. Times media column leading in.