By Tom Hoffarth
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made one big splash for the Clippers this summer.
But the thing that could have a ripple effect for the franchise’s long-term success was how they went forward with the broadcasting roster following the retirement of Ralph Lawler.
Brian Sieman was there all along, having done a dozen years on radio. And the team looked high and low for a “bigger name.” Then decided he was the guy.
It’s an awkward process we try to explain in the latest L.A. Times sports media column with much more between the lines that we could explore.
Could Spero Dedes have gotten this Clippers job? Sure, but he’s also committed to national NFL and college basketball assignments. Like many broadcasters today who want to be more nimble than a symbol of the team’s narrative.
Sieman could have left. He didn’t. And the Clippers are lucky to have him, as we pointed out a while back in the revival of our best-and-worst of L.A. sports broadcasting lists.
The Clippers made the hiring of Sieman as well as Chauncey Billups and Noah Eagle official on Monday with their own press release.
We attempted to ask questions of Gillian Zucker, the Clippers head of business operations who somehow was the point person for this process. She wasn’t available.
So here are some of the things you won’t find in the Clippers release here in the LA Times. Fasten your seatbelts.
= ClipsNation.com has Sieman on its latest podcast.
If you’ve had the chance to land a window seat on any inbound plane for LAX, the view of the 75-percent finished Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Development in Inglewood is quite spectacular.
The white sprawling roof of the 70,000-seat stadium for the Rams and Chargers starting in 2020 makes it now easy to spot from many vantage points in Southern California.
In talking to LASEC managing director Jason Gannon for a cover story in the latest issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal, the recent naming rights deal with American Airlines for the plaza area was a strategic move because of how many ways this $5 billion venue can be appreciated.
“The most incredible part of the roof and its footprint — it encompasses about a million square feet — is that it speaks to not just the physical scope and size of the project but how it fits appropriately within the entire project.
“Through (the naming rights deal with American Airlines), they were telling us that as their planes were approaching LAX, the No. 1 question from customers who might not be familiar with Los Angeles in general was about the structure they could see below. To us, that speaks not just to the location of the project but in the long term now it creates and elevated view so that you don’t have to be on the site to experience it in so many different ways — that has never been done before.”
As a story in the Wall Street Journal also points out, there are nearly 200,000 passengers on flights coming into and out of L.A. each day.
A link to a brief version of the LABJ story, with more available in the print edition.
By Tom Hoffarth
Is this where ESPN suffers a mid-life crisis like the rest of us when we hit 40?
The network’s launch on Sept. 7, 1979 was likely before many today were even born. And they will remind us of that.
For us, it landed three months after our high school graduation and pretty much at the time college started. Right in our wheelhouse, right?
We didn’t get it. Literally, figuratively or whatever other way you want to frame it.
The network plans all sorts of ways to mark this ruby anniversary. One of them is a Sept. 10 episode of “E:60” where they found the first live event the network ever telecast — a professional slo-pitch softball game between the Kentucky Bourbons and the Milwaukee Schlitzes that aired that night, has not aired since, and the video that somehow had gone missing was recently found.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our 20th high school reunion, and try to remember what really was the most compelling sports shows of 1979 — and incredulous at how Fran Tarkenton got to be a co-host of “That’s Incredible!” — this is an opportunity to list the 40 things that pop into our head about ESPN’s run to this point.
Our personal Top 40 list: Read more
By Tom Hoffarth
Among the things we learned with our latest check-in with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that didn’t make it into the lead item in the latest Los Angeles Times sports media column was an exchange he said he had last weekend with Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.
Cutcliffe and Mortensen go way back. Cutcliffe was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Eli Manning at Ole Miss, and still believes rookie Daniel Jones will be the real deal with the New York Giants:
“I’m in Atlanta for the Alabama-Duke game — my son, Alex, is one of Nick Saban’s offensive analysts — and I know ‘Cut’ will be there. He’s a great human being. I left him a long-winded message on his cellphone telling him I was coming to the game, Alex is on the other side, maybe I could say hi before kickoff. It turns out I get to this airport hotel and there’s a big sign welcoming the Duke team. He’s staying at my same hotel. So it’s seven hours before kickoff, they’re at the morning team meal, and I got in there and spent a half hour just visiting.
“He says to me, ‘Promise me one thing, Mort. Someday, you’ll write a book with 32 chapters, and each one will be about all the things you know about that NFL team that you’ve never talked about or written about. You need to tell those stories. It’ll be a magnificent book, because every time we talk, I find out something new I never knew about.’
“The truth is, I probably on disclose about five percent of what I know,” Mortensen added. “But when you’ve been in the business 50 years, that’s a pretty big slice. It’s all relative.” Read more