By Tom Hoffarth
A few more points to consider after the posting of our L.A. Times media piece that makes a case for Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler to be considered for the Curt Gowdy Media Award by the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 — which would be a classy way to top off Lawler’s 40-year run with the team after his retirement this summer:
== As we pointed out, there are some not-so-obvious hurdles that need to be cleared for anyone to be considered for this lifetime achievement award. One is how to stand out from a broad range of candidates — those who’ve worked in the NBA and college, play-by-play and color, sideline reporters, local and national. The other is there isn’t a lot known about who is on the committee that ultimately decides who gets nominated and voted upon.
David J. Halberstam, a longtime sports media observer and historian, and one of the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fames’ annual broadcaster award, said he has discussions recently with John Doleva, the organization’s president and CEO, about how to frame this award so the public might be more aware of what it represents.
By Tom Hoffarth
Here’s an illustration of Bill Walton from the esteemed Jim Thompson, who drew it up to help set the tone for a piece we did on the former UCLA star and broadcaster in 2016 entitled “Bill Walton’s long, strange trip inside his reconstructed soul”
It was right about the time his new book, “Back From The Dead” came out — if you’re wise you’ll get the audio version read by the author. He revealed how he almost ended everything because the pain in his back was too much to bear.
You see him now with photos of outstretched arms, embracing the world … like above.
“It’s because I can now do that,” he said then. “For so many years, I couldn’t even lift my arms because my spine was so bad. It is a very celebratory pose that people use when things are going great. And right now I’ve never been better or busier. Or this healthy since I was 13 years old. Both ankles are fused. Got a new knee. A new spine. I never thought I would be pain free. I’m lucky.”
We are lucky to have a pipeline into Walton’s world, and we reconnected for a story about how, whenever he’s on an ESPN or Pac-12 Network telecast, the social media world embraces him, often in very opposite ways.
Some call him insufferable.
We align with those who refer to him as a “national treasure” and example of “a sonic voyage … of cosmic exploration.”
As we talked to Walton recently, he was in the passenger seat of his car with his wife, Lori, doing the driving. We asked if he was aware of the volatile social media debate he sparks every time he’s on TV.
“Lori, do I pay attention to social media?” he asked.
Probably not a good time to ask. As they were driving from Death Valley to Westwood on Interstate 15, a dust storm was amidst and visibility was limited.
After a long pause, Bill came back on the line: “Lori says no!”
He seemed to be howling in concert with the winds whipping outside his window.
“The world we live in now .. for so long, we have had dreams, and worked hard and tried to be intelligent about them,” he continued. “Today, if you have a thought, in literally the shortest period of time, that nano second, it becomes reality and part of a larger collaborative community. I take my responsibility very serious and take pride in it.”
We could fill a whole new post with just the outtakes from that discussion. But for now, here’s the piece we had in the L.A. Times about Walton’s social media experience that we swear most times he’s just messing with us …
UPDATE 12.15.18: Five letters to the editors included in the Saturday edition of the L.A. Times as it relates to this, linked here ….
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The latest revival of the Drill L.A. Morning Briefing podcast, after some retooling and a focus on how to make this something you can take and enjoy on your morning drive to work, is best found on the GameTakes.com app.
It is also available online at GameTakes.com, if you just search and find us.
We started this months ago with the idea of giving you a morning briefing on what happened the night before in L.A. sports, what’s ahead, and giving it all some context from two sportswriters with L.A. roots.
The plan is always to revive the YouTube.com vodcast version of the show as well with upcoming special guests.
We appreciate your feedback on what we’re doing, what you like to hear, and where we can take this. So perhaps put this back on your radar:
The Dec. 3 Monday edition is here.
The Dec. 4 Tuesday edition is here.
The Dec. 5 Wednesday edition is here.
The Dec. 6 Thursday edition is here.
The Dec. 7 Friday edition is here.
More to come ….
By Tom Hoffarth
The Deonatay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight unification bout at Staples Center on Saturday is said to be the most influential of its class held in the U.S. since Mike Tyson took on Lennox Lewis in 2002, an event held in Memphis because Tyson couldn’t get a licence in Nevada in the aftermath of biting Lewis on his leg during a press conference mess in the months before. Read more
When the White House announced last week Babe Ruth would be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony this Friday, Jane Leavy couldn’t help but tweet out: “ ‘Bout time. Only been dead 70 years.”
Comparably, it took Leavy just eight years of ruthless research, reflection and refinement before her 600-plus-page book entitled “The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created” started thumping itself down in best-seller lists and renewing conversation about how media-based star power can be construed over the last century span.
Historical tomes about the Ruth as recently as Leigh Montville’s “The Big Bam” in 2006, playing off Robert Cremer’s “Babe: The Legend Comes to Life” in 1974, were not able to exhume as much about his true childhood or debunk mythology as much as Leavy could do with modern forensic techniques.
Did this book’s well-received publication bring new veritas toward some Trump-endorsed recognition? If anything, it confirms Leavy’s refreshed narrative of how we continue to learn and marvel at Ruth’s launch angle for athlete/entertainer more than 100 years later.
Here’s the rest of the story we posted at the L.A. Times.
* Here’s also more Q&A we have with Leavy at FartherOffTheWall.com.
* A special historical-based piece for the Long Beach Post
* And here’s an excerpt of the book from SI.com.
Also did you know: Barnes & Noble has a special edition/signed copy of “The Big Fella” that includes an essay after the index about Leavy’s relationship with the late, great Red Smith. Order that one here or visit your local store.
Not much gets lost in translation during a Kings Spanish-language radio broadcast.
Especially on a call like the one Francisco X. Rivera delivered on KWKW-AM (1330) during the second period of last Thursday’s Kings-Philadelphia Flyers game from Staples Center:
“Kovalchuk con el pase, el disparo que es interceptado, una vez mas Carter, otra vez Carter y el gol! Gol … Gooooool … Gooooool … anotado por Jeff Carter … Y que bonito se siente cantar el gol de los Kings!”
Got it? In the span of a couple of seconds, Ilya Kovalchuk takes a pass, a shot is blocked, Jeff Carter shoots again, then another shot, and Carter … puts the biscuit in the basket, right?
So there’s no confusion, Rivera holds that final note in an extended primal punctuation that mirrors Andres Cantor during a World Cup soccer match.
Listen to the full call here, and then read how Rivera explains the thinking behind it with our latest L.A. Times sports media column story.
At some point, even the Hollywood sign sighs.
C’mon, do we have to spell this out for you — the nine giant white letters propped up in the Santa Monica Mountains don’t define Southern California. Nor does a glamour shot of Rodeo Drive. Nor something edgy like a Venice Beach skateboard park/tattoo parlor adjacent to an outdoor basketball court.
Sunday played out under the headline of Los Angeles’ “Sports Equinox”, and a lot of people across the country saw a lot of L.A. cultural touchstones if they were paying attention on TV.
Fox Sports, based in Century City, also stepped up its game.
For all it could control with its coverage of World Series Game 5 from Dodger Stadium, following its Rams-Packers NFL game from the Coliseum, the hometown network looked as if it wanted to flip the script for all those other cliché-laden visuals that others recycle in setting the stage for what they believe conveys L.A.
“Obviously, with people who live and work here knowing the ins and outs, we can show off this city in its true environment and not what a TripAdvisor might tell you about the top 10 spots to visit,” said Judy Boyd, Fox Sports’ senior vice president of production. “It’s not the Hollywood Walk of Fame or pop culture celebrities or what others may think.”
Here’s more from our L.A. Times piece in coordination with the conclusion of the World Series media coverage …