It was just a moment. It came after the blousy material dropped to reveal a statue of basketball legend Hank Gathers, located just outside of Loyola Marymount’s Gersten Pavilion Feb. 29. It came after the faintest beat of a gasp was immediately followed by applause and cheers, broad smiles and — this being 2020 — selfies.
Still, there was a moment when, Chris Knight said, amid the laughter and hugs he shared with former teammates who played with Gathers, that he suddenly, in a fleeting space of silence, “could hear Hank’s mother crying above it all.”
For Angelus News, Steve Lowery walks us through the moment when the Gathers statue was unveiled 30 years after his death on the court, right before Easter, and the incredible run the Lions went on with the NCAA Tournament in his honor.
This is a tearjerker and breaks your heart all over again.
Tom Hoffarth and Steve Lowery worked hours together last week, with editor Pablo Kay in Rome, not long after reports about a helicopter crash in Calabasas, to produce this cover story for the Feb. 7 edition of Angelus News.
Bryant took his Catholic faith serious. He was at his home parish, Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Newport Beach hours before he left from John Wayne Airport in the final trip to a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks.
Where did his faith come from? Did it help him come to terms with his rape trial in Colorado? Did it help him reconcile his marriage?
In 2001, Bryant married his wife, Vanessa, herself a Catholic, at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Dana Point. Father Sallot at OLQA said that he and Kobe had chatted about his desire to receive the sacrament of confirmation in the future.
We try not to judge, but report the facts.
RIP, Kobe, Gianna and all their friends, parents, coaches and families.
By Tom Hoffarth
Jim Hill rushed into the KCBS-Channel 2 studio in suit and tie and had Magic Johnson on the phone while other local TV crews were scrambling to do fan-on-the-street reactions. That was impressive but not unexpected.
Liz Habib’s voice cracked before she had to stop and wipe away tears, abandoning a KTTV-Channel 11 live standup. That felt appropriate.
ESPN and ABC continued to televise the NFL’s Pro Bowl in a simulcast, a meaningless exercise, while pushing its live coverage of events to ESPN2. That was beyond awkward, bordering on disrespectful.
Media outlets trying to disseminate what TMZ first reported Sunday morning as a helicopter crash in Calabasas that took five lives, including that of retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant, ignited the comprehension, disbelief and misinformation anxiety that often permeate the first 24 hours of a news cycle.
More in our weekly Los Angeles Times piece here…
== Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: “If the media world were ruled by thoughtfulness, rigor and ethics, TMZ wouldn’t have broken the news about Sunday’s helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others before all the families were notified.”
By Tom Hoffarth
The Sports Media Misery Index moves into the fringes of a 2020 landscape and lives to see a new way of looking live at Super Bowl LIV:
== Fox Sports’ fluid investment into the burgeoning age of legalized sports wagering, yoked with a pledge to make Sunday’s NFL championship game in Miami a national unifying moment, gives us an odd family bonding experience. Read more
Our latest L.A. Times sports media piece focused on the 20 things that would be nice to occur in 2020.
What we edited out:
== KABC-Channel 7 sportscaster Ashley Brewer finds a fulfilling role on the next incarnation of “Wheel of Fortune.”
== SportsNet L.A.’s Alana Rizzo comes to the realization she isn’t a reporter. She just plays one on TV.
== With all due respect to our elders, a moratorium on getting “Steinered.”
Here is the rest of what got in. And if Bill Walton wants to eat peanut butter while he’s on NBC’s Olympics telecast, all the better.
By Tom Hoffarth and Steve Lowery
Our latest for the Long Beach Post celebrates the baseball life of Tampa Bay Rays senior advisor for scouting and baseball operations R.J. Harrison, who has had 44 years in the business, 30 years as a scout and the last 25 years with the American League East team that he helped stockpile for a run to the 2008 World Series.
The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation will honor him at their annual fundraising gala at the Beverly Hilton, amidst many baseball luminaries. If you want to rub some elbows, it’s not too late to crash this big-time party. We have connections.
By Tom Hoffarth
Whether it was the retirement of Vin Scully, the lagging distribution of SportsNet LA, or LeBron James’ “Decision” that launched his career as a media-content producer, the decade of 2010-’19 made some waves in Southern California, and created ripple effects elsewhere.
In addition to this Top 10 list we compiled for the Los Angeles Times, we thought of a few others worthy of note:
== Aug. 19, 2017: Jose Mota becomes the first to broadcast an MLB game as an English and Spanish play-by-play man as well as an English and Spanish analyst. His scorecard made it to Cooperstown as noted in this L.A. Times piece. Read more
The start of the 83rd Winter/Spring season of Santa Anita won’t start as scheduled on Dec. 26 — it’s been pushed back already to Saturday, Dec. 28 because of pending rain.
Rain has been the pain of issues at the track for the last 12 months, and is the reason why we felt it was necessary to look into how the thoroughbred race track planned to stay in business with our latest piece for the Los Angeles Business Journal, now on newstands, and also at this link. Read more
By Tom Hoffarth
There’s far more to spin from our latest Los Angeles Times sports media column, the monthly Sports Media Misery Index where we lead off with some perspective on the new Adam Sandler film “Uncut Gems,” already out in L.A. and New York with a national release on Christmas Day.
Directors/writers Josh and Benny Safdie admit they never thought they’d allow an actual Celtics player to be in their project — but Kevin Garnett has a major role.
Their goal from the start was to have a player from their beloved Knicks, Amare Stoudamire, play the NBA star role. Not at all a cameo role.
Some media reports mention that Kobe Bryant was originally attached to this script.
Yeah, well. Kinda.
From our conversation with the Safdie brothers: When they were shaping the script in 2010, their agents at WME suggested they aim big when it came to casting an NBA star to fill the key role in their story. Conveniently, Bryant was also a WME client.
“The way it works is, they throw out names (as suggestions for the film),” said Benny Safdie. “But that’s a different way of how we work. When we’re writing the script, we find out – this is the person who wants the role, and we’ll spend a ton of time making it just for them, then hand it to them.”
By Tom Hoffarth
We managed to get in about a half-dozen titles in our holiday season Los Angeles Times’ media piece. But there are, of course, more worthy of consideration:
== “The Greatest Upset Never Seen: Virginia, Chaminade and the Game That Changed College Basketball,” by Jack Danilewicz (University of Nebraska Press, 232 pages, $27.95)
As we watched UCLA’s recent trip to the Maui Classic, which found them in a 22-22 tie with Chaminade early in the second half, we couldn’t help but think: Wonder if anyone remembers the time when …
Seems our memory was a bit fuzzy as well.
We were in college ourselves and heard about No. 1 Virginia getting taken down 77-72 by this tiny NAIA Catholic school right before Christmas, 1982. We had always thought it was in the Maui Tournament (or the Hawaii Rainbow Tournament as it was called), but it wasn’t — Ralph Sampson’s Cavaliers were coming back on a stop in Hawaii after a trip to Japan for this one-and-done deal. It became a global story at a time when we had to wait for the news to catch up to us as the game ended past 3 a.m. on the East Coast and wasn’t televised.
Now, it’s more than a Wikipedia entry. Read more