By Tom Hoffarth
Profound sadness and bittersweet hope filtered through song and testimony during the recent Kobe and Gianna Bryant Celebration of Life event at Staples Center.
Yet as they experienced all that firsthand, a group of students, coaches, and faculty at Bishop Mora Salesian High School harnessed that energy to propel its boys basketball team on a historic run.
Some 50 members of the Salesian basketball family were invited to attend the Bryant memorial on Feb. 24, a fruit of the relationship forged by the college-prep school of some 400 boys with Lakers executive Tim Harris, the team’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of business operations.
The inspiration the group of boys took away from the memorial is something team members are crediting with uniting their focus on the basketball court: the small but defensive-minded roster captured the CIF-Southern Section 3AA championship on Feb. 29, four days after the memorial. It’s the first title in the 60-plus-year history of the East L.A. school just minutes away from Staples Center.
Here’s more from our story in Angelus News.
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
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/Steve Lowery
Our latest for the Long Beach Post sizes up how far the Long Beach State campus Walter Pyramid has come a quarter century after its open — a Top 25 list of events we’ve decided to rank based on hindsight and proper context.
(With apologies to Kobe Bryant, slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 based on how this really has to be a Long Beach State-heavy-duty list).
Considering how many centuries other pyramids have survived, it has a lot of history to catch up on.
As an inspiration for artistic interpretation, illustrator Jordan Lance, who graduated from the CSULB art program in 2015, feels it belongs with a series he was once commissioned to do on city’s prominent touchstones along with the Breakers Hotel, Villa Riviera, the International Tower and the Queen Mary. Read more
By Tom Hoffarth
Robert Wuhl wasn’t making a true confession over a plate of eggs benedict and a side of oatmeal at John O’Groats Restaurant. But, yes, since it was brought up, it can now be told: Donald Trump inspired the comedic framework of his HBO show, “Arli$$.”
“If you remember the opening credits, and I say, ‘My name is Arliss Michaels, I represent athletes, these are my stories,’ and this book spins into the picture,” Wuhl says.
The book is a mocked-up cover of Wuhl, as Arliss Michaels, titled The Art of the Sport Super Agent.
“This is around 1995,” Wuhl continues between bites, looking at Mike Tollin, sitting next to him and working on a stack of pancakes at the Westside diner.
“I had read [Trump’s book] The Art of the Deal [from 1987] and I thought — remember, this? — I said, ‘This is total, 100 percent bullshit. You gotta read this, Mike. He’s saying stuff that I don’t believe a fuckin’ word of it. He’s telling you what happened, but I want to see what really happened.'” We can use this, as Arliss the sports agent telling you what happens, and then we prove he’s full of shit and show what really happened.”
And now there’s Trump, in the White House, dealing with much bigger issues.
“Who would have figured that?” says Wuhl.
HBO had a big-deal, seven-season, 80-episode run of Arli$$ from 1996 to 2002, feeding off the hypocritical irony of the sports world of that era, augmented with hundreds of cameo appearances by the biggest athletes of the day.
It comes back into focus more than 15 years because, after figuring out a way to re-introduce it to a new era of bingewatching and maybe as a reminder this was going on long before HBO’s “Ballers” and “Entourage,” the entire series is now available on HBO Go and HBO Now.
Our Q&A with Wuhl and Tollin appears in The Hollywood Reporter at this link.
Some more of it, of course, ended up on the cutting room floor.
Stuff like this: Read more
By Tom Hoffarth
We’ll admit it’s kind of cool when Kobe Bryant tweets out a story you’ve done. Even sweeter when the Hall of Famer is quoted liberally and accurately in the piece … and he’s not talking about himself. He’s giving props to Andrew Bernstein, the longtime NBA photographer who was recognized with the Curt Gowdy Award for media impact of his career. We have reaction from Bryant, Jerry West, Doc Rivers and the Basketball Hall of Fame CEO, as well as why this is an important moment for those shooters to get their recognition.
Follow the link here from this Bryant tweet to the L.A. Times story:
By Tom Hoffarth
The official arrival of LeBron James in Hollywood, versus simply living in Brentwood and commuting to Cleveland, has taken on a new dynamic that we have covered in recent weeks.
Back in early July, we wondered if James would take that awful next step and remake “Space Jam,” with him in the role of Michael Jordan. But it got even a little crazier. Read more