Alexander: A Lakers shocker, a Kings sacking and more

The world according to Jim:

• Reason No. 19,191 why I don’t bet on sports: Lakers (without LeBron James and Anthony Davis) 114, Celtics 105, on Thursday night in Boston. The explanation? An onrushing trade deadline coupled with a half-season of underachievement creates enough urgency to bring out the best in people. …

• Boston, with the best record in the league at 37-12, is 22-3 at home and all of the losses have come in the last three weeks – to Denver, the reigning champs; to the Clippers in a 115-96 rout last week, and to the Lakers. Enjoy the moment, SoCal, no matter which of L.A.’s teams you root for. …

• And if you are a New England transplant, by all means enjoy our weather. (Snicker.) …

• The news broke Friday morning: Todd McLellan is out as Kings coach, with Jim Hiller promoted to interim head coach for the rest of the season. We get it: The Kings were horrible in January; Wednesday night’s victory in Nashville was just their third in their last 17 games. And the coach almost always takes the fall.

But will we see some accountability from higher in the organization, specifically General Manager Rob Blake? This is his largely dysfunctional roster that let the head coach down, and the trade for and eight-year commitment to Pierre-Luc Dubois is his albatross. If there’s not a swift and dramatic turnaround – and no, Darryl Sutter is not walking through that door – shouldn’t Blake be on the hot seat as well? …

• No, we’re not hopping on the “Bring Back Dean Lombardi” bandwagon. Yet. …

• This is for Rams fans who consider San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey the one who got away: 49ers owner Jed York, in a conversation with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, discussed the trade of four draft picks to Carolina at the 2022 deadline for McCaffrey, and specifically convincing 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was leery about giving up so much for a running back. The closing argument, York told Kawakami, was this: “Collectively it was like, ‘Do you want him to go to L.A.?’”

In other words, Les Snead was in their heads. …

• York also said he has a good relationship with Jim Harbaugh now. The Harbaugh era in San Francisco ended stormily, and while Harbaugh answered a question about it at Thursday’s Chargers introductory press conference with the “Don’t believe everything you read” response – and then slid past it without answering the question at all – there was evidently some fence-mending to be done. …

• I think it’s fair to say Harbaugh is considered a high-maintenance coach. He seems to be simpatico with Dean and John Spanos, but let’s see how this looks a couple of years down the road. The bottom line, of course, is that if he can win and win big, it should be easier for ownership to not sweat the small stuff. …

• This is why Dawn Staley is one of our favorites. After her South Carolina team went into Baton Rouge and beat LSU last week, a reporter mentioned that the crowd wasn’t very friendly to her.

“Actually they were,” she said with a smile. “They were calling me boo.” …

Reporter: “(The crowd wasn’t) very friendly to you.”

Dawn Staley: “Actually they were. They were calling me boo.”@dawnstaley pic.twitter.com/w5IHibubYf

— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 26, 2024

• NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hold his annual Super Bowl week press conference on Monday, moving it up from its accustomed Wednesday slot. It is also by invitation only, for the first time, and that seems to be an attempt to dodge the provocative questions Goodell has faced in recent years – about the hiring practices of the league and its teams, for example, and especially about the league’s current stance on gambling with the game being played in Las Vegas, of all places.

You can run, Commish, but you can’t hide. …

• The Big Ten and Southeastern Conference are banding together, forming a committee of administrators and athletic officials from the NCAA’s two most powerful conferences to discuss and advise on the issues facing intercollegiate sports. First reaction: They’re going to be awfully busy. …

• Second reaction: I’m sure the intentions are good. But doesn’t this seem like a baby step toward further stratification, the Big Ten and SEC as a Super League tier  – propped up by Fox and ESPN, of course – and the ACC and Big 12 as secondary conferences? And hasn’t this been where college sports, or at least college football, have been headed all along? …

• We’ve gotten this far into the column and haven’t had a Taylor Swift reference? The horror.

So consider this: That “Taylor Swift Most Consecutive Sellouts” banner that hung in what was then known as Staples Center, before fans demanded it be taken down because it was considered a jinx? Maybe putting it back on the wall would reverse the curse of that Lakers In-Season Tournament Champions banner. (The Lakers are 10-14 since that thing was unveiled, by the way.) …

Even with that improbable victory in Boston, the Lakers are still a .500 team. So here’s a reminder: Which banner doesn’t belong here? pic.twitter.com/rlMn2BF1g3

— Jim_Alexander (@Jim_Alexander) February 2, 2024

• Milwaukee traded former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, but not to the Dodgers. Is anyone out there willing to rip Andrew Friedman for not getting that deal done? No? OK. Sounds reasonable. …

• Burnes went to the Baltimore Orioles, where he’s immediately the highest-paid player on that team ($15.6 million, with free agency one season away). But that trade, the batch of young talent that emerged in Baltimore last season and the prospect of a new controlling owner have Orioles fans more optimistic about the future than they’ve been in more than a half-century. (Angels fans, you envious yet?) …

• Of course, the team now known as the Baltimore Orioles could have been the L.A. Browns 82 years ago. Seriously. The St. Louis Browns, perennial second fiddle to the Cardinals in that city, were set to move to Los Angeles in 1942, and the owners’ vote to approve was scheduled for Dec. 8, 1941, at the Winter Meetings in Chicago. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on the 7th and the U.S. was thrust into World War II, that was naturally scuttled.

The Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954. Los Angeles had to wait until 1958 for major league baseball, but I think the wait was worth it.

jalexander@scng.com

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *