I've been covering sports around the world since 1974 and my legs are killing me! So here I am to share words and pictures of champions and others who are striving to become one. Please also follow me on twitter (@tedsobelsports).
THERE’S A DRAFT IN HERE!!!!
It’s been quite awhile since I put together a podcast of note for you loyal followers out here…but I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaack. And it’s a very in-depth look at last weekend’s NFL draft with my longtime friend Ron Marmalefsky (AKA Ace) who’s as knowledgeable a draft expert as anyone you’ve seen on TV or elsewhere.
We take it a step further than most by going over every team (division by division) with grades and analysis on how the new season shapes up for all of them.
I broke it up into two segments, first the NFC and then the AFC where your Super Bowl champion Ravens are enjoying the old phrase “just the fax” for some of their off-season success. And I bet you won’t be able to guess who was Ron’s pick as your quarterback sleeper in this draft??? And if you do…you’ll win one BIG congrats from us!
And if you’re a true football fan…you will sit through every minute of our detailed breakdown and savor it all from your favorite to rival team or anywhere in between. If not, you’re just a glutten for punishment. Enjoy!
The Memphis Grizzlies came into L.A. and not only stole home court from the Clippers but stole their thunder in this series with an easy 103-93 win at Staples Center and a 3 games to 2 first round lead. One of the key storylines was a Blake Griffin high ankle sprain that was kept from everyone until around gametime and the big redhead was only able to play 19 minutes on it before calling it a night which made Chris Paul’s job even more intense.
Here I was asking CP3 and his coaches the past several days why he wasn’t shooting more instead of waiting for crunch time and now he was simply TOO MUCH of a one-man show scoring 21 of his game high 35 in the first half and was joined ONLY by Jamaal Crawford in double figures with 15. Paul ended up 11 for 24 from from the floor and 11/11 from the free throw line but it was far enough as the Clips had NO answer AGAIN for the 2 Memphis bigs. Former Clipper Zack Randolph led his club with 25 pts. and 11 boards while Marc Gasol added 21 and 8 and now it’s back to Tennessee where the Griz look to turn the Clips into ‘Flop City’ on Friday night and ruin what was hoped to be a very special post-season in L.A.
The following are postgame comments that I gathered…
First cautiously optimistic Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, who I always liked to watch as a player (I’m one of the few left around here who remembers him with a uni on):
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro who’s job could be on the line this week if his guys don’t figure out a way to pull this series out with 2 straight wins:
Blake Griffin who’s listed as a gametime decision for game 6 and it would be minor miracle if he was even thinking about being near 100%:
Clippers guard Jamaal Crawford told me his team hasn’t lost confidence yet…BUT:
Clippers forward Matt Barnes is a fighter and is far from allowing the Grizzlies to get into his head:
Clippers guard Willie Green has surprisingly only played a few minutes of garbage time in this series but he’s always gracious about allowing me to get his thoughts and he’s well past the ‘put me in coach’ phase:
And finally Griz defensive specialist Tony Allen was the last one standing in his locker room when I ran in there late–and he gave me a few thoughts on where his head is at now while first praising teammate Tayshawn Prince who’s come alive scoring 7 of his 15 pts. down the stretch:
So it’s now ‘Do or Die’ or any other cliche you want to use for the Clips and we’ll see what they’re made of tomorrow night as at least 5-6 pt. road underdogs while Clipper Nation prays for a game 7 at home on Sunday. At least you can enjoy every minute of sweat from Memphis on KFWB Newstalk 980 starting at 5:30 with ‘Lob City’. 6:35ish first tip.
Interviewing CP3 in one of the most media crowded Clippers practices I can recall (photo courtesy Arash Markazi-ESPN LA)
The Clippers earned their home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs and now they need to hold serve again in Tuesday night’s game 5 against the Grizzlies or else dig a hole from here to Lob City, China to get out of.
The Clips led this series 2-0 after a pair of home wins that included a fortunate game 2 finish thanks to Chris Paul’s phenominal driving layup at the buzzer. But it was a totally different story in Memphis where Zack Randolph stayed out of foul trouble and Marc Gasol showed why he’s a top 3 center in this league on their way to tying this series. And the Griz dominated the boards something that the Clippers must improve on or it could be one very disappointing short post-season run.
I attended today’s Clippers practice where we spoke about the necessary adjustments that must be made to succeed in this series along with getting reactions to the story of the day, NBA veteran center Jason Collins publicly coming out of the closet.
I’m actually surprised that it’s taken this long for a major sport athlete to announce that he’s gay, but it’s also good timing for the now free agent 34 year old Collins who’s far from guaranteed to ever play again. He’s only been a marginal part-time bench player the past few years with little success but is also a serviceable 7-footer as somebody’s backup. And today’s announcement could actually extend his career if any team wants to sign him knowing that they’ll get national attention and plenty of free pub…something that every club wants as long as it’s positive!
The following are our after practice chats with the Clippers…
Head Coach Vinny Del Negro (who jokingly started out by looking at me and saying “no questions from YOU”–but I couldn’t oblige LOL:
Chris Paul who was in a playoff-serious but happy mood:
Guard Jamaal Crawford who’s looking to turn it around after a couple of poor shooting performances on the road:
Chauncey Billups who’s not been ‘Mr. Big Shot’ in quite awhile and has struggled since returning from his late season injury:
Grant Hill who’s looking for ANY playing time and I couldn’t help but remind of him of that a few times…all good-natured, of course!:
The Clippers are 5 point favorites in game 5 as they look to their home faithful to be their loudest 6th man…although it better be Crawford or Eric Bledsoe as their best 6th man to get the job done. Of course you can hear the game on KFWB Newstalk 980 beginning with ‘Lob City’ at 6:30pm.
Messers Meeks, Nash, and Blake in their suits with Kobe watching from behind the bench
The Lakers emotional roller coaster season is mercifully over after a San Antonio 103-82 win and a quick 4-game sweep at Staples Center where they appropriately gave the fans ‘white towels’ to wave through-out the game…something that should’ve happened the day the Lakers made the playoffs.
Laker fans waving their free white towels
It was an impossible task for the injury-depleted Lakers (with only 9 fairly healthy bodies in uniform tonight) to win a series over such a quality team like the Spurs…let alone just one game and this last one was hard to watch in many ways. I asked some of the guys afterwards if it was also hard for them to watch and they all just shook their heads in disbelief that this would be the sorry way for this whacko season to end.
Another impossible task was for me to get into the Dwight Howard newsconference room while also gathering postgame sound from his teammates so of course I chose the locker room (although I have plenty to ask Dwight before he possibly leaves town to become the biggest and highest paid gypsy in league history).
Howard left the game (via ejection) in a way that will be embarrassing for him to return with dignity although money speaks louder than anything so nothing would shock me in his future decision. It was interesting timing that not long after Howard steamed his way onto the locker room, Kobe Bryant walked out on his crutches (Willis Reed style) but even his entrance with the loudest roar of the night behind him couldn’t help his guys in the least.
Kobe walks off into the unknown off-season
This very likely is Pau Gasol’s final game in a Lakers uni and it seemed like he was saying ‘Buenas Noches’ to us all for good as he walked off after his postgame newser in the classy way that only the Spaniard can, and it was a pleasure to shake Pau’s hand and wish him a happy adios on his way out of building…
Pao’s possible last postgame newser in L.A.
Meta World Peace (AKA Ron Artest) who was one of 3 starters on the bench in their civies due to injury told me in the locker room that he wished he and some of the team’s other leaders (including Kobe) had spoken up more during this tumultuous season…
Meta World Peace:
Veteran Antawn Jamison who’s as nice a guy as you’ll ever meet in sports or out, gave me some great takes on what was possibly his last game in purple and gold…
I also spoke with the three unlikely Laker starters in game 4 and they all were open with their feelings in such a difficult time to deal with…
Forward Earl Clark:
Guard Andrew Goudelock a recent re-signee from the D-League:
Guard Darius Morris who was really disappointed in his 8 pt. game:
And finally forward Jordan Hill who came back very early after hip surgery in January, described to me what it was like to go through this series with really no chance to win it…
It will be a very long off-season for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak…will he or won’t he re-sign Howard? How long will it take for Kobe to return to even close to 100%? How does coach Mike D’Antoni fit for the future? What can you really get for Gasol at this stage of his career? Good luck Mitch…I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions (although money talks for me too!)
What I do know for sure is that the Lakers must get younger, more athletic and quicker. And for the umpteenth time…it was NOT about their offense as they scored enough points to consistently win. It’s their transition defense which is THE worst I’ve seen since the days of Rudy LaRusso and Darryl Imhoff (I’m sure I just lost most of you with that reference-LOL) and they simply ‘CAN’T STOP ANYBODY’ who are quicker than an injured rehab league team. And stop blaming that all on D’Antoni as they were the same pathetic defense under ‘defensive specialist’ Mike Brown. So Mr. Howard, your ‘Bad Dream’ is over…or is this just the start of a long Lakers ‘Dwight-mare’ in the new Jim Buss era???
The Kings last celebration before the real season begins
Your defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings are now officially in defending mode after ending the regular season with a nice 3-2 win over San Jose to earn the 5th seed in the NHL Western Conference playoffs. Which is all fine but that also means that just like last year, they’re stuck starting the postseason on the road as they open round one in St. Louis on Tuesday night and L.A. has lost their last 6 away from Staples something that has to concern their most die-hard fans if not the team itself. FYI it’s not official yet, but it’s expected that games 3 and 4 at Staples will be next Saturday and the following Monday.
I tried to gather as much preview sound as I could to give you the club’s mindset as they go for a 2nd straight cup…something that would turn this franchise from what some are calling a ‘one hit wonder’ to a truly elite force in the NHL.
Winning goalie Jonathon Quick (last year’s Conn Smythe trophy winner-as the playoffs MVP) had his usual game face on (without the mask) when I asked him about the task ahead of him…
Center Anze Kopitar who finished the schedule with an assist on the first goal against the Sharks and the Kings leading scorer (for a 6th straight season) with 42 points (10 goals-32 assists) talked about the importance of building some momentum into the real season…
Defenseman Rob Scuderi who owns 2 Stanley Cup rings (one in Pittsburgh) always is straight forward and actually speaks his mind like an old-schooler gave me some great takes on the rough but hopeful road ahead…
Head Coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t mince words during his postgame newsers and it was no different tonight no matter how hard I tried to get him to give me more than some coach-speak…although I really can’t blame him now to give us just the bare minimum as they approach another long ride to the finish line, but at least he did it with his usual dry sense of humor at times…
I was hoping to get some comments from Kings forward Mike Richards (for his many fans and followers of my blog) but he was not available after missing the game due to being sick. Meanwhile after leaving the locker room, it was back to the Chick Hearn media room where Kings Hall of Fame announcer Bob Miller and his wife Judy were surprised with a 50th wedding anniversary gathering of some their longtime friends and colleagues. The date is actually a couple of weeks away but it was the perfect time to celebrate the occasion despite Bob having to meet the team at the airport in the morning. As always Bob was gracious with his time giving me a few minute sit down chat to discuss the playoffs and what lies ahead, but first I had to ask him about that milestone 50th anniversary…
Judy and Bob Miller enjoy their suprise party
Of course I had to give equal time to Bob’s longtime broadcast partner and former King Jim Fox who’s always candid as we covered almost anything I could think of before the players hit the ice in St. Lou on Tuesday night…
And finally last but not least is Kings executive and Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille who’s sole goal is to give the fans the almost unthinkable–2 straight Stanley Cups…
I believe that it’s harder to predict this series with the Blues over last year’s in which the Kings surprisingly swept them into the golfing season. This St. Louis club has lost 8 straight to the Kings (including the playoffs) and 4 in a row in Missouri but to a man, everyone I talked with said that’s OLD NEWS now. And these Blues are 11-3 since acquiring defensemen Jay Boumeester and Jordan Leopold at the trade deadline….so who knows? My prediction is the Kings in 6 although I’m also predicting that it MIGHT snow here on Sunday.
What we do know for sure is that the shortened and condensed season is over and the ride to 16 wins starts on Tuesday night in the place that is appropriately known as the ‘Show Me State’…good luck guys!
As for the Ducks they ended the regular season with a meaningless home loss to Phoenix before opening up at home as the 2nd seed against the Detroit Redwings. The following preview thoughts were sent to me by the Anaheim P.R. staff, first head coach Bruce Boudreau talks about facing the boys from Hocketown…
And Boudreau loved what he saw from his almost 43 yr. old ‘Finnish Flash’ Teemu Selanne who scored career goal #675 tonight after a long drought…
Meanwhile Teemu looks ahead to facing a storied franchise that is far from who they’ve been, but have built a little momentum leading into the playoffs…
And whether this is Selanne’s last ride or not…he loves this time of year…
My pick is Anaheim in 5 games over the Wings which might be a stretch since Detroit has been playing for their playoff lives and succeeding over the past few weeks while the Quackers long since clinched their 2nd seed and have been in semi-cruise mode for quite a bit. My guess here is that the Ducks will find their mojo again when facing the less talented Wings over the course of a series. Also we figured out that if San Jose beats Vancouver in their opening round and our two locals take care of biz, it could finally be the Kings vs. the Ducks (2nd round) in a playoff series for the ages. Or should I say for the aged…since we’ve waited forever to get these two to collide in the post season.
ALSO I’M LOOKING FOR MORE PERSONAL FEEDBACK FROM ALL OF YOU LOYAL FOLLOWERS HERE SO PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU LIKE, DON’T LIKE, OR WOULD LIKE TO SEE DIFFERENTLY FROM ME ON THIS SITE (where it says ‘leave a reply’ at the bottom of this page) AS I TRY TO MAKE THIS PLACE AS USER FRIENDLY AS POSSIBLE AND GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT. THANKS MUCH AS ALWAYS FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND IF YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO COME HERE, THEY WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER…IT’S THE LEAST THEY CAN DO!
Kings ice turning into a hopeful but also a doubtful Lakers home court advantage
And now it’s on to the next task at hand, which is turning Staples Center into a Lakers homecourt which will be hard to turn into an advantage for our 16-time NBA Champs. That injury depleted short-handed group is a longshot from keeping their season alive as 11 1/2 point underdogs to the always confident San Antonio Spurs who lead their series 3 games to none. Anything better than a Laker funeral procession after Sunday’s game 4 will be a bonus to most of their fans. And I’ll be there gathering postgame comments for you…for whatever that’s worth!
Clippers assistant coach Bob Ociepka in his 21st NBA season
With the word this morning that Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely, we suddenly have a totally new outlook on the expectations in the NBA Western Conference playoffs. The Thunder are the favorites to reach the finals, and remember that OKC is set to be the Clippers next opponent, IF Coach Vinny Del Negro’s guys can get past Memphis and they lead that series 2 games to 1 and IF the Thunder can eliminate Houston.
The Grizzlies are favorites to even this series tomorrow afternoon in Tennessee so it was great timing to have Clippers assistant coach Bob Ociepka call me to discuss this scenario. And how about Bob just finishing up his advance scouting the Thunder while just finding out about the Westbrook injury before our chat?
Timing is everything, and we discussed it all…
Bob Ociepka with Ted Sobel:
Remember that you can hear all Clippers playoff games on KFWB Newstalk 980, with tomorrow’s airtime starting at 12:30 with “Lob City” and first tip is just past 1:30.
The Clippers are enjoying a 2-0 series lead going into tomorrow night’s game 3 in Memphis…but before they left town, I headed to practice this morning and spoke with 4 guys who have been preparing hard to keep their current 9 game winning streak in tact…
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro:
Chris Paul who made the big game winning shot 2 nights ago to give his team that ‘holding serve’ advantage:
You can hear all of the action on KFWB Newstalk 980 beginning with “Lob City” at 5:30pm on Thursday while Saturday’s game 4 will be a 12:30pm broadcast start with the first tip at 1:35ish.