August 23, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LA Watts Times Columnist

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

My main man, boxing promoter Don King celebrated his 81st birthday on Monday August 20 and this week I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the friendship that I had with the ‘Only in America’ man.

While his famed spiked hair is losing its pointing crowns, and his gait has been slowed tremendously by aging legs that have to carrying a belly of pork barbeque and soul food, his mind is as sharp as ever.

I first met DK in 1992 and while sitting in his Wilshire Blvd. condominium the first video of the Rodney King beating was revealed.

Personally, I didn’t think it was such a big deal at the time because I had witnessed brothers getting clubbed by the po-po many times, but the wisdom of King saw that this was a watershed moment in African American history.

King stopped what he was doing and then contemplated what he should personally do.

“Man, I think I need to reach out to the brother and offer some help,” he thought.

“But if I did they would ridicule the f--- outta me and say that I am doing it for selfish promotional reasons.”

So, like many of us who were rendered powerless by the now infamous video, King did nothing, but hope and pray that justice would be served.

Eventually it was served, but Rodney King’s brush with the law ill afforded him with money and fame. He died broke earlier this year with his infamy intact.

During the same day King was being accused by then LSU basketball coach Dale Brown of tampering and trying to recruit a young man-child basketball star named Shaquille O’Neal.

Brown was threatening DK with lawsuits and his reputation would be scorned.

He pleaded with anyone in the room to put a stop to this. Just happened that I met Dale Brown through the recruitment of Crenshaw star John Williams and I was able to get the matter squashed.

Brown had promised me a scholarship to LSU if JW had went there, but he never fulfilled the promise. Like most college basketball coaches: worthless as a used car salesman.

In subsequent years I took my first trip out of the U.S. courtesy of DK when he brought me to Mexico to witness the epic Julio Ceasar Chavez in Azteca Stadium in front of 132,000.

There would be other moments like when I brought him Tony Tucker after he had been out of the ring and addicted to drugs for more than two years and DK gave him three shots at the heavyweight world title of which he won zero.

Then there were the Tyson times when the dough was really rolling, and even during the most difficult time of my life DK stood up for me.

I remember a time when he was almost brought down to tears when the press ridiculed him so bad.

“I have a family and I have kids and grandchildren! Don’t they give a damn?”

Most people reflect on many of the negative aspects of DK’s professional and public persona, but get closer and there is a soft and cuddly side to him.

Now, I am not going to tell you that he doesn’t love money.

But, he lost close to a million in profits when a local street agent ran off with a deal he made for former Clippers bum Benoit Benjamin.

He could have represented both Venus and Serena Williams, but turned it down and instead quietly supported the family without reservation.

DK bought the tennis-playing girls their first soul food meal from Maes on Crenshaw Blvd back in the day.

The first clothes they wore in a public tennis match were oversized DK T-shirts and black tennis skirts he bought.

Now, the headquarters at DKP is quiet on most days. The only buzz in the office is his.

His stable of fighters has diminished to a fraction of a few.

The bold face 72 pt. font headlines, a distant memory.

A year ago, he lost his best friend when his wife Henrietta passed.

She was the only person who could ever check him, and she might be the only person that he fully ever respected.

He took a jab at Mayweather to get back on top of the boxing game, but haters be damned he came up short.

Far from finished, but also far from his humble beginnings and mega paydays of years gone by.

I spoke with DK on his birthday and sang a song to him. We laughed and joked about the good ol days and remembered some sad ones.

His beak just as sharp as yester-year.

He was on his way to Ohio to visit the gravesite of his wife.

“I’m going to have a talk with Henri,” he said.

Just like it used to be, but this time his best friend can only listen…

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 23, 2012

By ANDREW SELIGMAN Associated Press

 

Michael and Magic versus Kobe and LeBron?

Sounds like a dream match up, and it could be coming to a video game console near you.

With USA Basketball and 2K Sports forming a partnership, fans can see what happens when the amazing 1992 Dream Team goes up against this year’s Olympic gold medal winner once NBA 2K13 hits the shelves this fall.

Never mind that it’s not quite the real thing, more fuel is about to be added to the debate. Not that there really is a debate in Michael Jordan’s mind.

“We’ll never know, but let’s talk about it,” Jordan said on a conference call. “I know Kobe (Bryant) said some things early on and I responded to those. The ’92 Dream Team, I felt, was a more well-rounded basketball team.”

It’s hard to argue, considering the 1992 Dream Team had Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leading a group that is widely considered the greatest collection of talent ever assembled. That team included 11 future Hall of Famers, won its six Olympic games by an average of more than 43 points en route to the gold medal and never was challenged the way this year’s team was by Spain in the gold medal game, with the Americans squeezing out a 107-100 victory.

Then again, that’s a testament to the global growth of the sport that the 1992 team spurred, leading to an influx of foreign talent in the NBA.

The ’92 team boasted arguably the greatest player of all time in Jordan and greatest point guard in Magic Johnson, not to mention Larry Bird and dominant centers in Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. If the most recent group had a weakness, it was in the middle, with Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin sitting out with injuries. Throw in the fact that Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose missed the games, too, and the Americans weren't quite fully loaded.

Still, they brought plenty of ammunition to London, with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Bryant leading the way. And even with some stars missing, there still was talk that this year’s team could be as good as the one that stormed through Barcelona two decades earlier. Bryant fueled the debate when he told reporters during training in Las Vegas they could take a game from the 1992 team if they met in their primes.

Even though Bryant didn’t say the current stars would win a series, the comment drew sharp replies from members of the 1992 team. Jordan told The Associated Press back then that he “absolutely laughed” and said there’s “no comparison” which team is better.

This time, he wasn’t quite as blunt.

“I just felt like we had enough size that we could contend with the 2012 team,” Jordan said. “I think one of the things the 2012 team lacked was size. We probably would have attacked them from inside and outside, and our defense would have been pretty much solidified with the shot-blockers as well as perimeter defensive players.

“I think those guys were much more athletic than maybe we were at that particular point, but I would like to think we were a little bit smarter and well-groomed about playing at that level of basketball. Honestly, I don’t think we would have had problems with them as much as they probably would have had (with us). I think our team would have been a lot better in terms of all-around basketball.”

There’s no way to know for sure, of course. There’s no time machine that can transport the 1992 team to today or the 2012 team back 20 years, so the video game might be the next best thing. If nothing else, it’ll give the debate another platform once the game is released on Oct. 2.

The idea of seeing Jordan going against Kobe or James should intrigue fans, even if they’re the ones at the controls and the players are in graphic form. Right?

The numbers indicate they would. Jason Argent, 2K Sports’ vice president of marketing, said he didn’t have the online statistics but the company sold about 5.5 million units of the 2K11 game, and another 4 million units for the 2K12 game, which was impacted by last season’s NBA lockout lockout.

Even so, the company wasn’t planning to include the 1992 and 2012 U.S. teams.

He said Jay-Z provided the push.

The rapper and part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets is serving as the game’s executive producer, and he insisted in a meeting that those Olympic teams be included. He also helped get Charles Barkley to sign on and be included.

“He put in a call to Charles, himself, and helped us work an agreement to use him in the game,” Argent said.

One player who won’t be represented in the game is Scottie Pippen. Argent said they simply couldn’t reach an agreement.

As for which team was better — 1992 or 2012? Jordan thinks it’s just beginning.

“The only way it can end is to lace them back up and play against them in 2012, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Jordan said, laughing. “Just let the debate begin.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

 August 16, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

 

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

 

Yo! Miller from the Bottoms here, spitin’ some sporty as you would from your twitter box or Facebook page.

 

The thoughts and dialect are not abject narratives from your college professor or prep English teacher, in fact I am not sure where d’ hell they come from since I never had access to either.

 

Finally, the Brits have told the world to go home so that now they can count them pounds and digest the finest body parts of the pig.

 

I am not quite sure that I was watching the Olympics or the Outerlimits. Most of the action I checked out was so late at night the results were already known and because London is a clear eight hours ahead of us what I assumed was primetime was pastime.

 

Clearly, the big winner of the games was lil Gabby Douglas whom many ignorant Black folk were so consumed with her hair style they totally missed out on her history making double gold medal efforts.

 

After Gabby had won the all around title, I didn’t quite understand why she was competing in the same events again for individual medals. It seemed a bit redundant to me. Sort of like winning the Super Bowl or NBA title and then saying, I think I’ll go back and play against the No. 8 seed.

 

Gabby’s mom had filed for bankruptcy to support her darling teenage child and I’ve read that her father is a just a sperm donor, so it will be 16-year old Gabby in a true rags to riches saga now being the breadwinner of the family.

 

I haven’t had Corn Flakes in a long time, but now that Gabby is on the box I might just see if they still taste the same with bananas and sugar.

 

Who cares if this Olympic team could have beat the Dream Team? All Laker fans should be concerned with is their superstar shooter being a sidebar on an Olympic Gold medal winning team where all of the most prominent stars are younger than 30.

 

It’s almost as if Kobe Bryant is already a shadow of himself, celebrating every three as if it were his last. Can anybody name more than a handful of the players that this team played against? Poor Nigeria…

 

Did Oscar De la Hoya and Golden Boy think they were going to keep eating all of those free meals off Money Mayweather as his rent-a-promoter?

 

The only question I have is what took so long for Mayweather and his filthy rich rapper homey Fitty to come to their senses and began reaping all of the financial benefits from the cash cow in the sport of boxing.

 

My main man DK kicked in a half mil to Money to try and secure a deal, only to be left contemplating a lawsuit to get it back. Now he too is on the outside looking in at what could be the new kids on the promoting block.

 

Finally, flags in the hood should be at half mass this week in memory of the late Chad Johnson or Ocho Cinco who was buried as a professional football player this week and as a celebrity husband.

 

I am sure that you heard of our boy getting caught by his non-Black wife of a month in a half with a sleeve of rubbers in the trunk of the car.

 

Instead of soothing his VH1 basketball wives cast member by lying and saying one of the other boys on the team left them there, Chad decided to go WWF and head butted her.

 

She ran from the car into a neighbors house called the po-po, he was arrested with a case of domestic violence, or the OJ Law. The Dolphins dump him the next day. The wife flees and says he needs help and now Chad ain’t got no money or no honey.

 

Then he sends out this lame statement about how he is going to focus on his NFL career. Chad wake up! It’s over. You can’t play football and you can’t play your wife. If a desperate team does pick you up the Boy Wonder Commish’ll immediately suspend you!

 

Until next week! Holla!!!

 

Follow me on twitter @kokenz

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 16, 2012

 

By Kenneth Miller

 

LA Watts Times Correspondent

 

 

 

From Watts to South Central, Inglewood, to Hawthorne and beyond, Lakers fans are rejoicing in the acquisition of superstar big man Dwight Howard joining the storied local basketball franchise.

 

It is one of those moments that sort of transcends your normal sports story. Not as important as the Martin Luther King assassination or the presidential election of Barack Obama, but you remember where you were when you heard about it.

 

I was sitting in Fridays on La Tijera waiting to be seated when the noise erupted. The Olympics were on the television screen and some obscure divers were in the pool, but it was all about Dwight.

 

“We Got Him!” Laker fans are not your normal breed. They don’t recognize the word pessimistic in the dictionary. They are always going to win the NBA championship. They actually HATE every other team in the league and the Celtics even more.

 

Winning 16 NBA championships and playing in 31 Finals will have that impact on you. Jerry, Kareem, Wilt, Shaq, Elgin, Magic, Phil, Chick, Pat, it is an association that is THE ASSOCIATION.

 

So, here’s hoping that Dwight Howard realizes what he’s getting into by being traded to the Lakers from the Orlando Magic.

 

Laker fans are glad to know that you have been enjoying the shopping in Beverly Hills, the beaches in Malibu, the clubs in Hollywood and the adulation that has been rushed upon you.

 

They were thrilled to see you smiling at the introductory presser while mocking Kobe and embracing the opportunity of winning a championship.

 

They will be ecstatic when you put that Lakers uniform on for the first time whether it be in December or January.

 

These fans are not really even tripping about your next contract with the Lakers after the season is over… That is if you don’t win a championship.

 

You see, Dwight, as young as you are and as talented as you are, this whole big deal is just really about one small thing. A CHAMPIONSHIP!

 

The Lakers are like the Yankees in baseball, they realize that going to the playoffs and finishing in the conference finals as you did in Orlando is not good enough here.

 

Being an NBA All Star six consecutive years and three times Defensive Player of the Year are nice accolades, but pale in comparison to what the big prize is here.

 

Shaquille O’Neal understood that and no matter how much he despised Kobe he didn’t allow for it to get in the way of him winning three NBA championships here.

 

We know how hard it was for you to accept the path that Shaq took to title town, but what options did you really have? New Jersey? Oh we swept them in the Finals in their only shot. Houston? You mean our stepchildren in the West?

 

Listen carefully, Dwight! We are not concerned about your baby momma drama and three kids out of wedlock, it’s clear you are not the choirboy I first met when you were in high school and your Christian values have been challenged.

 

However, we gave up the future of our franchise Andrew Bynum because we believe that you are better.

 

Fact is your numbers indicate that you are an absolute MONSTER.

 

That is why the rest of the NBA is crying foul, questioning the integrity of the league because the Lakers are now such an overwhelming favorite to win the NBA championship next year.

 

There will be no stage and dancing to the tune of “Not ONE, Not TWO…” This is about 17, 18, 19 20.

 

I am sure you get the drift.

 

So,  here  is to inform you that city officials have already been contacted as to the exact route of the parade next June, a half million  invitations will go out in the mail and the seat at the front of the bus is all yours…

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 09, 2012

By Joy Childs

 

Sentinel Contributing Writer

 

 

 

“… I’ve raised an Olympian …Wow! …”

 

—Statement by Natalie Douglas, mother of gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas, to the Huffington Post upon her win

 

Delores Griffith knows that feeling. As the mother of Florence Griffith-Joyner, that’s much like how she felt when her daughter won Olympic gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

 

Griffith-Joyner would no doubt be in London for the Olympics right now. She would have gotten a kick out of Sanya Richards-Ross and Dee Dee Trotter’s performances there. “Flo Jo,” who still holds the world records for the 100 meters and 200 meters — and who was dubbed the “fastest woman alive” — might have even been their coach.

 

Though she passed away in 1998, Griffith-Joyner is still a huge presence in track, her feats, her aura, her spirit still mentioned at the recent Olympics track and field events.

 

But it takes her mother to give us her truth about her famous Olympian daughter, called Dee Dee by family and friends.

 

Hailing from Henderson, N.C., Griffith came to California to be with a sister, who was working on her Ph.D. at UCLA, and to go to school but ended up getting married to a man from Nashville, Tenn., and having 11 children. Asked their names in order, she consults a clock that bears their names on the wall and ticks them off:  Bobby, Weldon, Vivian, Kathleen (a successful real estate agent), Robert (a successful businessman), Elizabeth aka “Cissy,” Florence, Joseph, Lemuel, Gale and Eugene.

 

Were Griffith-Joyner’s talents genetic? Even in her 80s, Mrs. Griffith, whose slender build and beautiful brown skin bear the visage of someone who may have been yesteryear’s track star, explains — “Yes — but we didn’t call it ‘track’ back then … We ‘ran’ at gym time … And my mother ran a beauty shop, and she would give me one minute to get from home to that beauty shop … and I would run all through town …” She laughs at the memory.

 

Though she and her husband and children lived in Littlerock, CA (which is 11 miles southeast of Palmdale) for a bit, Griffith and her children eventually moved to the Jordan Downs projects in Watts to a five-bedroom residence.

 

Asked how she managed as a single woman to instill values in 11 kids in a Watts housing project, she recalled fondly the “family pow-wows.” They were held every Thursday and each week a different child was tasked to pick a Bible verse to speak on.  Also, each child got a chance to confess their wrongdoing that week as well as what Griffith had done wrong.

 

Now some mothers could have easily focused their attention and resources on Griffith-Joyner — something Griffith had seen other mothers do, which she loathed.  She says she promised God that if she had children she would be a mother to each of them and never compare them.

 

There’s one funny story about Griffith’s earliest memories of her track star daughter’s talents as only a mother could remember: “When she was in the walker, we called her “Lightening” because when she started to walk, she did not walk — she ran all through the house! … And then — oh — and when they were young and we lived in the desert, in the backyard, I would play racing with them …I would line them up … I was the starter and they would run to me …”

 

The following is an excerpt from a recent interview Griffith had with the Los Angeles Sentinel:

 

LAS:  So you knew way back then she could run fast. [Both laugh.] … And so when did she get serious about track?

 

DG:  When she was about 7, she started running at 102nd Street School … And Mrs. Annie Hall asked if the kids could join the Sugar Ray Robinson Organization. And I let them join. And every weekend she’d come and pick them up and take them to their track meets, and as they grew, they just enjoyed it so much … They couldn’t go if they didn’t get their work done on Friday. So on Saturday mornings, they got up to be ready to go with Ms. Hall …

 

All her years at Jordan High School, she did very well. And then she went to [California State University at] Northridge because she was working at a bank. And that’s where Bob Kersee confronted her [about running track] … And she came home and told me about it and she asked me what I thought about it … and I told her that I believe that at 18, it’s the first day of the rest of your life …You have to make your own decision ... and Bob talked to her, and she transferred from Northridge to UCLA.

 

LAS:  Did she ever say straight out that she wanted to go to the Olympics?

 

DG:  My cousin was out here from New York, and he talked to her a lot … And he told me she told him she was going to the Olympics when she was 12 or 13.

 

Her greatest achievement

 

LAS:  To you, what was her greatest achievement?

 

DG: I still think 1980 — the year she went to Eugene, Oregon. That was her first tryout for the Olympics and, though she came in fourth place, I expressed to her, ‘You’re still a winner because to think that you went out there — you went to Eugene Oregon! Think about how many people are trying to do things now and they don’t succeed.’ But she didn’t give up.  It was still her dream to go to the Olympics.

 

LAS:  And she qualified to go to the Olympics in 1984? … That wasn’t her greatest achievement to you?

 

DG: To be truthful with you, I never thought of the Olympics as thee Olympics. I never thought of it being as big as it was. It wasn’t until she really got into it and she talked to me and told me different things that I realized what she was doing ..

 

At this point Mrs. Griffith brought out one of Griffith’s many bibles, explaining:

 

“I told her when she started traveling overseas and everything, I told her, ‘Baby, you have to take your Bible with you and take God with you.’ I said, ‘Momma cannot be with you always.’ I said, ‘The only thing you can do is pray.’ 

 

Moving on to the allegations of steroid/drug use, Griffith, responding to the question of how all that affected her, sighed and said:

 

“It made me very, very angry and hurt ’cause you would have to have known her to know that this was not true … And as much time as we spent together, as a mother, you would know if your child is taking drugs.  Every drug test she took, she had a little something they gave her that was legal so …

 

“I was cleaning up her house one time and I found all these little things on a hook [film], and I was gonna throw them away but she said, ‘Momma, no — don’t do that. That’s the result of my drug test …’ so she kept all of them so after she told me that and I saw them for myself, it just really unnerved me ...

 

LAS: Would you ever allow for [the possibility of] there being another side of her that you as a mother just couldn’t have seen? A hidden side of her?

 

DS: Like I say …having talked to her and all, if there was a hidden side of her, it was really a hidden side … but she always respected me and gave me the honor [of the truth] as a parent.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

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