January 01, 2015

By Kenneth D. Miller

Sports Editor 


14. Long Beach Poly Football —The dynamic football program stepped out of the box and made an untraditional hire in luring former New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce to become their head coach,  but the Jackrabbits lost in the semi finals of the loaded Pac 5 Division.


Pierce became the Jackrabbits’ 25th head coach in their 106-year history and led the Jackrabbits into the Pac 5 semifinals where they lost to St. John Bosco. Poly doesn’t hang semifinal banners.


13. Boxing Promoter Dan Goossen—The boxing community was rocked by the death of the local promoter who worked with prominent Black fighters such as Michael Nunn, David Reid, Lance Whitaker, Paul Williams, James Toney and Andre Ward. He was 64 and a victim of liver cancer, which surfaced around Labor Day.


12. Cynthia Cooper-Dyke— Considered as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever, the former Locke High School star, in her first season as head coach at USC She led the Women of Troy to their first Pac-12 conference championship and consequently, their first NCAA tournament bid since 2006.


11. UCLA’s ’42—On the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's enrollment at UCLA, the school renamed 22 athletic facilities in his honor and announced that No. 42 will be retired from all athletic teams. Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier played baseball, football and basketball and ran track at UCLA from 1939-41.


10. Locke High School Football—For the first time since the school opened in 1967, the Saints played football under the lights. Finally working parents could watch their sons play or their daughters cheer or march in the school band. Locke won its first night game, but it was a long season for the Saints.


9. Magic Buys Sparks—It’s not true that Magic Johnson owns everything, but most things significant. Johnson, the former Lakers star and part- owner of the Dodgers led an investment group to buy the Los Angeles Sparks.


Previous Sparks owner Paula Madison informed the league she wouldn't be able to run the team anymore. Her family had lost $12 million, including $1.4 million last season, operating the franchise since buying it from the Buss family in 2007.


8. Dorsey Fire’s Paul Knox—After nearly 30 years and leading his teams to City championships and placing students in college and even the NFL, Dorsey principal Dr. Reggie Sample unceremoniously fired his respected football coach.


Any other words that came out of Sample’s mouth or in a statement is a lie. Paul Knox wanted to continue coaching and Sample prevented that. Period, exclamation point.


7. Josh “I Shoulda Told The Truth’ Shaw—It was one of the most bizarre circumstances of the college football season, a USC captain was hailed as a hero after before we learned he lied to school officials about how he was injured. Shaw was suspended from the team and only played in one game.


6. Tony Gwynn—There was probably not a more respected and beloved Southern California baseball star as Mr. Padre.


Gwynn’s sweet left-handed swing made him one of San Diego's best-loved athletes. He was nicknamed “Mr. Padre” during his 20-year major league career.


Gwynn died at the age of 54 and his death was attributed to chewing tobacco.


5. Matt Kemp Traded—The Dodgers popularity has been at an all-time high the past two seasons and among the primary reasons was outfielder Kemp, among the few Black stars in Major League Baseball.


The Dodgers thought so much of him they signed him to a $160 million contract, but in the second week of December traded him to the division rival San Diego Padres. To show how bad the Dodgers wanted to rid themselves of Kemp, they will pay $32 million of the remaining $103 million left on the contract.


4. Ollie! Ollie!—Few expected former Crenshaw High star Kevin Ollie to be the last coach standing at the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.


But there he was, making the final cuts of the net after he led the University of Connecticut Huskies to an improbable men’s Division I NCAA Championship.


Ollie, a U Conn graduate, returned to his alma mater after a 13-year NBA career where he played for 12 teams after starting his pro career in the now defunct CBA in 1995.


Few if any gave Ollie and his No. 7 seed Huskies a chance to make any noise in the NCAA tournament after being banned from post season play the past two years, but after his team defeated No. 8 seed and heralded Kentucky 60-56 at Texas Stadium they believe in him now.


Ollie became the first Black coach since 1998 and Tubby Smith at Kentucky to win the NCAA D-I basketball championship.


3. No Kobe, No Glory—Without Kobe Bryant the Lakers finished with the worst record in the history of the fabled franchise losing 55 games and winning just 27. The dubious record landed the Lakers into the NBA lottery for teams with the worst record in the league. The Lakers selected Kentucky star Julius Randle with the No. 7 pick and he broke his right tibia in the season opener and will miss the reminder of the season.

2. Lakers Hire Byron Scott—The former Morningside High star returns to where it all began. Scott lived in the shadows of the old Fabulous Forum where he once dreamt of playing for the Lakers. Mission accomplished as he went on to star for the Showtime Lakers while winning multiple titles.


His other lofty goal was to become coach of the Lakers, but this was when the team had it clicking with Shaq, Kobe and the gang. He was passed over for the likes of Phil Jackson initially, but landed in the abyss in Cleveland.


After all of the Lakers coaching options had run out, they settled on the best choice in Scott, but he has quickly learned that this situation could be Cleveland all over again. At least you’re finally at home…


1. Donald Sterling—During the entire year, was their any story more polarizing than “The Donald.” His racist rants taped during a conversation with one of his many flings cost him utter embarrassment and banishment from his lofty porch of NBA royalty. Subsequently he was forced to sell the team after he told his squeeze that he didn’t want her to bring Blacks to his games. The Sterling fallout cost the Los Angeles NAACP president his post for honoring Sterling.


The team sold for a record $2 billion to Steve Ballmer, but the Clippers have yet to expand its advertising base to the Black community newspapers.




Category: Sports