What: "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"
Where: HBO, tonight, 10
A kinder, gentler, happier Barry Bonds is featured in this edition "Real Sports." Bonds must have the best publicist in the world. His image of being a surly, arrogant ballplayer is disappearing, and that's the angle HBO takes.
It was also the angle of a recent Sports Illustrated profile of Bonds. That Bonds story was written by Jeff Pearlman, who put Bonds in a much more positive light than he did John Rocker or David Wells.
It's no coincidence that the HBO feature and the Sports Illustrated story are similar. The two Time-Warner entities collaborated on the Bonds "Real Sports" piece, which is reported by Bryan Burwell and produced by Valerie Edelman.
Pearlman opens with a mention of Bonds' $3,000 locker-room leather recliner, which is also noted in the HBO feature. HBO touches on some negatives, such as Bonds' messy divorce from his first wife. But overall HBO paints a pretty picture. Bonds says he regrets he wasn't better in dealing with the media and fans earlier in his career and that he is now a happy family man. Bonds remarried in 1998.
Bonds says he cringes when he sees his 10-year-old son lose his temper during Little League games. "I say, 'My God, what have I created?' "
Bonds says his son won a championship in his first year in Little League, while the Giants' all-star has never won a championship at any level. Bonds talks about his desire to win a championship, and Burwell asks him if he would leave San Francisco in order to win one.
"You know, my kids are important," Bonds says. "And me going somewhere else, to be away from my children . . . it's very, very hard for me to answer that question for you right now. I want to win, but I want to do it at home. I love San Francisco."
Another story on this edition of "Real Sports" is on Laila Ali, a boxer who is the daughter of Muhammad Ali. There is also a feature on Tim Johnson, the Toronto Blue Jay manager who was fired for lying about being in the Vietnam War to motivate his players. The final segment deals with the difficulties faced by gay high school athletes.