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Many athletes are steering clear of blogs

June 22, 2008|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

Luke Walton used to read sports blogs as a rookie in the NBA, curious to see what people were saying about him and his team.

Not anymore.

"Guys tell me if there's stuff going on," the Lakers forward said. "But there's no reason to worry about it."

Big-time athletes have various reactions to playing in an era when their every move can be dissected on the Internet.

Some like the blogs. Some blog themselves. Some couldn't care less. Others take offense at what they consider to be the new medium's reputation for analyzing from afar.

"A lot of them don't know what they're talking about," Boston Celtics guard Eddie House said. "They have to read someone else's story and then they form an opinion."

But opinions and criticism are only part of the equation. Blogs often delve into athletes' personal lives, posting rumors, acquiring snapshots taken at bars, dance clubs and parties.

Thedirty.com has created a special section for athletes on its site, featuring candid shots of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart and former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, among others. BlogXilla recently posted photos of a shirtless Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young at a party.

These images get picked up by established sports blogs such as Deadspin and FanHouse.

Major League Baseball officials cautioned players before the season that anyone with a cellphone might take a picture. The NBA offers a similar warning at rookie meetings. Some athletes said they try to be careful in public.

"With the technology today, you can't go anywhere without someone taking a picture of you," said Ronny Turiaf of the Lakers. "And with Photoshop, you never know what's going to end up on the Internet."

Sometimes Turiaf's father gets upset, using the computer to keep track of his son from overseas. But like many professional athletes, Turiaf has grown up with the Internet and says, "It's part of life."

That is why he and others limit what they read online.

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier sticks to an Arizona newspaper site for hometown news, the Arizona State website for alumni news and EBay Motors for car sales. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter is even more selective.

"When I go on the Internet," he said, "I go to iTunes."

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Times staff writers Jonathan Abrams, Chris Foster and Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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