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MORNING BRIEFING

Text messages from press row . . .

October 31, 2008|JERRY CROWE

Andrew Bynum's new $57.4-million contract will seem like a bargain by the time it runs out after the 2012-13 season. . . .

Any other team in the NBA would love to have an athletic, 21-year-old, 7-foot center with three years' NBA experience and a seemingly limitless upside, and would pay dearly for the privilege. . . .

Who would you rather have, Bynum or Greg Oden? . . .

Four of UCLA Coach Ben Howland's five projected starters -- Darren Collison, Alfred Aboya, James Keefe and Josh Shipp -- are older than Bynum. . . .

Heads up, Barack Obama: No Democrat has won the White House during a year in which the Lakers reached the NBA Finals. . . .

John McCain hopes to extend the streak, which dates to 1952 and the Lakers' early days in Minneapolis, but the polls indicate he's going to have to rally down the stretch in front of a partisan crowd that favors his opponent. . . .

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, whose poll numbers have soared among hoops pundits picking them to win the NBA championship, seem to have accepted the notion that their best chance of unseating the Boston Celtics is to clamp down defensively and lock down home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. . . .

As a reminder, the Lakers should hire Tenacious D as their house band. . . .

Wackiest sight in the NBA on Wednesday: San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich grinning wickedly and flashing two thumbs up to Shaquille O'Neal after calling for a Hack-a-Shaq only five seconds into the season. . . .

O'Neal this month derided Hack-a-Shaq as "cowardly." . . .

Drew Brees is on pace to break Dan Marino's NFL record for single-season passing yardage but might not get the New Orleans Saints into the playoffs. . . .

USC, for all its success over the years, has never defeated four consecutive ranked opponents, as Colt McCoy and top-ranked Texas are on the verge of doing going into Saturday's showdown against unbeaten Texas Tech. . . .

The only time the Trojans ever even played four consecutive ranked foes, in 2002, Carson Palmer & Co. went 2-2 against Colorado, Kansas State, Oregon State and Washington State, none of which was ranked higher than No. 17. . . .

Slotting Manny Ramirez at No. 3 on his list of baseball's top free agents, Sports Illustrated's Ben Reiter warns, "Manny is baseball's Catherine Tramell: Enticing in the extreme, but get too close and you'll find an ice pick in the neck." . . .

Tramell, the character played by Sharon Stone in the "Basic Instinct" movies, is diagnosed in the sequel as possessing "a compulsive need to prove to herself that she can take risks and survive dangers that other people can't." . . .

Doesn't that sound a little like Manny being Manny? . . .

Geoff Jenkins, whose sixth-inning pinch double Wednesday helped spark the Philadelphia Phillies to their World Series-clinching Game 5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, led USC to the championship game of the College World Series in 1995. . . .

The Trojans lost to Mark Kotsay and Cal State Fullerton. . . .

Steve Smith, the Phillies' third base coach, is a former Pepperdine second baseman who played Little League ball with actor Kurt Russell and has appeared as an extra in dozens of movies and television shows, among them "The Sting," "The Brady Bunch," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Hill Street Blues." . . .

The gambling website BetOnline.com wasted no time in installing the Boston Red Sox as 3-1 favorites to win next year's World Series, with Vladimir Guerrero and the Angels listed as co-No. 2 picks with the Chicago Cubs at 5-1, Matt Kemp and the Dodgers at 15-1 and the Washington Nationals at 300-1. . . .

Among his "freshmen poised to make immediate impacts" this college basketball season, Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline lists USC's DeMar DeRozan No. 1 and UCLA's Jrue Holiday No. 2. . . .

Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo, we hardly knew ye. . . .

This week's first-ever suspension of a World Series game brought to mind the Stanley Cup finals in 1988, when Game 4 was suspended late in the second period because of a power failure at Boston Garden and never resumed, the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins instead traveling back to Edmonton for the final game of the Oilers' one-of-a-kind sweep two nights later. . . .

Asked what the final game would be called, Wayne Gretzky said Americans would call it Game 4-A and Canadians would call it, "Game 4, eh?"

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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