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JERRY CROWE

Lakers' Kobe Bryant appears to just be getting better with age

Text messages from press row.

December 10, 2009|Jerry Crowe

Kobe Bryant seems to be following in the footsteps of former teammate Karl Malone, who was the NBA's most valuable player in his 12th and 14th seasons with the Utah Jazz. . . .

Bryant, 20 games into his 14th season with the Lakers, won the award for the first time two seasons ago. . . .

The only other player to capture the honor so late in his career was Michael Jordan, who hauled off the last of his five MVP awards in his 13th season with the Chicago Bulls. . . .

The Clippers have stayed close enough to give fans hope that a playoff run with Blake Griffin is still a possibility. . . .

Rookie of the year candidate Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks wears No. 3 in tribute to Allen Iverson. . . .

Noting the Portland Trail Blazers could have taken Kevin Durant instead of oft-injured Greg Oden in the 2007 NBA draft, reader George Sands of Torrance e-mails to remind Portland also took Sam Bowie over Jordan in 1984 and Mychal Thompson over Larry Bird in 1978. . . .

To be fair, it should be noted four other teams also passed on Bird, who played one more season at Indiana State before joining the Boston Celtics in 1979. . . .

You know expectations for the UCLA basketball team have lowered considerably when Michael Roll and the Bruins leave the floor to a standing ovation at Pauley Pavilion because they trail Kansas by only seven points at halftime. . . .

No Bruin is scrappier than freshman Reeves Nelson. . . .

Pepperdine's Keion Bell is one of only three Division I players averaging as many as 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. . . .

Heisman Trophy candidate Toby Gerhart of Stanford, the nation's second-leading rusher, also is No. 2 in California behind Ryan Mathews of Fresno State, whose average of 151 yards rushing a game is the nation's best. . . .

For what it's worth: While upstarts Texas Christian, Cincinnati and Boise State were a combined 37-0 this season, college football bluebloods USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida State and Georgia were a combined 39-33. . . .

Matt Barkley and USC, 3-9 against the spread, are nine-point favorites over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl. . . .

In preparation for its Dec. 26 game at AT&T Park, USC will practice at City College of San Francisco, alma mater of O.J. Simpson and, much later, Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who also managed to embarrass the Trojans. . . .

UCLA, set to play Temple in the EagleBank Bowl at Washington if Navy defeats Army on Saturday, rarely plays games on the East Coast but is scheduled to play at Rutgers in 2016. . . .

The defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, whose defense just isn't the same without Troy Polamalu, have squandered fourth-quarter leads in five of their six losses. . . .

Has anything gone right for the New England Patriots since they took an 18-0 record into the 2008 Super Bowl? . . .

Some might call the Milwaukee Brewers the Southland Brewers, what with the addition of Woodland Hills El Camino Real graduate Randy Wolf to a roster that already included Jeff Suppan (from Encino Crespi), Ryan Braun (Granada Hills High), Gregg Zaun (La Canada St. Francis), Trevor Hoffman (Anaheim Savanna), Chris Smith (Hesperia High) and Ontario-born Prince Fielder. . . .

The Brewers' owner, Mark Attanasio, is a Los Angeles investment banker whose son, Michael, is a senior point guard at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood. . . .

Derek Jeter, according to Sports Illustrated, has played only one game in his career in which the New York Yankees had no chance of reaching the playoffs. . . .

Hall of Fame goaltender Terry Sawchuk, whose NHL record of 103 shutouts was matched this week by Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, notched two with the Kings. . . .

Tuesday's jaw-dropping display of surfing at Waimea Bay in Hawaii -- on 40- to 50-foot waves -- was arguably the most spectacular competition in the sport's history. . . .

Reader Mike Gilbert of Hermosa Beach, imagining the words of recently hired St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire: "Son, inject this in the buttock and I promise you will take big-league dreams away from a variety of honest, hard-working ballplayers who would never disgrace the game."

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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