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JERRY CROWE

Kobe did well in blocking assignments

Text messages from press row . . .

February 20, 2009|JERRY CROWE

Kobe Bryant has long drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan, but Wednesday night he seemed to channel Bill Russell. . . .

Maybe it had something to do with his being in Oakland, where Russell got his start at McClymonds High, but those blocks on Anthony Randolph and Corey Maggette were spectacular. . . .

Russell, by the way, is 75. . . .

The NBA Finals MVP award, which will be renamed in Russell's honor, was never won by the former Boston Celtics great, who retired in 1969, the same year it was introduced. . . .

Alvin Gentry probably would agree: Every interim coach should be allowed to break in against the Clippers. . . .

It's probably safe to assume that, though the teams are about even in the standings, this season has been more discouraging for Ducks fans than encouraging for Kings fans. . . .

Tiger Woods, returning to the PGA Tour next week after welcoming a son this month, won two major titles in the 12 months after his daughter's birth in June 2007. . . .

Jack Nicklaus, in 1962, won his first professional paycheck at Riviera Country Club, site of this week's Northern Trust Open. . . .

It paid all of $33.33. . . .

Right-hander Gerrit Cole, set to make his UCLA debut Saturday against UC Davis after spurning the New York Yankees last summer, is the first first-round pick to play for the Bruins and the first in seven years to choose college over the pros. . . .

The freshman's advisor is uber-agent Scott Boras, whose son, Shane, is a freshman infielder at USC. . . .

San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the probable top pick in this year's draft, makes his season debut today at 2 p.m. against Bethune-Cookman in the Urban Invitational at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton. . . .

Reader Chris Grisanti of Monrovia, disputing Trent Dilfer's assertion that Brett Favre was "the greatest football player ever to play quarterback," notes that two-way star Sammy Baugh in 1943 led the NFL in passing, punting and interceptions. . . .

Says Grisanti, "Brett Favre will be in the Hall of Fame someday, but it will be in the shadow of Slingin' Sammy Baugh." . . .

Derrick Rose is a slight favorite to edge O.J. Mayo for NBA rookie of the year, according to odds posted at BetUS.com. . . .

The third pick, at much longer odds, is Russell Westbrook. . . .

The MVP favorite: LeBron James. . . .

Glenn "Jeep" Davis, who died last month, had much in common with track and field immortal Jesse Owens: Both were born Sept. 12, both were coached by Larry Snyder at Ohio State and both won multiple Olympic gold medals. . . .

Davis won three, most notably in the 400-meter hurdles at Melbourne in 1956 and at Rome in 1960. . . .

The only college graduate to win the heavyweight championship was James "Bonecrusher" Smith, who earned a degree in business administration from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., before winning the World Boxing Assn. title with a first-round knockout of Tim Witherspoon in 1986. . . .

A year later, Smith lost his title to Mike Tyson. . . .

Is it too late for the Seattle Mariners to bring back Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson too? . . .

The Dodgers and Angels, perhaps not wanting to get too familiar with one another, are scheduled to meet only once in Arizona during the Dodgers' first full Cactus League season. . . .

Sparky Anderson, who turns 75 on Sunday, said recently that he used to shag free throws for Bill Sharman at USC. . . .

You might not want to cross Glendale College assistant golf coach James Caan, best known for his Oscar-nominated role as the hotheaded Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather." . . .

Look-alikes, as submitted by reader Rob Carroll of Lake Forest: Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and actor Gaius Charles, who plays Brian "Smash" Williams on "Friday Night Lights." . . .

Rookie hazing: Kevin Love tells Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick that Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Al Jefferson "will call me to come over and pick up, you know, what his dog leaves in his yard." . . .

So far, Love has not stooped to scoop. . . .

Joey Logano, an 18-year-old NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie who makes his Auto Club Speedway debut this weekend, is nicknamed "Sliced Bread," as in, "the greatest thing since . . . " . . .

Sliced bread was introduced more than 80 years ago.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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