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JERRY CROWE

Tiger Woods dominates like no one else

Text messages from press row . . .

February 26, 2009|JERRY CROWE

Has any competitor ever meant more to his sport -- in terms of creating buzz, drawing fans, etc. -- than Tiger Woods? . . .

Maybe Muhammad Ali? . . .

Babe Ruth? . . .

Lance Armstrong? . . .

ESPN's so-called Mt. Rushmore of sports for California: Woods, John Wooden, Magic Johnson and Jackie Robinson. . . .

Here's a Northern California alternative that wouldn't be bad: Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Bill Russell and Bill Walsh. . . .

The Phoenix Suns are a lot more fun to watch since Alvin Gentry turned them loose, but without Amare Stoudemire they're no threat to the Lakers' title hopes. . . .

The Boston Celtics are, of course, and will be even more so if Stephon Marbury minds his Ps and Qs as expected. . . .

Wooden's teams never lost to Washington State in Pauley Pavilion -- and, more remarkably, neither did Bruins teams coached by Gene Bartow, Gary Cunningham, Larry Brown, Larry Farmer, Walt Hazzard, Jim Harrick or Steve Lavin. . . .

Reality show: When a listener calling the Clippers' postgame radio show Sunday said the Clippers at full strength were better than the Lakers, host Dave Denholm hung up on him. . . .

Renardo Sidney was a great pickup for USC, but Dr. Phil would have filled a more pressing need for Tim Floyd. . . .

Russell Martin will have "J. Martin" stitched across the back of his jersey this season not to confuse Dodgers fans but to honor his mother, Suzanne, whose maiden name is Jeanson. . . .

The catcher's full name, by the way, is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin - and, yes, Coltrane is an homage to John Coltrane, the late, great jazz saxophonist. . . .

Spring training is way too long. . . .

If you believe that Pete Carroll is overpaid, consider this: He makes less than the Clippers' Mike Dunleavy. . . .

Sunday's Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway was the 11th consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Fontana that failed to sell out, raising more questions about why NASCAR continues to stage two events a year in Southern California. . . .

The next is Oct. 11, a Sunday during football season. . . .

Cal's Mike Montgomery, back on campus after two rocky seasons with the Golden State Warriors, revealed his preference for the college game this week when he noted, "Every now and then, you'd like to have eye contact with your players." . . .

These things can happen when your plot strains credibility: Mike Myers' "The Love Guru," which had the Kings playing in the Stanley Cup finals, picked up Golden Raspberries last weekend for worst movie and worst screenplay of 2008. . . .

Reader Ryan McKenzie of Santa Monica, dismissing arguments for Brett Favre and Sammy Baugh, nominates John Elway as the "greatest football player ever to play quarterback," noting via e-mail, "Have you ever seen Favre pretend to tackle after one of his interceptions? It's hilarious!" . . .

Jack Nicklaus, as several readers noted, won his first professional paycheck in 1962 not at Riviera but at Rancho Park, home to the Los Angeles Open for nearly two decades before the tournament moved to Riviera in 1973. . . .

Mike Smith & Co. will have the edge in experience but will be at a height disadvantage tonight when Santa Anita jockeys square off against a team of seventh- and eighth-graders from Holy Angels school in a charity basketball game at Pasadena La Salle High, the 42nd in an annual series that dates to 1967. . . .

Don't worry, kids, this Mike Smith is a 5-foot-4 Hall of Fame rider and not the 6-10 Clippers announcer of the same name who was a first-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1989. . . .

The jockeys lead the series, 22-19. . . .

The late Mike Whitmarsh, an Olympic silver medalist in beach volleyball, was runner-up in voting for West Coast Conference basketball player of the year in 1984 -- to John Stockton. . . .

Kelly Slater, as dominant in surfing as Woods is in golf, begins his quest for a 10th world title this weekend in Australia. . . .

No one else has won more than four. . . .

Reader Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., noting that ex-slugger Ron Kittle says he fears for the safety of steroids whistle-blower Jose Canseco, e-mails to suggest, "Apparently, he saw Canseco's fight against Danny Bonaduce."

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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