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‘Just a kid from …’ Johnny Manziel using LeBron James’ image strategy

LeBron James Johnny Manziel

If you follow Johnny Manziel on social media, you may have noticed that he has begun to use a certain hashtag that looks familiar. On Tuesday, the former Heisman Trophy winner shared the same photo on Twitter and Instagram of himself in New York.

Take note of the text and hashtag he used:

“We’re a long way from Hill Country!” he wrote. He complemented it with the “just a kid from Kerrville” hashtag.

That may seem like just a few words of no consequence, but they’re actually part of a very carefully crafted sentence by those helping to develop Manziel’s image.

Instead of being the hot shot/superstar athlete in college who was known as “Johnny Football,” Manziel is making a clear effort to develop an image of an everyday man. This is the exact same strategy LeBron James began using recently, and it has helped completely re-brand/shape James and allowed him to do a 180 in terms of public likability.

You ever notice how LeBron says he’s “Just a kid from Akron?” He says it over social media all the time.

He even says it when he’s doing interviews.

It’s a way to help humanize him and make him seem like he’s just your friendly guy next door. It helps you forget that he is one of the most talented athletes of all time who can afford to pay someone six figures just to pour his mouthwash in the morning. And whether the “just a kid from Akron” image is genuine or not, you begin to believe it because he constantly says it.

And who is Manziel’s sports agent representing him for marketing? LeBron’s management team. It’s no coincidence that they’re using the same strategy and actively playing out the “Just a kid from Kerrville” angle. I mean think about this for a second here.

This is the guy we all knew as “Johnny Football.” This is the same kid who made his name by partying in a Scooby Doo costume on Halloween; the guy who dates supermodels; the guy who’s out at the club with Lauren Hanley; and the guy who was busted in an autograph scandal. And this is the guy who’s supposed to be just some kid from the country? If he keeps saying it, maybe we’ll fall for it.

Johnny Manziel Facebook

To let you know how much of a concerted image-branding effort from Manziel’s PR team this is, when Manziel unveiled his new Facebook page on Thursday, he did so with a post that said “Draft Day” and invoked the hashtag “Just a kid from Kerrville.”

Really, I have to hand it to LeBron’s management team. This is a truly brilliant strategy. But we’re on to them. They need to switch it up so it’s not so obvious.

Tommy Lasorda hopes V Stiviano gets hit by a car (Video)

Tommy Lasorda doesn’t wish any bad luck to V Stiviano, but the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager does hope the woman gets hit by a car.

It seems like a contradiction, but it makes total sense, you know?

Lasorda was in South Florida where he received an honorary degree from Northwood University. While he was there, he was interviewed by WPBF in West Palm Beach and shared that he is a longtime friend of Donald Sterling.

“I’ve been a friend of that guy’s for 30 years,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he said those things. And he shouldn’t have said it. He just hurt himself by talking too much and doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”

You notice that part? Lasagna wasn’t surprised that Sterling said those things. Translation: everybody knew the dude was a raging racist. But then came the money shot:

“And I don’t wish that girl any bad luck but I hope she gets hit with a car.”

From now on, that will be my go-to line. I don’t wish that person any bad luck, but I hope they get hit by a car. Lovely.

Tommy-Lasorda-sleeping

Texans not set on Jadeveon Clowney first overall in draft?

Jadeveon ClowneyThe Houston Texans are on the clock with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, and there are plenty of questions about whom they will select.

The expectation has been that Houston will take former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 despite any concerns about Clowney’s work ethic. The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain has suggested that the Texans could trade down and select Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or even Khalil Mack. It seems like that may be their plan.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on Sunday that the Texans aren’t 100 percent sold on Clowney and are willing to trade. Peter King says he does not know whom the Texans will take, but he says he’s hearing the same thing.

Are you buying this? It could be the source of the reports are executives fielding calls from the Texans about making trades, which would make the report very solid.

For what it’s worth, Texans GM Rick Smith said last week that they know whom they will pick.

“If we take the first pick, we know who we want,” Smith said Thursday. “It’s interesting to me that it’s a big deal that we know our board, and all of a sudden we know who we want. That’s our job. I think we ought to know that.”

There was one qualifier — Smith said “if” they keep the pick. That meshes with the talk that they are considering trading down.

California Chrome wins Kentucky Derby with ease (Video)

California Chrome won the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby with ease after breaking away from the field on the final stretch at Churchill Downs Saturday.

California Chrome was the favorite in the field at 2:1 odds before the race began. The horse ran a similar race to the Santa Anita Derby where he won by several lengths after breaking away on the final stretch.

California Chrome’s unofficial time was 2:03:66 for the horse and jockey Victor Espinoza. 164,906 people attended the race, which was the second-largest crowd ever.

California Chrome

California Chrome became the first California-bred horse to win the Derby since 1962.

Zach Randolph suspended for punch on Steven Adams (Video)

Zach Randolph Steven AdamsZach Randolph has been suspended for Game 7 of the Memphis Grizzlies-Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game Saturday for his “punch” on Thunder center Steven Adams during Game 6 on Thursday.

The NBA ruled that Z-Bo punched Adams as the two were running up the court with 6:43 left in Game 6 and the Thunder up 88-71. Randolph and Adams were fighting for position on a rebound and Randolph gave Adams a shove in the back. Adams nudged Randolph as they were running up the court, and Z-Bo responded by getting even more physical.

Z-Bo only received a foul on the play. I felt a technical foul was warranted for Randolph’s excessive contact, but a suspension is completely excessive.

GIF: Grizzlies' Zach Randolph suspended for Game 7 due t... on Twitpic

That wasn’t even a punch — it was a push with his fist. By suspending Z-Bo, you’re taking away one of Memphis’ best players for the deciding game of the series. Terrible decision by the league.

Oh, and there’s this:

Z-Bo said something to the officials before that happened.

Video via Beyond the Buzzer

Donald Sterling reportedly has been battling prostate cancer

Donald-SterlingDonald Sterling has cancer and has been battling it for at least a few years, according to a report.

The New York Post reported Thursday that the disgraced Clippers owner has prostate cancer, and they say he’s surprised people by living this long.

“They thought he would die two years ago,” a source told the New York Post.

“People have been predicting his imminent demise. I’m sure he has the best . . . drugs money can buy,” said the source, who works closely with pro sports teams. “He can do anything to keep himself alive.”

The Post also says Sterling left his mansion in Malibu that he shares with his estranged wife and has been staying in a penthouse atop a “atop a nearly-empty office building he owns in Beverly Hills.”

They say he and wife Shelly have been worried about bugs and being in that building can free him from that worry.

Sterling, who just turned 80 years old, has been beaten up in nearly every public forum since his racist comments were publicized. This is about the only way he could get even the tiniest bit of sympathy.

Charles Barkley rips Magic Johnson for celebrating Mike D’Antoni resignation

Magic JohnsonWhen Magic Johnson sent a celebratory tweet after Mike D’Antoni announced he is resigning from his position as Los Angeles Lakers head coach on Wednesday, most of us felt the same way. D’Antoni wasn’t exactly put in a position to succeed, so it was kind of cruel for Magic to dance on his grave like that. Charles Barkley alluded to that on “Inside the NBA” Wednesday night.

“Magic Johnson’s bigger than that. Magic Johnson’s bigger than that,” Barkley said, via For the Win. “Listen, Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. They didn’t give him a lot to work with. But Magic Johnson, he’s bigger than that.”

Magic has been unhappy with the state of the Lakers for quite some time now. He has expressed disappointment with Jim Buss, blamed D’Antoni and blamed the players. But it’s not D’Antoni’s fault that Kobe Bryant has suffered two serious injuries that ended back-to-back seasons. Barkley pointed that out while talking to co-host Ernie Johnson.

“The Lakers weren’t going to win with Phil Jackson, either, Ernie,” Barkley added. They don’t have good players. … We know Phil Jackson’s arguably the greatest coach ever. The Lakers don’t have players, Ernie. They’re not a good team. Kobe Bryant is one of the 10 greatest players ever. He’s never going to be what he was. They don’t have good players. I’m not sure if Phil Jackson really wanted that job. The Lakers stink, and they’re going to stink.”

I agree. D’Antoni obviously hasn’t utilized Pau Gasol to the best of his abilities, but you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s—. Magic didn’t need to kick him while he was down.