Craig James Launches ‘Texans for a Better America’ Political Movement

Craig James is a college football analyst who played running back for SMU and the Patriots. You’re probably used to hearing him provide commentary during college football season when he’s not trying to get coaches fired. Now we’ve learned through Bryan D. Fischer that he’s also launched a political movement called “Texans for a Better America.” Here’s part of the movement’s mission according to its website:

“Texans for a Better America is about reconnecting people with the values, ideas, and founding principles that have not only made Texas the envy of our nation, but would transform our country. We hope you’ll join in this essential conversation to engage, learn and share the values that guide and ideas that transform.”

Texans for a Better America supports the constitution, a free market economy, and it believes in American Exceptionalism saying “America is the greatest nation this earth has ever known.” The party emphasizes “freedom, hard work and personal responsibility.”

At this point it’s unclear what political office, if any, James aspires to be elected for, but there have been past reports that he’s interested in running for a Senate seat. We’re told James informed his bosses at ESPN about his decision to launch the site.

Bill MacDonald and John Ireland Are New Lakers Announcers, Spero Dedes to Knicks

The Lakers announced Tuesday that they are making changes to their play-by-play announcing teams on radio and TV. Bill MacDonald, who has been with Fox Sports West since it began in 1985, will be the new TV play-by-play voice, replacing Joel Meyers. Stu Lantz will remain as the team’s television color commentator.

On radio, John Ireland will be the team’s play-by-play voice, joining former Laker Mychal Thompson who is the analyst. Ireland has covered the Lakers as a TV sideline reporter since 2002 and he serves as a talk show host on 710 ESPN Radio in LA. Ireland informed LBS he will continue in his role as co-host of the Mason & Ireland show.

Spero Dedes was expected to become the team’s new TV play-by-play man and replace Meyers. Lakers spokesman John Black said “We had a verbal agreement with Spero to be our new TV play-by-play announcer. … He had a change of heart.” Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News reports that Dedes has accepted a job as the Knicks TV play-by-play announcer. Hoffarth adds that Dedes will be allowed to continue his play-by-play duties for CBS. Kevin Ding of the OC Register reports that Dedes wouldn’t have been able to continue with his national jobs if he accepted the Lakers position.

Matthew Barnaby Arrested for Domestic Violence in Amherst, New York

The last time we mentioned ESPN NHL analyst and former Buffalo Sabres winger Matthew Barnaby, it was to note he was dating ESPN personality Michelle Beadle. This time around we’re passing along news that is not as positive.

WIVB reports that Barnaby was arrested and charged with domestic violence Friday in Amherst, New York. From their report:

Amherst Police responded to a location at 6:15 p.m. and found serious damage to property. The location is being kept private to protect two female victims, who police say were not injured.

The former right winger was arrested and charged with second degree criminal contempt, harassment, second degree criminal trespass, and second degree criminal mischief. Police say after leaving the location, he made angry phone calls, and Barnaby has also been charged with aggravated harassment via a cell phone.

Barnaby will spend the night in jail and be arraigned in court in the morning, according to WIVB. Barnaby is divorced so this may have been an incident related to his ex-wife. It was only back in February that he wrote on twitter “Can anyone tell me why divorces are so expensive?? A wise man told me- because they are worth it!!!!!!”

He did mention on twitter during the week that he was headed home to Buffalo this weekend to spend time with his children. It seems like the incident was unrelated to Beadle. Who knows, maybe he rumbled with someone at his father-daughter dance!

Forearm bash to Mark Kohn for the tip

Marv Albert Could Replace Gus Johnson at CBS on March Madness, NFL Games

Sure we’ve taken our jabs at Marv Albert over time, but that’s all in fun. The reality is we love when Marv Albert calls games. It doesn’t get much better than his signature “yes!” calls on NBA games, and as SI’s Jimmy Traina frequently notes, Marv means big games.

Though many sports fans were saddened to learn that Gus Johnson was leaving CBS for FOX, the folks at the Eye may be making it up to us.

Bob Raissman at the NY Daily News reports that Marv could be hired by CBS to replace Gus. Raissman writes “Industry sources say Albert, TNT’s voice of the NBA, is talking to CBS about joining the network to work both NFL football and college basketball.”

Doing March Madness games for CBS is natural synergy for Marv because CBS and Turner (which owns TNT) are part of the same family of networks. As for calling football games, you’ve probably heard Marv doing Monday Night Football for Westwood One. He’s one of those guys like Al Michaels who has a golden voice that fits on any sport. I would love to hear Marv calling more games, so make it happen CBS.

Gus Johnson Out at CBS, Could Head to FOX for College Football (UPDATE)

It’s rare that an announcer not reaching a deal with his employer becomes major news, but that just shows the massive appeal of Gus Johnson. SI’s Richard Deitsch reported that Gus is out at CBS after the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract. Not only is Gus out at CBS, but he also did not get the NFL Network play-by-play job many people expected him to land. Instead, that job went to Brad Nessler.

Deitsch reported that “industry sources said Johnson has spoken with Fox Sports about a role in its college football coverage,” so you may be able to hear him calling Pac-12 games in the future. The bad news for many fans is that we won’t be hearing Johnson during March Madness any longer. It was during the NCAA Tournament that Gus developed his following amongst viewers due to his enthusiastic announcing style.

I know this is going to sound sacrilege to my fellow bloggers and readers, but I’ve never been a big Gus Johnson fan. Part of the reason is because I felt people went way too overboard with their praise of him, but another bigger reason is because I felt like some of it was an act and not genuine. I used to hear Gus call Knicks games on the radio and he had very little enthusiasm and excitement during those games. For someone who was used to his energy, that was highly disappointing. So when I hear him losing his head on CBS doing football and March Madness, it seems to me like he’s just playing up for his national audience. Still, I’d much rather hear Gus do games than many other boring announcers. I’ll take that any day, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land another gig quite soon.

UPDATE: The New York Daily News reports that Gus may not be out at CBS.

“According to an industry source Johnson, whose CBS contract expired after the Final Four, received a written offer from Fox earlier this week. The offer includes both NFL and Pac-12 football play-by-play roles. However Johnson’s reps have not presented the offer to CBS execs. When they do, probably next week, CBS will have one week to match or say adios to Johnson.”

Sounds like Gus’ agent/rep may have leaked the story to Deitsch at SI with the hope that there would be public outcry putting pressure on CBS to keep Gus. The good news for Johnson fans is this may not be a done deal.

Bill Simmons’ New Grantland.com Website Intended to be Like 30 for 30 Docs

ESPN issued a press release on Thursday regarding the new website Bill Simmons has been working on the past 18 months. The site will be named Grantland.com in honor of sportswriter Grantland Rice and it will launch in June. Dan Fierman, Lane Brown, and Jay Caspian Kang will be editors, while Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dave Eggers will be contributing editors. Contributing writers will be Michael Weinreb, Katie Baker, Molly Lambert, Chris Ryan, Robert Mays III, Bill Barnwell, and Patrice Evans.

As for the goal of the site, Simmons says “my No. 1 goal was to figure out how to capture the spirit and creativity of 30 for 30 and transfer it to a website. We wanted original voices, and we found a bunch of them already. We’re going to take chances, come up with a few premises and ideas that you haven’t seen before, and be consistently entertaining day after day. You will never know what to expect when you come to the site – in a good way. That’s our ultimate goal.”

Well, I’ve loved the 30 for 30 documentaries and I know many other people have, so if they’re able to capture the spirit and creativity of those pieces, the site should be a winner. Just by being a Bill Simmons production, it should have instant popularity and credibility. My guess is the site will be a success.

LA Times Explains Decision to Print ‘Faggot’ in Kobe Story Online, in Paper

Anyone who opened up their LA Times on Thursday or read the online version of Mike Bresnahan’s story on Kobe being caught on camera saying “f—ing f—–” may have been surprised to see the full text of Kobe’s homophobic slur published. Whereas most news organizations used the term “homophobic slur” or blurred out the word, the Times actually printed the offensive word in its story. You can see that in both the newspaper and online version:

It was quite shocking to see the word “faggot” in the newspaper as LBS contributor Gene pointed out, so we asked the Los Angeles Times what led to their decision to print the offensive word. The Times’ VP of Communications, Nancy Sullivan, explained it to us over email:

“Derogatory terms such as the one in the Kobe Bryant story are rarely printed in the paper, for obvious reasons. However, when the use of the word IS the story, as was the case with Bryant’s utterance, it is important to print it for clarity and accountability. This has happened with the other offensive terms in years past. But using such offensive words is never done lightly and, as was the case in this instance, is always cleared at the highest level of the editorial department. There needs to be a very good reason to use it, and in this case, because Bryant’s use of the term and the strong reaction to it from several different corners were the reason for the story, our judgment was to go with it.”

Juxtaposing the decision to publish the actual slur was the decision to describe Kobe’s f-bomb as a “curse word.” It was a tough call for the Times’ editorial department as you can tell, and I’m not sure if printing the offensive term helps or harms the message. Obviously we concur that when the word becomes the story it’s hard to avoid publishing it (as we did in the title), but it was no easy decision for the paper, especially because many people find the word to be offensive. If they didn’t, then Kobe’s words wouldn’t have become a story.