Notes, quotes and things picked up on the run from coast-to-coast and all the stops in between and beyond.

Major League baseball spring training camps are in full bloom this week from Arizona to Florida. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in their new spring training camp in Glendale, Arizona. They’re still waiting for Manny Ramirez to sign and report to their new home in Arizona.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in their Arizona spring training camp. The Angels will undoubtedly have to open the regular season with Gary Matthews, Jr. on the disabled list. Otherwise, the Angels’ main men are expected to report to camp.

The New York Mets’ open air rotunda at its new stadium, which is slated to open on April 13, will honor Jackie Robinson, one of the most famous Brooklyn Dodgers of them all. Robinson, a baseball, football, track and field, and tennis star at UCLA, never played for the Los Angeles Dodgers nor did Roy Campanella. Both are baseball Hall of Famers.

Loyce Crisp, the father of ex-Boston Red Sox star Coco Crisp, who was traded to the Kansas Royals during the off season, is a happy camper today for two reasons. First his son, Coco, gave him his Boston Red Sox’s World Series ring and now old dad is on cloud nine and one of the happiest campers in the world. Secondly, Loyce and his wife of 30-years, Pam’s, daughter, is a professional ice skater on the international circuit and is engaged to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins, the “30-30” man (30 homeruns and 30 stolen bases). Loyce and Pam presently make their home in Palm Desert.

And the beat continues.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game in Phoenix is history and the battle between the west’s Kobe Bryant and the east’s LeBron James lived up to all the hype. Bryant and the historic reunion with Shaquille O’Neal stole the show like little Nate Robinson did in stealing Dwight Howard’s Slam Dunk title.

Back to Kobe and Shaq. In many instances it looked like the old playing days when they teamed up to win three NBA titles and were called the best duo in the annals of the NBA. Bryant led all scorers with 27 and O’Neal contributed 17. Had O’Neal not missed so many free throws he might have matched Bryant’s scoring total. Kobe’s 27 points topped the 20 LeBron James compiled for the east all-stars.

While the 84th annual All-Star Game will be remembered as the reunion of Shaq and Kobe, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the man, Los Angeles Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson, who piloted the great Lakers duo to three crowns, was the head coach of the 146-121 victorious west. This was Jackson’s fourth All-Star Game victory as a coach. With Shaq and Kobe sharing MVP honors they both now have three of these awards.

More NBA All-Star Game notes: The NBA announced Feb. 14 that the NBA Championship Finals MVP (Most Valuable Player) award will be named the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics’ all-time great. Russell, the top winner of NBA titles (11) of all-times, never won the finals MVP award. He was given a cake at the game by the trio of current Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, in honor of his 75th birthday.

Did the NBA All-Star selectors do the Oklahoma Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant wrong by leaving him off the All-Star squad? Check this: As of Jan. 16, Durant led the NBA in scoring with a 32.0 average.

The NBA beat the National Football League (NFL) in landing President Barack Obama to do a TV spot for its “NBA Cares” volunteer program.

Terry Porter is out as head coach of the Phoenix Suns and his assistant Alvin Gentry, the former L.A. Clippers head coach, is his replacement. The Suns are 28 and 23.

Now that the second half of the season is underway most experts expect the Lakers and the Boston Celtics to meet in the NBA Finals again. Hopefully, someone has told LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers about this prediction.

Take note, the Lakers recently completed a perfect 6-0 road trip, the best in franchise history. Two of those six victories came against two of the best teams in basketball–the defending world champion Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not too tacky, folks. The Lakers returned home with a 41-9 report card–the best record in the NBA.

In the Lakers’ seventh straight victory (six on the road) 105-98 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to become the youngest player at 30-years, 171 days in NBA history to score 23,000 points.

Arizona State and Arizona owned both the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans over the weekend. Both locals came up losers in the desert. The Bruins and Trojans defeats enabled Coach Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies to roll into Pauley Pavilion Feb. 19 leading the Pac-10 in first place with a 10-3 report card. UCLA is tied for third with Cal. Both are 8-4. Arizona State is second at 9-4.

And the beat continues.

LSU thinks it has a future Heisman trophy winner in versatile QB Russell Shepard from Cypress Ridge High in Houston, Texas. Shepard threw for 20 TDs and ran for 29 TDs this season.
Somebody should give West Virginia’s record-setting QB Pat White, the Senior Bowl MVP, a chance to fight for a starting signal calling job in the NFL. White led two scoring drives and passed for 95-yards in the South’s 35-18 win over the North. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jack Del Rio and his staff coached the South. White declared: “I’m happy I had the opportunity. This was a great coaching staff that taught me a lot in a week.”

Coach Randy Shannon says his University of Miami will save $140,000 by taking charter buses to football games at Central Florida and South Florida this fall instead of flying as part of their cost cutting efforts. Will this hurt Coach Shannon’s recruiting?

And the beat continues.

Serena Williams is not only the No. 1 female tennis player in the world; she now lives in the high rent district in a condo on Wilshire Blvd. That’s a long way from her Compton home town. By the way, Serena told Sports Illustrated after her smashing victory in the Australian Open: “You should never be surprised by anything I do.”

O.J. Simpson may be behind prison bars in Nevada, but he still has some of those pretty little green ones rolling in via his pensions (NFL, Actors Guild and a private pension). Parade Magazine’ s Walter Scott says O.J. earns between $15,000 to $60,000 per month, depending on the market, according to O.J.’s lawyer, Yale Galanter. Galanter says the Browns and the Goldmans can’t touch a dime of it. If O.J. wins his appeal, he should be rolling in those pretty little green ones until he dies.

Who was the greatest Black golfer in the world before Tiger Wood? According to a documentary on the Golf Channel on Feb. 11, Ted Rhodes was the man. Until the PGA (Professional Golf Association) eliminated its “Gaussian Only Clause,” in 1961, Ted Rhodes ruled the Black United Golf Association (UGA) in the 1940s and 1950s. Rhodes reportedly won 150 UGA titles. Rhodes, who was seen in home movie footage in the TV special, is “the greatest African American golfer before Tiger.” Veteran UGA golfer Lee Elder broke the racial barrier at the Masters in 1975. The late Los Angeles Sentinel golf columnist Maggie Hathaway was instrumental in making this historic moment happen. Hathaway was one of the few, if not the only reporter from a Black publication, who covered this feat.

Did you know Muhammad Ali, undisputed three-time world heavyweight champion, is the oldest living boxing champion? He is 67.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation will honor Academy Award winning actor Robert Redford (Humanitarian Award), ABC-TV Co-anchor Robin Roberts ( Robie Achievement In Industry Award) and Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. (Lifetime Achievement Award) at The Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards dinner at New York’s Waldorf’-Astoria-on March 16. Entertainer extraordinaire Bill Cosby is hosting the dinner. Additional details may be obtained by calling Tammara Walker, 212-290-8600. Former L.A. Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley is a member of the JRF Dinner Committee.

There are two or three Black beauties in Sports Illustrated’s Swim Suit edition. One of them–has a crush on the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James. Damaris Lewis, a Brooklyn born native, says King James is the world’s hottest athlete. She adds: “He just has a swagger. You watch him play basketball, and you’re like, whoa! Yeah, it’s Lebron James, hands down.”

And the beat ends.

– Brad Pye, Jr. can be reached at Switchreel@aol.com