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SPORTS DIGEST: Lakers edge Dodgers as L.A.’s favorite team

What’s the most popular professional sports team in Los Angeles?

Two years ago, it was an easy choice.

The Lakers were named by 43 percent of those questioned as the favorite local team, followed by the Dodgers at 34 percent.

But the last two seasons have been the worst in Lakers franchise history, while the Dodgers have been to Major League Baseball’s postseason three times in a row for the first time in club history.

So when Forecast LA, an annual economic forecast and public opinion poll conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, conducted the poll again this year, the results were a lot closer.

The Lakers still led, but only by a 37-35 percent margin.

Forecast LA surveyed 2,400 people during January and February for the poll. Following the Lakers and Dodgers were the Clippers at 9 percent, the Kings at 8 percent, the Galaxy at 6 percent, the Angels at 5 percent and the Sparks at 1 percent.

I’m surprised at how low the Angels were on the poll. Owner Arte Moreno has insisted on calling his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for marketing purposes more than anything, but the Angels are barely a blip in the Los Angeles sports scene, trailing even the Major League Soccer Galaxy. Of course, the Galaxy shows up in the postseason every year.

My second favorite Los Angeles sports team wasn’t on the ballot because the survey limited responses to professional teams. I wonder where the USC football team or the UCLA football or basketball teams would rank in the survey?

My top team would be the Dodgers, followed by USC football and the Lakers.

The survey bodes well for the Los Angeles Rams. It won’t take much for the Rams to move into third place the next time Forecast LA takes the survey.

Unless the Clippers can figure out how to get away from whatever curse still plagues them and make a playoff run in the NBA between now and then.

BAD LUCK STREAK: Just when it looked like the Clippers might have a chance to advance past the second round of the NBA playoffs, the team’s bad luck jumped out and ambushed them.

With Stephen Curry out for two weeks for the Golden State Warriors with a sprained knee, the Clippers might have been able to sneak past the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs and advance to the Western Conference finals.

But on April 25, Chris Paul broke his hand and Blake Griffin reinjured the quadriceps tendon in his left leg that caused him to miss 45 games this season in a loss to the Portland Trailblazers and now the Clippers are facing three games with Portland without their two best players.

So much for the Clippers upset plans. They will be lucky to escape Portland.

Even without Curry, Golden State should be able to withstand the Clippers without Paul and Griffin.

During the offseason, which will start sooner than Clippers’ fans were hoping, coach Doc Rivers and company may have to decide if it is time to break up the nucleus of the team and seek a title run with other players.

Paul and Griffin are each under contract through the 2016-17 season, with a player option for the following year.

The window of opportunity is closing fast for the Clippers, or was that window only an illusion?

The Lakers made coach Byron Scott the fall guy for the worst season in franchise history, firing him April 24 after two seasons. Scott won only 38 games during his tenure. (Courtesy photo)
The Lakers made coach Byron Scott the fall guy for the worst season in franchise history, firing him April 24 after two seasons. Scott won only 38 games during his tenure. (Courtesy photo)

THE FALL GUY: Byron Scott deserved a better fate. The former Morningside High star was fired April 24 by the Lakers after coaching the team to the two worst season records in franchise history.

What did the Lakers’ front office think Scott was going to do with those teams?

The Lakers had an aging Kobe Bryant, a group of untested young players and a bunch of journeymen who were happy to still be in the league.

Scott, who spent his last year as an NBA player during Bryant’s rookie season, was given the dubious task of bringing along the young talent during Bryant’s retirement tour throughout the league.

Scott was criticized roundly for the way he handled the young players, particularly rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was taken out of the starting lineup 20 games into the season and not reinserted until after the all-star break.

With Bryant gone and the Lakers with plenty of room under the salary cap to sign a key free agent or two, general manager Mitch Kupchak and his boss, Jim Buss, decided they would be better off with a coach who would appeal more to possible free agents like Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The problem with Kupchak and Buss conducting the coaching search is that they haven’t hired a quality coach ever.

Since Phil Jackson left the first time, after the 2003-04 season, the Kupchak-Buss team has hired Rudy Tomjanovich, Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni and Scott.

The only successful coach in the ensuing years was Jackson, who came in back in 2005 and coached through the 2010-11 season.

Buss’ dad, Jerry, brought Jackson back in 2005.

If the Lakers are going to hire a big-name coach, they are going to have to give that coach more say in personnel decisions, which I don’t think Kupchak and Buss are going to want to allow.

My two personal favorites for the coaching slot would be former Laker Luke Walton and former Crenshaw High star Kevin Ollie, who coaches at the University of Connecticut.

I would be surprised to see either one coaching the Lakers next season.

Jacob Davison of Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School will close out his high school basketball career April 30 in the 18th annual Collision All Star Games at Inglewood High School. The games feature the top girls and boys senior players from the Los Angeles City and Southern Sections. (Photo by Nick Koza)
Jacob Davison of Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School will close out his high school basketball career April 30 in the 18th annual Collision All Star Games at Inglewood High School. The games feature the top girls and boys senior players from the Los Angeles City and Southern Sections. (Photo by Nick Koza)

PREP BASKETBALL FINALE: The 2015-16 prep basketball season closes its curtain April 30 when the 18th annual Collision All Star Games are played at Inglewood High School.

The Collision Games feature the best Southern Section girls and boys playing against the top players from the L.A City Section.

The girls game tips off at 4 p.m. and the boys game follows.

Several players from area schools will be participating.

For the Southern Section boys, Kobe Parras and Daron Henson of Cathedral, Jacob Davison of Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary, and Terrell Gomez of Inglewood will play.

For the L.A. City Section, Damaria Jones and Jamal Hicks of Narbonne, Lafayette Dorsey of Dorsey, Babacar Thiombane of Fairfax, Jalen Chatham and Matthew Mondesir of Washington Prep, L’kielynn Taylor and Evan Council form Westchester and Marqueece McKinzey of Fremont will play.

The L.A. City girls team includes Monica Garcia of Garfield; Christina Rodriguez, Nathaly Roque and Jessica Gomez of Legacy; Heidi Ramos of Animo Ralph Bunche Charter; Terrin Sullivan and Alexia Budd of Middle College, Aubrey Burke of Foshay  and Dominique Dotson of Fairfax.

The Southern Section girls’ roster was not available.

Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for children, will be available at the door.

Edgar Valerio, left, fights Javier Rodriguez earlier this year at the Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The young fighter from South Los Angeles has signed a contract with Golden Boy Promotions to promote his fights. (Courtesy photo)
Edgar Valerio, left, fights Javier Rodriguez earlier this year at the Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The young fighter from South Los Angeles has signed a contract with Golden Boy Promotions to promote his fights.
(Courtesy photo)

YOUNG BOXER TURNS PRO: Edgar Valerio, who learned to box at the Century Sheriff’s Boxing Gym in South Los Angeles, has signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Valerio, 21, started boxing when his father took him to the Youth Activities League Center operated by the Century Sheriff’s Station at the age of 11.

He honed his skills at the center over the next six years, registering an amateur boxing record of 49 wins and 11 losses before he turned pro in 2012.

In his first professional fight at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, Valerio scored a technical knockout over Fernando Fuentes.

He has since gone on to fight six times professionally, winning all his bouts, four by knockouts.

He signed with Golden Boy after appearing on two fight cards at the Belasco Theatre downtown that were promoted by Golden Boy.

There is no word when his debut for Golden Boy will be held.

The Century Sheriff’s Boxing Gym is open from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at 7116 Makee Ave. About 150 kids take part in the Sheriff’s Youth Activities League after-school program, which is designed to steer children away from gangs and teach them a sense of personal pride, community service, leadership skills and promote the importance of education.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department operates 17 Youth Activities League programs throughout the county.