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Michael Duarte | NBC LA Reporter

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
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June 4, 2024 5:55 am

Michael Duarte | NBC LA Reporter

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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June 4, 2024 5:55 am

NBC LA Reporter Michael Duarte joins the show to talk Dodgers & and Ippei update, what the Lakers will do at Head Coach, and the buzz around the Sparks as the WNBA continues to grow.

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Talk to your child's doctor and learn more at YVaccines.com. Brought to you by Merck. Our friend Michael Duarte of NBC LA, he's right in the center of all of it. And I don't know that we really want to talk Dodgers, but it is kind of funny because the last time we had you on the show, Mike, the Otani story was still front and center, Ibe Mitsuhara and the 17 million dollars and what would happen in court. Man, is it just nationally it's died down or in LA?

Is it kind of quiet around him too? No, it's died down, Amy. And, you know, that's one example. I want to talk more about women's sports, too. And then with Angel Reese's comments, because I've been listening here to the show for the last hour.

But thank you. I mean, like when I go to Dodger Stadium and we'll talk about this, I see Japanese people wearing Shohei Otani jerseys. Their faces are painted.

They're like in full costumes. And I'm telling you, I don't think these people were watching baseball 10 years ago or even five years ago. I think a lot of people in an entire country, especially here in Los Angeles, where the Japanese culture is very well represented in Little Tokyo and downtown, not too far from Dodger Stadium, come out to watch Shohei Otani play, come out to watch Yamamoto pitch. These are people coming out to watch these specific players, not necessarily the sport as a whole. And then to Angel Reese's point, I suppose, if you are lured in by a single player, then you kind of can end up falling in love with the sport and liking it long term.

I know I'm going on a tangent, but for me personally, I'm going to be dating myself here. But when Wayne Gretzky joined the Los Angeles Kings, I didn't grow up in Canada. Hockey was not native to me. I'm a Los Angeles native.

I don't even think I had an ice skating rink within 50 miles of me. But when Gretzky joined the Kings and they made the cup in 93 against the Canadians, all I wanted to do was play hockey and be like Wayne Gretzky. And the only reason I got into that sport was because of that player. And here we're seeing it in the United States with Lionel Messi coming to America. People who've known him internationally for decades are now coming to soccer and watching MLS soccer for the first time because the greatest player in the world, arguably, is now in Miami and playing across the United States.

So those are great examples of what you talked about. As far as Ipe Mizuhara and Shohei Otani and the scandal, no, it's not national news. It's not even really local news.

And even when there's been twice now Ipe Mizuhara has had to show up to court, he's already pled a deal, but he pled no contest in his arraignment hearing. Reporters are coming up to him. LA Times reporters are following him, but it's not something that's still front of mind for people here in Los Angeles. They seem to move past it at this point. I wondered whether or not there would be a bit of a resurgence or regurgitation considering that there is a, I know he's not active right now, but a Padre infielder who is facing potentially a lifetime ban from baseball because he bet on the game while he was injured with a torn ACL.

Correct, yeah. And then obviously you have David Fletcher, former Angels shortstop, who actually was the one who introduced Ipe Mizuhara to the bookie in Orange County, Matthew Boyden. And now that's coming out, but he bet on sports. And so yeah, I don't think this story is going away. Obviously the investigation, the federal investigation that kind of uncovered all this is still ongoing and uncovering more and more as it goes on, including implicating big casinos like the Resorts World Casino where I was at during the Super Bowl where you and I were at probably, I don't know if you went over there, but I was over there for many events.

They're now implicated as being the one who was cleaning and laundering Matthew Boyden's money, who he was filtering in this illegal money through. So this story is going to keep going and getting bigger, but I think Shohei Ohtani's role in it at this point is pretty much over and people have moved on from it. On the Ipe Mizuhara side, what I've been hearing is once this is behind him, he's pled guilty, done his fines or paid whatever, he's probably going to get deported and go back to Japan and live out his days there to what we kind of talked about early on in this scandal where maybe that's where we would see him end up with something for taking the blame for all this. And I think that's what's going to end up happening as far as him going back to Japan and we never really hear from him again. Wait, jail or not jail?

Like as a free man in Japan? Yeah, I don't think he's going to be seeing jail time from this. Like I said in these cases, the money laundering is going to be a big deal, but from what I'm hearing as part of the plea deal and the agreement that he took to plead guilty, he will be deported back to Japan. That's what I'm hearing.

As a free man, my mouth is wide open. So you can bilk nearly $17 million from a colleague and somehow you can avoid all jail time? Well, he still could serve some jail time.

We'll see what it says. But as part of what I'm hearing from part of the plea deal that he says is that he's going to implicate some higher ups in this, maybe some other people, obviously help out with the investigation into Matthew Boyden himself, which started all this. And like I said, in these cases, the big thing here is the gambling ring. Well, yes, but the stealing of the $17 million from Otani is what could put him in jail.

But placing the bets legally, most of the time, it's not the clients that place the bets, it's the bookies and the people that are laundering the money that take the falls for these things. Michael Duarte is with us from NBC LA where the Dodgers were off tonight. So we really just wanted to talk to him because we missed you, Mike. But I'm also wondering, why don't the Lakers have a coach?

That's a great question. Now, maybe, Amy, they don't have a coach right now because the coach they want is about to be broadcasting the NBA finals for ABC and ESPN. And if you listen to sources and people inside the Lakers organization, this is a man they think could be the second coming of Pat Riley and also potentially the one that makes LeBron James sign on the dotted line and return to the Lakers for the remainder of his career before he decides to hang it up. And I'm talking, of course, about ESPN analyst J.J. Reddick and the host of the podcast. And he has his own, I think, the old man of the podcast and the three podcasts.

And then he's got this other podcast with LeBron James, where he's chopping it up with X's and O's. And obviously, this is what LeBron likes about him. The Lakers like him as well, thinking they can kind of get a guy that could be there for the future. Now, they still have their eyes on some other coaches. James Boriega is one guy.

Kenny Atkinson is another guy. Obviously, those names are also being floated out and being interviewed for other openings right now. But I think the Lakers really want to wait for this NBA Finals to end so they can bring J.J. Reddick in and see if this is indeed their guy. And what I've been hearing and told is that's where they're leaning as of right now as far as him and trying to build a staff of experienced veteran assistant coaches around him to try to make LeBron James happy to work with him.

And we'll see. I don't necessarily think it will work out, but the coach that I would have brought in if I was the Lakers would have been a experienced head coach in the NBA with championship pedigree who's won a championship before to kind of help the Lakers get over the hump. But it just doesn't seem like that coach is out there right now.

And so if it's not, then maybe you try to find whoever could be the next guy that could be like that. You know, the next Steve Kerr, you could argue, is what the Lakers see J.J. Reddick as. And I think that hopefully answers your question of why they don't have a head coach in place at this moment. I mean, they had Frank Vogel, an experienced veteran coach, who was supposed to help them get over the hump.

And then they had Darvin Ham. And whether or not J.J. Reddick is the second coming of Steve Kerr or some amazing coach, I guess remains to be seen. But it certainly seems fairly clear that what they most want to do is appease LeBron.

Absolutely. The Lakers are in the LeBron James business, and that's not just, you know, having him on the court. It's the selling the jerseys. It's selling his name.

It's billboards in his honor. It's partnering essentially with clutch sports to bring in other free agent players like Anthony Davis, who's a clutch sports client with LeBron James's agent, Rich Paul. Those people and having Maverick Carter, LeBron James business partner on the entertainment side and then all the TV shows and things that he does sitting court side for games.

And potentially this is even going to drafting Bronny James if they have a chance to take him at fifty five or move up to get him. They're willing to do that to keep, you know, LeBron and James happy and be in the LeBron James business, whatever it takes to do that. And Jeannie Butts absolutely loves LeBron.

She wants to take care of her superstars. So she's also willing to do whatever it takes to bring LeBron back and make him happy and make sure when he does decide to hang up his basketball shoes, he's doing it in the purple and gold. And I think if the Celtics, which most people assume is the favorite to win their 18th NBA championship and then go win the championship and then go one up on the Lakers, they're going to want to do everything they can to make sure that LeBron the Lakers catch Boston in that championship chase here and do that here in the next couple of years. Now, to your point, which you just mentioned, I think the choices we talked about as far as a championship pedigree coach, Tyler would have been the perfect guy. Jason Kidd would have been the perfect guy, maybe two. Unfortunately, word leaked out from the media that the Lakers were interested in these people and those coaches who were on teams at the time of this news and in the playoffs at the time, those teams want to lock them up long term, which I think was the right moves for the Clippers and Mavericks respectively. So it kind of put the Lakers in a tough spot.

I floated out something that you just mentioned, which is I don't think it will happen. But what if you brought back Frank Vogel for two more years? He's a guy that knows LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Well, they both seemingly liked him. The fact that he's a video and a tape guy. His strategies defensively are very good. He likes defensive minded players. He has the personnel now that he didn't have a few years ago when the Lakers decided to fill the roster with old aging veterans like Carmelo and other guys. And so if you want to maybe bring in a J.J. Redick and I know Ray John Rondo's name has been floated, he was a point guard under Frank Vogel, put these guys under him for a year or two to learn. And if LeBron and A.D. are OK with that, I think that might work out. I know the reason why the Lakers ended up parting ways with Frank Vogel three years ago was because of Russell Westbrook coming in and those two butting heads and Russell Westbrook not wanting to go to the bench and not wanting to get bench late in games.

He's now long gone. And so maybe that could be something or maybe Frank Vogel was just so hurt at how that relationship ended in sever that he would not want to come back. But that was one I thought about as far as a guy that knows the system, knows the players, knows the organization is now available. He's a championship coach with the Lakers. And maybe that could get J.J. Redick and Rondo and some of these guys some experience as assistants under him. And then maybe J.J. Redick becomes the guy of the future after that.

We'll see. So Michael, I'm gonna make a statement and you tell me if it's true or false, please, in your opinion. The Lakers care more about keeping LeBron happy and keeping him on the roster than they do about winning in 24-25. I would say true, but if both things could be true, I think they think that the only way they win in 24-25 is if LeBron James is on the roster.

And so making him happy and keeping him in purple and gold is how they do both. Including potentially drafting his son who they likely wouldn't touch. Most franchises wouldn't touch, especially not with the first round pick, if not for his dad.

Yeah, that's true. And I think they would absolutely do that. And I think the Lakers know beyond just what having Bronny on the team and making LeBron happy and then also selling jerseys and merchandise that could do with having both LeBron and Bronny on the same team. Now, there's rumors out there that the Phoenix Suns think that if they draft Bronny James, then perhaps they could get LeBron to come play with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker and Bradley Beal and create this super team and get over the hump. Now, I think the Suns only have a first round pick.

It might be at 19 or 20, somewhere in that range. Would they be willing to take Bronny that early in the first round when he's a projected second rounder, late second rounder at best, just to think maybe LeBron would come to Phoenix? It's definitely an interesting idea that's being floated out there, and we'll see if it comes to fruition. But right now, it doesn't seem like many teams are up to doing that outside of the Lakers and the Suns right now as far as drafting Bronny in the first round, late first round or early second round.

Gotcha. Michael Duarte of NBC LA is with us here after hours with Amy Lawrence. How much interest have you seen in the LA Sparks? How much have you seen it spike since the Kaitlyn Clark WNBA entry?

Yeah, so you were talking about this, Amy, leading us into this segment. Just teams, television shows, outlets that have never covered the WNBA for. I'm here openly to admit, as a tenured reporter and veteran at NBC here in Los Angeles, I had never covered a regular season WNBA game.

I've covered the times the Sparks have been in the finals, but I've never covered a regular season game until they were like, you're assigned to that Sparks fever game. Kaitlyn Clark's debut here in Los Angeles, and it was a sold out, raucous environment, celebrities sitting courtside. I saw fans dressed up as sailors, all men rooting for Kaitlyn Clark. Obviously, Kaitlyn Clark hit two big threes late in the game after she couldn't hit a shot to save her life for most of that game. But all the attention was around her. Obviously, it was around her and Cameron Brink, two rookies going head to head who are part of this next generation of WNBA players.

I've been following this story as well. I think whatever she's doing is great for the game, is good for the game. I also understand, like you said, she's a rookie coming in, that she shouldn't be babied. And if there's going to be hard fouls and veterans who want to prove her and welcome her to the league, just like you talked about, when it's a rookie quarterback, you have these veteran defensive men who want to put the quarterback on their behind and welcome them to the league in different ways, she's going to get a lot of that. If she is the next coming for the WNBA, the superstar, the Steph Curry of the WNBA, people said she's going to be able to have to endure this and rise above it and win despite of it.

And if she can do that, then it's just going to bring more and more eyes and attention on the WNBA, which I think is good for sports overall. What was the reaction inside the arena when she hit those threes? Oh, they went crazy. And that was the opposing opponent.

Right. And the fever were winless going into that game. And they come here and they beat the sparse game, their first win. There was a lot of people cheering and excited about that. And that's the kind of attention Kaitlin Clark's going to get whatever arena she goes into across this country. And she did it obviously with some deep three pointers, close to the logo, which is kind of her trademark, obviously. But what I was watching in that game was and this is to the comment that Kaitlin Carter made, obviously, who pushed Kaitlin Clark in the game that you were speaking of when she was playing with the Chicago Sky, saying something like, oh, she does this hit threes.

I know I'm misquoting her, but you would get earlier correctly, something along those lines. But to disprove that, when Kaitlin Clark shot wasn't falling for the first three and a half quarters of that game against the Sparks, she was affecting the game in other ways. And specifically with her passing, which was very, very high level basketball IQ, passing some of the passes she was able to make and thread the needle, the assist that she was able to rack up in that game when her shot wasn't falling, I thought showed that Kaitlin Clark is not just a three point shooter to what Carter said. She can do more with the basketball. She can help her teammates. Obviously, she kept them in the game, helped them take the lead the second half because they were down, I think, six or eight at the half and then obviously hit the two big shots that sealed that victory. And then obviously she did it again with some of the free throws she made against the sky in a game, the fever one by one. So she's not just a three point shooter. She can use elements of the game. And that's what the greats do when a part of their game isn't going right.

They find it in different ways. I'm reminded of Kobe Bryant in Game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in 2011. And he couldn't hit a shot to save his life in that game. So we decided to go out there and get like 15, 16 rebounds and obviously made the assist to run our test to hit that big three that end up sealing that.

So when things aren't going your way and your shots not falling, you find other ways to impact the game and help out your teammates and you can still seal victory. And that's a sign of a great player, not just like a role player or a one hit wonder. Yeah, she's not top five in the WNBA in scoring right now, though she is averaging 15 and a half points per game. But she's top four in the league in assists. She's got nearly six and a half assists per game. She's also averaging five rebounds. So yeah, anybody who thinks she's just a three point shooter isn't actually paying attention. And she is getting her welcome to the WNBA couple of weeks here. But it's funny when people talked about how if she fails, that phrase is ridiculous. Again, she's a very talented basketball player. There's no way she fails unless she gets hurt.

But it just takes some time to get acclimated, similar to any athlete who's going from college to the pros. But I do think it's fascinating that right now everybody has an opinion about Kaitlyn Clark. No matter who you are in this country, you've got an opinion about Kaitlyn Clark.

Absolutely. And I think she passed what Sabrina Inescu's record for the first one to like 150 points as a rookie. She's still doing it at some of the greats in the game right now at the same, if not a faster pace than they're going for. And like you said, there is an acclimation period when you ascend in the leagues. The game is going to be faster at the WNBA level, the professional level compared to the collegiate level. And the talent is going to be a lot better. It's like the best one or two percent in college are now going to be playing day in and day out the pros. And you're going against people like Brittany Greiner, Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Inescu. And the names go on and on and on. The other stars in the league, the people that laid the groundwork in the past for the Kaitlyn Clark's and the Angel Reese's to come in. There's going to be a bit of a learning curve. Kaitlyn has seen it now, but once she kind of gets it figured out and that may take a year or two.

Oh man, it's going to be amazing to watch her once she's thriving. And, you know, Steph Curry, when he came into the league, he wasn't the Steph Curry we saw now. I think he went what, like 9th or 10th to pick so many people picked over him. But he changed and revolutionized the game. The game of basketball, the way we know it and watch it now at the NBA level would not be what it was if it wasn't for Steph Curry. When Steph Curry was drafted, it was a big man's game. And now it's a card game and a three-point shooting game and a very high, fast-paced game. And I think people like women like Sabrina Inescu and women like Kaitlyn Clark are going to be kind of that next era of WNBA. And we're going to see where the game goes and transcends because of those players.

And great minds think alike. You can ask producer Jay to confirm but I have used the Steph Curry example about, you know, coming out of college, skinny kid who could shoot the three. He would go everywhere. He had handles but he had to get tougher. He had to get stronger because he wasn't going to be able to withstand the rigors of an 82 game NBA regular season against guys who were bigger, faster, stronger and were trying to wear him out.

But he did. He acclimated and as you point out he's revolutionized basketball at the pro level. It's always good to talk to you. Our friend Michael J Duarte, that's how you can find him on Twitter. He is award-winning for NBC LA and we're always excited to spend a few minutes with you. Mostly because of all the guests that we have. Well it's not mostly. I mean mostly because he's our friend. But also because of all the guests we have. He's the only one who listens for an hour before he hops on the show which I think is incredible in the way that you do your homework, Mike. So thank you. I think everyone should be listening and that's not just when it comes to sports talk radio but just in general.

I think it would make for a much better society if we all just took the time to listen to people, listen to others and listen in general. I think we'll learn a lot more. So thank you for saying that and I like talking different things with you and to talk women's basketball I think was great to talk with you and so I look forward to talking with you again. Have a good show. This episode is brought to you by Progressive Insurance.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-04 07:16:49 / 2024-06-04 07:27:19 / 11

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