SBD/March 9, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Names In The News

Wolff (l) receives UJA-Federation award from Bodenheimer
ESPN Int'l Exec VP & Managing Dir RUSSELL WOLFF was honored yesterday as UJA-Federation’s sports for youth honoree of the year at a luncheon in N.Y. As Chair of UJA-Federation's Sports for Youth Division, Wolff leads a group of sports-industry execs in the allocation of more than $300,000 annually to agencies in N.Y. ESPN's JEREMY SCHAAP emceed yesterday's event, which was attended by ESPN/ABC Sports President GEORGE BODENHEIMER, NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO ADAM SILVER and former WNBA President DONNA ORENDER. The event raised more than $400,000 and had more than 320 people attend (THE DAILY).

CAUGHT STEALING: In Miami, Adam Beasley reports Hendricks Sports Management agent RODNEY FERNANDEZ "pilfered more than $300,000 from a bank account belonging to his client," Angels 1B KENDRY MORALES, "over a two-year period." Fernandez was "jailed on grand theft charges" on Monday, and was "released Tuesday evening on $10,000 bond." Hernandez also was fired by HSM, which hired him in November '08. HSM officials "provided a sworn affidavit to police that Fernandez acted on his own when he fraudulently removed a total of $305,574.29 from Morales' personal bank account with several illicit transfers" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/9).

KING'S RANSOM: In Atlanta, Rhonda Cook reports Atlanta's Opera nightclub is suing Heat F LEBRON JAMES and fellow Atlanta nightclub the Gold Room "over an appearance James is scheduled to make later this month" at the latter club. Opera "accuses James of reneging on a promise to appear for one hour on March 17, for which he was to be paid $25,000, or $417 a minute." YASHA HEIDARI, an attorney for Opera, said, "We want to make sure LeBron doesn't show up any place else." A hearing on the "request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction is set for Thursday in Fulton Superior Court" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/9).

SPECIAL VISITOR: MUHAMMAD ALI yesterday visited the White Sox' clubhouse to raise awareness for his Athletes for Hope charity, whose "focus is on time, not money." Ali "didn't speak," but Athletes for Hope CEO IVAN BLUMBERG "moderated a thought-provoking discussion with players about giving time." White Sox manager OZZIE GUILLEN said, "Of all the meetings we've had in spring training, that was the best one in 30 years" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/9). White Sox Senior VP & GM KEN WILLIAMS presented Ali with a jersey "that read 'Champ' with No. 40 on the back ... on the 40th anniversary of his 'Fight of the Century' championship bout against JOE FRAZIER" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/9).

LOT TO OVERCOME
: In Dallas, Mark Davis notes ESPN college football analyst CRAIG JAMES might "enter Texas' U.S. Senate race," but he "may be one of the most disliked people in the state." The "narrative that has been spun and adopted across Texas is that James used his clout as a noteworthy public figure to push for" former Texas Tech football coach MIKE LEACH's dismissal after Leach "put James' son, wide receiver ADAM JAMES, in a darkened shed following a concussion diagnosis." James "will have to face this issue repeatedly until this problem goes away, if it ever does." Davis: "Only then will skeptics be willing to hear the messages he may want to bring to the campaign trail" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/9).

MY HOMETOWN: Red Sox President & CEO LARRY LUCCHINO is featured as part of BOSTON magazine's "Why I Love My Town" feature. Lucchino writes, "I've come to love Boston and New England, and I proudly consider both my adopted home." Lucchino lives in Brookline, Mass., where he gets "all the charm of Boston and its environs." Brookline is "bucolic and rural, yet just minutes away from the best features of a world-class city." Lucchino: "I walk with my dogs on quiet streets. ... I can be at Fenway Park in 15 minutes." Lucchino added the "essential beauty of Brookline is in its trees -- all varieties, sizes, colors, and ages" (BOSTON, 3/ '11 issue).

NAMES: Texans CB KAREEM JACKSON's agent, TONY FLEMING, said that Jackson "knows he used bad judgment when he tweeted cockfighting pictures from his vacation in the Dominican Republic." Jackson was "on a tour when the guide stopped at a cock fight," and he posted photos on Twitter, which "created a controversy on Tuesday." Fleming: "He realizes it was bad judgment to put (photos) on Twitter and that it was insensitive on his part" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/9)....Nike Chair PHIL KNIGHT last night attended a company-sponsored exhibition tennis match between ROGER FEDERER and RAFAEL NADAL, which attracted a sellout crowd to Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/9)….Nets investor JAY-Z has “partnered with luxury charity auction site charitybuzz.com to give two deep-pocketed fans a chance to join him courtside at an upcoming Knicks game” at MSG (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/9)….Celtics G RAY ALLEN “surprised kids at the Tobin K-8 School” in Roxbury, Mass., yesterday with a “brand new computer lab.” It is the “first official Ray of Hope Foundation computer lab and features flat-screen monitors” and Internet access (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/9).
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