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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

Musial (c), Russell (r) among 15 honorees
presented Presidential Medal of Freedom
Baseball HOFer STAN MUSIAL and Pro Basketball HOFer BILL RUSSELL were among 15 people honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by PRESIDENT OBAMA at the White House yesterday. During the introductions of the recipients, Obama said his grandfather was also named Stan so "I used to call him 'The Man' too," referring to Musial's nickname. Obama: "Stan Musial made that brilliance burn for two decades. Stan matched his hustle with humility." Obama said Musial was the "first player to make -- get this -- $100,000." Obama: "Even more shocking, he asked for a pay cut when he didn't perform up to his own expectations. You can imagine that happening today." Obama said of Russell, "More than any athlete of his era, Bill Russell came to define the word 'winner.' And yet whenever someone looks up to all 6' 9'' of Bill Russell ... and asks, 'Are you a basketball player?' -- surprisingly he gets this question more than you think -- he says, 'No. That's what I do, that's not what I am.' ... Bill Russell the man is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men" (CNN, 2/15). Obama: "Stan remains, to this day, an icon, untarnished; a beloved pillar of the community; a gentleman you'd want your kids to emulate." Musial, who offered "two harmonica concerts" at the White House yesterday, said, "This is the greatest day I had in my life" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/16). Cardinals manager TONY LA RUSSA during Spring Training workouts yesterday sported a special pin on his hat reading, "Medal of Freedom Award" (, 2/15). Falcons Owner ARTHUR BLANK was in attendance for the ceremony, supporting U.S. Rep. JOHN LEWIS (D-Ga.), who also received the Medal of Freedom (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/16).

FITTING THE BILL: Obama said that he "hopes Boston will build a statue" of Russell, "gently nudging the city to honor one of its greatest sports heroes and acknowledge its history of racial strife." In Boston, Michael Levenson notes "for years" Boston Mayor THOMAS MENINO, Celtics owners, Russell's former teammates and fans "have supported the idea of a statue, but it has never made it past the discussion stages." Menino said that Obama's endorsement "would kick-start efforts to raise the several hundred thousand dollars in private donations needed to build a statue and find an appropriate location, perhaps on Causeway Street in front of the TD Garden" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/16).

L.A. Memorial Coliseum GM PATRICK LYNCH resigned yesterday, "just hours before the stadium's governing body was set to meet in closed session to consider his fate." Lynch had been "managing the stadium and adjacent Sports Arena since 1994" (, 2/15)'s Greg Johns reported former MLBer KEN GRIFFEY JR. will rejoin the Mariners this season as a special consultant. Griffey will be involved in MLB operations and player development, as well as the team's minor league system, marketing, broadcasting and community relations (, 2/15). Griffey will "attend part of spring training in March, after he finishes some overseas commitments." He also will "make several trips to Seattle and visit Mariners affiliates during the season" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/16)....The Indians have hired ESPN MLB analyst EDUARDO PEREZ and former MLBer JASON BERE as Special Assistants to Baseball Operations. Indians GM CHRIS ANTONETTI said that Perez "will remain in his role with ESPN" (, 2/15)....Speedo has hired Sodastream Managing Dir MARK WYATT as U.K. Commercial Dir, replacing TIM IVES, who became European Business Development Dir (Speedo)....SportsQuest President & General Counsel and Richmond Revolution GM PHIL EVANS has resigned his positions "less than two weeks before the start" of the Indoor Football League season (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 2/16).

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The Magic yesterday announced that Senior VP PAT WILLIAMS has been diagnosed with a medical condition known as multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of the blood (Magic). In Orlando, Mike Bianchi notes Williams was "diagnosed five weeks ago after an extensive physical the Magic require of all their executives." The disease is "inoperable and incurable but sometimes can be treated with chemo to the point of inactivity." Bianchi writes without Williams, "there would be no Orlando Magic." He was "one of two people who had the ridiculous idea that they could bring professional basketball to a transient city in the middle of a football-fanatical state." Bianchi: "Williams has always been a believer; he's always been a persuader. But even he knows this will be his biggest sell job" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/16).

MANNY BEING MANNY: Boxer MANNY PACQUIAO, a member of Congress in the Philippines, toured Capitol Hill yesterday. As a guest of U.S. Sen. HARRY REID (D-Nev.), Pacquiao "toured the Senate floor in the morning and later went to the White House for a private meeting" with PRESIDENT OBAMA. He later used a "short news conference to promote" his May 7 bout against SHANE MOSLEY (WASHINGTON POST, 2/16). Pacquiao Monday in N.Y. boarded a train to DC "flanked by two documentary film crews, promoters, publicists, advisers, his chief of staff and his wife, JINKEE" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).

LAYING THE GROUND RULES: In a memo from USC VP/Athletic Compliance DAVID ROBERTS' office, the university yesterday "laid out new regulations for its students and faculty members to follow when dealing with sports agents in the future." The letter indicates that USC "will now require advance notification from all students, staff and third parties about any involvement with a sports agent prior to any interaction with student-athletes on USC's campus." The new policy "requires all students and staff to inform the university upon hiring or enrolling of any involvement with a sports agency or within 24 hours of founding or becoming involved with one" (, 2/15).

ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE: In Indianapolis, Tom Spalding noted RICHARD MARSH Saturday as part of the USHL Indiana Ice's "Hockey for Heart" promotion hit a hockey puck "nearly the length of the rink, through the small hole in the target and into the net." Marsh "had told club officials he would give the $50,000 prize to charity if he was successful," but the USHL said that a private insurance company "voided the award because Marsh stood in front of the designated starting line." Ice Owners PAUL and CINDY SKJODT said that they "plan to make a donation of an undisclosed amount" to St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana's cardiovascular unit and the American Heart Association "in recognition of the accomplishment" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/15).

NAMES: Country singer MARTINA MCBRIDE will sing the National Anthem before Sunday's Daytona 500. Also, actors JOSH DUHAMEL and ROSIE HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY and director MICHAEL BAY will serve as the Grand Marshals for the race (THE DAILY)….Scottsdale Mayor JIM LANE and Mesa Mayor SCOTT SMITH yesterday announced Legacy Trail exhibits of Cactus League memorabilia will be on display Saturday through Feb. 25 at four galleries and two Scottsdale restaurants -- the Pink Pony and Don and Charlie’s (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/16)….Former NFLer STEVE WRIGHT will be "one of 18 competitors" on this season of CBS' "SURVIVOR," which debuts tonight (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/16)….Hurricanes Owner PETER KARMANOS and his wife, DANIALLE, welcomed the birth of their son, SPIROS MAXIMUS KARMANOS, on Saturday (, 2/14).