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Volume 26 No. 28

People and Pop Culture

The book, released earlier this week, takes a close look at James’ various business dealings
Photo: Grand Central Publishing

DIME's Bill DiFilippo noted ESPN's BRIAN WINDHORST's new book about LEBRON JAMES takes a "deeper dive into his off-court activities and how lessons learned over the course of his life" have gotten him to the "point where he is, perhaps, the savviest businessman of any professional athlete in the world today." "LEBRON INC.: THE MAKING OF A BILLION-DOLLAR ATHLETE," which was released on Tuesday, touches on a "number of moves James has made off the court, from his initial negotiations with sneaker companies at the start of his NBA career, to a series of shrewd business moves involving, among other organizations, Liverpool Football Club and Beats headphones." Windhorst gives as "comprehensive of a look as you will find into James’ various business dealings" (UPROXX.com, 4/8). Windhorst said, "One of the things that came up when I talked to MAVERICK CARTER about this project, He was like, 'Why are you writing this now? We’re only at the beginning. Our story is barely starting yet'" (CLEVELAND.com, 4/9).

HERE SHE COMES: In L.A., Kevin Baxter noted in former USWNT player ABBY WAMBACH's new book, “WOLFPACK: HOW TO COME TOGETHER, UNLEASH OUR POWER, AND CHANGE THE GAME,” the wolves in the story "are women." The book’s release this week "comes at a time when the U.S. women’s national team is suing its federation for what it believes to be inequality in pay, bonuses and working conditions -- the kinds of issues Wambach rails against." She said, “It’s totally serendipitous that this happened at the same time” (LATIMES.com, 4/6). In S.F., Ann Killion noted Wambach's book is an "expansion" of the '18 commencement address she gave to Barnard College that "went viral, with its inspirational message for women to come together, find their power and form a pack" (SFCHRONICLE.com, 4/10).

ALTERNATIVE READING: In Houston, David Barron noted NBC SPORTS' ANDREA JOYCE used the phrase "Men, She's Coming In" as the "title for her speech this week" at the Univ. of Texas' annual Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism. She said, "It was about my unlikely journey through 30 years of sports broadcasting and a chance to reflect on what I've done and to look back at instances in my career" (HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 4/5)....In Houston, Jerome Solomon noted former NFLer MARTELLUS BENNETT was in Houston this week introducing his just-published book "DEAR BLACK BOY," which is an "illustrated adaptation of a moving letter he wrote in the wake of the PHILANDO CASTILE and ALTON STERLING shootings" in '16 (HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 4/6).

Mets LF YOENIS CESPEDES sold his home in Boca Raton, Fla., for $1.8M. Cespedes paid $1.85M for the house five years ago, and "first listed the half-acre estate" for $2.2M in October. The 7,306-square-foot home located on the golf course of Bocaire Country Club holds a "column-lined dining room and two-story living room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wet bar" (LATIMES.com, 4/9)....SCOTTIE PIPPEN listed his home just outside Chicago for $1.899M. The 10,000-square-foot home in Highland Park, Ill., has six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms and includes amenities like a "brick wine cellar, a game room, a movie theater and a sauna." A custom indoor basketball court is "emblazoned with Pippen’s jersey." There is a "grand foyer, two-story living room, spacious formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, office and wet bar" (LATIMES.com, 4/4).

CONDO LIVING: Blackhawks RW PATRICK KANE on Wednesday purchased a condo in downtown Chicago for $6.4625M. The four-bedroom, 4,776-square-foot unit on the 25th floor of the luxury tower on Walton St. has 4.5 baths, a "fireplace, hardwood floors and a dining room." The unit had been listed for $5.8M, suggesting that its "higher sale price to Kane was the result of upgrades" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 4/4)....Heat F RYAN ANDERSON listed his condo in downtown Houston for $2.95M. The 4,540-square-foot high-rise has three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms and can also "be leased for $16,000 a month." The unit's living room "combines curved walls with floor-to-ceiling windows." Dark hardwood floors, "textured accent tiles and spherical chandeliers create visual contrast against the white-walled living space" (LATIMES.com, 4/7).

Steele credits both Strange (r) and Andy North for making her feel welcome at Augusta
Photo: Espn images

Augusta National is a special place, and that is not lost on someone who has covered the World Series, Super Bowls and NBA Finals. ESPN’s SAGE STEELE has been at The Masters all week hosting “SPORTSCENTER” from the course. It is her third year doing this, but the goosebumps have never quite gone away. Steele: “I don’t think I’ll ever get fully-used to coming here. It’s still kind of indescribable for me. There’s nothing else I’ve done in my 23-plus years that compares to this.” Steele caught up with THE DAILY earlier this week to talk about Masters mystique and who she likes on the weekend, while also touching on what it means personally for her to handle the Augusta assignment for Bristol. “We get to cover a lot of things, but I will never lose sight of the fact that The Masters is just another level. As an African-American woman, this matters. It’s not just for me. I take pride in being here and I feel like I’m representing others as well.” 

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GAME: I’ve always been a fan, never really a player. I watched The Masters for years with my dad when I was a kid, and it’s a different type of athlete you’re covering here versus an NBA Finals or Super Bowl. I haven’t had a chance to become a decent golfer. I have three teenagers, so my life is not my own. But someday when they’re out of the house I will hopefully be able to tackle the playing part.

TEAM PLAYER: I’m so thankful for the relationships that I’ve been able to form here -- ANDY NORTH and CURTIS STRANGE have truly become friends over the years. Andy and I will text each other throughout the year about other sports as well. He’s a huge basketball fan. He’s a Wisconsin guy and I’m an Indiana girl. They both understand what it’s like to walk into a place like this when you’re new and unsure of expectations. I still feel a ton of pressure, and a lot of people wouldn’t take you under their wing like those two have.

LAY OF THE LAND: “SportsCenter” from Augusta wraps up on Friday, but usually I stay and walk the course over the weekend. Last year I had a friend in TIGER WOODS’ group and walked with her all day Saturday. I think it’s really important to get out and see all the holes in person. It gives you a full appreciation and also just makes me better at my job.

BIRTHDAY GIRL: This year my youngest is turning 13 on Saturday. So moving the tournament back the extra week this year killed me! I’m leaving the house we’ve rented here at 3:30am Saturday morning to get a car to Atlanta. Then I’ll catch an 8:00am flight back to Hartford to be there for my daughter’s birthday. It’s probably the only reason why I would leave The Masters! I will be present for her celebration, but make no mistake I’ll have my tablet on. I can always say ‘Guys, mom’s home and she’s on the couch. I’ve gotta watch this.’

WHO YA GOT? I’d love to see RORY MCILROY get it, or JORDAN SPIETH again. But I like BROOKS KOEPKA, that’s who I’m picking. He’s a damn good player who shows up in the majors. He just plays so well under pressure. I’m not picking PATRICK REED due to the difficulty in repeating here. Only three have done it.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: I’m hooked for life. Hopefully they keep sending me here for work, but if not it’s okay. I’ll always feel a little extra special just because I got to cover it. Not many people get to say that.

Know of someone you'd like to see featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot an email to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

Homestead-Miami Speedway named NORA ABREGO Dir of Marketing. The track also promoted NEAL GULKIS to Senior Dir of Marketing & Communications (Homestead-Miami Speedway)....Tech services provider ANC named the following: PAUL AMENTA VP/Sales; ANDREW D'ANGELO Estimator; and MIKE HEMMER Senior Software Developer (ANC)....Capture Sports Marketing named EMILY HILTZIK Dir of Events (THE DAILY). 

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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KRISTEN LAVIOLETTE, the wife of Predators coach PETER LAVIOLETTE, is a "cheerleader and community builder among the ladies of blue and gold." She "organizes dinners" and leads the spouses and partners of Predators players in "service projects throughout the city." She "makes sure no one is home feeling lost or alone" (TENNESSEAN.com, 4/11).

GETTING A MAKEOVER: The National Fantasy Football Convention, "famously founded" by CBS' TONY ROMO and "initially shut down the first two years by the NFL, is changing its name and has a new game." It is now SportsCon, "billing itself as the Comic-Con for sports, and will focus [on] more than football" when it convenes July 12-14 at Fair Park in Dallas. Meanwhile, SportsCon has added Chargers RB MELVIN GORDON to its "list of owners" that include Romo and Cowboys RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/11).

Paul's company will work on a range of projects involving sports and entertainment
Photo: getty images

NAMES: Big Fish Entertainment and Rockets G CHRIS PAUL are partnering to "develop and produce TV and digital content." Paul's Oh Dipp!!! Productions has "signed an overall deal with Big Fish," and will work with the MGM company on a "range of projects involving both sports and entertainment, including scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and shortform content" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 4/11)....Animated series "KULIPARI," created by former NFLer TREVOR PRYCE, will be "prominently featured" on his new digital network, which Pryce is "gearing up to launch in partnership" with Cinedigm (VARIETY.com, 4/11)....Eagles DE CHRIS LONG "hasn’t kept it a secret that he's a huge 'GAME OF THRONES' fan." With the show's 8th and final season premiering Sunday on HBO, Long will be doing recaps that "go live every Monday morning on SI.com after each of the season's six episodes" (PHILLY.com, 4/12)....Over 250 students from Magna Elementary and West Valley Elementary came to Vivint Smart Home Arena on Thursday "not to watch the Jazz play basketball, but to receive free dental care" (DESERETNEWS.com, 4/11)....Former Vikings co-Owner IRWIN JACOBS was "found dead next to his wife this week in what police believe to be a murder-suicide." Jacobs and his wife, ALEXANDRIA, were found "unconscious in their bed with a handgun by their side" (TORONTOSUN.com, 4/11).