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Michael Smith To Co-Host Numbers Never Lie

We now know who new hire Charissa Thompson will work alongside on ESPN2′s Numbers Never Lie.

ESPN veteran Michael Smith was tapped for the position when the weekday show makes its debut Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Smith and Thompson will get a chance to work together when they appear as substitute co-hosts on SportsNation this Thursday and Friday.

According to ESPN, “Numbers Never Lie will feature lively roundtable debate pitting the wisdom of former professional athletes against the pragmatism of statisticians. “Old school” fans will enjoy the unique expertise that comes from those who have played the game, while fantasy fanatics will appreciate the quantitative look at the biggest stories in the sports world.”

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Video: Shaq Calls out Skip Bayless on Conan

One of the great things about new NBA commentator Shaquille O’Neal joining the ranks of TNT instead of ESPN is that O’Neal won’t be censored by the Bristol brass when he wants to call out ESPN personalities like Skip Bayless, and ESPN personalities like Dan LeBatard won’t pull their punches when criticizing one of the greatest centers in league history.

Last night Shaq appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show and discussed how would be upset with media critics whose resume didn’t measure up to his. He refused to mention names until he finally dropped “Skip Bayless.”

Bayless, who used to write for a living but is now a morning yodeler on ESPN’s First Take, responded on Twitter, “I’m told Shaq takes another shot at me, tonite on Conan. Has open invite to debate me on 1st&10. Ducking. Maybe he’s more Shakira O’Neal.”

Nice move by Skip, trying to cut Shaq down by giving him a girl’s name. That angle is gold in third grade.

Dick Enberg to be Honored at International Tennis Hall of Fame Ceremony

Legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who has covered all four Grand Slam tennis events over his 50-year career, will be honored with the Eugene L. Scott Award at the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball on Sept. 9 in New York City. The award recognizes tennis contributors who embody Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who have had a significant impact on the tennis world.

Scott founded Tennis Week magazine and wrote the well-respected “Vantage Point” column until his death in 2005. Previous recipients of the award have been John McEnroe (2006); Andre Agassi (2007); Billie Jean King (2008); Arthur Ashe and his wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe (2009); and Martina Navratilova (2010).

Enberg, 76, is well-known for his “Oh, my!” catchphrase. He is a 13-time Emmy winner and nine-time Sportscaster of the Year. He announced earlier this year that he is retiring from Grand Slam tournaments, though he will continue to call baseball games for the San Diego Padres.

ESPN Suspends Bruce Feldman for Contributing to Mike Leach Book

ESPN the Magazine college football writer Bruce Feldman has been suspended indefinitely by the World Wide Leader for contributing to Swing Your Sword, the new book by former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who allegedly lost his job after incidents involving the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James. Sports by Brooks has the behind-the-scenes machinations:

ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, and Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman participated in the conference call and were behind the decision to punish Feldman. Doria, Hoenig and Stiegman informed Feldman today that he has been banned from writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role.

Multiple management and editorial sources at ESPN have told me in recent months that Feldman would only participate in the Leach book project upon direct approval from ESPN management – which Feldman indeed received. Since the book was released on Monday, Feldman has deliberately avoided any personal promotion or mention of the Leach book. (You will find no mention of the book on Feldman’s Twitter account and ESPN blog.) Despite those facts, Feldman was told by ESPN executives Doria, Hoenig and Stiegman today that he was being suspended indefinitely for his participation in the Leach book.

So ESPN has reportedly suspended Feldman for participating in the Leach book, even after it gave him permission to do so. Apparently Feldman didn’t receive the subliminal message about contributing to the book (but only in a way that reflects positively on ESPN).

The suspension of Feldman has been widely criticized by fellow journalists, and spawned the creation of the Twitter hash tag #freebruce. Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing summed up the feelings of many average viewers:

ESPN has tossed to the curb the writer that is being universally supported by every single college football and sports media writer that has a Twitter account. ESPN shouldn’t suspend Feldman, they should be thanking him and giving him his own half hour show on ESPN2 for bringing to light the sick things Craig James and his pathetic horde of vermin did in twisting the Mike Leach story. Instead, ESPN has done and said nothing about James’ hypocrisy, the conflict of interest of the network in errantly reporting the story, or anything relating to the sordid details surrounding Craig James and how ESPN initially handled the Leach story. All they’ve done is inspire thousands of fans to boycott ESPN in some way. Well played.

Shaq: Media Treatment of LeBron Was Fair

Shaquille O’Neal, who retired after this past season and recently agreed to join TNT’s coverage of NBA basketball, chatted with Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated on the Media Circus Podcast and said media coverage of LeBron James this past season was fair. James, who announced his intentions to take his talents to South Beach during a one-hour ESPN special called The Decision last July, was widely criticized for the narcissistic exercise, which brought additional pressure on the Heat to win. Miami lost in the NBA Finals to Dallas, with James largely a non-factor in many of the Series’ deciding moments.

“I would not characterize it as unfair because like I said, it happened to everyone,” O’Neal said. “It happened to (Michael) Jordan when he went to Atlantic City to get away from the game. It happened to (Charles) Barkley. It happened to (Dennis) Rodman. It happened to Magic (Johnson). It happens to everybody. If it just started this year I would call it unfair, but I’ve been in the game for 20 years and I’ve seen similar stories.”

Deitsch said O’Neal’s decision to choose TNT over ESPN was not surprising.

For starters, Turner’s NBA studios are based in Atlanta (which is closer to O’Neal’s Orlando home) and the once-a-week-schedule is commentator friendly. As is the case with most of ESPN’s talents, O’Neal would have been expected to appear across its platforms, from SportsCenter to ESPN Radio to NBA studio shows.

Report: Charissa Thompson Heading To ESPN

Reporter Charissa Thompson is headed to ESPN as the host of Numbers Never Lie, according to

Thompson, 29, has worked for a variety of networks in her young career, including FSN Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Net, and the Big Ten Network.

The half-hour show will debut Sept. 12 on ESPN and feature a former player and an expert. The trio will merge news stories with fantasy sports.


HBO PPV Lands Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz

HBO PPV will broadcast the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz fight on Sept. 17, according to

“We have finalized our deal with HBO. We obviously had very intense negotiations,” Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told “What we wanted to do is ensure that all the different Time Warner (HBO’s parent company) assets will be in play one way or the other, including the Turner Broadcasting assets and the Time Inc. assets, which is their magazines.”

A new twist for this fight is the popular reality series 24/7 will be replayed on one of the Turner networks – - either TNT, TBS or truTV. Read more

Former LA Times Reporter Received Extra Benefits During USC Football Career

Former Los Angeles Times sportswriter and USC running back Lonnie White admits to accepting $14,000 in different forms of “benefits” during his Trojan playing career.

White came clean in article for The Daily:

My money source was season tickets. Every scholarship player was given four home game tickets and the option to purchase an additional four.

These tickets often sold for more than face value and that’s how I ended up alone in the parking lot waiting for a brown bag drop off.

By then, I was a senior who had learned this side of college football from my brother and his classmates.

It must be noted that all this went on without the coaches’ knowledge. That seems hard to believe. It is true, though. At major programs, the pressure to win and the time commitment the coaches put forth toward the program itself leaves major opportunities for players to interact with people who have a different agenda. Read more

Barber Says Depression Drove Him Back to NFL

Tiki Barber‘s post-playing days included a high-profile divorce and some low-return forays into television broadcasting, and both failings contributed to a depression that has prompted the former New York Giant to attempt to resurrect his four-year dormant playing career, the 36-year-old told HBO.

“The game never needs you because there’s always someone else to come and take your place,” he said. “But right now, I need the game.”

Barber has reportedly been working out in earnest in a bid to return to the NFL. But the future of him and all prospective players is on hold while the NFL works towards a resolution of the current lockout.

Barber, who left his pregnant wife and took up with a much younger women, took shelter in his agent’s attic during the immediate aftermath of that decision. Last month he made waves by comparing that situation to the situation Anne Frank faced during the Holocaust, when she and her family unsuccessfully hid in an attic in Amsterdam to avoid capture by the Nazis.

(H/T to GameOn)

Video: The Worst First Pitch In Baseball History

Stick to basketball, John Wall.