Rambis still knows Showtime

Minnesota Timberwolves players know all about their coach’s eight NBA championship rings earned and career-defining relationships nurtured with coaching legends Pat Riley and Phil Jackson during nearly three decades in Los Angeles.

But they might not know this:

Kurt Rambis, in his own small way, will help decide who carries home this year’s Oscar statuettes.

Rambis now coaches way off in Minnesota, but he remains a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild from his Hollywood acting days, which include performances in such unforgettable TV series as “7th Heaven” and “Malcolm and Eddie” and the major motion picture “Eddie” starring Whoopi Goldberg.

As such, he received recently from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a collection of films to screen and vote on for Oscar consideration.

“What? Does he really?” Timberwolves forward Kevin Love asked. “I didn’t know that. I thought they were kidding about that.”

That’s how Minnesota ended up watching the critically acclaimed independent film “The Hurt Locker” on an off day in Salt Lake City last week. In a bit of coaching reverse psychology, Rambis told his players to report for a two-hour film session at the Jazz’s training facility, where they would meticulously break down all their sins from the previous night’s lethargic loss at Sacramento.

They were greeted instead with pizza, popcorn, Junior Mints and a screening of a film — one of several Rambis received from the Academy — about a U.S. Army bomb-disposal unit in Iraq, directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Rambis said he chose that film specifically because it illustrates teamwork and he hoped his players would realize they have got life pretty good, despite their woeful record.

The next night, his team beat the Jazz in an arena where the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando and San Antonio all lost in the past week.

• ENVELOPE, PLEASE — Among TheOnion.com’s top sports stories of the past 4.5 billion years:

— “Roman populace constantly argues whether chariot racing is actually a sport.”

— “Marco Polo brings back blindfolded pool game from China.”

— “Pilgrims depart for America to escape horrible oppression of soccer.”

• BURY BONDS DEPARTMENT — “It hasn’t been announced formally,” wrote Dan Daly of the Washington Times, “but Barry Bonds‘ career is over, says his agent, Jeff Borris.

“In other baseball news, Babe Ruth is still dead.”

• TIGER TALES — Seattle blogger Pedro Bartes, on the difference between Tiger Woods and Santa Claus: “If you are naughty, Tiger gets you tons of presents.”

— NBC’s Conan O’Brien, on a 48-year-old joining the list of Woods’ reported paramours: “Or as Tiger refers to her, ‘My senior tour.’ “

— ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, on Elin Nordegren‘s grounds for divorce: “Irreconcilable waitresses.”

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