CHOYA FELLOWS Sportswriter At-large
The pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will finally get underway with opening ceremonies July 23, running through Aug. 8, 2021, with the US team and nations around the world ready to roar. From the looks of rousing female performances during the qualifying trials, this year's Olympic Games may belong to the ladies, who could upstage the men in multiple sports competitions. Let’s start with the obvious — track and field, swimming, basketball, soccer, softball, and of course gymnastics lead by superstar and the GOAT, Simone Biles. The women stand to also perform outstandingly in rowing, wrestling, water polo, volleyball, and lesser-known sports like equestrian, fencing, synchronized swimming, and mixed routines—solo, duets, mixed duets and even triples. Ahhhh, it's going to be exciting for Americans and the rest of the world!
Tune in to professional baseball in LA with the Angels and budding superstar Shohei Ohtani, 27, a Japanese lad taking Major League Baseball by storm in his fourth major league season. Ohtani will be the American League’s starting pitcher in Tuesday’s night’s All-Star Game and will bat leadoff, too, as the designated hitter in another landmark for the Japanese sensation. Nicknamed, “Showtime,” Ohtani is sizzling-hot with 33 homers before the all-star break, and 4-1 as a pitcher with 87 strikeouts. He will be in the thick of the long-ball hitting derby set for high-altitude Colorado where balls carry farther in the thin-air. The major leagues has never seen the likes of an Ohtani—a two-way pitcher and slugger. With the addition of some other outstanding power hitters, the contest should be quite spectacular.
Turning to hoops, the NBA finals is in high gear without the usual suspects. The Phoenix Suns lead by former LA Clippers star Chris Paul is up 2-1 on the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns defeated both LeBron and the Lakers, and the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George-lead Clippers, earning the right to meet the Bucks after they defeated what had been the odds -on favorite Brooklyn Nets, lead by three proverbial Hall of Famers—local LA talent James Harden from Artesia High, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. Good to see an LA Clippers favorite Chris Paul get his first opportunity to play for the NBA Championship. My prediction: The Suns will cart home the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy to the Valley of the Sun!
Forbes magazine lists LeBron James’ on the court earnings of $96.5 million, including his off the court earnings of over $700 million, as moving him ever closer to the billionaire club. He is also near the top of the 2021 list of highest paid athletes at No 5. Sketchy sources estomate his career earnings north of $1 billion. James has shown himself to be a stellar business investor, accruing multiple streams of income. He has the NBA's top endorsement portfolio, as well as his own production company (Spring Hill Entertainment) and media company (Uninterrupted). James teamed up with Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger. and Lindsey Vonn in 2018 to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company. The LeBron James Family Foundation opened its first elementary school in 2018 and plans to spend $41 million to send kids to college, and James and his partners own 19 Blaze Pizza franchises in Chicago and South Florida. He is also an investor and paid endorser for the company.
Professional football in LA. Hello! Action on the gridiron is going to be great this season coming out of the pandemic with our LA Rams and Chargers opening the new stadium with fans in the stands. The Rams traded for an old buddy of our great Dodgers pitcher and humanitarian Clayton Kershaw in Matthew Stafford, a mobile QB with great arm strength who can make plays with his arm and his legs. I’m also excited for the Chargers whose promising quarterback Justin Herbert, won “Rookie of the Year” honors last season. He had some kind of a year! What’s going to happen in year two? I think every week is going to get better and better with a great core of receivers led by Keenan Allen and his merry bunch of pass catchers. Wow! LA fans, we will have a home game for all 17 weeks of the regular season as Rams and Chargers share the grand $5.5 billion SoFi Stadium, the house that Stanley Kroenke built, is the toast of the National Football League.
On a final note—hey, Magic, does Stan’s super yacht really have Ram horns on the bow? LOL! Love you LA!