What we know about today’s NBA heading into the next decade, and what LeBron James might bring to it:
== He was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade late last week. This was not his decision, but The Decision came into play. Almost all those years in the 2010s were not in L.A., but L.A. has a strong pull on him with his outside interests.
== He has reached 9,000 career assists, the ninth in NBA history to achieve that milestone, accomplished in Sunday night’s win over Dallas. He should pass Isiah Thomas for No. 8 on the all-time list by the All-Star break. By which point, he could also be passing Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the all-time scoring list, and could be passing Allen Iverson for No. 13 in the all-time steals list.
== He’s still dealing with a right groin issue and is day-to-day. As we all are.
== He’s old. He turned 35 on Dec. 30. That means nearly half his life has been in the NBA. Wikipedia confirms this. He has confirmed there’s no party:
== His son continues to grab headlines. Bronny’s Sierra Canyon High team faces Rancho Christian in the title game of the Damien Classic – Monday, 8:30 p.m., FoxSportsWest Prep Zone streaming (following the third-place game between Etiwanda and St. John Bosco). Christian Miles and Kris Johnson will call both games with Rahshaun Haylock on the sidelines. More info: www.foxsports.com/west/prep-zone-stream
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (26-7, falling to No. 4 from No. 2 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings after righting a four-game losing streak with two wins in the last three days)
= Vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, New Year’s Day Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= Vs. Detroit, Staples Center, Sunday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (23-11, still No. 3 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings despite trailing the Lakers by 3 1/2 games in the Pacific Division)
= At Sacramento, New Year’s Eve Tuesday, 2 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Detroit, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. New York, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
The matchup of Pac-12 champion and sixth-ranked Oregon (11-2) and Big Ten runner-up and eighth-ranked Wisconsin (10-3) the 106th edition of the Pasadena’s finest Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, sure, it ain’t what it used to be.
But it’s what we can cling to like an antique vase during an earthquake, and make sure our insurance premiums are paid up, as the actual college football bowl season has to wait more than two week before getting to the Jan. 13 national championship game in New Orleans between Clemson and LSU.
Until then, we dance with these dates during other various exhibitions:
= First Responder Bowl in Dallas: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan, 9:30 a.m., ESPN (Dave Neal, DJ Shockley)
= Music City Bowl in Nashville: Mississippi State vs. Louisville, 1 p.m., ESPN (Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers)
= Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara: Cal vs. Illinois, 1 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Davis and Brock Huard)
= Orange Bowl in Miami: No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia, 5 p.m., ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
= Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.: Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, 9 a.m., ESPN (Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht)
= Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex.: Arizona State vs. Florida State, 11 a.m., Channel 2 (Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson)
= Liberty Bowl in Memphis: No. 23 Navy vs. Kansas State, 12:45 p.m., ESPN (Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer)
= Arizona Bowl in Tucson, Ariz.: Wyoming vs. Georgia State, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN (Rich Waltz, Aaron Murray)
= Alamo Bowl in San Antonio: No. 11 Utah vs. Texas, 4:30 p.m. ESPN (Dave Flemming, Louis Riddick)
New Year’s Day Wednesday:
= Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.: No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 13 Alabama, 10 a.m., Channel 7 (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy)
= Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.: No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn, 10 a.m., ESPN (Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore)
= Rose Bowl in Pasadena: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin, 2 p.m., ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor, Tom Rinaldi)
= Sugar Bowl in New Orleans: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor, 5:45 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
= Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.: Boston College vs. No. 21 Cincinnati, noon, ESPN (Kevin Brown, Andre Ware)
= Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.: Indiana vs. Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck)
= Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho: Ohio vs. Nevada, 12:30 p.m., ESPN (Anish Shroff, John Congemi)
= Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Tex.: Southern Miss vs. Tulane, 8:30 a.m., ESPN (Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich)
Amidst the carnage of coaches getting fired, trying to explain to anyone how and why the Patriots would lose to the Dolphins, and the Dolphins would actually be seeking a win, in Week 17, and wondering if Matt Barkley couldn’t have done more for the Bills this season, we present what’s known about the post-season wild-card schedule for those still engaged in the process that no longer involves a Ram, Charger or Raider, all of whom can start the process of packing boxes and getting them ready to ship to new homes:
= Buffalo at Houston, 1:35 p.m., ESPN and Channel 7 (Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland)
= Tennessee at New England, 5:15 p.m., Channel 2 (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo)
= Minnesota at New Orleans, 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)
= Seattle at Philadelphia, 1:40 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)
AFC: Baltimore and Kansas City
NFC: San Francisco and Green Bay
What we know about the college basketball season of conference games flexing in:
== Pepperdine’s first West Coast Conference game is Saturday at … let’s see here … ah, No. 1 Gonzaga (13-1), which had 63 of the 65 first place votes in the latest AP poll and may never leave that spot until mid-March. Or early April.
== Before we reach the first USC-UCLA game (Jan. 11, Pauley Pavilion), the Trojans and Bruins launch into the Pac 12 schedule with trips to Washington.
At least they’ll avoid having to play menacing Cal State Fullerton.
== Pac-12 teams left in the AP Top 25: No. 4 Oregon (11-2, moving up two spots) and No. 25 Arizona (10-3, moving down a spot). Colorado was the last team out in the “others receiving votes” grouping, with Washington not far behind, having fallen out from the No. 21 spot last week. USC still hasn’t received a vote, but Stanford has one.
== How soon will the Trojans’ basketball team see Drake London, the 6-foot-5 freshman who spent the last few months catching 39 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns with USC’s football team? Two nights after USC lost in the Holiday Bowl, London showed up but didn’t play for the basketball team Sunday night during their win over Florida Gulf Coast. But his time is coming. London averaged 29.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season at Moorpark High.
How the week plays out for USC (11-2, winners of five in a row)
= At Washington State, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= At Washington, Sunday at 7 p.m. FS1
How the week plays out for UCLA (7-6, losers of three in a row)
= At Washington, Thursday at 7 p.m., FS1
= At Washington State, Saturday at 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (4-11)
= Vs. Cal State L.A., at Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (3-11)
= Vs. Morgan State, at the Matadome, Tuesday at noon
= Vs. Saint Katherine, at the Matadome, Saturday at 3 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (7-7) with the West Coast Conference schedule launching:
= Vs. Pacific, at Firestone Fieldhouse, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= At Gonzaga, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN2/ESPNU
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (6-8) with the West Coast Conference schedule launching:
= Vs. University of San Diego, Gersten Pavilion, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= At BYU, Saturday at 7 p.m., BYUTV
Games of national interest this week include:
Xavier at Villanova, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Detroit Mercy at Gonzaga, 6 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Florida State, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Boston College at Duke, 3 p.m., ACC Network
Butler at St. John’s, 4:30 p.m., FS1
Fresno State at San Diego State, noon
Cal at Stanford, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Gonzaga at Portland, 7 p.m.
Oregon at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN (with Bill Walton)
Oregon State at Utah, 5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4 p.m., FS1
Georgetown at Seton Hall, 6 p.m., FS1
Duke at Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN
West Virginia at Kansas, TBD, ESPN+
Creighton at Butler, 9 a.m., FS1
Florida State at Louisville, 11 a.m.
Missouri at Kentucky, 11 a.m., SEC Network
Iowa at Penn State, 11 a.m., Big Ten Network
Oregon at Utah, 2 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Texas at Baylor, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Arizona State at Arizona, 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network (with Bill Walton)
San Diego State at Utah State, 7 p.m., CBSSN
Michigan at Michigan State, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2
St. John’s at Xavier, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11
Oregon State at Colorado, 3 p.m., ESPNU
How the NHL is still a thing in Southern California even if you want to do something special on New Year’s Eve, and then watch some guys play outside on New Year’s Day:
How this week shapes up for the Kings (16-21-4, last in the Western Conference)
= Vs. Philadelphia, at Staples Center, New Year’s Eve Tuesday, 6 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Nashville, Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
How the week shapes up for the Ducks (16–18-5, tied for next-to-last in the Western Conference)
= At Arizona, Thursday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Nashville, Honda Center in Anaheim, Sunday at 7 p.m., NBCSN
= The 12th installment of the NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic: Nashville vs. Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, Wednesday, 10 a.m., Channel 4, with Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher. The weather forcast for Dallas on Wednesday is cloudy with a high of 50, with no inkling of snow.
Why can’t the Rose Bowl have an NHL game on New Year’s Day again?
== The PGA Tour’s first major event of 2020: The 34-man Tournament of Champions from the Kapalua Resort Plantation Course in Maui: Thursday-Sunday, 3-to-7 p.m., Golf Channel