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John King of CNN

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CNN's chief national correspondent, and Boston sports fan, talks about who would be on his sports panel, who he would love to interview and the questions he would ask.

Q. Can sports play a role in national and international relations?
King:
Sure. I spend some time at NBA charity events with people like Dikembe Mutombo, who goes home and helps build hospitals and schools. The celebrity, whether it’s in Hollywood or in sports, gets you some access and entrée and recognition. That can then lead to discussions about other issues, whether it’s the AIDS crisis in Africa or education issues around the world or hunger in inner-city America or some city in Africa. Sports is the glue that draws people together. When you have a community that’s organized for some reason, that’s a great opportunity to have other conversations about local or world affairs.

Q. Would you trade your job for any job in sports?
King:
Yes, to be the catcher of the Boston Red Sox. You bet your ass.

Q. There could be an opening this year.
King:
(laughing) You know, I see Larry Lucchino every now and then and I always tell him, “I’m ready.” When I was a kid growing up, at first I wanted to be Carlton Fisk. But then I wanted to be Bob Montgomery. He got paid a decent paycheck and he only had to hurt his knees 20 or 30 times a season. Otherwise he got to catch out in the bullpen and watch baseball every day and get paid for it. That’s my dream job.

Q. Where’s the imagination today in politics and sports and in the media?
King:
I don’t think there’s any lack of imagination. Once something gets set, whether it’s a team or a league or a structure, once you have a set of rules and an organization — in sports it’s the leagues; in politics it’s the parties; in the media it’s the networks or the newspapers — like in everything in life, you get habits. But then new people come along with imagination.

Q. For example?
King:
Dr. J started dunking the ball and made it acceptable, and the game changed. You have some people in politics who are challenging the orthodoxies of their parties because they know that some issues are big and that they need to think outside the box. And everybody in our business, whether it’s print or TV, is struggling at the moment to try to figure out how to deliver our product in this world of new technology. The thirst for information is greater than ever, and yet you have broadcast and cable networks and print organizations all struggling.

Q. Why is that?
King:
Because the technology has been growing by leaps and bounds and we’ve been stubborn in defending our old ways of doing things because they’re comfortable to us. Some people tend to resist change and, therefore, new ideas at first. But if they’re good ideas, they will ultimately win out. You see it when sports are transformed. The power of imagination will overcome any obstacle in time.

Sports Lite

Ugly throwbacks, Padres chances in 2011 and a bad Werth contract
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Just so you know, superagent Scott Boras says Jayson Werth’s seven-year, $126-million deal wasn’t about the money. It was an opportunity to lose 100 games a year with the Nationals.…


Nice effort by the Cavs for LeBron’s homecoming. Did Bingo Smith get a game ball?…

How ’bout them Spurs? They’re on such a roll, Tim Duncan recently was credited with his first career smile.…


This just in. ESPN’s Hank Goldberg says to take the NFL owners and give the points to the Players Association. …The union, in case you haven’t heard, has told players to save three weeks worth of table-dance money in anticipation of a lockout in 2011. …


Wow, the Rams have a chance to be really good. Last time I typed those words, Kurt Warner was just coming off back-to-back employee of the month awards at Safeway.…


Just as I suspected. One day after saying he enjoyed the “good chemistry’’ on his team in Istanbul, Allen Iverson demanded to be traded to Baghdad.…


George Steinbrenner was denied entrance to the Hall of Fame, but his son, Hal, vowed that his dad would get in the old-fashioned way in 2011 — by buying votes.

Jim Armstrong

Ira Berkow

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After a distinguished career in journalism that included 26 years at the New York Times, reporter and sports columnist Ira Berkow retired in 2007. The native of Chicago, now 71, received the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. With a little more time on his hands now, he discussed sportswriting, players he roots for, access to athletes and more.

A Naked Bootleg and Six-Fig Newton

A quick look at the lighter side of sports is always a good thing.
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Who knew? Shaq is playing his butt off for the Celtics. Next up on his agenda: playing one of his chins off. …

Cheer up, Bills fans. Sure, your boys fell to 2-9 Sunday, but at least Buffalo remains an attractive destination for CFL free agents. …

Now this is getting downright ridiculous. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan after Sunday’s brawl in Houston to congratulate them for no helmet-to-helmet hits. …

Trouble? Josh McDaniels isn’t in any trouble. All he needs is five straight wins to finish the season. And if that doesn’t work, might I suggest new bowling shirts for members of the Broncos’ press corps. …The Broncos admitted to videotaping part of a 49ers walkthrough before playing them in London. And then, just to make sure no one was wise to them, they got clobbered in the game. …

Coincidence? The same week the NFL is expected to disclose its findings in the Jenn Sterger fiasco, Brett Favre takes off on a naked bootleg to seal the Vikings’ win at Washington. …

Congrats to the BCS for getting it right. You heard me. Unless somebody comes up with 180,000 reasons in a brown paper bag why Auburn shouldn’t play for the national championship, the Tigers should be good to go against Oregon. …No really, I was just going to come up with this one, but some drunken blogger beat me to it: Cam “Six Fig’’ Newton. …

Erik Spoelstra is about to get toe tagged, but that’s only the half of it. Things are so bad for LeBron James and the Heat, people in Cleveland are telling Miami jokes. …That reminds me. The Heat play Thursday night in Cleveland. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has moved his seat closer to the visiting bench in hopes of giving LeBron a wedgie.


Jim Armstrong

Sports Lite

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Believe it or not, those reports are true. LeBron James is a finalist for Time magazine’s Person of the Year for his tireless and selfless dedication to himself. …
LeBron’s teammate, Chris Bosh, had 35 points the other night. Afterward, Bosh said he was happy to be able to contribute, and even happier that he no longer had to carry LeBron’s bags through the airport. …



I know, I know, sportswriters aren’t supposed to wager on games, but I can’t help myself. I’m betting Cam Newton’s entire 2010 salary on Alabama this weekend. …


Congrats to Jimmie Johnson on his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship. In case you missed it, his brother Darrel and his other brother Darrel finished second and third. …
Just kidding. I love NASCAR. The next time Dale, Jr. wins, I’m throwing a party at the old folks’ home. …


Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman criticized coach Bo Pelini the other day for berating the officials during the Huskers’ loss at Texas A&M. Perlman did, however, praise Pelini for dressing up by wearing a clean sweatshirt. …


Derek Jeter is 36 and wants a five-year deal to play shortstop for the Yankees. Hal Steinbrenner has countered with three years and a two-year supply of Viagra. …


Good news, Celtics fans. Kevin Garnett has been backpedaling so much in the aftermath of allegations that he called Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient, Doc Rivers says it’s helping K.G.’s defense. …


Garnett, stealing a page out of the Roger Clemens handbook, says he never used the word cancer. He claims he called Villanueva a Sagittarius. …


Jim Armstrong

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