The toughesttickets in L.A. have always been courtside, which may be why a group ofcelebrity pals has come up with a way to guarantee they can get them, even ifthey won't be watching the Lakers or Clippers. The newest American BasketballAssociation franchise, the expansion Hollywood Fame, was purchased by a groupthat includes singer Nick Lachey, Dancing with the Stars second-runner-up andformer WWE star Stacy Keibler (below), NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and Ravensquarterback Kyle Boller. "Being able to say you're an owner of a basketballteam is pretty cool," says Boller, who has been friends with Lachey forseveral years. "Now I just need to sit down with [Ravens owner] SteveBisciotti and pick his brain, find out how you keep everyone happy andwinning." The Fame, which will play at the Los Angeles Memorial SportsArena, debuts in November.
• Vince Papale,the real-life hero of Invincible, has lived a roller-coaster life, as has theman who helped bring his story to the big screen. Co-producer Mark Ciardistarted out as a pitcher in the Brewers' minor league system. He had a briefcall-up in 1987, when he went 1--1 in four games before being sent back down.After an arm injury ended his career, he moved to Europe, where he worked as amodel for Valentino and Aspen cologne, and in 1996 he moved to L.A., where helaunched a career as a producer while working out of a friend's garage. Hisbreakthrough: landing the rights to the story of Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris,a former minor league roommate and the subject of 2002's The Rookie, whichstarred Dennis Quaid. That, says Ciardi, "is the textbook definition ofcoming full circle." Ciardi went on to produce the Olympic hockey flickMiracle and The Game Plan, which stars Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson as a pro QBand is due out next year. He's now working on a film about multisport star JimThorpe.
• Those unhappywith their fantasy football drafts might consider entering the online leaguebeing run by The Onion. The mock newspaper will reward the person who assemblesthe least effective team--"guys who always let you down, like DaunteCulpepper and Domanick Davis," an Onion rep says. Contestants can log on atfantasysports.theonion.com and choose a defense and players at quarterback,running back, receiver and kicker. The biggest loser will win $5,000 and ayear's supply of beef jerky.
• NASCAR driverMichael Waltrip is building Waltrip Racing World, a state-of-the-artheadquarters in Cornelius, N.C. The interactive race shop will include askywalk, restaurant and several movie screens to entertain fans who tire ofwatching pit crew practice.... A Lance Armstrong biopic is in the works. A repfor the seven-time Tour de France winner tells SI it's "in the writingprocess." Casting hasn't begun, but some of the names rumored to be up forthe lead--Matt Damon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Matthew McConaughey--are pals ofArmstrong's.
Next time the masses at Yankee Stadium think aboutbooing Alex Rodriguez for making an error, they should keep in mind that theirown handling of ground balls isn't always graceful. During the Bronx Bombers'win over Detroit last Thursday, several fans fell over the wall behind thirdbase while reaching for a foul ball. The Tigers took a tumble in New York too.They lost two out of three and through Sunday led the Yankees by only two gamesin the race for home-field advantage in the AL playoffs.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
An English toy company has released a line ofsoccer-fan action figures called Little Hooliganz.
They Said It
MIKE MCCARTHY, Packers coach, after two of his playersreceived penalties for taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct:
"You want them to have that fire. But if you'regoing to push the envelope, you can't cross the line."