Relationship clashes among athletes and owners often have an effect on performance

Feb 17 2012 - 7:39pm

LOS ANGELES -- What flies between an athlete or owner and his/her significant other/others, theoretically, is none of anybody's business.

Derek Jeter breakups are best limited to double-play situations near second base. "Dennis Rodman on the rebound" is an announcer's call, not life after Carmen Electra.

After all, when it comes to sports, what's love got to do with it?

Well, only everything if your ace pitcher can't throw a strike because he lost three houses in a divorce settlement.

Remember in "Bull Durham" the mystical spell Annie Savoy cast over speed-baller "Nuke" LaLoosh?

Love, and all its notorious nuances, clearly has affected Los Angeles' sports landscape.

Think McCourt, Bryant and Woods.

The Lakers and Detroit Pistons might have the same number of NBA titles if not for the expensive 1979 divorce that moved owner Jack Kent Cooke to sell the franchise to Dr. Jerry Buss.

The settlement didn't work out for Cooke, who lost more than $40 million in a case presided over by Judge Wapner, but it was a 10-banner deal for us.

Conversely, would the NFL's Rams still be in L.A. had Carroll Rosenbloom not left his first wife, Velma, for a Florida nightclub singer named Georgia?

Rosenbloom was the Baltimore Colts' owner in 1957 when he latched eyes on the future "Madame Ram" at a West Palm Beach cocktail party hosted by Joseph Kennedy.

In 1972, Rosenbloom took control of the L.A. Rams in a bizarre ownership swap with Robert Irsay. Rosenbloom was in the process of moving the franchise to Anaheim when he drowned, while swimming, in April 1979.

Steve Rosenbloom, Carroll's son from his previous marriage, seemed poised to take over. Shockingly, though, Rosenbloom left 70 percent of controlling interest to Georgia, who fired stepson Steve, gave her players Cabbage Patch dolls one Christmas, signed off on the Eric Dickerson trade and eventually moved the team to her hometown, St. Louis.

"She took one of the great organizations in sports, turned it into a national joke, then packed up her circus tent and hit the road," Los Angeles Times columnist Mike Downey wrote at the time.

What's love got to do with . . . the Dodgers?

"This is a personal matter and they request that their privacy be respected," read the 2009 statement announcing Frank and Jamie McCourt's separation.

Nice try, but you actually butted into our business when your love snit, franchise plundering and hiring of Russian psychic/healer Vladimir Shpunt put a cherished franchise in peril.

With the stakes what they are these days, it has been argued that relationship updates should be published like NFL injury reports:

Alex Rodriguez and Miss October/November/December: day to day. David Beckham and Victoria: probable. Kim Kardashian and next boyfriend: questionable. Tony Parker and Eva Longoria: out.

However, exhaustive Internet archive analysis of People, TMZ, Gawker, Access Hollywood and the Smoking Gun reveals no definitive pattern in determining how relationships might affect Las Vegas betting lines.

The breakup of Kobe Bryant's 10-year marriage, for example, has yet to have any discernible negative effect on the Lakers star's game.

Bryant just made the game winner at Toronto and leads the NBA in scoring at 29.3 points per game, his highest average since finishing at 31.6 in 2006-07.

Research clearly suggests getting involved with a Kardashian is a decision best made only after consultation with your agent, tax attorney and See's Candies.

Take Reggie Bush. He has had six 100-yard rushing games in a six-year NFL career -- but none while he was dating Kim.

Bush rushed for 100 yards once as a rookie, in 2006, met Kim in 2007, and went 100-yard dry through their 2010 breakup. Last year, though, as a Miami Dolphin, Bush broke free with five 100-yard-plus games and ran for a career-best 1,086 yards in the season.

And the NCAA couldn't even vacate it.

Kardashian's recent marriage to New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries ended in October after only 72 days.

Was it for better, though, or worse?

Humphries is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, more than double his NBA career averages.

Lamar Odom's marriage to Khloe Kardashian seemed to have a positive influence on the former Lakers star, yet Odom's numbers have fallen off (honeymoon spot) Niagara Falls since his reality series was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks.

Olympic ski-racing champion Lindsey Vonn has not lost any of her edges this season after her four-year marriage ended.

Thomas Vonn, a former ski racer, was instrumental in Lindsey's becoming one of Alpine racing's all-time greats. But Lindsey continues to dominate the World Cup, winning three straight races shortly after her split.

"I proved to myself, and I proved to everyone else, that I can do it alone," she recently told Sports Illustrated.

Vonn has added eight post-split victories to her career total, which now stands at a remarkable 50, an America record.

And you just know some Cliff Clavin in a Boston bar is pontificating this minute about Tom Brady, who won Super Bowl championships with actress Bridget Moynahan, yet has collected only AFC championship rings with model-wife Gisele Bundchen (if only Tom's receivers could catch the ball!).

Golf legend Tiger Woods' breakup with Elin Nordegren, of course, is the cautionary tale on how love-life turmoil can affect competitive greatness.

Woods' well-manicured career imploded in 2009 after an SUV accident revealed enough sordid secrets to give Harvey Levin a spinoff series.

Winner of 14 major championships and 71 PGA Tour events, Woods hasn't won a sanctioned PGA event since.

He crumbled in Sunday's final round against the cherubic and seemingly love-struck Phil Mickelson.

Golf is hard enough to play as an abstinent monk, let alone for a philanderer who built a corporate empire on a cultivated, wholesome public image that turned out to be a duck-hook out of bounds.

All those eyes peering at Woods for all these months must feel like daggers.

Golfer John Daly's country-song life has often played out on the back nine. When he arrived for Round 2 of Memphis' 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship with abrasions on his cheek, he claimed his wife attacked him with a steak knife. A shook-up Daly, tied for eighth, fell to T-58 after shooting four-over 74.

Later, Daly titled a chapter of his book, "All My Exes Wear Rolexes."

On a more romantic note, Nolan Ryan has been married to sweetheart Ruth way longer than the 27 years he pitched in the big leagues.

New York Giants linebacker Greg Jones, following his Super Bowl win over Bundchen's husband's Patriots, proposed marriage to fiancee Mandy Piechowski on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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