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tv   Unguarded With Rachel Nichols  CNN  December 6, 2013 10:30pm-11:01pm PST

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tonight, on "unguarded with rachel nichols" -- uncertain. nba superstar kobe bryant on returning to action eight months after rupturing his achilles tedon. >> did you really think i'm done, i'm going to retire now? >> oh yeah. that night. absolutely. >> unhinged. >> hey! champ here from "anchorman 2." i'm all about having fun and we'll have some fun tonight with rachel nichols. rachel! >> and unexpected. six-time champ jimmie johnson may be champion. >> are you a good driver in regular street? >> i think i am but my wife will tell you a different story. welcome to "unguarded." this is champions week for nascar. the week the sports who's who gather in las vegas to celebrate the season. put on a glitzy award show and
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this year pretty much worship at the feet of jimmie johnson who just won his sixth championship but if you hear the word nascar and think of a good ole boy you want to watch this. before he left for vegas, johnson stopped by our cnn studio and he revealed he's anything but a cliche. so, you finally had a little time to let this sink in. >> yes. >> you mentioned after you won that michael jordan won six title and you got a text. >> i sent when aim text. i said, now what? he said go get seven so it's time to go chase down seven. >> you are one title behind dale earnhardt sr. and richard petty. what does he make of you? >> i feel so fortunate to be in our sport at this time and have the opportunity to see the king and even before the race, he's one of the last people i talk to. putting the belts on, helmet on. he says, hey boy, you better enjoy it.
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it'll be over before you begin it. i was so nervous about the race and what could hopefully take place that my mind wasn't around enjoying the experience. >> you're not a typical stock car driver. you are from california. >> right. >> you don't have an accent. you're a little bit of an outsider and i think people who aren't big racing fans identify with new kid at the school. just trying to break into elite racing and how much sort of connections and -- >> with the humble beginnings i had, my parents couldn't afford my four-wheel racing career. i walk around and pass out business cards and try to meet people and people just laugh. >> you're walking around cocktail chevrolet event. >> yes. >> hi, i'm jimmie johnson. >> yep. people have the business cards. at the bottom it said professional race car driver. i get a good laugh out of it. >> what was that experience for you trying to break into this
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culture and the acceptance for you, especially from fans from beginning to now. >> fan perspective, there's -- i'm not popular in the deep south. there's definitely that aspect to it but, you know, you can't make everybody happy and i have a great strong fan base i'm proud of. >> is that weird, a lot of other drivers say this is the best guy ever and, yet, in the heart of your sport you just said i'm not popular in the deep south? >> no, not really, because i'm a sports fan. i go to sporting events. my team comes out, i cheer. the other team comes out, i boo. that's how it worked. life's been easier. >> it bothered you at first? >> i took it personally. like, you don't know me. why are you boo'g me. and then i realized it's just a sport. you know? until somebody knows me and meets me, if they don't like me then, then i should be concerned. >> what's the most fun thing you have done to go celebrate being a champion?
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one year one of your activities is to take a buddy, a private plane and grey goose and hit the nfc and afc championship games. >> we do that. that was a big night. grey goose was the project. we caught both games. we had a little weather delay that kind of messed things up but that was -- that was quite the experience. my daily enjoyment's really having old cars. i have a '67 camaro i love and restored. my '49 pickup truck. >> are you a good driver? >> i think i am. but my wife doesn't think so. it doesn't matter. your spouse is not impressed with your driving. my wife tells me i drive too far to other cars. if somebody's tailgating on the interstate, it could be me. >> a lot of fun there. but of course, there's a very serious side to what he does. take a look at this. after the break, he'll tell me what it was like being in that car. and kobe bryant, he's about to
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return to the court and first, he sat down with "unguarded qults to reveal how dark things got for him this past year. >> the moment you're in just feels like the darkest moment to you. ♪ [ engine revs ] ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] the mercedes-benz winter event is back, with the perfect vehicle that's just right for you, no matter which list you're on. [ santa ] ho, ho, ho, ho! [ male announcer ] get the all-new 2014 cla250 starting at just $29,900.
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wattkins glen. one of your best friends died from a crash in a stock car crash. at this point, you don't have to be one of the people that do a dangerous job. how do you put into perspective driving cars and the dangers you go through every weekend with the family that you have. >> the family aspect changes things and there are -- there are risks. i mean, it -- i guess i've grown comfortable with the risks. my wife has, as well. when we first started dated, i tried to show her the safety things in the sport. >> indy car is sad to announce that dan wheldon has die. >> there's a photo of you watching tv when dan wheldon died. different sport, different issues. still, you are sitting there watching tv, watching someone you know who has very young children. >> dan's crash, that rocked us. you know, i have always had a
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fascination with indy car and i thought that would be my path growing up and wanted to run the 500 and my wife and i were talking about doing the double and that shut down that idea and notion. >> your friend blaze died the same weekend you had your first nascar event. >> yeah. that was a crazy, crazy day because the next day i'm on track and i drive down the front stretch and see his skid marks lap after lap after lap. if you look on the driver's side bumper of the race car, there's a little sticker up there with a flame around it with br and that's for blaze. we had a good time on the racetrack and we'd shoot each other the bird passing one another and when i think back about him i see him shooting me the bird. >> nice. >> it's great. >> do i think he's athlete? absolutely not. >> not an athlete? >> not an athlete. >> time out. you don't think he's an athlete? >> no. he sits in a car and he drives. >> what did you think when you heard that? >> it is going to come up.
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forever going to come up. and i don't -- i'm not upset over it. it doesn't bother me. >> do you say what's a sport and what is not a sport? >> i don't. maybe curling not limb picks but even then i'm pissed off at the world of curling so i don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. i know what my sport is and the demands and how physical it is and what i go through. >> and it's hot in there. >> it is hot, yeah. four layers of clothes. 110, 115 degrees in the car. and then, you know, the demands, physical demands inside the car send your heart rate to 140, 150 depending on who it is. and then you're doing that for three and a half, four hours. >> you lose weight every time you drive, i assume. >> you do. i lose a couple pounds. >> you going to put that on in beer weight celebrating this tight snl. >> there is a chance that will happen. i'm off to a good start. if you look on jimmie's
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twitter feed, he is recreating scenes from if movie "the hangover." so i think he's working on the drinking. there's more going on in the world of sports including the crazy money contract that robinson cano got from the seattle mariners and granderson going to the mets. we'll talk about those deals and much more from my panelist. we welcome dave kekner that plays a sports caster on the tv. the one and only champ kind and next to him, cnn senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin. yesterday in tallahassee, the district attorney announced that quarterback winston is not facing sexual charges. what bothered people was the tone of the press conference and then the d.a. cracking jokes and laughing. >> i'm not sure. >> was there a sexual assault?
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>> well, that's kind of the -- why we're here. >> come on. >> all right. so regardless -- >> in a word? that's disgusting. >> what do you think? >> that's disgusting. >> nothing but laughs in tallahassee. it is bizarre. i have never seen a news conference like that but -- >> you have seen a lot of these. >> i have seen a lot of these and, you know, we are left in a situation where, who knows what happened? >> i have three daughters so it seems like whatever your opinion about whether or not it was a sexual assault, why don't you keep that to yourself. it's laughable to be thought about. that's disgusting. >> and celebrity. not just athletes but celebrities are treated differently in the legal system. sometimes actually more harshly. not here. this looked like, you know, the old boys' network gathering around the quarterback and saying, everything's okay for the heisman. >> you have a message, not only in the press conference but the accuser in the situation complained that the tallahassee
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police department when she initially tried to file the claim told her, hey, come on now. he's the quarterback at florida state. >> isn't that witness intimidation? when they say, come on, the quarterback, leave it alone. >> it's not -- >> where do i file that? >> file that under -- >> police misconduct. >> american life 2013. >> do you think this will affect the heisman trophy chances? there is a line in the heisman trophy literature about integrity and part of the awarding of the trophy. again -- >> they have to go back -- >> they have to take some away? >> retroactive heismans taken away? >> o.j., that's one of the things to the goldman family and they got in their civil judgment award is the value of the heisman. >> how long before you brought o.j. into this? >> hey, no. >> we have you on the show. bring o.j. up. >> the birthplace of my career. what can i say? >> i love it. all right. don't go anywhere, guys. we have a lot more to talk about, including recent bad behavior in the coaching ranks. plus, kobe bryant's opinion on
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his new mega contract. not surprisingly, it's a little different than most other folks. is this a good deal for the lakers? >> i think it's a great deal for the lakers.
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until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. ask your doctor about lyrica today. it's specific treatment for diabetic nerve pain. welcome back to "unguarded" and we'll pick up where we left off with my panel. dave and jeffrey. we have seen some controversial behavior by coaches lately, steelers coach mike tomlin preventing a touchdown and then jason kidd spilled soda on the court to give the team extra time against the lakers. now, i sat down with kidd to get his side of the story. >> whatever it takes in the sense of helping those guys to get a play, you know, i'll do it. as a player, i did it. i ran into a coach. is it cheating? you know, so, it can go either way.
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>> is this cheating? gamesmanship. is it different if you're a coach versus a player? >> i'm kind of on the gamesmanship of it. i have inspected very carefully the various tapes and if you look, his foot goes on the sideline. jones is 40 yards away and not even on the sideline yet. >> okay. >> so i mean, was he thinking -- >> you're saying -- >> what's did big deal? he was fined. we shouldn't turn these sports into litigated events. >> right. >> jones said that was gamesmanship and didn't bother him. by the way, if you change a little bit and make it jacoby jones, it's a great detective series. goes inside. gamesmanship in the nfl. >> new programming alert. >> jacoby intelligence. >> the nfl does not agree and the nba doesn't agree with you. they fined the coaches heavily. part of the thinking is, these are coaches. >> i just think, you know,
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trying to parse these things, you know, the old rule let them play and that includes the coaches. i'm for this. >> all right. >> i wonder if we see more of it now with so much more coverage. when i was a cameraman at the nfl, we had seven cam rays of tn field and now 14 or 15 and one above and everything else. >> right. >> it's really changed, right. >> not looking for guys -- >> all of which suggest the idea you get away with something is ridiculous. that's why i'm slightly more sympathetic to tomlin. >> the big news story, former yankees second baseman cano jumped to the mariners for the third largest contract in baseball history. ten years, $240 million. and it was amazing watching the reaction this afternoon. there are people who are saying, cano's a traitor. shouldn't have left. a backlash against him. >> someone offers you a better job, you have to take it. >> people feel like with sports teams there's loyalty, right? we give our hearts and soul to them. >> i have seen entire teams leave towns.
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>> that's right. >> leave. >> people are upset about this. >> still upset, i'm sure. >> i grew up in maryland. the mayflower trucks leaving, very sad. >> things change. what will you do? >> i'm a mets fan so i know -- >> i'm sorry about that. >> yes. and i know that the curtis granderson deal will disastrous but only four years aenl not a decade. can you imagine that they're paying this guy $20 million a year at 41 years old. >> jay-z who needs more money, we all know that, was the agent on the cano deal and makes out with a percentage of that but he's just starting out as a sports agent. >> representing only athletes? >> he is representing -- what do you think? are you looking for some action? >> why wouldn't i? first deal as a sports agent, the third largest in history? >> that's what you got for "anchorman." >> pales in comparison to my salary. >> this came up with kobe bryant, recently, as well. he'll be the nba's richest player at 37 and 38 years old. >> he last played, i believe, in the bush administration.
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>> come on. >> no. but i mean -- >> only been eight months. >> that's a long time for a guy his age. i mean, i just -- you know, i don't blame the athletes. i mean, someone wants to give you the money, take it. i just -- you know, what do they think they're getting? >> it is a balance, right? lebron james took less money to go to the miami heat and he said it's more important to win a championship because he took less money and sign chris bosh and remember at the time he hadn't won anything yet so in the end probably making more money now with the side endorsement deals signing for less money. so is it smart sometimes? >> it's a different business strategy and works out for both but why wouldn't kobe do that? the boss said, i want to give you a raise. no, don't you dare give me a raise. that's ridiculous. >> that will have to be the last word for now. please come back soon and you do not go anywhere because you know if there's a big story, we get the key players for you and kobe bryant is going to sit down and
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welcome back. kobe bryant is just days away from returning to the court. it's been a long, emotional road for the lakers star who tells me how close he was to retiring after tearing his achilles tendon last april. the night you got hurt, you did the soul searching, the facebook posting, the rant. worst thing ever. wonder if you should pack it in. now you look back through the whole experience, how would you describe it? >> well, i mean, it is one of those moments, you know, i think we all have moments like this in life where it just seems like thedy's never going to end. you know? seems like the moment that you're in just feels like the darkest moment to you. you know? you personally feel like i don't know if i can do this again. i don't know if i can come back. you know? you have to issue that challenge to yourself and try to respond to it. >> this past week you're rrning around all over, introducing a new kobe 9 shoe.
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>> that's right. >> you talked when you first got hurt, hey, maybe, i should just retire. look at michael jordan's postretirement. had the merchandising and shoe line. could you imagine this being your full-time right now? did you ever seriously consider it? >> well yeah. that night. i mean, absolutely. because it's -- you're tired and just finished a 17th year in the nba. 17 years and my body's hurting and just cup which you ared my achilles and i know the amount of work to try to get back to play and it is like, do i really want to do this? you know? so i mean, the finality becomes more realistic. >> and as you said, i mean, look, you are getting on to the 20 years of tread on the tires and then you have this injury. >> yeah. >> trying to come back now. how good do you think you can be? >> i think i'll be okay. my game has to evolve. i won't be as explosive as i was three, four, five years ago, maybe last year. i have to self assess. >> what do you think it's like when you step back out on the court?
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>> you know, i don't know. i've given it some thought and just for the fact of trying to compose myself and say, well, i have a game to play i have to try to detach myself as much as possible from what's going on. >> can you do that? >> i'm going to try. i'm gong to try. i'm going to try but it's hard. it will be hard, for sure. >> i bet. you just signed a contract extension that got a lot of press. >> sure. >> two more years, $48 million. and you will still as a team have cap room but look. you do take up space with this contract and if you took up a little less space then you could sign more players. >> sure. >> you are competitive. you want to win another title. was there any point in your mind where you said, hey, maybe i should take less money to sign more guys? >> yeah. the lakers know that about me and felt like they could, you know, take care of me the way they wanted to take care of me
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for rewarding for past and future performance, whatever it may be and build a championship contender and they felt comfortable being able to do that and i'm not going to argue with that, that's for sure but same time i still think it's weird because players are put in a position where they have to have those conversations. like, well, the owners want to complain about the cap but they're the ones that instituted the cap to begin with and don't complain about something you instituted. >> and sacrificing for the team. >> the players in the position to make a choice based on public perception. and i don't think that's fair. >> all right. you once said if you've seen me in the fight with a bear, pray for the bear s. that still going to be true when you come back? >> yeah. i'm beating the bear pretty good right now. he's going to get me one day but today ain't that day. >> i'm not sure how kobe will look when he comes back but you don't want to be the bear in that situation. that's it for tonight. but you can follow me on twitter. like us on facebook or visit us
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on the web. and of course, you can join us again next weekend where the end of the game is just the start of the story. good night. their stories begin tragically. a surgeon was trapped underwater more than 15 minutes. anita was living her final moments with stage 4 lymphoma and ben's heart stopped beating for minutes at a time. on the brink of death, they say they went to heaven and came back. their stories raise questions about fear and faith, is heaven real? what does it feel like to die? tonight, cnn's randi kaye talks with three people who say they have left this world for another. we leave it to them to tell their stories, their words, their descriptions. their questions to questions we'd all like to ask. >> my name is mary neil and on january 14th, 1999, i died while


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