If the Lakers don't like the tiebreaking rules that made them so angry last week, it appears that the only way to avoid them is not to tie with anybody.
Unless the Lakers come up with a really good argument, the league is not going to change its interpretation of the tiebreaking procedures, which carry with them a home-court advantage in the playoffs.
"They'd have to present one hell of an argument, better than I've ever heard before," said Scotty Stirling, the National Basketball Assn.'s vice president for operations.
The issue didn't even come up until late last week, when the league office told the Lakers that the tiebreaker concerning the better conference record applies only in the conference playoffs and not in a championship series.
The next tiebreaker, record within the division, carries a parenthetical explanation that it applies only if the tied teams are in the same division. The conference tiebreaker has no explanation of its limited use, which is why the Lakers are upset.
So finishing with a better conference record than either Philadelphia or Milwaukee, which the Lakers will probably do, won't mean a home-court advantage if they play either the 76ers or the Bucks in the final series.
Instead, if the Lakers finish with the same record as Philadelphia or Milwaukee, the home-court advantage will be determined by the point differential in their two-game season series, neither of which favors the Lakers.
Stirling defended the interpretation of the conference record tie-breaker, saying that the absence of a clarifying note to limit it solely to conference playoffs was "a clerical error, an oversight.
"(The Lakers) are right so far as it not being specific, but I believe the intent is clear," he said.
Stirling added that the idea behind the tiebreakers was to find a true common denominator between teams, which he said isn't possible if conference records are carried beyond conference playoffs.
"How can you use that tiebreaker any further when you're not even talking about common opponents or playing the same number of (conference) games?" he asked. "There's no common denominator in that tiebreaking method. It's ludicrous when you think about it."
Stirling said the issue has never come up in the five years since the tiebreaking procedures went into effect.
A 26-year-old Massachusetts man has filed a $100,000 suit against Kurt Rambis and the Lakers, citing an alleged incident after the seventh game of last season's championship series between the Lakers and Boston Celtics.
The suit, filed last week in federal court at Boston, accuses Rambis and the Lakers of assault and battery, and negligence.
Attorney Dan Lenzo, who represents Paul E. Baribeau of Lynn, Mass., said that Rambis struck Baribeau as Rambis left the court after the Celtics' victory in game No. 7. Lenzo said that as a result of the blow, Baribeau required an operation to correct a deviated septum, and also suffered a black eye.
Lenzo said Baribeau was standing still when Rambis hit him and that the blow was unprovoked.
Rambis, who has not received notice of the suit, said he has no memory of the alleged incident.
This is honor-roll voting time for the 1984-85 season. Here's how my ballot read:
Most Valuable Player--1. Larry Bird; 2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; 3. Terry Cummings; 4. Magic Johnson; 5. Isiah Thomas.
Rookie of the Year--Michael Jordan.
Comeback Player of the Year--Micheal Ray Richardson.
Sixth-Man Award--Kevin McHale.
Remember the Philadelphia 76ers? Now that they're perched on the doorstep of the playoffs, they have suddenly become a forgettable factor.
Milwaukee has unexpectedly replaced the 76ers as the best hope to knock off Boston.
"Teams don't have a reason to be afraid of us," guard Maurice Cheeks said. "We haven't applied ourselves the way we have to if we want to get anywhere."
There's a lot going wrong in Philadelphia right now. They've lost four straight to Cleveland, but that's not as serious as the in-fighting going on.
Coach Billy Cunningham has been feuding with two of his players--guard Andrew Toney and forward Charles Barkley. Toney was put on the injured list Monday and will miss the last four games of the regular season.
Cunningham is least happy with the 76er defense, which he believes is extremely slow getting back to protect against the fast break.
Center Chris Engler began the season with the Golden State Warriors and has since played with New Jersey, Chicago, Milwaukee and the Clippers on 10-day contracts.
Engler hasn't played very much for anybody in the NBA, but he was certainly glad not to be in the Continental Basketball Assn. any longer.
When he was with the Wyoming Wildcats, Engler was fined $100 when he said the CBA stood for the Cheap Basketball Assn.
"As proof I was right, even the fine they gave me was cheap," he said.
They arrived 13 years ago from Cincinnati, where they were known as the Royals, and now the Kansas City Kings are moving again, this time to Sacramento.