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MIKE DOWNEY

Lakers Have a Better Shot in 3-on-3

March 01, 1995|MIKE DOWNEY

I believe that the Phoenix Suns should be nice guys tonight at the Forum if the Lakers should get down to only four players.

I believe that some Sun should volunteer to be benched, let's say Charles Barkley, so that Phoenix could go four-on-four if the Lakers cannot put five men on the floor. Or perhaps if any more Lakers get hurt and join our growing number of Men On the Bench Dressed Like Del Harris, I would ask that the Suns generously permit Mr. Johnson and Mr. West of the Laker front office to suit up for just this one night.

Yet I bet the Suns turn out to be a bunch of bullies who will go ahead and play five-on-four or even five-on-three against the Lakers, who are running out of players.

They won't give our poor little Mini-Lakers an ounce of sympathy. You watch, they'll turn Sir Charles loose and he'll start dunking on Del's latest mystery-guest lineup and even start taunting them with stuff like: "CBA action! It's fantastic!"

And next thing you know, they will be leading the Lakers by something like 50-15 and everybody at courtside will be reaching for their Ferrari keys until . . . wait! There goes Laker assistant coach Michael Cooper, running into the locker room at halftime, changing clothes faster than Dean Cain, speeding back out for the second half in uniform to place himself in the Chuckster's face.

Or maybe, just maybe, the Mini-Lakers will go out tonight and humble the stunned Suns with their new lineup of no-stars. Yes, I can see it now as Sweetpea Daniels goes for 30 points and 15 rebounds, and as former Desert of the Sun retiree and Geritol-yes, Gatorade-no role model Kurt Rambis puts the clamps on that young whippersnapper A.C. Green, and as the purple-and-gold's newest CBA Player to Be Named Later arrives in Inglewood just in time to score a dozen points and do Stu Lantz's halftime show.

The more Laker misfits we get, the better the Lakers play. What they lack in limbs, they make up for in heart. These guys might be unstoppable. I honestly think there is a chance that the Lakers will appear in the NBA championship series against the Orlando Magic, using a lineup of Vlade Divac, Nick Van Exel, Lloyd Daniels, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.

Documented proof exists that more Lakers have now been injured than soldiers at the Battle of Grenada. And the ESPY award for trainer of the year goes to . . . Gary Vitti, ladies and gentlemen. George Clooney doesn't treat this many patients.

Let's see, we've got George Lynch, stress fracture, right foot, and Eddie Jones, sprain, right shoulder, and Cedric Ceballos, torn ligament, right thumb, and Sam Bowie, separation, rib, and that emergency air-lift of Ace Bandages is on its way to LAX, thank goodness. I mean, what next? Van Exel, ingrown nail, left pinky? Vlade, flesh-eating bacteria in beard? Sweetpea, broken pod? Rambis, cracked lens?

James Worthy, white-courtesy telephone, please. I don't know where James is or what he's doing, but if I were Jerry West--and if I were the Lakers sure would be in trouble--I would find out if Big Game James would be willing to temporarily become Ten-Game James and fill in for a while, unless he's too busy playing a 6-foot-9 Klingon again on one of those TV shows.

Or Kareem, come on down! We saw you in the stands at that UCLA game. You look fit. Get your bony body out there and help us out. You're not even 50 yet. You can still hook that thing. This is an emergency.

I don't know what Del Harris ever did to deserve this. He should carry a cross and a clove of garlic around his neck. Maybe Nicholson has one left over from his last movie. Something or someone has put a curse on the Lakers. I wouldn't put this past Dennis Rodman.

The only guy the Suns have lost all season is Danny Manning. Man, we lose a Manning around here once a week. This whole team is turning into The Who. Pretty soon the announcer will be introducing the Laker lineup as: "At forward, uh, Number 43! At the other forward, uh, This Tall Guy Here!"

I really feel for Chick Hearn. Poor man will be saying: "Van Exel brings it down. Gives it to what's-his-name on the wing. Back out to Sedale Threatt. Over to that skinny kid in the corner. Lobs it inside to that bald dude we just got from Rapid City! Slammmm dunk!"

The Lakers could become the first team in NBA history to win Comeback Players of the Year. A five-way tie. This situation is getting ridiculous. My advice would be: Activate Kupchak! We need warm bodies and fast. You think baseball needs replacement players, what about the Lakers? They're calling for volunteers. Steve Howe, Pedro Borbon, anybody.

I believe that if Charles Barkley has a heart, he will shake hands with the Lakers before tonight's opening tip-off and say: "Look, why don't we come back next month when you're ready?" Charles, of course, suffers himself from back pains. I guess he is our role model.

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