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Why Didn't Lakers Get Break? You Make the Call

May 08, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Multiple-choice question: What have we learned recently about NBA referees that we didn't know before?

A) They favor superstars.

B) They favor home teams.

C) Unless there's a homicide involved, they won't make a call late in a game that will decide the outcome, especially in the playoffs.

D) Some allegedly cheat on their income taxes.

If you answered D, you win an official NBA referee's whistle. I'll give you the one from around Jack Nies' neck, if he ever finds it.

I'm not the least bit surprised Nies failed to call the obvious foul with a couple of seconds left Tuesday night that would have given the Lakers a chance to win.

I am surprised, though, that the Lakers seemed so surprised. They really expected Nies to give Nick Van Exel three free throws for a 25-foot shot because he was fouled by Karl Malone in Salt Lake City?

The Lakers should know better. This is not some new franchise like Vancouver or Toronto that doesn't know the playoffs from the Queen Mum's birthday.

From George Mikan to Shaquille O'Neal, referees have run the games pretty much the same. Whether their rules are written or unwritten, they are as explicit as the instructions on a 1040 Form.

The Lakers have benefited as much or more from those rules as any other team in the past.

You think Malone gets a lot of calls? Remember Magic Johnson? All he had to do to draw a whistle when the Lakers needed a crucial two points was drive down the center of the lane and bellow as if he'd been hit by Mike Tyson.

It might not be fair, but it's reality.

Multiple-choice question: What should the Lakers do to deal with it in the future?

A) All of them should come to play so that they don't need a desperation 25-footer as time runs down. It was good to see Byron Scott and Robert Horry respond to the Game 2 challenge. But where did Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell go?

B) Win enough games during the regular season to gain the home-court advantage in the playoffs.

C) Don't talk to the media.


Del Harris is a good-natured man and a good coach. But he doesn't appear to be coping well with the pressure. . . .

His diatribe after a local reporter asked him a fairly tame question a couple of weeks ago was as outrageous as Tom Lasorda's famous one involving Dave Kingman. . . .

Harris, of course, didn't use obscenities, but the tape still would have provided a couple of entertaining minutes for Jim Healy to air if he were still with us. . . .

Then Harris decided not to fulfill his obligation to speak to the media after Tuesday night's loss, making him and the Laker organization look bad. . . .

Promoter Bob Arum vehemently denied media reports of a rift between Oscar De La Hoya and trainer Jesus Rivero before the fight with Pernell Whitaker. . . .

Barely a week after the fight, the second consecutive one in which De La Hoya has fought as if trained by an aluminum siding salesman, Rivero was out. . . .

That reminds me of an old Arum quote when asked about an apparent contradiction. "Yesterday, that was the truth," he said. "Today, this is the truth." . . .

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and friends are telling potential owners of a Los Angeles NFL team that they stand to make $38.5 million by playing in the Coliseum. . . .

I sense some skepticism about those numbers because I don't see investors lining up to get in on the deal. . . .

Until they do, we'll have to get by with our NFL memories. Oh, and the Chargers. The Gridiron Gala of the Century, scheduled for May 21 at the LAX Westin Hotel, will honor all the AFL and NFL teams that have played in Los Angeles and San Diego. . . .

Former Times and Orange County Register columnist John Hall says an all-time team will be named at the banquet, assuring the revival of the Bob Waterfield vs. Norm Van Brocklin debate. . . .

Bound to be a candidate for that offensive line is former Charger tackle Ron Mix. He and 20 others will be inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame on May 17 at Heritage Hall. . . .

I guess UCLA reestablished its credentials as America's No. 1 Jock School, as determined by Sports Illustrated, with that three-year NCAA probation. . . .

UCLA officials did the right thing in firing Jim Harrick, but maybe now they won't be so self-righteous about it.


While wondering what compels baseball players to fight in the shower, I was thinking: It must be something in the water, Harris wouldn't last a New York minute in Jeff Van Gundy's shoes, Waterfield.

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