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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Sterling Needs to Make Another Move With Team

April 22, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Donald Sterling made a difficult but necessary decision in firing Bill Fitch.

Now it's time for the Clipper owner to make an even more difficult but equally necessary decision.

Promote Elgin Baylor.

Kick him upstairs.

Sterling should find someone else to run his basketball team and then actually allow him to do it, someone like George Karl. He could work nights by coaching too.

Think about it. The Clippers are on the verge of hiring their 10th coach since they moved to Los Angeles 13 seasons ago. Yet Baylor has remained vice president in charge of basketball operations.

It was clear long ago that the Clippers' basketball operations were, at best, a failure, and, at worst, a joke. Anyone who saw Fred Roggin's spoof on Monday night's Channel 4 news of Baylor's press conference would have to believe that the latter prevails.

It's no secret Sterling has thought about Baylor's future with the team. How could it be a secret when he's talked about it with dozens, maybe hundreds, of people, including sportswriters? He invariably ends the discussions by saying he can't make a change because Baylor is too nice.

Nice is nice. But of the qualities necessary to run an NBA team, it ranks somewhere down there with "reads the newspaper." Ask Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen if Chicago Bull General Manager Jerry Krause is nice.

There is, however, another option for Sterling.

Trust Baylor.

Sterling long ago lost faith in him and quit letting him run the team. It's now done by committee, with Sterling in charge.

I don't know if Baylor is another Jerry West. No one will ever know unless he's allowed to do the job he's paid to do.

In Baylor's situation, not even West would be West.

*

Look for Sterling to check out the availability of Phil Jackson, then Karl. . . .

It has been reported that he might also be interested in USC Coach Henry Bibby. . . .

But the Bibby the Clippers really want is his son, point guard Mike. . . .

Before Pat Riley became all-powerful with the Miami Heat, he would have leaped at a similar deal with the Clippers. . . .

If Shaquille O'Neal had shot 56.7% from the free-throw line instead of 52.7%, he would have won the scoring title from Jordan. . . .

O'Neal needed only 27 more points. . . .

Korleone Young, the senior from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, joked after suffering a concussion in Sunday night's Eddie Jones All-Star Classic at the Great Western Forum that maybe he can get out of marching for the rest of the semester. . . .

Young, who has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, is represented by Jerome Stanley, Keyshawn Johnson's agent. . . .

Donovan Bailey sent word to track and field promoters in Lagos, Nigeria, that he wouldn't run the 100 meters there if Ato Boldon and Maurice Greene were in the field. . . .

Then Bailey did the same to promoters in Rio de Janeiro. . . .

"Let Donovan have his road show," said Emmanuel Hudson, who manages Boldon and Greene for HS International. "He can run, but he can't hide." . . .

Perhaps they'll find him at the Goodwill Games this summer in New York. . . .

Olympic decathlon champion Dan O'Brien has committed to compete there, but his coaches complain that he hasn't started training seriously. . . .

Promoter Al Franken, who revived his L.A. Invitational indoor meet this year, is negotiating to bring back San Diego's indoor meet next winter. . . .

One key for the Kings in the first round of the playoffs is whether Russ Courtnall can contain brother Geoff on the power play. . . .

Geoff Courtnall is the St. Louis Blues' leading goal scorer. . . .

Free agent Brett Hull prefers to return to St. Louis, but word is he might consider Anaheim because of the climate. . . .

The Kings should also talk to him. I hear the climate in Inglewood is similar. . . .

The Inglewood Handicap on Sunday at Hollywood Park was one of the races run during the track's inaugural meeting in 1938. . . .

The winner was Ligaroti, owned by Bing Crosby. . . .

Noble Threewitt was an aspiring young trainer at that meeting. . . .

Sixty years later, he's still running horses there at age 87. . . .

Two Tampa Bay Devil Ray players asked a cab driver at John Wayne Airport last week to take them to Edison Field. He took them to Edison Elementary School in Anaheim. . . .

The Arrowhead Pond and the new Staples Center are candidates for the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will determine the team for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. . . .

The Pond probably would be preferred because of its proximity to a first-class practice facility, Disney ICE in Anaheim. . . .

A blind woman on Sunday night's episode of "X-Files" said she could see through her father's eyes. He liked the ocean, so she knew how beautiful that is. . . .

"Good thing for you he didn't like the Ice Capades," Agent Fox Mulder told her.

*

While wondering what kind of country we've become when Vernon Maxwell can't get out of jail to play in the NBA playoffs, I was thinking: The Clippers should sign Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to play for them, it's good to have Milwaukee back in the National League, I haven't decided whether to buy Rose Bowl tickets or send my son to college.

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