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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

With Sights Set on Cancun, Van Exel's Destiny Was Set

June 30, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Although Nick Van Exel wasn't traded until last Wednesday, he became an ex-Laker as far as some of his teammates were concerned two games before the season ended.

At the end of practice on the day after the loss to Utah in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, most of the players participated in their usual ritual--gathering in a circle at mid-court, putting their hands together and chanting, "Lakers, Lakers, Lakers."

Not Van Exel. He joined the circle but was heard chanting, "Cancun, Cancun, Cancun."

Two games later, the Jazz sweep complete, all of the Lakers were ready for a vacation. But they couldn't help but believe Van Exel left before they did.

Shaquille O'Neal, the captain, went to management with the story, exacting a vow from Jerry West that Van Exel would never again wear a Laker uniform.

*

The working title for Michael Ovitz's proposed new football stadium in Carson is the Hacienda. . . .

As the name implies, the facade has a Spanish theme. . . .

Mission bells would ring when, or if in the case of an expansion team, the home team scores. . . .

No one in the NFL seems ready to endorse either Carson or the Coliseum, but two of the most influential owners, Carolina's Jerry Richardson and Dallas' Jerry Jones, are encouraging Ovitz to stay in the game. . . .

One reason Hollywood Park has all but been eliminated as a site for the stadium is that blimps can't fly over because of the close proximity to LAX. . . .

That's hardly a problem in Carson, Southern California's blimp port. . . .

The next time someone tells you nobody is watching the World Cup, point out that more people in the L.A. viewing area watched the soccer weekend before last than U.S. Open golf and Dodger and Angel baseball. . . .

Even if you don't speak Spanish, you should catch the games on Channel 34. . . .

One reason is that Brent Musburger isn't on that channel. . . .

Another is that Norberto Longo and Andres Cantor are. They capture the tension and drama of the sport. . . .

Olivier Bierhoff, who scored the winning goal for Germany against Mexico on Monday, says he would like to play in the MLS. . . .

He obviously hasn't checked out the payrolls here. . . .

Back from World Cup duty and set to return to the Galaxy on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, Cobi Jones has missed eight games but is still tied for fifth in MLS scoring. . . .

Northern California didn't need UCLA recruit Ray Young of Alamada St. Joseph to beat Southern California, 102-95, Sunday night at Santa Ana College Gymnasium in the IntenseCity All-Star Slam. . . .

A South standout was Long Beach Poly's Ricky Anderson. . . .

Figured to red-shirt at Arizona next season while adding bulk to his 6-foot-9 frame, he played anything but soft with 16 points and 12 rebounds. . . .

Tubby Smith's first lecture to Compton Dominguez's Tayshaun Prince when he arrives at Kentucky will be about shot selection. Prince was zero for six from three-point range. . . .

The star of the slam-dunk contest was Cathedral City's Caleb Gervin, nephew of George. . . .

With Gervin, Louisville will have a pair of 6-1 guards from Southern California. The other is Cameron Murray. . . .

It isn't just the media who are contemplating a Tom Lasorda-Bobby Valentine-Mike Piazza reunion in Los Angeles next season. . . .

"Everything is setting up right," the Mets' Todd Hundley says. . . .

Although he emphasizes he has two years remaining on his contract with the Mets, Valentine isn't discouraging speculation he would join his favorite interim general manager. . . .

"I don't think that takes a big leap," he told ESPN on Monday. "There's a desire to spend more time with Tom Lasorda." . . .

Met fans booed Piazza for the first time last week after he grounded out twice with runners in scoring position. . . .

"If you don't get the job done, you deserve to get booed," Piazza said. . . .

When Fred Claire was summoned to Dodger Stadium on that fateful Sunday night, he believed he was about to be ordered to fire Bill Russell. . . .

After learning otherwise, a stunned Claire emerged from Peter O'Malley's office, saw Russell sitting there and said, "They got me too." . . .

With his presence no longer required at Dodger Stadium, Russell was spotted one night last week in line to buy tickets for a movie. Playing was "A Perfect Murder." . . .

In a Fortune magazine article including profiles of Ted Turner, Michael Eisner and Rupert Murdoch, writer Frank Rose concluded it was a good thing they're buying sports franchises. . . .

"Athletics could serve as a healthy vent, maybe even keeping them from going nuclear," Rose wrote. . . .

Proving Rose's point, Eisner said, "I hope the Angels end up in the National League--then we'll kick Rupert's butt right there in Chavez Ravine." . . .

Who needs realignment as long as there is interleague play?

*

While wondering what took Steve Sampson so long, I was thinking: Bring back Bora, I'll miss the Matador, the Dodgers sure have been quiet lately.

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