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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Shaq Gets His Wish, and Lakers Get It Right

May 06, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

Shaquille O'Neal said he wanted Allen Iverson to win the scoring title, which made it unanimous.

Iverson also wanted Iverson to win it. That was obvious Tuesday night, when he took 36 shots and scored 39 points.

Going into his final game of the regular season Wednesday night at the Great Western Forum against Portland, O'Neal knew he would have to score 40 points to become the first Laker since Jerry West in 1969-70 to lead the NBA in scoring.

"That means nothing to me," said O'Neal, who had scored 38 points twice this season but never 40.

The only thing that meant anything to him, he said, was beating the Trail Blazers and securing home-court advantage against Houston in the first round of the playoffs.

So it was a perfect night for O'Neal.

Iverson won the scoring title, scoring 33 points Wednesday night on 28 shots to finish the season with a 26.8 average. O'Neal scored 18 points on 13 shots to finish with a 26.3 average.

And the Lakers beat Portland, 119-91, assuring that their last regular-season game in the Forum would be a memorable one.

If you didn't know better, you would have thought Glen Rice was the Laker who had a chance for the scoring title.

He's the one who scored 40.

He tied the Laker record by making eight three-point shots (on 10 attempts), including all six he tried when the Lakers broke the game open in the third quarter. He would have made them as long as Kurt Rambis left him on the floor. The Trail Blazers certainly couldn't do anything to stop him.

This was Glen Rice as advertised, not the one who was making everyone remember Eddie Jones and even Elden Campbell with such fondness, and these were the Lakers as advertised, the ones who come with three options--Shaq, Rice and Kobe Bryant.

Just in time too, because the playoffs start Sunday.

*

Bud Selig says four teams have inquired about becoming the Cubans' next opponent. . . .

"Yeah, Bud," says Keith Olbermann of Fox Sports News, "but eight teams have asked about the opportunity of getting to play the Orioles next." . . .

Vin Scully's comment that the distinction as "greatest living ballplayer" now belongs to Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Sandy Koufax brought out the Ted Williams fans. . . .

Don't feel bad, Vin. A lot of readers didn't particularly care for my assertion that Mays was better than Joe DiMaggio. . . .

The owner of a racehorse named Columbine Is Sad received permission Tuesday from The Jockey Club to change the name, according to the Daily Racing Form. . . .

John Ed Anthony said he originally named the horse after a song about the Harlequin pantomime character in opera and ballet known as Columbine. . . .

Callaway Golf has made a truth in advertising issue of Ted Tryba carrying an Orlimar bag with no Orlimar clubs in it. . . .

Orlimar co-chairman Rich Oldenburg said Wednesday that Tryba is free to carry any bag he likes, just like us hackers. . . .

"We're not paying him an endorsement [fee] and we're not using him in our advertisements," Oldenburg said. . . .

Maybe Orlimar should reconsider after the Riviera record 61 that Tryba shot during the third round of this winter's Nissan Open. . . .

Justin Fargas, the former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame running back who had an impressive freshman season at Michigan, recently underwent a second operation on the broken leg he suffered late in the year. . . .

He'll sit out next season, then test the leg in the spring while running track. . . .

Juan Manuel Marquez, who fights Wilfredo Vargas on Monday night at the Forum, has been the so-called mandatory challenger for World Boxing Organization featherweight champion Prince Naseem Hamed since October 1997. . . .

Hamed received one waiver to avoid Marquez in April and is now seeking two more that would delay their matchup until next year. . . .

Should Hamed now be known as the boxer formerly known as Prince? . . .

Rich Marotta thinks so. On his boxing Web site, he calls Hamed "Princess." . . .

Debbie Caplan has earned a good reputation as a boxing publicist, which isn't easy to do. . . .

At a news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas, Caplan was sitting next to Mia St. John in the seat reserved for her manager. . . .

Is a management change imminent for St. John? No comments all around.

*

While wondering if Felipe Alou is having second thoughts, I was thinking: The Expos will reach that magical 200,000 attendance mark before the All-Star break, the Angels should take a look at the 54-year-old former pitcher who defected from the Cuban delegation, Rex Hudler is good on television but he's not no Sparky Anderson.

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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