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You Want Better Defense? Why Not Start With Daly

May 24, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

"Just Shoot Me" is:

a) the name of a popular NBC sitcom.

b) the response that the next person asked to coach the Lakers will give if he has any sense.

The answer, of course, is "a." Jerry Buss will not have to look hard to find a new coach for the Lakers, if he decides to let the old one go, because there will be plenty of candidates eager for the opportunity to teach an infinitely gifted nucleus of young players how to win. You always think you're going to be the one to change them.

One who might actually make a difference is Chuck Daly, who, if reports out of Orlando are true, would gladly take the same route out of there that Shaquille O'Neal did three years ago in order to coach the Lakers.

If so, Buss should start and end his search there.

You maybe thought I was going to suggest Phil Jackson. There's nothing wrong with him except that he would want a lot of money and a lot of control over player personnel moves.

Buss can have Daly for a lot of money.

Like Jackson, Daly has championship rings. Like Pat Riley, Daly dresses great. Like both of them, and unlike Del Harris and Kurt Rambis, Daly could probably get the attention of O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Equally important, he could teach all of the Lakers that there's more to playing defense than fouling Tim Duncan after he has scored a basket.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The first thing to be determined is whether there will be an opening for Daly to fill. I suppose it's possible, maybe even defensible, for Buss to decide that Rambis hasn't been given a fair chance to prove himself and ask him to return.

It wouldn't be the first mistake Buss has made.

Rambis, however, shouldn't count on a ringing endorsement from O'Neal.

Asked after Sunday's 118-107 loss to San Antonio whether Rambis should be brought back, O'Neal said, "I don't know." Asked if he had an opinion on the subject, he said, "Nope."

*

Now, get ready to cheer your San Antonio Spurs. . . .

I mean your Anaheim Spurs. . . .

Spur ownership is hoping the team's title drive, like ones made in the last couple of years by the Denver Broncos and San Diego Padres, will result in a nice, new, expensive place to call home. . . .

But, so far, San Antonio taxpayers have been cool to the idea of digging into their pockets to build a new arena. So cool that candidates in the city's most recent mayoral race were afraid to even float the idea. . . .

The Spurs don't believe that continuing to play in the Alamodome is an option. The Arrowhead Pond, however, might be. . . .

Bob Costas has spent so much time in Los Angeles during this season that he sounded like a Laker fan Sunday. . . .

"Where's your pride, Lakers?" he said at one point during the telecast, "C'mon.". . . .

Or maybe he was thinking about the number of television channels across America being switched as the Spurs threatened on several occasions to blow out the Lakers. . . .

Costas' best line came during a promo for an NBC movie. . . .

"Is that a Merchant-Ivory film, by the way, 'The Jesse Ventura Story?' " he asked Doug Collins. . . .

Ahmad Rashad wouldn't let Magic Johnson off the hook during an interview until he allowed that he would at least listen if Buss asked him to coach the team again. . . .

Johnson must have amnesia. . . .

The last time he coached the Lakers, they lost their last 11 games. There was a famous incident when he heard a cell phone ring during practice, found out it belonged to Vlade Divac and tossed it across the gym floor. . . .

I'd feel a lot better about O'Neal's Sports Illustrated cover last week if he had been there for his basketball instead of his rapping. . . .

Asked if he felt sentimental about the Lakers' last real game at the Great Western Forum, Jerry West said, "Not the way we played today." . . .

There's a chance they'll be back in Inglewood for an exhibition game or two before next season. . . .

"We'll schedule the Washington Generals and close this building down with a win," West said. . . .

What makes him think the Lakers can guard Red Klotz?

*

While wondering if anyone would have guessed that Susan Lucci would win before Shaq did, I was thinking: The Timberwolves put up a better fight against the Spurs than the Lakers did, the Lakers should try to move up in the draft and take Baron Davis, I'm looking forward to the best matchup the NBA has to offer--Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee.

*

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

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