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The Inside Tracxk | T.J. SIMERS

Hearn Values One Ring More Than Any Other

November 02, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Chick Hearn now has seven NBA championship rings, only one more special than the others, the one he never wears.

Before he received his 1999-2000 NBA championship ring in Wednesday night's ceremonies also marking his 41st year with the team, Hearn sat in an empty Staples Center and explained he has a box at home, and without any sentimental reflection, he just reaches in and puts on whatever comes out.

"I'm proud of them all because each one of them reminds me of the superstars I have been blessed to watch," he said. "I don't think I really deserve a ring, to be honest, because I don't contribute anything to the game itself. But if they give me another one--I won't give it back."

There's also another box in Hearn's home, however, that remains unopened, holding the championship ring he had given his son, Gary, before his death in 1972 at age 29.

"I couldn't wear it," he said. "He wore it."

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I MUST ACKNOWLEDGE I got goosebumps watching all those rich people in Staples Center waving yellow towels as their NBA championship team took the court. It should be pointed out, however, that L.A.'s wannabe NFL owner, Michael Ovitz, sitting courtside, did not give it up for the Lakers.

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YOU KNOW ME, I'm a sucker for the heartwarming story. I mean I cried when what's his name, you know, the Dodgers' new corporate manager, finally got his big break to work more closely with Kevin Malone.

What is about these people named Malone--Kevin and Karl? No one in this city seems to like them.

Anyway, I hear about these basketball players, who have fought so hard for a world championship, and before they even slip the ring on, they have given it to someone who has been very dear to them.

Maybe a mother, a father, a former coach, favorite one-night stand, and I know this will surprise you, but this got me to thinking--what a great scam if the players were given more than one championship ring.

Laker owner Jerry Buss, who probably has his list of favorite people, was way ahead of me.

Buss authorized the purchase of two world championship rings for each one of his players, so they would have one to give away if they wished. In fact, if players need more, they will be allowed to purchase extra rings--"within reason, of course," as one Laker official put it.

Buss, generous beyond most owners in sports, is picking up the tab on rings for every full-time employee in the Laker organization. They get one each.

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HOW LONG BEFORE kids in L.A. are saying, "I want to be like Tyronn?"

*

THE LAKERS LOST one point because of a technical foul on Isaiah Rider, and if there is a worst call in the next 80 games, it will have to be a doozy.

Rider had a breakaway in the closing moments and Utah's John Starks came from behind and wrapped him up. Rider shucked Starks aside, because it's an NBA given no one likes Starks, but after calling a foul on Starks, referee Bernie Fryer whistled Rider for the technical.

Let Starks try that against the young Clippers next week when the Jazz return. For that matter let Fryer try it. These kids aren't afraid to be ejected.

*

I LISTENED TO what's his name, you know, the Dodgers newly appointed corporate manager, and from what I heard, "it's absolutely imperative to catch the ball if we're going to have the solid pitching staff we want to have."

I would think it would be absolutely imperative to catch the ball at all times, which goes to show you the Dodgers know more about this than we do.

*

I CHECKED WITH baseball experts to see if the league had such a front office title as "general manager-in-waiting-to-eventually-replace Kevin Malone," but was told that Orel Hershiser will probably be called an assistant general manager when the Dodgers officially announce his hiring later this year.

*

I PREFACED THE following question to what's his name, you know, the Dodgers newly appointed corporate manager, by saying to him, "I'd like to see if you have a sense of humor." He didn't smile, but I continued, "While you were bench coach, did you ever lean over to Davey Johnson and whisper 'bunt?' "

He didn't smile, and replied, "I'm not going to answer that."

Well, yes he did.

*

STAND-UP COMEDY is not easy, but Malone's pretty good.

"Throughout my career," he said, while announcing the change in Dodger managers because he didn't get along with the last guy, "I've always had a good rapport with 99.9% of the people I've been involved with."

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ONE OF THE main ingredients in getting a new football stadium built here and luring an NFL team will be the opportunity to host a Super Bowl, maybe even one Super Bowl every three or four years.

So here's a hint on when L.A. might get a football team: The next available Super Bowl is 2007.

NFL owners, apparently not concerned about the football void in L.A., selected Houston Wednesday to get the 2004 game, Jacksonville the 2005 and Detroit the 2006. I know this, come late January, 2006 there will be a lot of people in Detroit wishing they were in Los Angeles.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Jeffrey & Shirley:

"We noticed in the 'Football Odds' in The Times that Washington was favored by 110 1/2 points over Arizona. What do you make of that?"

I'd take the points, but I'd still be nervous.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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