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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

What We Have Here Is a Failure to Win Games

October 15, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

After Saturday's defeat in the Coliseum, USC Coach Paul Hackett shook hands with a representative of the Orange Bowl, making Hackett either the most optimistic person in the world, or just a friendly loser.

I would imagine officials from USC and UCLA will be on the telephone Monday morning petitioning the NCAA to make their Nov. 18 meeting an official bowl game so they can play in one this season.

OK, so I wouldn't let anyone from USC call, because it will certainly result in a miscommunication, which has become the Trojans' explanation for all that has gone wrong.

I wouldn't be surprised come Nov. 18 to find the Trojans waiting in the Coliseum for the Bruins' game, which has been scheduled for the Rose Bowl.

"You have to understand, it's not a lack of ability," USC linebacker Markus Steele said in explaining the Trojans' 28-17 loss to Oregon, and a 3-3 record. "It's just miscommunication."

Anyone who is married has heard something like this before: "We need to communicate better."

But I always thought that was male-female thing--the female suddenly wanting to communicate more with the count three and two, the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the World Series.

For the record, I've missed the key play in every big game ever played, but I've remained married for 28 years. There's a price to be paid, but you can make that sacrifice, so long as your cable TV package has "SportsCenter."

These guys, however, are guys and they talk guy talk. They practice communicating all week. And they're going to USC, which means they can get tutors if needed. They don't have it anywhere near as tough as I have it. But after six games, these guys don't appear as if they speak the same language.

"It's never been the opponents beating us--it's always been ourselves," linebacker Zeke Moreno said. "Miscommunication."

At least it's comforting to know that the Trojans are not getting beat because the other team is really better.

*

IMAGINE HOW THE USC alumni would have reacted had it been Hackett's Trojans losing to a pitiful and pathetic team from Cal.

Fortunately it was the 13th-ranked Bruins who lost to a pitiful and pathetic team from Cal, and everyone likes a smiling Bob Toledo.

*

I WOULD NOT have given Shaquille O'Neal all that money until he could prove to me the Lakers can win an exhibition game.

Beyond that, the big guy has been pretty good when it comes to accountability, and there's no reason why he shouldn't be paid just as well as some of us sportswriters who document his work.

The Dodgers gave Kevin Brown $105 million, so $88.4 million for Shaq is a bargain. Brown gets more because he's a better free-throw shooter.

What I find interesting about all this, it has been a good 48 hours since the Lakers assured Shaq he could make the payments on that nipple ring, while also making it a certainty they are going to win the NBA championship for the next four years. And not a single NBA team has announced it has lost interest, or will disband. None of them have a chance.

For the next four years--if contracts are honored--Shaq, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson will be together, and that makes everyone else just the Clippers.

*

SOME FOLKS WONDERED if Laker owner Jerry Buss was too cheap to do something like this, and I guess if you think he's going to pass this off as some kind of wedding present down the road for Jackson, you have a point.

But I'd like to think that Buss thought this best for the Lakers, L.A., and his ability to continue getting dates as the big man on the Laker campus, who can introduce the young ladies to Shaq and Kobe.

Now I know there's some concern there won't be any money left under the salary cap to fill out the roster, but I don't think this is much different than the "King and his Court," which had pitcher Eddie Feigner and a couple of other fast-pitch softball scrubs taking on full teams and dominating them.

Put together an NBA all-star team right now, and two of the five are Lakers. And no one's better working with dynamic duos than Jackson, who hitched himself to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and now Jerry and Jeanie.

*

NOW THAT BASEBALL playoff games have almost reached the four-hour mark, the fact that Fox has the rights to every World Series, playoff and All-Star game for the remainder of our lives is going to drive me back to the radio.

Fox's idea of capturing the excitement of baseball is to bounce the viewer from the manager's face--to a fan's face--to the other manager's face--to a fan's face--to the pitcher's face--to a fan's face--to the face of a player leaning on the dugout railing--to the batter's face. And that's on ball one.

*

IF YOU HAD words with a buddy at work and picked up a chair and clocked him with it, sending him to a doctor to have his head stitched, which jail do you think they put you in?

I would hope it would be one that shows UCLA basketball games, so you wouldn't miss the play of guard Rico Hines.

*

TODAY'S LAST WORD comes from Dave Smith of KXTA (1150), disgusted Saturday with Allen Iverson's CD, and angry he has not been suspended like John Rocker.

"What a gutless piece of garbage [NBA Commissioner] David Stern is."

Iverson, Rocker and Smith have something in common--none of them believe in holding anything back.

*

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

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