YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


It All Ads Up to Another Thrilling Clipper Season

October 27, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

For the past few weeks it seems as if every page of the sports section has had a large Clipper advertisement, and knowing Donald Sterling's reputation for being cheap, I called The Times' senior vice president of advertising, John C. McKeon, to find out if someone else was paying the big bucks, and maybe Sterling had sold the team without anyone knowing.

You know what the advertising muckety-muck does? He Steven Samples me.

The guy is in the newspaper business--the same newspaper I work for--and he doesn't return the call. I'm guessing a USC graduate.

Anyway, I get some communications guy calling me instead, who wants to know what I want to ask, while telling me in so many nice words to buzz off.

I'm worried now because I've attended a pair of Clipper functions since taking over the Page Two column, and both times the Clippers have provided all the free food anyone would want to eat. Sterling's Clippers?

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday October 28, 2000 Home Edition Sports Part D Page 2 Sports Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Clippers--Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry told columnist T.J. Simers that the team's goal this season is to win half of its 41 home games. Because of an editing error, Gentry was quoted Friday as saying that the team's goal is to win half of its 82 games.

Now I can't imagine any other reason why someone would want to attend a Clipper function, but we're talking fresh shrimp here--the big ones--and no indication that Sterling's top bobo, Andy Roeser, was keeping count.

I'm thinking Sterling has been kidnapped by sensible people, Elgin Baylor has finally dribbled a ball off Sterling's head, or the team's been sold to some sensible people until I open my mail and find a nice note from Sterling, and six VIP tickets for my friends.

I have to send them back, of course, because I don't have any friends.

But now I know Sterling's still in command, and he's trying to buy me off, paying my salary with all those ads he has bought, feeding me and trying to find me some friends, and that's fine by me.

I'll give him a chance before he fires Alvin Gentry as coach.

It's like The Times' Sports Editor Bill Dwyre was saying the other day: "Isn't optimism great in sports, the way everyone starts off a new year thinking they are going to be good?"

The guy not only talks like that, but writes likes that too, which is why he's an editor. But I listened to Gentry and Baylor talk about the upcoming season, and Dwyre said it best, which tells you how dull Gentry and Baylor were.

I didn't follow too closely last season, but I think the Clippers won something like two games. Gentry said the Clippers' goal this season is to win at least half their 82 games, while the folks in Las Vegas predict they'll win 19.

There's reason for optimism. The Clippers have assembled a group of kids who are expected to be very good by the time Gentry has developed them, they become free agents and they have moved elsewhere.

But whatever happens, you have to give it to Sterling. His advertising campaign has been brilliant. The newspaper ads have introduced the Clippers' young talent one by one, and it has been effective, and they all sound so excited about being sentenced to the NBA's version of Devil's Island.

"I'm Brian Skinner," one ad begins with a Magic-like picture of No. 32, who I presume is Skinner, who is quoted as saying, "This will be my third season with the Clippers and I'm pumped up."

So am I, because I didn't know he had been with the Clippers the last two seasons. Reading on, he says in the ad, "I keep hearing how fast the good seats are going, so what are you waiting for?"

I find it hard to believe the good seats are really going for Clipper games, but I'm sure we have a truth-in-advertising policy--although I'm not about to call our senior vice president for advertising any time soon to check.

Let's be honest, though, right now things have never looked so good for the Clippers, and as a wise old man once told me, "Isn't optimism great in sports, the way everyone starts off a new year thinking they are going to be good?"


THROUGH THE FIRST four games of the World Series, 24 of every 100 people who watched last year's Series did not tune in this year.

I don't find that as alarming as the fact 62% of all TVs being used in New York City were tuned to the Series. What was on the other 38%?


WATCHING THE FOX cameras bring us the twitching face of Al Leiter, I had to wonder if there was some kind of "Bewitched" thing going on.


JOSE VIZCAINO, A FORMER Dodger and presently with the New York Yankees, told The Times that Rick Down is Mr. Popularity in L.A.'s clubhouse, and gets along with players such as Mr. Grumpy, Gary Sheffield and Eric Karros, and we're also being told he knows how to communicate with Kevin Malone.

This guy shouldn't be the next manager--he should be secretary general of the U.N.


THE OTHER DAY the Lakers invited 10,000 kids to watch them practice, but before the players took the court, the kids had to sit through several speakers, who reminded them to stay in school, stay off drugs and respect themselves.

Between each speaker, someone in full Laker garb came out and whipped the kids into a frenzy, yelling, "Are you going to be happy to see the Lakers?"

Then Coach Phil Jackson appeared and told the kids to "shut up" so he could talk to his players.

Los Angeles Times Articles