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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

With Falk Pulling Strings, Who Needs Kupchak?

September 21, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

Now that Glen Rice is headed to New York, I'll have to deal with the disappointment he didn't land in Indiana.

There had been more talk recently that Bobby Knight might take Isiah Thomas' offer and work as an assistant coach for the Pacers, and then the Pacers would add Dennis Rodman to their roster.

I'm sure it would have been riveting TV to see who had the most profound impact--Knight warming to Rodman and getting a stud implanted in his tongue, or Knight grabbing Rodman's nose ring and dragging the court with him.

But I was pulling for Rice to play for the Pacers, then sitting back and watching Knight deal with Rice's wife.

*

NOW THAT THIS four-team deal has been completed and the Lakers have emerged victorious with Horace Grant, it's probably time to start referring to agent David Falk as the Lakers' general manager.

From what I gather, there's no real need for Mitch Kupchak because Falk runs the league, and he engineered a sweatheart deal for the Lakers, who looked like they had no clue what to do with Rice. Falk played Chicago like it's run by some kind of bozo, just waiting for the Lakers and Knicks to realize they had a problem if they didn't make a deal happen.

For a week it appeared that Rice was headed to Chicago and the Lakers were going to get bupkes (Bear fans will get it). Funny thing, though, he hadn't signed any papers, but when the Bulls scheduled him for a physical examination and a news conference to announce his signing, the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Lakers fell for it, and suddenly became very cooperative with each other.

This will make Rice a wealthier man than if he had gone to Chicago, and that's Falk doing his job, and if the Lakers repeat in part because Grant relieves Shaquille O'Neal effectively, the guy deserves a front-row Staples Center seat right next to me and Lara Flynn Boyle.

*

GIVEN MY DISAPPOINTMENT in the U.S. team's performance, I'm not sure I will ever go to another women's softball game.

*

FORMER DODGER MANAGER Davey Johnson didn't walk off this time when I arrived to listen to his pregame remarks, and finished before going off to pick up a bat.

I didn't follow. I believe everyone needs their space.

*

GARY HAS THE very last desk in the building, down the hall, hidden from most everyone who works here, because he attended San Jose State.

Let's face it, if you're a big-time newspaper, you don't want to advertise such things, so Gary is kept hidden from the public, working most days on his fantasy baseball and football teams.

I'm guessing San Jose State was the birthplace of these fantasy games, accepting students who could only dream about attending Stanford or Notre Dame, then giving them no choice but to fantasize what it would have been like to go to class with Joe Montana or John Elway.

Name the most famous football player to come out of San Jose State.

Gary couldn't either, although he could tell you the name of every middle relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

USC center Eric Denmon was also stumped, and so was tailback Petros Papadakis, although Papadakis said he had a cousin who went to San Jose State before being expelled for gambling. I understand Papadakis is not related to our Gary.

Now this isn't one of those education checks that folks from UCLA have so much trouble handling, you know, like "Where's Tulsa?" before Tulsa knocked the O'Bannons and UCLA out of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The problem here is UCLA has played Alabama and Michigan, and now the Trojans get San Jose State, which is pretty embarrassing. Carnegie Mellon must have had no room left on its schedule.

The Spartans' best player is 5 feet 6, which would probably make him the tallest player on the basketball team.

San Jose State won three football games last season--including a solid win over St. Mary's. The Spartans haven't had a winning season since 1992--about the time Gary turned 50--and have lost 57 of the last 81 games they have played-- against the likes of Idaho, Nevada and Pacific.

So yes, you should be concerned if you have a ticket for Saturday's game in the Coliseum, like me, wondering if they will show up.

I'm talking about USC. I have to figure, like everyone else, the Trojans will overlook the Spartans, maybe even forgetting what time the game starts.

"Regardless if they're nobodies or whoever they are, we just play one game a week and this is the one game this week," said Papadakis. "It's not the same feeling playing Notre Dame or UCLA, but it's not like we're going to be practicing in shorts all week."

The last time--and only time--USC played San Jose State, the Trojans won by 38; this time they are favored by 23 1/2, and they could play in shorts.

"San Jose State played Nebraska, beat Stanford and Stanford beat Texas," said USC Coach Paul Hackett. "I'm concerned about this game, and fortunately have some substance in what I'm saying."

It's a nice change from what he usually says, but even Gary didn't buy a ticket to watch this blowout.

"I haven't been to a college game in years," he said, but then why would you if you went to San Jose State?

*

I WAS UNDER the impression John McEnroe is a tennis analyst, but I'm beginning to wonder if he knows what he's talking about. He's been critical of Venus and Serena Williams for not shaking hands with other players in the locker room.

I think it's pretty well understood that as powerful as these young women are, they'd crush someone's hand, and then who would they have left to beat?

I get it--McEnroe's trying to upset them--so he doesn't have to shake their hands.

*

TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Charles:

"[Dot Richardson] is an amateur athlete and shouldn't serve as an easy target for you. You were very unkind. You recall Alexander Pope's comments on columnists: 'The higher they climb, the more they show their [butt].' "

Now you know why I stoop so low sometimes.

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

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