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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

His Bubble of Enthusiasm Burst Upon Reaching Seats

April 08, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

I called the Clippers to buy four tickets. They offered to send a limo. I told them I was calling from Phoenix. They offered to send a plane.

I wanted to experience what it's like to be a fan at Staples Center, and knew the Clippers would have tickets available. I suppose I could have gone to a King game, but I didn't think there was any reason to experience what it's like to be a miserable fan.

I was already taking my wife . . . and delighted, of course.

I also invited two fifth-graders from the school where my wife teaches, so she would have someone to talk to while I watched the game.

Our two daughters are grown up, and too busy trying to acquire new last names to hang with us. As you know, the younger one has been fortunate enough to hook a grocery store bagger, while the older one has been trolling for a tall, sarcastic, intelligent, potentially rich man who can dance.

No reason to believe she can't be as lucky as her mother.

Anyway, the Clippers said they would really take care of us. A charge for $300 immediately appeared on my American Express account and verified that they had taken care of us, all right. For that kind of money I could have bought my wife a one-way ticket to Chicago to visit her mother.

Throw in $12.50 to park, the two kids hadn't even eaten yet and how do you people do this night in and night out?

*

LET ME JUST say this, for $300 I think we should have been allowed to see the other end of the court. It was halftime before I learned they were playing Milwaukee Friday night. The Clippers put us by the tunnel leading into the arena, which would have been great for a Laker game, because we could have watched Isaiah "J.R." Rider going back and forth to the locker room to pout.

On a positive note, since I paid for my ticket, I had the right to yell at Coach Alvin Gentry when he emerged. I screamed at the numskull to play Corey Maggette more. I really let him have it too.

I had no idea Gentry had rabbit ears. He whirled, grabbed a security guard and pushed him in our direction. I pointed to the fifth-graders and assured the guard they wouldn't yell like that again.

*

I'D LIKE their parents to know they have great kids, and I'm glad they belong to them. I forgot how annoying fifth-graders can be, but was reminded when a lady, working for the Clippers, placed free balloons in their hands. I now had two fifth-graders playing Zorro, which would have been OK had it attracted Catherine Zeta-Jones--instead of scowls from those behind us.

I popped one of them when the kids weren't looking, but the lady was there with another because she obviously hates me. She must be a hockey fan.

After halftime, a spitting, beer-guzzling intruder helped himself to what had been an empty row in front of us, and when they began throwing free T-shirts into the crowd, he took one away from one of the kids. Since the spitting, beer-guzzling intruder had just yelled at the ref, "I'll be waiting for you outside, [expletive]," I blamed the kid for having poor hands.

*

AFTER KRISPY KREMES and ice cream, the game got exciting, and the wife was having the time of her life. I think it was the box of Krispy Kremes.

"I've found my new team--these guys are just having fun," she said. I looked up at the big screen overhead, because that's the only way I could watch the game from where I was sitting, and it was true, they looked like they were having more fun than me. They didn't have to pay $300 to be here.

The Bucks were ahead by six with 30 seconds to play and they showed a fan dressed as a unicorn on the big screen. If I were Donald Sterling, I'd be in disguise too. Buoyed by the unicorn, the Clippers made a pair of three-pointers to send the game into overtime. Great, five more minutes with the annoying fifth-graders and their balloons.

"I'm loving this," my wife said. I think it was the ice cream.

It did seem as though the fans were having more fun than at the Laker games I've covered, and with the exception of Kobe Bryant, I don't think anyone else provides more highlights here than Darius Miles, Maggette and Lamar Odom.

The Clippers fell behind by five in overtime, they showed Sterling, I mean, the unicorn again, and won by three. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more thrilling game on the big screen in my life, or had a stiffer neck.

My wife wants to save money for another game. She says we'll take her mother. I'm sure the lady who hates me will give her a balloon too.

I don't know how you people do it--there's no way I could be a fan.

*

IF THE BRUINS are looking for someone with recruiting experience to replace Michael Holton, why not Dodger Boy?

*

THE KINGS WANT everyone to dress in black for the playoffs. In lieu of flowers, I'm sure they'll let us know today where donations should be sent.

*

THERE IS nothing more enjoyable to watch in the world of sports than Tiger Woods when he's on his game, and making history.

*

THE OTHER DAY in his dispatch from the Masters, Bill Plaschke wrote that "crickets sing to a putt." Where I play, we step on those things.

*

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

"I have a question. If a person makes a mistake on the second day on the job as a manager and they're a Knuckle Head, what do you call a person who makes mistake after mistake in judgment throughout their journalism career?"

A columnist.

*

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

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