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Using Fan to Rile Wallace Could Be the Latest Rage

April 19, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

Here's what the Lakers need to do to defeat Portland.

They need to invite that San Diego Padre fan, Jim Esterbrooks, to each game, put him in a referee's shirt, give him a seat directly behind the Trail Blazer bench, and have him heckle Rasheed Wallace until Wallace blows.


I TOLD Phil Jackson Wednesday some people think I have a gift for irritating people, so I'd be happy to help him in handling Wallace since none of the Lakers can.

I think my suggestion irritated Phil.

"The less said the better," Jackson said after discussing a temperamental Wallace, "and here I've talked about it for 10 minutes."

I would imagine Phil is already working on his next book, and he would like everyone to think it's his plan that topples Portland. But there's only one way Portland can persevere in the playoffs, and that's if Wallace maintains his cool, drops a ton of points on the Lakers and rallies those around him to play "I hate L.A." basketball.

Take Wallace out of his game, and the series is over.

Now Phil made it sound as though it's beneath him to bait Wallace into losing it. I didn't remind Phil that one of the recent books written about him is titled: "Mind Games," and he has a playoff history of playing those kind of games with Scottie Pippen, Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, because I really don't try to irritate everybody. I'd mention something about Jeanie if I really wanted to irritate him.

"Many more opponents than us have tried to get [Wallace] at some level so he loses his poise and cool," Phil said. "We've never specifically baited him, or fouled him hard to get him to scratch his head and wonder if the referees are going to protect him. That's never been a tactic I appreciate in basketball."

Sure, like he wouldn't do anything he could to win a game. There's no other way to explain why Isaiah "J.R." Rider has hung around as long as he has. In fact, I'd activate Rider with Wallace in mind. I mean he irritates me.

Wallace piled up 41 technicals this season to break his own NBA mark of 38 last season. He was suspended twice--the last time for tossing a towel over the face of Arvydas Sabonis--although you would think that'd be a public service.

This is a powder keg who was thrown out of the McDonald's All-American Game for high school kids. You put him on the court with Bob Knight and Knight's worried he's the one who is going to get choked.

The Lakers already have the Blazers outmanned eight to five with their five starters and three referees--and I'd have Esterbrooks making a point of reminding Wallace of that during each timeout.


GOOD MORNING, Audrey Green, I'm told it's your birthday, so your daughter and I would like to wish you many, many more.

Obviously, your daughter is a very caring and thoughtful person. I wish I had a son I could introduce to her.

As my present to you, however, I know a young guy who works at Ralph's, who is technically still available. I've always thought he would make a wonderful son-in-law--for somebody else.


WHEN I FIRST heard about Hollywood Park's effort to address the energy crisis and turn out the lights, I thought finally Times' handicapper Curtis Crayon had caught a break and would have an edge on everyone else since he's been working in the dark for so long.

I misunderstood--they're not turning out the lights. Fans attending opening night Friday (7:15) will receive a pocket flashlight, but it's only a symbolic gesture. Future Friday cards, however, will begin at 3:30 to help the state's energy crisis. Nothing, it seems, will help Crayon.


WHEN THEY WERE at Warner Bros. they were partners, and once again they share a common bond. Terry Semel has taken over Yahoo, and Bob Daly runs a yahoo organization.


BEFORE WE GET to the bull, some facts first. Texas' Alex Rodriguez makes $14.28 a second with the average baseball game running three hours. Shaquille O'Neal earns $33.88 a second with the average basketball game running two hours.

Now if some cowboy can ride "Happy Hour" for eight seconds in Friday's Mossy Oak Bull Riding Shootout at the Centennial Garden in Bakersfield, he will earn $80,000 for eight seconds of work.

Right now Gary Sheffield is asking the Dodgers to trade him to the Professional Bull Riders' circuit.


STAPLES CENTER REJECTED proposals to host a Mike Tyson-David Izon fight as well as an Oscar de La Hoya-Javier Castillejo matchup in favor of bringing Roy Jones Jr. to L.A. for a July 28 night of fighting.

Promoter Bob Arum laid out the criteria for locating an opponent for the dominating Jones: "I've met Julio Gonzalez, I spoke with him and there's something ticking inside."

Now that it's been confirmed he's a live body, the fight can go on.


GONZALEZ IS GOING to be featured in a TV commercial before the Staples Center bout, which will also include Erik Morales taking on Injin Chi, running through the streets of L.A. a la Rocky Balboa.

Arum hopes to invite Sylvester Stallone to serve as ringmaster for the light-heavyweight bout. Staples Center and Arum are still in negotiations to see who will provide a box for him to stand on.


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

"Mr. Simers, I realize people probably read your column and find it humorous. I find it offensive, and hope to do everything in my electronic power to get the word out and get you fired."

Hope no one kicks out your plug.


T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:

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