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'Practice' Makes Perfect for Hitting Sportswriters

February 14, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

LAS VEGAS — OK, so I had made this innocent crack in the newspaper some time back about how I'd like Michael Ovitz to introduce me to Lara Flynn Boyle, who sits between him and Jack Nicholson at all the Laker home games, but if he really wanted to do me a favor he'd bring over Salma Hayek.

You know me--just kidding.

I never gave it a second thought. If Ovitz couldn't deliver football to L.A., there's no way he was going to come through with Boyle or Hayek.

So whom do I run into in the green room at the ESPY awards, but Lara Flynn Boyle, a.k.a. Helen Gamble on "The Practice," and she slugs me right in the chest. Sends me rocking back a couple of steps.

Now I'd be ready for J.R. Rider to try that but, knowing he'd be late with the punch, I'd have time to duck. But who prepares themselves to get punched by Lara Flynn Boyle?

"I have what you said hanging in my dressing room," she said. "Salma Hayek? She's a friend of mine too."

Ordinarily I deal with people much more harmless, you know, like the Dodgers, so I came right back with, "Is there any chance you could introduce me to her?" and Lara Flynn Boyle slugs me again right in the chest.

I'm with Jack on this one--there are other women in the world.

I got to thinking, though, what if Shaquille O'Neal took a swing at me every time I said I liked Kobe Bryant better? As long as I did it from free-throw range, I guess I'd be safe.

Maybe that's why I pick on F.P. Santangelo-- everybody knows he can't hit anything.


BEFORE BEING MUGGED by Boyle, I had come to the ESPYs with a backstage pass to get expert analysis from some of Hollywood's biggest stars on this ego tussle between Kobe and Shaq. Who would know more about runaway egos?

Unfortunately, Sylvester Stallone is too short and got lost in the crowd, which left me standing next to James Woods, who was here to present the "athlete of the year" award to Tiger Woods.

The National Enquirer probably will report next week that Tiger and James Woods were long-lost brothers reunited at the ESPYs.

"The way to solve the Kobe-Shaq feud is simple," James Woods said. "Two balls."

You don't want to tell someone you've just met they are crazy--besides, if I remember correctly, it was determined that Sean Young was the crazy one and James Woods was only deemed a little strange.

After the president presented Jack Nicklaus with a lifetime achievement award, I was granted an audience before he left to catch Air Force One.

"Mr. President," I said, "what would you do to solve this Kobe-Shaq problem we have in L.A.?"

Martin Sheen said, "I would remind them--they played well together and won a championship last year, and without that again, there will be no encore."

Then he gave me a thumbs up as he left, and I was glad I voted for him.

If Kobe or Shaq had been in the room, actor Chris O'Donnell said, he would have been in awe. If Kobe or Shaq had appeared in O'Donnell's last movie, "Vertical Limit," it might have done better too. Then again, if my oldest daughter had been in the room, security would have had to peel her off O'Donnell.

I talked to Andy Garcia about Kobe and Shaq because my wife has been known to blurt out his name, but he didn't say anything memorable-- certainly not as memorable as the last time she mentioned his name.

Eventually, I would imagine the way Hollywood is going to deal with this feud is to make a movie about it. I'd like to suggest Salma Hayek in the role of love interest for the reporter who keeps the feud going.

If there's a problem, I'd guess I'd settle for Lara Flynn Boyle too.


AFTER TIGER DEFEATED Shaq to win the ESPY for championship performance of the year and the ESPY for athlete of the year, I'm surprised O'Neal didn't label Woods an ESPY hog.


I WENT TO the Thomas & Mack Center to see how Henry Bibby would fit in on his new job as coach at Nevada Las Vegas, and I learned a lesson: Don't pack someone's bags until you scout the location they're headed.

Bibby's not the right guy for this place.

No one comes to these Runnin' Rebel games, although Monday night's contest was entertaining fare, with Utah winning. I thought I was in the Sports Arena for a USC-Arizona State game.

UNLV needs a Rick Pitino, someone who dresses like a pit boss and who looks comfortable getting in and out of limousines. Steve Lavin would fit in here, but Bibby is too businesslike for a place built to entertain. How about Pitino and Lavin working as co-coaches, you know, like Siegfried and Roy?


I FORGOT. UCLA Athletic Director Peter Dalis has given Lavin a vote of confidence. That's like one of the casinos here giving you a free tug on a slot machine to win $30 million.


SOME PEOPLE WONDER why it's necessary to pay athletes so much money, but I think it's pretty clear. For example, the Philadelphia Phillies gave pitcher Robert Person $3 million last Friday, which enabled him to pay the $1,000 bail to be released Monday after disobeying police officers and trying to kick out the windows of a police car.


FUNNY THAT THE same week the movie "Hannibal" came out, there came the announcement that Mike Tyson will try to chow down on Lennox Lewis next.


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

"What makes you qualified to attack and trash NBA players, especially like J.R. Rider, Kobe and Shaq. Have you ever tried walking in their shoes?"

Can't afford the $179.


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

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