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Playing Opportunistic Ball at UCLA

January 13, 2001

To hear Steve Lavin call Rick Pitino an "opportunist" after Pitino voluntarily left the Celtics and $27 million in compensation because they were not performing further illustrates that Lavin is trying to move Fantasyland from Anaheim to Westwood. I think a better example of "trying to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity" would be sitting by quietly as your boss gets fired and then inheriting his job with no experience.

Please face it, Lavin, the only one still buying your canned answers, lame excuses and rationalizations is you. But look on the bright side, maybe next year Pitino will keep you on as an assistant.

CLIFF CHEW, Los Angeles

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If there is anything more pathetic than the current state of the once-peerless UCLA basketball program, it has to be Steve Lavin calling Rick Pitino an opportunist. Maybe Lavin should scrape some of that hair gel off his scalp and let his brain get some fresh air.

The truth is, Pitino is the real thing--a veteran Division I coach who has won the Big Dance, which is to say, just the type of coach worthy of UCLA's basketball program. Lavin is and was a scrub with no credentials who betrayed his mentor and kissed up to Pete Dalis for his promotion.

E. BIN, South Pasadena

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So Pete Dalis just happens to keep a handy list of available coaches (like Rick Pitino) at the ready.

Well then, why didn't he bother to read it the day he promoted Steve Lavin from a $16,000-a-year bench coach to the $500,000-a-year head coach of college basketball's most storied program? Go figure, or maybe Lavin was at the top of his list.

TOM TRUMPLER, Camarillo

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Pete Dalis is holding secret talks with Rick Pitino about the UCLA coaching job? You don't talk to replacements for a coach unless you have decided to replace your coach. Then you let the current coach know first.

This is the equivalent of Mike Garrett's firing of John Robinson with a message on his answering machine. Steve Lavin learns that Dalis is looking for a replacement by hearing it in the media.

If Dalis ever had any moral high ground in the firing of Jim Harrick, he just lost it.

MICHAEL HESSE, Westlake Village

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Did Pete Dalis botch the phone call with Rick Pitino story? Yes.

Should Dalis just have kept quiet about making the phone calls? Yes.

Did Dalis damage his own reputation with this? Yes.

Should he care? No.

Should he and the boosters go after Pitino with every ounce of energy as if the future of the once-proud Bruin basketball program depends on it? Yes!

TONY SIRACUSA, Pasadena

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