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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

It's Nice to Have a Chance to Put His Affairs in Order

March 01, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

I don't know if you watch "The View" in the mornings, but I do, and that's why I know so much about the opposite sex and I'm in touch with my feelings as much as I am.

I've been married for 28 years, and while you might say my wife is one lucky person, I have to tell you, spending as much time as I do around bad teams and uncaring athletes, sometimes I require additional sensitivity training.

I read Plaschke, of course.

But what I really look forward to is a Jill Lieber story in USA Today, and while you may not recognize the byline, Jill gets all the stories about people who pretty much insist that she write just nice things about them--which she's happy to do, of course.

Last year Jill was the only one to get an interview with Ram owner Georgia Frontiere before the Super Bowl, and while men may be from Mars, I believe Georgia is from another world. But Jill hung in there, and quoted Georgia as saying she never consummated her eight-year marriage to Dominic Frontiere.

Now I read something like that, and I just cry. Maybe I laugh until I cry, but I cry.

So I was really excited Wednesday to open my USA Today and find a picture of Jeanie Buss staring back at me, and a story written by Jill. Now if only I could have seen Phil Jackson's face, but he was in Denver with the Lakers.

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ANYWAY, I'M READING the story, and I notice from the very start Jill is telling us Jeanie does her best work in the nude, detailing her Playboy appearance a few years ago in nothing but a bra, garter belt and spiked heels, and a Sports Illustrated photo shoot that had her stripping to the waist and holding two basketballs in front of her.

This offended my sensitivities, of course, and after trying to dig up an old Playboy to verify the accuracy of Jill's report, I called Jeanie.

"I'm getting the idea here you do your best work in the nude," I said.

Remember, I knew her boyfriend was in Denver.

Jeanie just laughed, and said she has nothing to be ashamed about, and based on my research, I would have to agree.

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NOW SOME PEOPLE have made jokes about Phil, the Lakers' coach, dating Jeanie, the Laker boss' daughter, and the USA Today story goes so far as to report that L.A. sports columnists and radio talk show hosts "have stopped blaming Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant . . . for the Lakers' uninspired play."

I hope people around the country don't think we've stopped blaming Shaq and Kobe. I might take a day or two off and blame J.R. Rider, but by and large I think we're all prepared to harp on this Kobe and Shaq thing until they win another title. In fact I plan on taking credit for the Lakers winning another title, but that's a Kobe and Shaq story for another day.

The USA Today story goes on to say these unnamed L.A. sports columnists are pointing fingers at Jeanie, because Phil is madly in love and he has been distracted.

I haven't noticed any change in Phil--he still just sits there not doing much of anything.

"Things have been said and written, and even my father has been disappointed in the way the media has treated this relationship," Jeanie said. "I still don't see the fascination people have with this. We're not talking Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston here--OK, so maybe we are an unusual pairing, but I don't see why people care."

Hey, Larry King was interviewing Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell the other night. We care.

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ALTHOUGH SHE'D LIKE to be left alone, Jeanie is well-armed with perspective, and a sense of humor. For example, she says she enjoys the books Phil gives her, but if they are going to stay together, "I'm going to need to take an Evelyn Woods speed reading course." Now that's funny.

She said when it was suggested that Phil's new book might be entitled, "I Dream of Jeanie," she laughed. Phil doesn't laugh much, of course.

"I understand the business," Jeanie said. "I just don't want anything to be a distraction to the team."

In that case, I would urge the Lakers not to use the Internet and search for copies of the 1995 May issue of Playboy with Nancy Sinatra on the cover, Cindy Brown as the centerfold with an interview with Camile Paglia.

"You know, we're just like everybody else," Jeanie said. "Phil leaves the cap off the top of the toothpaste. . . . "

Wait until they are married--he'll have to be more sensitive and put the cap on the toothpaste. I know from experience, he'll have no choice.

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SPEAKING AS A columnist, I'm going to miss Ryan Leaf. Fortunately, the Dodgers aren't going anywhere.

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I WAS SURPRISED to hear Thurman Thomas didn't hold out for more money before signing a one-day contract to retire as a Buffalo Bill.

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I STILL MARVEL at Chick Hearn's nightly energy, excitement and the entertainment he brings to a Laker broadcast.

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SO ROB JOHNSON wins, and he has to stay in Buffalo, and Doug Flutie loses, and he gets to warm up.

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DENVER HADN'T SCORED 100 points in 10 games--then the Lakers came to town.

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THE WINNER OF Saturday's Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz bout at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas will fight in Beijing next. Promoter Don King discussed that future fight--speaking in Chinese the other day, and those in attendance seemed to have an easier time understanding him than when he spoke in English.

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

"So Michelle thinks you're sexy, does she? Did you tell her about your dangling participles?"

I believe my wife was getting in contact with her.

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

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