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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

It Would Be Priceless to See Them Air It Out

March 14, 2001|T.J. SIMERS

I wish I could have seen the look on Shaquille O'Neal's face when he first heard the report Michael Jordan might return.

If you think O'Neal is upset now because Kobe Bryant hogs the ball, what are the odds of Kobe passing it to the big guy if the "next Jordan" gets the chance to play against the "real Jordan"?

As it is now, when Vince Carter, Allen Iverson or Jerry Stackhouse take the court, Kobe plays with blinders on.

Personally, I find it NBA entertainment at its best, but there are people like Phil Jackson who are ruining the professional game because they're insistent on letting Robert Horry or Devean George miss their shots.

This is known as team basketball, or allowing all the stiffs to touch the ball. How many people do you know who buy tickets to watch Brian Shaw?

Consider the work Phil has put in the past two years trying to corral Kobe's game, and if Jordan came back to play Kobe, we'd probably have to put blinders on Phil just to get him through the game.

"I'd enjoy watching it," he said, "But I would hope it would be something that didn't matter."

Disregarding Phil's subtle dig at Kobe once again, I think it would be exciting to see if Kobe could actually jump out of the building if afforded the chance to play against Jordan. Certainly the NBA record for most field-goal attempts in one game by one player would be in jeopardy.

I checked. The record is 63. Wilt Chamberlain took 63 on March 2, 1962, and scored 100 points, proving Bryant's theory, as well as my own, that if you want to score, you better throw it up there a lot.

Let's be clear here--I'm not suggesting Greg Foster start shooting more.

The way I look at it, every time Kobe shoots, one of the other guys who can't hit a thing isn't shooting. Right now Kobe's record for field-goal attempts in one game is 35--earlier this season when he scored a career-high 51 points.

The Lakers lost, of course, but do you really think anyone would care which team won if Jordan and Kobe had the opportunity to lock up one-on-one?

Anyone besides Phil and Shaq?

*

LOOK INTO THE mirror. I bet you're looking at a criminal.

I am surrounded by them here at The Times.

I called the police to tip them off, was transferred to Dave Gascon, the deputy chief for the Los Angeles Police Department, and informed him we had a March Madness office pool here in progress.

He was very interested. "So who do you like to go all the way?" he asked.

*

I CALLED THE state attorney general and the district attorney, and through their media representatives I got the distinct impression I was interrupting them as they pored over their own bracket sheets.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokesperson for District Attorney Steve Cooley, said Cooley could not tell me if office pools were legal. I told her I found it odd a district attorney didn't know the law but was willing to wager he probably knew who was favored in the East Regional when Iowa takes on Creighton.

I don't believe Sandi Gibbons will be inviting me to join her any time soon at the local Comedy Club. She made it clear she doesn't laugh, and told me legal opinions may only be made by the state attorney general.

I was about to ask her if she wouldn't mind faxing me Cooley's bracket when he was done, but for some reason we lost our telephone connection.

I called the state attorney general and got Nathan Barankin, a communications director, who seemed really depressed. I asked if he had just gotten off the phone with Gibbons, because I could relate.

No, he said, "None of my reporter friends have called in the last two years since I've been on this job to ask me to be in their basketball pool."

He told me, of course, right away that a pool is illegal, and he's not even an attorney like Cooley. I asked him how many office pool offenders have been busted in the state of California.

"None that I can think of," he said, but the mood he was in, I wouldn't be surprised if he hung up and turned in his newspaper friends.

*

IT IS illegal, however, and maybe more people break this law than any other on the books, but I wanted to take this opportunity and make amends with Jim Hahn, the city attorney running to be mayor of L.A.

I had done a story earlier asking the leading mayoral candidates to give their positions on the NFL returning to L.A., and Hahn reacted like a man who had been asked to repeat Albert Einstein's theory of relativity word for word. A spokeswoman said she would have to write down Hahn's response and deliver it to me in the form of a statement--I just took for granted he was too busy at the time working on his fantasy football team, and made fun of him.

You know how guilty I get when I do that, so I called his campaign office Monday, and again on Tuesday, offering him a chance to take a position on office pools, and make some hay with free press on this no-brainer issue in the race to become mayor. Once again, however, I was left with the impression he's easily stumped, and never heard back from his people.

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