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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Plan Could Turn Him Into a Real Auction Hero

November 01, 2001|T.J. Simers

I don't know if you saw the story about Spike Lee auctioning off one of his $1,600 seats to the Washington Wizard-New York Knick game, an anonymous donor bidding $101,300 for it and giving it to the daughter of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11.

At first, I was a little upset, wondering why Spike the Benevolent One hadn't given the little tyke his autograph--thereby giving the Benevolent One time to be seen by Michael Jordan and the TV cameras at courtside--and then "Do The Right Thing," and give his own seat to the kid's mother, who presumably was standing somewhere or waiting outside Madison Square Garden for the game to end.

I realized, however, that might be unfair, and I was being too harsh on Lee, who didn't have to surrender one of his seats for Jordan's comeback game.

So I looked into this story further, and learned Lee had given away his wife's ticket for the game, and I got to thinking maybe he was really on to something here, and this could catch on, you know, strictly for the benefit of charity.

I just wish I had known of this sooner, because tonight my wife and I have expensive tickets for the King game, and it would have been nice to raise some money for a worthy cause in a similar fashion.

I would have been more than willing to auction off my seat, and have someone go to the hockey game in my place--with my wife.

Given the short notice, however, I realize it would've taken a millionaire to make this work, because the winning bidder would also have had to pick up my wife's refreshment tab during the game.

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I'M PRETTY sure we haven't heard the end of this, however.

The money-grubbers at USC, who are always looking for ways to kick-start their fund-raising campaigns, have probably already thought of a new marketing plan: "Buy Two Tickets, Auction One Off For The Benefit Of USC And Leave The Wife At Home."

Anyone who has gone to a USC football game recently with his wife, the questions coming nonstop--"Why is it always the Trojan receivers who drop the ball? How come Mike Garrett isn't doing a better job coaching these guys? Wouldn't it be more entertaining if the band played four quarters, and the football team performed only at halftime?"--probably will welcome such a plan.

There might even come a point when USC fans are willing to give away both of their tickets.

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WHEN IT came time for the Lakers' ring ceremony, I noticed Jeanie Buss, the executive vice president of business operations, got a high-five from Phil Jackson, while Kobe Bryant shook her hand and Shaquille O'Neal kissed her.

I called Buss on Wednesday, and asked if she had any announcement she would like to make at this time.

When she stopped laughing, she said, "Shaq's adorable," but no, nothing has changed. "I had asked everyone to shake my hand to provide some continuity and conformity to the ceremony, but of course Phil had to do something no one expects and he caught me off guard--that's our relationship."

He has pretty much the same relationship with the Lakers, every once in a while doing some coaching--and catching the guys off guard.

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EVERYONE ATTENDING the Laker opener received a gold championship ring with "Fox Sports Net" engraved into one side. Fox is still working on a way to have Fox Sports Net change into a advertisement for "Ally McBeal," or "The Tick," while the ring remains on your finger.

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O'NEAL SAID, "If I don't get four or five rings by the time I'm through, I won't be happy as a player."

I presume he wasn't talking about the Fox Sports Net rings.

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I'D MAKE one adjustment to these Wizard of Oz commercials they've been running to celebrate Jordan's return. I'd have Jordan and Scottie Pippen skipping arm-in-arm down the yellow brick road in search of their youth.

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AFTER THE Lakers' first game, point guard Lindsey Hunter said he was "lost at times," while running the offense, but he said he knows primarily where to go with the ball. I suggested that's no big secret--just get the ball to Shaq or Kobe.

"Phil hates that," said Hunter, which explains why he was looking for Samaki Walker and Slava Medvedenko--Phil's way of keeping the games close, I guess.

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AFTER GLEN Rice and Isaiah Rider, Mitch Richmond appears to have the disposition and the shot to really separate the Lakers from the pack.

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YOU LOOK at the Raiders, Rams, Bears and Steelers all sitting there with only one loss each, and I'm sure you're as surprised as I am to see one of those teams in such lofty company for a change. But I forgot to take into consideration how motivated Jon Gruden must be to impress the Notre Dame brass.

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I HOPE the wackos in Philadelphia--the more than 7,000 that e-mailed me--eventually hear what Staples Center President Tim Leiweke had to say at the ring ceremony: "We watched Philadelphia hang banners on buildings, on bridges that said, 'Beat L.A.' Tonight, we'll teach them that you hang banners on arena walls."

That's tleiweke@staplescenter.com.

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SPORT CHALET sent out a news release indicating stores in Burbank, Long Beach, Torrance and West Hills would begin selling Bryant's new shoe, "KOBETWO," at 12:01 this morning.

You don't think that's why he brought attention to his shoes in the team's first game--decorating them to look like an American flag?

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THE MEDIA made UCLA the overwhelming favorite to win the Pacific 10 basketball title this season, giving the team 24 of 27 first-place votes, and making it appear as if someone would really have to bungle things to mess this up.

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TODAY'S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Michael Mitchell:

"Keep up the good work, T.J. As long as you're around, I will never be the dumbest or most hated person on Earth."

You must get really nervous when my columns don't appear in the paper.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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