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The Inside Track | T.J. SIMERS

That Is a Price Anyone Would Be Willing to Pay

November 06, 2001|T.J. Simers

You will probably never have the chance to be as heroic as he is, accepting only a $1-million guaranteed salary for the next eight months of work, even Brian Shaw's own Laker boss, Mitch Kupchak, saying of this noble deed: "To me it throws him into another category, going above and beyond the call of duty. I will never forget that."

I know the children at St. Francis of Assisi in Yorba Linda recently raised more than $4,300 for the families of those killed on Sept. 11--if only they had known of Shaw's sacrifice for the betterment of mankind.

His own teammate, Shaquille O'Neal, feeling Shaw's pain, said, "I'm sure his spirits are shattered a little bit."

There's some speculation this will hurt the Lakers in the future when word gets out the team is no longer paying more than $1 million to have someone pass the ball to Kobe or Shaq. There's talk the players are upset--most notably Shaq--with the way management has treated Shaw, although there has been no movement to take up a collection or allow him to use one of their extra BMWs.

So I guess that leaves Shaw as the first known millionaire martyr.

It's one thing to be heroic, however, quite another to go to work with a cold when you're only making $1 million and they're going to pay you whether you show up or not. So Shaw stayed home Sunday, and missed his first game back on the job.

There was good news Monday, however, Shaw appearing fine and fully recovered from the blue flu when he talked to reporters.

And I would imagine come Friday night when the Lakers play again and he makes his first appearance off the bench, he will be greeted by a rousing cheer from everyone in Staples, the paying customers feeling sorry for everything the millionaire has had to endure.

*

SO I read about Shaw in the morning newspaper and all the hand-wringing that came with the Lakers conducting belt-tightening business like most any other company in these tough times, and then I checked my e-mail to learn about the retirement of Susie Geck, who worked as a system analyst for The Times--and I know she wasn't making $1 million. I would imagine Plaschke is the only one playing in that ballpark.

Based on experience here, I also know her wages were not guaranteed, but I contacted her daughter and learned this was an employee who had begun working nights almost 34 years ago as a typist for The Times so her husband could go to school.

And she still had the energy, her daughter said with pride, to get up every morning to see her kids off to school--I swear sometimes I feel like I'm writing like Plaschke, but if that's what it takes to get into "that" ballpark....Anyway, she continued to work for The Times, finally calling it quits last weekend. Her loved ones this weekend threw her a party--and struggled to keep up with her as she danced the night away.

If only she had contributed as much as Cal Ripken or Tony Gwynn--there might have been a mention of her retirement in The Times.

*

THERE ARE days--even 24 hours after the most uplifting and exhilarating World Series ever--when we're reminded there is no proper perspective when it comes to sports and what really counts.

I can't imagine anything more emotional than a man announcing his retirement after 47 years on the UCLA campus, but when the sports desk asked columnist J.A. Adande to work on his day off, it wasn't to write about the emotions and tenure of Athletic Director Peter Dalis, but instead to weigh in on the five-game drug suspension of an immature basketball player.

If I was Adande, who wrote the same column about the same drug-suspended player last March, I would have told the bosses I had a cold.

*

NOW THERE might be differing opinions about Dalis' reign at UCLA, but when he said he has several "consulting opportunities" to consider after his retirement becomes official, I asked if any included helping USC's Mike Garrett.

I'm always looking for ways to help the Trojans.

Dalis came to UCLA as a freshman in 1955, paying $48 a semester, as he remembered it, driving down Westwood Boulevard and parking in front of the men's gym in the morning without any problem--or any need to take a handicapped space.

Yes, there have been moments to forget, but countless more to remember with UCLA winning 39 NCAA championships in his time on the job. He also had a sense of style, and a value system that served well a public institution that puts such a premium on education and competitive athletic programs.

UCLA will be fortunate to find such a worthy replacement.

*

I'VE DECIDED I'm going to remain in L.A. instead of going to New Orleans, so I can go to all the Ram and Raider Super Bowl parties.

*

AFTER UCLA'S nosedive out of the BCS standings, Coach Bob Toledo said, "I tell my team all the time--you're not going to win all the time."

I guess that explains why UCLA will never win a national championship.

*

QUARTERBACK Clint Stoerner had a pass intercepted on four consecutive drives last week while starting for the Cowboys, but Coach Dave Campo said Stoerner isn't losing his job based on performance. I believe him, because he's starting Ryan Leaf in his place.

WHAT DO you think the chances are of Clipper owner Donald Sterling slipping $7,500 to Coach Alvin Gentry to make up for the $7,500 NBA fine imposed on him for berating referee Ronnie Nunn after Saturday's loss to Golden State?

*

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

"I can't believe your wife is still married to you after all the nasty things you write about her."

To be honest, if she ever learns to read--I'm in trouble.

*

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

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