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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Hoping for a Big Heaping of Truth, Hold the Mush

November 21, 2001|T.J. Simers

If you're going to have a grocery store bagger as your future son-in-law, you would think Thanksgiving would be the one day when that would pay off given all the pull he must have at Ralphs and the deal he could get on a turkey.

But late word has come to me he will be out of town for special training--I presume learning how to tie and untie his apron with both hands behind his back--so it will be just the two daughters, the wife, the two dogs under the table waiting for the wife to miss her mouth, and they usually don't go away disappointed, and myself.

Now in past years I've been in Dallas for Thanksgiving covering the Cowboys, one year having Randy Moss make nice with John Madden on the field and then refusing to talk with newspaper reporters--screaming in my face: "You all not TV."

Well, I showed him.

I know a number of sportswriters look forward to Thanksgiving so they can write a tear-jerker, or something nice and mushy about some poor sap down on his luck, but I just don't have any interest in talking to Bob Toledo these days.

And I already know Pete Carroll is thankful Toledo is coaching UCLA, so there's no reason to talk with him.

Besides, those "what-are-you-thankful stories" stories really bother me. The other day a TV guy told Phil Jackson his assignment was to ask that question, and Phil went on and on about his good health and the American way of life, and do you know how much trouble he'd be in if I made a major issue out of the fact he never mentioned Jeanie's name? Not once. Didn't offer a hint he was even thinking of her.

The thing is, he wasn't even telling the truth, because you and I both know this guy wakes up every morning, burns some incense and begins chanting: "Oh, thank you, thank you for MichaeI, Shaq and Kobe."

If you're Alvin Gentry and you have Michael Olowokandi at center, OK, so all you have going for you is your good health. You think he's "thankful" he's working for the cheapest owner in sports, or that his job rests on how often Lamar Odom opts to experiment?

Wouldn't it be nice--just one Thanksgiving--for folks in the world of sports to tell the truth before jumping into their Ferraris and driving away: "I'm thankful I was born with a body that allows me to make millions playing a game, and I'm really thankful I'll never have to shop at Kmart like you."

I don't think that's going to happen, though, and so we're probably going to get another helping of old-fashioned goop from our athletes on Thanksgiving with the media only too happy to serve it up.

Not me, though, I'm taking the rest of the week off, because I know how thankful you'll be to hear that. Happy Thanksgiving--indeed.

*

DALLAS OWNER Mark Cuban has accused Shaq of stepping across the line when he shoots free throws, but Gentry said, "I know one thing, I'm not going to make the big guy mad, so I'm not going to make a big deal out of it."

*

APPARENTLY OLOWOKANDI didn't get the message about upsetting the big guy. He scored the first two points against the Lakers, and Shaq & Co. were so offended, they scored the next 11.

*

THE CLIPPERS came storming back, and with Darius Miles doing a Michael Jordan takeoff and finishing with a thunderous slam, the Lakers listened to the L.A. crowd roar with approval for the Clippers, who closed to within a point in the final minutes of the second quarter.

This is beginning to be must-see basketball--the Clippers pushing the Lakers to play at another level, where they are capable of really putting on a show.

*

MY FAVORITE quote of the year so far came from Shaq before playing the Clippers, saying, "We have to play at their place."

*

COMEDIAN JON Lovitz sang the national anthem before the Laker-Clipper game, and after initially thinking they may have run out of singers in the Hollywood area, Lovitz rocked the house with a first-rate rendition.

*

JUST WAIT until that Final Four rematch with Ball State--the Bruins will have the advantage of playing for revenge.

*

THE PAST three opponents have been dining on Mission Bay Shrimp, and all that hoopla for Doug Flutie in San Diego has been replaced in some quarters with the call for rookie Drew Brees to replace him. The same thing happened in Buffalo with Flutie and Rob Johnson. I don't get it, but for some reason people are always quick to sell Flutie short.

*

THE FIFTH annual Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission calendar will be released next week, and while it contains schedules for the Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, Clippers, USC and UCLA as you might expect, it also includes the Raiders. I thought that odd until I read a read press statement.

"The calendar is an essential tool for all Los Angeles sports and entertainment fans," said Kathy Schloessman, explaining that it's important for all L.A. sports and entertainment fans to know where those Raider thugs are at all times.

*

WE'VE GIVEN a lot of attention to "Quidditch" the past two days in the sports section, and while I still don't know what it is, if I were the Ducks--I'd be worried it might start getting more coverage than their games.

*

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

"What time is your TV show on Fox? I've got to see if you look as pitiful as you come across."

3:30 a.m.

*

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

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