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T.J. Simers

Lakers Weren't About to Leave Him Out in Cold

May 02, 2003|T.J. Simers

Here was the deal before Thursday night's Laker game: If the Lakers lost, and a seventh game was necessary Saturday to decide this round of the playoffs, I was going to have to board an airplane to Minneapolis.

If the Lakers won, I'd be covering the Dodgers Saturday night and talking about the donkey mascot with the guys.

I wonder who the Dodgers were rooting for in this game?


NOW I'VE had trouble taking Minnesota seriously ever since it dawned on me that it is Channel 4's Fred Roggin over there coaching the Timberwolves.

Minnesota's coach might call himself Flip, which pretty much describes Fred's approach to everything on TV or radio, but let me ask you, have you ever seen the two guys at Staples Center at the same time?

Did you notice how they fold their arms exactly the same way and can't seem to wipe that smart aleck smirk off their faces. Separated at birth or the same guy?

I'm sure the Lakers gave that serious thought, which would account for their attention lapses in Games 2 & 3 before deciding it was time to wipe that smirk off Flip/Fred's face. And how many athletes in L.A. have wanted to do that at one time or another?


I HADN'T made any airplane or hotel reservations for Minneapolis because never for a second did I think I'd be doing anything else Saturday night other than wearing a batting helmet and tiptoeing past Kevin Brown's locker.

Hard to explain these Lakers, though, because they were losing, 30-25, at the end of the first quarter in a game you'd figure they would be the all-time locks to win.

I can imagine what Dodger Manager Jim Tracy was thinking momentarily when he heard that score: "Thank heavens." But imagine being a poor Laker fan and knowing the real tough teams to beat are San Antonio and Sacramento, and Flip/Fred's guys are beating you by five points.

I mean, that was an ex-Clipper scoring the final seven points of the first quarter for Minnesota, but then why not -- hasn't this season been about Laker comebacks?


THE LAKERS came back to lead by four at the half, and after they built a 17-point lead, Minnesota closed to within six points at the end of the third quarter. The Lakers made it a 10-point game early in the fourth, which had to be a much-needed confidence builder for Phil Jackson, who had his hands full in this series for a while against Flip/Fred.

Now it really gets tough, though, for the Lakers and the Dodgers. While I'm off to Dodger Stadium, the Lakers are headed to San Antonio, which is 4-0 against L.A. this season.

The Spurs have the NBA coach of the year in Gregg Popovich. The Lakers have Phil. Popovich got 41 first-place votes and 281 points. Phil got four. Points. He didn't get a single first-place vote. Flip/Fred got five first-place votes, and he's going home for the seventh season in a row after being eliminated in the first round.

The Spurs also have Tony Parker, named this week one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," which means San Antonio has brains and beauty.

The Lakers can counter with Kobe and Shaq, who both figure to be behind the Spurs' Tim Duncan when voting for the NBA's MVP is announced.

It doesn't look good for the Lakers, which has to be great news for anyone hoping for a fourth consecutive title, because when it all looks lost for these guys, that's when they've responded with their best.

They weren't going to make the playoffs, they were going to be lucky to be seeded eighth, they could climb as high as No. 6, and yet somehow they finished No. 5. They were down two games to one to Minnesota, in trouble in Game 4, and look at them now.

Make it easy on them, and they want no part of it. Bring on San Antonio and Sacramento, give them the home-court edge, and it's what the Lakers seemingly wanted all season. The Spurs and Kings will probably get the best the Lakers have to offer; it's the weak sister who survives in the East whom Laker fans probably should worry about.


AS FOR the Dodgers, I should be there by 3:30 p.m. or so Saturday.


THE BIDDING for ringside seats for the Lennox Lewis fight stops tonight at 11. Two front-row seats, which opened at $3,000, are going for $4,050, while rows 2 and 3 are available at $3,000.

Remaining tickets go on sale Saturday and will range from $75 to $950 -- giving some folks the chance to sit beside those who bid for tickets and paid more than $2,000 each for $950 seats. The winning bidders, however, also receive valet parking, hospitality upgrades, an autographed boxing glove from Lewis and Staples Center President Tim Leiweke's sincere appreciation for not leaving him hanging out there now that it appears Mike Tyson won't be on the card.


HERE'S MY trifecta-box choice for the Kentucky Derby: Ten Most Wanted, Funny Cide and Indian Express. I made my selections before being influenced by Misery, a.k.a Bob Mieszerski, The Times' horse racing handicapper, so I could have a chance to win.


TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Cheryl "Let's Go Ducks" Roach:

"Every day I anxiously scan the newspaper for Ducks hockey information. Imagine my surprise and delight to see almost a whole page devoted to the Ducks -- until I read the article by T.J. Simers. This person's attempt at humor was not only insulting to the paying fans, but the thousands of fans glued to their seats at home."

Tell me more about these poor people glued to their seats.

T.J. Simers can be reached at

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