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Morning briefing

Lakers take all the hits for others

June 16, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers' victory in Game 5 Sunday night helps, but the sting of the epic loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals lingers. For one thing, it provided NBC's Jay Leno with plenty of fodder.

"Did you see that game last night?" he said on Friday's show. "The Lakers choked so badly even the crooked refs couldn't help them.

"But it's good news for Hillary Clinton. She will no longer be known as the biggest collapse of the year.

"How many of you were celebrating at halftime, thinking the Lakers had won? Don't feel bad -- that's what the Lakers were doing. That was the problem."

And this from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Cemetery workers swear they could smell cigar smoke wafting up from Red Auerbach's grave."

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Trivia time

The Lakers beat the Celtics in an NBA Finals for the first time in 1985, four games to two. But the Lakers lost Game 4, 107-105, at the Forum. Who made the game-winning shot as time was running out?

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A silver lining

Not everyone in Los Angeles was upset about Thursday night's Game 4 loss. At T.J. Simers' charity event at the Nokia Theatre on Friday night, Vin Scully, tongue in cheek, said: "I'm one who is very thankful for the Lakers -- exceptionally so. Bless them. The Dodgers lost 9 to nothing [Thursday] and it was great. All I hear about is the Lakers' loss.

"Thank you, Lakers, thank you so very much."

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Out-manned

At the event featuring Scully and John Wooden, with Simers serving as moderator, The Times' acerbic columnist was no match for Wooden.

When Simers referred to Wooden as "the Wizard," a nickname the legendary coach very much dislikes, he said, "I told you not to say that."

When Simers persisted, Wooden said, "If this wasn't for charity, I'd never be here with you."

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Everyone's friend

Legendary broadcaster Jim McKay, who died June 7 on his farm near Monkton, Md., outside Baltimore, always came across as a regular guy.

Terry Jastrow of Brentwood, former senior golf producer for ABC Sports who attended McKay's funeral in Baltimore last week, said a story told by McKay's son Sean McManus, the president of CBS News and Sports, exemplified that.

"Sean was at his daughter's high school lacrosse game when he got the call that Jim had passed away," Jastrow said. "He immediately took a train to Baltimore and hailed a cab. He asked the cab driver if he was familiar with the Monkton area.

"The cab driver replied, 'Yes, I know the Monkton area. Did you hear we lost our friend Jim McKay today?' "

Added Jastrow: "That illustrates how Jim was a friend to everyone."

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His lone regret

Among the speakers at the McKay funeral was James Frontlieu, McKay's oldest grandson.

"He said his grandfather taught him how to drive a car and how to drive a golf ball," Jastrow said. "He also said he recently asked his grandfather, whom he called Pappa, if he had any regrets.

"At first he said he didn't, then paused and told James, 'Actually, I do have one regret. I wished I would have played golf more.' "

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Trivia answer

Dennis Johnson, who died Feb. 22, 2007, at age 52 after suffering a heart attack in Austin, Texas.

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And finally

Although back and hip problems have turned Bill Walton into a homebody since late February -- he's just now getting up and around -- he's usually all over the place this time of year. That has meant he hasn't been home very often to celebrate Father's Day with his four sons -- Adam, 32, Nathan, 30, Luke, 28, and Chris, 26.

But that's OK. "When you have sons as wonderful as mine," he said, "every day is Father's Day."

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

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