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MORNING BRIEFING

Give Lakers the title now

October 29, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

I just watched the Lakers play and I'm already worried about next season's opening night.

You know there are going to be questions about how hungry the guys are after winning the 2008-09 NBA championship, Lamar Odom named the sixth man of the year and Sasha Vujacic the Finals' MVP.

DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell will be fresh off their appearance on Letterman, and there's going to be a ring ceremony, and you know what a distraction that can be.

Boston's Paul Pierce broke down crying when he received his ring Tuesday night. And you can just imagine what a mess Vic the Brick is going to be after the Champs' banner is unveiled to begin next season.

Phil Jackson will have moved past Red Auerbach in championships won, and by then for all we know he might be married to Jeanie and coming off his honeymoon.

AS GOOD as the Lakers looked after just two quarters, I don't think anyone is going to quibble if public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter starts referring to the Lakers the rest of the season as Champs.

The Champs will probably be 14-1 by the end of November, or better if they can slip past the Clippers tonight, and 25-3 when they meet Boston on Christmas Day. The biggest concern facing the Champs now is making the games more entertaining than this opening-night yawner.

Had they played the World Series on Tuesday night, some fans might have been forced to turn to it.

The Champs demolished Portland by 20, a team Jackson likened to New Orleans before the game with the capability of surprising everyone in the NBA. The surprise will be if TNT puts the Trail Blazers on TV again any time soon.

The Champs already tower over the opposition, starting two 7-footers. Portland started one, and he's a clod, who then turned his ankle. Only one of the Champs is a clod, but he can score like crazy.

If you're still not sure which 7-footer I'm talking about, he's the one who argues with the referee every time they whistle him for a foul. I have no idea why the refs pick on Pau Gasol so much, but maybe it's their way of trying to even things out.

Because it's just not fair when the Lakers can bring Odom, Trevor Ariza and Vujacic off the bench. Mitch Kupchak gave up Brian Cook and Maurice Evans for Ariza, and just like many of you thought, it's just a matter of time before Kupchak is named NBA executive of the year.

Ariza is supposed to be a very good defender, but he was the offensive spark early on against Portland, and if he's going to be successful from three-point range, who needs Vladimir Radmanovic? Sorry, sometimes it's just hard to picture him a Champ.

The Champs are deep, all right, which should make it so much easier to play back-to-back games, which usually takes its toll on the best of teams. The Champs have seven of those before the first of the year -- two coming on the road against New Orleans, but no sweat.

A year from now, everyone a little heavier from making the banquet circuit, and not so starved for a title, maybe it will be a bigger struggle. It always is to repeat as Champs.

But right now the Champs look absolutely unbeatable.

I ASKED Jackson a question before the game, and while I didn't hear the compliment in its entirety, he mentioned Shakespeare and Page 2 in the same sentence.

TIM LEIWEKE invited Page 2 to a Kings' game, and why of course, as long as Beckham goes, too.

Both Leiweke and Beckham were at the Lakers' game, the problem obvious now -- there's no getting Beckham to a Kings' game. Nice to know he's no different than the rest of us.

NO WAY the Angels let Garret Anderson go elsewhere -- not like this -- in a straight-forward, business-like news release without even a hint of thanks.

When Arte Moreno or Mike Scioscia discuss the Angels way, they are describing Anderson, who has brought only dignity, class and performance to the organization the last 14 seasons.

Here's hoping it's just about money, the Angels not wanting to pay $14 million, spending $3 million to find a middle ground and both sides arriving there in short order.

BACK IN 1996 when Norv Turner was head coach of the Redskins and everything went badly after a 7-1 start, he fired defensive coordinator Ron Lynn.

At the time I took Turner to task in print for shifting the blame to Lynn, and now here we are 12 years later after everything has gone badly, Turner dismissing Chargers' defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

Turner is 75-94 as a head coach, but I'm sure he could tell you how successful he might be if only he had good defensive coordinators working for him.

COLUMNIST JERRY CROWE wrote the other day about the young lady trying to raise money to advertise her dating availability during the Super Bowl.

I have some experience in these matters, still trying to unload Miss Radio Personality, and as I told the daughter, she should advertise during a hockey game.

It's cheaper, and anyone watching obviously has nothing going for them in life.

RIGHT NOW the umpires are probably the only ones thrilled to have Tampa Bay and Philadelphia playing in the World Series. That means most folks aren't watching the mistakes they're making.

TOO BAD they didn't let the World Series game go the distance in the rain the other night. Had Philadelphia won, the rain would have kept the city from burning.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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