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T.J. SIMERS

Complaints about Pete Carroll and Ralph Lawler are utterly ridiculous

Those bellyaching about the USC football coach and the Clippers' longtime announcer need to get a life.

November 24, 2009|T.J. Simers
  • Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler and USC Coach Pete Carroll have drawn the ire of some during one of the few weeks that columnist T.J. Simers was off.
Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler and USC Coach Pete Carroll have drawn… (Photos by Joe Murphy / Getty…)

I go away for a week, and you people just lose it!

I'll get to the Fox TV executives, and their inappropriate and idiotic comments regarding Ralph Lawler, as well as the guy who won't let his 8-year-old son hear Mike Smith's lame attempt at humor but has no problem sending the kid to school now that everyone knows his father is a Clippers season-ticket holder.

But first of all I have to know this: Are there that many people who have fallen off the perspective cliff, or just the 20 or so who chose to send a Saturday letter to The Times' sports section grousing about the job Pete Carroll is doing?

What did they want to do, feel what it was like to write like Plaschke for a day?

It's kind of accepted around here Plaschke is going to flip out every so often, and especially about USC, writing excitedly about UCLA's chances of winning Saturday, still trying to make that 2001 "Westwood Ho" point, "this is a Bruin football town, and has been a Bruin football town, and will continue to be a Bruin football town."

But you people, what is wrong with you? You've seen the incredible job Carroll has done in an age of college football parity, and you write ridiculous things like this: "Before trying to build 'A Better L.A.,' perhaps Pete Carroll should first figure out how to create a better USC football team."

Sometimes, I wonder whether sports is society's way of identifying morons, just a figure of speech, of course, for sports fans who lose a grip on reality because someone loses a game.

Some of it is backlash -- no one really liking USC fans. They are obnoxious, over the top and down on life when their team doesn't fight on, instead of being thankful they are not UCLA fans.

But whether you are a USC fan or had no choice but to go to UCLA, it's shocking to read something so shortsighted as this: "It seems Pete Carroll has gone from being an overpaid genius just to being overpaid."

Carroll is one of the best things to happen here in nearly a decade, responsible for so many enjoyable Saturdays, and although the consummate competitor, he always has an eye on fun.

Now no one enjoys teasing, poking and prodding Carroll more than Page 2, but I would argue he's the master of perspective in a world gone BCS crazy, Carroll usually saying the right thing when it comes to what really matters in sports.

I guess that makes him different from most letter writers.

AS FOR Lawler, no question there should be outrage -- outrage that he was suspended for a game along with Smith.

The Fox TV executives who suspended him are obviously out of touch, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn the folks who made such a decision were not based in L.A.

Where were the Clippers, though, when it came to fighting for Lawler?

Lawler belongs in the basketball Hall of Fame, and now because of this blow-up, which has gotten national attention, his wait will probably be longer. Now that's an outrage.

Lawler is an L.A. icon as much as the biggest names L.A. has to offer, overcoming a disastrous link to the Clippers to remain professional, entertaining and dependable for 31 years.

Like Tom Lasorda, there is no better community ambassador for his team, working more than 2,000 games in a row -- fewer than 900 wins in that time -- filling the dead air that comes with watching a dead team with first-class commentary.

So what happens? One night he's working a Clippers loss in Memphis, as low as one can go. Memphis has a player from Iran, and who else would have a player from Iran but one of the worst teams in the league?

The Clippers also have a season-ticket holder, and I'm as surprised as you are to learn of it.

Arya Towfighi, born to Iranian parents in Boston, took offense to an on-air exchange between Lawler and Smith and sent an e-mail to The Times, Clippers and Fox. He said he was upset because Smith and Lawler did not pronounce "Iran" properly.

I didn't know there was a proper way to pronounce "Iran," and maybe a broadcaster should, so shame on Lawler and Smith, but why was Towfighi watching the Clippers lose to Memphis? Talk about someone who needs to explain himself.

It got worse as Towfighi heard it, and usually does whenever Smith makes an attempt at humor. Nice guy, good family man, and all that, but when it comes to yukking it up, give me Rex Hudler instead.

Unfortunately, Lawler was stuck with Smith's mention of Borat, and knowing Lawler like I do, I'm betting he looked down to his scorecard to see if Memphis had a player named Borat.

When your broadcast partner says something dumb or something not very funny -- and I know this from working with Miss Radio Personality -- most broadcasters will try to save their daughter or partner by chiming in with a funny comeback or forced laugh.

Lawler laughed. No one has probably ever laughed before at Smith's attempt at humor, so he went on thinking he was funny and mentioned Sacha Baron Cohen.

I'm pretty sure the only Sacha that Lawler knows plays for the Lakers, and while he was probably thinking Smith lost it, he tried to move on.

He complimented the Iranian basketball player on a pass, and added, "I guess those Iranians can pass the ball."

That's as close as Lawler came to saying anything worthy of being second-guessed -- one line versus 31 years of extraordinary work.

It was enough, though, to upset the Clippers fan, who told The Times he asked his 8-year-old son to leave the room before replaying the on-air exchange -- so upset, I guess, he just wanted to hear it again.

As a result of Towfighi's complaint, Lawler and Smith were suspended and the Clippers Nation had to listen to Michael Eaves and Don MacLean do the team's next game.

Now that's an outrage.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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