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Will Donald Sterling get the message?

MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

The firing of Mike Dunleavy leaves open all kinds of possibilities with writer’s favorite owner, including the return of Larry Brown.

March 11, 2010|By Mark Heisler

Donald T. Sterling

Sterling World Plaza

Beverly Hills. Calif. 90210

Dear Donald,

Jenny Diver, oh Sukey Tawdry, look out Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown.

Yeah, that line forms on the right, babe, now that... Donald's back in town!

Forgive me, I'm so overjoyed at the sight of you being you again after all these years of acting like an NBA owner.

Look at it from my perspective for once. You were a treasure and then you were gone, or, worse, ordinary. It was like seeing the Abominable Snowman on a commuter train in a suit and tie, reading the paper.

Apparently, reports of your passing were greatly exaggerated!

You Da Don again!

Da Don And Only!

The Don of Dons!

Not that it's great news for Clipper Nation.

If you're really you, everything could soon be in pieces around you, and ESPN'S Bill Simmons, who compared Mike Dunleavy to an undertaker, could be calling his time "The Good Old Days."

The first question everyone wants to know from you is:

If you were going to fire Mike/force his resignation as GM, why not do it when you fired him/forced his resignation as coach?

Instead, you waited a month, didn't tell him it was coming and left your people to explain the unexplainable, suggesting once more you're — how to put this gently? — clueless.

Look out, old Donnie's back!

Of course, there's a method to your cluelessness. Isn't there?

It's not Jerry West. People close to him say there are 29 NBA teams he'd talk with, but after Elgin Baylor's unhappy ending, you didn't make the list.

That leaves the once-and-perhaps future Clippers coach, Larry Brown, with whom you were recently exchanging longing looks.

Amid reports he reached out to you or vice versa, I heard your heart went pop, and he was interested enough to ask Billy King, who once ran his front office in Philadelphia, to do it here.

I know you and Larry have stayed close, that he's running on fumes in Charlotte with his family in Philadelphia, and that if he had his choice, he and the fam would be out here in a blinding flash.

There are just two problems:

One, I don't think he has a choice.

Two, with Michael Jordan buying the Bobcats, Larry's anxiety level may have abated.

Brown has two more years on his Bobcats contract, so without an "out" clause — the informed consensus of people close to him is there is none — he could only ask to be released.

The contact leading to SI.com's report that Brown "reached out" to you came at the Bobcats' Feb. 22 game here, where one of your top guys was seen talking with him, according to a source, "right in front of everybody."

That night, Brown was gloomily awaiting the sale of the team — I talked to him about it too — thinking there was no way Jordan could find the money.

Instead, five days later, Jordan stunned everyone by putting up his own.

"That means everything," Larry said when the sale was announced. "We all love him and respect him and want him involved."

Not that this may be cleared up soon. Almost two weeks after the announcement, Jordan has yet to admit he bought the team, or say anything.

Even with Commissioner David Stern jumping up and down with glee, promising an "expedited process," Jordan says he can't talk until he's approved.

What a news conference that will be! Mike can not only lay out his plans for the future, he can break the news to Bobcats fans if Brown is staying or going!

I'm a Larry Brown guy, myself. Leaving out dealings with employers, he's a mensch, so if he's as insecure as brilliant — "always looking for the next lily pad to land on," someone said Wednesday — nobody's perfect.

I'm a Dunleavy guy too, but his departure was carved in stone.

Dunleavy has another $6 million of your money coming (forget suing for failing to seek employment, he knows that one) but there goes his shot at executive of the year if the budding roster he leaves behind crashes the .500 barrier.

On the other hand, your new GM, Neil Olshey, Dunleavy's protege and right-hand man, could get it!

You guys are a bigger mystery than Mars. The other GMs voted Elgin the 2006 executive of the year, missing the fact Dunleavy had taken over the basketball operation.

I know you remember Elgin, if sadly.

That was another dark-of-night move your people didn't even try to explain. Elg was gone for months before they acknowledged it.

But let's not dwell on the past. What times we'll have!

Don, Don, Don, Don, Don, da, Don!

Mark

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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