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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Some more advice for dear Donald Sterling

The Clippers' high hopes have been dashed early, but that's nothing new for their longtime embattled owner.

November 13, 2010|Mark Heisler

Donald T. Sterling

Sterling World Plaza

Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210

Dear Donald,

I knew you could use a little cheering up ... so I wrote you a letter!

Of course, for anyone who doesn't know you, you can always use a little cheering up.

Nevertheless, here we are, at the start of another season, when you dared to hope once more....

And now this.

Why does this keep happening?

The gods have it in for you?

Mike Dunleavy knows voodoo?

Coincidence?

Actually, if a 1-9 start is a bummer, it's not an unmitigated disaster.

Something actually just went right when Baron Davis got hurt.

The team took off like a rocket with rookie Eric Bledsoe, whom no one thought was ready.

Unfortunately, it was like a rocket that kept running out of fuel.

After beating the Thunder by 15, your guys led the Nuggets by 10 in Denver and the Jazz by 18 in Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately, they lost both, and the next two at New Orleans and San Antonio

I know how hard you take losses — even after 1,506 of them — and how exhilarated you are by wins — even if there have been only 793 in 27 seasons.

Did you ever hear the saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day"?

You have a great young team and I'm not just saying it because I have a column due — although I have a column due.

I don't care what the standings say with your fledglings in a schedule crunch and then — oops — losing to the Pistons too.

If teams could trade rosters, half the league would take yours without a second thought.

Of course, the way it usually works, they do take yours, without a second thought.

Teams would line up around the block for Blake Griffin — and one will get him in 2012 if this doesn't turn around.

If you're on the clock, you have a rare opportunity with your young guys who hang out together in a collegiate atmosphere, like the Thunder with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, et al.

With a reason to believe, your guys would stay, like Durant, who signed his extension without a thought of leaving Oklahoma City for brighter lights anywhere else.

Before the season, everyone thought it was up to Davis, a real point guard if he's (ever) up to speed, to make it work.

Instead, Baron was awful, but if all fingers pointed at him, so was almost everyone.

With Randy Foye out too, new Coach Vinny Del Negro had to start Bledsoe ... at which point Gordon turned into the star he was supposed to be last season, when he took 12.6 shots a game.

Unfortunately, for all Bledsoe's promise, he's not in Baron's league running a team.

Worse, with Bledsoe, your No. 1 problem — outside shooting — is worse.

Your guys are at 29% on three-pointers, No. 29 in the league. At the end of Friday's game, the Pistons swarmed all over Griffin and Gordon and let everyone else brick away.

Things have to get better.

Of course, I know you were hoping to see it in your lifetime.

Because you're only at the start of this process, again, a lot remains to be done, on and off the court.

Apart from catastrophic injury, one great peril looms:

That would be you.

I remember the 2001-02 season and another bunch of young crowd pleasers: Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.

Lightning has already struck for you twice with that bunch and this bunch, to say nothing of your other No. 1 overall picks, Danny Manning and Michael Olowokandi.

My advice — I know, you live for this part — is to do it Jerry Buss' way: Listen to your people who got you here, spend whatever it takes.

Let's review last season's cost-cutting trade, Marcus Camby for Portland's Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw, both shooters, both gone.

After three years of decrying Dunleavy, this feels alarmingly like your 20 seasons before him, a.k.a., the Bad Old Days.

I know, you have a business to run. Actually, it runs great, with $50 million to $100 million in profits in 11 seasons in Staples Center.

(I know the bottom line doesn't show it and I know why. You off-load profits by any means necessary, like the time you prepaid half of Alvin Gentry's salary.)

I understand that trusting/spending isn't appealing.

How about this?

Put the franchise in trust!

You still own it, you get the credit if things work out and you have someone to blame if they don't!

How about letting me run it and you can write me letters?

If you prefer someone with less history than we have, here's a list of people who can handle it.

In alphabetical order: 1) Anthony A. Aardvark...

Just kidding, he's a fictional creation of Mad Magazine. Otherwise, he'd do as well as anyone.

I know you have questions, such as "What is he talking about?"

I'm here if you need me, whether you realize it or not.

Eternally,

Mark

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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