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T.J. SIMERS

The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus . . . and the Clippers

Who knows where a little belief can take you? Well, it's taking Page 2 on the road with Donald Sterling's team, which is generating excitement and making believers all over. Who'd have thought?

February 04, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling quietly watches his team play Utah during a 2010 preseason game.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling quietly watches his team play… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

I believe!

Any GP in the same predicament would tell you the same thing.

I took a few days this week to visit the grandkids in Arizona, finding the daughter upset when I arrived. She had just taken the 7-Eleven Kid and the twins to see the movie "We Bought a Zoo."

I remember as a parent how upset I was when I had to sit through dumb kid movies just because I was a father.

But she was angry because Matt Damon, the father in the movie, was saying he had a 7-year-old daughter who still thinks the Easter Bunny exists.

Well, the 7-Eleven Kid is six and when she smiles these days it's pretty obvious the Tooth Fairy recently paid her a visit.

She doesn't need Matt Damon ruining her fantasy world. The day will come when her mother explains how every girl dreams of Prince Charming only to settle for a Grocery Store Bagger.

When the 7-Eleven Kid asked me about the Easter Bunny, I told her a story about a loser who overnight becomes a sensation.

"Cinderella?" she said.

"Sterling," I told her. "Donald Sterling.

"I believe he will be the owner of one of the teams playing for the NBA championship this season," I said. "Maybe he gets a trophy and announces he's going to buy another fabulous apartment building in triumph, and to really celebrate, he's going to approve anyone as a tenant."

I told her that I was pretty sure Matt Damon doesn't believe that either, "but what does he know? He's a Red Sox fan and they are evil."

There will be others who disagree with GP, I told her. They will be Lakers fans. They will point out the Clippers have done nothing yet and their team has done so much.

This is why you will grow up to hate history, I told her, with teachers wanting to waste your time talking about things that have happened in the past. If anyone really cares, they can Google it.

I told her how much fun it is to believe in a fairy tale, and that's why I'm going to spend the next 10 days on the road with the Clippers.

When the Clippers dismantled Oklahoma City on Monday they became real. The next test is how they handle the road and Page 2.

So I will be with them in Orlando, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Dallas and in the paper beginning Tuesday, because they've got something going. And there's almost nothing more fun than being around a team when it has something good going.

Then I told her about the late Rams owner Georgia Frontiere, whom some people considered the wicked witch. As I explained, for all we know if given the chance she might've married the Easter Bunny.

"Believe what you want, kid," I said, while reminding her Santa Claus is watching. "But the Rams had something good going once and no one thought it would go anywhere with Georgia as owner.

"That is until she was holding the Lombardi Trophy high over her head."

WHEN NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned expansion the other day, I thought he was just trying to figure out a way to keep Tim Tebow in the league.

NEW ENGLAND 34, New York 30.

I CAUGHT the first episode of "Luck," the new depressing HBO series on horse racing, shocked to find this is what the sport and Santa Anita have been heavily promoting.

Why would a dying industry support something that confirms every negative stereotype?

If the point is to prove the sport attracts only degenerates and that cheating is just part of the sport, then well done.

In the first episode, a deceitful trainer gets long odds on a horse while giving the betting public almost no chance of winning the pick six at Santa Anita.

It reads like a Page 2 column. Seven years ago I wrote about the same thing happening at Santa Anita.

On the anniversary of my father's death, I placed a pick-six wager in his honor. He loved horse racing, didn't have the money to bet, but made it a hobby and worked hard to develop a system that might work if he ever did bet.

There was a considerable carryover the day I made the pick-six wager in his honor. But a 28-1 longshot took me out in the first race, as well as almost everyone else betting the pick six.

It turned out the horse had been drugged. The 28-1 shot's trainer, Vladimir Cerin, was punished later for milk shaking (baking soda delivered to a horse through his nose to aid his stamina).

When I talked to Cerin, he said, "You had no chance" of winning the pick six because in addition to the milk shake, the horse had undergone a surgical procedure on its throat allowing it to breathe freely after being unable to do so earlier.

I guess a horse that can breathe has a better chance of winning. I would think that would be good to know.

Cerin said "no one has any right to know" except the owner who paid for the surgery. And the trainer, of course.

Imagine the betting edge if you could bet just one horse in a series of six races while going deep with several selections in the others.

Same thing happened on "Luck." The pick-six winners picked one horse in the second leg — a considerable longshot that won, and knocked almost everyone else out.

If we find out in later episodes the pick-six longshot won because he could breathe better after surgery, how clever.

By the way, today marks the 30th anniversary of my dad's death. I won't be betting the pick six.

I just wish I could tell him it wasn't his system that failed, but a sport that refuses to take care of the folks who love it so.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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