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Making the Lakers TV mess work for you

Showdowns with regional sports providers are here to stay, so figure out how to exploit such situations.

November 15, 2012|Chris Erskine
  • Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard watch during the second half of the Lakers' 99-91 loss to the Mavericks on Oct. 30, 2012.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard watch during the second half of the Lakers'… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

You turn here for mostly useless information, and I hate to disappoint, but here's a silver lining to this whole cable TV mess: If you're still among the 850,000 customers missing out on Lakers games, there are deals to be had in the standoff with Time Warner Cable.

So let Dish Network make its noble last stand — the NBA season doesn't really start till Christmas Day anyway. An extra $3.95 a month doesn't seem like much to you, but to me that's Thanksgiving dinner.

Time Warner Cable insists the consumer cost is mostly an accounting shift. But rest assured that you'll eventually pay for the regional network's $3-billion deal some way. And probably through the nose.

Till then, what's in it for you and me?

To keep me from jumping, Dish offered three months of its multisport Red Zone package, plus a choice of Cinemax or Starz for three months.

Note that Dish won't necessarily call you with these compensation offers. You have to reach out. And if you do, it's pure street ball.

Before DirecTV reached its agreement Thursday, it was doing handsprings to keep customers. A friend bargained for the NFL package that gives him all Sunday games, plus approximately $25 off his monthly bill for six months.

Point is, these showdowns with regional sports providers are here to stay. So don't just sit back and mutter over these stupid disputes. Exploit them.

I'm only here to help.

Meanwhile, tell me this: You knew this Lakers season — so pregnant with promise, so fatuous with fanfare — was ripe for absurdity, but did you ever imagine anything like this? In a town of long-running sitcoms, the Lakers continue to be our finest work.

Honestly, after her loopy performance on election night, Diane Sawyer seemed the obvious choice for the Lakers coaching job. She obviously possesses the proper gravitas and mental acuity.

Now starting at point guard for the Lakers: Chardonnay Jones. Hiccup.

I know, I know, Sawyer was just "fatigued" the night she stumbled through election coverage. I can sympathize; I get fatigued every Saturday night, especially if there's a six-pack of decent fatigue on sale.

But what sober person would ever take that Lakers post, the place coaching careers come to die? Napoleon had more fun in Russia.

All I know for sure is that this is one of the greatest news cycles of all time: elections, coaching coups, debt crises, sex scandals.

In fact, in the aftermath of the Mike Brown firing, some suggested Gen. Petraeus would make an excellent coach. But that's just silly. You'd really let that guy anywhere near the Laker Girls?

I will concede that this Jill Kelley, the "Tampa Kardashian," shows great promise. If she doesn't wind up married to one of the Lakers, I'll lose all faith in the redemptive powers of complete and total love.

Speaking of which, just imagine what Thanksgiving will be like in the Buss mansion. "Phil, nice to see ya.... Hey, pal, what are you doing with that big carving knife?"

Praise the Lord and pass the scalding hot gravy.

The Lakers did the most unthinkable of things: They insulted the big Pilgrim to the point of possible retaliation. If Jackson's not the next Clippers coach, I'll eat my weight in cranberries.

Meanwhile, Paul Bessire of, a website that digitizes the future, has assembled the most interesting analytics since Mitt Romney lost Ohio.

Using his super computer, Bessire simulated the remainder of the Lakers season under Jackson and again under Mike D'Antoni, and found the Lakers came out 11/2 games ahead under D'Antoni.

"The concept of simulation is that you allow for all the possible factors ... the players, the rotations, minute allocations," he explains, of the algorithms involved. He ran the scenarios under Jackson and D'Antoni 50,000 times before coming to his 11/2-game conclusion.

"It would be impossible for me to say that it's a significant difference," he says of the 11/2 games. "Most likely, it would affect seeding in the Western Conference."

Still, wouldn't you have bet the mortgage that Jackson would've come out on top?

According to Bessire's abacus, D'Antoni wins 54.5 games and loses 27.5. Under Jackson, the Lakers win 52.9 and lose 29.2.

Under D'Antoni, the team averages 103.8 points per game; Jackson, 101.4.

"There are probably some other, sometimes important things like, 'Will the players quit on this guy?'" Bessire notes. "But that is just about impossible to review objectively unless the coach has a long history of his teams clearly underachieving — neither of these coaches do. In this case, we have two coaches who represent different brands of basketball."

Ultimately, Bessire explains what basketball fans already know — that the point-guard position under D'Antoni has more impact than under Jackson, so that it pumps up the value of Steve Nash.

So, in many ways, Nash — not Kobe — was the deciding factor in the ascension of D'Antoni.

And the surprises keep rolling in.

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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