The Times had a great photo Tuesday of Luc Robitaille, Wayne Gretzky and Jerry West. They all have statues at Staples Center.
Who's missing? I will tell you who — No. 22, Elgin Baylor.
He was the man who sold the NBA to Southern California. I still use Elgin's neck twitch on my dribble drive, and I'm betting so do thousands of others.
While I can't agree more that Luc Robitaille deserves a statue outside of Staples Center, I find it a travesty that the only sports figure in Los Angeles who deserves to be immortalized in bronze is Vin Scully. Could the Dodgers please let us all know what they are waiting for?
Chick was already gone when they unveiled his statue, please do not make the same mistake with Vin!
The college game
Bill Plaschke's March 13 column about Norman Powell really tells it like it should be. Too many young men ruin their lives by seeking instant gratification rather than preparing for the long run and end up ruining their lives. Norman Powell has prepared himself for a better basketball career and a life after basketball.
It's remarkable how apathetic USC fans are about their men's basketball program. Their team has now completed two seasons at the bottom of its conference and has lost six games in a row to its crosstown rival. If USC's football team had failed as dismally, Trojans fans would be vigorously expressing their irritation and impatience with their team's performance on this page weekly. During this entire season however, we have not read even one murmur of dissatisfaction regarding USC men's basketball from any fan.
Scott D. Allen
Unless I failed geography, there will be at least one Southern California team in the men's NCAA basketball tournament, assuming San Diego is still considered Southern California.
Early in the current basketball season, I wrote saying it looked as if there were no quality teams and maybe even no mediocre ones, but little did any of us realize just how poor an overall quality we are stuck with.
When you throw in the hapless Laker and suspect Clipper squads, I have to ask again, quoting the late, great Glendale banker, Casey Stengel, "Can't anyone here play this game?"
Jim B. Parsons
Calling all logos
With all the attention given to the future of the Lakers and the challenges of rebuilding, many have apparently forgotten the greatest basketball mind in history, Jerry West. He helped to create the Showtime teams and brought Shaq and Kobe together. He left the Lakers when they no longer appeared to want him and then helped turn Memphis and Golden State into powerhouses.
If I owned the Lakers, I would turn the organization around with a single phone call — to the greatest Laker of them all.
In 1981, Jerry Buss signed Magic Johnson to an unheard-of 25-year, $25-million contract with the Lakers. So began the downfall of professional sports as we knew it, and introduced the business model that allowed athletes to make hundreds of millions of dollars while offering declining skills as compensation. How many of these multiyear contracts will continue to be given to once-heralded stars on the downward side of their careers? Think Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Manny Ramirez, Barry Zito, etc., etc., etc.
Sure, they had great years in their prime (usually with another team) but to handcuff an organization to overextending itself for the lure of a title and then pass the cost on to the fans takes sports in the wrong direction.
The NFL bump?
One question I haven't seen anyone address is what effect the NFL coming to Los Angeles will have on other L.A. sports teams. I tend to believe that part of the reason the Lakers have done so well in the last couple of decades is that L.A. sports fans' attention wasn't as divided by having a football team and hence they could give more love and devotion to the Lakers.
Funny people should write about Bill Walton's chatter on every topic, including the way coaches should play the game. My wife, no TV golf fan, insisted we mute the guy also and move Bill to the Golf Channel or CBS during the Masters next month to put some life into golf commentary. Bill would be the perfect host liven up all the historical non-events that have occurred in Augusta.
San Juan Capistrano
No Orange crush
The NCAA again lives up to the feeling that it really does stand for Never Consistent About Anything. For 10 years of various kinds of so-called cheating, Jim Boeheim gets a nine-game suspension.... Whoopee! How does that compare with the unwarranted crucifixion of Joe Paterno and the imposition of unduly harsh penalties of USC's football program?
Arthur A. Fleisher II
They're out of it
What will it take for the Kings to make the playoffs? Last April, when the Kings were down 3-0 to the Sharks in their first-round playoff series, Helene Elliott wrote a "break up the Kings" story as if their season was over. Naturally, the team made a miraculous comeback, and went on to win the Stanley Cup. With less than a month to go in this season, can we expect a "Kings rebuilding for the future" story sometime soon?
I appreciate that Bill Plaschke [March 8] stays on top of the Dodgers-TWC TV contract fiasco, but he is misinformed on two fronts. Beside the standard viewers in L.A. proper, there are many who are just outside the reach of local cable or over-the-air broadcasts. Under his proposals they still would not be able to watch Dodgers broadcasts. Secondly, the Dodgers have nothing invested in this contract except to reap in the gross amounts of profits from it. It is Time Warner Cable that (foolishly) has taken all the risks with its offering. The only solution is for the Dodgers to realize the amazing disservice this outrageous money grab has been to their loyal fan base and renegotiate a more reasonable and sensible contract.
The digital era spawned many disruptive technologies that wrecked long-standing business models, such as digital cameras and streaming music services. Companies that desperately tried to hold onto the old business model, such as Kodak, did so at their peril.
While Time Warner Cable probably will never make money on the Dodgers' deal and will need to take a write-down at some point, Time Warner and Guggenheim need to forget the Dodgers' channel and rethink the whole broadcast issue. How about an online subscription for season and individual game packages that can be streamed to your TV like Netflix? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
Bill Plaschke's column on the Dodgers' TV predicament contains the following sentence: "Stan Kasten, the Dodgers' president, was unavailable for comment."
That silence speaks volumes.
Dodgers fans will be rid of the accursed Time Warner Cable deal in 2040. Vin Scully, God willing, will be 113 years old. Vinny, I can't wait to see you again.
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