He Couldn’t Eat Words, So This Was Next Best

Times columnist Mike Downey will be eating tortillas for the rest of his life if fans of the Phoenix Suns have their way. Wednesday, after the Suns beat the Lakers to win their Western Conference semifinal series, Downey received a box of 300 tortillas from Beth McDonald and Perry Damone, morning hosts of Phoenix radio station KEZ.

The accompanying letter stated, in part: “Please accept this gift as a token of our appreciation. The newspaper article in which you predicted that the Suns would ‘fold like a tortilla’ was just what we needed. . . . We’re not sure what you’ll do with 300 tortillas. . . . Our listeners have suggested that perhaps you could put them where ‘the SUNS don’t shine.’ ”

A moment of silence: Here’s part of what Downey wrote May 9, after Phoenix beat the Lakers in Game 1:

“Of the eight clubs remaining in the running for the NBA championship, seven can win it. Phoenix can’t. Sorry. Never happen. Phoerget it.


“So, don’t sweat Tuesday night’s 104-102 Laker loss at the Forum: These are the playoffs. Phoenix will fold like a tortilla.”

Just the fax: Downey said he has received at least 100 derogatory and somewhat humorous faxes from Phoenix fans, and they are still coming. “I must have refried beans for brains,” he says.

Hot item: The St. Petersburg Times reported that while there is talk of housing an NHL expansion team at the Florida Suncoast Dome, management at the Bayfront Center can’t even keep the ice frozen for an old-timers’ tournament.

After the completion of four games, the ice had melted down to the cement in several spots and was thin in the middle of the rink. One player injured his knee when he slipped and fell. Needless to say, 24 scheduled games were canceled.

Trivia time: Which was the last Western Conference team, besides the Lakers, to win the NBA championship?

The Forbidden City: Beijing will be closed to people from the Chinese provinces during the Asian Games in September. Officials say the measures are to avoid traffic jams, but observers believe it is to prevent trouble from dissidents after last spring’s protests in the city.

Beijing vice mayor Zhang Baifa said passes will be issued to selected people from the provinces to allow them to watch the games.

Trivia answer: The Seattle SuperSonics, in 1978-79.

Quotebook: Dave Winfield, as he steered his car into the Yankee Stadium parking lot Tuesday: “Welcome to the zoo.”