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Today’s unconventional wisdom. . .

The Clippers: San Diego’s losses are tied as the series culminates tonight in Houston: ex-San Diego Rockets 2, ex-San Diego Clippers 2. Barring the unlikely toppling of Hakeem at home, Game 4 will probably go down as the zenith of the Clippers’ Los Angeles years--thrilling last-second playoff victory against the Western Conference co-favorite in what might have been the last Sports Arena appearance of the Danny Manning-Ken Norman-Ron Harper nucleus as we know it. Yet, Game 4 was not a sellout, and Game 3 drew fewer than 13,000. When will Donald Sterling concede the obvious and give up the War for Los Angeles? He’ll never win. Every time his team builds some steam, the Lakers go and sweep the Suns in Phoenix, and the Clips are back playing warm-up act.

Anaheim Arena: Meanwhile, Orange County remains on its knees, begging for unconditional surrender. In Anaheim, the Clippers could run line drills and attract a bigger audience than 13,000. For a live game, it would be 18,200-and-to-the-rafters 40 to 50 times a season, whether it’s Hakeem in the building or Felton Spencer. What does Sterling need--a wall of gold bricks to come crashing down on him? Anaheim Arena has its Mighty Ducks and its Bullfrogs, but what it wouldn’t give to host some family entertainment for the adults in the family.

The Lakers: Regardless of what happens from here on out, Randy Pfund has earned next season’s salary. One half-season is no kind of testing ground, and a half-season is all Pfund got, for the Sam Perkins trade switched the rules on him. This remarkable last stand notwithstanding, the Lakers are rebuilding. Rebuilding, as defined here, is the weeding out of used-up veterans, the blending in of useful rookies and the gradual improvement over the course of the schedule. Tell me, where has Pfund failed?


Cedric Ceballos: Which was the most jarring sight--impudent youth Ceballos talking trash to venerable James Worthy, or Worthy stooping to give it back?

Reggie Miller: Speaking of trash-talking. Michael Jordan takes a swing at him, John Starks issues a Bobo Brazil-caliber head butt. Miller was victimized in both incidents, but was he a completely innocent victim?

The Kings: Coach Barry Melrose believes in the higher teachings of motivational schlockmeister Anthony Robbins. He chews out the Los Angeles media for not criticizing--motivating?--his players. He plays mind games with his goaltenders. He plays cloak-and-dagger with his starting goalie assignments. (“Will it be Robb? Will it be Kelly? I’m not telling.”) Then, the whole organization covers up Wayne Gretzky’s rib injury by putting out the word that 99 has, yeah, yeah, a charley horse. This isn’t a hockey team, it’s a religious cult. The Branch Barrydians.

Gary Bettman: The Little Commissioner strikes again and what’s this--a hockey penalty that fits the crime? Dale Hunter deserved every minute of his 21-game suspension, which works out to one-fourth of an NHL season, which means a financial loss of about $150,000 for Hunter. Since moving in, Bettman has overseen reasonable and rational realignment, expedited the addition of the Anaheim and Miami franchises, negotiated five playoff games onto ABC’s telecast schedule, handed out the stiffest non-drug-related suspension in league history . . . and taken a center-ice seat during the Norm Green Minnesota/Dallas fiasco. The Bettman record so far: 4-1.


Chris Webber: He’s turning pro early, and no wonder. There’s an extra timeout in the NBA.

Kevin McHale: After the passing of the torch, Celtics to Hornets, McHale called it a career after 13 seasons. Asked if he thought he’d hung on too long, McHale replied, “To be truthful, I probably did.” It’s those kind of statements that made us glad he did.

Mike Witt: Thursday’s Yankee-Angel game was interrupted when the stripper Topsy-Turvy ran onto the field and attempted to kiss Witt. According to reports, Ms. Turvy’s mission was foiled as Witt coldly dismissed her. We could have warned her.

Jeff Torborg: Einstein in Chicago, he could be unemployed by the end of the weekend. Add Great Career Moves.

Hal McRae: Good thing he’s not managing the Mets.

The Great Cal State Fullerton Football Controversy: University president Milton Gordon wants to bring back football. Every other coach on campus wants to keep it on ice, thus keeping their individual programs from starving. The compromise: Gene Murphy. Book the next Fullerton College coach into the Titan Sports Complex five times next season, squint a little, pretend the blue and gold is blue and orange, and everybody gets to root for Murphy again, at no expense to Titan wrestling, softball or soccer. Everybody happy?

The Rams schedule: Three of the first four games are on the road but aside from that, there’s not much Chuck Knox can complain about. The Rams go to Green Bay and New York in September and play Washington, Cleveland and Chicago at home, meaning they will face cold weather only once--Dec. 19 at Cincinnati. If they can stay close through Thanksgiving, they just might sneak a wild card. The final five opponents: Phoenix, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chicago.

Gino Torretta: Actually, he wasn’t drafted low enough. Another round and a half and Irrelevant Week would have had its first Heisman winner.