A Brave Choice for a Tough Job

Don't you dare say Bob Weiss isn't the man for the job.

Like no other man or woman alive, this man has Clipper basketball in his blood.

He is the ultimate Clipper. He played for the Buffalo Braves, who became the Clippers. He was an assistant coach with the San Diego Clippers, who became the L.A. Clippers. And now he's their head coach.

Bob Weiss belongs to the Clipper family as much as Shirley Jones belongs to the Partridge family.

(Your choice as to which one is funnier.)

He has been with them, on and off, for nearly 20 years, since joining the Buffalo branch in 1974. He held a clipboard in San Diego from 1977-79.

Then he got 14 years off for good behavior.

Now that he's back, don't you go questioning Bob's qualifications. I don't care if Robert W. Weiss was the first choice, fifth choice or 15th choice. I don't care if he was the Janet Reno of this administration.

Bob belongs.

So, welcome, friend, and thank you for applying. It's a dirty coaching job, but someone has to do it.

Around and around, the wheel of fortune spun, and where it would stop, nobody knew.

"Hey, the carousel had to stop somewhere," Weiss said with a laugh Wednesday, possibly his last laugh of the 1993-94 season.

Having reported to the Sports Arena--or, as I like to think of it, Elgin Baylor's Unemployment Agency--for his first day of work, Weiss was ready to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.

Yes, he said, he knew there were problems.

"If there weren't any problems, there wouldn't be an opening here," he said.

First priority: The Danny Manning Problem.

Weiss said he was willing to stop off in Kansas this weekend on his way back East to pay a visit to Manning, who apparently is spending the summer in Kansas, clicking his heels together and saying: "There's no place like home. No place like home. No place like home."

What the coach needs to do is find out for himself whether it's true that the temporary impasse between Manning and the Clippers is something akin to the temporary impasse between Hussein and the United States.

Whispers in the Sports Arena corridors are saying that within the next seven to 10 days, the divorce between Manning and the Clippers will be final.

Weiss was asked if he would drop by Manning's place to say something like: "Hey, give me a chance."

His reply was: "No, I don't think that's my role. I'd just like to get some idea of what he's thinking."

What the Clippers are thinking is that they would rather get something for Manning than nothing for Manning.

"Getting equal value for him is one thing. Getting nothing for him is another," Weiss said.

One thing I personally wish the Clippers would get is a shooter like Bob Weiss was. This guy had one of the prettiest left-handed jumpers I have seen this side of Gail Goodrich.

I spent many a night watching Weiss kneeling at the scorer's table, waiting to check into a Chicago Bull game. Pound for pound, Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier might have been the meanest, nastiest backcourt I ever saw, and I hated it whenever either of them left the court. But the Bulls never lost much when Weiss came in, and he could outshoot Sloan or Van Lier, blindfolded.

Having spent a lifetime stepping into tricky situations, Bob now takes on a real beaut.

Like the Atlanta Hawks, the last team he coached, the Clippers are alternately a bad team with good talent or a good team with great talent. Never, ever have they taken their great talent and become a great team.

I'm not sure if Weiss is the man to straighten these guys out.

I'm not sure if Three Wise Men could straighten these guys out.

But, after considering everybody for the job who owns a whistle, the Clippers finally got around to asking: "What about Bob?" And they rescued Weiss from the relative tedium of being a Detroit Piston assistant, a job with responsibilities that include searching the parking lot to see if Dennis Rodman is asleep in his car.

Weiss said: "It's not the same, (coaching) one seat over. Being a head coach is what I want. It's in my blood. I want the action."

I'm glad he got some.

And, I must admit that after Pat Riley, Randy Pfund and others, I am delighted to finally see a basketball coach in Los Angeles who doesn't spend half his day at Vidal Sassoon.

Best of luck, Bob.

Anyone who has been around the Clippers as much as you have has already been penalized enough for clipping.

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