It looks like Brent Barry has lost his confidence. That's like saying Bill Gates has lost his money.
Head down, eyes averted, the slam dunk champ's swagger was missing after the Clipper victory Thursday night over San Antonio at the Sports Arena when he retreated to the training room to avoid reporters.
The official play-by-play report of the fourth quarter said it all:
6:47: Barry BAD PASS to #13
5:41: Barry BAD PASS to #14
2:36: Barry BAD PASS to #15
Seconds later, the crowd booed the player who is supposed to be the crowd favorite when he shot an air ball in a vain attempt to beat the 24-second clock and Bill Fitch benched him.
Considering Fitch does not coddle players, especially those who occasionally think they're Magic Johnson and aren't, one might have thought Barry's misery was just beginning. Instead, Fitch patted him on the back.
Not even Fitch believed it when he heard himself telling Barry that the best way for him to get his game back after sitting out the first three weeks of the season because of a thumb injury would be to shoot more.
Two of five from three-point range in 19 minutes of Saturday night's victory over Sacramento, Barry was more like himself. At least he didn't hurt the Clippers.
"I've just told him, 'Be yourself,' " Fitch said. "He's been trying too hard to make things happen. I tell him, 'Let it happen. The quality will come.' "
If the Clippers are to become respectable, and it appears as if they might, Barry is important. He not only takes a charge, he gives one to his teammates and the fans with his inspired play.
A Sunday in December and no Southern California pro teams, not even the Chargers, are playing? It won't happen again this season. . . .
With Bobby Beathard general managing, Bobby Ross coaching and a team that went to the Super Bowl only 23 months ago, it's hard to figure how the Chargers fell so far so fast. . . .
New England Coach Bill Parcells showed how little respect he has for Dallas' disappearing offense when he went for it on fourth and one from near midfield in the third quarter. The Cowboys held but proved Parcells right when they couldn't score. . . .
If you liked the point guard duel between Nick Van Exel and Gary Payton last week, you can catch the high school version tonight when Santa Monica Crossroads' Baron Davis plays at Dominguez against Kenny Brunner. . . .
The more I see of Laker rookie Travis Knight, the more I like him. He can show the Bulls Tuesday that they made a mistake by cutting him when the Lakers play at Chicago. . . .
About those Mario Lemieux retirement rumors, this pretty much makes it official: When he was named first star in a game last week at the Pond, he told a Duck public relations assistant that he would return to the ice to take a bow because it would be his last appearance as a player in Anaheim. . . .
New Jersey Devil GM Lou Lamoriello and Duck Coach Ron Wilson had success with a U.S. team in this year's World Cup and are likely to pair again in the 1998 Winter Olympics. Their connection began when Lamoriello coached Wilson at Providence College. . . .
Heisman Trophy voters got it wrong, but Hermann Trophy voters didn't. The award for the women's college soccer player of the year went to Notre Dame's Cindy Daws, who's from Louisville High in Woodland Hills. . . .
After Dick Williams underwent quadruple bypass surgery 48 hours earlier at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, his daughter, Kathi Ulfelder, reported Sunday that the former manager is "as ornery as ever." That's a good sign. His cardiologist is Dr. Ty Cobb. And that's the truth.
John Beyrooty, the Forum publicist for boxing, says he got invited to a limbo party for Andrew Golota. "You know," Beyrooty says, "how low can you go?"
Golota was so far ahead Saturday night that he hardly had to throw a punch in the last three rounds to beat Riddick Bowe. Certainly, he didn't have to go to the body, as his corner repeatedly advised him.
The worst thing about the fight is that the DQ victory will encourage Bowe to think he's still a contender.
While wondering if Michael Ovitz is too smart--or too rich--to consider the baseball commissioner's job, I was thinking: the Raiders would be where Denver is now if Mike Shanahan was still on their sideline, Desmond Howard's Heisman pose would be more appropriate if he caught a pass or two, the Angels should give Danny Tartabull a call in Malibu before they sign a DH.