Banner Laker Season Over but His Spirit Isn't Flagging

Gary S. from Thousand Oaks writes, "Etiquette check: When is the appropriate time to remove the Laker flags from our cars?"

I've given this some thought.

Personally, I like the idea of keeping them through the summer so when some of the mopes and Mummers from Philadelphia come to town for vacation they'll have something to gawk at while stuck in traffic.

I also like the idea of having them wave in the smog just so there's no place to attach a Spark flag should someone come up with that crazy idea.

Too late--maybe. "I spotted a Sparks' flag Sunday," wrote Ron D. in an e-mail. "On a white SUV."

If it was a white Bronco, there is always a chance it was racing down the freeway hellbent on making it to the border. I remember someone in the office the other day saying they were a Spark fan and telling them, "Get out of here," and maybe they understood I wasn't kidding.

I've got to remember to try that on Dwyre.

"I saw a Sparks' flag, too, and it shocked the heck out of me," said Rich Hornstein, a sales rep for Pacific Sports Marketing, which has been selling the Laker flags. "It was in my neighborhood of all places."

Here in Placentia we've established a neighborhood watch for such things. It's been in place for some time--after all, you wouldn't want to wake up one day and find a hockey fan or Dennis Rodman living next door to you.

HORNSTEIN SAID they shipped 250,000 yellow flags here, 77,000 purple and an additional 90,000 world champion Laker flags, and at anywhere from $12 to $20, I think it's important to get as much use out of them as possible.

If they're flown throughout the summer, the sun will eventually bleach them, and then they can be resold to Dodger fans, who will be ready to wave the white flag come early September.

That reminds me--Tuesday was Dodger Pennant Night--now there's one flag we haven't seen flying over Dodger Stadium in some time.

As for the Angels, all together now: "What's a pennant?"

SOMETHING HAS bothered me ever since the Lakers' title-clinching victory over the 76ers. Did the team's owner climb back up that bridge and remove the "Go Sixers, Beat L.A." banner, or is it still there as a punishing reminder to Philadelphia commuters of an impossible dream?

As for the flags, Hornstein said his company shipped 76,000 of the 76er variety to Philadelphia. I wonder how many of those are still flapping in the breeze.

I would guess they will let me know.

LAKER ROOKIE Mark Madsen had a front-row seat behind home plate for the Dodger game Tuesday night. I was surprised the Dodgers didn't ask him to stand and dance--I would like to have seen Randy Johnson try pitching while laughing.

ALL THIS Jerry West stuff and no mention of the team's general manager, Mitch Kupchak--it would be nice if someone wore his number once in a while. With that in mind, I asked Steve Springer, who covered the Lakers for The Times when Kupchak was playing, just what was Kupchak's jersey number?

Springer, you see, is a Laker expert, because he put together the "The Los Angeles Times Encyclopedia of the Lakers," which was published by The Times, and The Times wouldn't have someone do that unless they were a Laker expert.

"I want to say Kupchak's number was 23," Springer said. "Or it might have been 41."

It was 25, and don't forget to order your "The Los Angeles Times Encyclopedia of the Lakers," which I'm sure is chock-full of good guesses by our Laker expert.

CAN YOU dig it? The question, that Shaq has now made famous, comes from the 1979 movie, "The Warriors," according to an e-mailer named Doug.

"In the movie," writes Doug, "Cyrus, the leader of the largest street gang in New York, brings together all the other gangs. And during his speech, he uses the same line with the same voice inflection that Shaq is now using."

Shaq would've been 7 when "The Warriors" came out. If the e-mail suggestion is correct, it must have made some impression on the youngster.

COLUMNIST SANDY Banks became the second woman in less than a week to let readers of our Southern California Living section know she is enamored of Allen Iverson. This could turn into a more competitive series than Lakers versus 76ers.

THERE HAS been some speculation that Laker assistant coach Tex Winter might call it quits, but author Roland Lazenby was on Doug Krikorian's radio show Tuesday, and said he's working on a book project with Winter and believes Winter will return to the Laker bench.

"He's more than likely to go back at it one more time," said Lazenby, who has done previous books on Coach Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant.

I guess he's working his way down to Greg Foster.

AS YOU may have noticed, there are all kinds of Laker T-shirts for sale, but my favorite is a copy of The Times' sports page with the headline "Baq to Baq." I bought one because it has a Plaschke column on it, and I like the idea of holding Plaschke's work near and dear to my heart.

The T-shirt is $18, which is no big deal as long as you don't dwell on he fact that you could have bought his whole column for 50 cents.

JUST AS most of us thought: If anyone was going to put an end to Tiger Woods' streak of winning major tournaments, it was going to be Retief Goosen.

I'M HAVING trouble with this whole Cal Ripken Jr., "The Iron Man" is retiring story. How can someone known as the Iron Man retire at age 40?

TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in a pair of e-mails.

Lynn: "Are the Lakers just too high and mighty for you to take a shot at? Where was the irreverence? The humor? Boy, how you can disappoint."

Azmoe: "See how easy it is to write a nice article that no one will hate you for. You should try it more often."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com

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