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Liar, Liar: It Turns Out, Shaq’s Pants Not on Fire

I heard Shaquille O’Neal and Cindy Crawford were on the cover of Star Magazine, but I didn’t think anything of it, figuring it was some yarn about celebrities hitting Lakers up for playoff tickets.

Frankly, I was more interested in “Boozing George Clooney Rips Into Jennifer Lopez,” with the subhead: “Kissing Her Was Gross.”

The tough part, of course, is always getting the magazine. It seems like I have to wrestle it away from Sports Editor Bill Dwyre all the time. But Dwyre’s on vacation again, and for an added bonus he won’t be back for two weeks, so I wasn’t in a rush to read it until I heard Venus Williams was involved with Shaq and Cindy and there were reports of sex.

Speaking of “Entertainment Tonight"--I heard the TV show had also expressed an interest in the threesome, while also including “Matrix 2" star, Aaliyah, in the affair. TV usually doesn’t do a story unless it can go to the videotape.

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I expected to see Dwyre walking through the door at any moment with the announcement he had canceled his vacation while grabbing the magazine.

THE STAR, featuring a “Shaq: My Affair with Cindy Crawford” story on its cover, of course, does not deal on a regular basis with Shaq, so the magazine elected to go with whatever the Big Fibber had to say. Big Mistake.

Last week the Big Fibber told a whopper, telling an LA Power 106-FM audience he had slept with Crawford, Williams and Aaliyah. Because it wasn’t the truth, I’m surprised he didn’t suggest it was the same night.

A listener said the radio station’s disc jockey expressed disbelief at the mention of Crawford’s name--I’m sure he would have gotten around to expressing disbelief at Williams’ and Aaliyah’s names too--but Shaq made a point of talking about Crawford, insisting it was the truth.

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I received an e-mail from a listener shortly after Shaq’s interview on the radio. To answer your first question--it didn’t come from San Diego baseball fan, Jim Esterbrooks.

I ignored the whole thing, of course, figuring Shaq was still some 19,900-plus shy of Wilt Chamberlain.

SOMEONE IN Williams’ entourage, however, apparently had rabbit ears, which prompted Williams to deliver an in-your-face slam to Shaq on Tuesday in the form of a stinging statement.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny that I have ever had a sexual relationship with Shaquille O’Neal. I don’t even know him. I’ve only met Shaquille once a few years ago when attending an L.A. Lakers game. If Shaquille made the statement as a joke, it was in very bad taste, and I’m definitely offended. I think that he should use better judgment in the future, particularly where one’s reputation is concerned.”

I believe it’s also safe to assume Shaq has played no role in advising the Williams sisters when to withdraw from tennis tournaments. However, this will probably not stop the Star from suggesting it in the next issue.

The Big Fibber, of course, had some explaining to do--beginning with his own mother, who told him, he said, “That wasn’t nice, that was a bad joke, and I agreed. If Momma says it was a bad joke, it was. She’s right.”

The Big Fibber also told the local media Tuesday, “It was a bad joke--I apologize, ladies. Not everyone has a great sense of humor like me.”

The Big Fibber is not easily embarrassed, as you can see.

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Both Crawford and Aaliyah reportedly did not crack a smile while denying Shaq’s claims, which prompted “Entertainment Tonight” to put the question directly to Shaq on national TV. How embarrassing.

“Cindy knows I’m a comedian,” he told ET’s Julie Moran. “Everybody knows I’m a comedian, and each female I said I was with--I lied.”

Instead of sending Shaq to his room without supper, the Lakers ran him onto the court to abuse the Sacramento Kings. Afterward, a crowd of reporters surrounded him and wrote down everything he had to say as if he was telling them the truth.

A SEAT in the first row for a Laker game costs $1,350 during the regular season, $1,450 for the playoffs, and according to Tim Harris, the Lakers’ vice president of sales and marketing, about $3,500 from someone on the street such as a broker.

If I start saving my Diet Coke cans . . .

There are more requests to spend $1,450 for a ticket than seats in the front row. “I wish I had a million more seats,” said Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations.

John McEnroe was looking for a ticket to Tuesday’s sold-out game, and Buss delivered--placing McEnroe between herself and Kurt Rambis--a half a dozen seats down from “NYPD Blue” stars James McDaniels (Lt. Fancy) and Henry Simmons (Baldwin Jones). Like every other celebrity, McEnroe is required to e-mail his credit card number to the Lakers, and purchase his ticket.

THE LAKERS try to save tickets for last-minute celebrity requests, but last year they were so tight for one playoff game they were unable to accommodate Tiger Woods.

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FACES IN the crowd Tuesday night: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jimmy Smits, Andy Garcia, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Shandling, Tyra Banks, the guy who is going to play the role of Spider-Man, Penny Marshall, Dyan Cannon, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, who sang the national anthem earning two free tickets to the game and dinner, San Diego Charger Coach Norv Turner and Charger GM John Butler.

Jack Nicholson was missing, which could be because the Cannes Film Festival, featuring his film, “The Pledge,” opens this week.

Kevin Malone was also in attendance, and I would like to remind him it’s not polite to glare.

IF I’M running the Kings, I provide courtside seats for the game in Sacramento on Friday night for Crawford, Williams and Aaliyah. I have to believe they would be a lot more effective in getting Shaq’s attention than Scot Pollard and Vlade Divac.

TODAY’S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Bob:

“I have never written a fan letter before in my life and I’m not writing one now.”

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to clarify that.

*

T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address: t.j.simers@latimes.com


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