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Lakers’ Dream Team Turns Into a Brat Pack

Every week Times employees get an e-mail report from the newspaper’s readers’ representative, who apparently takes a certain pleasure in informing all the writers here that no matter what they’ve done, it hasn’t generated anywhere near as much Web site traffic as our stories on the Lakers.

This makes Tim Brown the most-read writer in the newspaper, and if I were Tim Brown -- I wonder what it’s like to have folks who look forward to reading what you write -- I’d insist on a raise before I typed another word about the Lakers.

Let’s just see whether his replacement draws as many hits on our Web site.

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NOW WE probably can assume that a lot of children are reading these Laker stories, and not only because Tim Brown is scribbling them, but because they are on the Internet, and that’s where kids spend a lot of their time.

This concerns me, because we’re talking about the Lakers’ four Hall of Famers and what a role-model lure they must be to youngsters, and what brats they seem to be whenever things don’t go their way.

They lost to Detroit, for example, and here it was only the 11th game of the season, and Tim Brown was telling us that there was something wrong in the Laker locker room, and whatever it was, Karl Malone said, “We’ll keep that in here.”

Then we learned Kobe Bryant left the arena without speaking to reporters, because he had a bad game. Reading further, we discovered that Shaquille O’Neal went into a funk as soon as he saw who was going to officiate the game.

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“I knew when I saw [referee] Jess Kersey ... it was going to be a long night,” Shaq said. " ... I had to be careful with what I did out there with five questionable calls.”

Usually there’s also some mention about Gary Payton pouting about something too, but Tim Brown must have run out of space.

So, kids, here’s what we learned about the four Hall of Famers after they lost a game. There’s going to be trouble in the locker room, which isn’t a big deal, as long as everyone yells or snipes at each other in private. It’s also OK to not fulfill your responsibilities if you lose, so you can run from the media. And, of course, it’s always the referee’s fault.

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THE LAKERS had lost only three games going into Wednesday night, and after each loss the Brats have reacted as if they’ve been told they’re not going to get their Popsicles afterward. And sometimes when they win, they stomp off upset, leaving everyone to wonder why -- especially now that the team mantra is to keep all name calling and bickering behind closed doors.

It just seems to me there should be some kind of “it could be hazardous to your child’s development” warning label attached to these Internet stories if kids are going to be reading about their bratty role models.

I know there are ways to block pornographic sites from your computer, because we’ve had the Grocery Store Bagger living with us since the marriage, but this is different. The Lakers don’t carry on and cry like Brats in every one of Tim Brown’s stories, and as we all know, it’s a lot of fun to read about the Hall of Famers when they’re all getting what they want.

It’s too bad we couldn’t confine only the nice stuff about the Hall of Famers in Tim Brown’s well-read stories, and run all the whining and crying right here on Page 2. Based on what the readers’ rep is telling us each week, then we wouldn’t have to worry about a lot of people reading it.

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HERE’S MY concern about the Keyshawn Johnson/Tampa Bay fiasco. The Buccaneers deactivated Johnson for the rest of the season, and the team says he’s free to leave town. That means we’ll probably see him on the USC sideline Saturday, and knowing him, it won’t be long before he’s in Pete Carroll’s face telling him who he thinks should be getting the ball.

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ESPN.COM’s MARC Stein writes that if Bryant leaves the Lakers as a free agent, the Clippers are the best bet to get him. If they televised the signing, it’d be fun to see whether Donald Sterling could stop his hand from shaking and actually sign that big of a check.

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CHRIS WILCOX made all five of his shooting attempts for the Clippers against Cleveland. Wilcox leads the NBA in shooting percentage at .633. No one else in the league is shooting any better than .563, and so when I tell you that the other four Clipper starters were a collective 12 for 48, what’s the obvious answer here? Shoot, Wilcox, shoot, and whatever you do, don’t pass the ball to one of your teammates.

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FOURTEEN-YEAR-old Freddy Adu signed a six-year contract to play soccer for D.C. United, and ESPN’s Tommy Smith predicted that “he can take the game in the [U.S.] to the next level,” I presume, pulling it even with professional bowling.

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THE A’S apparently have reached a deal to send disgruntled outfielder Terrence Long and catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Padres for outfielder Mark Kotsay. Now if it’s true, and A’s GM Billy Beane will be coming to the Dodgers to replace Dan Evans as soon as Frank McCourt is approved as new owner, I assume he’s already begun working to weaken the Padres. Now if he could just swing a deal with the Giants before coming here.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Daniel Lopez:

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“Do you really like people hating you? Doesn’t your wife just sit at home and cry when people write letters to the sports page? Me, personally, I think you’re kind of a jerk in your column ... but man, think of your family once in awhile and what you are probably doing to them.”

You’d think differently if you had to live with them.

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

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