Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

It’s closest he’ll get to winning it

Here’s further evidence that the Lakers’ playoff run has brought this city together:

After the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 Thursday night to clinch the Western Conference finals, celebrating with team executive Frank Mariani, Jerry Buss’ longtime business partner, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was none other than Donald Sterling.

“I’m here to express my love for Jerry and Frank,” the Clippers’ owner said between hugs of Mariani.


Trivia time

The 1971-72 Lakers, who won 33 games in a row during the regular season, brought Los Angeles its first NBA championship. Who did that team defeat in the NBA Finals?

No wake-up call

Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich apparently isn’t a big fan of the game-day morning shoot-around, which Bill Sharman is credited with starting when he coached that 1971-72 Lakers team and is now a common practice among NBA teams. Popovich canceled Thursday morning’s shoot-around, and before the game said it was no big deal.

“We did that often during the year,” he told the San Antonio Express-News, estimating he canceled 20 shoot-arounds during the regular season.

More mind reading

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle believes he knows what referee Joey Crawford might have been thinking when he didn’t call a foul on the Lakers’ Derek Fisher at the end of Game 4.

Imagining Crawford’s inner dialogue, Ostler wrote:


“Brent Barry, not a star, not even a starter. That’s a star call. Kobe Bryant gets that call. Rick Barry gets that call. But Brent Barry?

“Anyone eavesdropping on my thoughts right now might ask why stars get preferential treatment from refs. Like earlier in the game, when Tim Duncan took about five extra steps on a drive through the lane. Or, in a similar vein, why we make incredibly ticky-tack calls against rookies. And you might wonder why we believe players like Duncan and Bryant, who are already blessed with superior skills, deserve a further boost from us.

“Well, Nosy Ned, the reason we grant ‘superstar prerogative’ to certain guys is that we believe a player must pay his dues in this league, and earn his status.

“Giving VIP treatment to veterans and stars, on our own secret sliding scale, makes us feel important. It makes us feel like we are an integral, even powerful, part of the game, not just annoying twits. Are you happy now?”


A flip remark

The NBA, cracking down on players who “flop” to get a foul call, announced it will begin imposing fines next season.

Poking fun at teammate Manu Ginobili before Game 5, the Spurs’ Barry told the Express-News: “There goes half of Manu’s salary.”

Barry also wonders how the league will determine what is flopping and what isn’t, although he realizes it will no doubt involve reviewing videotape.


“What’s the protocol for that?” he wondered. “Are they going to hire [acting expert] James Lipton?”

Another viewpoint

Popovich apparently likes the crackdown. He was quoted in the Express-News saying: “Flopping is just probably another part of a reflection of our society. You know, the fiber weakening and not being as strong as it has been.

“Maybe that’s the same as reality shows on TV, and maybe the same genre. Weak spirit, weak fiber.”


Trivia answer

The 1971-72 Lakers beat the New York Knicks, four games to one.

And finally

TNT’s Ernie Johnson sat next to Eva Longoria Parker on his flight from San Antonio to Los Angeles before Game 5.


“That was the greatest random seat assignment ever,” Johnson said.