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Category: Ted Green

Ted Green: Lakers need to rediscover their championship fire

Proselytizers of the Purple and Gold, please read this first paragraph very carefully: I have written so many column blogs championing the talent of the Lakers and the fact that they have the potential to be another mini-dynasty, rattling off another three-pete, I am now qualified to replace John Black as their PR director when he goes on vacation. 

That said, in the interest of emotionless, journalistic objectivity, I’ve now got one leg off the bandwagon and the other one’s hanging over the side. Why? It’s more like … why not? 

Not to Purple Reign on their parade, but here is the mathematical formula: Bad Regular Season Losses + Consistently Playing Down to the Level of the Competition + Lack of  Any True Sense of Urgency and Purpose + Fat Cat Syndrome From Winning Previous NBA Title + Thinking You Can Flip the Switch at Playoff Time often = A Disappointing Exit Sometime in May.

It’s not just the bad losses — by 26 at Denver Nov. 13, by 15 to Cleveland at home on Christmas, by 15 at Phoenix three days later, by 20 at San Antonio Jan. 12, by 13 to Denver (again) at home Feb. 5 and by 15 at Charlotte exactly a month later on March 5. All teams, even potential champions, suffer bad losses sporadically throughout the monotonous season. That’s the NBA. 

It’s not even that Kobe Bryant has had to bail them out six amazing times this season.  If he misses four or five of those, as he ordinarily might have in some past do-or-die, game-on-the-line moments, they’re tied with Dallas and Denver in the West now or even trailing.  But no, it’s not  just  that, either.
 
It’s a feeling, a powerful sense that the '09 title sated them, filled them with enough success so that even though they have the best record in the West, only a few wins off best in the league, their bellies nevertheless just aren’t burning anymore. Someone alert LAFD. The Lakers' fire is out!

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Ted Green: Lay off Lane Kiffin; trade Chris Bosh for Andrew Bynum?

As I was sitting here chillin' with my armed bodyguard, Gilbert Arenas, got to thinking about that awkward, strained and surprisingly uncomfortable Lane Kiffin press conference.  

What struck me even more than Kiffin's fidgety, voice-cracking nervousness was all that righteous indignation expressed by some members of the sports media, apparently morally outraged that Kiffin would be such a turncoat, leaving them in the lurch at poor old Tennessee.

First off, when he was hired and asked directly if he would be loyal to the orange and white, Kiffin told the athletic director there flat out that USC was the one job he very likely WOULD leave for.  So he didn't lie about that.

Moreover, are the writers with these fabulously wound moral compasses actually going to tell us that if any of them wrote for a good, reputable paper, say the Kansas City Star, and the Washington Post offered them a job, like would they even give two weeks notice? 

Gotta run, boys, someone clean out my desk and keep the Derrel Thomas poster, it's on me. 

 The Post calls and they're on the next flight to D.C., like Kiffin was to LAX. 

This isn't Phi Beta Kappa stuff.  Highly paid coaches are opportunists.  They have to be.  They have short shelf lives.  They strike while the proverbial iron is hot and when their star is on the rise because they're hired to be fired.   Or right place, right time and they're lucky, like Kiffin.  But don't fault him for running like Usain Bolt when the Trojans called. 

Every college football coach in America would have done the same thing, except maybe Joe Paterno and Urban Meyer.


****************

The pros on Chris Bosh for Andrew Bynum:

1) Bosh is better.

 The cons:

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Ted Green: Andrew Bynum's lack of effort is too frustrating to handle

Andrew The headline (in the paper) read:  Will the real Andrew Bynum stand up against little Suns?

My reaction:  I’m afraid we’re seeing the real Bynum.

Sometimes good. More often mopey and invisible.

It isn’t easy to disappear when you’re 7-1, 290, but Andrew’s been MIA an awful lot lately.

Covering for the kid, Phil Jackson blames some of it on a lingering cold.  Gazoontite, pass the tissues.

I believe the problem lies more with his heart.

Seven points and 21% shooting in his last 62 minutes on the floor? 1 for 9 and three points in Sacramento?

Those numbers scream of lack of effort.

But even more than stats, it’s Bynum’s bad body language that strikes me.  Joyless.  Sulking when he doesn’t get what he thinks are enough touches and shot attempts.

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Ted Green: What's going on with UCLA basketball?

Ben Howland What in the name of Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard, Lewis Alcindor, the Walton Gang , Nell and John Wooden Court and everything holy in Westwood did I just watch?

That was UCLA basketball?

Losing to Cal State Fullerton and now down 10 to Cal State Bakersfield in the opening half?

Goodness, gracious, sakes alive.

Who's next, Cal State . . . Channel Islands? San Marcos? Dominguez Hills?

If UCLA has an open date tomorrow, I hear Stanislaus is looking for a game.

But Bakersfield? The last time I even heard the name Bakersfield mentioned in public, John Steinbeck was writing about dust bowls in "The Grapes of Wrath."

Normally, any UCLA team going back half a century would eat a Cal State Bakersfield for breakfast. Certainly Bakersfield has plenty of Denny's.

But in case you haven't noticed, things are not normal in Howlandville, far from it.

If you respect the decades of sustained excellence that UCLA basketball stands for, it's almost unbearable to watch how far the mighty have fallen.

If you like movie trivia, Coach Ben Howland (pictured above) is aptly named Ben because I smell a rat.

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Ted Green: Lamar Odom's marriage won't distract Lakers


Lamar

As I was telling my good friend Lamar Odom the other day, a man is not complete until he’s married. 

Then he’s finished. Lamar didn’t listen. Really, who does in matters of the heart? So now, instead of L.O., they’re L-Khloe.

Now, I’m as big a fan of love as the next guy. For example, I love the Lakers, the Dodgers, SC football, UCLA basketball, Coach Wooden and chicken burritos. 

Hang on a moment -- my wife’s reading over my shoulder and wants to speak with me privately in the next room.

As I was saying, love is grand, but is being only the third-best Laker really a reason to marry only the third-hottest Kardashian?

Does "Keeping Up With the Odoms" really have the same ring to it? 

Yes, I did say ring.

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Ted Green: Chad Billingsley is plagued by an ace-killing disease

Chad

Their 24-year-old so-called staff ace from Ohio has a plus arm and made the All-Star team this year.

Their 21-year-old from Oklahoma is an Ace in Waiting, but still too young to be counted on to front a pitching staff in the pressure of postseason.

And their 33-year-old lefty from the west San Fernando Valley is the de facto No. 1 right now -- their best, hottest and most dependable pitcher.

But after Wednesday night, the verdict is in. It's now painfully obvious the Dodgers are like a deck with 48 cards.

They don't have any aces.

Chad Billingsley is now plagued with One Bad Inning disease. He was rolling Wednesday, mowing the first 13 D-Backs until -- oops, there it is -- another 25-minute meltdown, a four-run Arizona fifth inning, and thanks for coming.

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Ted Green: Why did Joe Torre use James McDonald?

Mcdonald_500

So let me see if I have this right.

The Dodgers are desperately holding on to what precious little is left of their once-healthy nine-game lead. It's Aug. 25, the biggest game of the year to date. The Rockies are white-hot, closing to within three games the night before against the Giants on a dramatic walk-off grand slam in the 14th inning.  The Rockies have so much "Moe," as in momentum, the Three Stooges are jealous.

Once 15 games behind the Dodgers and dead last in the NL West, here they were, L.A. and Colorado, tied 4-4 in the 10th inning in a big potential momentum-turning type of game.

And Joe Torre brings in ... James McDonald?

Old McDonald, as in Ee i ee i ... NO?

McDonald isn't old, he's just 24, but he does need to go back to the farm.

He was no more ready for that kind of high-wire moment than Ronald McDonald.

When he came in to start the 10th, I promise this is true, I immediately turned to a colleague here in the sports department and said:

To borrow from Eric Gagne, only in reverse, Game Over.

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Ted Green: Don't expect to see the same Vicente Padilla

Padil_300 He has a reputation for being a hothead and a headhunter, and I'm not talking about someone who works in corporate executive placement.

He's also been labeled a malcontent and bad teammate, and those were some of the more positive reviews.

Just this Monday, the Texas Rangers were willing to pay him $8 million to have the privilege to show him the door. They were so eager to get rid of him, they probably limo'd him to the airport themselves.

He has drilled opposing hitters for retaliation both real and imagined, and if you ask around opposing dugouts, he might be the most hated pitcher in the major leagues.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that Vicente Padilla will be a perfect little angel with the Dodgers.

Why? Because he has to be. He has no other choice.

Why? Because he has only six more weeks of guaranteed employment in baseball.

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Ted Green: It's time for Joe Torre to yank Jonathan Broxton

Broxton

I know he’s got a hall pass and lifetime immunity from the usual second guessing because of the success he had with the Yankees, but is anyone else who follows the Dodgers ready to ask Joe Torre how much longer he’s going to stay with Jonathan Broxton as his closer?

Right now Broxton couldn’t close a door if it was already padlocked shut.

Banks close, businesses close, even bars in New Orleans close, but for the past month now, Broxton hasn’t been able to close to save his 300-pound backside.

The coup de grace came Saturday night when, brought in to save a 3-1 lead in Arizona in the ninth, he gave up not one, but two bombs to center field, blowing yet another save in a game the Dodgers lost in extras an inning later.

While the big kid from Georgia implodes game after game, blowing one save opportunity after another, and a nice chunk of the Dodgers’ division lead along with them, the team’s new eighth-inning setup man, George Sherill, continues to set ‘em up and knock ‘em down, as predictably dependable as Broxton is lethally awful.

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Ted Green: Steroids in baseball are more than just a problem

Manny2 Turned on the radio and heard a host say it's time for everyone on the List of 104 to "clear their consciences and purge their guilt."

Picked up the paper and read about the "stain" Manny Ramirez could bring to the Dodgers.

If Manny "stains" the Dodgers, then all of baseball is now discolored beyond recognition.

Memo to the moralizers: Stop the soap-box sanctimoniousness. Save your outrage.

The steroid "problem" in baseball isn't a problem. It's a culture, a way of life. It's how they roll.

The issue runs oceans deeper than Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. A-Rod is in the rearview mirror. It's way beyond Manny and Big Papi. And it far transcends names on some secret list from six years ago that is now being slowly leaked to the press like Chinese water torture.

From the fair number of people I know in and around the game who will talk but not be identified by name, the best guess is that more than 80% of all big leaguers, recent past and present, have used and, in many cases, are still using performance-enhancing drugs.

Eighty percent is a big number, one that is so embarrassing, the commissioner's office won't even entertain it. But is there any reason left to think otherwise? If so, I'd love to hear it. If the number of PED'ers is only 20%, as the game's officials and apologists claim, making 80% blameless, then why aren't so many more players coming forward, with vigorous aggressiveness, to say, to scream, to shout from the hilltops: Test me all you want, test me 10,000 times. I swear by everything dear to my heart, I'm clean!

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Ted Green: There's still a doctor in the house

Buss Years ago, more than I care to remember or admit, I was introduced to this soft-spoken man in his mid-40s who seemed quite odd in that he was both modest and Mitty-esque in his grandiose thinking.

He owned the L.A. Strings at the time, which was a tennis team in a fledgling minor league called World Team Tennis. The Strings were a back-page item, definitely not of philharmonic quality.

After we both did our due diligence on his new tennis endeavor, Dr. Jerry Buss paused to make sure he had my full attention.

"I'm going to own the Lakers one day," he told me, and I thought: Yeah, and I'm going to be the first man on Mars.

Just a few years later, he bought the Lakers. And within months, Magic Johnson had come to town. Now, after nine NBA titles and 15 appearances in the NBA Finals in a 30-year ownership run that should/must land him in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Jerry Buss is still full of surprises. And not a man you should ever underestimate.

The man with a PhD in chemistry from USC and a penchant for dating women who are so age inappropriate that other men get jealous played a high-stakes game of contract chicken with Lamar Odom and Lamar's peeps ... and darn it if the good doctor didn't win again.

Yeah, Lamar blinked first. Kenny Rogers would be proud. Odom knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

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