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NBA BASKETBALL:  Bling Bling, a Few Keys for the Next Ring 

By RICK CIPES                  July 12, 2001

They came, they fought, they clawed, they talked smack. And Iím not even speaking of James Hahnís recent Los Angeles mayoral campaign strategy. Iím referring to the feisty basketball squad from the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia 76ers, former challengers to the Lakers throne. And if the City of Brotherly Love can embrace a diminutive tattoo-plastered gangsta with a large "heart," they can welcome any citizen that sets an equally fine example for children everywhere. Anyone who has a habit of screaming out such warm and cuddly catch-phrases like "Iíll kill you" (in Tyronn Lueís face on national television Sunday night) has my utmost "respect" and an open invitation to come baby-sit my kids any time. If thatís brotherly love, I hate to see animosity, or what a Philly chef may slip into ex-local, Bryantís kobe sandwich.

But although you scrapped hard, Philly, you did not stop our boys from coming back victorious from the war, or from turning your street brawling selves into the second victim of the 21st Century Dynasty Tour. Bling, bling.

And letís face it, this current cast of "As the Lakers Turn" deserves more than having Vince Neil of Motley Crew sing the National Anthem, or all those flags plastered on every third car - which beats every fourth car that has someone yapping on a cell phone - for turning a caddy soap opera into a heart-warming, Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation over night. We canít give them an Emmy, Susan Lucci may get jealous, but our boys can and should be presented with the key to the city. The best move a mayor who didnít free a convicted crack dealer can do to begin his new reign.

Equipped with the key to the city, the first thing the Lakers need to do is shuttle Chris Webber down from his corral up north and wine-and-dine him at every hip club in town. Spare no expense, Wolfgang Puck dishes, or multiple visits to the Playboy Mansion. If the Mansion is not available, because itís being rented out to the highest bidder so Heff can afford all that Viagra, maybe C-Webb can just visit owner Jerry Bussí suite at the Staples Center. (Always enough silicon in there to get an eye full. ) With Webber in purple and gold next season, and as long as heís not calling time-outs when there arenít any left, the Lakers are pretty much a shoe-in for a third title in a row, regardless of whether or not His Airness makes a return engagement for David Sternís next marketing push. 

Secondly, the Lakers need to make sure that any plane due to arrive at LAX with a passenger on board that wears a golden shirt, chains and gloves, and goes by the name of Gary Payton is diverted. Preferably to wherever J.R. Rider happens to be stationed (Siberia). Said passenger should be advised that there will be no unloading of his baggage on our doorstep, and that in no way, shape or form will he be involved with a third bling. (Speaking of three-blings, does Pat Riley also have the patent on that? Or is his command of the English language not that deep? What kind of syntax do you guys at Kentucky learn anyway?) Thirdly, itís time the Lakers start using their carte blanche to attend to some civic duty, so that one day Angelenos can be as proud of our city as those brothers bathed in love, cheesesteaks and a fascinating Liberty Bell. Clank, clank, Allen.

The team can start by demanding that all our cityís pot holes get filled. Or at least those on the route from Bel-Air to the Staples Center. We wouldnít want one of Clark "Shaq" Kentís two-hundred cars subjected to any flat tire, or he may don his cape and fly off to Orlando to play with his former idol, Tracy McGrady. (And I have news for you Tracy: I have seen Kobe Bryant play, and you my friend, are no Kobe Bryant. Allen Iverson possibly, but get a few more tattoos, will ya?) 

And if it takes connubial bliss to fuel newlywed Kobeís future fire, why not change the law to allow for polygamy? The Kid can acquire three more wives in consecutive years, and along with them, the Lakers three more championship rings, which would total 16 banners for the Lakers overall, equaling one more than the Celtics. A feat sure to douse Redís lucky cigar and wipe that smirk right off the Leprechaunís face once and for all. Or have Antoine Walker and Rick Pitino already managed to do that?

Last but not least, the Lakers need to pass another law that makes it mandatory for every citizen of Los Angeles to read, or look at the pictures in, at least one of Phil Jacksonís books, so that the Zen Master will feel as appreciated here as Pamela Andersonís breasts, and not be compelled to leave our fragmented melting pot and go some place else like, gasp, Philadelphia to prove himself all over again. Because believe it or not, all you transplanted angels of the city, it is equally as important to have someone who can harness all that great talent as having a city that can harness all that brotherly love. 

Rick Cipes writes for Los Angeles based Bold Magazine and his own website www.comedyave.com


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