It's the best of times and the worst of times for the Angeleno sports fan.
There's still no NFL, and none on the near horizon, which seems to bother the NFL more than it does L.A.
Jack Nicholson's once again grinning like a pre-lobotomy Randle Patrick McMurphy since his pet franchise, the Lakers, has returned to respectability -- and the NBA Finals.
The Dodgers won the NL West last season, but it was all thanks to a player, Manny Ramirez, who went wack with the bat over a three-month haul in a free-agent showcase year. At 36-going-on-7, Manny might have one superstar-caliber year remaining. Problem: Ramirez and his agent, Scott Boras, want a new deal for five or six years at $20 mil-plus per. The Dodgers offered two years at $45 mil, but they'll be overpaying even at that price. Dilemma: No Manny, no repeat.
Despite Florida's victory over Oklahoma in Thursday's BCS National Championship Game, and though we hate USC like poison, we grumpily admit that Pete Carroll's Trojans are probably the best college football team in the land. After their throttling of Penn State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, it shouldn't even be a question, but an early-season loss to Oregon State nixed the Trojans' BCS hopes, just as a similar defeat by another Pac-10 underdog, Stanford, derailed 'em in '07.
Last and certainly least among La-La Land's major sports attractions are the Los Angeles Clippers, for whom it's always the worst of times. They opened the season on a typically sour note with a 79-117 drubbing by the Lakers, then proceeded to drop the next five, including another thumping by Kobe and the gang, 88-106. It hasn't gotten much prettier since.
They've lost 10 straight and 11 of 12. Zach Randolph and his 22-PPG average are gone, lost to a knee injury. Big-name summer signee Baron Davis is nursing a bruised tailbone. Ricky Davis is on suspension for drug use. Recent signee Fred Jones (who gave the Clips 16 points, four assists, and a lot of energy off the bench in their loss to the Suns on January 2) was waived on January 6 after he injured himself by stepping on the foot of teammate Marcus Camby.
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If there's any sort of headlight in the haystack for embattled head coach Mike Dunleavy (pictured), it's the thought of center Camby and standout shooting guard Eric Gordon surrounded by a full complement of support. USA Today opined in its January 7 Clippers Team Report that a consistent lineup of Camby, Gordon, power forward Randolph, small forward Al Thornton, and Baron Davis at the point would be "potent enough to challenge any other five in the NBA."
Sounds good on paper, but it's the Clippers, after all, and it's not likely to happen in living color. Which's just fine by us Phoenicians, who prefer Los Angeles at its worst.
The Suns play the Clips at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, January 11, at Staples Center in LA. See www.nba.com/suns. TV: My45 (cable 9). Radio: KTAR-AM 620.