At the Lakers third game this season, against the Spurs, I turned in my courtside seat, pulled out my mini-binoculars and spotted Jerry West standing in a luxury box. I hustled upstairs, twice used a counterfeit pass to trick security guards, and reached the hallowed door on which I knocked. A starlet opened up, and I said, “Thanks, sweetheart” as I breezed by.
George Thomas Clark – Jerry, how you doin’?
Jerry West – Have we met?
GTC – Only telepathically during the sixties when I often watched you guys get beat by Bill Russell and the Celtics.
JW – Wilt and I won thirty-three straight games and a title in nineteen seventy-two. Then, as general manager, I masterminded several world champions. What’s on your resume?
GTC – I played pretty well against division two college players in pickup games. The start of my prime coincided with the end of yours. I wish we could’ve gone one on one.
JW – Who the hell are you?
GTC – Here’s my card.
JW – Okay, GeorgeThomasClark.com, what do you want?
GTC – I’d like to talk about the Lakers.
JW – I really can’t answer any questions. I advise the Clippers.
GTC – I don’t have any questions, just proclamations. Looks like the Lakers are again having problems on defense. Down by sixteen points after giving up forty in the first quarter tonight, and one-twenty-eight and one-twenty-four their first two games.
JW – Fans want scoring. They don’t pay to see a wrestling match. You can’t manhandle people like when I played.
GTC – I see you playing point guard in today’s game.
JW – Are you implying that at almost six-four, with long arms, I’d be too small for shooting guard?
GTC – You’d be better out front where, instead of a size disadvantage, you’d often be as tall or taller than those guarding you. I think you’d average about twenty points and ten assists a game.”
JW – At least twenty.
GTC – I know it’s early and the Lakers have a lot of new players who need to learn how to play together. But I get the feeling they’re outgunned. Not by a lot but by enough.
JW – They’re not the Showtime Lakers or the Warriors of today. They’ll need more stars for that.
GTC – Glad LeBron’s heating up after only scoring four in the first half. There he goes, basket, layup, three-pointer, another basket, nine quick points, and the Lakers only trail by three after the third quarter.
JW – Kyle Kuzma’s already got twenty-eight. There’s thirty. I like his game. Josh Hart’s, too. He’s hit four of five from downtown tonight.
GTC – Hart should be starting.
JW – No question.
GTC – The Spurs keep hitting threes, two more by Bryn Forbes, a guy most haven’t heard of. Lakers down by eight.
JW – Look at Kuzma’s stroke on that three. He’s got thirty-seven.
GTC – Still down by three, time running out, and LeBron’s got the ball.
JW – I always wanted the ball at the end of the game.
GTC – Mr. Clutch.
JW – Gotta believe it. And LeBron does. Way beyond the arc – swish. We’re going to overtime.
GTC – Lakers need a win.
JW – I think they’ll get it. Jumper by LeBron, layup by Hart, three by Lonzo Ball, LeBron an assist to young Jonathan Williams. Lakers up by six.
GTC – DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are playing great, both more than thirty points, cutting LA’s lead to three. Jesus.
JW – Incredible. Hart’s falling out of bounds and throws the ball down court to Lonzo who touch passes to LeBron for a layup, foul, and three points.
GTC – I wish the Lakers would extend their defensive perimeter. In forty-four seconds San Antonio hits three baskets for seven points to take a one-point lead.
JW – Another chance for LeBron as time’s expiring. Down one, I assume he’ll drive.
GTC – He should. Why’s he waiting? Now he’s got to shoot a step-back three. That misses.
JW – Hell of a game. You going to write about the Clippers, too?
GTC – Sure, all four times you play the Lakers.
JW – We’ll win more games this year than the Lakers.
GTC – Betcha a million on that one.
JW – You can’t cover it and I can’t bet.