Volunteering to work for free

By T.J. Simers

I think we have pretty well established the fact the LA Times sports section stinks.

Plaschke writes everything in threes, a trite trick used by kids writing for their high school newspaper. Elliott can’t write and Hernandez seldom writes. The Angels coverage was nonexistent, and folks wonder why Ohtani got so little consideration for MVP.

In the last few months, the newspaper has dedicated a ton of space and financial resources to feature the mediocre writing of soccer writer Kevin Baxter, who is living it up in Qatar and writing about a team that has almost no chance to advance. And the tournament has just begun.

It’s frustrating because the LA Times once had a great sports section under the leadership of Bill Dwyre with writers like Murray, Ostler, Reilly, Heisler, Dufresne, Harvey, Florence, Hoffer, Glick, Newhan and Penner.

Even if you included the hacks now, you couldn’t find a lineup worthy of the $1 it costs to buy a six-month subscription to the digital product.

Take the Lakers’ coverage..

Can someone explain to me what Lakers’ beat reporter Dan Woike was trying to say in the first paragraph of Monday’s story: “Eventually, it’ll be harder for the Lakers to follow this path, the one that everyone seems to agree is the one with the best chance of leading the team to a successful season.”

Huh? What? Best path that everyone agrees on? Is he talking about getting rid of Westbrook again?

This is atrocious writing and I think we can all agree on that.

It gets worse: “But for now, with LeBron James on the bench recovering from a strained adductor muscle, there’s no doubt about what the team needs from Anthony Davis.”

Huh? What? First of all, what is a strained adductor? And is this the same Anthony Davis that had Plaschke writing: “Winless, helpless Lakers should consider trading Anthony Davis?” Who are we supposed to believe, Plaschke or Woike?

It gets even worse: “Him being great,” writes Woike, and hard to tell is he’s writing about James or Davis, “playing at a most-valuable-player caliber once again, is the clearest pathway to Western Conference relevance.”

So, I guess Woike has given up on Western Conference dominance and now is shooting for relevance. How the Lakers have fallen, their only hope the guy that Plaschke wants traded.

And that could be James or Davis, because Plaschke has called for each of them to be traded.

Meanwhile, Woike goes on to quote Davis, who explained the victory over San Antonio. Instead of Davis saying, “We beat one of the worst teams in the NBA,” Woike dutifully writes down Davis saying, “We just locked in.”

Gives me chills.

I remember a Rams’ cornerback, back in the day when they were real losers like they are again today, saying after Steve Young set a NFL record for passing yards against the Rams’ secondary, “We did some good things out there.”

I threw my notebook to the ground and started yelling in the Rams’ locker room. “Oh, my Lord, what a joke. I’m not going to write this crapola down.”

Pretty easy to understand why I don’t write for the LA Times any longer, although I sent an email to owner Patrick Soon-Shiong a month or so ago agreeing to write again for the Times so long as any paycheck I might earn was given to Dr. Noah Federman at Mattel Children’s Hospital for his study on mitigating damage to kids undergoing treatment for bone cancer.

I told Patrick I would work for nothing but wanted $200,000 a year donated to cancer treatment at Mattel’s.

I never got a response from Patrick, figuring most of his money was going to Qatar to pay for Baxter’s soccer expenses or they already had too many good writers.

Like the Lakers — the Times stinks

By T.J. Simers

Haven’t written in a while. Too depressed reading the LA Times sports section.

Thursday morning, they had their Lakers’ beat reporter writing that the Lakers had watched film of themselves provoking the players to talk amongst themselves. Who knew the Lakers talk to each other?

I wonder if any of them spoke up about the Lakers’ mismanagement under Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka.

The hard-hitting news story, written by the Times’ shameless Lakers beat reporter, concluded the Lakers will be a lot better now because they criticized each other.

As the Times’ headline read: “Tell-the-truth film session may just have been spark Lakers needed.” Then again it may not. That will be another silly story for another day.

I just want to know who thought it would be a good idea to have the Lakers watch themselves? Nothing like driving home the point what losers they are.

The Times reported, “the biggest gains the Lakers can hope to make are in terms of chemistry.”

They pay this guy who writes gibberish for the Times about the Lakers. How about winning, which seems like the biggest gain the Lakers could make. Maybe move up in the standings.

Maybe he models himself after Plaschke. Plaschke seldom interviews anyone, a cheap way to write a column and never leave his house. This week he predicted UCLA will beat USC.

Now imagine that; he’s been writing USC is the best team in the land and now he’s got them losing to the other team in L.A. How do you predict a team is so great and then advise everyone they really aren’t?

Plaschke has made a career of being wishy-washy and making ridiculous sports predictions and has taken delight in doing so. If USC loses, he will be correct. If USC wins, Plaschke will make the case they are national championship bound as he predicted.

There is no great insight into his prediction; he’s just guessing. You have seen him on Around the Horn and so you know he doesn’t have a sense of humor, so he’s not being funny.

I know a little something about predictions. I predicted UCLA and Karl Dorrell would beat USC in 2006, calling it a trap game and telling Uncle Pete Carroll in a radio interview two days before the game he was going to lose.

UCLA won 13-9, and an outraged Plaschke wrote it was the fault of the Trojans’ quarterback John David Booty, and one thing almost no writer does with any experience is single out a college kid to be shamed.

But Plaschke wrote: “This should have been Booty’s moment. He was equipped with quick drops and great wide receivers and an emerging running back. Yet the rush rattled him, the pressure rocked him and, in the end, the game was bigger than he was.”

Ouch. I wonder how long Booty carried that with him.

It’s not a surprise the Times is in free fall. In the last few weeks a UCLA running back wasn’t playing and without explanation. We have never been given a reason by the people who are paid to report on things like this.

The UCLA defensive coordinator missed last week’s game, the Bruins lost and unless I missed it, there has been no explanation what happened to the defensive boss who is still not available.

It’s just shoddy coverage and depressing how much readers are being deprived in the morning newspaper.

I’m sure there are many more examples of where the Times has come up short, but that means I would have to read it more often. No thanks.

Just silly: Ignoring James while shredding Westbrook and Davis

By T.J. Simers

It was Media Day in Lakerland and after reading the LA Times you would think the Lakers have the worst team out there.

They are ready to implode, we were told by columnists Dylan Hernandez and Bill Plaschke, woe is me because we only have Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to go along with LeBron James.

How can we have any interest in this season now that it is already lost before the first exhibition game according to our Times’ naysayers.

I’m not familiar with this kind of writing, recently extolling the excellence of Kershaw and Pujols, while knowing they weren’t always perfect.

But this is savagery.

One of the columnists called it Westbrook Hell, and I hope he never has a bad day, week or year trying to think of three things to write in machine gun rapid fire in one of his columns. He forgets how many horrible, trite and ridiculous columns he has written over the years between ambulance calls.

Plaschke writes: “He’s still a Laker. He’s still combative. He’s still Russ,” and what does all that mean?

. The Times has written hundreds of stories about Russ still being here, so no new ground. He’s combative and let me tell you, Kobe Bryant was combative and that wasn’t considered a negative by any means. He’s still Russ, and by gawd, what is Plaschke suggesting, Russ change his name?

Now the Times is hammering a guy for being a Laker who is feisty and refuses to change his first name?

Then we have Hernandez, destroying Davis and writing just like Plaschke: Hernandez writes: “He’s warm. He’s smart. He’s going to point the finger at himself when he screws up.”

And then the kicker: “But he doesn’t get it.”

Hernandez does. He goes to maybe 30 NBA games a year, but he knows more than Davis who agreed—doesn’t play more than 30 games a year the way it seems while always being injured.

But are we going to blame guys because their bodies betray them? We are if we are on the Times’ payroll, and I can tell you I am not.

Oh, Hernandez wants you to know Davis is entering his fourth year with the Lakers and still doesn’t get it.

Clever trap set by Hernandez. Now I have to read on to find out what Davis doesn’t get.

From what I gather reading between the Hernandez lines is that Hernandez wants him to be a Greek God. And Davis doesn’t get that.

We don’t ask much from our athletes, just be a God and fire lightning bolts at the other guys for our amusement.

What do Plaschke and Hernandez do, get together before Media Day and say, “I will slam Davis and you crush Westbrook, and we’ll get to LeBron later?” Do they even know the names of everyone else on the Lakers’ roster?

Yeah, I know Plaschke has written about how bad LeBron is for the Lakers and how he should be traded, but I give that about as much credibility as his picks for the Super Bowl. He probably got this last one correct, because I can’t say I read Plaschke all that much to know, but how would it look for the homer to pick against his hometown football team playing in its hometown stadium?

He’s got something against LeBron because he’s not Shaq or Kobe. Didn’t LeBron win a championship two years ago?

OK, so it’s not going to happen this season, and we know that because Plaschke and Hernandez went belly up on Media Day moaning and groaning about how bad the team is going to be.

I have no idea how good or bad the Lakers are going to be, and I would guess most folks think the same way.

Now I do think Rob Pelinka is a buffoon, and I thought that while he was Kobe’s agent.

I think Jeanie is an airhead and puts her trust in the wrong people.

I think if Westbrook, James and Davis played something like 21 or so games together last season, I’m willing to see if they can play 60 or 70 some games together and finish with a better record than most teams in the NBA.

I appreciate the fact our columnists went after Westbrook—easy pickings, and Davis—a nice guy, but let’s see them go toe-to-toe with James, asking James if maybe it would be best for the Lakers to trade him, or speak power-to-truth about Westbrook and Davis.

Don’t let James off the hook, too frightened to challenge him. I remember when Ron Artest was a scary Laker and he turned out to be just a pussycat. How about getting a relationship with him, instead of being just hit-and-run columnists. Yeah, you’re being called out.

James is the kingpin here, and I’m not sure what a kingpin is, but he’s the guy. So why ignore him?

How do you avoid James on Media Day when access is a guarantee? I admit, I didn’t check to see if the Times’ Lakers beat reporter wrote about James because he writes like a publicist and for mental sanity, I am avoiding such dribble.

I probably should have done that years ago when I started to read Plaschke, and oh boy, now Hernandez is writing like him.

Pretty soon I’m going to have to read Helene Elliott. OK, so no time soon.


I want to know more about Trout

By T.J. Simers

It’s a war out there.

It is damn near impossible now to get quality time with athletes as a journalist, the enemy banished outside upon the arrival of Covid—never again to be afforded intimate access.

I knew Kobe Bryant, adored him and disliked him and laughed and yelled and all in the same interview. He was human, and I came to understand that. Even Kevin Brown was human, although I could argue the alternative.

I’m not sure I could function today in the sports arena; I’m sure I will find out when the LA Times brings me back.

We don’t know Mike Trout because he’s a quiet guy, and nobody wants to spend the time to really get to know an Angel with all the hurdles to be jumped. I had a rule when I worked that I would not spend much time with a rookie, knowing how I might take advantage of someone inexperienced in dealing with the media.

I told Trout I would get to him the following year, but then the Times took away my press pass and the Angels certainly weren’t going to complain.

And that’s a big mistake on the Angels’ part. They should welcome the media to get to know Trout better and tell fans what kind of guy he is while hitting homer after homer. That kind of familiarity allows an athlete to become almost family-like with a fan base and the Angels need all the fans they can get.

Mike Trout is a superstar secret. Compare him to some other superstars and he’s a mystery. The Angels might think they are doing him a favor by protecting him and limiting his media availability so that he might hit, but he’s gonna hit even if we move in together.

I find it a real shortcoming on my part that I didn’t get to know him better.

And now it’s going to be harder for reporters to do that without being considered a jerk and push boundaries. I used to meet with individual Dodgers at the team’s hotel in San Francisco and spend a couple of hours getting to know them. Did the same with the Clippers like Chris Paul at a team hotel in Philly.

I got to know players better by traveling to cover their games, the crush of L.A. media staying home because even the Times won’t send a reporter on the road with the Angels.

. It’s tough, clubhouses and locker rooms now more removed from the media than ever before, athletes more conditioned to avoid the media after Covid and reporters given only minutes here and there to report superficially on a city’s main sports characters.

And that shortchanges the fans who want more and more from their heroes.

Covid did athletes a huge favor, driving reporters out of their clubhouses or locker rooms. I never said athletes were smart, so much money to be made off the field but most of it going to who we know best.

It’s not always war. As contentious as I might have been, someone asked me yesterday how many sports figures really hated my guts. I don’t know, but the list begins with Brown, Frank McCourt, Lisa Leslie (because I said “jinx” to her when she had hit 50 free throws in a row prompting her to miss her next attempt), Helene Elliott and Arte Moreno.

A strong dislike is another category, and the numbers might be astronomical, but as much as the Angels’ Garret Anderson tried to avoid me, he testified on my behalf at Trial No. 1.

There were skirmishes, of course, with Jeff Kent, Mike Garrett, Phil Jackson and Chris Pronger. Pronger was a hockey player and I visited him during a Stanley Cup Finals match or game or whatever they call it, and told him I was bored and just bring the Cup to the children’s hospital at UCLA when he was done.

He did, placed it in the beds of sick kids and I even said I might go to another hockey game. You get to know people, even hockey players and people, even columnists, aren’t so bad.

The important thing is to get to know people. As soon as Phil Jakcson and I exchanged pictures of our grandkids and he realized mine were just cuter, we could spar good naturally.

Mike Garrett hugged me after hiring Lane Kiffin, and I guess he knew he was going to need all the friends he could get.

McCourt refused to sit down and chat, his shirts so starched maybe they wouldn’t allow him to sit down. His wife, the Screaming Meanie as I called her, wrote my name on her coffee cup sitting across from her husband in the courtroom while they were in the process of getting divorced.

I loved Kent. He was tough, a bully and far too smart to be such a crumb-bum at times, but one of the most interesting people I have ever met. We talked or argued almost daily for four years while he was in uniform, and I’m not sure that could happen today.

There are too many restrictive guidelines now, so many more people willing to throw up walls around sports figures to protect them from being challenged.

LSU Coach Brian Kelly, the former Notre Dame coach, lost his first game. At his weekly press conference following the game, he teased/criticized reporters for arriving late.

Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Leah Vann spoke up and told Kelly, “Maybe if you win I’ll be on time.”

Someone emailed the reporter to say, “If you worked for me you would be fired. Could you be more unprofessional?”

The reporter later apologized, getting it all wrong. That’s a chance for readers to get to know Kelly, and for that matter the reporter. She was being chastised for having a doctor’s appointment and showing up late to hear a football coach probably say nothing all that revealing or memorable.

We have lost all sense of who is important and what is important, a football coach now being paid oodles of money to leave Notre Dame and become gawd-like at LSU. We’ve always had sacred cows in sports, but every one of them is just a human being being confronted by another.

We need reporters to stand toe-to-toe with guys who can score 50 points a game, and challenge them if they say stupid, or unbelievable or arrogant things at times.

To Kelly’s credit he joked with the Baton Rouge reporter and a week later showed up late for his news conference and fined himself $10. That was more revealing than anything he could have said at the podium, and kudos to the reporter who was more than just a stenographer.

I will grant you that reporters are no longer as important as they might have been, a long list of former athletes now working on TV and in radio to pass along their expertise

. But if I want to know more about Mike Trout and his wonderful baseball talent, I’m going to have to wait for one of those ESPN retrospectives. Or return to work and go on the road with the Angels solely to determine what makes Trout so incredible.

Nine years later — just here to help

By T.J. Simers

Patrick Soon-Shiong refused comment to the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he owns, and I just love that.

It’s been reported that Soon-Shiong is exploring the opportunity to buy the Los Angeles Angels, the baseball team his newspaper doesn’t cover with any consistency, and I just love that.

If I can figure out something else to write, I can be annoyingly repetitive like Bill Plaschke, and I just love that.

The Angels are expected to be sold for more than $2 billion, and I’m happy to report that the Times’ Bill Shaikin says Soon-Shiong has about $6.9 billion, which should be plenty for the Angeles and me.

That’s right, if Charles can take on the duties of the king at age 73, and both Biden and Trump are older than I am, why shouldn’t I return as Page 2 columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

The Times’ rep has already paid more than $1.2 million into an escrow account for my lawyers and myself, and as soon as they hand over the remaining $3 million or so they owe us, I can return to work.

I’m not sure who I should call to find out what days I will be writing or what games I will be attending, but as boring as the sports section has become, I’d like to try and spice it up.

I recognize one problem, there is no Page 2 anymore. When the space is offered as part of its enewspaper, sometimes it is page 27 or so. When the printed newspaper is delivered home, it’s the last page of the California section, like B10. There are also days when it begins its own section, D1.

When it runs online, sometimes the column runs there, but they wait a day before putting it in the newspaper.

It’s really a ramshackle operation, certainly not designed to help Times’ readers, and you might be wondering why I would like to return at age 72. Well, that’s what bothers me. I’m still going strong without blood pressure medication and there is a void on the second page of the sports section. I think I can offer the experience needed to get more out of the Lakers. I think I can offer more than Westbrook, and are you going to argue with me?

Dave Roberts is going to need help as the Series approaches, and it’s a good bet USC or UCLA are going to need a good spanking down the road.

The readers of the Times deserve a muckraker, troll or whatever you want to call it, but as wretched as the Times tried to portray me in court, the newspaper never fired me. In fact, as court testimony shows the newspaper tried to give me my Page 2 column back, but I just didn’t trust the editors.

The Times later agreed, firing both of those editors, but rather than wait for one of Patrick’s lieutenants to call me, I thought I’d let the newspaper know I’ll be asking for my old job back.

I wonder if Soon-Shiong will offer comment on that.

I’m serious. As soon as Alden Capital, the hedge fund paying the Times’ legal obligations pays me, I’ll be willing to return to the Times. My problem was never with the newspaper, just the editors and I recognize that Soon-Shiong saved the newspaper and now wants to do the same with the Angels.

I can suck up if that’s what is required to return. At least for awhile.

It’s been more than nine years since I wrote for the newspaper, and I noticed they hired a guy to fill Page 2 or whatever they called it a few years back, but it didn’t work out. He just couldn’t write.

Minor detail given some of the newspaper’s other hirings, but that’s why I love Shaikin’s report. He’s one of the very best, and on occasion the Times still employs the very best.

The Times’ sports section, though, has put a lot of effort in going soft the past few years, a Lakers’ beat reporter dedicated to flattering the Lakers’ front office so they will take his calls. I hate to see stuff like that, knowing people pay money to get the straight scoop from the newspaper.

But I also know Soon-Shiong is a minority owner of the Lakers, and I hope I don’t find out he’s behind the house organ the Times now has covering the Lakers.

I guess I could keep my lawyers on retainer.

That’s something we’ll probably have to discuss before I formally return.

Legacy: Good Dad or Good Laker Owner?

By T.J. Simers

I watched some of “Winning Time,” the Lakers’ opus on HBO earlier this year, and if you’re into sports fiction it was entertaining. Never fully appreciated until now what a great actor John C. Reilly is.

But I saw no resemblance to the Jerry Buss or Jerry West that I knew, in real life, and if I were Jerry West, I’d be asking for the numbers of some of the lawyers I know.

I sat across from Buss a couple of times while playing poker, and I know you might find this unbelievable; I think I got on his nerves. He was very polite each time he knocked me out of the game.

I liked the guy. But I could not imagine going through life without a father.

Most of the Lakers’ fans probably know the Lakers story better than they know their own family’s background, so there weren’t many surprises other than the buffoon portrait they painted of Pat Riley.

Now we’ve got “Legacy: The true story of the LA Lakers” on Hulu . We are to believe it’s true because Buss’ adoring children say so.

I watched the first two episodes of Legacy, a tribute to the Buss children’s father and the charisma of Magic Johnson. But between the lines it is more of an homage to a mother who had to raise four children alone because her husband was trying to date every girl under the age of 23 in the greater Los Angeles area.

We learn from Jeanie in Legacy that Buss kept a book of glossy photos to “memorialize his dates,” while his children wondered where he might be.

“I remember asking a lot where’s dad?” said his daughter, Janie. “Where’s our dad?”

Son Jim said, “He didn’t go to the sporting events,” oldest son John adding “Not once, not once for the baseball, not once for the basketball, not once for Boy Scouts.”

And not for “my high school graduation,” said Janie, “and you know, my fourth-grade recital.”

A beaming Jeanie laughed his absences off and thought of him as Superman because he would just drop in every once in a while when something was happening.

Jeanie said her mom wanted her dad to be home all the time and could not play the role of trophy wife. But her mom told the kids, “Always love your father.”

It sounds like a devil’s swap: I’ll take your father for your childhood years in exchange for the grandest toy of them all—the Lakers.

Buss had two other children by a girlfriend— all six of his kids working for the Lakers according to published reports when he died. How could they complain.

A number of years ago I interviewed Jennifer Allen, daughter of the great football coach George Allen. She had just written a book, “Fifth Quarter: The scrimmage of a football coach’s daughter,” about what it was like to have George as her father.

She wrote about the attention she didn’t get from her father, and then at the book signing in L.A., a number of former Redskins came to talk about George, each saying George knew them better than his own kids. Thanks for the memories.

It raises one of those philosophical questions: If you want to be successful but it will force you to miss out on the lives of your children, is it worth it?

Claire Rothman, former GM of the Forum, said Buss chucked aside his own family to become a millionaire but then worked hard to be a father to his children once they could go to work for him.

I understand we live in the age of divorce, but it’s unclear in Legacy when that happened. Some of the kids had no idea it was coming, the Internet saying it happened in 1972, but the kids talking like it didn’t happen until 1979 or 1980.

Is there any reason, though, why it should keep a father away from his daughter’s high school graduation?

“He started to think about a legacy, what he could do for his children that he hadn’t done in the past because he hadn’t spent a lot of time with them in their growing up years,” said Rothman.

She said he made the Forum a “family business,” often referring to the Lakers as a family, the Legacy true story taking a promotional turn when Jeanie said, “He wanted the Lakers to be great for the city of Los Angeles that took him in and gave him the family that he had wanted so much.”

From what is shown on Legacy, he had a family, wearing his pajamas to the Playboy Mansion and hugging all the Playmates like they were his own daughters. Magic found a certain appeal in that, Buss wearing blue jeans when others were wearing suits

Legacy makes it appear as if Buss was closer to Magic than any of his sons, Magic calling him a second father. But John Buss disagrees, saying it wasn’t like he was a son because John is Jerry Buss’ son, and he knew what that was like.

Beyond the family dynamics, and there is a mention of a power struggle internally, the rest of Legacy is pretty much like a well-done ESPN retrospective with slam dunks. Maybe it will become more inciteful in upcoming episodes.

It towers over Winning Time, though, and it features my former Times’ colleague, Steve Springer. I had no idea Springer was writing about the Lakers for the Orange County Register back in the day. He’s still looking good for an old man, and it’s a great reminder how valuable witnesses to sports history can be.

But I leave the first two episodes of Legacy a little saddened by what it took to make the Lakers so beloved.

Would I trade all those championships and dunks, golden trophies and big paydays for missing out on my child’s basketball games? Legacy makes that a question to ponder, the answer coming easy here: No.

Who wouldn’t want an absentee father if it meant getting a job to be around the Lakers.

Mom and dad divorced around the time the Lakers were winning their first championship under Buss

Mind Boggling: Why is Bryant’s lawyer talking body parts

Explain this: Last week there was a lawyer standing in the courtroom where Vanessa Bryant is suing the County of Los Angeles for invasion of privacy, addressing the coroner, who was on the witness stand: “Captain (Emily) Tauscher, my name is Jennifer Bryant (no relation). I represent Vanessa Bryant. I have a few follow-up questions specific to Mr. Bryant and Gianna and their location and condition at the crash site.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney then started digging into the autopsy report for Kobe Bryant, putting it into the public record in open court, body part by body part.

I thought the trial was about photos; what do autopsy reports have to do with it?

I don’t get it. Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester are suing Los Angeles County first responders to a helicopter crash that killed nine, including her husband and daughter and Chester’s wife and daughter. She worries that photos taken by County employees may one day surface.

Vanessa, in effect, is suing taxpayers for millions of dollars for an invasion of privacy and emotional distress and yet it is her own lawyer who is providing deeply disturbing mental images for anyone sitting in the courtroom and who will later read the testimony.

I have read the testimony, Bryant’s lawyer asking the coroner about the autopsy of “Ms. Gianna Bryant,” and “the location where Gianna’s remains were found at the scene.” It’s not a narrative.to be repeated here.

Keep in mind most of the testimony being offered has already been heard in depositions, so the lawyers knew what was going to be said. Thus, Bryant and Chester were not in the courtroom, but their legal representatives asked questions in their places to elicit emotional reaction for the benefit of the jury,

“So, Ms. Tauscher, I’m going to turn to a few more specific questions, but I want to read very carefully and ask
very specific questions. I’m just looking for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer,” said Vanessa’s lawyer. “So, did Mr. Bryant have any charring or burns on his remains?”

The answer was “yes,” and what followed sure seemed like an invasion of privacy, Bryant’s lawyer wanting to know about his missing right hand, and “Was his right arm recovered separately from his body?”

The answer, “it was,” as most people might guess in such a devastating crash, but until Bryant’s lawyer asked, it had been left unsaid. And now there will be outrage, but directed at whom?

“Were his feet also recovered separately from his body?” the coroner was asked, and beyond enflaming the jury, why is Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer going there?

The lawyer for Chester went deeper, making “Private Ryan’s” opening scene of mayhem G-rated by comparison to his line of questioning about missing organs, including fallopian tubes and ovaries, and whether they could be found in Mrs. Chester’s autopsy. It read like nothing most people would want to read but apparently was delivered with the plaintiffs’ permission since their lawyers were asking about it.

The County tried to put a stop to such testimony and Bryant’s own request that the coroners bring their photos of the victims to court. Why would she even want the photos to be in the same building with her?

Please, please don’t misunderstand. This is no effort to let the County off the hook, who has some explaining to do in front of the jury.

There is a suggestion that since the photos taken by the first responders were deleted, the coroner’s photos were being offered in their place. The County said they would not be the same and suggested they would muddy the water for the jury who had been told no photos had surfaced.

Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a court document “because first responders deleted those photos or failed to preserve them, plaintiffs must present witness testimony about what defendants’ photos depicted.”

Must they? Must we know if someone’s liver was found, a question asked by Chester’s attorney?

The judge agreed with Bryant’s and Chester’s argument, and learning from personal experience, judges don’t always get it right.

Autopsy reports are available for a fee, but what’s the price paid for the attention that Bryant’s lawyer will bring to it?

USA Today’s report on the trial raised the same note of confusion as I have experienced.

The Coroner’s “testimony underscored a cruel irony about this case.” reported USA Today. “Bryant’s and Chester’s attorneys say their clients live in fear of these gruesome death photos reemerging one day and are haunted by the thought of that. But they also are eliciting graphic details from witnesses in open court about the photos and the condition of the bodies from the crash site — to the point that Bryant stayed out of the courtroom…”

Vanessa Bryant skipped the coroner’s testimony and then left the courtroom after her lawyer asked a Norwalk bartender if he had seen a photo of a young girl in any of the photos a sheriff’s trainee had shown to him. Everyone can sympathize and understand the emotional distress Vanessa has experienced, but is it really necessary for it to be self-inflicted?

Two other families settled with the County to presumably avoid this public spectacle, but Bryant and Chester declined. It can’t be easy for those two other families to avoid reports of what is being said now about the crash.

In her amended complaint, Bryant said, “Many social media users and Internet trolls have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, and their accounts are plausible given the number of individuals who took and transmitted improper photos, the ease with which cell phone photos are electronically shared and saved in cloud storage.”

If her legal team can locate these social media users and trolls who have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, then seemingly she would have made her case.

Whatever the end goal here, there is no excusing the first responders who behaved recklessly. And if it’s proven there is a history of such behavior, and it’s known the County has already tightened its policies, then what took so long? Shame on anyone who didn’t put dignity on lost loved ones over almost everything.

As for winning or losing in court, it is Vanessa’s legal team’s job in technical terms to prove the Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department acted in a manner that shocks the conscience and offends the community’s sense of fair play and decency.

Maybe that’s what reading the autopsy to the jury is all about, the shock there in brutal detail as Bryant’s lawyer detailed how the crash impacted the body of Bryant’s daughter, which you won’t read here. As I wrote a week ago, I just don’t get the motivation for putting oneself through such emotional stress once again.

It’s already being reported that there is great twitter outrage out there over the release of autopsy details and a sketch of Kobe, but that was a choice made by Bryant’s wife and her legal team. And I repeatedly ask, why?

Maybe the explanation is in an Instagram displayed by Law & Crime that shows Vanessa driving on Oct. 31, 2021 while dressed in blonde hair, white fur coat, and red gloves as Cruella deVil from 101 Dalmatians.

She has spoken about the disrespect shown to her husband and daughter in death, and maybe the caption she wrote below her Halloween picture explains: “They say there are five stages of grief:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, I’d like to add one more . . . revenge.”

The judge ruled that her Instagram could not be shown to the jury.

RE: Kobe Photos—no such thing as rest in peace

By T.J. Simers

I don’t get the whole Kobe Bryant trial over photos taken of his corpse.

So, it was wrong, foolish, disrespectful and a million other horrible words attached to the poor judgment shown by the Los Angeles County sheriffs and firemen, but what do the relatives want?

Vanessa Bryant filed a federal civil lawsuit and was joined by Christopher Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his daughter.

The agony is unimaginable, but to date there is no indication any of the photos taken afterward surfaced on the Internet. Or, in any public way. That justifies nothing, but what’s the ultimate pursuit here?

The Times reported Wednesday morning that a settlement has been reached in two other lawsuits, but Bryant and Chester refused to settle.

Is it all about money? Hard to imagine that Bryant would need more, but maybe it’s true you can never have enough. I know that’s how John Travolta says you hurt people in a lawsuit in the movie, “A Civil Action”—you take their money, but is this about bankrupting sheriffs and firemen? Or, L.A. County?

I would like to think Bryant’s cause is more noble and she’s trying to send a message, but the message is already loud and clear: What a stupid, insensitive and lousy thing to do.

Short of stripping everyone naked ala Game of Thrones and walking the disrespectful slobs down main street with everyone chanting, “Shame,” I don’t get it.

Is it a pursuit of justice beyond what everyone already knows: It shouldn’t have happened?

Maybe if I suffered the same dramatic shock as those who suffered through the helicopter crash, I would feel differently. But I think it’s universally understood now that privacy and dignity are near absolutes in a case like this, and those who abused those basics were saved from themselves. Nothing surfaced.

Maybe they weren’t punished enough by Bryant’s and Chester’s standards, and if there is a possibility a trial will get them suspended or fired, I won’t quibble. I suspect the County administrators will be too busy assuming a defensive posture there won’t be any finger pointing at specific cops or firemen.

Even though the police are involved I don’t think the solution is public beatings.

I know about the pursuit of money. This lawsuit is for unspecified millions, and I just received millions from a judge for winning a lawsuit against the Times. But for privacy and dignity why go this route in such a public setting?

Maybe the Sheriff and fire chief didn’t apologize enough to the families. Maybe there was offense taken because many of those who had the horrible images chose to delete them from their phones. But isn’t that the best course of action unless someone deemed them more important as evidence in a civil trial.

I sat through a civil trial, well, really three of them. It’s painful even when you think you are right. If the fight here is to preserve the sacred image of those who perished, understood, but seemingly unnecessary. And painful.

Bryant’s attorneys said she is fearful she or her children will one day come across horrific images of their loved ones on the Internet. I would hold open the courtroom doors to facilitate the prosecution of the idiots who did such a thing. But it hasn’t happened.

A verdict in favor of Bryant and Chester would do nothing two, five or ten years from now to safeguard the families against idiots. I understand the gut-wrenching concern Bryant and Chester might feel about what might make their nightmares worse, but it appears the Sherriff’s office and fire department have done everything they can to fix an embarrassing break in proper decorum.

If an ugly picture had surfaced, then no mercy and I stand corrected.

But if this is all about some kind of revenge against those who didn’t function as appropriately as everyone would have liked, I don’t get it. We already get there were considerable mistakes made.

I asked my own lawyer about it Wednesday, and he said, “So you would have just had her forget it?”

I would have, while joining others in accepting the settlement offered, and preserving the privacy and dignity of those who died. Now I hope my opinion is never put to a practical test, and honestly, maybe these aggrieved people are entitled to salve their emotional wounds in any way they choose.

But I will still be curious to watch and learn what the goal is here.


Laker Craziness

By T.J. Simers

While I was drowning Sunday, the last thing I saw was my daughter laughing at me. There was no move made to save me. Not an inch.

Now I know what it’s like for Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ GM, and what he’s had to endure while trying to keep his head above water. I promise to stop laughing at him.

I was very upset as I went under, wondering if this was it then I would never know where Durant or Irving will play next season. Could you really die in peace if this was your time?

Pelinka is on the verge of becoming a genius and I might have left you all thinking he was a dope before any trade became official.

A writer lives with that thought, knowing he’ll be remembered for the last thing he wrote. Poor Jeanie Buss.

Jeanie was writing into the night this past weekend, but no mention of how many glasses of wine it took to get her exclusive twitter thoughts.

She had given an exclusive interview to Times’ Columnist Bill Plaschke several weeks back, and the way that read, somebody had to be imbibing.

If you were imbibing and reading her tweet you might wonder about her twitter logo which has her lying on her back and holding two basketballs over what appears to be her naked chest.

The picture was taken for Sports Illustrated almost 25 years ago but I guess it’s important for the owner of the Lakers to still be viewed in this way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.

Jeanie’s tweet began with her proclaiming that she misses KB, as she wrote, “the greatest Laker ever.”

Just a hunch that she was not referring to Kent Bazemore, so I agree, Kobe is my greatest Laker, but I wasn’t there for West, Wilt, Elgin or Kareem.

She also wrote that KB “understood team over self,” and while I might quibble with that, it’s her tweet. I just wish I would have had the chance to quibble over that with Kobe.

Some people thought it was sweet of Jeanie to be thinking about Kobe, but I’m still not sure what she was trying to say. She’s the owner of the Lakers, and I’d like to think she’s got it all together even though I still don’t get the whole Phil Jackson and Jeanie romance.

Why was Jeanie waxing poetic deep into the night? Some folks thought she was sending a message to LeBron, apparently under the cover of darkness.

I know a number of published reports referred to her tweet as being “cryptic.” I had to look it up. “A coded message is an example of something cryptic, or a letter written in invisible ink.”

Sending a coded message written in invisible ink in the middle of the night would seem more whacky to me than cryptic.

That’s what I would tell Jeanie.

I only make mention of all this because Jeanie wrote in her tweet: “All can reply.”

I have a cold one in my hand, so I’m doing just that.

Looks Like Done Deal; Irving to LA

By T.J. Simers

So now we know, Kyrie Irving will be playing for the Lakers this season.

Only way it doesn’t happen is if GM Rob Pelinka goes stupid. OK, so maybe there is a chance, but by most accounts the Nets will not hang onto Irving if they honor Kevin Durant’s request to be traded.

Irving was probably out of reach a few days ago, but now without Durant, the agonizing headache that is Irving will more than likely belong to another team.

Why would any team take on such a headache?

Well, a desperate team, one that is expected to win a championship every season and which has no hope to do so this coming season as presently structured, has no choice but to welcome such trouble.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the Lakers’ have had a Hail Mary answered, getting Irvine and maybe getting rid of Russell Westbrook at the same time. That almost makes Pelinka a genius, and maybe the only way it can happen with Pelinka doing nothing.

Windhorst and others say the market for Irving is almost nonexistent, which means only the Lakers can screw it up. Irving supposedly is telling folks he will be playing in L.A.

Holy Jerry West, how far have the Lakers slipped that good luck now is the way they improve. Or is it bad luck?

It means the Lakers will have to take on the loser that is Irving, the selfish guy who sabotaged Brooklyn’s great plan for dominance, and I’ll bet you can’t wait to buy a Lakers’ jersey for your kid with his name on the back.

As much as Laker fans disdain Westbrook, if he goes to Brooklyn, they probably won’t care much what they get in return. But they’ll consider Irving a knight in shining armor.

Of course they will, because they don’t know what they are talking about. Some of them are now calling for the Lakers to trade Anthony Davis for Durant because they think the world revolves around L.A.

Maybe it does, but that would be the Los Angeles Clippers.