Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Millions of reasons to go - and stay




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        Bob Huggins wouldn't mind being an NBA coach, so when the NBA calls, he should listen. But what about the L.A. Clippers? The Clippers make the Bengals look like the Yankees.

        This was all about money. The Clippers were offering $8 million guaranteed, for four years in their gulag, double what Huggins makes at UC. Solzhenitsyn would've taken that. And so would you.

        The temptation is to suggest that money can't buy happiness, but really, how would we know? Those of us who've never been offered $2 million a year for four years shouldn't judge the happiness it brings. Maybe it makes you all tingly inside.

        But when the money's being thrown by the Clippers, it better make your heart warm like the eternal flame. This is the worst franchise in sports history. Hands down. Huggins is a good coach. He's not a faith healer.

An L.A. kind of guy?
        If I'm Huggins (I'm not; his ties are better), I'm wondering if this was a good fit. Huggins is an Ohio guy. He is a small-town Ohio guy. He likes taverns, beer, cigars and fried food. He doesn't tan.

        His wife is a farm girl. His oldest daughter will be a high school senior. He's a big deal in Cincinnati, but his privacy is still respected. In L.A., he wouldn't have been a big deal. Being a Clipper is like entering the witness protection program.

        Huggins is a college coach. He expects loyalty, effort and obedience. In the NBA, all three would be in effect. And his players would be really mad if he didn't give each to them.

        In college, Huggins enjoys helping underprivileged kids reach for a dream. He can be a sociologist and a psychologist. In the NBA, he'd need a psychologist.

        In college, he can yell and his players will listen. Or at least pretend to listen. In the NBA, they'd flip him off. Or choke him.

        In college, Huggins can go to a postgame news conference, say his team lost because his players didn't listen to him and be seen as shifting the blame away from himself. In the NBA, he could go to a postgame news conference, say his team lost because his players didn't listen to him and be seen as a realist.

        In college, Huggins can go postal for 30 games and keep his blood pressure just beneath the red zone. In the NBA, he can go postal for 82 games and watch his head explode.

        In college, he can't provide his unpaid players monetary assistance. In the NBA, he could ask his players for a loan.

        At UC, he can work for Bob Goin, a rational gentleman he knows and respects. In L.A., he could've worked for Donald Sterling, a real estate tycoon who's only now learning a basketball is round.

        So ... What's the going rate for futility, frustration and long nights muttering, “This is worse than I thought?”

        Eight million over four years wasn't enough.

        Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at 768-8454.

Huggins turns down Clippers
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