T.J. SIMERS

No need for papal conclave: Paul and Howard will be staying in L.A.

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Some contend he's already gone, wishful thinking on the part of those who so easily dismissed him as an effective performer early on.

The worst thing that can happen to a critic is being wrong, and everyone knowing it.

The Lakers are coming on because Howard is too.

Howard will make more money staying and he has talked about using the L.A. stage to become more than just a basketball player. Nowhere else can that combo be offered.

He's 27, the best center in a game played by tall people, and I believe the day will come when Lakers fans just love him.

Keep in mind that had I become pope, I would now be considered infallible.

A BIG thanks to those who have reached out to help 9-year-old Jeffrey Hughes Jr. in his tussle with cancer.

Jeffrey underwent stem-cell rescue Monday to help his 60-pound battered body recover from efforts to kill off cancer.

At the same time, the family received a needed financial boost.

"Overwhelming," said Jeffrey's dad.

More than $14,000 has been added to gofundme.com/1susko fund to help the family.

One woman donated in the name of her deployed Navy SEAL son, while Kaci Lewin added a note with her family's contribution.

"I am also 9 years old. I hope your cancer stays away."

Another donor, who wants to be unnamed, has offered to cover the $1,000-a-month insurance premium if necessary to maintain Jeffrey's care.

A Lakers fan has offered the Hughes family a break from the hospital and courtside seats for Sunday's game against the Bulls.

Jeffrey will continue to receive monthly chemo treatments for the rest of his life unless a new treatment is developed.

"People have just been wonderful," said Jeffrey's dad. "We feel as if everyone has reached out to just hug us."

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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