Earning a seven-year, $49-million contract in the summer was one thing--earning being a subjective word, considering his career season of 1995-96 consisted of 13.9 points and 7.6 rebounds--but that's nothing compared to the challenge ahead for Elden Campbell. That's proving he deserves it.
Then again, there's always the Campbell theory:
"There's no pressure, because I get paid regardless."
So simply say there are certain expectations that come from others now that he is among the salary elite, even if the $49 million shortly after Shaquille O'Neal signed for $120 million was like scooping up a handful of change as long as Jerry Buss already had the cash register open.
"I don't have to live up to money," said Campbell, who was in his familiar role as the starting power forward when the Lakers opened exhibition play Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets in Honolulu. "I have a position I play and I have a role I play. I live up to that. But I never want to get where I have to live up to some money."
A year ago at this time, Derek Fisher was preparing for his senior season at Arkansas Little Rock, a Sun Belt Conference school. Now he looks over and sees O'Neal as a teammate.
"It's real weird," Fisher said. "But that's probably why I don't have a lot of reaction. It's so weird, so amazing, there's nothing really you can say."
The result of the game against the Nuggets, which began at 10 p.m. PDT, was unavailable at press time. The teams meet again Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in Honolulu). . . . The Lakers will wear old-style uniforms--blue and white with "Los Angeles" in cursive across the chest--in the Dec. 27 game against the Boston Celtics at the Forum. Most teams will use throwback attire at some point as the NBA celebrates its 50th anniversary.