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LAKERS REPORT

Old Pal's Exploits Captivate Harris

April 01, 1998|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Del Harris called University of Utah Coach Rick Majerus on Tuesday morning and left a message on his answering machine.

Condolences over the loss to Kentucky? Congratulations over getting to the NCAA title game in the first place?

"Both," Harris said.

The Laker coach had lived the Utes' improbable run through the tournament like few other college happenings in his life because Majerus is his closest friend in the business, a relationship that began when both were assistants with the Milwaukee Bucks in the mid-80s. When Harris sat near the Utah bench at the West Regional at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, it was his first college game in about four years.

Come Monday night, a few hours after the Lakers arrived in Toronto, Harris and assistant coach Bill Bertka watched the game at a restaurant.

"He watched the game very intently," Bertka corrected, adding: "He lived with every play in that game."

*

Rick Fox has said all along he hopes to play for Canada in the world championships in Athens this summer, even while offering the disclaimer that a final decision may depend on his contract status, but the Laker forward indicated for the first time Tuesday he definitely will not play in Greece if he is still a free agent.

"I think that's safe to say," he said.

Fox does not want to risk injury in that tournament if he does not have the security of an NBA contract, and the chances of a new deal being done by the start of competition at the end of July seem unlikely because of the looming lockout. The NBA has said insurance will be authorized for its players, but Fox technically won't qualify as a free agent. He could get his own policy.

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