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LAKERS REPORT

Rider Late, With Written Excuse

November 09, 2000|TIM BROWN

SAN ANTONIO — Isaiah Rider strode into the visitors' locker room at the Alamodome on Wednesday night, walked right up to Coach Phil Jackson and handed him a sheet of beige hotel stationery.

Rider had missed the team bus to the Alamodome.

But that note, written in blue ink, from the manager of a downtown hotel here, was his salvation. The hotel had forgotten Rider's 4:30 p.m. wake-up call. The bus departed at 5:15. Rider wasn't on it.

When you're Isaiah Rider, every single member of the Laker traveling party gets a wake-up call. Except you. Rider knows that he'll pay for the flukes as sure as he'll pay for the indiscretions.

"My life," Rider said with a grin, "is in their hands."

So he grabbed the note, hailed a cab and chased the team bus across town. He arrived 10 minutes later, and was relieved to discover that Jackson already had spoken to the hotel manager and that there were no hard feelings.

"It was an honest mistake," Rider said. "In my case I had to get some proof. I'm sure nobody would buy my word."

Sure they would.

Incidentally, a hotel official supported Rider's version.

"It was totally our fault," the official said. "The girl who was supposed to call honored the 'do not disturb' on the phone instead."

*

Kobe Bryant knows when the offense fails, he will bear the fallout.

"But I don't care," Bryant said before scoring 32 against the Spurs. "Somebody has to take the blame. I'll take it. It's a team game."

The Lakers are feeling their way around the triangle, Bryant said. And, he said, that's not new. They made it up as they went along last year too.

"We never really had it [last season]," Bryant said. "In the playoffs we ran pick-and-rolls. For real, it was a big illusion. It worked, though. Everybody fell for it."

*

Robert Horry, who has a strained muscle in his neck, played Wednesday night. He appeared stiff early before making four three-pointers. . . . Shaquille O'Neal, on getting the benefit of the doubt from officials: "I don't want them to give me nothing. Anything that's free, I don't want it. Including free throws." Then he laughed.

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