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All-Star Game Not Kobe's Top Priority

February 07, 2001|TIM BROWN

After another day of treatment for his suddenly unreliable body and yet another missed practice, Kobe Bryant sounded resigned to putting himself through Sunday's All-Star game in Washington.

"If I can get out of it, if my shoulder's hurting after [tonight] and there's a way to get out of playing in the All-Star game, if I've got to go to Rick Adelman and say, 'Man, sit me down,' then that's what I'm going to do," Bryant said.

A wry grin escaped from Bryant as he noted the irony of going to Adelman, coach of the Pacific Division-rival Sacramento Kings as well as the Western Conference all-stars, and asking for a favor that ultimately would aid the Lakers.

"He's probably going to want to play me 48 minutes, but, you know . . .," Bryant said, smiling.

An eager All-Star performer in the past, Bryant has felt the wrath of the nightly double-team, leaving him battered and unable to practice with his teammates. He said his hip (bursitis) was better, but the troublesome shooting shoulder remained sore.

"Hopefully, whatever he participates in in the All-Star game, they'll understand he's been banged around and play him short minutes," Laker Coach Phil Jackson said.

Bryant said he never considered sitting out tonight's game against Phoenix, the Lakers' last before the All-Star break.

The team won't come together again until a charter flight takes the players and staff to New Jersey on Monday morning.


Shaquille O'Neal, suffering from a sore right arch, will not play in the All-Star game, according to a league source, with a replacement to be named today. O'Neal intends to attend parts of the All-Star program at the MCI Center.

After receiving treatment Tuesday afternoon, O'Neal said his arch was "feeling a little better, but still sore."


Slowly, it is becoming clearer that, despite their talk otherwise, the Lakers were not emotionally or physically prepared to defend their championship.

"It's like we won it all and we spent a little extra time gloating and celebrating last year's championship," veteran Brian Shaw said. "We got fat, content and complacent. We don't like the way that that feels. It's taken a little bit longer. But we're starting to get back to how we know how to play."

The result was 16 losses in a little more than half their season, a disregard for defense and an alarming unwillingness to get themselves into playing shape.

After the losses and the infighting, Sunday's victory against Sacramento appeared to lift morale in the organization, coming as it did without O'Neal and with Bryant unable to find his jump shot.

"I think guys came in [Tuesday] feeling pretty good, feeling loose and good about the effort Sunday," Shaw said. "The weird thing is, walking around town, people were saying, 'Oh that was great you guys beat Sacramento.' Like, we're some scrubs and that was a big accomplishment, like when the Clippers beat us."

He didn't mean it like that. Not exactly.

"It changes the whole mood around here, from 'what's going on?' to 'yeah, we can do this thing,' " rookie Mark Madsen said.


vs. Phoenix

7:30, Fox Sports Net

* Site--Staples Center.

* Radio--KLAC (570).

* Records--Lakers 30-16, Suns 28-19.

* Record vs. Suns--1-0.

* Update--On Dec. 28, the Lakers defeated the Suns, 115-78, in Phoenix. Bryant scored 38 points. . . . Clifford Robinson averages 18.4 points and Jason Kidd averages 16.2 points and 9.7 assists. Despite recent run-ins with the law, both are expected to play.

* Tickets--(800) 462-2849.

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