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Grizzlies, Hawks Courting West

April 22, 2002

Jerry West spoke this weekend with Memphis owner Michael Heisley about running the Grizzlies' basketball operations.

The former Laker executive has two immediate opportunities, with the Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks, should he choose to return full-time to the game he left nearly two years ago because of health concerns, and should those organizations make contract offers.

He is said to be willing to consider only an optimal situation.

West has had several conversations with Stan Kasten, president of the Hawks.

While there are believed to be other teams interested in hiring West, the Grizzlies and Hawks have been aggressive in their pursuit, and are expected to offer multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts.

A consultant for the Lakers since he resigned as vice president for basketball operations, West attended Sunday's playoff game at Staples Center, more of a habit for him in recent months.

Kobe Bryant shed his signature pushed back afro for a more conservative look, something he said he'd considered for months. He cut his hair Saturday night.

"I feel a little quicker," he said. "I'm shorter, though."

With Robert Horry hurting and Samaki Walker susceptible to foul trouble, Coach Phil Jackson might have to give minutes to Slava Medvedenko and Mark Madsen.

Asked his comfort with that, he couldn't cut the questioner off fast enough.

"Not very comfortable," Jackson said. "If we have to use them, we have to use them. But, Slava did not show well in the last game up in Portland. He made three mistakes in the fourth quarter that cost us a 13-point lead. It went from 13 to seven in that period of time.

"Mark is more of a defensive player. He can do some things, and we used him in the first half [at aPortland] effectively. But, this is a relatively inexperienced player."

As is his custom in the playoffs, Jackson wore his newest championship ring on Sunday.

Last year's ring celebrated the consecutive titles, with two Larry O'Brien trophies made of white diamonds on a field of yellow diamonds.

He rarely wears them otherwise, because they are heavy and awkward and gives him bone bruises when he shakes hands with people.

"I hate them," he said, laughing.

His consecutive games streak ended earlier this season at 3,338, but Chick Hearn on Sunday called his 430th consecutive playoff game for the Lakers.... The Lakers have won 17 of their last 18 playoff games, starting with Game 6 of the 2000 NBA Finals.

Tim Brown

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