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Pro Basketball

Hearn's Return Remains on Hold

January 19, 2002|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chick Hearn, appearing Friday at a news conference at Staples Center, said he had no idea when he would return, which was different from what he had said earlier in the week.

The Laker announcer, who had heart surgery Dec. 19, told The Times on Monday that he'd be back for either a home game against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 6 or the Lakers' next game, a home game Feb. 12 against Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards.

Hearn saw his cardiologist later Monday and was told it was too soon to announce any dates for his return. Hearn called The Times' sports desk that night and asked that the story not reflect an exact date. He asked that it just say early February.

Hearn was even more vague Friday.

"I have no idea," he said. "I'd like to be coming back today. I wish I was on the airplane going to San Antonio."

Hearn said his doctors will determine when he returns.

He was overwhelmed as he looked around the Chick Hearn Press Room, which contained three of the four huge get-well placards that were positioned around Staples Center during the first two Laker games Hearn missed, ending his consecutive game streak at 3,338. The room wasn't big enough to hold the fourth.

The placards were about seven feet high and 36 feet wide. The three in the room contained about 5,000 get-well wishes.

Hearn answered questions for half an hour. At one point, he mentioned a story printed Thursday that placed the Lakers' worth at $403 million.

"See what you can do when you don't pay the announcer enough," he said.

Hearn said the Lakers had sent a limo for him and wife, Marge. "I think it was a 1939 Ford."

On a serious note, Hearn was asked about Shaquille O'Neal's three-game suspension and $15,000 fine.

"He got off lucky," Hearn said. "Thank God he didn't hit [Chicago's Brad Miller]. There'd be court proceedings.

"I know Shaq is remorseful and thankful he didn't hit him."

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