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Pro Basketball | LAKER REPORT

Walker Is 'Hurt' by Bryant Remarks

November 30, 2002|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two days after Kobe Bryant said he had hoped his teammates would play through their injuries as he plays through his, Samaki Walker, from the injured list, said he had been "hurt" by Bryant's presumptions.

"It's painful, because that's a character shot," Walker said. "When you attack somebody's character, that's the worst thing you can do."

Walker has been on the injured list since Tuesday because of a strained lower back he suffered in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks two days earlier. Walker was walking gingerly and receiving daily treatment when, after the Lakers' loss in Orlando, Bryant intimated that Walker should have been playing.

"I understand Samaki has some back problems and he's hurting, but he's not hurting any more than I am," Bryant had said. "I'm out there playing my butt off every single night. Hurt. Bad ankle. Can't walk. Don't matter. I'm out there playing. They should be out there playing as well. Devean George, he'll be back shortly. We have to get our core guys out there playing basketball right now."

Both Walker and Coach Phil Jackson guessed that a growing frustration with what then were 11 losses in 16 games had led to Bryant's criticisms. As one player said, "See what happens when you're losing?"

Jackson said he had hoped for more compassion from Bryant, who two seasons ago missed more than two weeks because of ankle tendinitis, the same injury that put George on the injured list five games ago.

Walker, who was slugged from behind by Bryant on a team bus last season, shrugged.

"Well, you know what? Kobe's Kobe," he said. "I'm not going to take it personally. You start losing, you take it tough.

"The best way to resolve this situation is to try to get healthy. We're in this together."

*

Jackson said Friday he expected George to come off the injured list Sunday, when he is eligible.

George has not played since Nov. 8 at Washington but practiced Thursday and worked with strength coach Jim Cotta before Friday's game.

Among the roster options, the Lakers could waive center Soumaila Samake.

*

Ash on the floor, caused by fireworks during player introductions, delayed the start of Friday night's game for about 10 minutes.... Jerry West's son, Jonnie, plays on the same high school basketball team as Memphis forward Pau Gasol's brother, Marc.

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