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Shaq Composed Before Game

LAKER REPORT

March 16, 2003|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE — It was early Saturday evening, 90 minutes until game time, five hours from the charter flight that would send the Lakers home from their four-game trip.

In a tiny visitor's locker room, Kobe Bryant lay on his back on one of two padded tables, a towel covering his face.

It was no place for the ill, however.

On the other table, with bags of ice lashed to his knees, Shaquille O'Neal sang self-composed rap songs to music emanating from his cell phone. Some of the songs made fun of the media that traipsed past, others were about himself, or teammates who wandered by, something about Samaki Walker brushing his teeth.

It was loud and it was silly and it was perfectly Shaq, screaming laughter, cartoonishly bumping his head on the cinder block wall behind him, poking Bryant in the thigh.

Bryant would smile dutifully, then return to his attempt to sleep off the flu that arrived Friday afternoon and hadn't yet subsided. Meantime, the laughs from around him would rise and fall on O'Neal's whim.

"What wrong with this dude, man?" Tracy Murray shouted, meaning O'Neal, and everyone burst into laughter again.

*

Mike Bibby, on O'Neal's assessment of his Olympic value, in the Sacramento Bee: "He must be the hype man for the series in case we meet. I don't know if that's his job or if he's playing. I know he heard of me while I was in Vancouver, because the Grizzlies beat the Lakers a couple of times."

The Lakers play at Sacramento on Thursday.

*

Rookie Kareem Rush had a root canal performed by a Milwaukee dentist Saturday after symptoms, which he experienced for a week, became severe Friday night.

"I thought I was going to pass out," he said, "it hurt so bad."

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