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LAKER REPORT

Shaq Is Writing Off This Keepsake

March 23, 2003|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Once mildly amused by Ballgate, or at least willing to dismiss it as an isolated crude act, Shaquille O'Neal said Saturday that he no longer wants the basketball he used to score his 20,000th career point.

Apparently vandalized during Thursday's game at Arco Arena, the basketball was returned to Sacramento King officials, who have told the Lakers they would try to identify the person responsible, with handwriting analysis if necessary.

If the Kings return what O'Neal now considers to be a fouled piece of memorabilia, O'Neal said he'd give it to his college coach, Dale Brown, or to his father.

"I'll just have to get another ball at 30,000," O'Neal said.

O'Neal also said he was upset the Laker organization did not do more to celebrate the milestone a night later at Staples Center. A mention of his feat was made on the overhead scoreboard during the game.

"Thanks, Mitch [Kupchak], for acknowledging me," he said with sarcasm. "Appreciate that."

Team officials said Friday they had hoped to do more, but that it seemed awkward without the ball. Now it seems O'Neal won't want it.

"Send it to Mr. Stern," he said of the NBA commissioner, David Stern. "He can see what goes on in certain arenas. I don't want it. I'll just get another ball and write something on it. I thought about it last night. I couldn't really sleep last night I was so [upset]."

The Lakers, it appears, won't hold it against the Kings, assuming the handwriting analysis doesn't implicate, say, Coach Rick Adelman.

"I'm sure Geoff Petrie will do the right thing," Kupchak said of the Kings' general manager. "We don't believe it reflects on their organization."

*

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Site -- SBC Center

Radio -- KLAC-AM (570), KWKW-AM (1330), KIRN-AM (670).

Records -- Lakers 39-29, Spurs 48-20.

Record vs. Spurs -- 0-3.

Update -- David Robinson was activated from the injured list in time for Friday night's game, which the Spurs lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Who?" O'Neal said. The Lakers opened the season with a loss to the Spurs and maintained the trend through games at San Antonio on Nov. 20 and another at Staples Center on Valentine's Day. Bryant averaged 31.7 points in the three games, the first two played without O'Neal.

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