Karl Malone played basketball Friday night, as he knew he would, as everyone knew he would.
In 18 seasons and nine games, Malone has failed to play 10 times, four times because he was injured or ill and six times because of suspension, those coming after on-court frays with the likes of Isiah Thomas and David Robinson.
Friday afternoon, Malone strode to a handful of reporters, one of whom asked, "Are you going to play tonight?"
Malone turned his head and said, "Next question."
He tweaked his left hamstring early in Wednesday's third quarter, sat down when the victory over Toronto was all but complete, and within minutes had begun preparation for Friday night's game against Detroit.
"Treatment, treatment, treatment, treatment, treatment," Malone said of his previous 36 hours. "But I'm fine. I put that uniform on, I'll be ready to play. And I'm putting it on."
Malone played 38 minutes against the Pistons, scoring 16 points.
Slava Medvedenko, who has suffered from a bruised left heel since training camp, told Coach Phil Jackson on Friday morning that he would be available to play in Sunday's game against the Miami Heat.
It wouldn't be soon enough for Jackson. On Friday afternoon, the Lakers put Medvedenko on the injured list and activated forward Jamal Sampson. Malone's sore hamstring prompted the move.
"This is just an emergency," Jackson said.
Shaquille O'Neal has started work on his master's degree with the hopes of one day becoming a sheriff.
He received his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State almost three years ago and said he attended his first classes toward his master's at the University of Phoenix, which has several campuses in Los Angeles, on Thursday night.
On Friday morning, O'Neal shared a new word, learned the night before, with reporters.
"We in the Laker organization have to be 'succinct' with one another," he said. "S-U-C-C-I-N-T. It means 'together.' Like that?"
Laker assistant Kurt Rambis will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a tendon in his left foot, injured during Thursday's practice.
Rambis was playing a one-on-one game against Rick Fox, who is recovering from surgery on his left foot, when, he said, "I heard a pop."
He will skip the coming trip through Detroit and New York, at least. The recovery could be as long as six months, according to Rambis.