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The Inside Track | MORNING BRIEFING

Celebrity Courtship Won't Go Courtside

May 15, 2004|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Cancel the wedding plans. It appears Luke Walton and Britney Spears won't be getting together any time soon.

When "Access Hollywood" told Walton that Spears had a crush on him, Walton said the feeling was mutual and he'd like to find a ticket to a game for Spears near the Laker bench.

Times reader Mario Gamez offered to sell his two front-row seats right behind the Laker bench for tonight's game to Walton for $5,000 apiece.

"I'm only trying to help Luke close the deal," Gamez said.

The bad news: Spears' publicist, Nicole King, said that the pop singer was on an international tour until August.

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Through the roof: So how outlandish is $5,000 for a front-row seat? According to Eric Baker, president of stubhub.com, tickets to tonight's game are the hottest of the playoffs, and probably hotter than tickets would be if the Lakers made it to the NBA Finals.

Baker said the resale value of courtside seats was $15,000, and about $1,500 for floor-level seats. Face value of courtside seats for this series is $2,400, and face value for the best floor-level seats is $240.

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Trivia time: What was the face value of Laker courtside tickets in 1979-80?

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Time stands still: Radio station XTRA found a way to turn 0.4 of a second into three hours Friday. The station pushed the delete button on its regular programming to continuously play Joel Meyers' call of Derek Fisher's winning basket, while Jeff Biggs took calls from listeners to talk about the shot.

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Good steppingstone: ABC officials have said courtside reporter Michele Tafoya's work on the NBA led to her being named the new sideline reporter for "Monday Night Football."

NBA Commissioner David Stern must have noticed. He got in a playful dig when Tafoya interviewed him during Thursday night's Laker game.

"Congratulations on using the NBA as a leapfrog to your next football career," Stern said.

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Good to his word: Pitcher Mark Prior, when he left USC two years ago as a junior to sign a four-year, $10.5-million contract with the Chicago Cubs, promised he would return to school to get his degree. Prior received that degree Friday.

One could say he was living up to a Prior commitment.

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There's always hope: The New York Yankees are counting on fourth starter Jon Lieber to deliver this season. After his strong performance in the Yankees' 7-4 victory over the Angels on Thursday, the headline on the back page of the New York Post read: "The Great Right Hope."

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Trivia answer: $15. Owner Jerry Buss raised the price to $50 the next season.

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And finally: Even with the increase in price, no one gave up courtside seats. In fact, because the team needed them for sponsors, the Lakers offered $10,000 a seat to people willing to give theirs up.

"Still, no one would give up those seats," said Steve Chase, then the Lakers' vice president of marketing. "It turns out they did the right thing."

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Larry Stewart can be reached at larry.stewart@latimes.com.

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