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LAKERS REPORT

Bryant responds to fan's suit

November 16, 2006|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Kobe Bryant says he doesn't recall the circumstances that form the basis for a lawsuit filed by a spectator claiming the Lakers guard struck him during a game last season.

According to the lawsuit, filed this week by Bill Geeslin in a Tennessee court, Bryant, apparently chasing a loose ball during a game against the Grizzlies in Memphis, "left the basketball court and entered the spectators' section where Bill Geeslin was sitting ... and violently struck Mr. Geelsin with [his] elbow."

Said Bryant on Wednesday at the team's El Segundo training center, "I really don't know too much about it.... Players are always going to try to save a loose ball and win the game. That's something a player has to do. I don't actually remember the play. That's what makes it so interesting."

Geeslin is asking for more than $75,000 in damages.

*

Everybody in the arena remembers the Toronto Raptors last visit to Staples Center. It was Jan. 22, a Sunday night, normally a laid-back evening for fans, with the only apparent significance being that it was the halfway point of the season for the Lakers, game No. 41.

But by the time it was over, it was a game for the ages with Bryant scoring 81 points, second most in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain's epic 100.

Although many fans burned those momentous 48 minutes on a keepsake DVD and have viewed it more than once, Bryant has yet to watch the game.

"I just haven't had a chance to watch it," Bryant said. "We didn't play Toronto again last season, so I just kind of moved on. I have thought about the game, reflected on it just because I'm asked about it so much."

With the Raptors coming back to Staples Center on Friday, the questions have started anew. But Bryant refuses to attach any particular significance to it.

"There are different people over there now," he said. "I just want a win."

*

Bryant doesn't like knee braces.

"I don't like anything on my legs like that," he said, lifting one leg to shake off an imaginary brace as he spoke.

But like it or not, he may not be able to shake off the suggestion that it's time to wear one.

Bryant has been working furiously to regain full strength in his right knee after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in July. But he still doesn't have his trademark extra kick on the court, what he refers to as his "sixth gear."

And, Bryant concedes, there is sometimes stiffness and soreness in the second half of games.

He'll test himself with a vigorous workout today at practice, he said. And if the stiffness and soreness return?

"Then," he said, "I may have to wear the brace."

*

As the Lakers walked off the practice court Wednesday, Brian Cook looked happy, Sasha Vujacic perplexed and Andrew Bynum frustrated.

Tough day of practice? Nope, tough day after practice for all but Cook.

The daily half-court shooting competition, spiced by a little wagering, had been won by Cook.

Bynum said he had lost $100, but it doesn't seem as if anybody pays up.

"We're not gamblers," Vujacic said. "I'll just win it back tomorrow. It's a friendly game. But it can be so frustrating."

steve.springer@latimes.com

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