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Jackson and team are fined $50,000

LAKERS REPORT

March 16, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

DENVER — Apparently not a fan of vendettas or witch hunts, the NBA struck back against Phil Jackson and his employers.

Jackson and the Lakers' organization were each fined $50,000 by the NBA on Thursday for Jackson's public accusation that the league had a "vendetta" and was conducting a "witch hunt" in its string of disciplinary actions toward Kobe Bryant.

Jackson, who makes $10 million annually, expressed a degree of regret after a brief surge of humor.

"They fined me?" he said dryly before becoming somewhat somber. "It's no laughing matter, to be honest with you, even though we'll make light of it. I have to come out here every day and talk to you guys. You ask me these scintillating, probing, prying questions and I have to answer them truthfully and then to have to face the music is not fun.

"It's demeaning. It's humiliating. There's nothing you can do but just swallow your pride and move on."

He also acknowledged not wanting to "look Dr. [Jerry] Buss in the face and say I cost the team that kind of money for an incident like that."

Jackson launched a defense of Bryant on Tuesday after the Lakers' All-Star was hit with his third league-imposed penalty this season.

Jackson was mostly restrained with his words as Bryant was hit with two one-game suspensions in a five-week span, but he delivered a withering criticism of the league after Bryant was hit with a Flagrant Foul I a few days after elbowing Philadelphia forward Kyle Korver in the jaw.

The NBA, predictably, wasn't thrilled with Jackson's choice of words.

"[Jackson's] statement doesn't really warrant a response," league disciplinarian Stu Jackson said when asked to comment.

On Wednesday, Phil Jackson said he did not think he would be fined because "they know that there's a corrective person out here that speaks the truth."

He has now been fined by the league twice this season. He was received a $25,000 penalty in November after criticizing the referees following a Lakers loss in Utah.

"I thought you only get fined for criticizing officiating," he said Thursday. "They're the sacred cows. But I find out somebody else has a sacred cow somewhere else."

It was not known whether the Lakers would try to appeal the franchise fine.

"We've made our opinion clear and have been penalized by the league for doing so," General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We have nothing more to say on the issue."

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Unlike NBA officials, Bryant said he appreciated Jackson's words.

"I think he's being supportive and coming to my defense," Bryant said before Jackson was fined. "It feels good to know that you have somebody in your corner."

But Bryant also acknowledged a slight need to reconsider some of his on-court actions to avoid being saddled with a reputation as a dirty player.

"You think about that a little bit, at least now, because I don't want to have the image of being a dirty player," Bryant said. "That's just ridiculous. You have to be a little mindful of that, [but] not to the point where it affects your game or you're out there thinking about it or anything like that."

\o7Times staff writer Mark Heisler contributed to this report.

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TONIGHT

vs. Portland, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 33-32, Trail Blazers 26-38.

Record vs. Trail Blazers -- 0-2.

Update -- The Blazers have lost four of their last five games and are 13th in the Western Conference.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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