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Lakers donate part of playoff bonus to help staff during lockout

Two members of the team's video department, Chris Bodaken and Patrick O'Keefe, split about $65,000 of the Lakers' playoff bonus. Luke Walton provides financial gifts to members of the training staff.

August 18, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers were in a foul mood after getting eliminated from the playoffs in a shocking sweep by Dallas in May, but some players remembered to make financial considerations before scattering for the off-season.

Kobe Bryant insisted on giving some of the team's playoff bonus to two members of the Lakers' video department whose contracts were not renewed after the season. Chris Bodaken and Patrick O'Keefe split about $65,000 of the Lakers' playoff bonus.

Bodaken started with the Lakers as a ball boy in 1986 and spent the last 10 seasons as their director of video services. O'Keefe was the Lakers' video coordinator for six seasons. They both hope to be re-hired by the team when the NBA lockout ends. For now, they are thankful for Bryant's financial gesture.

"He always looks out for people who are lower on the totem pole," O'Keefe said.

Said Bodaken: "At the end of the day, he told us he was going to take care of us and he did, and that's not how most people in the world operate. He not only talks the talk. He walks it."

The Lakers laid off about 20 employees for cost-cutting reasons before the lockout, which has shown no sign of a resolution since it began July 1. The layoffs included assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, four of the team's five athletic trainers and almost the entire scouting staff.

Playoff teams are given a pool of bonus money by the NBA based on how far they advance in the postseason. It's up to each team to determine how the money is split within the franchise, decisions often made by team captains and handed out as playoff "shares."

Typically, an overwhelming majority of the playoff money goes to players, with team employees sometimes receiving smaller sums.

Last spring the Lakers' playoff pool was $604,000.

Bryant and Derek Fisher, Lakers' captains last season, voted to give some of the playoff money to Bodaken and O'Keefe.

Lakers reserve forward Luke Walton took an extra step after the season by providing individual financial gifts to members of the training staff.

"They're a huge part of our team," said Walton, who did not specify how much he gave. "When they got laid off, this was a way to let them know that we appreciate them. It was something to help them through what was already a tough time."

Only one of the Lakers training staff has found work with another NBA team. Alex McKechnie recently signed a three-year deal to be the Toronto Raptors' director of sports science.

What next, Kobe?

The Chinese Basketball Assn. might decide Friday to ban NBA players from signing with Chinese pro teams during the lockout, leaving Bryant and other NBA stars one less country in which to play if the NBA lockout seeps into the regular season.

Bryant, who turns 33 next Tuesday, has also considered playing in Turkey. The season opener for the Lakers is scheduled for Nov. 1 against Oklahoma City.

Bryant would make $25.2 million next season with the Lakers and has two more years after that for a total of $58.3 million.

Tickets, please

The Lakers are supposed to open training camp next month, but the main activity at the team training facility might be collecting more ticket deposits from season-ticket holders.

Customers who did not pay for tickets with a lump sum earlier this summer will owe the second of three payment installments next month and a third installment in November.

If games are canceled because of the lockout, pro-rated refunds will be given along with an added 1% cash refund, the team said.

Lakers ticket prices increased about 4% across the board, with courtside seats up to $2,700 each, a $100 bump from last season.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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