Kobe fined $10,000 for missing media day
Updated: Friday February 09, 2001 10:23 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Reluctant All-Star Kobe Bryant was fined $10,000 by the NBA for missing Friday's media day.
Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal were the only no-shows for the annual mass gathering with reporters.
Bryant said Wednesday he wanted to skip Sunday's All-Star Game because of a sore right shoulder, but said he'll play because he doesn't want to risk being suspended. He was schedule to arrive in Washington late Friday.
O'Neal has already pulled out with a strained right foot, but he is in town this weekend making public appearances. A decision on whether to fine O'Neal for missing media day was "under review," according to an NBA spokesman.
Clippers beat Lakers?
What's this? An NB-Star weekend with more Clippers than Lakers?
That's right. There are four Los Angeles Clippers taking part, while Kobe Bryant is the only representative of the Los Angeles Lakers -- and he didn't really want to come.
True, none of the Clippers will be playing in the big game Sunday, but Lamar Odom, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson are in Saturday's rookie-sophomore game, while Corey Maggette is in the Slam-dunk contest.
"We're proud. That's the reason I wore my Clippers T-shirt today," said Odom, who might have been ridiculed for such attire in the past. "Hopefully we can make this a tradition."
Maggette said he hoped the big Clippers contingent will make for good advertising.
"We're just trying to get our name out there," Maggette said. "Maybe we'll get some free agents."
Who needs practice?
The top prize for 2ball, the shooting contest that pairs an NBA player with a WNBA player, is $25,000. Apparently that's not enough to send the participants scurrying to the gym to practice.
Natalie Williams of the Utah Starzz said she and partner Byron Russell of the Utah Jazz have developed a strategy, but they haven't tested it much.
"We practiced one day," said Williams, who won the event with now-retired Utah guard Jeff Hornacek last year. "But we've been mentally practicing, which is more important."
Washington Mystics guard Nikki McCray, teamed with Wizards guard Richard Hamilton for the Saturday event, found a similar way to downplay practice.
"We haven't practiced," McCray said. "It's not about practice. It's about strategy and getting into rhythm."
In 2ball, the players take turns shooting for 60 seconds from any of seven designated spots on the floor. Eight teams are participating, and the two teams with the most points face each other in the final round.
A Spree man
Latrell Sprewell was expecting bad news when he heard Jeff Van Gundy was at the door.
"At first I thought it was a trade or something going on," said Sprewell, recalling a recent visit by his New York Knicks coach.
Actually, Van Gundy was dropping by to tell Sprewell he'd made the All-Star Game as an injury replacement. It was a surprise to Sprewell, who still has a lawsuit pending against the league over his suspension for choking P.J. Carlesimo when the two were with the Golden State Warriors four years ago.
"Once he told me I made the team," Sprewell said, "I had some relief."
Teammate vs. teammate
One of the unique features of Saturday's rookies-vs.-sophomores game is that it turns teammates into foes.
"I've been talking to him a lot," Brand said. "I told him, `Don't come in that lane.' He's coming down like everybody else."
Ditto for sophomore Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Clippers, who has been trash-talking this week with rookie teammates Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson.
"They got me feeling cocky right now," Odom said, "because that's the way I've got to feel playing against those guys. That's the way they feel. I'm going to go after them as much as I can."
Charlotte's David Wesley, competing in Saturday's 2ball competition, said his Hornets team doesn't get the respect it deserves.
"Charlotte wins -- no highlights. One highlight," Wesley said. "You get Baron [Davis] dunking the ball, that's it."
Wesley said teammate Jamal Mashburn should have been added to the team to replace one of the injured players, such as Alonzo Mourning.
"Mash has been putting up numbers like crazy for us," Wesley said. "Even when 'Zo does go down, he doesn't get mentioned. If we were on TV more, they could see Mash was putting up the numbers."
The international press corps shows up in force for All-Star weekend, with players fielding all sorts of unusual questions from reporters representing every place from Thailand to Toronto.
At Friday's media day, one French crew asked players to name the first thing they did after getting up in the morning. Elton Brand and Steve Francis had the same answer: Turn on the TV.