Lakers vice president Jeanie Buss has been close to the man behind the triangle offense for six years; she and L.A. coach Phil Jackson even share a home. Still, Buss can't seem to figure out the system. "We have TiVo," she says, "and any time we watch a game, he'll rewind and say, 'Watch what happens here....' I'm like, 'Can't we just watch the game? I don't get it.'" To help Lakers fans who share her befuddlement, Buss (below, with Jackson), in cooperation with the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission, is putting on "Basketball 101: Understanding the Triangle with Phil Jackson," a $500-a-head event at the Staples Center on Oct. 19, at which fans can learn the ins and outs from Jackson and assistants Tex Winter and Kurt Rambis. Says Buss, "I hope to learn more that night than I have in the past six years."
? One drawback to being an ex-con: When Martha Stewart fires the starting pistol at the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine, this Sunday, she must by law shoot blanks. "If [the gun] can fire projectiles, felons can't possess or use it," said Bar Harbor police sergeant Allen Smith. Stewart, who has a house along the race's hilly path, will send off some 1,000 runners and stick around afterward to award laurel wreaths to winners at the finish line. Race director Gary Allen says he asked Stewart to run in the race three years ago, but she declined. "I didn't say it, but I thought, If Oprah can run a marathon, certainly Martha Stewart can," Allen told the Bangor Daily News.
? Turns out the Runaway Bride doesn't like running so much. After paying $90 to secure a coveted spot in the 40,000-runner field for the Chicago marathon, Jennifer Wilbanks--the Georgia native who performed 120 hours of court-mandated community service for faking her own kidnapping in June--was a no-show.
? The Africa Channel launched on Sept. 1, with a little help from two NBA players. Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo, a native of Congo, and Portland forward Theo Ratliff, who comes from Demopolis, Ala., are both investors in the cable station, which shows English-language programming from the continent--everything from documentaries and news programs to soaps to sports. The channel will, says Mutombo, "give a chance for a lot of [basketball] players from the continent to be discovered." ... F.X. Toole has already had one boxing novel made into a movie posthumously: 2000's Rope Burns, which was turned into the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby. Next year HarperCollins will publish Pound for Pound, which Toole wrote just before his death in 2002, and last week Ruddy Morgan, the same production company that delivered Baby, announced it will adapt Pound for the screen. It's the story of a down-and-out trainer who finds redemption in a young boxer. Kind of rings a bell.