Monday report

It was worth going to Jerry Buss’ ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just to see the look on Phil Jackson’s face when Snoop Dogg arrived and when Paris Hilton somehow managed to slide into the space next to him and Jeanie Buss.

Tom Arnold got some laughs when he talked about Buss’ philanthropic work over the years, then singled out the “19- to 25-year-old” women he helped out with “minor surgeries” over the years.

There were also some very generous speeches. Magic Johnson said he wouldn’t be the businessman he is today without Buss. Paula Abdul thanked Buss for being “the man who I can honestly say gave me my career” back when she was a Laker girl.

Jeanie Buss talked about her dad as being a pioneer in selling the naming rights to the Forum and in building the first generation of club seats now standard in arenas. He also decided to televise the Lakers’ home games, when conventional wisdom held that doing so would hurt attendance.

“I just increased the capacity of the Forum tenfold,” Jerry Buss said, as his daughter recounted, “which means more people can enjoy Lakers games.”

Jeanie also saluted her dad for being named the World Poker Tour rookie of the year in his 70s.

Jackson was the last to speak and said of Buss, “During his tenure, what’s remarkable is he’s always kept the idea that the fans own the team. It belongs to the fans and he’s always recognized that about the community.”

There was a benefit Jackson saw as well in having his players attend the ceremony, which brought together the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy: “I think it brought some sense of pride to our players and that’s good for them.”

By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

Judging from how many times he used the word “really to describe how good his knee felt, Kobe Bryant will be in the starting lineup and wearing his new No. 24 when the Lakers open the season tonight against Phoenix.

Bryant passed his biggest test Monday at practice when he was running the middle on a fastbreak drill and decided to challenge guard Shammond Williams, who was trying to take a charge on defense.

“I felt like I could explode, so I took off, Bryant said. “I didnt know what I was doing. The ball slipped out of my hands but I landed and I felt fine. It was like, OK. If it feels good (today), Ill be ready to go.

Bryant underwent right knee surgery 108 days ago but his recovery has been slow going. He did not play in any of the Lakers eight preseason games and only recently started practicing in full with his teammates.

“I felt really, really good (Monday), Bryant said. “Really, really good (Monday).

Star treatment: Lakers owner Jerry Buss took his place on Hollywood Boulevard alongside Stuart Hamblen and Paul Douglas as he was honored Monday with a television star on the Walk of Fame.

Only Buss could bring out a crowd that included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Snoop Dogg, Paula Abdul and Paris Hilton, in addition to Lakers greats Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West.

Villaraigosa said he was asked most often for a Lakers T-shirt by the heads of state he met on a recent trip to Asia.

“When you think about Los Angeles, Villaraigosa said, “when you think about this great city of glitter, this great city of hope and imagination, you think about the Lakers, you think about Showtime and you think about Dr. Buss.

The Lakers practiced at 8:30 a.m. so the entire team could attend the ceremony. Phil Jackson found himself standing next to Hilton and had a question when he saw Snoop Dogg arrive.

“How did they let Snoop Dogg out so quickly? Jackson said of the rapper, who was arrested on drug and gun possession charges last week. “What was that bail?

Family ties: Jackson paid tribute to Buss at the ceremony, saying, “He and part of his family are the reason Im back here. I wont tell you which part of the family. Jackson was referring to his relationship with Jeanie Buss.

As for talk about extending his contract with the Lakers, Jackson said the timing was not right to do so. Jackson is under contract through the 2007-08 season but his health has improved after having his hip replaced earlier this month.

“Theres been some rumors about such an effect, Jackson said. “Im honored by it and I think its a wonderful proposition, but I think Dr. Buss knows that well have to take this year and then see what it looks like for next year.

“Right now, Im in the mending process. Its going really well. But as you know, this is about being strong and fit and getting through a season and really pushing a team and leading a team, and youve got to be active to do that as a coach.

Bryant said he would welcome the opportunity to play for Jackson for as long as possible.

“If Ive got to get a custom wheelchair built from him, from my boys at West Coast Customs with some hydraulics or something, Ill make it happen, Bryant said. “The longer he sticks around, the better it is.

Travel plans: Jackson said he does not plan to make the seasons first trip to Golden State for Wednesdays game. Assistant Kurt Rambis would fill in for Jackson, who is planning to coach in Sundays game at Seattle.

Roster moves: The Lakers waived second-year guard Devin Green, who played in 27 games last season, and opted to keep veteran guard Aaron McKie as they made their final roster cut.

McKie has a $2.5 million guaranteed contract for this season but has not played since injuring his back in the Lakers fourth preseason game. He will start the season on the inactive list.

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