Welcome to Los Angeles, David Beckham. You certainly made heads turn at Lakers practice Thursday. Heres what Phil Jackson had to say about that reported five-year, $250 million contract that delivered Beckham to the Galaxy and Posh Spice to L.A.:
“Is that all? Jackson said to laughs. “I thought she (wife Victoria Beckham) was going to get all the money and he was just coming for the pleasure of living in California. Well, good for him. Good for us.
Kobe Bryant heard the quarter-of-a-billion-dollar figure and said, “Its a hell of a situation. Told that apparently theres no salary cap for foreign stars in Major League Soccer, Bryant had the line of the day: “Ive got to get my (butt) to China.
“I think its exciting for everybody who enjoys soccer, me being one of them, Bryant added. “Hes obviously an elite player. It could be good for the game because soccer has some catching up to do here in the States and Im sure itll help boost that popularity.
Bryant traded cell phone numbers with Brazilian star Ronaldinho when FC Barcelona came to Los Angeles last summer. Jackson flashed a little soccer knowledge from his days playing for the New York Knicks in the 1970s.
Asked if he remembered the Pele-led New York Cosmos, Jackson reminded us that Franz Beckenbauer – - one of the greatest midfielders in history – - also played on that team. “Sometimes people just look at it as one star, Jackson said, “but they had a multitude of stars.
Will the Beckham signing take soccer into the major leagues in America?
“As a soccer fan, I can only hope it does have that effect, Jackson said. “I dont know if our mainstream American sports fan has enough room in his life to incorporate soccer too with all the other sports in America.
“But it certainly is a great game to watch and a great game to participate in. Im anticipating that its going to give a real big boost to it.
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Looks like Shaquille ONeal might play Monday against the Lakers at Staples Center. ONeal practiced Thursday in San Francisco for the first time since undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 19.
The Heat play Friday at Golden State and Saturday at Utah before finishing the trip against the Lakers. Thats not a lot of practice time for ONeal, although its hard to imagine why he met up with the team if he wasnt going to play.
A matchup between ONeal and Andrew Bynum alone would be worth watching at Staples Center.
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Notes from Thursday
By Ross Siler
EL SEGUNDO–Back at their practice facility after 48 forgettable hours on the road, the Lakers focused their attention on the happenings in the film room and the trainers room, neither one of which was a fun place to be.
They went frame-by-frame through a second quarter gone awry in Houston and checked on the condition of Kobe Bryants strained left groin. The Lakers listed Bryant as probable for tonights game against Orlando.
Bryant, who suffered the injury in the second quarter Wednesday, will be limited if he does play. He underwent treatment and said his groin was no worse from the night before, though Lakers coach Phil Jackson was cautious.
“I dont think we can call it right now, Jackson said. “I expect hes going to play, but I dont know what we can expect out of him.
“(Wednesday) night, I just didnt think he could run. He just couldnt run full-out. He couldnt do the things that he normally does. He couldnt get elevation on his shot. He was shooting an arm shot.
Bryant made just 6 of 18 shots against the Rockets and was hindered by the injury in the 17:40 he played in the second half.
“It hurts to accelerate, to get to the basket, trying to shift gears and change direction, things like that, Bryant said. “You kind of have to pick your spots a little bit and feel it out.
The Lakers need a victory tonight to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Webber update: Jackson had a question of his own when asked about reports that free-agent forward Chris Webber has a wish list of five teams for which he would like to play, the Lakers being one of them.
“Did he give it to Santa? Jackson quipped. “Its a little bit late for that.
After reaching agreement on a buyout, Webber was waived Thursday by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers could offer Webber a prorated contract for the veterans minimum of $1.117 million, of which $433,797 would be covered by the NBA.
“Weve always respected Chris Webbers game and hes a great player, Jackson said. “Well have to sit down and discuss that as an organization. . . . Well probably be able to talk about it in the next two days.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he had seen the Lakers included on Webbers wish list. The other four teams were Detroit, Miami, Dallas and San Antonio.
“Well discuss the possibility internally for the next day or two and see if it makes any sense, Kupchak said. “It sounds to me like he has other options hes considering as well.
Horror film: Even though the Lakers won the second quarter 24-23 against Houston, Jackson wanted his players to relive it on tape Thursday. It was the little things in that quarter, Jackson believed, that led to the Lakers downfall in the third quarter.
He went over the spacing on offense, the lack of ball movement, even the final play of the half when Bryant couldnt get off a shot in the last 22.6 seconds. That cost the Lakers a chance at going into halftime with a lead.
“You have to be a unit, center Andrew Bynum said, “and we didnt display that we were a unit (Wednesday) night.
Quick fouls: If there was one constant in the Lakers losses to Memphis and Houston, it was that Bryant slipped into foul trouble in the first quarter of both games.
Bryant was called for two fouls in the first 4:23 Wednesday, bringing Maurice Evans off the bench. Although Bryant played the entire second quarter, the Lakers again were left to improvise early.
“It changes our rotation. It changes how players play. It changes our game a lot, Jackson said. “Were going to have to live with it occasionally. But we wouldnt expect to live with it back-to-back nights.
Brown update: Center Kwame Brown did some light shooting Thursday but wont have his severely sprained left ankle re-evaluated for another two weeks. The ankle recently swelled up again on Brown, who suffered the injury Dec. 31.
“Its so boring, Brown said. “I miss you guys. Im bored all day, every day. Anything beats laying on the training table.