Wednesday report

For all that you’ve read about Kobe Bryant and his insane 5:30 a.m. workouts in the summer comes this revelation from Wednesday’s practice: Bryant actually loves fast food and hasn’t changed his eating habits even as he has ascended to become arguably the best player in basketball.

“My teammates tell me all the time, `You must have like some secret potion or something because it doesnt make any sense,” Bryant said. “Because I just eat junk food and run all day. Im a bad example.’

Bryant told a story in which Samaki Walker once chastised him for eating McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr. when they were teammates. To test out the Bryant theory, I went to lunch at El Pollo Loco for lunch with Lakers spokesman John Black and then straight to LA Fitness. So far, so good.

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Phil Jackson got some laughs with his answer to a question about how Lamar Odom will help the Lakers when he returns Friday against Charlotte. It started out as predictable as you would expect.

“He’s our best rebounder,” Jackson said. “We’ve been getting killed on the boards. That’s such an important part of the game, there’s such value on possession of the ball.”

Then Jackson couldn’t resist a little jab: “He’ll help us turn the ball over. Lamar does that.”

Of course, Jackson came back to the positive: “And his speed in transition is always good because the best part of his game is the defensive rebound/power out/offensive transition game.”

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Bryant on Andrew Bynum and how good he can be in two or three years: “I think it depends entirely on him and what he wants to do and the tenacity that he wants to bring every day. If hes determined to be one of the elite players in the league, he can do that. He has the gifts to do it. Its just a matter of if he wants it or not.

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By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO–Until Kwame Brown returns from a sprained left ankle in another week or two, the Lakers can put off deciding whether 19-year-old center Andrew Bynum should continue starting or come off the bench.

For his part, Bynum clearly believes he is best served starting. He said as much at practice Wednesday: “When I start, I think Im more effective than when I come off the bench.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said such a decision was too far away to consider right now. Jackson also is unlikely to give the opinion of the NBAs youngest player much weight whenever that decision is made.

“Hes not old enough to determine it, Jackson said. “Theres a few guys in this game that do have that ability to dictate that. But its up to coachs distinction as to how the team functions.

“We really want to put defense as a priority in this team and Andrew has to bring that defense along with his offensive game. We think hes making progress all the time, so thats good.

Jackson would like the Lakers to be something more than the NBAs 26th ranked team defensively, giving up 103.1 points on average, and Brown brings size and strength inside. Jackson also believes the second team looks more for Bynum than the starters.

The Lakers are 16-9 with Bynum starting and 11-6 with him as a reserve. Bynum is averaging 9.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and playing 25 minutes as a starter compared with 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 15.4 minutes off the bench.

Its a moot point for the time being. Brown sat out practice Wednesday as he continues to recover from the Dec. 31 ankle injury. Jackson said: “I dont know whether its a week or two weeks or whenever Kwame comes back.

Air Sasha: The Lakers ended Wednesdays practice on a thunderclap of a play. Sasha Vujacic – - yes, the 200-pound Vujacic who loves to shoot 3-pointers – - drove baseline and dunked over both Bynum and Lamar Odom.

All Kobe Bryant could do was fall to the court laughing and head to the locker room joking about how cold the devil must be. Bynum pleaded his case to reporters that he actually blocked Vujacics dunk into the basket.

“It was the most surprising dunk Ive ever seen, Bryant said. “Weve been on him since hes been here to go to the basket hard. . . . I have to remind him sometimes; I say, `Sasha, youre taller than I am.

Vegas vacation: Bynum said he would welcome the chance to play on the team of second-year players as part of the Rookie Challenge at All-Star weekend. Then again, he wasnt overly concerned about being selected.

“It really doesnt matter if I make it or not, Bynum said. “Ill be an All-Star in the future.

The NBA will announce starters today for the Feb. 18 game in Las Vegas. Bryant is expected to be voted a starter for the ninth time.

Page turner: Special assistant coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented the players and coaching staff with copies of his new book “On the Shoulders of Giants about the Harlem Renaissance.

Abdul-Jabbar will sign copies of the book Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. with Spike Lee at the Borders at 2 Penn Plaza in New York before the Lakers-Knicks game.

Also: Forward Lamar Odom reported no problems with his injured right knee and said, “Ill be playing on Friday.

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