Friday, October 3, 2003


Troubled Bryant
a no-show for camp

The Lakers star, accused
of rape, missed his scheduled
arrival yesterday

At least for today, the media throng gathered in Honolulu hoping to hear from Kobe Bryant will have be satisfied with Shaq, Karl and Gary instead.

Bryant did not accompany his Los Angeles Lakers teammates to Hawaii yesterday, skipping his flight due to illness, team officials announced.

"He's going to come in whenever he feels well enough, whether that's tomorrow or the next day," Lakers spokesman John Black said yesterday.

The Lakers opened training camp at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday with players with less than four years of experience. The veterans, including all-stars Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, were scheduled to arrive late yesterday afternoon and join in the first full team workout of training camp this morning.

Black said the team was informed on Wednesday that Bryant wasn't feeling well and might not make the trip.

"We still were hoping that he would feel well enough to make it today," he said.

Bryant, one of the NBA's most recognizable figures, was expected to address the media for the first time since a press conference in July after a charge of sexual assault against a 19-year-old Colorado woman was filed.

The case resulted in a beefed-up media presence for the opening of camp earlier this week, even though the big names didn't arrive until yesterday. With Bryant's scheduled arrival and the appearances of veteran stars like O'Neal, Malone and Payton, the number of media outlets represented at this morning's practice was expected to swell even more.

"There will be more (today)," Black said. "Probably another dozen or so."

Black was nearly trampled as nearly 50 reporters and cameramen rushed toward Lakers coach Phil Jackson at the conclusion of a morning practice at the University of Hawaii.

The Lakers were surprised that Bryant did not make the trip.

"We're obviously disappointed that Kobe is not here with the basketball club, with his teammates," coach Phil Jackson said. "You know this is a team thing, it's about us as a basketball team and what the best is for our team. So we'll commence tonight and go on as usual. No one is bigger than the team or the game. That's the way it is."

The Lakers have two exhibition games here against the Golden State Warriors next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The next day, Bryant must appear at a bail hearing in Eagle, Colo., in his sexual-assault case.

Jackson tried to call Bryant on Wednesday but said the player wasn't taking calls. Rob Pelinka, Bryant's agent, declined to give details in phone conversations with Black and general manager Mitch Kupchak.

The Star-Bulletin's Jason Kaneshiro, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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