L.A. Times: Following is an excerpt from Times NBA columnist Mark Heisler’s new book, “Madmen’s Ball: The Continuing Saga of Kobe, Phil and the Los Angeles Lakers.” This excerpt takes place at Lakers’ training came before the final season with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the team:
As things turned out, the problems that surfaced in Honolulu were just a tune-up.
On media day, the organization set up a picket line outside the El Segundo practice facility and barred some members of the media, hoping to lessen the hysteria. Perhaps thinking he could redirect the media, like Moses parting the Red Sea, [ Phil] Jackson reminded them there were more important things, like the war in Iraq, going on. Of course, without press coverage that was disproportionate to the importance of what he did, Jackson wouldn’t be making $6 million annually. In any case, the press didn’t melt away.
Every day, Black [John Black, Lakers publicist] announced Bryant would only take basketball questions, but it was the reporters’ job to ask other questions, and Bryant often answered them. When a CBS producer asked Bryant about that day’s events in court, Black lifted her credentials on the spot. After Newsweek’s Allison Samuels wrote a tough cover piece, she couldn’t even get credentials.