Payton Fined $5,000 for Keeping Quiet After Loss
By Steve Wyche
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 8, 2004; Page D06
LOS ANGELES, June 7 -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Gary Payton was fined $5,000 by the league office Monday for failing to make himself available to the media after his team's 87-75 Game 1 loss to the Detroit Pistons and at Monday's media availability session.
Payton struggled mightily in the loss, scoring just three points and handing out a mere three assists in 31 foul-plagued minutes.
Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace, who has a history of stonewalling the media -- he has made himself available through this postseason run -- said he understands Payton's decision.
"I ain't mad at him," Wallace said. "What different questions will you ask from today to tomorrow? What's going to be different? Nothing much. You can only rephrase questions but so many times."
Feeling the Pain
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said the knee injuries forward Karl Malone and guard Derek Fisher are playing through are limiting their play and that if one or both continue to struggle like they did in the series opener (Malone 2-of-9 shooting, four points; Fisher 1 of 9, two points), they'll be replaced.
"We are just going to have to make a determination as to what level they can do that at," Jackson said. "If their injuries hamper their capabilities, we are going to have to have other people out there on the floor. That's unfortunate for us, but that's the way it is."
Jackson said there are no projected lineup changes at this point.
With several NBA veterans declining to compete in this summer's Olympics in Athens, Pistons Coach Larry Brown, also coach of the U.S. team, said opportunities have arisen for the league's younger players to participate and that the U.S. team could resemble those in the past that were made up exclusively of college-aged players.
Either Cleveland's Carlos Boozer or Miami rookie Dwyane Wade reportedly could be the latest addition to a young squad that includes rookie of the year LeBron James, Richard Jefferson and Amare Stoudamire. Brown would not confirm if any invitations have been extended.
"It's an unbelievable chance for the guys who want to play," Brown said. "The more young kids with enthusiasm that are going to be our future, in my mind, the better we can be. Guys like Wade, Carmelo [Anthony], LeBron and Stoudamire, you name them. All of these young kids coming into the league and some of the second and third-year guys; if they want to play, that's great."
Underneath It All
Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal said he did not find it necessary to console or reassure Malone after the forward's struggles in Game 1.
"It's no time to be, 'You need to do this, you need to do that,' " O'Neal said. "We know what we have to do. I know I have to get up in the morning and put my underwear on first and my pants on next. I don't need people to tell me that."
O'Neal, by the way, isn't a boxers or briefs guy. "Thongs," he said.
The Washington Wizards' coaching and basketball operations staffs arrived in Chicago for the NBA pre-draft camp, which begins at Moody Bible College on Tuesday. The Wizards own the fifth and 32nd picks in the June 24 draft and will spend the next few days looking at prospects.
Players projected to be chosen in the draft lottery (top 13 picks) typically don't work out but they attend the pre-draft camp to take physicals and for a media session over the weekend. The Wizards have been conducting individual workouts at their MCI Center practice facility the past few weeks.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company