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Lakers Still Making News: Buss Busted, Bryant Bites Back & Shaq's Got His Back
Even with LeBron leading his Cavs to much needed victory in the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night, the biggest story in the NBA is a team who has not played a game in exactly four weeks. The Lakers offseason has just been too wildly entertaining to take a backseat to the actual action on the court.
And it just got better.
Early Tuesday, team owner Jerry Buss was arrested in Carlsbad for suspicion of drunk driving. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Buss was driving the wrong way on a downtown Carlsbad street.
"The longtime NBA team owner spent about eight hours at Vista Jail after being booked on suspicion of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater, authorities said."
Oh and the doctor was not rolling solo either, a 23 year-old swimsuit model from New York was reportedly riding shotgun. She was not arrested.
As if Buss' day wasn't bad enough, his star player was once again talking to anyone with a microphone, pen or keyboard about the current state of the Lakers. In one afternoon, Kobe was interviewed by 710 ESPN Radio, AM 570, the LA Times and ESPN/Philadelphia Inquirer's vocal NBA insider Stephen A. Smith.
Why was Kobe on such a full-court press with the um press? A story in Tuesday's LA Times quoted an anonymous Lakers source as saying that KB was the reason Shaquille O'Neal was traded.
To say that this rattled the mamba a little would be an understatement.
He tells the LA Times:
"Their trying to put this Shaq stuff on me is [wrong]," he told The Times. "Jerry Buss told me he didn't want to pay Shaq $30 million a year. I, not once — not once — went to them and said, 'Trade Shaq or else.' "
"I've heard many people say 'the Lakers are letting Kobe take the bullet for the Shaq trade' but I always just let that go. But now when I hear 'Lakers insider' it makes me feel so unsupported that a Lakers 'insider' is tryin' to spin Dr. Buss' decision about Shaq on me."
In a strange plot twist that could only happen in Hollywood, former teammate and enemy Shaq has come to the aid of Kobe. Stephen A. stopped eating his cheese doodles and made a call to the big man, who had this to offer:
"I believe Kobe 100 percent," said O'Neal, reached yesterday while in Los Angeles on business. "Absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind Kobe is telling the truth. I believe him a thousand percent. I would have respected Dr. Buss more as a man if he would have told me that himself, because I know he said it. But he didn't [tell me]. He never said a damn word to me."
The last 48 hours of the Lake Show have been more interesting than the team's last 48 games. I can't wait to see what happens next.AP Photo: Chris Carlson