Rider Pulls Brief Disappearing Act


Before J.R. Rider left the bench for almost seven minutes of game time Sunday afternoon, before he was absent for more than 15 minutes of genuine earth time, his coach, Phil Jackson, explained their relationship.

“I can’t expect anything out of Isaiah, but I hope he performs well,” he said. “Responsibility is another issue. Expectations, responsibilities, those are terms and words that mean nothing to him.”

This is his starting guard Jackson was talking about, a situation that could continue because the Lakers put veteran Ron Harper on the injured list Sunday.


Rider played nine minutes in the first quarter, then started the second half. Jackson removed him after about 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, apparently because he was not satisfied with Rider’s defense on Indiana’s Jalen Rose. Rider walked to the baseline, muttered, “That’s . . , that’s some . . .,” and strode right out of the arena and to the locker room, AWOL again.

He returned with 2:47 left in the third quarter, and Jackson put him back on the floor with about 14 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Afterward, Rider said he was “frustrated” by Jackson’s decision to remove him because of his defense, but added, “Life goes on.”

“I played more minutes than I average, I can’t complain,” he said. “Big picture, I’m happy I played 21 minutes.”

Asked if he was satisfied with Rider’s behavior, Jackson shrugged.

“I have to be right now,” he said. “I’ll see what the deal was.”

The ride continues for the Lakers and Rider. Earlier, Jackson confirmed that Rider was scheduled to start in Philadelphia but was replaced by Brian Shaw because he was not available for a pregame meeting.

“He couldn’t get ready in time to go get taped and we had to start talking about strategy, so I gave Brian the start,” Jackson said. “I’m just asking for a little bit more all the time, you know? Just lightly increasing his load. If he wants this opportunity, he’s got to reach for it.”



Four days before the NBA trade deadline, the Lakers could no longer afford to assume Harper’s left knee merely needed a few days to heal.

Harper will return to Los Angeles today and have his knee examined Tuesday by team physician Steve Lombardo. The club should have the results of the examination, which is supposed to include an MRI, in time for Thursday’s trade deadline.

If Harper’s injury is more severe than expected, General Manager Mitch Kupchak would still have time to find another guard.

“The timing,” Jackson said, “is critical. We might as well take a look at this and see what it is.”


Shaquille O’Neal has decided against another tattoo, primarily because of what his mother would say. Besides, he has his post-basketball career to consider.

“I’m too corporate for that,” he said. “Notice none of my tattoos are below business shirt level.”