Hang Time

With the Lakers just starting the finals, it's a safe prediction that Rick Fox--a four-year veteran of the team--will not be grabbing many headlines away from superstars Shaq and Kobe. But Fox is known for his devastatingly effective defense on the court as well as for being a clubhouse peacemaker (a handy talent, especially this season).

He also has an active acting career, with a reoccurring role in the HBO prison drama "Oz" as prisoner Jackson Vayhue, and parts in movies such as "He Got Game" and "The Collectors."

Fox, 31, is married to actress and singer Vanessa L. Williams.

COMPUTER: I'm a laptop guy because I travel a lot and like to have a computer with me wherever I go. It's my link to my mom and my wife.

I also get some e-mail from fans. I made the mistake--back in 1993 when there were not too many people on the Internet--of giving out my e-mail address on a show, "SportsChannel." Some people still have it from then.

Q. You got online pretty early.

When I was with the [Boston] Celtics, Dee Brown got me on. He was a big-time computer user. He had been a math major in college and wrote programs. He introduced me to it, and I was amazed by the amount of information at my fingertips. It seems like there was something on any topic you could think of--news from the Bahamas [where he grew up], sports, politics. I remember being in my first apartment and spending all my days on the computer.

[There is a muffled sound, over the phone, in the background.]

My sister just whispered, "You were a hermit." But I was so amazed by it all.

Q. What laptop do you use now?

The latest laptop I have is a Compaq Presario, but I still have old ones that I've gotten over the years. The computer industry is really ingenious--they withhold technology like candy and feed it to us a little bit at a time. There is always a larger screen, bigger hard drive, faster machine coming out. If you can afford it, you can never be satisfied.

Q. What other uses do you have for the computer when you're on the road?

For a while, I was huge with chess online. You would get rated all the time based on the games you won or lost, and I would stay on for six hours at a time. The competitive side of me would just want to beat someone. Sometimes I would venture up to a level too high for me and get beat in 30 seconds, and I'd feel like a complete idiot. AOL has discontinued the game, so I'm off of it now.

I write in my journal, daily, on the computer. My wife taught me to do that about 2 1/2 years ago--it's a release for me. I ask myself really personal questions and then try to answer them.

Q. Do you show it to anyone?

No!

HAND-HELD: I have a Palm VII, and I'm really happy with it. I can check scores on the road, from the bus. I can send some e-mail from it. I keep all my phone numbers and addresses in it.

BOOKMARKED SITES: I have a lot of them: Barnes & Noble, L.A. Times, CBS SportsLine, the NBA, ESPN, Harry & David for gifts, Tower Records for music, CNN. I used to have Napster--my wife would kill me for saying that, being she is a musician.

I am taking a screenwriting class from the Gotham Writers' Workshop online [http://www.writingclasses.com]. I enjoy writing, and I'm interested in furthering my education. I can't go to school during the season, but I have a lot of downtime in hotel rooms or on planes. I can work on my course.

CELL PHONE: I'm an authorized Nextel dealer about to open my own store [in West L.A.], so you can tell what brand I have. I'm upgrading to their top model--I think I can use it to talk to the space shuttle. It's got Internet, e-mail, paging--way too much accessibility for a celebrity.

Q. How do you get around that?

Thank God for Caller ID. I take business calls between the hours of 10 and 2. Other than that, I let it ring unless it's my wife.

FAVORITE TECH TOY: Just the computer. I'm still kind of addicted.

Q. You don't play video games?

When I was in college, I spent so much time on them I swore I would never let them dominate my life again. But now, I have a 6-year-old son and a 7-year-old stepson, and they are coming into the age of game obsession. I curtail their time in front of the TV and playing video games, but as of Christmas, we do have a PlayStation 2. I've kind of re-harnessed my skills and find myself playing them for a game or two sometimes.

Q. How do you do against them?

I hold my own.

Q. Do you play the NBA game for PlayStation?

No, I refuse to play it. The kids tell me that my character in the game can never make a basket! I'm proud that my kids try to give me the ball all the time anyway, but the way the game is set up, all the baskets are made by other players.

I've got to call the people at Electronic Arts and complain.

--As told to DAVID COLKER

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