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Shaw Knows He May Be Nearing the End

Times Staff Writer

Brian Shaw had a birthday party in downtown Los Angeles last week. Turned 37, right there in front of everybody.

All but a couple of his teammates attended, as did friends from high school. Surprised by his wife, Nikki, Shaw was in the dark until he arrived in the parking lot and saw the familiar Escalades and Benzes, and knew his teammates were there for the smiles and the laughter.

Despite the occasional contract tussle, Shaw has loved his four seasons in Los Angeles, the first three of which brought championships, a fourth still possible. He has filled Phil Jackson’s preference for tall, bright guards, and he has been a rare consistent personality in their locker room, a player who neither feared nor coddled the superstars in their midst.

It is possible he is in his final year as a Laker, perhaps in his final season in the NBA. He has thought about it.

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“I would like to play again,” the former UC Santa Barbara star said. “I look at the reality of the business, our team, the way this season has gone. I know that after this season, [the Lakers] are not going to stand pat. They’re going to get younger and more athletic. I understand that.”

And, yet, Los Angeles has been wonderful for him, and he to it, and there’s one thing he can’t dismiss.

“If we won it again,” he said, smiling, “I’d like to keep coming back until we didn’t.”

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A fraudulent basketball, advertised on Ebay as the one Shaquille O’Neal used to score his 20,000th career point has drawn several bids, the latest for $514.

The seller proclaims, “Shaq left the ball behind and I wrestled [it] away from Rick Fox after a punch to his glass jaw.” Below, it adds, “Please e-mail Gavin and Joe [Maloof] if you have any questions.”

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Starting to look toward the playoffs, Jackson had increased Robert Horry’s minutes at power forward to 28, 28 and 31 in the three games leading to Friday night’s, while Mark Madsen’s decreased.

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Jackson said Friday that by the playoffs he’d like to find the third guard in his rotation, improve the bench, and, despite Madsen’s clear improvement, get more out of power forward. Samaki Walker has played almost all of his minutes at center for the last five weeks.

“I felt it was time for [Horry] to start moving forward, but I’d still welcome anybody else who’d like to play at that position,” Jackson said. “Come and show me what you’ve got.”


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