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Fox Finds Time in Utah to Take In a Movie

Times Staff Writer

After seven months without an identity, with no appearances either in uniform or in costume, Rick Fox finally had a chance to enjoy his two careers in professional basketball and entertainment last weekend in Utah.

The Lakers were in Salt Lake City for a game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday. It also happened to be the final weekend of the Sundance Film Festival in nearby Park City. So Fox hopped in a limousine with a group that included Laker strength and conditioning coach Jim Cotta and physical therapist Alex McKechnie and headed up the mountain.

Fox, whose acting credits include the HBO series “Oz” and the movie “He Got Game,” is represented by William Morris Agency, which has a presence at Sundance. So dinner reservations for six, passes to the movie “Haute Tension” (a French film in which almost every character -- even the dog -- dies a grisly death) and VIP access to a temporary version of Las Vegas’ “ghost bar” setup in the hillside town were no problem.

But Fox couldn’t stay long because he had just learned that he finally would be activated the next day after sitting out the first 39 games this season after off-season foot surgery.

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“For 13 years in the league there’s been a lot of things I wanted to do and never seem to line up with the schedule of the NBA season,” Fox said. “But being out here in L.A., I’ve been to the Super Bowl now, down in San Diego last year. I went to the World Series when the Angels played; that just happened to fall in the right place. And now being in Utah during Sundance was an experience I planned to do at some point, but I didn’t think it would come until the end of my career.

“I didn’t do it the way I wanted to, but I did actually see Park City, I did get the vibe. We saw quite the interesting movie. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it was shot well and done well.”

Sights

There was Kobe Bryant, firing up left-handed shots from half court Friday, the same day he went on the injured list with a cut on his right finger. He challenged anyone foolish enough to bet him that he couldn’t make one, and his intensity was at NBA Finals-level pitch.

He made three, which got him $40 from one bet and the sadistic pleasure of watching a reporter struggle through 200 push-ups from another. A fourth shot that would have netted him a two-carat diamond from jeweler Howard Kaplan rattled in and out.

Sounds

The voice of Karl Malone. Three days after Utah’s Bear mascot and team owner Larry Miller took a poke at Malone and Bryant in a sketch during the game at Salt Lake City, Malone blasted the franchise for the antics. He saw the NBA’s $15,000 fine levied against the Jazz as justification.

“As athletes, we’re held accountable for our actions,” Malone said. “Some people think they are not.”

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In a Word

“Awful,” Phil Jackson’s description of the second half of the Lakers’ loss to Minnesota, in which the Timberwolves scored 62 points.

Faces in the Crowd

Jan. 24 at Utah: Steve Garvey, Merlin Olsen.

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Wednesday vs. Seattle: Courteney Cox.

Friday vs. Minnesota: Frank McCourt, Barry Bonds, Mandy Moore and Andy Roddick, Gray Davis, music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “American Idol” host Randy Jackson.


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