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Magloire Gladly Pays for Points

Jamaal Magloire cost agent Arn Tellem $19,000. And that was just fine.

In what is becoming a bit of a tradition, Tellem’s clients who play in the NBA All-Star game concoct ways to do good deeds. Last year, players brought children of men and women who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to the game.

This year New Orleans’ Magloire, Orlando’s Tracy McGrady, Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal and Sacramento’s Peja Stojakovic agreed to donate $1,000 for every point they scored in the All-Star game to a charity. And Tellem agreed to match the highest total.

That would be the unlikeliest All-Star of them all, Magloire, who scored 19 points.

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“We were all sitting here saying we can’t believe Jamaal,” said Tellem, a Los Angeles-based agent. “Of all the guys to score the points. But it’s great.”

Tellem has chosen to send his check to Knowledge is Power Program school in South-Central.

Magloire’s $19,000 donation will go to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans; Stojakovic’s $5,000 will go to Children’s Foundation, which helps children in Sacramento and Stojakovic’s home city of Belgrade, Yugoslavia; McGrady’s $13,000 will go to Florida Children’s Hospital; and O’Neal’s $16,000 will be split between the Housing Authority in Indianapolis and his home town of Columbia, S.C.

The agent and his All-Stars had hoped to raise $75,000. The final tally was $72,000.

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“If Peja had scored what we expected, we might have had $100,000,” Tellem said. Tellem was smiling.

So was Magloire.

“It’s kind of a dream come true for me,” Magloire said, “and I hope for the hospital.”

Magloire had been a surprise choice by the East coaches. “That’s OK,” Magloire said. “I believe in myself. And it won’t be the last time I’m here.”

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The kids at the hospital will be rooting for it.

-- Diane Pucin

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If Staples Center looked and sounded different for the All-Star game, there was a good reason.

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The NBA brought its own lights and sound system to its showcase game, working around a tight changeover schedule because the Grammy Awards were held last weekend in the arena.

The lights were dimmed in the seats and raised on the court Sunday, creating a setting more akin to a movie theater than a basketball arena, which was the whole point, according to Lee Zeidman, Staples Center senior vice president of operations. Fans in the darkened seating sections had no choice but to focus on the court.

“There’s 110,000 pounds hanging up in the ceiling,” Zeidman said. “There are 300 moving lights and 600 conventional lights. Everything is focused on the court. There’s more of a show atmosphere. It’s brighter than for a normal game when you want to get the fans’ reaction and emotions. This is strictly for show.”

The arena’s work crews have miles to run before they rest. First and foremost, they had to dismantle all the NBA’s special equipment and get ready for the return of each of the arena’s tenants, the Lakers, Kings and Clippers, who have all been on the road for the better part of the last three weeks.

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The Lakers play host to Portland on Tuesday, the Kings play Dallas on Wednesday and the Clippers play Boston on Thursday. Zeidman was particularly concerned about the condition of the ice for the Kings’ hockey game.

“The ice has been covered for three weeks,” he said. “It’s probably a mess. I guarantee you the ice is going to need some love.”

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East Coach Rick Carlisle knows coaches are hired to be fired, but still said before the game, “I love this job.”

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“I mean,” he continued when asked about the many coaching changes this season in the Eastern Conference, “no matter where you are, it’s a great opportunity. It’s unique in that you’re so closely involved with 12 to 15 guys. Personal relationships have so much to do with it. And obviously, you’ve got to have talented guys.

“But none of us who get into this business have any preconceived notions that it’s going to be easy or that it’s going to be a free ride by any stretch. You try to make the best of whatever opportunities you get and fortunately for me, I’ve been in a position to be in a couple of great situations, first in Detroit and now in Indiana.

“So I’m just considering myself to be a very fortunate person.”

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Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, made it clear recently that he isn’t a fan of NBA players participating in international competitions. Cuban said players should make a choice: club or country.

West Coach Flip Saunders of the Minnesota Timberwolves doesn’t buy Cuban’s argument. Saunders said there’s no such thing as too much basketball for today’s players. He’s not concerned about the toll international games might take on players.

“A lot of these guys, within a week [of the end of the season], they are trying to go find a pick-up game to play somewhere,” Saunders said. “It’s a very unique profession in that they really have a love for the game, and so when the seasons are done, they like to get out and play.

“I know that the Goodwill Games team that I coached, those guys that played on that team that year had phenomenal years. That five weeks really jump-started those guys. Wally Szczerbiak became an All-Star and Baron Davis jumped out and Kenyon Martin and Rashard Lewis had break-out years.”

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Considering there are 67 international players representing 33 countries on NBA rosters this season, it figured to be only a matter of time before the NBA ventured into China, spreading the game deeper into Asia.

Next season, Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets will play exhibitions against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 14 and 17 at Shanghai, Yao’s hometown, and Beijing. ESPN will televise both games live.

The Clippers and Seattle SuperSonics were only the latest NBA teams to play in Japan, when they opened the season with two games outside Tokyo.

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-- Elliott Teaford

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Befitting the occasion, the celebrity quotient in the stands was higher than usual.

Sports celebrities: Reggie Jackson, Serena Williams, Rick Fox, Lennox Lewis, Shane Mosley, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Darryl Dawkins, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Buck Williams, Connie Hawkins, Bill Walton, Walt Frazier and Bill Russell, who got a cake in honor of his 70th birthday.

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Entertainment celebrities: Denzel Washington, Andy Garcia, Jay-Z, Nick Carter, Paris Hilton, Jack Nicholson, Elliot Gould, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Dule Hill, Mark McGrath, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Taye Diggs, Rob Lowe, Penny Marshall, Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams and Wanda Sykes.

Shaquille O’Neal had an unexpected encounter with Studdard, of “American Idol” fame.

After finishing a dunk in the second half, O’Neal’s momentum carried him past the baseline and into the spectators’ seats. Among the people he ran into was Studdard, leading to some running byplay.

“I accidentally bumped him and he had his hand on my [butt] and wouldn’t let me go. I’m suing,” O’Neal said, setting off roars of laughter in the postgame interview session.

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It happens almost every game: Some guy decides to turn an intimate moment into a show and proposes to his fiancee in front of thousands of people.

This time, the woman was Star Jones, one of the co-hosts of “The View.”

And she said yes to longtime boyfriend Al Reynolds.

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Reynolds told TNT’s Craig Sager: “She loves basketball, she loves her friends and she loves diamonds. So I decided to give it to her all together.”

-- Helene Elliott

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Charles Barkley, naturally, had an opinion about Kobe Bryant’s talking with The Times’ T.J. Simers and the media in general about his future.

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“This whole situation has really bothered me,” Barkley said on TNT’s pregame show. “Kobe Bryant needs to shut up about talking to the press about where he’s going to play basketball next year....

“He’s acting like he’s for sure going to be acquitted and he’s going to be free to play basketball. I think he’s making a big mistake discussing this in the press, because anyone who thinks jurors are fair is crazy.”

Magic Johnson, off the air, said he didn’t have a comment on Barkley’s opinion but said, “What Kobe needs to do above everything else is concentrate on the season at hand.”

-- Larry Stewart

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