Some Issues Can’t Be Resolved


It’s New Year’s, time for our heroes to think about changes they would like to make, if they were the type who were inclined to make any:

Perry Rogers: As your agent, I’ve got to tell you that staying mad at Kobe is making you look small.

Shaquille O’Neal: Who?

Rogers: Oh, stop that, this is me.

O’Neal: No, really, I don’t know any Cody. And by the way, you are?

Rogers: I’m your agent! The one who got you all those endorsements!

O’Neal: Yeah, that’s what my first one said too.

Stan Van Gundy: Next time Pat Riley says he’s getting someone who will turn our whole program around, I’m going to ask just exactly what that entails.


Riley: Quit your sniveling. I’ve got to baby-sit him now. I just told him I want him to get down to 325 and he said, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”

Jeff Van Gundy: Count your blessings, bro. This job’s not always as much fun as it looks.

Mike Krzyzewski: I don’t look at myself as a college coach who will be in charge of NBA superstars at the Olympics. I look at myself as a leader who’s used to working with 12 McDonald’s All-Americans and will be right at home.

David Stern: I’m going with my usual, promoting peace on Earth and being more forgiving of my fellow man, unless it’s one of my players wearing a T-shirt to a game, in which case it will cost him $10,000.

Billy Hunter: As union head, I must protest.

Stern: I don’t know if that tie works with that suit, either.

Ron Artest: This time I’m really sorry. I’ll never, ever do it again, even if it’s free pub for my TruWarier Records label, on the web at This week we’re running a special on “Free Ron” T-shirts, only $15.99.

Mark Stevens: As Mr. Artest’s agent, I’d like to thank that gentleman and scholar, Indiana team President Donnie Walsh, that legendary Mr. Larry Bird and the wonderful fans so everyone sees there are no hard feelings and no one thinks Ron is the kind of person who would make their team crazy the way he made the Pacers crazy. It was all a misunderstanding. I told Ron there was nothing wrong in asking for a trade for not getting the ball on every play. Then I told him there’s no reason the Pacers shouldn’t take him back if he asked nicely and promised never to do it again.

Artest: We’ve also got “Free Ron” posters ($15) and stickers ($2). I was going to put a Pacer logo on them but I decided to leave it generic. That way we can just make more the next time I have to be freed.


Stern: We’ve already fined him more times than I can count. Then we started suspending him -- and that was before he started the riot of the century and we sat him down for a whole season. How about bribing him to try out for the NFL? With Terrell Owens, they may not even know he’s around.

Larry Brown: Why should I change? I’ve taken over worse teams than this.

Isiah Thomas: And your point guards are Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Penny Hardaway and Nate Robinson.

Brown: On the other hand, tell Joe Dumars I enjoyed working with him and if he ever needs someone again, don’t be afraid to call.

Charlie Villanueva: Chris Bosh and I are going to be the next Tim Duncan and David Robinson, aren’t we, Chris? Chris?

Bosh: Or at least the next Tim Duncan and Nazr Mohammed. Thanks for the nice thought, rookie. Maybe you can join me wherever I’m going.

Tony Parker: They’re just not used to basketball/TV star couples in San Antonio. Honey, if we get stopped again, I don’t think it’s a good idea to autograph the ticket and give it back to the cop.


Eva Longoria: No problem, darling. And even if you’re a big deal here, maybe you should consider parking on the street instead of in the street.

Carlos Boozer: My hamstring feels a lot better and I’m thinking about when I might return. When’s the trade deadline?

Jerry Sloan: I must love this game even more than I thought.

Darko Milicic: Detroit’s just a bad fit. Someone must need a 7-foot small forward. In the meantime, maybe I can get an American Express endorsement: “I was the second pick in the 2003 draft but nobody knows me if I don’t have my card.”

Kwame Brown: You think you’ve got problems. They’re comparing me to LaRue Martin, the worst No. 1 pick of all time. My career average (7.6) is way higher than his (5.3). I’ll bet none of his teams ever ran a play for him, either.

Jerry Buss: If I had it to do over, I’d still trade Shaq 100 times out of 100.

Kobe Bryant: Uh, just in case anything like that ever comes up again, let’s talk about it.

Buss: Now you tell me?

Lamar Odom: I’m an all-around player. If they needed me to score more than 15 points, someone would say something.

Bryant: What else do you need to hear? Pretty please with ribbons and bows on it?

Odom: Well, it’s a little tough when you’re jacking up 30 shots a night.

Bryant: Maybe you could try shooting occasionally when you’re in the lane, instead of pitching it out to the arc.


Phil Jackson: Kobe and Lamar? Piece of cake. I coached Kobe and Shaq. Try to picture that Christmas game every day of the week.

Donald T. Sterling: I don’t know why you come back every year. I told you I knew what I was doing.

Faces and Figures

Even Superman has feelings: O’Neal and Bryant were seen exchanging hugs and greetings in a hallway at Denver’s Pepsi Center after the All-Star game in February, but O’Neal still acts as if they’re mortal enemies. My guess is the deluge of stories before every meeting, and things such as Buss’ saying he’d do the same thing again, make O’Neal crazy all over again.... Meanwhile, the real powers were less than thrilled about playing the first game of the ABC doubleheader that started at noon, Detroit time. The Pistons, who always think they are being overlooked, were offended and even San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who rarely complains, noted, “It’s a huge responsibility to play the JV game. We know we have to do a good job so people stay around for the varsity game.”

Knick veterans have advised Nate Robinson, their motor-mouthed rookie, to stop complaining to referees and to approach them more respectfully by learning their names. Robinson says it’s hard because there are so many -- and they all seem to have the same names. “There’s a couple of Mikes,” Robinson said. “There’s one Dick, I remember, so it’s kind of easy but at the same time it’s hard. I remember one time I said, ‘Hey, ref,’ and he looks at me like, ‘My name is Tim.’ I’m like, ‘OK, my fault.’ ” ... Says Coach Larry Brown: “He’s like a barrister. He negotiates everything.” ... Brown also has said that Robinson “isn’t a point guard, he’s a highlight film.” In other words, he fits right in with the rest of their point guards.

Toronto’s Bosh, a 2008 free agent, continues to say polite things about staying but doesn’t look happy to be there. “I always get the same question,” Bosh said. “ ‘Are we getting better? Are we getting better?’ It’s the same thing every day, the same thing I said last game and the game before that. It’s the same frustration. You just get tired of losing.” ... Says Raptor Coach Sam Mitchell: “I ask him every day how he’s doing and every day he says he’s OK. I know he’s lying. Every day I watch this kid come to work and my respect for him just grows because when you have a season like this, it’s easy to try to quit and succumb to it.”

Legend-in-his-own-mind Steve Francis of Orlando, who had asked to meet with commissioner Stern as a rookie, just asked to meet with NBA vice president Stu Jackson, who had fined him several times. Francis thinks Jackson was getting back at him for forcing a trade when Jackson drafted him as Vancouver general manager in 1999. “He gave me straight-up answers,” said Francis. “I only have one NBA career -- that’s what I told him -- and he’s going to probably be in that office forever and hopefully we can coexist.” ... As Houston Coach Jeff Van Gundy once said, after Francis called the Toyota Center “the gym I built by myself” but noted he was “450%” better off away from Van Gundy: “Steve, he always has interesting things to say.”


Just what did he mean by that: Kevin Garnett, asked about the Timberwolves’ pursuit of Artest: “I don’t make no decisions around here. Whatever comes, I guess I’ve just got to live with it till the summer gets here.”