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Jackson relates to Torre’s story

Times Staff Writer

When you have enough championship rings to cover all but one pinkie, it’s not easy to find peers to relate to.

For Phil Jackson, Joe Torre is a peer.

Torre, who led the New York Yankees to four championships in six World Series in his dozen years as manager, on Thursday turned down a one-year, incentive-laden contract offer from the club.

Jackson, in the final year of his three-season, $30-million contract with the Lakers, is mulling over an extension, but has yet to commit, citing uncertainty over his physical condition after hip replacement surgery and the future of a team mired in the Kobe Bryant trade controversy.

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In addressing Torre’s departure Friday, Jackson perhaps added another element to the mix, the ability to remain a relevant voice year after year.

“I grew up with a father who was a minister,” Jackson said. “He’d say, ‘Sometimes your message gets dry. And sometimes your parishioners need another person to come in and preach to them.’ My father moved every five or six years because of that.

“In Joe’s case . . . Joe’s great. I like his style, his demeanor. He’s had a wonderful run there in New York. . . . The message has been pretty straight and honest, but obviously change had to happen.”

Whether there’s a message in there about Jackson’s own future remains to be seen.

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After avoiding media sessions last week at the team’s El Segundo training facility in the wake of speculation over his future with the team, Bryant was again talking to reporters Friday after also speaking Thursday night in Bakersfield where the Lakers beat the Seattle SuperSonics, 126-106, in an exhibition.

“I just play basketball,” Bryant said Friday, repeating a theme he has adhered to since the start of training camp. “That’s all I’m going to do. I don’t pay attention to what people say. . . . More than half the time, they got it wrong anyway.”

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Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar have flip-flopped their mops. Last season, with the Lakers struggling toward the end of the season, Walton shaved his head while Farmar’s hair remained untouched.

Now Farmar has a close cut while Walton has allowed his long locks to return.

“I shaved it last year thinking it would help our team, just one of those dumb sports things,” Walton said. “But it didn’t help, so I’m back to hair.”

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Several hundred Lakers season-ticket holders watched Friday’s full-court scrimmage inside the team’s practice gym. . . . The Lakers will play host to the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at 7:30 in their first home exhibition. At 4:30, the other Staples Center tenant, the Clippers, will play the Phoenix Suns. The two winners will face each other Sunday, as will the two losing teams. But either way, the Lakers will again play in the 7:30 game.

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steve.springer@latimes.com


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