Bryant uncertain about Olympics

Monday, June 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES - Lakers guard Kobe Bryant officially has not been selected to the Olympic team, but it looks as if he's the player the committee wants to replace Grant Hill, still recovering from a broken left ankle.

Problem is, Bryant is wavering on playing.

His Lakers team is trying to win an NBA title, which they can do tonight if they beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center, and he has to heal from his sprained left ankle.

Bryant also plans on getting married to his fiancee, Vanessa Laine, sometime in August.

"I haven't really given it that much thought," Bryant said Sunday. "Right now, I'm leaning towards not going, cause of the time. I'm concentrating on the Final game tomorrow.

"I have some things I'd like to do this summer, far as my family, getting married, things like that."

The Olympic team starts practicing in late August, and the Games go until late September. The Lakers open training camp in early October.

"I'd just like to take some time off, have some time to myself," Bryant said. "But I'll give it some more thought after the season."

Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal missed out on winning a title with the Orlando Magic in 1995, losing to the Houston Rockets. He has another opportunity with the Lakers.

"It's not really a void," O'Neal said. "I have been working hard to get to this point, and when it happens, it will happen. It's very close right now."

Jalen Rose may have unintentionally stirred up Kobe Bryant during Sunday's interview session.

Asked if he expected Bryant to come out firing to atone for his 4-for-20 performance in the Pacers' victory Friday night at Indianapolis, Rose said: "Kobe's an exciting player, and I've liked his game from day one. But I understand that he's going to have his ups and downs, just like every other player. When he has a great game, he's the next Michael Jordan. And there's gonna be other times when people say he has a bad game and he looks like Reggie Jordan."

When that quote was relayed to Bryant, his first response was, "Who?" Told that Reggie Jordan was a journeyman NBA player who spent a couple of months with the Lakers in 1994, Bryant's eyes narrowed.

"Well," he said, "my reaction to that is in due time I'll be reminding him of Kobe Bryant.

"And that's a lot scarier."

On arriving at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, the Pacers couldn't help but notice replicas of the NBA championship trophy in the windows overlooking the practice court -- three of them in Phil Jackson's office, five others in the office used by owner Jerry Buss.

"Yeah, they look pretty," Reggie Miller said. "Nice and shiny."

Added Rose: "I wish that was (in) my basement."

Are the Pacers a different team now than they were when the series started?

"I think so," Travis Best said. "I don't think we were really ready for what Shaq was going to bring. We just weren't prepared as a team the way we needed to be for Game 1."

Added Rose: "It's an adjustment to play against Shaq, because nobody in your practice can simulate the things he can do on the floor."

Now, he added, "People understand that we're for real."

Best said his slightly separated left shoulder is still sore and hasn't made much progress. He'll be available tonight, even though doctors recommended three weeks of inactivity.