LOS ANGELES - So much for covering another routine game at the NBA Finals. Word of the Tim Donaghy's allegations reached the Staples Center midway Tuesday afternoon, and from that point in, the entire evening had a strange, almost surreal feel.
Reporters hung near the entrances awaiting the arrival of David Stern and former Kings backup Scot Pollard, one of the the two centers who fouled out in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals. (Pollard lasted a whopping 11 minutes). Stern spoke only briefly with reporters, but managed to level a few timely blows at his former disgraced referee.
"The only concern I have is that when a letter gets filed on behalf of a convicted felon, my concern is that the news media run with it as a major blockbuster series of allegations, when in fact, this guy is dancing as fast as he can to throw as much against the wall so his sentence won't be as hard, put more at risk," said the NBA Commissioner. "(But) pretty much he's a singing, cooperating witness who's trying to get as light a sentence as he can."
Pollard, the one-time Kings quipster and current Celtics reserve who is recovering from ankle injuries and won't play during the series, was deadly serious this time. He leaned against a wall outside the visitors locker room for quite a while before the game, talking with clusters reporters as they approached. He seems very conflicted about the developments. He still believes the Kings were ripped off, especially with the series of phantom calls in the fourth quarter, but sounds hopeful that Donagy's spouting turns out to be unsubstantiated.
Yet this is pretty funny. His worst memory from that series wasn't Game 6 or even the blown opportunity in Game 7.
You can probably guess what comes next.
The Robert Horry shot lives on.
Finally off the couch
Hall of Famer Bill Walton - who describes himself these days as the father of Luke - was able to watch his son play in person Tuesday for the first time in months. The senior Walton, an NBA analyst for ESPN, has been sidelined the past few months with back and hip injuries. But he was mobile enough to make the drive from his home in San Diego earlier Tuesday with his wife, Lori.
While he was chatting with a few of us, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar approached and asked how his UCLA heir was feeling. "Good," Walton replied, as two of the greatest centers in league history bumped knuckles.
The Staples crowd was pretty impressive last night for sure: In an area outside the media dining tent, the following NBA luminaries lingered: Walton, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, along with the venerable Jack Ramsay, who has been battling cancer, but looks much healthier than he has in a long time. Former Kings rival (and aspiring actor) Rick Fox also ambled past, and said he was working on a new television series about a football coach.
Keeping up with KJ
Before he was enveloped by a throng of reporters asking for his insight on Kings-Lakers, Donaghy, and all things related to the series, Magic asked what was happening with his former Phoenix Suns rival Kevin Johnson. Magic said he heard KJ was headed for a runoff with Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, and said he might hold another fundraiser for the challenger.
Magic certainly seems to like politicians. Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides runs his foundation. The former Lakers great (and minority owner) expects Angelides to attend Game 4 on Thursday.