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NOTEBOOK NBA All-Star Weekend



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Kobe keeping quiet: Kobe Bryant, above, played the politically correct role when talking about his matchup against former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and playing in Denver. Speaking to the media for about 45 minutes on Friday, Bryant did his best to keep from stirring things up in his feud with Shaq and about returning to the state where he was charged with sexual assault. As far as Bryant is concerned, Sunday's NBA All-Star game will be just another contest. "I don't feed into that stuff at all," Bryant said. "I'm just happy to be here and to be around all of these All-Stars. I'm not trying to take away from any of that." Bryant was charged with sexually assaulting a hotel worker at a resort near Vail in 2003 and has been booed by Denver's fans every time he has returned. Though the criminal case was dropped because the woman wouldn't go through with it, Bryant faces a civil suit. As for his feud with Shaq, Bryant didn't want to talk about that, either. The two had an icy relationship as teammates with the Lakers and it only grew worse when O'Neal left for Miami before this season. "There's so many great players here and so many great stories here," he said. "Hopefully it won't take away from the game and all the great things that are going on this weekend." As for O'Neal, he couldn't help but take a shot at his former team, which is just 26-24 since he left. "There's an old saying that says the record speaks for itself," he said. "You tell me how different they are. I don't really have to say how different. People, they see."

Allen on the block? Unable to work out a contract with Ray Allen, the Seattle SuperSonics are rumored to be shopping the All-Star before next week's trade deadline. For a player who figured he'd never get traded, the thought of being sent away for the second time in two years is hard to believe. "I just sold my house in Milwaukee at the beginning of February," Allen said. "It seems like a couple of months ago I was traded. Whatever has happened in Seattle the last year and a half just happened so fast. These are some of the greatest moments of my life."

Eyeing MJ's stuff: Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas doesn't remember much about his last All-Star appearance in 2003, in part because he got to play just four minutes. In fact, Ilgauskas played so little, the highlight of the weekend was having a locker next to Michael Jordan, who was playing in the game for the final time. "I was looking for something to steal from him," he joked.

LeBron starting: Despite a sore left ankle and lingering flu that will keep him out of the dunk contest tonight, LeBron James plans to play in Sunday's All-Star Game. James figures he owes it to all the fans who went out and voted for him. "It's a great feeling to know that you have that many fans that respect the way you play the game," James said. "It don't get no better than that."

Associated Press




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