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Old 10-03-2006, 10:02 AM   #1
SoCalMike
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Default Time to Heal for Lakers - Riverside Press Enterprise

This is from the Riverside Press Enterprise... Brad Turner is usually a very good Laker writer.

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Time to Heal for Lakers

Several Lakers are ailing as training camp is about to begin

12:42 AM PDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2006

By BRODERICK TURNER
The Press-Enterprise

EL SEGUNDO - By the end of this month, just in time for the start of the regular season on Halloween night, the Lakers hope they are whole again.


AP photo
The Lakers' Kobe Bryan (left) had knee surgery in July, while Coach Phil Jackson will undergo hip replacement surgery today. Both expect to be healthy for the season opener Oct. 31.



And for that to happen, they must regain their health.

When the Lakers start two-a-day training camp today, they already will be a banged up group. They will be trying to heal from offseason surgeries, including an operation Coach Phil Jackson will undergo today.

Jackson will have right hip replacement surgery at Centinela Hospital Medical Center. The operation will be performed by Dr. Lawrence Dorr, of the Arthritis Institute in Inglewood.

Jackson said Monday at the team's media day that his plan is to be ready for opening night against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.

Jackson won't be the only one on the road to recovery.

Kobe Bryant had minor surgery on his right knee on July 12, and he also said his plan is to be ready for the season opener.

Chris Mihm, who had right ankle surgery on July 26, hopes to be ready for the opener, but his healing process may take longer.

Brian Cook had surgery on his right thumb July 18 and said he should be able to participate in some drills during training camp.

Then there is Lamar Odom, still mourning the tragic loss of his 6-month-old son, Jayden, who suffocated in his crib and died June 28.

"It's kept us from coming back as perhaps focused as we were last year," Jackson said of all the issues that confront the Lakers during training camp.

Jackson, 61, said he had a "difficult time of being mobile" and had hoped to get through his increasing discomfort through therapy but was unable to.

He sought medical advice from doctors, who suggested the procedure.

Jackson admitted he was nervous about the surgery, even telling the doctors about a friend who had the same procedure and died of a heart attack. But Jackson also said his mother had successful hip replacement surgery.

His plan is to observe a practice within a week after his surgery and then figure out when he might be able to return.

"I felt the best interest of the team and for the success of our year that I'd do it sooner than later," Jackson said.

Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis will serve as the head coach while Jackson, who has two years left on his three-year, $30 million contract, is out.

Bryant said the healing of his knee is right on schedule and that he will not force the issue as he enters his 11th season in the NBA.

He talked to his teammates about all the injuries that have hit the Lakers and told them "we have such a long journey ahead of ourselves so you take it a day at a time."

Bryant said he likes the addition of Vladimir Radmanovic, Maurice Evans, Shammond Williams and former UCLA star Jordan Farmar.

The Lakers went 45-37 last season and lost in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in seven games to the Phoenix Suns.

The injuries may slow the Lakers out of the gate. But they also know that they play 15 of their first 20 games at home.

How they perform during that stretch could be the key to the season.

"We really have to get off to a great jump this season if we want to have that kind of record that moves us up in the standings in the playoffs," Jackson said.

Reach Broderick Turner at bturner@PE.com
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