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Facing the media storm
by Michael Eaves / October 11, 2003

- What do you think about the media coverage of the case so far?

Tim Brown (Los Angeles Times): The media coverage has been fairly typical in cases such as this. That is, the usual amount of recklessness mixed with attempts to maintain some balance. I think the Lakers are fortunate their training camp was in Hawaii, which kept some of the cameras and reporters from suffocating the early days of Kobe's reemergence. It really was not as bad as I thought it would be, though there were frenetic moments. Again, the reputable agencies have been pretty fair, the disreputable ones have been predictable.

Howard Beck (Los Angeles Daily News): Nothing has surprised me so far. There has been a lot of quality reporting, interspersed with an incredible amount of rumor and speculation. Pretty much par for the course in this modern media age, where everything is overhyped, overanalyzed and overdramatized through a 24-hour news cycle.

Kevin Ding (Orange County Register): We’ve seen the media go rushing over toward Shaq when he appears some days, but I must say I've never seen media members -- mostly cameramen desperate to get their shots -- charge the way they did in Hawaii toward Phil the day Kobe wasn't there and then toward Kobe when he was there later. It was a little frightening.

Broderick Turner (Riverside Press-Enterprise): It's been crazy. It was really crazy in Hawaii. There had to be up to 100 media members at training camp. One story used a lot of sources and had many factual errors.

- Do you think this is going to get worse in terms of media pressure on the team?

Tim Brown: My sense of it is that it's going to thin out as they get further from the preliminary hearing, and the Lakers are pretty comfortable with dealing with the moments of uproar.

Howard Beck: That's difficult to project. The media storm is already gathered. I don't expect it to change greatly from here, although it will depend on how things are proceeding in Colorado. When there's no news out of court for several weeks, I would anticipate that the media throng around the Lakers will dissipate. But there will be a spike in media attendance and coverage at practices and games every time something new emerges -- whether from the courtroom or from a tabloid report.

Van Earl Wright (FOX Sports West): I think once the season gets going and things become routine, the regular media coverage should calm down. However, if the events of the case continue to take twists and turns -- as they did on the day of the preliminary hearing when the defense surprised everyone by not waving the preliminary hearing -- then the madness and pressure of needing reaction from the players and team will definitely continue.

Kevin Ding: I think it'll ease up, just because the intensity is too high now to remain sustained that long. Some normalcy will set in, especially once a trial date is set.

Broderick Turner: The media will want more interviews and probably will try to probe more into the Kobe situation. But I think this team and organization is suited well to handle the pressure.

- How much of a distraction do you think this will be for the Lakers?

Tim Brown: If Kobe is going to be in and out of practices, in and out of games, then it will become a massive distraction, perhaps at the expense of their season. But, if the trial is scheduled for sometime after the season, and Bryant is left to play until then, then there will be little, if any, impact.

Howard Beck: This is a veteran team, one that has won three championships and which has added three savvy veterans in Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Horace Grant. They have been through Kobe and Shaq's feuding, Dennis Rodman, Isaiah Rider and the disappointment of being knocked from their perch. And they have a coach, Phil Jackson, who is renowned for finding ways to create order amid the chaos, and use adverse circumstances to unite his players with an ''us-vs.-the world'' mentality.

Van Earl Wright: It will definitely be a big distraction, but after awhile it will become a part of the team's daily routine. Athletes, and especially coaches, don't like surprises, and if those disruptions continue, so will the distractions. After awhile somebody is gonna blow his stack.

Broderick Turner: It'll be a big distraction. Every question will be about Bryant.

- Do you expect Kobe to play all season?

Tim Brown: Too early to tell, too much still to happen, but I don't think it's a lock he plays.

Howard Beck: Based on what he has shown us so far -- attending training camp, conducting interviews, facing the media just 24 hours after a very distressing, very graphic preliminary hearing in Colorado -- I can't imagine Bryant will quit now.

Van Earl Wright: Before Kobe acted so rudely to his teammates when he blew off the charted team flight to training camp, I thought he would play the season. Since then, I'm beginning to think that he should just take the year off.

Kevin Ding: It is hard to say when the trial will be. If it's after the season, I expect Kobe to play the whole season.

Broderick Turner: Knowing him and his commitment, yes I do. Unless he has to go to a hearing and unless his attorneys want him a couple of days to prep him for the case, I expect Kobe to play.

Michael Eaves covers the NBA for FOX Sports West in Southern California. You can reach him at meaves@foxsports.net

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