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Reluctant All-Star Kobe Bryant was fined $10,000 by the NBA for missing Friday's media day.

Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal were the only no-shows for the annual mass gathering with reporters.

Bryant said Wednesday he wanted to skip Sunday's All-Star Game because of a sore right shoulder, but said he'll play because he doesn't want to risk being suspended. He was scheduled to arrive in Washington late Friday.

O'Neal has already pulled out with a strained right foot, but he is in town this weekend making public appearances. A decision on whether to fine O'Neal for missing media day was "under review," according to an NBA spokesman.
Baron Davis might do a a backflip before ascending to the rim. Then again he might just use a blindfold or hurdle another player on his way to the basket.

Corey Maggette is brushing up on the "Super Maggette." Stay tuned.

DeShawn Stevenson won a high school dunk contest just a year ago and now at 19, he's got some new material. He just won't reveal the name of his special dunk -- unless he wins.

The neophytes have taken over the NBA All-Star dunk contest, which is the highlight of tonight's activities.

Vince Carter's knee is too sore to defend the title he won a year ago with some spectacular air-defying moves that even had the judges jumping out of their seats.

Forgive Carter, but he's a little like everyone else as far as this year's field.

"I don't even know who is in it. I don't want to know," Carter said. "Of course I'll be watching, why wouldn't I? Just like if I was in it, I'd we watching. I'm still a fan of it."

"I'm a senior citizen at age 21," said Davis, the 6-foot-3 Charlotte guard many consider a favorite.

His competition includes Stevenson of the Jazz, 20-year-old Jonathan Bender of the Pacers, the 21-year-old Maggette of the Clippers, 21-year-old Stromile Swift of the Grizzlies and 23-year-old Desmond Mason of the SuperSonics. All are in their first dunk competition and Swift, Mason and Stevenson are rookies.
One of the unique features of today's rookies-vs.-sophomores game (4 p.m., TNT) is that it turns teammates into foes.

Chicago forward Elton Brand, for example, is on the team of second-year players, while Bulls guard Khalid El-Amin will line up with the rookies.

"I've been talking to him a lot," Brand said. "I told him, 'Don't come in that lane.' He's coming down like everybody else."

Ditto for sophomore Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Clippers, who has been trash-talking this week with rookie teammates Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson.

"They got me feeling cocky right now," Odom said, "because that's the way I've got to feel playing against those guys. That's the way they feel. I'm going to go after them as much as I can."
A 20-second shot clock, the elimination of illegal defense rules and other radical adjustments were among the proposed rules changes discussed Friday by the NBA's competition committee. "We don't have a plan right now, but we're going to continue to attack the issue," NBA vice president of operations Stu Jackson said. "What we don't want to do is something knee-jerk and be in a situation where we make changes that would be detrimental to the game." . . . Lab tests show that Phoenix Suns forward Clifford Robinson was legally intoxicated last Monday when he was pulled over and arrested and had a small amount of marijuana in his possession. Robinson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.146, said Scottsdale police spokesman Scott Reed. Arizona's DUI limit is 0.10. . . . Toronto's Antonio Davis, Miami's Anthony Mason and Minnesota's Kevin Garnett were chosen as starters for Sunday's All-Star Game, replacing players who can't play.

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