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Payton fined for blowing off media

By wire services
Published June 8, 2004

LOS ANGELES - After avoiding reporters following Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Gary Payton spoke to the media Monday.

But not for long.

"In a minute," Payton replied when asked if he'd be talking.

Then, with practice over, he left the court and headed toward the locker room.

Twenty minutes later, with about 50 media members waiting at a designated podium, Los Angeles Lakers spokesman John Black informed reporters Payton wasn't coming back.

Payton also left Staples Center without comment after his team's 87-75 loss to the Detroit Pistons a night earlier.

It wasn't a good game for Payton, who shot 1-of-4 for three points in 31 minutes while his man, Chauncey Billups, led the Pistons with 22 points. Payton committed his fifth foul with 31/2 minutes left in the third quarter and didn't play again until late in the final quarter.

"I don't know if any of us can understand the emotion that Gary's dealing with at this time," teammate Derek Fisher said. "He came here for one reason only, and he went through a tough season. To get this close to it and to struggle, that's got to be tough.

"We have a responsibility to address the media. We have to respect the fact that Gary's not very pleased with what's going on right now. Hopefully we can come out and play better tomorrow night and you guys will have a chance to talk to him."

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Payton was fined $5,000 for his failure to make himself available to the media.

RATINGS LEAP: The overnight ratings Sunday were up 43 percent from last season's Game 1. ABC's coverage of the game drew an 11.6 rating with an 18 share. That's better than all six of the games in last year's final when San Antonio beat New Jersey. RAPTORS HIRE GM: Toronto hired Rob Babcock as general manager, a month after it passed on him. The Raptors have been looking for a general manager since firing Glen Grunwald on April 1. He was replaced on an interim basis by Jack McCloskey, who favored Babcock from the start.

BOOZER ADDED TO OLYMPIC TEAM: Cavaliers forward Carlos Boozer was added to the U.S. Olympic team, the Associated Press reported.

[Last modified June 8, 2004, 01:01:17]


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