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Bryant arrives ready to play

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Kobe Bryant's shoulder is hurting, and so are his feelings.

Bryant, who said he's playing in today's All-Star Game because he feared he'd get suspended if he didn't, arrived on a redeye flight early Saturday -- a day later than the other players.

"I didn't understand why people were making such a big deal out of it. ... I want my shoulder to recuperate to benefit my team in the second half of the season," the Lakers guard said. "It was a little hurtful to hear people's comments."

Bryant was fined $10,000 for missing Friday's mandatory media day. He said he remained in Los Angeles so he could get treatment on his sore right shoulder.

"I wouldn't be able to play if the game was yesterday," Bryant said. "Today I feel pretty good. It definitely feels a lot better than it has in the past."

SLAM DUNK CONTEST: Sonics rookie Desmond Mason, the oldest competitor in the field at 23, had a soaring left-handed dunk on his first try of the final round to get a 45 out of a possible 50. Then he received a 44 with a two-handed cradle on a drive from the right side for a total 89 and the title. "You've got to be more creative now, and that's what I tried to do," Mason said. "It wasn't the strongest dunk contest ever. But it was fun doing it." DeShawn Stevenson of Utah was second with 85 and Charlotte's Baron Davis third with 77.

THREE-POINT SHOOTOUT: Bucks guard Ray Allen recovered from some sloppy footwork to hit 10 straight shots and win the title. Allen went 16 of 25 to total 19 points as the last of the three finalists on court. He edged Kings forward Peja Stojakovic, who had 17 points, with Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki third with 10.

ROOKIE CHALLENGE: Wally Szczerbiak left the floor with a gash under his right eye -- and the MVP award. The Timberwolves' Szczerbiak scored 27 points to lead a team of second-year NBA players past a rookie squad 121-113 in a fast-paced, above-the-rim game featuring slams, no-look passes, alley oops and little defense.

2BALL: Stojakovic and Sacramento Monarchs guard Ruthie Bolton-Holifield of the WNBA beat Cleveland's Trajan Langdon and Eva Nemcova 62-57 in the final. The two players take turns shooting from various spots on the floor for 60 seconds, with each spot having a certain point value.

IT JUST MIGHT WORK: What can the NBA do to boost its sagging television ratings?

"We're going to rename it the XBA," commissioner David Stern said, tongue in cheek. "And that's just the beginning."

Ratings for NBA telecasts are down 17 percent this season on NBC and 15 percent on Turner Sports, a trend Stern attributes partly to the growing number of entertainment choices -- television or otherwise -- available to the public.

He also said NBC, the league's network broadcast partner, has the right to air the content of its choosing. "At a time when Survivor and Big Brother and Temptation Island dominate the ratings and the intellectual program du jour is Millionaire, I find it hard to cast stones at someone having some reality sports programming."

SEE YOU IN NEW YORK: This year's draft will be held at New York's Madison Square Garden, Stern said. The draft will be June 27, starting at 7 p.m.

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