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Atkins backtracks, takes shots at media

Al Balderas Orange County Register

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Lakers guard Chucky Atkins went on the attack Monday, his latest verbal jabs aimed at the media.

Atkins was backtracking from comments he made before Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center. Atkins said Sunday: “I ain’t no GM. Ask Kobe (Bryant). He’s the GM. It’s his team.”

Atkins said his words were taken out of context. Later, he said his statements might have been misunderstood. Then he voiced his support for Bryant.

“The comments that I made weren’t right,” Atkins said. “They were the wrong things, and they (the media) know what’s up.

“What’s sad is a lot of the media wants to take shots at Kobe Bryant, and they want to use us, as his teammates, as scapegoats. Instead of them having the guts … to write it themselves, they want to use the team. Instead of the beat writers around here saying what they really want to say and write what they really think, they want to use myself and Caron Butler and Lamar Odom to be the scapegoat to say what they want about Kobe Bryant.

“Guys have been taking shots at Kobe Bryant all year. He hasn’t broken, and he ain’t going to. My teammates, they know me. If I want to say something to them, I won’t go through the media and say it. I’ll go to them as a man.

“I’m in a no-win situation. They’re going to make it seem like I’m the scapegoat and the (expletive) for the whole thing anyway.”

Atkins and Bryant spoke Monday and said there weren’t any hard feelings between them. Atkins said he considered Bryant his friend.

“We just come out here and play basketball, man,” Bryant said. “We just play ball.

“I know you guys want to talk about stuff. I know you want to make some type of headline or anything like that on talk shows and whatever, but there’s nothing going on.

“We’re on an eight-game losing streak. We want to come tomorrow (today) and win the game.

“We’re all friends on the team. Everyone is well-connected with one another, and we just want to play ball. Period.”

Lakers coach Frank Hamblen said everyone connected with the team is frustrated in the wake of the losing streak. He spoke with Atkins on Monday and considers the matter closed.

“Anything that’s said in the papers nowadays is probably out of frustration,” Hamblen said.

“We all have to hang in here together. Everybody’s frustrated. A lot of things happen, and a lot of things are said. The losing streak is cause for frustration.”

Phil sighting

Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson was spotted outside of the Lakers’ practice facility. He climbed into his black Mercedes-Benz and drove away without talking to the media.

According to Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations and longtime girlfriend of Jackson, he was there to take her to lunch.

Since Rudy Tomjanovich resigned, the possibility of Jackson returning as Lakers coach has been widely speculated.

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