Lakers paying for charges

Updated: June 2, 2010, 11:49 AM ET
By Shelley Smith | ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers have never been known as a team that takes offensive charges. They are trying to change that. Last series, Phil Jackson called his big men "thin-chested" as a way of goading them into standing strong and taking a hit, and the team has been offering financial incentive -- $50 per charge.

"To motivate us in a way to take charges and getting away with it," explained Sasha Vujacic.

And Vujacic says that the way the Celtics players play, the Lakers believe they could be in line to make some extra cash.

"Their whole team is kind of a charging possibility taking team. We just got to be smart," Vujacic said. "They are a very smart team that can go from block to a charge, so we've been working a lot on charges and how to take them and stuff, so we'll see.

Assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who monitors the fines and payouts, said the team has been rewarding players for charges since late last season and the competition has intensified in the playoffs, although he admitted that "very few guys are getting charge money."

"Luke got one the other night; it was kind of shaky but we gave it to him anyway," Hamblen said. "Fish is our best charge-taker so far."

The money comes out of a pool accumulated by players' fines, such as being whistled for an illegal defense, which costs a player $25. It is a fund, Hamblen says, to which Lamar Odom is the biggest contributor.

"I mean, I just pencil him in every night for illegal defense," Hamblen said. "I ask him every night, 'Lamar, you know the illegal defense rules don't you?'"

The charge-taking competition, however, has yet to involve Ron Artest, who said he learned from growing up on the New York playgrounds, that when you take a charge, fall and then call an offensive foul, well, bad things -- like serious bodily harm -- can happen.

"I don't even know how to take a charge," he said. "To get the charge you have to fall. I'd rather not fall. You call an offensive foul, possibly be a fight. That's just how we grew up playing basketball."

Shelley Smith

SportsCenter correspondent
Shelley Smith joined ESPN in January 1997 after working part-time as a reporter for the network since 1993. She has covered Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, the BCS championship game, the Stanley Cup playoffs, golf and tennis championships and more.