McKie will provide veteran presence for young Lakers
Now, in a similar situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, McKie figures to be playing and leading.
"I know I can think this game, I know I can play this game," McKie said after a recent practice with his new team at the University of Hawaii. "The past is the past. I'm here now. I just want to help this team."
The 33-year-old McKie said he thoroughly enjoyed his seven-plus seasons with the 76ers despite being used sparingly last season, when he was slowed by a shoulder injury and averaged career lows of 2.2 points and 16.4 minutes in 68 games.
"That organization treated me with respect. I enjoyed every minute," he said. "I'm blessed, man. I'm enjoying playing this game. My goal when I got drafted was to play five years."
The 6-foot-5 McKie signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Lakers after being waived by the 76ers. He has averaged 7.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 11 NBA seasons.
He believes he understood what the 76ers were doing last season.
"They had a bunch of young guys they wanted to play," he said. "My take on everything is that's the direction they wanted to go. When you're a competitor, you can be hurt, they tell you you're hurt, and you still want to play."
McKie is another in a long line of tall guards picked up by Phil Jackson late in their careers. Ron Harper and Brian Shaw, for example, helped the Lakers win three championships from 2000-02 in Jackson's first tour of duty as the team's coach.
Jackson hasn't committed to using McKie as a starter, but he does expect him to play extensively.
"He's done well," Jackson said after practice Sunday. "There's a long way for him to go, in terms of recognition. He's done a nice job. We'll see how he goes from here on out. What I've been most impressed with is he's survived these two-a-days without any problems.
"He's really a good pressure player. He has a good idea about how to apply full-court pressure and that really helps us."
McKie said he'll do whatever the coach desires.
"I would say that as a leader, then go from there," he said of his role. "We don't know what direction this team is headed in. In the preseason, we have to establish an identity."
McKie is by far the oldest player who will definitely make the Lakers' final roster. The others expected to play extensively are all in their 20s.
"It makes the game fun," McKie said of the college-like atmosphere.
As a newcomer, he has to learn the complicated triangle offense employed by Jackson.
"It's a cerebral process; you're trying to learn, you're trying to play at the same time," McKie said.
McKie has been united with Kobe Bryant. The two met when McKie was playing at Temple and Bryant was a star at Lower Merion High outside of Philadelphia.
"I was very familiar with him and Eddie [Jones] and Rick Brunson," Bryant said, referring to three former Temple stars. "I just know what he's about. He's a steady basketball player, rarely makes mistakes on the floor."
And, Bryant added, a solid person.
"He was a good pickup for us," Bryant said.
Lamar Odom said McKie's veteran presence will make a big difference on a young team.
"He raises the I.Q. of your basketball team -- he helps us tremendously," Odom said.
Rookie C Andrew Bynum (strained abdominal muscle) and F-G Laron Profit (strained right calf muscle) sat out practice Sunday. It's unlikely either will play in preseason games Tuesday and Wednesday nights against Golden State.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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