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Jackson to have surgery; Kobe, others recovering

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers open training
camp Tuesday, and the timing could be better.

First, three players including defending NBA scoring champion
Kobe Bryant are recuperating from operations. And coach Phil
Jackson is scheduled to undergo surgery to replace his right hip
Tuesday instead of being on the sidelines when camp begins.

Nobody expressed much concern Monday at media day, although the
61-year-old Jackson, as might be expected, admitted to being
nervous.

"Of course, anybody would be," he told reporters. "I do know
a number of success stories."

Included was his mother.

"I felt in the best interests of our team, it would be better
to do it sooner rather than later," Jackson said, explaining that
the pain in his hip had increased in recent weeks and mobility
became a problem.

"There's no single incident outside of my kids and Jeanie
insisting I have it now instead of later," he added, referring to
longtime girlfriend Jeanie Buss, a team executive and the daughter
of owner Jerry Buss.

Dr. Lawrence Dorr of the Arthritis Institute in Inglewood will
perform the surgery at the Centinela Hospital Medical Center.
Jackson is expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday, and
hopes to be on the bench Oct. 31 when the Lakers open the season
against Phoenix.

"Dr. Dorr said I'll be walking with pride on opening night,"
Jackson said, adding he actually hopes to be attending practices
long before that.

Jackson said he planned practices for the first week with
assistant Kurt Rambis, who will run the team along with fellow
assistants Frank Hamblen, Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw.

"They're not going to goof off," Jackson said of his players.
"We've got too many guys who have been head coaches on the staff
who will shape things up if things get strung out."

Bryant, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee July 13,
will be around, but won't be going full speed for a while.

"The knee's doing pretty good. It's getting stronger
day-by-day," he said. "It's right on schedule. I'll go through
some of the dummy offense. I just started running today, a little
lightly. It feels really strong right now; I don't want to set it
back."

Asked if he'll be ready for the season-opener, Bryant replied:
"I should be, hopefully."

Bryant said Jackson will be missed, but he expressed confidence
in the rest of the staff.

Bryant and Jackson had some well-publicized differences in
Jackson's first five years as coach of the Lakers, but after taking
a year off, the two appeared to get along very well last season.

"He and I have become extremely close," Bryant said. "He's
really my mentor. I've learned everything, basically, from him."

Bryant, about to start his 11th NBA season despite being only
28, wore jersey No. 8 in his first 10 years. He's switched to No.
24.
"It's a little weird -- it's a trip," he said with a smile,
peering down at the jersey.

"You see Kobe wearing 24? That's crazy to me," second-year
center Andrew Bynum said.

Chris Mihm (right ankle) and Brian Cook (right thumb) also
underwent operations in July, with Mihm's the more serious.

"It's finally feeling like an ankle again," he said. "I just
got cleared for running and jogging. I tore it pretty good."

Mihm thought he sprained his ankle in mid-March, but played in
only one game after that and finally discovered he tore three
ligaments.

"I tore it up pretty good. I did a number on it," he said. "I
knew it was bad. I've sprained my ankles hundreds of times, but it
just wasn't getting better."

Mihm said he hopes to be ready for the season-opener.

"That's my focus, that's my plan," he said.

Rambis said practice will be filmed for Jackson to watch if he
so chooses.

"I don't thing it's going to be difficult," Rambis said.
"Kobe being out is going to have an impact. Chris being out is
going to have an impact. We're all on the same page. As a coaching
staff, we're all very confident we'll be able to accomplish our
goals."