Sports 101

Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers gave Los Angeles $43,000 to replace a police cruiser destroyed during the victory celebration after June's NBA championship win.

He can afford it.

Last month, he signed a three-year, $88.4 million contract extension through 2004-05. He bought 22 Rolex watches ($150,000) for his teammates and staff. Shaq may be spreading the wealth, but he's anxious to win a consecutive NBA title. The season started this week, and the Lakers are aiming to win it all.

"Winning championship trophies is like having one car," O'Neal says. "It's not enough for me." Teammate Kobe Bryant, says it is simple: "Shaq and I both want to win again, and that means we will."

Q: Why are the Lakers the team to beat?

A: It has added improved depth with forwards Rick Fox (who has moved from the bench to replace Glen Rice) and Horace Grant. The team has added strength with coach Phil Jackson, Shaq, and Kobe Bryant.

Q: Who else upgraded its roster during the off-season?

A: The Portland Trail Blazers. The team picked up forwards Shawn Kemp and Dale Davis. With these additions, the Blazers are expected to be the Lakers No. 1 competitors.

Q: What are are some other noteworthy NBA items?

* Patrick Ewing headed West to Seattle after 15 seasons with the New York Knicks.

* Commissioner David Stern fined the Minnesota Timberwolves $3.5 million for an illegal secret contract with forward Joe Smith worth $40 million to $86 million.

* Philadelphia 76ers Allen Iverson is under attack for his profanity-laced-rap CD, set for release next year. Iverson has a six-year, $70.9 million contract with the 76ers.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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