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My intention before the Lakers' game with Portland had been to talk to Lamar Odom and urge him to score more, but as soon as he saw the media enter the locker room, he decided to leave -- moving to his left, of course, as he walked out.
So that left me with Brown, and when I asked him if he was bothered by all the criticism directed his way, he said, "I don't read the newspapers, so I don't see the criticism.
"I think I'm doing good. How do you think I'm doing?"
I didn't hesitate, of course. "Not very good," I said. "Not very good at all."
"What do you want?" Brown said.
"How about more consistency?" and as we continued, I found myself having a very nice conversation with the big stiff despite our obvious disagreement over whether he's any good. Who knew Kwame Brown would handle himself better than Brad Faxon? I have two children older than Brown, who is 23, and I know how difficult it would be for a 23-year-old to stand up to the pressure of constantly being in the spotlight, and I thought about giving him a break. But then changed my mind. "I think my defense has been consistent," he said, and I told him I wouldn't know, because I'm all about offense, and he said, "We have all the scoring we need from Kobe." I said some people think Kobe shoots too much and needs help from his supporting cast, and Brown, who would score nine points and throw up an airball from the free-throw line in the 99-82 win over Portland, said, "When we win, it's because Kobe is having a good night." That would seem to take Brown off the hook, the outcome always riding on Kobe, so I asked Phil Jackson what he wants from Brown -- realizing that meant I'd actually have to go through the grueling task of talking to Jackson. "I've asked Kwame to just run and hustle and do the things that change a ballclub's ability to defend and rebound," Jackson said. "The hustle has to be there to energize the team And all this time I didn't think Brown had done very much. * IT SOUNDS like Jackson wants more aggressive play from Odom, so tongue-in-cheek I asked, "Have you come around and started thinking like me now -- getting more points out of Lamar Odom?"