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Sports | Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was Kobe Bryant's first choice to coach the Lakers after Phil Jackson left

Issue: "Kerry picks Edwards as VP," July 17, 2004

Coach K(obe) After Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski declined the Los Angeles Lakers invitation to coach in the NBA, the Lakers might as well turn to another Coach K. By pursuing Mr. Krzyzewski, the Lakers already made free agent guard Kobe Bryant their de facto general manager. Might he simply order the front office to hire himself? In an attempt to get Mr. Bryant to sign on the dotted line with Los Angeles, the Lakers seemed to have made the 25-year-old part of the front office. Mr. Krzyzewski was Mr. Bryant's first choice to coach the Lakers after Phil Jackson left. The NBA star even called the Duke coach. That move no doubt further alienated center Shaquille O'Neal, who reemphasized his trade demands after the front office made it clear that Mr. Bryant, and not Shaq, would be the future of the team. Is it wise to give one player so much control of team matters? The Bulls often looked to Michael Jordan for his approval on team affairs-MJ wouldn't play for just any coach. But Mr. Bryant is just 25-and he faces sexual assault charges this off-season. Coach and GM Kobe might be bad for the Lakers, but if it helps them keep the talented guard from bolting to another team, can you blame them for their decision? Lance boils Lance Armstrong has found a foe more persistent and beguiling than the cancer that could have killed him years ago. Dogged by charges of doping during this year's Tour de France like never before, the American cyclist even tried to force a new book on the subject to print a denial and rebuttal. The cycling star has been tested time and time again for performance-enhancing drugs. Each time the cancer survivor and five-time Tour de France winner passed the tests. Yet many European cycling reporters and French cycling fans have maintained that Mr. Armstrong uses illegal drugs despite the evidence. The European cycling world does have reason to suspect the American rider. Steroids and other doping have taken over the cycling world. In fact, many clean cyclists have to prove their innocence. That's just harder for Mr. Armstrong to do, because with each race he wins, his detractors become further entrenched. Around the horn • It was a long streak that had to end sometime. But even though Eric Gagne's streak of 84 consecutive saves ended in a 6-5 loss to Arizona, the Dodgers crowd treated him far kinder than most crowds treat a closer who blows a save. After he gave up an RBI single to tie the game in the 9th, the crowd gave Mr. Gagne a standing ovation as he hung his head. • American football likes to boast of its television audience, but this summer, Europeans showed why soccer remains the world sport. Almost 150 million viewers tuned in across Europe to watch Greece knock off Portugal, 1-0, in the finals of this year's Euro Cup. • At some point in this year's baseball all-star game, Houston ace Roger Clemens will take the hill and pitch to one of his greatest enemies. "I'm sure it will be totally professional," NL starting catcher Mike Piazza said. Mr. Clemens and Mr. Piazza have had their share of confrontation: In 2000, Mr. Clemens caused a stir when he beaned the Mets catcher. Later that October, the right-hander chucked a broken bat at Mr. Piazza.

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