March 9 was a beautiful, sunny Southern California Sunday, with tip-off at 12:30: Lakers vs. 76ers at Staples. Nearly 19,000 in attendance. A match between Kobe and Iverson, a test of Shaq’s returning game.

CAMP 93, Kuwait – Navy construction battalions are finalizing plans to quickly build camps in Iraq for thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war, in an effort that is also designed to keep Saddam Hussein from being able to claim that captured soldiers are being mistreated … Using aerial reconnaissance and other intelligence, Navy Seabees have already picked tentative locations for POW camps, although those plans could change depending on what happened on the battlefield.
–Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2003

The crowd is always the same. Penny Marshall with her baseball cap under the basket. Dyan Cannon wandering down behind the players. Barry Diller next to Jimmy Smits. And Jack, of course, though he was late. Church must have gone long. And thousands more of L.A.’s finest rising and falling stars and players and deal-makers, excruciatingly casually dressed.

FORT HOOD, Texas – Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division are coping not only with still being here while their equipment waits on ships off the coast of Turkey, they are faced with the challenge of keeping their fighting skills sharp.

“What you can’t do is let frustration get in the way of being ready,” said Col. Michael Moody, commander of the division’s 4th Brigade.

The 4th Brigade is the division’s aviation element. Pilots have been training on flight simulators since their helicopters were packed up and sent to the Middle East more than a month ago … Two weeks ago, Lt. Melissa Bailey, 25, sent her 8-year-old daughter Tatiana, and 5-year-old son Tyler, to live with the children’s father in Missouri because she thought she would have shipped out by now. “Now every day that goes by is a day I could have spent with them,” Lt. Bailey said. “I talk to them every night and we read them bedtimes stories over the telephone.”
–Washington Times, March 10, 2003

The Lakers have had a bizarre season, slowed by injuries to O’Neal and generally desultory play. The bickering has been a constant. But the real season is approaching and the cupboards are getting cleaned out. Kobe had a string of 40-point games, and now Shaq is back doing his thing. “Coach said something at halftime,” the Los Angeles Times quotes Iverson as saying. “He said he doesn’t understand why the Lakers don’t just throw him the ball every play. By not doing that, you allow teams the chance to keep playing with them. Just imagine if they kept throwing him the ball on every play. Nobody could do anything.”

Acting on leads from a captured al-Qaida operative, small teams of CIA paramilitary officials, Army Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team 6 commandos are searching for bin Laden along the borders with Afghanistan and Iran. Problem is, the new clues lead U.S. forces along with Pakistani soldiers and intelligence operatives, in all directions, to far flung places spread over hundreds of miles of mountainous and hostile territory.
–USA Today, March 10, 2003

Philly couldn’t keep it close, and the 106-92 final was achieved without a lot of sweat, though more than a few technical fouls. The Lakers moved up to the sixth rung on the playoff ladder, with time to move higher. The Laker Girls donned OzFest t-shirts and hawked Ozzie DVDs. The crowd thinned early. Plenty more to do on a sunny Sunday in California after having seen and been seen at the Lakers game.

CAMP CHAMPION MAIN, Kuwait – In a domed warehouse at this dusty Army camp, the paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division this weekend wrapped steamrollers, bulldozers and armored Humvees in cardboard to prepare for what their commander called their “bread-and-butter operation” – seizing and repairing enemy airfields in the first hours of conflict. … In an invasion of Iraq, the 82d Airborne, parachuting in from Air Force C-17 aircraft, along with the helicopter-borne 101st Airborne, is expected to play a crucial early role. The 101st Airborne might take over oil fields in northern Iraq, while the 82nd could secure landing strips anywhere in the country so the U.S.-led coalition could then fly-in large contingents of heavy armor.”
–Boston Globe, March 10, 2003

All told, just another Lakers game in just another NBA season. It is possible they could win their fourth title, though the odds are a little longer this year. The city is beginning to wind itself up for the playoff run, shaking off the winter months. The NCAA tourney will be an appetizer, and then the uphill battle to get the fourth ring gets under way. Should be interesting.


We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
–George Orwell



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