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Kobe, Luke Spearhead Assistance For Laid-Off Team Staff

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The NBA lockout is no fun for anyone, but it's especially rough for the rank-and-file who make their living from the league. Most of these men and women are completely invisible to us. They're scouts, trainers, marketing people and the like, and amid our irritation at the work stoppage it's easy to forget they're out there, missing paychecks through no fault of their own.

Tonight the LA Times has a bit of good news on that front. Led by Kobe Bryant, Laker players have apparently chipped in a few bucks to help out a couple of the team's longtime video guys who've been laid off.

Kobe Bryant insisted on giving some of the team's playoff bonus to two members of the Lakers' video department whose contracts were not renewed after the season. Chris Bodaken and Patrick O'Keefe split about $65,000 of the Lakers' playoff bonus. . . .

"He always looks out for people who are lower on the totem pole," O'Keefe said.

Said Bodaken: "At the end of the day, he told us he was going to take care of us and he did, and that's not how most people in the world operate. He not only talks the talk. He walks it."

Cool. Good stuff. And Luke Walton personally went above and beyond.

Lakers reserve forward Luke Walton took an extra step after the season by providing individual financial gifts to members of the training staff.

"They're a huge part of our team," said Walton, who did not specify how much he gave. "When they got laid off, this was a way to let them know that we appreciate them. It was something to help them through what was already a tough time."

Hear, hear!