Lakers' Walker puts bite into fishing

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Lakers' Walker puts bite into fishing

March 14, 2001

By DAVE STREGE, The Orange County Register

Lakers forward Samaki Walker took the bait. Literally. Then he took a bite right out of a page from Showtime - Fishing Division.

"Samaki, look," said Patrick Friedman, 7, upon returning from the bait tank with an anchovy in hand.

Patrick is the son of Phil Friedman, whose 976-TUNA youth charter Friday featured 30 inner-city kids and a pair of Lakers players, Walker and guard Brian Shaw.

Along with the others, Walker watched in surprise as Patrick bit the anchovy's head off in what has become a favorite trick of his.

Everybody laughed.

Then Patrick looked at Walker and baited him, saying, "I dare you. I want to see you do it."

For 20 minutes, Walker hemmed and hawed. The others chanted his name, encouraging him to take the dare.

We should point out that Samaki in Swahili means "fish." What we don't know is whether Walker likes anchovies on his pizzas, but we can take an educated guess.

Anyway, Showtime arrived.

"OK Patrick, here goes," Walker said.

Fish Walker bit the head off of the anchovy. Then, quicker than he could score a driving layup, Walker went to the rail and spit it out. And couldn't you just hear Chick Hearn announcing, "The anchovy's off the pizza"?

To those who became a little squeamish at the sight, Phil Friedman quipped, "What's the matter, don't you like sushi?"

The incident might or might not make the off-day highlight film on the big screen on the scoreboard at Staples Center during a break of a future game.

But the fishing trip out of Redondo Sportfishing almost certainly will.

Walker and Shaw both enjoy fishing as a hobby, and both obviously enjoy kids.

"The fishing trip for the kids is a great thing, but to have a couple of the L.A. Lakers on board, these kids were just in heaven," Friedman said.

The players made sure each child got an autograph. They helped the kids bait hooks, cast and reel in fish. They laughed with them.

It was a little rough, so they fished King Harbor and caught a dozen bonito and several mackerel. Other catches included Johnny bass, whitefish, sculpin and perch.

"I didn't know what to expect from these guys, but I have never met two nicer human beings in a long time," Friedman said.

What a refreshing story: Professional athletes sharing a good time with kids. And daring to act like them.
 

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