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Original Issue

The Numbers Game

It's not just what you score but also what you wear
Author:

LAMAR ODOM
Lakers forward

"I GOT ITbecause my grandmother used to go to Atlantic City and [gamble]. You know,lucky number 7," says Odom, who has worn the number since his NBA debutwith the Clippers, in 1999. "Plus it's God's number. God made the world insix days and rested on the seventh. It's spiritual. When I got to Miami [in2003], nobody had the number, but Brian Cook had it when I got to the Lakers[in '04]. I told him what it meant to me, and I gave him cash. You're supposedto do that [when you take someone's number]. That's like NBA policy."

CHRIS WEBBER
Pistons forward

WEBBER worenumber 4 at each of his four stops in the NBA—until he came to Detroit on Jan.16. With the number retired for former guard and current Pistons president JoeDumars, Webber drew inspiration from his seven-year-old nephew, Colton. "Isaid I was coming to Detroit, and he said, 'Get number 84,'" Webberrecalls. "I said, 'Why?' and he said, 'Because you'll win.' He had a dreamI wore 84 and won a game. I told Joe D, and he said, 'You better wear 84.' Ilove it. Also, it's a football number. I played tight end [at Detroit CountryDay School]."

SHAQUILLEO'NEAL
Heat center

"IN COLLEGE[LSU] I wore 33 for Patrick Ewing," says O'Neal. "I wanted it inOrlando, but Terry Catledge wanted to sell it for $50,000. I was not payingthat. So I went with 32. With the Lakers, I couldn't have 32 because of Magic,or 33 [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar]. I took 34. Here, I wanted 33, but Zo"—centerAlonzo Mourning, who also wears 33 for Ewing—"was coming back. So I took32." Why not stay with his Lakers digits? Shaq, bitter at being dealt byL.A., says, "I didn't go with 34 because 34 was stabbed in the back in LosAngeles."

The Pop CultureGrid

How do sports stars fit in?

When I see ____, I change the channel

Favorite website

In high school I was ...

The one talent I wish I had is ...

What's in my pockets right now

Star I'd like to dance with

DAN BOYLE
Lightning, D

Oprah

maxim.com

A skateboarder

Playing the guitar

Cellphone, car keys and money

Dolly Parton

JOEY GRAHAM
Raptors, F

Commercials

foodnetwork.com

Studious

I don't know; I'm pretty talented

My wallet and a hair brush

Paula Patton

JOHN LACKEY
Angels, P

Anna Nicole Smith

hitting.com

A mess

The ability to ride 50-foot waves

The Billabong wallet

Jessica Alba

ERIC BYRNES
D-Backs RF

Oprah

I can barely work my computer

Real skinny

Playing the guitar

Nothing

Carrie Underwood (above)

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GREG NELSON (ODOM NUMBER)

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JOHN BIEVER (ODOM HEADSHOT)

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JEFF KOWALSKY/EPA (WEBBER NUMBER)

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SAM FORENCICH/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (WEBBER HEADSHOT)

TWO PHOTOS

JOHN BIEVER (O'NEAL)

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BILL WIPPERT (BOYLE)

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JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (GRAHAM)

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PAUL CONNORS/AP (LACKEY)

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ROY DABNER/AP (BYRNES)

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GEICO (GECKO)

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JENNIFER GRAYLOCK/AP (OPRAH)

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JENNIFER GRAD (GUITAR)

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KIRKLAND/AP (UNDERWOOD)

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