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Special to Black Voice News

CALIFORNIA – What a week on the California sports scene!

Shaquille O’Neal was traded back to Florida as Lamar Odom was traded from Florida back to Los Angeles.

When this column went to print, Vlade Divac, replaced by O’Neal eight years ago in the Los Angeles Lakers lineup, was set to return to the Lakers from the Sacramento Kings to replace O’Neal on Tuesday. Fan favorite Derek Fisher has left the Lakers to become one of three or four point guards in the Golden State Warriors camp.

Kobe Bryant signed a seven year deal with the Lakers as the Clippers fought to the end for the rights to Bryant while restricted free agent Clipper Quentin Richardson has signed an offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns.

Former Laker and now former Los Angeles Sparks coach Michael Cooper left the Sparks to become an assistant coach for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. At the same time, USC alum Karleen Thompson, co-coach of the Sparks, former Laker, former Laker interim head coach and former Laker assistant coach is rumored to be the front runner to replace Cooper long-term.

Southern California natives Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport slugged it out at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, with Davenport dethroning the two-time defending champion Williams. Davenport and Williams, along with Serena Williams, are also all entered in the JP Morgan Chase Open at Carson’s Home Depot Center. Tommy Haas defeated Nicolas Kiefer in the Mercedes-Benz Cup at UCLA on Sunday.

And the US Olympic Trials for Swimming and Track & Field were held in Long Beach. Veteran Gail Devers edged out UCLA alum Joanna Hayes in the 100m hurdles, as both qualified for the Olympic team and Marion Jones, having failed to qualify in the 100m and about to pull out of the 200m, reigned supreme in the long jump for her spot on the Olympic team.

At the same time, Maritza Correia was making history in her sport. By placing fourth in the 40m, Correia became the first Black woman to qualify for the US Olympic Swim Team.

"I'm amazed, I'm shocked, I'm happy," she said. "It's a great honor. I hope I'm one of many.

While 2000 Olympic 50m gold medalist Anthony Ervin downplayed being the first Black man to qualify four years ago, Correia would like to take a different approach.

"I don't think it's the main focus, but if I can use it to my advantage, I will," she said.

Advantage California, as there has not been an eventful week like this since, oh yeah, a few weeks ago when O’Neal demanded to be traded, Phil Jackson was released as Lakers coach, Fisher, Bryant, and Karl Malone declared for free agency and Gary Payton decided to stay, all at once.

A Cinque Carter can be reached at accarter@hgstar1news.

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