HONOLULU (AP) -Hey, Kobe! Or is it Coby?
It can sure get puzzling in the Los Angeles Lakers' training now that Coby Karl is there with Kobe Bryant.
``I've been called Kobe II, Karl, Coby Karl,'' Karl said. ``Kobe calls me Coby. But the confusion comes when someone else says it, and he looks and I look. For the most part, I know who they're talking to, but he has to get used to having another Coby around.''
Karl, son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, said Lakers coach Phil Jackson slipped once and called him ``George.''
``I've been called 'Little George' and 'Little Karl' before, but that's the first time I've been specifically called 'George,''' he said. ``But I knew who he was talking to, so it's all good.''
Derek Fisher said things can get mixed up, but so far the two players have been on different teams during camp.
``And there's a clear difference between one and the other,'' he said.
Luke Walton said he hasn't had a problem.
``When the first team comes out, you're talking about Kobe. When red team comes out, you're talking about Coby Karl,'' Walton said. ``He's playing great right now. He's a smart player and a lot of fun to have on the team.''
Karl is named after his father's close friend and former San Antonio Spurs teammate, Coby Dietrick.
The undrafted free agent out of Boise State is fighting for a roster spot and is one of four players in camp without a guaranteed contract. The Lakers have 14 players under contract and have the option of adding one more.
Karl, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 12.2 points in five games for the Lakers' summer league team. He averaged 14.8 points and 4.0 assists as a senior at Boise State last season and was voted first team All-Western Athletic Conference. He is the Broncos' career leader in games played (127) and 3-pointers made (266) and ranks third with 1,698 points.
``I'm not going to change anything I've done. Try to be unselfish and help the team in whatever way I can,'' he said. ``Hopefully I can knock down some shots because I think that's what they're looking for specifically.''
Jackson repeatedly said he's been impressed with Karl's shooting ability. Karl is competing with guards Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar and Javaris Crittenton, the 19th overall pick in the NBA draft.
However, he's taken on big challenges before.
In April, Karl underwent a seven-hour operation to remove cancerous lymph nodes. It was his second procedure in 13 months.
``Right now, everything is OK,'' Karl said. ``Doctors have said nothing's wrong, but I just go day-to-day on that because I said that about a year ago, too. ... Then I had to go into surgery.''
Karl was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, a form of treatable cancer, in January 2006 and his thyroid was removed after his junior season. He also underwent chemotherapy, but the cancer returned.
Karl said he would never blame cancer as a reason for not being drafted, but acknowledged teams may have shied away.
``Cancer is a scary thing and they were questioning whether I would be a valuable asset to their organization,'' he said.
But these dark days have some compensation.
``I've gone through adversity and I bounced back,'' he said. ``I'm stronger for it.''
When first told he would need surgery, Karl's initial thought was that ``my dreams might go down the drain.''
``That was the scariest thing for me,'' he said.
Now, those dreams are in reach, with an outside chance to make the Lakers.
``Every day I understand how lucky I am to be here,'' he said. ``To be here today, playing with some of the best players in the world in a great organization, is a great blessing.''
Before coming to Hawaii, Fisher made it a point to tell Karl he felt privileged to be his teammate. That's because Fisher knows how devastating cancer can be.
``I feel honored to be working with a guy like that - someone who would fight through cancer and all those obstacles to be here,'' Fisher said.
Last spring, Fisher left the Utah Jazz briefly during the playoffs because his young daughter, Tatum, was being treated for cancer in the left eye.
After helping the Jazz reach the Western Conference finals, Fisher asked for his release so he could concentrate on finding her the best medical care.
Fisher, who in the offseason signed a three-year, $14 million with the Lakers, said he doesn't fully understand what Karl endured because he personally hasn't had cancer.
``I can only imagine the work and commitment he's put in to get to this point,'' he said. ``So he's a champion no matter what he does in this camp or the rest of the season. He's proven himself beyond belief to be here.''

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