Archives For November 2004

One for the Little Guy

 —  November 26, 2004

In a world where more and more people get their news from television and the internet — news that is focused on national and international stories — smaller, local-focused newspapers are growing because people still are hungry for news about what is happening in their neighborhood.

Papers such as the Palisades Post in Pacific Palisades. Recently it published a Q&A with Vlade Divac, who apparently never sold his home in that area, even afer he left to play the middle of the state. Nothing really earth shattering, but here are some highlights:

PP: Who is the best player you’ve played with in your career?

VD: I guess if I had to pick one guy I’d say Magic Johnson. He was a great leader and he made everyone on his team better. That’s what I expect now from Kobe. He’s capable of being that same type of player and he’s going to have to be if we’re going to be successful.

PP: What is the best team you’ve played on in the NBA?

VD: Probably my second season with the Lakers in 1990-91. We got to the finals and lost to the Chicago Bulls but that team still had Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Byron Scott, A.C. Green and [current Lakers’ radio analyst] Mychal Thompson. Those Kings teams of a few years ago come close, but I’d have to say that Laker team was better because we accomplished the most.

Hmmm, Turkey

 —  November 24, 2004

Here’s a few quick thoughts before the tryptophan wipes my mind blank for 48 hours:

* Trivia question: What former Laker guard has the most blocked shots in his career? Answer at the end of this entry.

* I didn’t get to see last night’s win, so I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts about the game.

What jumped out at me off the stat page was holding Michael Redd to six points, 18 below his average, an amazing defensive feat, by both Kobe and the Lakers as a team.

* Everyone, it seemed, expected yesterdays move Sasha put on the injured list to make room for Jumaine Jones return. But the move to put Brian Grant on the list to make room for Vlade was more of a surprise. That said, I think it’s a smart move.

Grant really hasn’t found his place yet — I pictured him in the role many people see Karl Malone filling, a veteran guy inside who could grab rebounds and play good defense, letting the young guns do their thing. Problem is Grant is a natural power forward who has has been asked to play center until Vlade returned, and he has been below average in that role (a PER of 12.6, when the average is 15, while opponents PER against him is 19.5). Grant admitted his knees are bothering him. Maybe, with time off, he can come back and play up front with Vlade and fill in the role we envisioned for him.

* Unfortunately, Grant being out keeps Lamar Odom at the four. He’d be better off at the three, with Butler coming off the bench.

* What NBA player is the most valuable to his team so far this season? Kobe, according to the statistics.

Over at 82 Games they have what is called the Roland Rating, a system that shows how important specific players are to their teams, based on how that team performs with said player on and off the court.

The early 2004-2005 season stats are out and Kobe is on top of the list. Not really a surprise, but the stats back up the perception.

* Trivia question answer: Ron Harper, who played his last two NBA seasons with the Lakers, has 729 for his career. If you were thinking who has the most as a Laker, that’s Michael Cooper with 523. (Thanks to Hoops Analyst for doing some research.)

* Thanksgiving means I get to spend my day like my five-month-old daughter spends all of hers: Eat, pass out, repeat. I can’t wait.

Enjoy the holiday and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hall, But We’ll Pass

 —  November 23, 2004

Karl Malone was on the radio today saying he is physically ready to play, but is still working on getting mentally 100% ready after the death of his mother. I hope he he can work through this and, when ready, return to the NBA if he feels he can still contribute.

Malone also said he was looking at the Lakers and seeing where he would best fit. I hope he looks closely, because I think he’d fit best somewhere else — bringing him into the Laker mix will stunt this team’s growth.

We’re talking about a 41-year-old player coming of knee surgery who didn’t run the court all that well the past couple of years anyway, that spent his career on teams that wanted to play half-court basketball. That is not this Laker team.

Yes, he can still score. Yes, he is still a strong presence inside and will grab rebounds. Yes, he is a veteran presence in the locker room. After years of disliking him and the Jazz, he has grown on me after just a season in a Laker uniform (maybe because he could be counted on to show up and play hard every game last year, something no one else seemed able to do).

But this is a young Laker team that needs to learn to gel on and off the court, that wants to play an uptempo style, that needs to grow into being Kobe’s team. While Malone would not be a negative addition short term he is really a detour on the road to long-term success for this team, in reaching the goals listed above.

If Karl is serious about coming back to get a ring before heading off to the Hall of Fame, he should play half a season in San Antonio this year. There are plenty of other places he could fit in as well (Utah?).

But for the Lakers, this is a poor fit.

Commenting Change

 —  November 23, 2004

I have made a change and switched to the more user-friendly Haloscan commenting tool for this blog. Your comments on old posts remain, just check out the archive page for that item (click the # next to the end of the entry).

If there are problems with the new system, as I had in the past (upgrades have allegedly fixed the issues I had), please let me know. Or, if you like it, put it in the comments. Thanks.

Staples Center Melee?

 —  November 22, 2004

Would it happen at the Staples Center? Could it?

Through the avalanche of coverage of the stupidity and lack of self control on display in Auburn Hills the other night, those and similar questions were the ones I kept asking myself. Could things get out of control like that Staples Center? Would fans near the court throw beer (or whatever) on players here in Los Angeles? Would fans run on the court here? Is there enough security at Staples?

My gut reaction is that it couldn’t happen here, but I’m not completely sold that is the case.

First off, I wouldn’t try to predict how Laker or other players would react at Staples if the situation arose, I don’t know them. The question we can probe more is would the players have been provoked in the same way here in L.A.?

I’d like to think that Laker fans wouldn’t act in the atrocious manner a handful of Piston fans did, but that’s based in part on me not being able to picture myself acting that way. There are plenty of liquored-up people sitting near the floor at Staples who possibly could lose it and throw the $8 Coors Light (of course, if those people get a drop of beer on Jack Nicholson they’ll never work in this town again).

I want to convince myself there are other reasons that Laker fans wouldn’t act that way. That starts with the overall perception that fans here in Los Angeles are a little more mellow than other parts of the nation. We love our teams, we fill the buildings, but we are not the “fanatics” that you see in other parts of the nation. And with that mellowness would come fans that are less likely to be as boorish as what we saw in Michigan.

Thing is, Los Angeles fans can act poorly. There were small riots after the Laker championships. And lest you think Los Angeles fans wouldn’t act that way during a game, remember the 1995 incident at Dodger Stadium where the Dodgers had to forfeit after fans pelted the field with baseballs following a disputed call.

Another factor is that it costs so much to sit near the floor at Staples (at least $130 to be close, $200 in the really good seats, and if you have to ask the price of court-side…) that people wouldn’t risk being tossed. People that pay that much are less likely to react physically, is my assumption underlying that thought. Problem is there is no proof to back that up — rich people are just as likely to be violent as any other people (just look at domestic violence numbers). Plus it isn’t cheap to sit near the floor for a Piston game ($115 to be on or near the floor, $85 in the next level up), and those people clearly can act like buffoons.

Another issue is security — there appears to be plenty at Staples near the court during games. (Laker officials said they did not add security for the Bulls game, insert your own joke here about nobody caring to show up for the Bulls game.) How good Laker security is in that situation is tough for me to judge, just because I’ve never seen it tested.

So, could it happen here? I’d still like to think it couldn’t, but…..