Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  September 12, 2006

I haven’t forgotten about this blog, promise. There are some good posts coming later this week and down the line, but I’ve always tried not to write something just for the sake of having fresh drivel up on the site. That said, while I may not be writing other people are, so let me point you to some interesting stuff:

• UPDATE: Roland Lazenby continues to be the journalist around the Lakers we can most count on for insight into the team. His latest blog post does this in a couple ways, first providing some background to the well known dislike between Tex Winter and Shaq:

The serious breech between the assistant coach and Shaq didn’t come until the 2004 season when O’Neal out of nowhere told Winter to “shut the f*** up” during a team film session. A stunned Winter said that never in lengthy coaching career had a player been so extremely disrespectful. In fact, Winter has long been known for earning the respect and allegiance of an array of players, from the most difficult (Dennis Rodman) to the most hard-headed (Kobe Bryant).

O’Neal’s behavior in the 2004 incident is noteworthy for several reasons. First, O’Neal always describes himself as someone who respects his elders. That’s pretty much a self-promoting crock.

Second, Phil Jackson wrote a supposed “inside” book on the season, which was really a document aimed at cementing Jackson’s political position with the team. Strange that Jackson devoted so much ink to his allegation that Kobe Bryant was “uncoachable,” yet somehow he managed to avoid telling his readers the details of the major incident involving O’Neal.

Also, Lazenby talks about a new article he did on the death of defense by referring to how Joe Dumars shut down Jordan in the 1990 playoffs.

Asked in July if he could defend Jordan under today’s interpretation of the rules, Dumars first laughed, then offered a long pause before replying, “It would have been virtually impossible to defend Michael Jordan based on the way the game’s being called right now.”

I’ll be buying a copy of Lindy’s soon.

• Eric Marentette used to have a Portland Trailblazer blog at Oregonlive, but left it this summer — to work for Kobe Bryant. Via True Hoop:

KB is starting up his own company to market himself, since there’s currently a severe lack of Kobe-related products and information, and he’s hired away Eric to head up his new website, which supposedly will have something to do with Kobe’s number change. Eric will be working hands-on, with Kobe Bryant, on all things Kobe Bryant.

To me, this makes a lot of sense. You see other major athletes like Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds taking steps to control the marketing of their name and image. Bringing it “in-house” strikes me as a smart business move by Kobe. And, somehow, he’s the one guy I’m not worried about this being a distraction from his on-the-court responsibilities.

• Does playing in international summer competition — say, the recent World Championships in Japan — mean a drop off in the next NBA season for the players who go?

It’s been a long-discussed and disputed theory, but Kevin Pelton took up the idea for 82games and found:

There does seem to be a slightly higher probability of minor, nagging injuries for the players who participated on USA Basketball, but this effect is mild at best.

While there is always the concern of what happened to Pau Gasol at that tournament, sending guys to play for Team USA does not generally seem to mean less games the next year. Check out the whole article for yourself.

Kurt

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13 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. “Second, Phil Jackson wrote a supposed “inside” book on the season, which was really a document aimed at cementing Jackson’s political position with the team. Strange that Jackson devoted so much ink to his allegation that Kobe Bryant was “uncoachable,” yet somehow he managed to avoid telling his readers the details of the major incident involving O’Neal.”

    Hmmm… page 233?

    And if the book was designed to cement his political reputation, wouldn’t he have spent it going after O’Neal who was probably on the way out, and not Bryant?

  2. Maybe he wanted O’neal to stay instead of Bryant?

  3. Perhaps. It seems a little far-fetched though. I dunno, this just smells like trying to create a Laker-friendly story when there really isn’t one there.

  4. Look! Phil has a history of leaking information and ‘inside’ books. I just think this is now to be expected. I seriously doubt Phil thought he might come back to the Lakers. However, I also think a lot of his information was written before he left the Lakers.

    Think about it. Phil was astonished Buss supported Kobe when he said ‘him or me’ and then went out and somewhat ‘made up’ with Kobe for the rest of the ’04 season. I doubt the ‘dislike’ went away that spring and suspect that’s when he started writing a book – when to publish would be determined by his Laker situation. When it ended he just finished the book.

    That’s my take anyway.

  5. I’m jumping to the Lazenby piece on defense in the NBA: Dumars was being too kind in his analysis. When a guard can blow by a defender, slap the defender in the belly with his arm and then get the foul called on the defender, something is wrong with the NBA. When this happens in a critical game in the Finals, something is dangerously wrong with the NBA. My ire has died down some by this point but at the time the stank officiating of the “new rules” had me disgusted.

    If NBA fans didn’t enjoy defense, we’d watch games of HORSE. Defense is part of the game, and I hope Mr. Stern realizes that sooner rather than later.

  6. The rules as currently interpreted are incredibly faulty. Watching Wade in his first few international attempts was comedy gold. Travel. Travel. Fall on his ass no-call. Travel. Fall on his ass no-call. Ladies and Gentlemen your Finals MVP.

    I for one find it distasteful. But if we do go back you can pretty much write-off the Suns and Mavericks as real title contenders and lotterize any team that counts on one superstar constantly getting superstar calls so the Wizards, Cavaliers, Sixers, Celtics and Lakers would be in trouble. Though Philly and Boston obviously missed the playoffs last year anyway.

  7. Defense builds superstars, whether they are the best offensive player in the league, being unstoppable by the toughest standards, or the best defensive player in the league, shutting down all who try to score. In my opinion, Stern should not have relaxed the rule to produce scoring. All it has done is dumb down the game and taken away the motivation for the superstars to step up. Let us all celebrate the achievement of mediocrity, because unless the best can perform at the highest level, they should not be considered for legendary status. I’m thankful that I was able to watch basketball at it’s apex.
    Lowering the bar does not help this league, it only hurts the quality of the play. Next thing you know, they’ll lower the rim, because not enough of the 6 feet and under guys want to start dunking all the time in games. Maybe we should move the free throw line closer too. I’m sure it will increase the percentage. MJ, Magic, Bird, Barkley, Isiah strived to be the best when the NBA was at it’s best. Don’t you get tired of guys claiming to the best in a league that’s almost second rate? I, for one, want to see the cream rise to the top, so that the best of the best can truly be admired for greatness.

  8. You’re right Andrew. I for one feel that the best way to play basketball would be to hybridize it with guerilla warfare. Place some landmines at various places on the court. Give the players ak-47s, then we will really see who the great one is. No doubt MJ, Magic and Bird would have killed in that setting because of their quest for greatness.

    Even if scoring has been made easier it doesn’t mean that the level of competition has decreased. These are still the best athletes, most of them have incredible work ethics, and what they go out and do on that court is still incredible (unless you happen to be watching the Hawks or the Knicks).

  9. Andrew, can you explain how making the NBA less physical has “dumb(ed) down the game”?

  10. By the way, I made comments #1 and #3… but comment #7 is apparently someone else who shares my first name. I’ll add an initial from now on.

  11. Great discussion, folks.
    For the article, Rick Barry told me that the old timers are talking about how many points they would score under today’s system.
    There are things about the new way of calling the game that Barry detests, but he thinks the thuggery, the physical defense, had to be reined in.
    Dumars, Thorn and Winter agreed on one thing: Now that the suits in the NBA front office have got a formula for increasing scoring, there won’t be any turning back.
    Thorn and Dumars said the players, coaches and GMs will have to adjust to the new rules. Suddenly it has put a premium on extremely quick guards who can stay in front of the guy they’re guarding without fouling. Dumars moved ahead of some other slow-to-react GMs by signing a guy like Flip Murray, because of how well he moves his feet.

    Roland Lazenby
    author of The Show

  12. Andrew,
    Don’t include MJ in the group of ‘greats when the NBA was great’. It was MJ who occasioned the slide from more physical basketball and his best ‘team’ years came as the league started tightening the screws on defensive fouls.

    This doesn’t say MJ wasn’t great, just that he was in on that ‘downhill slide’ to mediocrity.

    Yes, the game needed to be reigned in – I was a Laker fan throughout the ’80s – but the emphasis on the individual and ESPN has led to a ‘streeball’ mentality by the players. I suspect this is one reason the triangle is becoming harder to teach.

    Incidentally, Rroland’s last comment is telling. This change in the games leaves out almost ALL older guards and established stars when considering defense. Remember the Lakers problems were on defense last year. Mitch’s ‘low risk, high reward’ signings may be part of the wave of the future. In 3/4 years we could be saying what a genius he is. Opps, I forgot, for Los Angeles Mitch – like Kobe nationwide – can’t do anything right because he followed Jerry West. You know Gene Bartow was a really crummy coach – he only got UCLA into the tournement, but didn’t win it.

  13. The Lakers had problems on defense last season. Last season the “new rules” were in effect. So I’m not sure how the switch to the new rules is going to make the Lakers defense better on its own.