It amazes me how many basketball writers â€” including some I highly respect â€” seemed almost surprised that Kobe spoke general platitudes when he showed up (30 minutes late) for media day. Even if you were just half paying attention for the last few weeks, it was pretty clear this is what was going to happen â€” Kobe shows up and plays down the story.
To me Kobeâ€™s actions follow logically out of Kobe the person â€” he loves basketball and he is highly competitive. First off, he would not disrespect the sport by not showing up or not giving it is all when he did.
He is loyal to the Lakers, but he is more loyal to winning. He wants a real shot at another ring, ideally in Los Angeles but if they canâ€™t put the pieces around him (as they clearly promised him they would) then heâ€™ll go somewhere that they can. He felt the Lakers were moving too slowly to get championship pieces, so he put some pressure on the front office (and when the front office seemed oblivious to said pressure he kept turning up the heat until things boiled over).
But while Kobe was the top story everywhere, there was some actual news hidden at the bottom of the stories. Credit to the Daily News blog for info and transcripts. That starts with less than ideal news about injuries:
Andrew Bynum has a strained muscle in the back of his knee and will be out of practice for the next couple days. Lamar Odom said his shoulder feels great, but said he doesn’t expect to play in any preseason games in Hawaii.
Then there was this quote from Kobe when asked about talking to Jerry Buss:
Well, what I understand about Jerry, from the stuff people have been telling me, is that he’s kind of been out of the loop for the last two years, for just to see how the organization would run, or what have you. My understanding is that he’s kind of going to be back in the mix now.
Lamar Odom said he expects to be ready for opening night. As for the defense, he thinks that will improve:
Yeah, but I think that was due to injuries. Like I said, we were 23-10 and we were defending the ball really well. You have to if you’re 23-10. When you lose guys, that hurts camaraderie and camaraderie is a big part of defense, especially on the court.
Luke Walton is optimistic and is not worried about team chemistry:
So like I said, I’ve learned from being in L.A. that the best way to deal with the off-season is to get away, work on your own game and come back fresh and ready to play. That’s what I did, and hopefully that’s what some other guys did, and we’ll be ready to get after it in a couple weeks.
Interesting stuff. But all I really just want to see the team play some good basketball.
â€¢ The Kamenetzky brothers from the LA Times Lakers Blog have started a new web site dedicated to Los Angeles sports â€” from the highs of USC football to, well, the lows of Grady Little. (Who sticks around for another year to make sure the youngsters don’t get a chance, I guess.) Great site well worth checking out and making a regular stop â€” those guys do good work.
â€¢ And now for sometthing completely different: Friend of the site Jonesonthenba had dug up some great Earl â€œThe Pearlâ€ Monroe videos on Youtube, and reminds you that Earl and Magic had a similar flair.