Let’s Just Play Hoops

Kurt —  October 2, 2007

It amazes me how many basketball writers — including some I highly respect — 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 — Kobe shows up and plays down the story.

To me Kobe’s actions follow logically out of Kobe the person — 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 can’t put the pieces around him (as they clearly promised him they would) then he’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.

• The Kamenetzky brothers from the LA Times Lakers Blog have started a new web site dedicated to Los Angeles sports — 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 — those guys do good work.

• And now for sometthing completely different: Friend of the site Jonesonthenba had dug up some great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe videos on Youtube, and reminds you that Earl and Magic had a similar flair.

Kurt

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43 responses to Let’s Just Play Hoops

  1. Loved the Earl Monroe stuff —
    By the time he got to New York he had toned down his game, but before that he was really something else. How about Earl and Elgin at their peak and on the same team. That would have been a show worth the price of current Laker courtside tickets. Not a lot of defense, but oh the show.

  2. My favorite part of media day? Seing Rich Buecher. The guy looked like 100 people just said “good call on Kobe never showing up for the Lakers again, buddy.” His face just looked so despondent.

  3. the other Stephen October 2, 2007 at 9:55 am

    it would have been nice for kobe to at least publicly drop in a small apology to bynum. bynum saying he didn’t even know what kobe had said about him sounds kind of off to me after hearing phil blast bynum for reading his press clippings all day last season. young un’s like me can be brittle, and you have to take care to build their confidence. true, it’s an honor to be equated, in a way, to jason kidd and jermaine o’neal, but that’s not the way people think.

  4. 3. To me, that’s a conversation that best happens man-to-man, not in or through the media.

  5. i dont see any of the pieces Kobe is requesting added to the roster. I also doubt much is in the works to change that. I think Kobe recognized he made his stand one year too early and is keeping quiet until next summer. I personally dont think he cares at this point if they add the key player he wants. If the team does not get off to a start like last year or there is an injury to a key player, the Lakers will implode. I hope it does not happen because one new key player can make this team a real contender, but without that key player, Kobes waves are going to get bigger.

  6. I believe Kobe did send an SMS to Drew saying he was sorry…

    Kobe has also mellowed on his stance saying stuff like “soldier” and “not for me to question what they do…”.

  7. It’s good to hear everyone saying the “right” things. Lamar had some good points saying defense is about everyone being on the same page and that is what happened at the beginning of the season. Hopefully they get back the chemistry and start things fresh.

    What is this about Jerry Buss being away from the team for 2 years???? Why would anyone let that happen, this franchise is worth hundreds of millions why would he step away and jeopardize the well being of his team?

    Hope Bynum recovers quickly, you hate to hear about a player that worked their butt of in the summer getting all the fans excited to see their progress. Only to have an injury in training camp or right before the season ie. (Brand and Stoudemire…well maybe not Stoudemire).

  8. 7. Jerry Buss is a very old man. Nearing retirement and is passing on the team to his son, Jim. Jeanie is already taking over most of the business aspect. SO hearing that he has not been around much for the last two years is not surprising. My guess is that he will/has talked to Jim and Kupchack to find out exactly what is going on. And if Jim is not allowing basketball people (Kupchack) make the basketball decisions that he will step in.

  9. Jimmy’s days are numbered…

  10. If I recall….there was a potential trade talked about for JKidd for Bynum…that occured prior to trade deadline last season. Kobe heard about the trade potential after the season eneded and was asked byt he fans (that filmed him that day) if he would have made that trade…All star point gaurd for a up and coming Center…Kobe reacted as we all know he did. But Ric Bucher is manipulating this story to seem as if Kobe proposed the trade…at least that is my interpritation of that piece from Bucher.

    I am excited about the season….if not for injury…they could have made the Western Conference Finals last year….they may not have the unbeliveable players…but they do have the Triangle…and Kobe!

  11. Rumor has it that Earl Monroe is the inspiration for the name of one of my personal favorites, Pearl Jam. They were called Mookie Blaylock until he told them he wasn’t keen on it. Their first album was 10, Mookie and Earl’s number. And although he didn’t do any dunking in the clip, when he did dunk it was called a “Pearl jam”…

  12. Why is KB lying about contacting Andrew to apologize about his derragatory comments against him? AB clearly said he was never contacted him…and you wonder why this guy is dispised by fans throughout the nation…I can’t wait til the 4-12 start!

  13. Just what we need on this site – another Kobe hater! Whewww!

  14. hey guys..here’s the fantasy league info

    http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/nugs
    league name: That’s How I roll
    password: ronmexico
    league number: 49985

    6 or less people will be playing from my side..so thats a solid 10-14 spots open..let me know if you have any problems! thanks again for letting me abuse the comments Kurt..and if you join, don’t worry every league needs an Atlanta Hawks to boost the schedule..

  15. Lawlers Law- This site prides itself in accepting viewpoints from all basketball fans, including Clipper fans. The guy you say is despised around the nation is in fact loved around the globe (right or wrong) that is exhibited by his leading the all-star voting, the lakers being the biggest road draw in the league, and kobe hopping a jet from country to country to hoards of screaming people. Regardless of all that, all that really matters to me is what takes place on the court, and nobody will know until the season starts. Me, I’ll stick with my team, if I were you I’d be crying myself to sleep with the thought of Tim Thomas as my starting 4, but hey, to each his own

  16. Ah. Came here looking for some more Lamar quotes and info from media day. Thanks. Great to here he’s at least feeling great and will be ready to start playing around opening day.

    I can’t believe there weren’t any big shakeups this summer, with everybody throwing a conniption fit and all. Boy am I happy.

  17. maybe John R has changed his monniker to lawler’s law…(whatever that means)..no, John R usually has more back up…but he does like to claim someone’s guilty or lying no matter what the legal system says.
    by the way, how does one “know” someone’s lying so certainly…if they are not that person, or close to the source.

  18. I love how sports radio is just swamped with morons talking about “Kobe lied, he didn’t text Bynum…”, and “No wonder his teammates don’t trust him…” blah blah blah.

    People really love to get obsessed and enfuriated over off court speculation, and drama that is absolutely MEANINGLESS.

    Can’t wait to see the team out on the court.

    … Not interested in what’s happening in Britney Spears life either.

  19. Lawler’s (Clipper announcer) law is first team to 100 points usually wins.

  20. 19. That’s not going to be the Clippers very often this season.

  21. 18- i totally agreee with you. Thats why FBG is the best laker site, because its hoop-centric, leave the other stuff to the rest of ‘em.

    kurt- What do you think about starting Ronny at the 4 and moving Lamar to the 3, bringing Luke off the bench?

  22. 21. Kwame, I found that idea interesting when you posted it yesterday. I like the idea in that it gives us some added toughness inside and makes the front line more athletic, and I think Walton would be a perfect 6th man.

    My few other thoughts: 1) I love Turiaf coming off the bench because he injects energy to an at time sagging team and game, and we’d miss that because Walton brings a lot but not that manic energy; 2) Clearly Turiaf would have to play his way into that spot in camp, he has to earn it; 3) He has to pick up fewer fouls — he averaged 7.4 fouls per 40 minutes last year, which is just way too many for a starter, you get the team into the penalty too fast.

  23. i have been grining ear to ear all day…man…Basketball is about to start…

    I cant wait to see Mihm inside again too….he seemed liek he really understood his postiion in the Triangle in the 05′-06′ season…it just seemed that no one else understood where they were supposed to be…except Kobe of course. I think a year off and letting every one else play a lot more and understand the offense will only help the team over all. Plus…Chris was a decent defender and wasnt afraid to play hard…something it seems that KB and Bynum are apprehensive to do at times…Bynum did check Shaq on Christmas…but that was almost 2 years ago and we have not seen that fire since really.

  24. the other Stephen October 2, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    4. Kurt, I think so too, but sometimes that’s not how things work out. I guess it depends.

  25. 24, its true..i remember vaguely hearing something about a trade demand over the offseason but thankfully the media never blew it up

    21/22…I don’t think Odom can handle playing D at the 3

  26. 25. Odom’s length causes a lot of problems for threes, and he keeps them off the boards and from doing other things. To go to the numbers (and these are a little skewed because Odom played little time at the three last year) but opposing threes shot 51% (eFG%) against him but had a PER of just 13.4, while opposing fours shot 50.4% and had a PER of 17.4.

    Bottom line, I don’t think we lose much, especially since he takes over for Walton, who is not a good one-on-one defender.

  27. Lawler’s law is this stupid rule that Ralph Lawler has about the first team to 100 winning the game. The 05 Rudy T lakers had a bout 10 games where they got to 100 points before the other team, only to lose. So I don’t know how accurate that law is.

  28. One problem with LO playing the 4 is that he is far more likely to get injured. All things being equal, I would rather see LO at the 3, even if it means he isn’t as effective defensively. We need him healthy too much to let him bang against the big 4’s.

  29. I agree I like Odom at the 3 as well. The problem is that other than Odom the Lakers do not have anyone that can start at the 4. Turiaf, is better of the bench as an energy guy and he fouls too often. Kwame never understood the position and has played better at the 5.

  30. Hey everyone I just want to let you know that I told you guys first even before John Hollinger who agrees with my assesment of the Houston Rockets.

    He says tehy will go 61-21 and be 1st in west and will win the Larry O Brian

    what do u got to say now Warren? I would really like to know oh by the way he has the lakers going 43-39 and being 7th in west like i said also. Man they should pay me to write these articles

  31. If Bynum’s production becomes more and more consistent as the season goes on, perhaps it would be wise to trade with Minny and their aging role players for Kwame. This would enable Odom to play the 3 on a more consistent basis too.

  32. even though it’s too late i’m surprised the Lakers didn’t go after PJ Brown..he could probably be had cheap and seems like the type of player Phil Jackson would like

  33. Goo- I agree Odom isn’t the best defender at the 3, but as Kurt and Ryan pointed out, he gets injured at the 4, and Walton isn’t exactly Bruce Bowen at the 3. If we could find a way to split the minutes at 4 with Ronny for toughness and Vlad for offensive spacing, we may be able to get Odom into the playoffs healthy, something we will need to advance.

    Jayson- I disagree with most things Hollinger says, he has continually refused to show Kobe love, he has a personal vendetta against, Notwithstanding that, how can anyone have faith in the Rockets, Ming and McGrady have never made it past the first round, Steve Francis has never made it out of the first round, their top 2 guys are injury-orone, Bonzi Wells is a loose cannon. I mean, I like that team on paper, but with a new coach, and a soft-as-puddy leadership duo, I’m gonna have to see them do it on the court first.

  34. I agree with the Rockets thing… can’t figure why Holly puts so much faith in the Rockets + Scola. I think Steve Francis is washed up and shifting your play style from defense to offense? Not a minor change.

    Bonzi Wells is by no means becoming the comeback kid of the year… nor will Steve Francis be. I still think they are quite strong the way they’re built but a meltdown is very possible – more possible than a Laker 4-12 start!

  35. Yea, I don’t get all the Rockets love either. Don’t get me wrong, they have a good team, but I don’t see how adding Scola and Francis takes them above the Spurs, Suns, or Mavs. Not sure if they’re that much better than the Jazz either.

    @Goo (32): I’ve been preaching that LA should go after PJ Brown for awhile now. I don’t get that either. It would seem to me that that would be the best move the Lakers could have done given no one would trade them a PF. I mean, Brown helps in two key areas, interior defense and rebounding, both of which we need. Whether or not he would actually sign with the Lakers isn’t the point; they still should have made an honest attempt to lure him West.

  36. Jayson,

    Until the Rockets make it past the 1st round shall I seed them higher than Utah and Dallas. Yao is good, but he is still soft. Tmac, well, never past the 1st round. He’s got balls of steel but I’m guessing no heart. I love how the guy plays, but till he proves he is clutch, he will not earn my respect like I have for Duncan, Kobe, KG and yes, even Iverson.

    As for the Lakers, Kurt said it best. No margin for error and 6th-7th is about right. I, however, the forever optimistic, secretly seed them at 5th going 4th. Hmmmm. Can’t explain this one yet, but in time, if my theory pans right, we’ll all see. 8th seed finish is not far from the possibilities as well.

  37. Chise – I think CWebb and PJ Brown are looking for that mid-level money to retire on. They aren’t getting it due to age, but they can both be very productive given the right circumstances.

    PJ Brown is someone who might consider playing in LA. He has no shot at a ring elsewhere unless its Phoenix he actually chooses and the Suns are not spending the dough. Can’t understand why they could pay Kwame 9M and not PJ 1M? I believe Kwame’s contract could have been pre-terminated this year?

  38. Kwame’s could have been terminated this year if they hadn’t picked up the 3rd year team option already. I think they picked it up right after the 7 game series against the Suns in 2006.

  39. They only have about 1M left that could be spent, right; I doubt that Brown would come for that.

  40. Does everyone realize that Radman was projected as a Center when he was drafted into this league. I think he would be great depth at PF.

    I like our lineup like this:

    PG: Fisher/Farmar/Critt
    SG: Kobe/Evans
    SF: Odom/Walton
    PF: Turiaf/Radman
    C: Bynum/Kwame/Mihm

    If you look at it like this, we have really nice depth on this team. AND the ability to shift from big man basketball to small ball.

    Not too shabby.

  41. Kurt, It also amazes me how lack of common sense or logic many basketball pundits are. It’s predictable taht Kobe shows up and his teammates, knowing Kobe’s competitive nature, won’t take his trade demand personal. Some sports types just like to overreact or to act to stir the pot.

  42. I read that LO practiced his right hand dribbles. A good sign that he’s willing to adjust a bit. Now to practicing more consistent mid range jumpers.

    Mihm and Kwame all mentioned they might be riquired to play some PF minutes. Mihm is probably capable of doing so, not much faith in Kwame, he can’t even finish layups.

  43. Carter- that is the lineup I’ve been throwing out this week too. I like the idea of having Odom banging around other teams 3’s, instead of other teams 4’s banging him around