Are we tough enough?

Darius Soriano —  July 28, 2008

Kurt’s post about Riles really got me thinking.  It had me reminiscing about past Lakers glory, our current team, and taking the next step.  Riley was part of one of the most famous teams in Lakers lore…33 straight wins and a world championship.  They exemplified teamwork and player sacrifice for the greater good.  After thinking of that team, my mind drifted to the golden era of the 80’s….Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Cooper, McAdoo, Wilkes, Rambis, AC, Scott…I could literally go on forever.  I grew up on the execution and flare of those teams.  To me, that was how basketball was supposed to be played.  Fast breaks, excitement, the sky hook, high fives, the opposition laying collapsed in the wake of another Lakers tidal wave.  8 Finals appearances and 5 titles in a decade.  For any Lakers fan, the combination of the titles and the style of play made the 80’s the peak of our basketball fandom.  We were in heaven.  Then I think about the Shaq/Kobe teams.  Power and grace. Execution and turmoil.  (Two of) the best players in the league flanked by the types of veterans that championship trophies are crafted for.  We had the juggernaut at Center, the 2nd coming at Shooting Guard and players like Horry, Foxie, Fisher, Harper, and Shaw that made those teams the perfect blend of high profile talent and anonymous, yet deadly role players that would do anything to win.  But looking back on that specific team (and to some extent, the team that Riley was on too) made me realize that it wasn’t always so. We weren’t always the unstoppable bully.  We weren’t always the favorite.  There were doubters, and their voices were loud and piercing.

Think back to the seasons right before the Shaq/Kobe teams broke through for their first title.  Do you remember what they were saying about the Lakers?  We were soft.  Not soft physically, but soft mentally. In 1998, the great Michael Jordan would say:

“I still put Utah ahead of them because of their mental toughness. I’m talking about from the first round of the playoffs to the Finals round. The Lakers still haven’t done that. I’m not saying they can’t, but in the playoffs, mental toughness means a lot. It’s not always the physically gifted team (that wins).”

Even Dennis Rodman would chime in after a nationally televised game between the Lakers and the Bulls:

“Everybody’s expecting us and the Lakers in the Finals. But the Lakers have to get there. I think it will be Utah or Seattle. The Lakers need to grow up a little bit.”

And that was the sentiment around the league.  All the talent in the world, but soft mentally.  We couldn’t get over the hump because our guys didn’t have the mental fortitude to do it.  Fast forward one more season and the same perception prevailed.  From the 1997 season to the end of the 1999 (lockout shortened) season, the Lakers had been swept out of the playoffs twice (once in the 2nd round and once in the Conference Finals) and had also lost 4-1 in another second round series.  Losing in that manner, in those series, left us with a tough reputation to shake.  The Lakers were the type of team that didn’t have the mental toughness to win it all.  But were we really mentally soft, or did we just lack the experience needed to compete at the highest level? 

Now, look at today’s current team.  What is almost every critic and fan saying about us?  That we’re soft. Only now, they do mean physically.  To many, our loss to the Celtics just confirmed that we didn’t have the physical toughness to win.  Gasol, Odom, Sasha, RadMan, and even Walton…do any of these players scream tough guy?  Even hard nosed players like Kobe and Fisher can’t distort the perception that we don’t have the toughness to win.  The resonating images, for critics and fans alike, are missed layups and half hearted jump hooks.  They see gold jerseys being bullied in the paint and on the glass and the evidence is plain as day.  This off-season, fans have been calling for the Lakers to sign any player that even resembles an enforcer or tough guy.  Right here on these boards (and everywhere else, really) there were calls for Kurt Thomas or Craig Smith or James Posey…any player that would just hit someone, put a body on someone, knock the opponent down.  But is that what we really need?

I would say no.  What we need, like those Lakers teams that won three consecutive titles earlier this decade, is experience.  We need growth and knowledge; an understanding of what it takes to win that develops from trying and failing.  Championship caliber basketball is where talent and experience meet (and we definitely have the talent).  People can talk about mental toughness, physical toughness, hunger, and dozens of other adjectives that ultimately just describe the team that wins.  The guys that fall short are always the players/teams that are “soft” or some other negative connotation that is the tidy bow that wraps comfortably around the loser.  But the truth is, the teams that lose just weren’t good enough…yet.  Like the Lakers of 1998 (and 1999) that had all that talent but couldn’t get over the hump, what this team needs is experience.  They need to grow, together, to get to the point where winning becomes the byproduct of shared knowledge; the culmination from the groups collective experience.  And really, I don’t think there’s that much more growth that’s needed.  This Lakers team has gone from losing to Phoenix in consecutive seasons in two hard fought playoff sereis, to earning a Finals birth.  And sure, we lost. But we lost to a team with some battle tested veterans and some truly great players.  What people always fail to mention is that every step of the way, this team has gotten better and achieved more than anyone could have predicted they would have when their journey started. 

I know, losing the way that we did last season definitely leaves a bitter taste.  Failure, especially on the biggest stage, always leads to second guessing and the search for the easy answer.  Perkins is bullying Gasol?  We’re soft.  KG outmuscles Odom?  We’re soft.  Pierce bodies up RadMan and Walton to force his way to the basket?  We’re soft.  But sometimes the easy answer is wrong.  Or at least, incomplete.  Last season the Lakers were one of the youngest teams in the league and most of our players had never even seen the second round of the playoffs.  To me, that spells a lack of experience, and not neccessarily some lack of physical toughness.  Right now, I could go on some rant about Bynum and Ariza and how those guys, if healthy, would have won us the title.  How their physical presence on the wing and in the paint would have put us over the top.  But I’m not going to do that.  And not because it’s unwarranted, but because those guys also lack experience and to put the burden on them as the ultimate difference makers isn’t really fair.  Those guys have some growing to do as well.  In the end just understand this:  we’ll be back and will be competing for titles for years to come.  And in the future we’ll have the experiences of our past failures to serve as guidance (and motivation) to get us over the hump.  So, are we tough enough?  Honestly, I could care less.  Because with the experience this team has gained, I see us being something more than the toughest team, I see us being champions.

-Darius

Darius Soriano

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133 responses to Are we tough enough?

  1. Well said!

  2. Beautiful post. Guess the expression “Taking our lumps in life properly” applies to basketball as well.

    I really believe everything our current Lakers team went through will eventually pay off in the immediate future. There is so much for us fans to look forward to.

  3. Very well put – it seems that a typical sports fan always wants the immediate gratification of championships, year in and year out. The weird thing though, is that I’ve had a much deeper appreciation for this iteration of the Lakers compared with the Kobe/Shaq years; mainly because my level of fanhood has deepened. The post-Shaq Kobe era has certainly been a rough ride – and that’s what made this past season so special; that lessons learned from mistakes past were finally being realized; that the triangle offense that could never get in rhythm started to click. And whether we win this year or not – the next championship the Lakers win no one will be able to deny that they earned it.

  4. Great job, Darius.

  5. Great post. I still think that we need more tougher players in the 3 & 4 spot. Remember the Celtics didn’t need but this year to produce a championship. They didn’t have that luxury of growing up and learning. They all stepped up both rookies and veterans. Kobe didn’t have anybody worthy to help him in the biggest stage. Odom’s had 4 years to learn that he needs a jumpshot in the triangle. Even Rasheed Wallance can spread the offense better than Odom. As lucky as we are for getting Gasol it just doesn’t cover the fact that this team may end up like the Jerry West era unless they do get tougher mentally & physically. I don’t see Walton, Rad & Odom getting any tougher. They’ve been exposed and will have to reinvent themselves with better offense and defense. Boston exposed every weakness the Lakers had that the other teams in the West couldn’t do. They stopped Kobe and played rough like Utah. We got scouted well. We didn’t have any clue how to stop the Celtics 3 headed monster. Bynum and Ariza’s growth will be key if we want to taste the Finals. But with Kobe needing surgery after the Olympics and Bynum trying to regain form after his knee injury, Fish with his foot injury, Walton with his ankle surgery, Ariza with his foot injury, you get the feeling this could be another 70s Lakers team that was just an injury away from winning it all. We are guaranteed nothing with losing. Did Utah ever get another chance going back to back Finals only to lose both chances to the Bulls. This was Kobe’s MVP season and it was crumpled to the ground by a defensive minded coach by the name of Tom Thibodeau. His principles were executed on the court. We were still caught up on Kobe’s magical season and wondering when it was going to go our way. My hope is that we can drop some of the dead weight and get some defensive stoppers. I just don’t think we could win with Odom, Walton & Radman and to think we pay them over 20 million combined to be mentally soft and fold in the Finals and break our hearts. But yes after the bitterness leaves and all the HAHA from all the hater emails subsides i’ll be there watching my favorite team battle for a title.

  6. the other Stephen July 28, 2008 at 8:33 am

    rah rah rah!

  7. I see this as a battle of basketball philosophies – for years the physically tough, defensive teams have been winning, while our skilled, finesse lakers are unable to get over the hump.

    It’s a lot like, if anyone here follows soccer, the battle between “tactical” soccer and “joga bonito” soccer. Tactical soccer can be exemplified by the success of Chelsea and Italy (two physically emposing, defensive teams), while joga bonito is exemplified by Arsenal and Spain.

    While one is more aesthetically pleasing (precise offense, ball movement, etc.), the other is better suited to delivering “results” and trophies. I believe that the Lakers are committed to winning, but are committed to winning it in a specific style – that is, sexy and slick, just like Hollywood likes it. Let the Celtics and Pistons play their isolation, pick and roll, defensive basketball. The Lakers have always been about Showtime and it’s not about to change now.

  8. I agree with that we lacked experience outside of Fish and Bryant on the roster. But, we need a major commitment on the defensive end. The Lakers need to install a defensive scheme and stick with it. Get back to basic fundamentals such as hedging the pick and roll, rotating to cover open players, taking charges in the lane, funneling players towards help. I would like to see more man to man than the free safety roaming defense the Lakers employed last year.

    I would also like to see the Lakers explore more options within the triangle offense such as off the ball screens, more pick and rolls, cuts , dives to the basket, which would bring out more of the motion aspects of the offense.

  9. #8 I agree with you. I think our fundamentals broke down against the Celtics on both offense and defense. I’m trying to remember one charge that we took during the entire Finals and I’m coming up blank. I also think that with another training camp for this team to come together even further, we can expand what we do on offense. Remeber, even though Gasol was incorporated quite nicely, I still remember Phil saying that we were running a very simplistic form of the offense just to execute it cleanly. So, I think there’s more in the works there.

    #5 I think you’re giving too much credit to the Celtics young players. Overall, they were quite inconsistent. Rondo was very up and down. Powe had 1 good game. Perkins gets an incomplete from me because he got injured and was limited in a couple of games. If you look at the players that really hurt us it was their veterans: Pierce, KG, Allen, Brown, Posey, House, and to a lesser extent Cassell. I think that those players were more prepared because of their past experiences and the fact that they have either won rings or been high level performers their entire careers. I think with the experiences our young players have gained, we’ll be more ready next season and in future seasons.

  10. Darius,

    Good post. I don’t think anything needs to change. I think experience, and especially a bad experience will help. I have stated this in the past, that I don’t think it was a lack of physical toughness, as it was a mental thing also.
    Utah is supposedley one of the most physical teams in the NBA and the Lakers dispatched them fairly easily. In the Finals, Pau unwilling to force the issue, and settling for what was given to him. When he tried to be forceful, he was successful (Lamar also). He let himself be bullied, while waiting on whistles that weren’t coming. We were out hustled on the boards. Bricks that clang out 15 ft., aren’t rebounded because of posistion, it’s because one man decides to bust his butt t get the ball more than his opponent. Also, not closing out on STRICTLY 3-point shooters and letting them hit timely shots, is not the result of a physical toughness. Or Kobe starting out hitting everything and then forgetting to shoot in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. These were all mental lapses at the wrong time. They willl earn from their mistakes.

  11. I agree wholeheartedly with Darius. When one considers what the Lakers achieved with their starting center out for half the season and the whole playoffs, with a key reserve out until the final round, with a major mid-season trade and they managed to beat 3 50+ win teams to make it to the finals, I have to say that a capacity for toughness is not the issue. Add to that the maelstrom that is Kobe B.B., the trade drama, and the political infighting in the organization, one has to wonder how anyone would suggest that the Lakers are not tough. Even mighty Achilles was felled at the highest stage.

    I am going to enjoy quietly watching the Lakers make a deep run into the playoffs and if things fall as we hope, meeting the C’s in the finals will be much more enjoyable in 2009 then last season was.

  12. The Lakers big’s got beat up in the finals because it was their first time in that setting on that stage. They were a much younger team then the Celtics and it showed in the biggest series. I don’t see them falling apart again the way they did next year. But then again our frontline is bigger. But unbelievable post and what a host of Lakers knowledge I get on this site all the time.

  13. were last year’s lakers the youngest team in finals history? it’d appear so, considering the apparent stage fright the team had.

    i agree that defense is the key to next yr. we don’t have to sacrifice the fluid, entertaining offense of last yr to get to the top of the mountain; we need to get tougher on defense, not offense, for us to win the last game of the yr.

  14. well reasoned Darius. teams just don’t go from 1st round losers to NBA champions with basically the same team overnight. the coaches and old-timers know this. there’s a process you can’t cheat. the Lakers are definitely ahead of schedule and that, to me, bodes well for their future. the bottom line is that this season, no one but Kobe and Fish actually knew what it takes to win it all, and they [Kobe & Fish] also had to fail to reach to top repeatedly in order to learn the lessons as well. all the other players were well out of their element and doing their best to make things up as they went along. the coaches also know what it takes, but it’s something you just can’t teach, it has to be experienced first hand. you hear it over and over again from past champions. our ’08 NBA Finals experience is incredibly valuable. and again, the fact that we leap-frogged several stages all in one season is a really good sign of what this team is capable of. i don’t think we have all the championship pieces yet but i think we’re very close. certainly a full healthy season of Bynum couldn’t hurt.

  15. Very well said on a great post, Darius. I think internal growth is clearly necessary and second you on that. Whether or not it’s enough is up to time itself, so we’ll see. Glad the coaching staff is so solid and seasoned. Otherwise we may be less likely to be patient and let things develop. With this crew, there is a lot of confidence and with good reason.

    With good health and the burning feeling from the Game 6 ripping still lingering, I believe these guys can take it to the next level right now.

  16. Sorry for the double post, but is there any way we can get Darius into the locker room for a pre-game speech? “I see us being something more than the toughest team, I see us being champions.” Dude can get you pumped!

  17. I think the Lakers just got tired.Had a really rough year plus injuries.Played in the hardest league,played tougher teams in the playoffs.Just think they got tired in the final playoff series.Hopefully,next year will be easier.

  18. To give an analogy from another sport, anybody who saw the Anaheim Ducks get crushed this past playoffs would probably agree with you Darius. The previous year they won it all and everyone touted the “enforcer” style of the West and how they punished other teams to victory through a 7 game series. And yet, come the next playoffs, they end up taking bad penalties, not playing smart hockey, and in general looking pretty bad by trying to “tough” their way to victory. Doesn’t always work that way.

  19. I agree with the basic premise here (if I understand it right): experience breeds toughness, so it is premature to label a team is “soft” in their initial battles; title teams usually have to try and fail a time or two before they are ready to break through.

    However, at some level, we need to remember that there really are such things as “tough” players and “soft” ones. Meaning, some of this is innate. In terms of this mental/clutch/toughness attribute we are discussing, there are perhaps three rough classes of players:

    (A) Players born with “it” — very likely to rise to the moment in their first deep playoff run and ever after. Prototypes: Wade, Cassell, Duncan, Fisher, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Paul, Deron, etc., etc.

    (B) Players that are always likely to let the moment overcome them, no matter their experience. These players may have a great series here and there, but they ultimately always get fazed and underperform. Prototypes: Doug Christie, Barbosa, Karl Malone, Webber, Dirk, Garnett.

    (C) Players who gradually develop toughness after cutting their teeth in battle a few times. Prototypes: Shaq, Pierce, Fox, Horry, Tony Parker, Bowen, Posey.

    Our question is (which perhaps can’t be fully answered until we see a few more playoff runs): what category do our players fall into?

    We know about Kobe and Fisher.

    Are Gasol and Odom (B) or (C) players?

    Was Farmar’s performance against Utah a sign of a little Barbosa in him, or just normal growing pains? (For that was one of the all time worst performances by a young player in a playoff series I’ve ever, ever seen — he almost single handedly spotted Utah 10 points every game).

    Bynum? Sasha?

    Phil and Mitch have enough experience to feel out whether they believe in the makeup of our players. I think they showed enough as a team last year to stick with them — they stormed through the most competitive conference race in history and then blasted the West in surprising fashion. They accomplished a lot, especially given their inexperience.

    But are there any “Christie’s” or “Barbosa’s” out there we need to be wary of?

  20. Great post as expected…hmmm…Darius?

    …are you Darius Miles?…that would be sick… [edited for speculation]

    did anyone see that intro that the Celts play before their home games?…with everyone screaming like they just had a brick dropped on their toe and Garnett whacking everyone in back of the head…another year of that and someone’s going to break his nose…I bet it’s Powe……(lamar’s the man – if he doesn’t meld with Gasol/Bynum then he will fourish somewhere else…that gent’s going to make a few more all-star teams somewhere…class act and is going to be a far greater veteran than he was a grommit)

    koko.b.ware

  21. PeanutButterSpread July 28, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I agree. “Toughness” is such a vague word. It’s just an over generalization of labeling a team that lost.

    Phil might have said some of the players weren’t “tough” but that’s his way of playing the media, as he always does.

    Lack of experience is definitely what cost the Lakers a championship. We were what, the youngest team in the playoffs, expected to be one of the worst teams in the WC, yet we trumped all expectations and made it to the finals. That’s not toughness we lack, but experience.

    People seriously need to jump off the “Lakers are not tough” bandwagon. It’s an incredibly shallow, easy and inept assessment of why the Lakers lost.

    To this day, I still don’t know why we were the odds of being the favorites to win the finals. I know when we were rolling through the playoffs it was the “glamorous” choice to pick us to win it all while the Celtics struggled through each series, but honestly, they were the veteran team, we were the youngsters exceeding expectations. In the end, experience would trump the inexperienced.

  22. Reed,
    Very good points about an “innate” toughness or quality that exists in players that may limit their ceiling as players (even great players like Malone).

    And honestly, I think that if any players fit that profile on our team it would be RadMan, but not really because of any *deer in the headlights* mentality, but just because of his general spaciness and how he oscilates between being in the moment and not. In the end, I think players like that aren’t dependable. As for Farmar, I think the Utah series was just some growing pains. Remember even Magic had that terrible Finals against Boston where people questioned if he could be the leader early in his career. I know that Magic had already broken through as a rookie and that putting Farmar and Magic in the same sentence is a little over the top, but the point remains that players have hurldles in their careers that they may not clear the first time. Based off your classifications, I know you understand that, so I would say that Farmar is maybe a “C” type of player. The same with Sasha. And I don’t want to comment too much on LO, because that road ends up at the same destination every trip, but even he has shown that he is capable of raising his game and battling it out/not quitting. People may question his smarts, but you can’t question his heart to try and get the job done.

  23. #20 Not that Darius. But I’m putting a 2 fists to my head in tribute right now…

  24. Anybody else worried that Balkman being traded to denver puts us in danger of not making the playoffs?

  25. lakers need to get rid of RADMAN and LUKE… they are horrible, and overpaid… thats money they could easily use on another solid player.

  26. Darius,

    The Lakers had a truly magical season last year that seemed more defined by home court advantage than toughness or experience. Since it happened more by accident than design, the Lakers seem to have gone out of their way to bottle the chemistry that unexpectedly got them to the finals. With the entire team back for the entire year, obtaining that home court advantage certainly seems feasible.

    But it’s more complicated than that–and that’s what makes it so interesting. The Lakers will be prepared to roll out two teams next year–the Bynum/Ariza wuddah shuddah beens, or the Gasol/Odom almost were’s. Either one might credibly be a championship contender. Which players get the pt–and will the magical chemistry still be there?

    Stay tuned.

  27. I totally agree with you #26. Getting to the Finals last year was a gift for fans to be sure. This year we have a great chance to make it happen again, but this time we will have more of a chance to gel as a team (barring injury) We can only hope that the results will be as good if not better.

  28. [edited for personal attack]…doesnt change the fact that every offseason you should try and improve your team externally where possible. Why? Cuz if you dont everyone else is so you lose out through indifference.

    Thats what happened to the Lakers in their bid for a four peat they ran up against a Spurs team that reloaded and the Lakers frontline was old and their bench was overmatched, remember Kobe’s quote crying into the mike about how everyteam reloads in the Summer and the Lakers need to do the same thing. Well they did and got to the finals the very next year because of it, unfortunately as is always the case with LA injuries hurt them all season all the more reason to get some togher guys though right? Bynum, Gasol and Odom do you realize toughness and softness also means how strong your body is and how much you can take. Those three players are extremely injury prone so you might as well try and improve. (Bynum knee in HS and last year, Odom shoulder , Gasol back and general soft body.

  29. I liked the idea of bringing Kwame back, but only at a minimal salary. I can’t believe the Pistons would give him $8 million over two years. Did I misread it?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3508699

  30. It’s only a two year deal. Considering the market, not a bad deal. The 2nd year is actually a player option too.

  31. Lane, you are not misreading that. Granted, this is the agent talking and nothing yet from Detroit.

    My thought is: How is Kwame’s work ethic, or lack thereof, going to mesh with maybe the best “team” in the NBA? Is he really a good fit there personality wise?

  32. #28 Improving your team can come in a myriad of ways. It doesn’t always involve personnel. So, while I agree that every team should try to improve, I don’t think this current Lakers team needs changes in personnel to improve. I think that they need to grow, as a unit, and build for the next run. I also think that comparing this current Lakers team to the broken down ones towards the end of the 3peat Lakers (even if it’s just a cursory comaparison) is a mistake. This current team is much deeper than any of those teams and is not filled out with minimum salary players and marginal draft picks that aren’t that good (like Medvedenko). This team is a legitamate 10 deep team whose bench was one of (if not the) strongest units in the league this past season. And while I’ll grant that injuries are a concern, I think even mentioning players like Bynum/Gasol/Odom after making a reference about “getting tougher players” and implying that *those* guys should be the ones that go shows me where your head is *really* at…

  33. The Dude Abides July 28, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    If signing Kwame makes Dumars believe he’s set at the PF and C positions and Amir Johnson is expendable, and that he just needs a fundamentally sound SF who is a good passer, I’ve got a great idea for him.

  34. Hey, let’s not dis Medvedenko. I used to have a signed ball from him. Seriously.

  35. Hallelujah. No more Kwame in purple & gold speculation!

  36. Sorry Kurt. “used to have”? Did you lose it?

    On a sidenote, I remember when I was in Hawaii one year (it was the same year that both the Lakers and W’s were there and played a couple of exibitions…’05?) and when we went to the Hilton, we saw some of the guys in the Lobby. One of them was Slava. My fiance said “look, it’s Medvedenko! You should get his autograph.” Let’s just say I declined. I saw Odom too, but he had his headphones on and I didn’t want to disturb him. Good times, though seeing the guys like that.

  37. What they’re saying in Motown:

    “Joe is a genius. Seriously. Does this not seem like a familiar scenario? Former high pick, underachieved and unable to stick with a team, comes to Detroit and finally lives up to potential. I like this signing, I really do. Also, for what we paid if he does become a better player he will be the bargain of the year.”

    at FB&G:

    My take? We knew he tried out for many team and there was much interest. I’m not surprised. “Twinkletoes” Brown found a home. Law of the bigs. We’re capped out.

  38. I think Kawame was the last gasp of those of us who wanted the FO to sign someone. If anyone, I think the FO signs Mbenga.

  39. carter blanchard July 28, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Wow.. that’s insane to give Kwame 4 mill a year. I thought for sure he’d have to go for a minimum. I wouldn’t have minded him for that, but jeez, the dude doens’t have hands!

  40. Great post on the Lakers, Darius. As Randy Pausch said in his last lecture, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Winning the tightest conference race ever when at the beginning of last season we thought they were a seventh or eighth seed team at the best sure gave them A LOT of experience. Go Lakers!!!

  41. I disagree with your premise that the reason that the Lakers lost is a lack of experience. The Lakers had two co-captains had both won three NBA championships, their coach had won nine championships. Meanwhile the Celtics’ only player with Finals experience was James Posey coming off the bench.

  42. What about the Lakers just lost to a better team. A team that was probably one of the best defensive team this decade who had three great offensive players on the team along with quality role players. While I agree that toughness is thrown around a lot. Lakers simply were not a good enough defensive team to beat the Celtics. If the Lakers do not improve defensively next year and we will be here again instead there will be another reason why the Lakers lost.

    I really believe that the Lakers have the personnel in place to be a great defensive team, but it will have to start in October. The Cleveland Cavliers have a great defensive team and I wouldnt rank any of there players outside of Varejao as good defensive players. Lakers need to get a system in place, work and rework over fundamentals.

  43. #42 That’s a limited view of where players get experience. While you’re looking at it strictly from a perspective of the Finals, I’m looking more broadly. The Celtics depended almost entirely on veterans (with a game exception from Powe and 2 games from Rondo) who had a ton of playoff experience and tenure in the league. The Lakers were still very much dependent on Farmar, Sasha, and Turiaf and none of those players had strong series (save Sasha for 1 game). Plus, as anyone who’s told a friend that they shouldn’t drink and drive (for example) because they themselves have gotten a DUI would tell you, experience is not a transferable trait. Kobe, Fisher, Phil, et al can talk until they’re blue in the face about the playoffs and the atmosphere and what it takes to win, but those are just words. Most people learn through their own experiences.

  44. Kwame Joins Detroit
    =============

    Kwame Brown’s agent Mark Bartlestein told ESPN.com on Monday night that the former No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft has reached a verbal agreement on a new contract with the Detroit Pistons.

    The contract is believed to be a two-year deal worth $8 million, and Brown will have a player option.

  45. Darius, I donated the Slava ball to the silent auction of a local charity. I have no idea what it drew, but I figure both dollars helped said charity.

  46. Good stuff Darius.

    When people categorize a team a team as “soft,” I think they’re questioning that teams will or fortitude to compete. To not back down or be intimidated. I don’t think the Lakers backed down or failed to compete in the NBA Finals.

    But I do think (along with probably everyone here) that we need to improve defensively and we need to become stronger in our frontcourt. My hope is that Bynum becomes the backbone of our defense. And that Ariza (or a certain SF whose name doesn’t need mentioning) becomes a reliable defender on the perimeter.

    Because Gasol isn’t the answer at center, and Radmonivic can’t guard his shadow.

  47. Generation of instant gratification. I’m guilty of it too, but I am seriously thinking that we’re at a verge of something great, even if we end up not winning championships.

    What we have in front of us, is not just a team, but a team that could potentially have its members peak all at once. Jordan, Sasha, Trevor, Bynum are still moving up, and Kobe, Lamar and Pau are young enough to be effective when they peak (understatement, yes).

  48. “Perkins is bullying Gasol? We’re soft.”

    Of course, Perkins averaged 18 minutes a game and was in foul trouble all 5 games he played. But people talk like he was dominant.

    With experience comes controlled aggressiveness, which leads to the borderline calls going your way, being in position for that rebound/loose ball, etc. That’s all this roster needs.

  49. Gerrit,
    The Lakers roster as a whole had fewer playoff games than the Celtics roster as a whole. After Fisher and Bryant, the next seven were Celtics. (I believe that is what the count was – I researched it awhile back arguing this same point.) And you’re forgetting about Sam Cassell.

  50. I hope Kwame works out for Detroit but man…if you thought the booing for one game was tough at Staples Center..I really don’t know how to prepare you for what could happen at Pistons home games this year

  51. hands down a very heart-filled and moving post, not to mention opinion-transforming post darius. thank you. though i still believe, that a tough-nosed big man could help. am just open to the idea. the FO has expressed they are willing to fill the lineup up, don’t know if up to the 13th man. now that turiaf is gone, i just can’t imagine us splitting the minutes between our frontline players. we need that insurance guy. brown has been signed. though i think it’s too much, i am led to value big men in the league.

    am very happy that sasha has inked that deal. now i think we are more or less complete and now stronger than what we were like last year on paper. i agree that we were perhaps on the top of things too early. if this is what made that 80s lineup so amazing, so be it. i just can feel that phil has his marvels set and we can expect a chicago-type defense. anything near or greater than that will lock us for the championship. re: strength, we need this to endure and be healthy when it comes. mental strength will resolve itself, sadly it’s out of our hands. GO LAKERS!

  52. Life just got a lot harder for birthday cakes in the Motor City.

  53. (51) Goo, the Laker fans didn’t know what they had. The Piston fans know what they’re getting. Here’s what one Piston fan says:

    – Kwame plays great low post defense.

    – He sets great picks. An over-looked skill (one that Rip will appreaciate).

    – He’s a good rebounder (but needs to be better).

    – Mentally, coming to the place where Ben Wallace (was) a star will take the pressure off of him to be a scorer. He can concentrate on being Ben Wallace and not Tim Duncan.

    – He’s coming to a team known for offering redemption

    Fans in Detroit understand Kwame better before he arrives than Laker fans did after more than two years. They offer Kwame redemption–Laker fans offered him ridicule and abuse.

  54. which makes him a better choice there. =)

  55. (54) I think smart Laker fans did know what they had with Kwame. I think most knowledgeable fans realized that he brought some measurable and valuable skills to the court, as a big-body presence and one-on-one defender.

    But, these were consistently nullified by his incredibly poor skill set as an offensive player. Moreover, his failures were of a particularly demoralizing nature – nothing sucks the life out of a team like a blown layup, a fumbled pass, or a bricked free throw, all of which we saw game after game, season after season, from #54.

    And none of this should have anything to do with fans “understanding” or “supporting” Kwame. Kwame Brown was a (very well paid) veteran professional basketball player with the Lakers, who never gave the slightest inclination that he was busting ass on the court, or working hard of the court to shore up the painfully obvious holes in his game.

    For those reasons, his Laker career will always be a bust. The team never went anywhere with him, and went to the NBA Finals immediately after shipping him out. I’m more than happy to let some other franchise deal with the enigma of his potential.

  56. Dr., Detroit fans haven’t seen him play for their team yet. They are optimistic, just like some Lakers fans several years ago when Kwame came to the Lakers. I was not one of them. However, I still cheered for Kwame, as I do any player wearing the Laker uniform. We may criticize a player and yet still root for him. I have sympathy for a player like Kwame that doesn’t work out with the Lakers. I hope things work out better for him in Detroit, except when the Lakers play them.

    Please remind us around the All-Star game time how Kwame is doing.

  57. Detroit Fans perception of Kwame is off base. Kwame has a big body and can use to keep low post offensive players out of the post. Thats about the only thing that he brings to the table. He is not a good rebounder (not sure how they got that Idea), he is not a shot blocker, he is a poor help defender (though he is decent sometimes on PNR defense) and he does not seem like he is a hard worker. In limited minutes in select situations Kwame can be useful (like guarding Duncan, Yao, Howard for a few minutes a game) but he is not worth 4M a year. But if you look at the contract Diop got from Dallas, then maybe it is not that bad.

    I like Kwame, and I hope he does redeem himself, but I wouldn’t hold my breadth waiting for it.

  58. Detroit seems to have some magical effect on the careers of former Washington Bullet/Wizards, maybe they think the same voodoo will work on Kwame.

  59. Drrary,
    “coming to the place where Ben Wallace (was) a star will take the pressure off of him to be a scorer. He can concentrate on being Ben Wallace and not Tim Duncan.”

    That’s a double exaggeration. 1) Kwame is nowhere close to Ben Wallace defensively. Not even close.
    2) The Lakers NEVER tried to get him to be Tim Duncan.

    Kwame’s problem seems to be an inability to maintain focus on the court. He doesn’t position himself for rebounds, he doesn’t rotate well on defense, he doesn’t catch the ball. Those aren’t from being pressured to be Tim Duncan.

  60. Can we all please agree that our view/opinion of Kwame is highly colored? We have paid him too much and lived through too much for us to have any semblance of objectivity.

    He is in Detroit. Let’s leave it at that and discuss the Lakers – pleeeese!

  61. Anon(56),Diop often started for Dallas the first time around and Dallas C tends to pick up fouls in bunches. For them a decent back-up C who defends and rebounds is pretty crucial.
    Kwame is going to be a mop-up guy and see a few extra minutes on West rd trips. If Dumars is expecting more he’s in for a huge disappointment.

  62. $8 Millioj for Kwame? Is Joe dumars going nuts? Wow. So Turiaf gets a “payday” and gets $4 million a year, and he’s definitely better, but Kwame “freakin'” Brown gets some team to think it’s a bargain. Maybe Ronny needs Kwame’s agent.

    But…..I do think he can be worth more to Detroit than he ever could be for us. He could fit for them. We needed him to pass and finish and rebound, and defend the pick and roll against Nash/Parker/Paul/Williams. The Pistons will merely need him to play hard against Boston and use his size and 6 fouls against Perkins and KG. That’s it. HE’ll get to rely on Rasheed and Prince and Billups defensively. He won’t get lost in their offense. Just make sure that he’s in position to NOT let Perkins and KG easily rebound a Chauncey brick.

  63. Great stuff! Incredibly moving and and and all that you said is the reason I’m a Laker fan and why I will continue to be one :) Go lakers!

  64. exhelodrvr,

    Good point, but more important than Perkins actual output was the tone he set for Pau early, which we saw, affected pau most of the series.

  65. Drrayeye, I agree that Kwame brings a few useful skills to the floor with his big body. But here’s the thing — Ben Wallace (at least while in Detroit) wanted to be a defensive stopper, he was driven. Kwame, not so much. If they use him properly he can serve a purpose, if they don’t they will have the same feelings we do.

  66. Kwame will be a fine basketball player once he learns to:

    a. catch the ball
    b. dribble the ball
    c. shoot the ball

    And if the Pistons need any cakes tossed in the meantime…

  67. I just emailed this to Henry at True Hoop. Let me know what you guys think about it:

    In regards to the salary cap and impact of Childress leaving. I don’t think the NBA and players union will do something immediately, but sooner or later, they will have to. Next year will be the copycat year. Since the Childress deal, we’ve already seen Sasha Vujacic and Delonte West try to use the threat of Europe as bargaining tools. On top of that, we’ve seen players like Juan Carlos Navarro and Jorge Garbajosa leve the NBA for more money. In JCN’s case, he went home to Spain. With David Stern’s plans for a more global game and fanbase, the NBA needs the top international players to scome over and stay in the NBA. What if Pau went back to Spain to play for Barcelona? With the value of the Euro being twice the Dollar, this is a real threat. Why would a Spaniard or Italian, or Greek need to follow the NBA if they can watch their fellow country men (who they now know are among the best in the world) play in their own leagues? Some players aren’t even bothering to leave Europe (Thiago Splitter) anymore.

    I think the luxury tax helps, but I think the NBA should come up a system that implements the current structure (with a soft salary cap, and hard luxury tax amount), but allows for a team to have the ability to re-sign their own players without having to worry about the cap. Of course that amount should be capped, and limited to restricted free agents. We’ll call it a Restricted Free Agent Relief (RFAR) Let’s make it 10% of the Salary Cap figure ($58,680,000) subtracted from the Luxury Tax line ($71.150 mill), making it $5.86 million that would be subtracted form the Luxury Tax amount of a team to sign it’s own restricted free agents, should they do so. This should remedy the problem that going to get bigger. If a team feels a player is worth it, then they should be able to pay him. The NBA will benefit, the players will benefit. Josh Childress was forced (not really forced to take $20 million, but you know what I mean) to take that deal, while Atlanta couldn’t match if they wanted to.

    The Lakers are a good example of how this could work. They had a salary figure of $71,322,426 before signing anyone. They had Sasha Vujacic and Ronny Turiaf as restricted free agents, while still being over Luxury Tax line by $172,426.00. Although money spent on salaries are a choice of the management and ownership (ex: Knicks), it makes it harder to make that decision knowing that a $4 million per year deal for Ronny means $8 million, add that to the $5 mill Sasha got, and they’re paying $18 million per season for 2 role players, while still having to negotiate with Bynum, Lamar (maybe), and eventually Kobe. Losing Ronny Turiaf, assuming they wanted to keep him, was probably the difference of $1.5 mill per year, meanwhile driving up Sasha’s asking price, because LA couldn’t afford to lose both. They could’ve matched Ronny ($4 years $17 mill) and signed Sasha (3 years $15 mill) bringing them to a total of $80,572,426. Subtracting the RFAR , their figure would be $74,712,426. This new amount would make them $3,562,426.00 over the cap. Last year they were $2,565,878.50 over the cap. So now, from last year to this year, they would have a difference of $996,547.50, while still needing to sign one more player to fill out the roster. Now, do you think the Lakers would mind spending the extra $1 million ($2 mill with Luxury Tax) to keep this roster together? My guess is yes. This system would allow some help in keeping their own players, but still force teams to make sound decisions.

  68. (58) Craig,

    What is important for us as Laker fans in dealing with big players like Kwame (and Slava earlier) is the need to be patient and supportive. Detroit fans have gone through many “projects” with mixed results. The successful ones have helped them win championships.

    (57) I’m quoting a Detroit blogger. If you want to present an alternative view, go to Detroit bad boys.

  69. did you feel that?

  70. Kwame Brown will never be any better than he has been.

    Phil got the most out of the guy that anyone could expect. Dude had a fresh start, in Memphis, playing close to his childhood home on a team with no expectations for winning. And rather than work hard to impress anyone — including other teams that could have spent much more than $4 million a year for a big man once free agency rolled around — what did Kwame do? He collected DNP-CDs night after night. That’s living proof of a poor work ethic in practice.

    Like others, I had hopes that he’s make a fresh start in L.A. after Washington, and even while in L.A. I felt he wasn’t always as awful as so many felt. He was still bad, just not the worst thing ever, or at least the worst tease since Benoit Benjamin. But aside from an OK run late in the 2005-06 season, the guy just never had much to offer the Lakers.

    It seems the Piston fans are now holding out the same hopes: look at his size, he’s still so young, maybe this will be the place he turns it around, etc. History proves they’ll be disappointed. He’s no Ben Wallace from the good Pistons years. Hell, he’s not even as good as the washed-up Ben Wallace of today.

    Kwame just doesn’t have the drive or work ethic to be anything more than he is: a walking symbol of Michael Jordan’s front office ineptitude who’s earned millions for doing as little as possible with that incredible body he was blessed with. Have fun, Piston fans.

  71. kobe doesn’t need us fans to be patient and supportive for him to work his butt off every day. fisher doesn’t need us fans to be patient and supportive for him to work his butt off every day. the lakers would prob do well to stay away from any player that needs the team’s fans to make him feel good inside before he works hard to improve his game.

  72. Chris H,

    I felt it

  73. $10 says Kwame fumbles and drops his jersey at his introductory press conference…..

  74. The Piston’s know a great deal about the frustrations of developing a young big. After all, they drafted Darko Milicic. When they couldn’t find and develop their own big, they chose Ben Wallace as a “small” to act like a big–and they couldn’t hold on to him. They blew a King’s ransom on Nazi Mohamid. If they blow $8 million on Kwame, it wouldn’t be the biggest loss they’ve ever experienced.

    But despite all of the posts by all of those who would both impugn Kwame’s character and his abilities, the Lakers extended his contract, teams were competing to pick him up, and even the Lakers considered bringing him back.

    Most bigs fail–some spectacularly, and some just fade into mediocrity. Even the one’s who make a big splash right away, like Bill Walton, often have career disabling injuries. Others, like Jermaine O’Neal, need years of backup before they break in.

    Kwame obviously intends to achieve redemption next year. He can opt out of his contract if he succeeds and remain for a year if he is a total failure. He took a pay cut of more than $5 million, endured humiliation, and is prepared to come back for more.

    All of this should be early warning for the Lakers. They are considering going to the max for a player who has already had his second knee injury before he’s old enough to drink at a bar in some states.

    In year number 3,

    Kwame Brown 10.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg
    Andrew Bynum 13.1ppg and 10.2 rpg

    free throws

    Kwame Brown .683
    Andrew Bynum .695

    Kwame played the entire 72 game season
    Andrew played 35 games

    Andrew is considered a great success
    Kwame is considered a great disgrace

    I wonder how long it would take the fans to turn on Andrew?

  75. Wow, that is a stretch. The problem with Kwame is the guy from three years in was better than the guy playing last year, he has consistently regressed in his game. Andrew has shown remarkable strides and work ethic to improve himself. His game has gotten better each year.

    Kwame intends to achieve redemption next year? Hasn’t he said that for years? Last year was a contract year as well, did he show us sides of his game he didn’t show before, or did he regress? I hope he can improve, if he wants to. But when has he shown that? Not said, shown.

  76. I’m having trouble picturing how Kwame averaged nearly 11 ppg. It came on 8 FGA a game, while Bynum’s 13 also came on 8 FGA per game. I’ll let somebody else figure the offensive efficiency of that out, but I think it shows that Bynum is more effective.

    drrayeeye is right about Bynum still not being proven yet though. I don’t think the point is “Wow, Kwame was good” so much as “Kwame was considered to be worth 10 mil a year back then, and clearly has proven that he isn’t. How sure are we that bynum is?” I’m as optimistic as everyone else, but it is something we don’t know.

    I think Kwame is considered worse than he is because of the expectations of being the #1 pick and the over-large contract. If he had been selected later and had less of a spotlight on him (also because of how Jordan fit into everything), I think he’d be considered a solid, if unspectacular role player big man. Just like 50 other guys who’ve had careers in the league.

  77. when bynum starts dropping simple passes and blowing easy layups on a regular basis, i promise to not like him as much as i do now.

  78. i also promise to be very disappointed in and upset w/ bynum if he’s still on the lakers and averaging 3.5 pts, 3.8 rbs, and 0.3 bpg in his 8th yr in the league.

    but if he’s not on the lakers and averaging those numbers, i prob won’t care so much. and maybe even very happy (if mitch made a brilliant trade in anticipation of the inevitable decline in performance).

  79. The Dude Abides July 29, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Video–The return of the Machine
    http://tinyurl.com/6jlqoq

  80. drrayeye,

    You know good a g.d. well that those numbers are only numbers. Never culd Kwame’s so called production make the offense flow as it did when Drew was playing well. We had good offense because of him. Kwame merely benefitted from open looks caused by penetration. He got heavier and hurt every year. Stats lie.

  81. Arguing the merits of Kwame? I’ll pass…

    But I will say, I thought he’d be a good pick up on the cheap for some team (including ours). If he succeeds in Detroit, more power to him. I actually wish him nothing but the best. While I think his performance should have been better while with the team, I never understood the purpose of zealously booing the guy. He was trying, he just was not succeeding. But fans will be fans…

    But, to compare Bynum to Kwame…that’s a stretch. Bynum has flashed skills but done so in a consistent manner which leads many to believe that he is the real deal. If Bynum was a player that had a good game, and then several mediocre games, and then some bad games I think I (and many others) would not be as sold on Bynum.

  82. One could look at stats, read the blogs, and write Kwame off–but maybe the general managers and coaches in the NBA aren’t as stupid as bloggers might think. Since year three, Kwame has been injured nearly every year. His role has changed. There are experts who think Kwame can play. Detroit loves to gamble in those kind of situations.

    Bigs suffer more than their share of injuries. Last year, all of the Laker bigs were injured–though Lamar had his longest injury free stretch in a long time.

    Luke is already being maligned and written off in Lakerland–even though he played injured most of the season. He’s been accused of dogging it because he’s already got the money. Kwame would know about that. Maybe this coming season Luke’ll play like his contract year–because he’ll be healthy again. Maybe not.

    Lamar was maligned and shopped during years when injuries might well have affected his performance. I’ve been guilty of some of that maligning myself. Fortunately coaches and general managers are not as fickle as we fans.

    I’m sure that Mitch has great sympathy for Mihm, considering Mitch’s personal injury and rehabilitation.

    We’ll have to look in at mid season and see how the latest Kwame experiment is going–or find out first hand when those bad boys come to town.

  83. I laugh at the comparisons to Rasheed. Even though he was a mess before he got to Detroit, he still balled on the court. Kwame does not have the ego that Rasheed has, nor does he have the skills that Rasheed has.

    My thoughts are that Joe Dumars thinks that somehow the Pistons can instill a mean streak in Kwame. The Pistons have their reputation of being a tight-knit group, so maybe Joe thinks they’ll have the support to change Kwame the person?

    Pistons fans should be glad Flip Saunders is not around anymore. Too bad Michael Curry is a fan of hard work and basketball IQ.

  84. question, (maybe this will get of the Kwame topic, kind of tired of it).
    you know how they always capitolize THE HEAT in articles, and they say this is how it is supposed to be?
    so, my question is –
    is it proper to say Lakers, with an “s” ?
    I mean, just look at the side bar on our site;
    Lakers Home
    Lakers Official blog
    LA Times Laker Blog
    KB24 (Kobe’s site)
    Lamar Odom’s Site
    Roland Lazenby’s Blog
    Flea’s Blog
    Lakers Ground
    Club Lakers
    Lakers Web
    Lakers Nation
    Lakers Library

    but the LA Times has it Laker Blog.
    is it;
    “I am a Laker fan”?
    or
    “I am a Lakers fan?

    does anybody know for sure?

  85. It’s time to put the Ron Artest rumors to rest:

    Ron Artest set for deal to Rockets

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/5914062.html

  86. Wow. Hornets got better, and the Rockets get way better. Barring the inevitable injury problems they always seem to have, this puts the Rockets right there with the Lakers (on paper) as the top team in the West. Now they have two guys that can guard Kobe and we have a small forward that can’t spread the floor, though I do think Odom’s defense is underrated. And that trade is more one sided than the Pau Gasol trade too, except I heard they might give the kings Scola which would balance it out slightly more. It’s gonna be an interesting season…

  87. Sorry for the double post, but they’re not trading Scola. They’re trading Bobby Jackson and essentially two first round picks (including their pick from this draft Donte Greene) for one of the best defenders in the game.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=9634

  88. Lamar for Ron Ron and Kenny Thomas my foot.

    They didn’t even get a poo poo platter. Rockets are a playoff team, and that first round pick was all they got for Ron. Bobby Jackson is for nostalgia’s sake…

  89. 77) “I think Kwame is considered worse than he is because of the expectations of being the #1 pick and the over-large contract.”

    I disagree with that. I think that Kwame is still viewed by many as a #1 pick who still hasn’t reached his potential. In the back of peoples’ minds, they think ‘There is no way that MJ, and to lesser extent PJ, could have been that wrong.’ He gets much more “benefit of the doubt” than his performance on the court would dictate.

  90. apparently, i took the bait of kwame and bynum comparison.

    well, shake and bake on shaq followed by a dunk (bynum) vs. a missed wide open two handed dunk… (kwame)

    one point for andrew i’d say.

  91. 68,
    Restricted Free agency is not the end of the world. It simply is a tool to determine the value of players who are neither busts or franchise players. Understandably,players think they are worth more than teams do.
    The NBA could get rid of “The RFA Problem” by either eliminating the restricted yr on rookie contracts,leaving shorter contracts,or eliminate the provision on yr longer contracts. Either the player becomes a free agent after 4 yrs or 5,either way the team can still spend whatever it wants up to the max on its own FAs. Remember,the player ALWAYS has the option of playing the 1 yr at the qualifying offer and then becoming an unrestricted FA.
    All of the drama over the RFA is from players on their rookie contracts. I seriously doubt the Players Union-consisting of players already in the NBA-is going to be too interested in finding ways to give more money to newcomers to the League.
    Far more importantly it’s the max contracts and their raises that are putting teams into Lux Tax purgatory,not the MLEs and their like. A max contract can get a 10% initial raise every yr while the cap/lux tax barely rises 5%.. If the NBA had held max contracts raises to actual cap % increase,the Lakers payroll would be $7mil LESS. If the cap rises next yr the same 5.5% it did this yr,the diff is over $8.5mil. If a team signed 2 players to max contracts this yr,each yr afterward they are looking at close to $3mil in salary increase on those two players-that’s about what the cap increases each yr. Since Rookie contracts have annual raises,the rest of the players are looking at slightly less money available each yr unless the team wishes to drastically increase itspayroll.

  92. Artest is is only signed for this yr and the Rockets are giving up 2 picks for a possible rental-hardly onesided.
    Jackson is for salary matching and is also only signed thru this yr.
    That aside,WOW! I’m slightly conflicted because I’ve argued against the Rockets trading for him and because it tremendously increases the chance Battier gets traded in Feb. But man does the Rocket bench look so much better now w/Barry and Battier. C/MON SECOND RD!(Baby steps,baby steps. :) )

  93. please stop with the kwame comparison with bynum. i don’t understand all the revisionist history about kwame. the man had 8 years in the league to prove that he can play and he never did. he didn’t even bother to try to work on his game over the summers.

    every time i hear kwame’s name i think about the game where he fumbled and turned over the ball 5 times (i think it was 5) in a row, one after the other. i remember trying to explain to my housemate who doesn’t follow basketball why he is called “no hands” kwame brown while watching that game and then in the next moment kwame decided to demonstrate it. it was unbelievable. she quickly understood what i meant.

    i think not having him in a Lakers uniform is an addition by subtraction. you’re getting paid millions, you have to at least know how to handle the ball. not just be a big body. i think we can find big bodies for cheaper. Mbenga for one has more potential and could even shoot a little.

  94. The Rockets might be scary good now, especially on defense, but they have to stay healthy first.

  95. Chris h., the team name is officially Lakers. Virtually all sports team names end in the plural (there are exceptions, such as the Stanford Cardinal, named after the color not the bird). That said, Laker is such a common usage that nobody blinks at it.

  96. thanks kurt, then there’s the Jazz, and the Magic, and one other, but can’t recall it. (oh yeah, THE HEAT!)
    wonder if the laker(s) brass know?
    maybe the laker orginazation will…
    think the Laker announcer’s will be the same?
    see, so many ways to properly use the singular name.

  97. Kurt,
    I would assume Lakers refers to the team and Laker refers to an individual. For example a player might say he’s a Ram,a Bruin or a Dodger,not he’s a Rams,Bruins or Dodgers,but he plays for the Rams,Bruins,Dodgers.

  98. Sorry. Can’t really care abour Artest going to Houston. Doesn’t make T-Mac not a wuss, can’t stop Yao from getting hurt 50 games into the season, and it definitely won’t help Skip from being a hothead. they will play some decent defense though. hey, maybe they’ll go 7 games before getting losing in the 1st round this time.

  99. 92 – Stephen,

    My post wasn’t aimed at RFA, as if it was a problem, it was a remedy to help with the impending problems the NBA will have with theis new found European leverage. It’s the RFA’s and MLE type of players that will get stolen or forced to use Europe as a bargaining chip. The Player’s Union will always be more intersted in getting their player’s paid. New and old, and they need them to STAY NBA players in order to be effective in getting what they want. What I outlined helps both sides, and helps the NBA from losing these types of players.

  100. Hey Kurt,

    if I remember right, you said that these Ron Artest trade rumors were just that, and because they were all over the media they would probably not happen.

    These rumors, unless taken with a grain of salt, just leaves some fans disappointed over something that was never going to happen in the first place.

    I’m happy that this site has always stayed away from all this trade speculation.

    Unlike other sites that shall remain nameless, The Lakers Na…

  101. You’d think it’s a slow news day by the topics being discussed today… Laker vs Lakers? Ha!! But I think I agree with Stephen’s comments in #99. But if that’s the case, what does an individual Jazz player call himself? “I’m a Jazz”?? That sounds wierd.

    Switching topics – How ’bout them Rockets huh? Alston, TMac, Artest, Battier, Yao……wow. They could be a top 3 team automatically in the West.

  102. 85. I did a search of registered marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) and it shows that there are registered marks for LOS ANGELES LAKERS, LOS ANGELES LAKER GIRLS and http://WWW.LAKERS.COM.

    Also, the owner of these marks is THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS, INC., a California corporation.

    Therefore, if you are referring to the Laker Girls then use the singular. Otherwise, use the plural.

  103. The Rockets look pretty solid.
    1-Alston, the kid from Oregon?
    2-McGrady, Head, Barry
    3-Battier, Scola
    4-Artest, Landry, the kid from Kansas?
    5-Yao, Mutombo

  104. Top 3 in the west:

    Lakers
    Houston
    New Orleans

    Everybody else is scrambling. Utah and SAS don’t even make the cut above.

    Man… I wish we could have gotten Kwame at 3 years at $9mm. That would have really helped.

  105. I’m not going to move the Rockets above the Spurs or the Hornets just yet. Just because it looks good on paper, doesn’t mean that the Rockets are now big time.

    The Rockets have had good teams in the past, but because of major injuries to McGrady and Yao, along with a change in coaches have lead them to less than stellar seasons. Not counting the 22 wins in a row last season.

    There are a lot of questions to be answered. Where is he going to play? Is he coming off the bench? What happens if the team is hit by injuries again? Will Artest try to be center of attention or just blend in?

    I always thought that Artest was a talent on both ends of the court, but I never like the “baggage” that he carries or his attitude. Just look at how he handled the decision not to opt-out and then complain openly about it saying that the Kings deceived him. It was his fault.

    As far as the Rockets go, I’ll wait and see…

  106. Wow, the Rockets got Artest for both defense and offense, it’s crazy.

    A team that can throw both Battier and Artest at Kobe… with Yao and Mutombo at the back… ouch. Interesting, to say the least.

    If their chemistry(and health) holds, then they could make some serious noise next year… and they’ll undoubtedly make even more noise if their chemistry does NOT hold. ;)

  107. Wow.. i don’t know if this is allowed here, but:
    http://thelakersnation.com/blog/2008/07/24/peirce-i-dont-think-kobe-is-the-best-player-im-the-best-player/

    Apparently Pierce just bashed Kobe and claimed he’s way better than KB24

  108. thats a funny thing to say considering what he did before kg and allen showed up. and he was in the east… that quote couldve been from artest, but i didnt think pierce was that dumb.

    houston always makes good trades in the offseason and then they usually fail because of injuries. artest should make their (already great) defense even better, but we all know what will happen if things dont go well. anyway, ronron is in a contract year and likes the coach, so i guess they arent risking that much.

    cant wait for the first game against boston this year… kobe is not going to like pierces comment :D

  109. Thought this was interesting:

    “Former player who is serving time in a halfway house, wants to try out for Lakers.
    Paul Egan / The Detroit News

    DETROIT — Robert “Tractor” Traylor, a former Michigan and NBA player who is serving time in a halfway house for preparing a false tax return, will ask a federal judge today to amend his probation conditions so he can try out for the Lakers. ”

    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080730/SPORTS0102/807300362/1127

    I wonder what kind of shape he is in. If I remember correctly he was never really in great shape anyways. Could be someone that can fill out the roster at a minimum and be insurance, assuming he is in any kind of shape.

  110. the other Stephen July 30, 2008 at 6:36 am

    107. paul pierce just buried himself. i just want to note how sadly insufficient his summer life is without a hit of “drama.” hello, gilbert arenas!

  111. I think you can argue that the Ron Artest trade for a pu-pu platter of draft picks and expiring contracts was even more lop-sided than the Gasol trade. Because the Lakers had to take a dive into luxury tax territory…

  112. Re: Artest

    I don’t know what to make of it at this point, but the Rockets look awfully good at this point. There’s interesting speculation that Artest will be played as an undersized PF so that Battier can still start, and the floor will be spaced out for Yao. Still, I can’t get over the sheer amount of injuries that the Rockets have (Yao, McGrady, and Landry) with respect to their main players.

    Also, Artest will clearly be the 3rd option so it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to that. But a great move by the Rockets’ FO. At least this definetively means the Lakers’ core-roster is set and we can end the silly Odom speculation at this point.

  113. “Man… I wish we could have gotten Kwame at 3 years at $9mm. That would have really helped.”

    I just don’t get it. We can get Mbenga much cheaper and he’s no worse. I am confused as why anyone here would think Kwame is worth $3 million, especially here. But yet, most of us agreed that Ronny should’ve been let go for $4 million. Okay??? Doesn’t make much sense to me. All it wouls’ve helped is my blood pressure go up, and Best Buy , after I have to get another TV after breaking mine watching Kwame miss a dunk with a 6’0 PG coming at him.

  114. DY,
    It was worse regarding injuries for the Rockets last yr. After season ended Battier and Alston had surgeries and McGrady had both his shoulder and knee done. But most teams have injuries-its when they occur that’s important.

    Chibi,
    The Rockets prob rotations are Barry as the backup point,Battier Sixth man spelling T-Mac/Artest,Scola and Yao and they’re hoping Dorsey can be third,more defensive big.
    Contrary to speculation I don’t think Rockets will use McGrady/Artest as a PG,what is more likely is Battier/Artest as a PF matching up against teams going small and covering Dirk,Lamar(at the 4) and other PFs who play outside.

    Paydawg,
    Maybe you’ve hit on the real reason FAs don’t want to go to Utah-they wouldn’t know what to call themselves!
    :)

  115. 2 points for discussion, (maybe) –

    1) Tracktor Trailer says he wants permission from the probation court to come to LA to try out for the lakers, (now that’s a big body to put on Perkins)

    2) Dumars says (if Kwame works out) that ‘Sheed would be expendable around mid season… he could spread the floor, and be a big as well.

  116. carter blanchard July 30, 2008 at 8:17 am

    I guess this is hard for me to judge given that I don’t know the exact contents of our offer, but I think the Artest trade (along with last summer’s KG trade) really drives home for me how much GMs seem to undervalue Odom (thankfully from my point of view, perhaps in both cases). A huge expiring contract, who also happens to be a terrific rebounder, an extremely versatile player who can take some of the playmaking duties off your young star without really needing any of the spotlight. And at 29 he’s still in his prime. How is that not the perfect piece to spend a year rebuilding with? I suppose I can’t be sure what we put on the table, and ESPN is reporting that we were “reluctant” to part with Odom, but I guess that doesn’t make sense then that we were also “undeniably dissapointed” to have missed on him. What could we have possibly have been offering if not a package built around Odom? Anyway, pointless to speculate now that it’s over, and mostly relieved that it is and that we came away without making any huge mistakes.

  117. the other Stephen July 30, 2008 at 8:23 am

    wait, so what is tractor traylor doing right now?

  118. Thank Jeebus that Houston took Artest – now I don’t have to constantly fear him joining (ruining) the Lakers.

    Pearce can say what he wants – no one should take him seriously anyway – nothing wrong with self-confidence, even if it is deluded.

  119. What kind of shape is tractor trailer in. From what I remember he never was in that good of shape to begin with. I guess he could possibly make the roster as an insurance big man, but that would require that he was in some kind of basketball shape. But the Lakers could probably get Mbenga for the same price.

  120. Tractor Traylor played in the Vegas summer league, and I saw a couple of his games. He looked pretty good, but part of that was because he was a veteran player in a world of youth. He made some smart passes when 99% of the other guys would have taken the shot to pad the stats. He grabbed some boards. He looked solid. Not in shape in the classic sense, but he never did, but he got up and down the floor fine.

    Frankly, I’d bring him into camp and see. For a minimum salary as the back of the line big, it could be a reasonable fit.

  121. Just show me one team that Ron Artest has led to success.

    Have fun, Houston.

  122. I always had an affinity for Traylor. He was obviously a beast in college, but in the pros not as much. Like Kurt said, I’d really like to bring him into camp just to see if he sticks for the minimum as a back up big.

    The two things I always liked about him was his strength and his hands. He had great hands. I never saw him drop a ball and he never really got stripped on rebounds or fumbled passes. He seemed reasonably smart as well. I’m sure with time he’s matured some too so why not take a camp flyer on a veteran type player that is obviously working to try and get back into the league?

  123. So, Kings trade Artest for peanuts just as long as it isn’t to the Lakers. Interesting.

    As for Artest playing the 4, I’d like to see him guard Odom or Gasol on the block. Please.

  124. Houston will have a problem. Maybe not immediately but they will. Artest has undeniable skills but he’s a nut job and sooner or later he’ll show his true colors.

  125. New post up that sort of changes the topic — Andrew Bynum’s salary.

  126. why is it that teams always want more from the lakers in a trade then what they actually get from other teams eventually. like this artest trade… i dont think houston will have any problem.. he has already played for this coach, iam sure he knows how to handle him… they are going to be one tuff team to beat now…

  127. Ohh yeah, i think we need to get rid of walton and radmanovic.. both are lazy underachievers, that occasionally have a good game, but not when you need them to..

  128. Great, we don’t have to even think anymore that Ron or Kwame will be playing for the Lakers this year, it’s over now.

  129. can anyone give a background on dwayne mitchell? lakers just signed him. i assume its a guaranteed contract. so what does it mean for coby karl and the 2nd rd pick crawford? will he just be a roster filler or does he have genuine shot at making the team?

  130. Mitchell was on the the Lakers summer league team in Vegas and averaged 20 ppg for Iowa in the D-League last year. He is simply a camp invite, is NOT a guaranteed deal and very likely will not be on the roster come the start of the season. He is camp fodder.