Archives For September 2008

Lakerology

Gatinho —  September 12, 2008

In these days where the lobe of our brain that is all things Lakers is like a forlorn castaway on a desert island longing for a sip of fresh water, we can look back on some vids and articles that can fill in the time and simultaneously slake and whet our thirst for even a simple pre-season tilt

Hit the links and enjoy some Lakerology

Speaking of pre-season, this may be one of the more interesting in recent memory. The Return, The Prelude, starring Young Andrew Bynum

What are the effects of a Phil Jackson training camp on Pau Gasol?

Phil Jackson explains the Triangle… “In His Own Words”:

“If your holding the ball longer than 2 seconds, your holding up your team…” Phil Jackson breaks down the offense for the fans.

Tex explains what to do if the defense is sagging in the post, aka the “Two Pass” or “Pinch Post”… where we should see Pau and Kobe a lot this season…

“The Moment of Truth” in the offense… when a players gets within 3 feet of his defender, the rest of the offense needs to move. This is something the regular fan actually can look for in a game. If Kobe’s jab stepping at the top of the key and there are no cutters…there should be a “pressure release” aka “The Blind Pig”…

Creating a triangle in a way that is inconspicuous to the defense… and another triangle axiom, “The player with the ball hits the first open man. It is an offense predicated on player and ball movement with a purpose

“The first principle is penetration.” Another point the layman can look for…How fast do they get into the triangle?… and they are not called “plays”, they are called “a series of options”. And why don’t the coaches huddle with the players at the beginning of time outs?

Jordan Farmar:

A Peace Player, in Israel making a change in the world with a hoop, a ball, and some Woodenesque ideas on teamwork…

…and if you don’t know who the Fanhouse’s Elie Seckback is… you should check him out

From the SI.com vault… where they have archived and allowed access to some of the greatest sports writing and sports writers…

The young, exciting, and surging 1995 Lakers…

What did the Lakers know that nobody else did?…That 6’6″ rookie guard Eddie Jones , out of Temple , the NBA ‘s 10th draft choice overall, would outplay other lottery picks with contracts $50 million richer than his six-year, $13.5 million deal? That Cedric Ceballos , a career backup with the Phoenix Suns , would make the Laker faithful forget recently retired James Worthy? That point guard Nick Van Exel would help them forget Magic Johnson? That through Sunday they would be 21-11, on a 54-victory pace and in third place in the rugged Pacific Division?

Kermit Washington’s infamous punch…

For all his reputation as one of …the strongest, most dangerous customers in the game, off the court Washington is a gentle, sensitive, family man who is popular with both teammates and opponents…

The Immortal Chick Hearn…

…From high above the western sideline of the Los Angeles Forum, the world’s most beautiful sports theater, hello again, everybody, this is Chick Hearn.”

The voice was steady and sure of itself, and it caught the ear. The voice was made for radio, painting pictures in the dark. “Wow, what a tempo! Magic back and forth like a windshield wiper with the dribble drive, he throws up a prayer…air ball. Rebound left side taken by McAdoo, he goes right back up—a frozen rope that time, no arch, but it melted right in the hole…

The announcement that caused the Lakers to trade Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the 13th pick in the draft…

…Bryant , a 6’6″ shuffler—except on a basketball court, where he moves like lightning—ambled up to the podium in a vent-less sport coat and fine dress trousers bought at the last minute and in need of a tailor, his sunglasses positioned on the top of his shiny shaved head. His coat had puffy shoulders, masking his frame, which at 190 pounds is as skinny and malleable as a strand of cooked spaghetti. He leaned his goofy kid’s mouth toward the microphone, mockingly brought his fingers to his unblemished chin as if he were still pondering his decision, and delivered the news that insiders had been expecting for a week.

“I’ve decided to skip college and take my talent to the NBA ,” Bryant said.

And finally…

…for what it’s worth. I don’t get out to many shows these days. But Beck in Reno was the highlight of my summer

-Gatinho

No Surgery For Kobe

Kurt —  September 9, 2008

Straight from Kobe’s Web Site:

After seeking numerous opinions from hand specialists, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has decided to forgo surgery on his right pinkie. Fresh off his Olympic Gold Medal performance in Beijing, Bryant expressed that he did not want to miss any time on the court when Lakers training camp opens later this month.

“I have always felt that I can still focus and play at a high level even through various injuries. That’s really just part of the game. When the doctors told me recovery from a procedure could be 12 weeks, I just decided now was not the time to have surgery. What it really came down to for me is that I just didn’t want to miss any time ‘punching the clock’ for the Lakers, given all we are trying to accomplish as a team this NBA season. I am just really excited and looking forward to being there with the guys when camp opens in a few weeks. That is a real bonding process and if I can avoid being on the sidelines for that, God willing, I will,” said Bryant.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive — from Reed here are the pre- and post-injury stats on Kobe:

Kobe pre-injury:
46 games, 45.9% FG, 83.6% FT, 35.6% 3P, 8.8 FTA/gm, 5.1 3PA/gm

Kobe post-injury (including playoffs):
57 games: 46.5% FG, 83.1% FT, 34.4% 3P, 9.4 FTA/gm, 5.0 3PA/gm

Reed’s comment: Basically: the injury had absolutely zero effect on his shooting accuracy, how often he tried to get to the line, or how often he shot 3s. He also missed zero games because of it.

Bynum and Other Thoughts

Kurt —  September 8, 2008

The biggest news for the Lakers recently is that Andrew Bynum sat down with the local media and said that he is 100% healthy and ready to go. A few quotes from the stories:

“I can’t wait, man. I think I’m the only guy who wants the season to start, like, tomorrow, you know what I mean? But I just can’t wait to play with the fellows. I haven’t done it in seven months, so I’m excited.

If I handle my business on the court, the business off the court will be handled. So, we can wait on that. It would be nice to get it done before the season, so I obviously wouldn’t have to think about it, but if not. … I think I’m going to be ready. All I can do is show up and work hard every day. … It would be nice to have that done, but I’m going to be out there either way.”

I have two thoughts here. First, I hope this is true. Mitch Kupchak said it looked like it was when he went to Atlanta to watch the workouts, and Bynum said all the right things. This is good. He is a key to title hopes for the Lakers this season.

Second, if I wanted a max deal, this is exactly the press conference I would hold.

Personally, I think we should wait until we there have been practices and maybe some exhibition games before we decide all is right with the world. But the Lakers need to get his deal worked out before Oct. 31 or then he becomes a restricted free agent next year, and from there bad feelings can start to build because of perceived slights, and you don’t want that with your stars of the future.

A few other thoughts.

• Glad to see Kobe is getting the surgery on his finger (the official date will come out later today and I’ll update here when it happens). This needs to get done, I’d rather have him miss a few games at the beginning of the season than not be right when it matters. That said, I think Ziller said it best at Fanhouse: “Only Kobe could set a date on which he’ll announce which date he’ll have surgery on his pinky.”

• I don’t know what you’re talking about, I thought my Fighting Irish looked fine.

• Great note out of Bruins Nation, taking specifically about the bad ending of the Washington v. BYU game over the weekend, but the sentiment applies to all sports:

The call was simply bad. But, the Pac 10 explanation, after the game, was worse. “We were simply following the rules”.

And, therein lies the problem. It is not simple to follow rules. Rules are applied. They are not “followed”. Rules have no meaning until an official uses JUDGMENT — looks at the PURPOSE of the rule and the CONTEXT or situation, and determines how to apply it to bring about a fair and just result.

• My first pick in fantasy football — Tom Brady (#7 overall). Well, that was a fun season.

Lakers I Miss: The Fabulous Forum

Gatinho —  September 5, 2008


“Let there be a new NBA basketball champion ensconced in my fabulous new Fabulous Forum.”

Jack Kent Cooke

A building that in its later years seemed dated and cavernous. The place where all the tired Laker fan stereotypes were born. The same ones that were trotted out once again during this years Finals. Fair weather celebrity fans, those who went to the game to be watched instead of watching. The format of the Forum being unique to arenas of today where one could walk around the “inside track”, while still being able to watch the game.

But those of us who cut our NBA teeth in its confines, have other more positive memories of the column encircled edifice on Manchester Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.

Its story is inextricably entwined with the man whose eccentric vision spawned its existence.

Hey, Jack, why do they call this place Fabulous?”

“…That’s the most stupid question ever to pass through your lips,” Cooke answered. The Forum was packed. Chandeliers hung high over customers ordering drinks from lovely, toga-draped waitresses. A highly paid basketball team cavorted below in its underwear. “What else could they call it?”

When Cooke first owned the Lakers, bought from previous owner Bob Short for in excess of $5 million dollars and paid for in cash, he wanted a hockey team, too.

In order to acquire the expansion NHL franchise that would bring professional hockey to the west coast, Cooke would have to promise to build a new building, and that he did.

“About 2,000 years ago and 6,000 miles east of here.”

Cooke tabbed the architectural firm of Charles Luckman and Associates who had just designed the newly built Madison Square Garden and would later design the LAX Theme Building among other famous American structures. Cooke disliked the preliminary drawings that were presented and asked for something that recalled the architecture of antiquity, a modern day Roman Coliseum.

Cooke would end up spending upwards of $16 million dollars on the land and property combined for Hollywood Park’s new neighbor. It would be Chick that would dub it “Fabulous” and Cooke that would remark that for such a great idea, Hearn would receive “something extra” in his next paycheck. In a vintage Cooke maneuver, Hearn would open the envelope to find a wallet sized photo of the Laker owner.

The Kings would have the honor of playing first on December 30, 1967 with a win over the Philadelphia Flyers. A day later the Lakers would follow suit, christening the new building and the New Year by pounding the San Diego Rockets.

“The most confusing, complex transaction in the history of sports.”

Cooke was getting divorced and his wife was about to be awarded a huge chunk of his $100 million dollar empire. (People’s Court judge Joseph Wapner would preside) Subsequently and for tax reasons, Cooke wanted to trade Jerry Buss the Forum, the Kings, and the Lakers for land holdings instead of cash. Buss would have to tap friend and Clipper owner Donald Sterling for help with funds in a deal that was said to include the lease to The Chrysler Building.

Buss would turn the court side seats that Cooke had famously kicked the press out of to the hottest, and most expensive, ticket in town. With Magic Johnson, who Buss famously insisted the team pick instead of Sidney Moncrief, at the helm the Lakers would dominate the ’80’s and solidify Inglewood as “The City of Champions”.

Like watching the game from the top of a building across the street…

Buss, whose customary seat at the Forum was in the “end zone” underneath the retired numbers, a trick he learned from football scouts so he could see plays develop, was also an innovator. A hybrid owner who placed winning as a priority while still having the business acumen to find new ways to bring in money for the team and the building. He was the first owner to sell the naming rights to a building. In a move that was painful to most fans and begat such silly names as Petco Park, Buss had the Forum renamed The Great Western Forum in a licensing deal that would net $17.8 million dollars.

But the lack of luxury boxes to attract corporate buyers would be the death knell of the Lakers stay. And in 2000 the Lakers would baptize their new building with another championship. Ringed with luxury boxes and having “cheap seats” that were ridiculously high above the action would solidify the perception that the Lakers were a team of the famous, the corporate, and the privileged.

But last year in a move that was applauded by all, the team paid homage to the charm of the Forum with its Lakers only “Lights Out” theatrical flair.

Championships clinched in the Forum:

West and Riley hugging as they ran off the floor in 1972

Cooper battling Dr. J as the Lakers would take the title in 1982

Kareem and Magic hitting big free throws down the stretchin 1987

Isaiah Thomas’ valiant effort in defeat and Big Game James Finals MVP in 1988

Other memorable non-Laker Forum events:

1968: The first Forum concert featured the duo of Tony Bennett and Duke Ellington.

1973: Muhammad Ali defeats Ken Norton in a split decision, avenging a loss that saw Norton break Ali’s jaw.

1984: Venue for the basketball competition of the XXIII Olympiad in which both USA teams won gold.

I was 11 in 1981 when I saw my first game… When was your first time? What are your best memories?

A Laker I Miss… The Fabulous Forum

-Scott Thompson aka Gatinho

Getting Paid

Kurt —  September 4, 2008

When we talk about Lakers looking to get paid lately, it’s been about Andrew Bynum and what he is worth. (Apparently he is doing well this off-season, by the way.) I’ve said what I think he should make, but whatever the number is this is something the Lakers need to get taken care of in camp.

Which leaves a few Lakers playing for their next contract during the coming season. Odom is one, although at this point his career we have a pretty good idea what he brings to the table. His situation will be an interesting one to watch this season. Ariza is another interesting case.

But maybe the most interesting and important long term will be Jordan Farmar. He will be playing the key year of his rookie deal, his third year. (While the Lakers have a team option for his fourth season, with players you want to keep traditionally you negotiate a long term deal after the third season.) Farmar wants to get paid. Without talking out of school, he wants to get paid starter money. Can’t blame him for wanting that.

But he has to earn it. This is the year I think we’re going to see just how good Jordan Farmar can be in the league. Is he a good starting PG, someone who can be trusted to handle the ball for a team going deep into the playoffs? Or, his he a nice PG, a guy who can be a solid backup and role player for quality teams, but is not starter material.

I don’t think we know the answer to that yet. We know he has a good work ethic and his game made big leaps between his first two seasons — true shooting percentage jumped from 51% to 55%, his three point shooting jumped from 32.8% to 37.1%, his assists were up while turnovers were down, his PER was up three points to 15.7 (about the league average). Those kinds of improvements just don’t happen without a lot of work. He gets called out for his defense, but opposing PGs shot just 47.5% (eFG%) against him and had a not great but not bad PER of 16.4 (those numbers were pretty comparable to the previous year).

The question now is, can he make another leap forward? On both ends of the floor? More importantly can he show us that he is the PG of the future, can he basically rip key minutes away from Fisher because Phil can’t just keep him on the bench?

If he does that, he gets paid. Maybe not as much as he dreams, but he’ll get a good offer. Good PGs matter. But if he doesn’t, if he really is a role player, he’ll get paid at that level. And that is not what he’s hoping for.

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Here are a few other Dim Sum free comments and links:

• Everyone in the basketball blogsphere has linked to the Periodic Table of Basketball Bloggers. And with good reason, this is an impressive piece of work and a fun read. Plus, this site correlates with titanium on the table of elements, and I can live with that just fine.

• I’m not a fan of the idea, but there are a lot of people suggesting bringing Odom off the bench this season. And making their case.

• I think everyone is being a little hard on Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur. I think what they were doing was vintage Hunter S. Thompson straight out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — get stoned in the one place you are not supposed to. Maybe it’s NBA rookie camp, maybe it’s a meeting of drug enforcement agents, but the attitude is the same. Fear and Loathing. Those two are my new favorite guys (no need to tell them about the bats, they’ll find out about them soon enough).