Archives For September 2008

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).