Savoring Wins

Kurt —  February 9, 2009

Cavalers vs. Lakers
There is nothing that I can say that all of you didn’t say better. So, here are a few highlights from the comments yesterday:

Drrayeye

NBA Mythology in Disarray

I believe that fans and pundits alike always subscribe to a mythical NBA scenario. In this most recent mythology, leading up to the most recent Laker road trip, the Lakers were to lose at least 2 games away–splitting home and home victories with Cleveland and Boston–and then try to develop or prove their toughness for an ultimate East/West showdown in the playoffs.

Boston would ultimately become the East coast champions, Labron would become the NBA MVP as a consolation prize, and the NBA championship would hinge on who got home court advantage (probably the Leprechauns).

When Bynum went down in game #1, the Lakers lost their chance to prove toughness through seasonal play-and their chance at home court advantage. Their only chance would be through an unlikely “Gasol style” Hail Mary trade. Many Laker fans who bought into this mythology actually gave up on the Lakers until next year.

The Laker victories on the road, under extreme circumstances, successively at Boston and Cleveland have shaken the mythologists to the core. How could the Lakers be soft when Lamar pats KG on the butt and makes two free throws and the Lakers squeak out a victory? How can Lebron be MVP when he has a stinker of a game at home while a sick Kobe makes an impossible “lights out” rainmker in his face? If the season is over without Andrew, how come the Lakers just went 6-0 on a road trip without him? Could reality be a bit more complex than the mythologists thought?

Reality tells us that the Thunder could come into Staples on Tuesday and beat the Lakers by 30. Reality tells us that that a resurgent Jazz, Suns, Trailblazers, ??? could take out the #1 Lakers in the first round of the Western playoffs.

Reality tells us that Duncan, Wade, Howard, or some other star may yet emerge as the top MVP candidate–as he leads his team to and through the playoffs.

Reality tells us that teams like Miami, Atlanta, or even Larry’s Bobcats might somehow not only make it into the playoffs, but knock out the Leps and the Crabs in the process.

The mythologists are scratching their heads, trying to decide whether or not to invent a new mythology.

I subscribe to reality. I watch the games, speculate on trades, and appreciate Laker wins on a daily basis–never knowing for sure what will happen next.

You know what? The mythologists don’t either.

kwame a.

How about Phil freaking Jackson. There’s always some sob story that gets a heavy push for coach of the year because he took a non-playoff team and made them a 6 seed, but what Phil has done, especially with guys like LO, Sasha, Luke, Jordan, is the essence of coaching. Finding roles for players and making them learn to carry out their responsibilities is the hardest thing for a coach to do, and Phil has been the best at that. When it is all said and done, his second tour with the Lakers will define Phil Jackson’s legacy. He is dispelling any myth (can’t win without talent already there, can’t coach young players) and is having fun.

kwame a.

Why the need to feed K.Ding the stuff about Vlad wearing Vans to practice? No need to throw dirt on Vlad, I just don’t think there’s much to gain from that, and he did a lot of stuff for local charities, just let the guy leave.

Darius

I’m really loving the way the team is playing right now. They’re playing with a mental edge that keeps them in every game (epitomized by the 11-0 run after the Cavs had taken that 12 point lead), they’re executing the offense, and turning up the defensive pressure in crucial parts of the game where stops are most important. I can’t say that this is the best we’ve played all year (we are 41-9 so there have been other parts of the season where we’ve looked extremely strong), but I can say that as we get deeper into the season it’s very promising that we’re still playing very well and that we seem to be finding our stride against the better teams in the league. It’s also very encouraging that while Andrew is out injured, that other players (like LO) have stepped up their game(s) and proven to be the capable players that we all thought they were.


Zephid

What does Lamar Odom mean to the Lakers? To me, this game was the answer to that question. No, it wasn’t the gaudy stats, with his 28 points on 13-19 shooting, with 17 rebounds and a block. It was all the little things that he can do that make him special.

Yes, Lamar does not have nearly the statistical consistency of Gasol, the killer instinct of Kobe, the professionalism of Fish, the size of Bynum, or the energy of Ariza. But, there is one thing that Lamar does that no one else on this team can do: Be a vocal glue guy during the game.

What does this mean? We’ve all heard of vocal leaders, and vocal supporters, but a vocal glue guy? The difference is, while vocal leaders are meant to push the team in a certain direction, and vocal supporters are meant to pump up teammates, a vocal glue guy is someone who holds the team together in a game, giving us a sense of unity and solidarity.

During ABC telecasts, they always have a “WIRED” section, where they attach a mic to a player and randomly play snippets of audio from various times during the game. When the Lakers are on ABC, Lamar is always the guy to wear the mic. During today’s game, there were three snippets in particular that I found indispensable:

1.) During pre-game, right before the game starts, the team makes a circle with Lamar standing in the middle, where Lamar orates a pseudo-sermon (one that particularly stands out is, “I know we all love road kill, but now it’s time for us to get some home cookin’,” referring to the Lakers being an excellent road team and now coming home to defend their home court). Most of the time, I can’t make out what Lamar says (maybe I’m too much of a hick), but is there any other Laker who would do that? My answer is no.

2.) During the game, Lamar was constantly talking to his guards. “I got you, baby. I got you, baby,” he said, in reference to being behind a guard ready to slide over and help in case of penetration. Given Bynum, Gasol, and Powell’s reserved demeanors, I can’t imagine any of them doing this quite as well as Lamar. This type of communication, while somewhat mundane, makes our defense work, and Lamar is probably the best at it.

3.) On several putbacks or dunks, Lamar roars at the end of them. There were at least three dunks today when after Lamar finished, he let out a primal scream as he turned to run back up the floor. I doubt we’ll ever see Kobe show that much emotion, and Gasol only screams when he thinks he got fouled. This energy, this passion, makes Lamar singular on this team.

Most nights (excluding tonight) many of us are busy criticizing Lamar for his shortcomings, whether it be mental concentration, will-power, or drive to succeed. Most Lamar supporters counter with his versatility, his ability to defend 4 out of 5 positions, ball-handling, rebounding, cutting, and now improved jump shot. However, I think that Lamar’s true value lies in his holding this team together. He may not get the All-Star attention like Gasol or Bynum, and he may not be the face of the team like Kobe, but I contend that he may be more important than all of them, for we can win as a group of talented individuals without Lamar, but with Lamar, we become a team.

Kurt

Posts

125 responses to Savoring Wins

  1. I hope we resign Lamar (and Ariza). He’s shown how indispensable to this team he is. I hope he keeps his newfound mental edge from here on in.

  2. I think this trip, and specifically the last two games, shows the true depth that we have. Yes, we are nearly unbeatable when every player (starter and bench) plays well, but that is true of almost any team. Most nights you don’t have every player clicking, but in our case we generally have at least 2-3 players who are making their mark. Yesterday was Lamar’s turn (and I hope he continues to play like that). Tomorrow could be Luke, Powell, Farmar, Fish…the point is that Kobe and Pau (and now Drew) will give you solid performances almost every night out – it’s the othe guys who truly make the difference. It is nice to see that no one really cares who’s making the plays as long as everyone is involved and we end up with the win.
    6-0 has to go down as one of the best road trips in recent Laker history.

  3. Everyone that said 6-0 road trip raise their hand…Yeah, I know that was childish.

    Love the highlighted prior comments in the main post, especially when I didn’t check the site over the weekend. I understand wanting to give love to LO, and I even love knocking Gasol in the process, but Zephid seems to have short term memory loss concerning Mamba’s oncourt displays of emotion.

    Example 1 – 2008 Playoffs Round 1, Game 2. I’m looking at the the pic of this guy yelling and blowing smoke off his imaginary guns on my work desktop as I type.

  4. Couldn’t one say that the Lakers as a whole somehow mimic Odom or have taken on his personality a little bit?

    Lamar has had to face constant adversity, the deaths in his family and all, just like the Lakers have had to deal with the Bynum injuries etc.

    Also, with Odom, the question has never been the talent or his multiple skills, just the focus and (mental and physical) toughness. Isn’t that just how you would describe the current incarnation of the Lakers? Insane talent and multiple facets, particularly to the offense, which is unstoppable except when it loses focus. The result is too many outside shots instead of attacking the basket, being unattentive on defense, not closing out shooters.

    So after the Cavs game, aren’t the Lakers a little bit ‘Odom’ right now?

  5. I agree with everything except the emotion(less) from Kobe, last year in Utah he went postal, and after a 360(i think) in Sactown I thought he was trying to turn into the Incredible Hulk

  6. Saying the Laker have lacked focus at times this year is belittling the 41-9 record. If we lack focus then what does that say for the other teams in the league?

    We fans dote on perfection. There are no – and have never been – any perfect teams. The perfect is an incarnation of the mythology Drrayeye was talking about.

    In the same way we should stop taking Kobe apart and just enjoy him, we should stop taking the Lakers apart and just enjoy them. Sure the losses will hurt, but pain is also part of life – so live it.

  7. I have had Lamar’s back since his performance in that playoff series against the Suns when he was playing with the torn Labrum (same injury Jameer Nelson has now). That was heroic. Yeah maybe he dosent dazzle consitenly with stats…but when it comes down to it…he shows up. People will disagree with that after the finals last year but…NO LAKER showed up in some of those games.

    I was going to be content with the win in Boston…as long as they played hard in Cleveland…I was ok with a loss there…but our boys…man…it was a good game…and it was role-players against role players really. Lebron and Kobe were really non factors over all in the game…excpet the attention that they demand…and how they as offensive players dictate what the defense is going to do against them. Kobe…in the trianlge…had ways out and other guys were making their shots. This game really showed that the Cav’s truly are a 1 Pony show…cut the head of and the rest of the body just flouders…or whatever analogy you want to add.

    I know that the game was close…thru out…but…it really seemed that the Lakers were just on top of it all night…despite being down by 10…I was never worried…I kept thinking “well Kobe will get his shot to fall again and its over as long as they keep playing this defense on the Cav’s”. But Kobe didnt need to get it to fall…tho I think that Rainbow shot that went into orbit first before it cleared the nylon was the ultimate shot of the year (so far). Kobe said “you can not stop this team” with that shot.

  8. Many people know that Kobe and Fish are the leaders of this Laker team, but I think that many people don’t realize that Lamar is the heart and soul of this Laker team. He is the unofficial “Spirit Captaim” and I have noticed that Odom is playing confident and strong, the rest of the team responds. This is one of the many reasons why I believe the Lakers have not/will not trade him.

    Clutch824 – I was one of the guys that thought we would lose at least one game. I’m glad this team proved me wrong. They are showing that they are tough, gritty and not easily intimidated. Before this road trip I got the impression that not everyone on the team thought they were “Campionship” ready – with the exception of Kove. From what I have seen in the last few games, I can tell that everyone is starting to believe that. This is going to be important because of the challenges that lay ahead with the Spurs, Hornets and, if they ever get healthy, the Rockets.

    Go Lakers!

  9. Kobe is not what I would describe as “emotionless”, however, it’s not the same types of emotions as Lamar, and I think that is what Zephid meant. Kobe is not the “vocal glue”-type guy. He talks to his team mates on defense because that is necessary for the defense to work, but he doesn’t exactly do pep-talks. He doesn’t cheer them on, and when he is in Kobe-mode he barely even smiles when he makes an impossible jumper. He is focused.

    Kobe leads by example, by suiting up and going out to do his part even though he is so sick he throws up before the game and in half-time. He drops 61 points in a game to get everyone’s heads back in the game and out of the not-again-mentality.

    Lamar on the other hand, does the pre-game peptalks and encourages his team mates by speaking to them, and by loudly expressing anger as well as positive emotions on the court. We know he has a temper, and passions run both ways.

  10. Completion of this road trip has shown one thing the Lakers have improved from last year, team chemistry. Last year going into Boston during the Finals we looked like the troops entering the beaches of Normandy. There was just so much chaos going on and it seemed like wave after wave of pressure hit the Lakers and they were becoming drowned with the pressure.

    The current season shows a change in mentality. The Lakers look up to the task and are really getting each other’s back’s. During those scrums in Boston Lakers were more than ready to back their fellow teammate like Kobe pushing Rondo off Lamar.

    I am very impressed with how we banded together on this trip and hope we can sustain this effort, new mentality, and embrace it as part of our DNA when we head to the playoffs.

    Remember what Tex Winters says, “You are only a success at the moment that you do a successful act.”

  11. after this road trip, i’m confident the Lakers are a tough, resilient, veteran team. i hope the media continues to propagate the myth of softness, if only to further motivate the ballclub.

  12. Pain is part of life, so live it!

    Sounds like it was left on the cutting room floor of Nike’s “Just Do It” ad campaign…

    8 – Manny, that was just a bad joke, but props to you for representing anyway. I completely agree that everybody on the team didn’t fully believe in this thing, deep down. I think the Boston game changed that. Will there be future hiccups like the Bobcats game? Oh yeah, but it looks like everybody is now on the “Let’s get these rings” page.

  13. I just wanted to highlight a match-up that explains a bunch of our recent success, and makes me question the “experts’” predictions about the Lakers’ competitors in the West. (And man, what a great week to be a Laker fan.)

    In last year’s playoffs, no West team could match the combination of Lamar’s and Pau’s length, passing, and mobility. Against the Jazz, Boozer was undersized against Pau, and Lamar was too quick for Okur. Against the Spurs, let’s say Pau and TImmy negated each other, so Lamar again had a rebounding and driving advantage against Kurt and Oberto (and Bonner this year). But in the Finals, while KG and Pau negated each other (more or less), Lamar had to fight another strong big who is a solid post defender.

    The Cavs, unlike the Jazz and the Spurs, actually do have two mobile, athletic post defenders, but Mike Brown can’t play both Ben Wallace (who’s fading as a defender) and Mr. Floppy Hair at the same time; too much lost offense. So Lamar took advantage of match-ups against Wally and Ben in his sick 3rd quarter. I LOVED seeing Lamar take it to these two teams this week.

    Finally, on a note to a previous poster, I think the reason we saw D-Fish against LBJ a few times yesterday was not a specific strategy to have Fish guard LeBron, but because the Lakers were switching on all the P/Rs to encourage the outside shot and cut off easy driving lanes.

    I’m gonna say it worked. Go Lake Show!

  14. Some of the talking heads out there are starting to say that the Lakers have inherited the Boston mentality from last year…

    If it leads to more 6-0 periods, I’ll take it. Just no trash from Lamar I hope.

  15. I’ve seen a bunch of pundits claiming today and yesterday that before this game LO was somehow in PJ’s “doghouse” or was having a terrible year. That’s frustrating to me because we’ve discussed here how misleading his stats have been. Fortunately Kelly Dwyer nailed it. I just wish some of the more visible pundits would try reading him…

    If Kobe had the same stomach flu I had last weekend, then I’m impressed that he could stand for extended periods, let alone play basketball. Fortunately he has a few days off before OKC comes to town.

  16. At 50 games in, I think if you told any reasonable fan of the team that we’d have 9 losses everyone would be more than happy. The team has not always played it’s best ball but the wins have come nonetheless. I’ve spoken about belief in the team from fans, but most important is what clutch824 is implying, belief in the team from the players.

    Last off season when I spoke of experience and the resolve that comes from trying and failing, these recent games are the embodiment of what I was referencing. A team builds and gains momentum towards achieving its goals. At the beginning of this season, there was that great KG commercial where they took snippets of his interviews that he gave throughout last season where he spoke of all these little things that culminated in them winning. While we don’t have a snazzy commercial of our own, what we do have is our current record and what we see in the games that show we are on that same path that the Celtics took last season. And while there are no guarantees, what we should have is a sense of readiness about the team. I don’t care if the media has it or really even if the fans have it, but I do care if the players have it for themselves. It looks like they do. So in the spirit of the title of this post, I savor the wins, but even more so I savor the team itself. They are showing me something tangible. They’re erasing 4th quarter deficits. They’re battling any sense of entitlement and playing hard (even if the results don’t always come). They’re depending on each other and playing the game like partners dance…in a manner where everyone understands the next step and they take it together.

    Last season, despite the result, was probably one of the most fulfilling seasons I can recall because we saw a team grow from first round fodder to championship contender. I can say that I am just as fulfilled (at 50 games in) this season because I’m seeing that same type of growth. But it’s a different type of growth; it’s growth where the team is taking that last step towards greatness. I remember when Phil came on board the first time and took a team that could not get over the hump and then helped them become champions. I see us getting over that same hump now. Whether or not it happens is something that no one can predict. If you ask those Barkley Suns’ teams or those Drexler Blazers’ teams or those Stockton/Malone Jazz teams they’d probably all tell you that those teams were ready too, so I know that being ready is not enough…you need some breaks to go your way. But luck favors the prepared and I’m liking how our guys are preparing.

  17. Interesting stats if you scroll down the page into the results different defenders had on Lebron yesterday.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime

  18. the other Stephen February 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    i think that this post says what a lot of us have always felt about lamar, but never said. maybe he’s playing differently, maybe he’s not. after all, it’s only been a few games since andrew went down. but i will contend that lamar has always been one of this team’s main leaders. there are different types of leadership, the most effective of which is participatory. kobe may be the starchild of this organization–his impeccable work ethic and competitive drive inspires those around him, such as ronny, to work harder and want the prize all the more–but it took a long time for him to step out and start spending time with his teammates off the court.

    who else do you see in lakers videos chilling with the team off the court, but lamar? who else took a seat on the bench and actively shouldered the responsibility to look games and contribute in whatever areas the team was lacking? who else do you see walking through opponents’ huddles, giving hard fouls, and getting in opponents’ faces than lamar? who else would have done something as audacious as slap kg on the butt, saying “what the f*** are you gonna do about it?” and let him know what everyone else thinks of him?

    lamar has always been my favorite laker because he embodies the spirit of this team, as manny said. his heart is in los angeles, and that’s why i not only hope that this change we’re talking about is real, but also that he gets resigned this year.

  19. Our SSZ seems to really bother teams who depend on 1 scorer more than multiple scorers. For instance, we have contained Lebron wonderfully with our ability to overload a side to help whomever is guarding Lebron. Contrast that against teams like Orlando who have a varied point of attack and you see can see that have an easier time choking out an offense when there is only 1 place it originates from.

  20. Kwame a. I agree somewhat, but I also think we struggled with Orlando because our defensive scheme seems to be to clog the paint and make teams beat you from the outside. Which is a good strategy most nights. But we will struggle against a team like Orlando whose whole offensive scheme revolves around beating people from the outside then having Howard clean everything up.

  21. In the constant search for ways to upgrade Forum Blue & Gold, I think I finally found the perfect thing.

  22. Better watch it, or PETA will be picketing this site!

  23. PeanutButterSpread February 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    LO, Laker for Life.

    Seriously, Lamar is the glue guy to our team. Remember last year, during training camp when things were awkward between Kobe and the rest of the Lakers?

    Who was it that hired a personal chef to cook team meals for the team every breakfast, lunch and dinner?

    Lamar.

    He’s the glue guy that keeps everyone together.

    Laker fans that keep wanting him traded, you’ll realize how much the Lakers will miss him once he’s gone.

    There is no one else in that team that is more “team guy” than LO. And every great team needs a guy like LO.

  24. To a large degree, the two-man game between Lamar and Pau (on both offense and defense) is what got us to the finals last season.

    I am optimistic that Bynum will be back by (or before) the playoffs. And, what I’m hoping, is that his injury will give Jackson an excuse to bring him off the bench throughout the playoffs, allowing Lamar to start and accept his tertiary duties with the team. I like the 5 on 5 off possibilities of having Andrew anchor the bench and watching teams try to make that adjustment with their own bench players (or, being forced to keep their starters in longer than they want to).

    Andrew doesn’t need the ego boost of a starting role like Odom does. And, if Lamar plays the way he did in the playoffs last year, he truly will be our third best player.

  25. 1: Agreed. Lamar has always been the scape goat of the team for not being ‘the guy’ who could win it all with Kobe. However, that’s an unfair comparison because Odom is so much more to the team in such different ways. The teams that he and Kobe played on back in 2004-2007 were very, very young and inconsistent.

    It gets me when people say Odom always disappears under pressure so I did some number crunching for his Lakers postseason numbers prior to last season (i.e. when he was the #2 guy). I separated out his and Kobe’s numbers leaving what I like to refer to as RoT (rest of team – pun intended). It’s clearly not Lamar who wasn’t coming through:

    MIN PTS FG% REB AST STL BLK
    Kobe 44.1 29.9 48.0 5.8 4.8 1.1 0.4
    LO 42.3 19.3 48.9 11.8 3.8 0.4 1.2
    RoT 50.3 42.0 25.3 7.4 4.7 1.9

    I’ll take a 19-12-4 big man any day of the week as a number two option. Oh, and let’s not forget the 9 of 12 double-double games. Or, the near triple-double 5/4/2006 with 22-11-9 on 57% shooting on the road. How about the final effort in 2007 when he put up 33 and 10 to combine with Kobe for 67 points? Those six 15+ pt, 13+ rebound postseason games?

    I think you get my point. The guy has been the unsung hero for the Lakers since the Shaq trade. His acceptance of the sixth man role this year has only further solidified my respect for him. Maybe now, after yesterday’s brilliant national breakout, Lamar Odom can finally catch a break.

  26. Can we get some eggs too? How about some waffles? Maybe some irish creme? Im starving.

  27. That slab of bacon looked like a turd when it first popped on my monitor. It reminded me of Mr. Hankey from “South Park” back in the day.

    This was a great trip, on a hundred different levels. Few teams have the stones to go 6-0 on a cross-country (and even out of the country) trip, let alone taking away a 12-game win streak from the defending champions and then coming back to have this year’s best Eastern team (to date) its first loss at home.

    How many teams could do that? Better yet, how many could lose a key starter midway through game two, and still hold it together to finish 6-0?

    Winning in New York is always impressive, especially considering it came on the heels of Bynum’s injury. And the Wolves were smoking hot when L.A. took them down, so that counts for something too.

    Bottom line, this team is reminding more of the 1980s-era squads which simply took care of business, no matter how good the opponent may have been or what the obstacle of the day happened to be that week. No, it isn’t June, and yes, there’s still much to be proven. But give them credit for what they just accomplished. That was a huge, character displaying trip.

    Props to the bench for carrying the load at the start of the fourth while Kobe and Fish sat. Those guys will remember that success against a good team later on down the line. It meant more than just a W on a Sunday in Ohio.

    Lastly, I’m not sold on the Cavs as a title threat, great record aside. They have no inside game at all. Big Z is a good player, but he’s not a low-post threat and they have no shot blockers to hold down the inside. Watching Lamar take Ben Wallace from every angle was scary — it’s hard to believe that guy was once known as a big-time defender. Lamar made him look like a broken down old man.

  28. DMo,
    I like your idea, but Phil doesn’t usually approach structuring the team like that. He wants to establish dominance right off the bat and Andrew does that better than Lamar. Also, he wants a stable starting lineup, and doesn’t change based on matchups very much.

    Others,
    The problem with resigning Lamar isn’t what he brings, but what he earns. Hopefully, two things will happen…
    1) Management can convince Kobe not to opt out, so that they can afford Lamar and Trevor.
    2) Buss sees the possibility of multiple championships and all the money that goes with that and is more willing to field a really dominant team – even tho he will be in luxury tax h*ll.

  29. I like the reversal from the beginning of the season, when the lakers would blow out the teams in the first half, and let them have a comeback in the fourth quarter. No we are seeing a laker team that plays more consistently, with the ability to close a game out strong. I think this shows a measure of confidence and stability we haven’t seen before. Also, I really enjoy seeing the team chemistry, during the end of the game, everyone hugs each other, instead of a half-hearted high five. It really does look like a family out there.

    Good stuff.

  30. Kurt good idea, bacon makes everything better.

  31. “Asterick” is a good name for it if you think West and Pavlovic are that important. The Lakers are missing a pretty big piece themselves, you might recall.

  32. Poor T-wolves. Al Jefferson is out for the year with a torn acl. A month ago I might not have been very sympathetic, but now I can relate.

  33. I have a very big question here.
    Why does people keep asking Lamar, or whomever else to take a pay cut, but everyone just accepts the fact that Kobe can opt out and sign a new contract? If Kobe is truely selfless and committed to winning, shouldn’t he do what Arenas and Duncan did –take a paycut so the team can afford to resign players like Farmar, Ariza, and Odom? People should stop focusing on making Odom take the paycut when 1/10 of Kobe’s paycut can make a big difference. Why are we giving Kobe such a leeway?

    Anyone agree on it?

  34. Kenny,
    The difference is that Lamar, on the whole, hasn’t played to the level of his salary. Kobe, on the other hand, is a steal for what the Lakers pay him.

  35. Is there any sense of when the Lakers intend to have the press conference for the new Lakers? What’s going on? Heck, *I* can get into my doctor quicker that this…

  36. 33. Kenny, the union would not allow it. They do it in the NFL because the union sucks, but the NBA’s CBA with the union specifically does not allow you to opt out and take less money as you are suggesting. More importantly, why shouldn’t Kobe be able to make everything he can get? Kobe puts the butts in the seats, he sells the jerseys, he is a key reason the Lakers franchise is worth what it is right now. He is not overpaid based on what he earns the Buss family.

    Besides, the amount is not the question on Kobe’s deal, it is the years. He has about five left (at least near his peak) if he opts out he gets those five, but he will make a little less next year as the max deal starting point will be down slightly.

    LO, who I want back, is overpaid with his current deal. He should take a pay cut, particularly if he wants to stay with the Lakers. If he gets big money and goes somewhere else, more power to him, but he is not worth $14 million a year in my book.

  37. One side comment on yesterday’s game that was particularly impressive. So Lamar’s double-double in third quarter leads the Lakers back from down 12 early in Q3 to up 5 going into fourth quarter.

    Laker’s bench starts fourth as it customarily does, and it’s clear that Kobe is running on fumes. Cavs coach, Mike Brown, opts to start quarter with LeBron on floor vs. on the bench, which is departure from their strategy. Lakers bench extends the lead, remaining on the floor until around 5:40 mark.

    I thought that that was very impressive, especially in Q4 on road against a team that had not lost all season at home.

  38. Kurt,
    Based off my understanding Odom’s cap number is 14 mil, but according to Hoopshype his salary is 11.4 mil. The 14 million is actually his cap number because of the trade kicker that was added to his contract as part of the Shaq trade. I only bring this up because if we’re really asking Odom to consider a paycut, the difference may not be as much as it’s commonly assumed. I think a salary of 8-9 mil per year is a deal that the FO and us fans perspective, would seem reasonable. That would be a reduction of 2-3 mil per season from his current salary, but that reduction is much different than a 5-6 mil difference from the 14 mil that his cap number carries that is reported as his salary. (From my understanding) Dr. Buss actually paid the trade kicker in a lump sum when Odom was aquired and is not money that he’s currently receiving in his game checks. My ultimate point is that when talking about retaining Odom, we should point out that any potential pay cut down to a salary that is more in line with his role is not too far a drop off from what he currently earns.

  39. Kenny,

    Also, don’t be fooled by Gilbert Arenas. i don’t believe for one second he left money on the table. I feel that was nothing but savvy PR. He wasn’t getting that money anywhere else, especially coming off an injury. I doubt he was offered that money.

    Kurt’s right. Kobe generates more money then he gets paid. I think that from a PR standpoint, Kobe could look good by conceding something, since he did make it having an elite team a point of emphasis a year and a half ago, but The Lakers can afford to pay Luxury tax if they choose to. Why should Kobe take less, when he makes the Lakers a TON of money.

  40. I believe Kobe will take slightly less. Something along the lines of 100 million for 5 years. Hoopshype has him being paid 23 & 24 million for the next two seasons. Thats a substantial paycut.

    Kobe is playing for his legacy more than anything. The few million lost to guarantee the team stay together makes alot of sense.

  41. #28 Craig W. – I’m thinking that the Vlad-for-Ammo trade was made with Lamar in mind. This is the last year of Shannon Brown’s contract, so unless he blows the coaches away he’s probably gone next year. Morrison makes $5.2M next year–which is about $1.2M less than Vlad makes–after which his contract expires. I’m hoping that the front office is trying to work out a back-loaded deal with Lamar where he doesn’t make all that much next season, but then gets paid more in subsequent seasons after Ammo’s contract expires.

  42. Wondahbap,
    I’ve been a guy that has said that Kobe taking less wouldn’t be the worst idea that’s been brought up. Arenas is a guy that is often floated as taking less because he said so in his blog and the press loves his quotable nature. The guy I always reference in this argument is Tim Duncan. I understand that any argument about salary, marketing, and draw at the gate that involve Duncan aren’t parallel to Kobe because of the Spurs market size, endorsements, jersey sales, etc. However, I still point to Duncan because he’s a guy that is making slightly less than the max and he does it purely to save against the bottom line for his team. Look at Duncan’s deal. Now look at Kobe’s. Kobe could take this same approach if he wants. I’ll understand completely if he doesn’t want to (for all the reasons that Kurt mentioned and ones that you articulate quite well), but the fact is that if Kobe said I’ll take 22 mil rather than saying I want every last penny (24-25 mil) he could do that and no one could stop him. It would help the team, not to get under the cap, but to pay less tax. I’m not arguing for anyone to take less money, especially when I’m not sure if I would do it myself. I’m just saying it’s not the craziest idea.

  43. Does anyone know if it’s possible to use the Larry Bird exception for LO?

    With Kobe opting out, then with the contracts expiring, we’d be under the cap until we re-sign guys?

    So is that possible? Re-up Kobe, give LO the Bird Exception, then give Trevor the Mid-level Exception?

  44. Ryan, I don’t think Shannon Brown sticking around is out of the question. He’s inexpensive and he actually had a higher PER than VladRad. He will have to fight in summer league against free agents and any potential draft picks, but he could be the third guard.

  45. Darius,

    Yes. I agree. During the summer I felt that the ’07 drama put him in unique situation that gave the Lakers just a little bit of leverage in the PR battle. Kobe would look golden giving up a couple of million. Now, we all know he cares about his image, and for him, image means endorsement deals. Fans and media almost always side with the team in contract situations like his.

  46. Sorry to double post.

    Ryan,

    The CBA allows for minimum contracts to not go against the cap, so it is very possible for Brown to be back if he works out. His contract doesn’t matter.

    It wouldn’t affect our Salary Cap, like Josh Powell’s contract.

  47. Wondahbap,
    We can use the Bird Exception to sign Odom. We could even sign Ariza using the Bird Exception. Any exception to the cap (Bird, Mid-level, Vet minimum) is used in order to circumvent the soft cap. Based off the CBA, in order to sign FA’s you must be under the cap, but these exceptions allow you to sign FA’s (either your own or someone else’s) and still go over the cap. The only way you lose an exception that you have for your own player (like the Bird exception) is if you renounce the rights to that player. Teams often renounce rights because they have no intention of signing that player and would like to get under the cap to sign another guy or for other financial reasons. Remember, Orlando did this with Darko a couple of years ago to free up salary so they could take on Rashard Lewis’ contract in their S&T with the Sonics. I don’t anticipate us renouncing rights to any player.

    Also, we could sign Ariza for the mid-level if we wanted to go that high. But because we are over the cap, we could use the Bird Exception to sign him for something less or split up our Mid-level to do that same thing. The only reason we would use the Bird exception to sign Ariza is if we eyed another player with our Mid-level and wanted to commit that money to that player.

  48. It is not a question of whether or not we can sign players. As long as we sign any ‘outside’ contracts before we sign ‘our guys’, we could get it done.

    The question is can Buss afford the luxury tax? The luxury tax doesn’t care how the players were signed. The total team payroll is all that is considered (except for Odom’s trade kicker money which was paid in one lump sum, but spread over the life of his contract).

    Buss has to balance the taxes he will pay against the added revenue gained by possibly winning the championship. It may not be a 1-to-1 equation, but the Buss family cannot afford to spend anything, as the Lakers are their primary source of income.

  49. Darius,

    That’s what I figured. But it seems it would make sense to give LO the Larry Bird (if they want to keep him), and TA the MLE, because LO will make more than the MLE anyway, but probably not TA.

    Thanks.

  50. 49.

    Both Ariza and Odom fall under the Bird Exception, as we own the rights to these players going into free agency. The MLE strictly refers to signing players owned by other teams prior to free agency.

    So, we cannot technically sign Ariza to the MLE, as we currently own the rights to him. We can, however, resign him under the Bird Exception to a contract comparable to what he would earn under a MLE.

  51. 45.

    This is exactly right. The media lauded Shaq for taking a ‘pay cut’ with Miami by opting out from his the last year of his contract at $30 mil and taking a 5 X 20 extension (as if $30 mil is less than a $100 mil).

    Kobe could get himself a big PR win by doing something similar (especially if we win the title). Whatever money he would lose, he could easily make up via the fulfillment of his PR make-over from selfish gunner to selfless winner.

  52. omg I got a post published on FB&G; I’m so happy I could pee.

    To clutch and others, I wasn’t trying to say that Kobe shows no emotion; he obviously does as you showed. What I’m saying is that there’s a crucial difference between how Kobe shows emotion and how Lamar does. With Kobe, you can tell that every single great play he makes, he expects to make it. When Kobe’s blowing on his guns, pumping his fist, or slapping hands with his teammates, you can tell it’s because of his confidence; Kobe expects to make the play, and when he makes it, he gives a reaction like “see guys, I told you I could handle it.” Whereas when Lamar makes a spectacular play, it’s far more primal, much more passionate. Kobe will never react the way Lamar does to spectacular plays because Kobe makes them all the time. It would be like a marathon runner cheering himself every time he ran a mile. It’s not any fault of Kobe’s that he doesn’t show the same primal reaction that Lamar does, it’s just that it wouldn’t fit given his personality. This is what separates Lamar from the rest of the team, because he brings that passion and that energy.

    In regards to salaries, let’s keep in mind that even though certain salaries do not count against the cap, they still count against the luxury tax, which is probably more important than the cap at this point.

  53. Here’s my thing: Don’t get down on Kobe if he doesn’t do this. As I said before, he is the guy who makes the money for the Buss family and he is entitled to whatever he can get. Would it be nice if he took a cut for the team? Sure, for us fans it would. But he has a limited window to make his money and while he makes plenty I don’t think you or I should say he shouldn’t make more. The Buss family is certainly making plenty off him.

  54. 50) Sean P.

    You are right about us owning the bird-rights for both players and can use it for both players, but the MLE CAN be used to sign a team’s own player.

    A scenario would be if we didn’t own the bird rights to a player and were over the cap, we could use the MLE to sign the player.

  55. I agree with Kurt, I don’t think many people on this site would take a pay cut so the company they work for can hire more people to work there.

  56. #54:
    Perhaps not. Would you take a pay-cut if it meant your employer would not need to lay off some of your co-workers though?

  57. -Mimsy

    Giving Kobe more money doesn’t stop the Lakers from being able to re-sign Ariza and Odom. Either way they will be over the Luxury Tax so whatever they sign those guys for is going to be doubled.

    Also Jerry Buss is MAKING money off the Lakers not losing money, so why not ask him to take a pay cut to improve the team since it is HIS team.

    Kobe is an employee albeit the most important one. The most important employee shouldn’t have to take a pay cut.

    Now if the Lakers were a small market team and were losing money, then thats another story.

  58. hi guys,

    thanks a lot for such quick responses. Seeing that everyone here is a lot more understanding of this issue, please allow me to ask another newbie question.

    I recall Kobe percieves his global/media image above other stuff since the Beijing olympics, so if he builds his image as “signing for slightly less, thus helping his team keep the (potential) championship core”, he definitely gets more from the image than those 2-3 million a year from salary. Plus, he could get endorsements too. Isn’t that a win-win situation for Kobe, fans, Lakers, and the sponsors (if kobe’s image rises, their products get sold more)? So in the grand theme, I feel that it works out better for everyone.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, and sorry if I sound naiive.

  59. Brian P,
    “Also Jerry Buss is MAKING money off the Lakers not losing money, so why not ask him to take a pay cut to improve the team since it is HIS team.”

    Because it’s a business, and it provides his income, and luxury tax cuts into that. And if he thinks that he can still be a favorite to win the title and save 13M in the process, he will do so. And in the long run, the Lakers will be better off if he does.

  60. 53.

    I stand corrected. There is no language in the CBA that prohibitively restricts the the use of the Mid-Level Exception on a player to which one owns the Bird rights. However, I can find no examples of a team using the MLE when they can use their Bird exception, and just so, as this would unnecessarily limit one’s flexibility .

    54.

    I believe that you are comparing apples and oranges.

    Kobe Bryant is an exceedingly rich athlete whose professional goal is to win a team championship (the winning of which would only open further avenues to financial reward). I feel fairly comfortable stating that no one else posting on this blog shares a remotely similar professional experience.

    I do agree with Kurt that Kobe certainly earns his money and is certainly entitled to get as much out of his next contract as possible. I am merely suggesting that by taking a little less directly from Jerry Buss he might improve the chances of achieving his ultimate goal while increasing his PR revenue stream.

  61. I will never blame an athlete for trying to make as money as possible as long as it doesn’t involve some breach of trust (not bringing his 100%, etc.). Their career is short, and although they make more than most of us will during our lifetime, they probably need every penny to fight illnesses that come from abusing their bodies for 10~20 years.

    But that doesn’t stop me from hoping players will take a cut in the form of not pursuing a raise. Inflation and all, if Kobe didn’t go for max, he’d actually be taking a significant cut, at least in terms of raw numbers.

    Still… every penny counts for these athletes, and for some, being part of a legacy is too abstract compared to real dollars.

  62. I don’t think any kind of workplace analogy is appropriate, considering we are talking about athletes who make MILLIONS of dollars. If one of us took a pay cut, it could very much effect our houses, our food, our families.. i don’t think it would really have any effect on the stars who make that much money. I really could care less either way what Kobe does, i’m sure the Lakers will be fine, and it will all work out..

    ..BUT.. If i could choose between 22 MIL a year with the shot at MULTIPLE titles, or 24 MIL and have a far smaller chance of achieving the same goal.. the choice is an easy one. I hope that Kobe sees it similarly.

  63. 56. Brian P. Although I’m of the camp that Kobe should make as much money as possible, I disagree that the most important employee should never have to take a paycut.

    My friend’s company, all the senior level execs offered pay cuts along with mid management as an alternative to laying people off. People such as admin assistants and mail room clerks who may not be as revenue important as the rainmakers. They recognized that it was about the morale and good of the company.

    Just like Buss will have a maximum he’s willing to go. If he’s only willing to go 10 mill deep into lux tax and not 15 mill, Kobe taking a 2-3 million cut could make a difference in the payroll flexibility for Mitch. Mitch now can sign that end of bench guy and still have a 10-11 deep team instead of 9 deep.

    We’ve all seen how important depth is during the marathon regular season. So even though I’d love to see Kobe take 20 instead of 24 both for image reasons and cap flexibility, just like Kurt said, I wouldn’t blame him one bit if he tried to get as much as possible. But it certainly isn’t unusual to ask top employees to take a hit if it means greater good.

    Heck, as fans we’re asking Buss to outlay an extra 10-20 mill in lux tax for the good of the team. Why isn’t he entitled to make as much as he can. He wants rings, so does Kobe. So theoretically both have to compromise and sacrifice some earnings for the best possible team.

  64. As much as I want the frontline to rest, I can’t help but asking for more wins from the Lakers. But I concede that sooner, role players will have to get more PT and play together. We have 2 new players and I am excited to see if indeed a resurrection in Morrison’s play could be here and now. In line with that, I’d have to disagree with Radmanovich’s comments about the Lakers role players not getting enough roles. “They don’t do much.” How can that be? Maybe it’s the over-analyzing, but Phil’s teams have always had room for role players who STEP UP. I wish him well there in Charlotte.

  65. Radman seemed to play well today for bobcats.

  66. Part of running a business is making decisions regarding a return on your investment. This is a continuous process and there is far more complexity than most fans want to even imagine. It may be easy for us to simply ‘flip the switch’ and look no farther than a championship or two. That, however, is not possible if you own the team. When that team also provides all the income for you and your family the decisions take on more importance. The Buss’ must look to the ongoing health of the franchise and that may mean risking a possible championship next year to ensure success over the next 10 yrs.

    It is just that we fans don’t want to hear any of this gibberish. We just want to win now – devil take the future; at least the future 3-10 years down the road.

  67. Brian P,

    If the Lakers are under the cap when the re-up Kobe then the exceptions they could use for LO and Ariza won’t count against the Luxury Cap. They’d be allowed to go over, ONLY if they’re under the cap when doing so.

    Also, I don’t think any player should take a pay cut, if they do not have to, but Kobe’s situation is unique because of the PR angle. An angle he helped to create. I’m not saying he should.

  68. 59. He’s definitely getting minutes 29 mins. 50% fgp, 3-5 3pts, 13 pts + 4rbs. Not bad at all for Radman. Hope he’s happy in Charlotte.

  69. In re. Radman trade, the feeling that I have is not “good riddance” but rather, I wish him the best. His style of playing could have improved the Lakers offense but he probably needed more freedom in carrying out his style of offense.

    Good to see that he got about 30 minutes of playing time and putting up pretty decent stats in his first game.

  70. David Friedman from 20 Second Timeout ( http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/ ) on Lamar Odom in the Cavs game:

    “This is when Odom took over but he did not do so as the primary attacker but rather by aggressively pursuing the ball from the weak side, either grabbing rebounds or accepting feeds (often from Gasol) for layups; for years, people have waited in vain for Odom to be a guy like Bryant or James who can initiate action but Odom is much more comfortable and effective operating in the shadows, letting someone else start the play so that he can finish it by diving to the hoop. Odom had a double double in the third quarter alone–15 points, 10 rebounds–and the Lakers led 82-77 heading into the fourth quarter. After the game, Odom offered this explanation for why he was able to take over the game in such dramatic fashion: “I told myself, before the game started in my little meditation that Phil (Jackson) has taught me, to put myself in the moment as far as the game was concerned. I told myself that the first rebound I got, that I was going to take it to the hole and score. It kind of opened the game up for myself and I found the flow of the game.” ”

    This is why Odom works so well with Gasol on the front line.

    Last year, when Lamar would go in with all the bench players (before we got Pau), production was way lower than when he played with the starting lineup (without Bynum and with Pau). Lamar is not the kind of player we can depend on to assert himself offensively (although he did talk the ball to the hole across the entire court a couple times against the Cavs), but as we all know Lamar will thrive on the weak side, ESPECIALLY with the great passer Pau feeding him and Kobe creating shots for other guys (when he’s not sick).

    I brought this up in the last post, but at least for the first couple weeks when Bynum returns, I think it may be beneficial for Lamar and the Lakers to keep Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar, and Pau as the starting lineup and bring Andrew in off the bench-similar to his role early last year.

  71. I was wondering, umm, i mean i have this friend, who knows quite a lot about all things basketball. He needs help with something.

    Can someone explain something to me, umm, I mean, for my friend.

    Explain the bird rights. How do they work? what are they in place for? whos eligible? etc etc.

    Thanks,

  72. Cap concerns aside, I know how we can all do our part to ensure LO gets re-signed: If each of us buys 100 #7 jerseys, we can help increase the operating revenue for the team, earning extra $$ to spend on his contract!

    I’ll go ahead and order 100 each for all of you and you can just pay me back.

  73. 63- My only concern for rad man is that there’s no prime skiing locations in Charlotte.

  74. My favorite Lamar highlight of the week actually didn’t come on Sunday – it was Lamar slapping KG on the butt and getting in his face. Not something you would have seen last year. Every Laker understands the need to be stronger (physically and mentally), and just a little bit meaner. Powell getting into it with Powe – loved that too. Powell plays with the right attitude, I just wish he was a little bigger, a Powe-sized player. Then he could be a real enforcer in the paint.

    (on a random note – doesn’t it seem like Powell is the anti-Turiaf in terms of energy? I haven’t seen the guy smile once. Not knocking it at all, just observing).

    To nitpick, I disagree slightly about point #2 in the post. Most of the Lakers do talk on D; if you watch closely you’ll see Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Pau communicating. It’s just that since Lamar was the trapper in the SSZ, they happened to show him backup up the perimeter players.

    But I agree with everything else – Lamar is one of the most liked players in the league for a reason. He is a VERY underrated part of the team chemistry. See what happened with Detroit w/o Billups? That drop isn’t due entirely to his production, it’s the lack of chemistry that’s killing them now. Losing Lamar might have a similar (if smaller) effect.

    I find it ironic, however, that some of the people getting so pumped up will make LO their whipping boy again after 2-3 bad performances. Isn’t this what we’ve known about Lamar all along? Incredible talent, will have some incredible games, but cannot play consistently? This isn’t new information, is it? Personally I like him a lot and enjoyed his performance, but I prefer to stay even-keeled, and not get too high or too low after 1 performance. Trying to channel my inner Phil.

    Wasn’t trying to slam Lamar, I love the little things he does – especially defensively. I was disappointed Phil didn’t try him on Pierce.

  75. wondahbap,
    Everyone keeps getting the salary cap confused with the luxury cap. The salary cap influences how you can trade and whether you can bring someone in that doesn’t fit into one of the exceptions. The luxury cap applies regardless of how you got people.

    The salaries impact the luxury tax because the Laker salaries are over the luxury tax level. They are so far over the salary cap that not much could get them under. The salary cap does not impact whether or not the club can sign their own players, only what they can pay new players or how they structure trades.

  76. 63 – There are many more qualified people to help you, but I’ll try. Bird rights basically extend to a team’s own players, and they basically mean a team can sign its own players over the cap. We can’t sign Lebron in 2010 if we’re over the cap, but we can re-sign Kobe even if we’re in luxury tax territory. Off the top of my head, I think a player has to be with a team for 3 years to qualify for Bird rights (I might be wrong). In that case, I’m not sure if we could use the Bird exception on Ariza.

  77. Hey guys this is very random but im in a basic leadership class and my teacher asked us to give a 10 minute presentation for tomorrow about a leader of your choice…so naturally i picked Kobe.

    I need to show his leadership strengths, relate strengths to outcomes, and some bio highlights relating to how he became a leader (I was thinking during Shaq and post Shaq).

    I thought this would be interesting. Can you guys help me and post what you think of Kobe as a leader?

  78. If you want to see the salary numbers go here: http://hoopshype.com/salaries/la_lakers.htm

    After the trade the Lakers are at $74,105,091for 2009/10 – without signing Lamar or Trevor or Kobe’s opt out resigning. You can see this is practically at the luxury tax level and well over the salary cap. Incidentally, Kobe only has this opt out at the end of this year and if he turns it down he is locked in for the next two years – as shown.

  79. Btw, kudos to everyone who’s posted today. After the garbage on the game thread last night, every single post today has been worth reading and a great contribution.

    Completely off-topic, but I was wondering if anyone could answer this, or debate me on it:

    Why is it that Kobe has trouble staying in front of Pierce, but Pierce, when focused, can stay in front of Kobe?

    Pierce is slow for a wingman. Has Kobe lost that much explosiveness? Is Pierce really that deceptive?

    After years of arguing for Kobe’s defense, I find that I have one major criticism. One of the commentators had a great quote: “You play defense with your feet.” Kobe, I’ve noticed, too often lets Pierce get by him and reaches around as Pierce goes by.

    I see 2 different defensive brands of individual defense in the league. Pierce (when focused), Bowen, Battier – they play defense with their feet. They stay in front of players as best as possible, stay down on shot fakes, and play ugly-but-effective D.

    Kobe, Sasha, and Ariza play D more with their hands (yes Bowen did too but also was great at moving his feet). They’re still quick, but sometimes Sasha seems to mistake energy for effectiveness. They reach quite a bit, and often while someone reaches in the opponent blows by them. They’re still solid defensive players, but it’s interesting that our younger players have taken after Kobe’s style of D.

    Thoughts?

  80. It’s also why I think Luke and Lamar are our best defensive options on Pierce. Kobe and Ariza struggle to guard bigger, stronger players who use their size effectively, like Pierce. Phil Jackson admitted as much.

    I’ve often thought that Luke should have surprising success against Pierce because Pierce isn’t Lebron-like explosive, so Luke’s slow feet aren’t as big a deal. I think we saw a little of that Thursday. Luke bodied Pierce up, used his muscle effectively, and Pierce wasn’t used to that physicality from the Lakers. Kobe could effectively shut Barbosa down in international play, but Pierce is so strong he shrugs Kobe off when he tries to play physical.

  81. I don’t know how many people here play basketball, but in my experience, it is actually quite easy to defend someone faster than you IF your feet are set. I think this is the point where Pierce usually blows by our guys, because he attacks before our wings can set themselves comfortably, be it on the catch or off a pick.

    Compare this with Kobe, who usually in crunch time catches the ball, stands around for a while, throws a couple jab steps, then turns around, starts doing some spins and fakes, then usually has to throw up a turnaround. This is because the defender has his feet set, so he can properly react to any movement by the offensive player.

    On that note, I LOVED, repeat it, LOVED the play-calling at the end of the Cavs game. Perhaps this was because Kobe didn’t have the gas to run Kobe-Iso, but I, and many others, have called for the PNR with Kobe and Gasol with Odom flashing at the free throw line. On almost every trip down in the last 5 minutes, we ran this play. What did we get? An LO putback and a couple of big Gasol jumpers. Loved the playcalling.

  82. 77) Very smart. Great subject matter expert. Knows the history of his profession. He is an exceptionally hard worker, so sets a great personal example. Continually striving to improve. Very willing to work with others if they show the willingness to put in the same kind of time and effort.

    Sometimes gets impatient with co-workers, and has had a tendency to try and do everything himself because he feels (with some justification) that he can do it better than anyone else. Doesn’t always listen to his seniors in the corporation hierarchy. Learning to trust his co-workers more.

  83. 76) Bird rights come with a player if you acquire them in a trade.

  84. Zephid – Good points. I agree, as great as Kobe is, with a killer like Pau now at our disposal, the Kobe/Pau PnR is by far our best scoring option, no longer Kobe isolating. Give them two weakside shooters (Fish, Sasha) and Lamar flashing to the middle, and I agree, that’s one of our best plays.

    That point about the set feet is interesting. I haven’t watched the vid carefully, but now that I think about it, a lot of times Pierce blew by Kobe, he did catch the ball and go quickly.

    It’s ironic that both Kobe and Lebron are much more effective catching the ball off a curl or movement, and going hard. Yet both are so confident in their own greatness, both choose the less effective method of standing around and waiting for the defense to set.

  85. CL – I think a great idea would be to contrast 3-peat Kobe with Kobe today. Show how he went from an awful leader to a great one, how he’s learned to do so.

    -Leads by example. Biggest one. Best work ethic in the league.
    -Leads vocally. Can be harsh, but keeps other players on their toes, keeps them sharp, talks on defense.
    -Cares about his image. Has openly admitted so in an interview.
    -More camaraderie. Now he refers to his teammates as brothers, you can find lots of pics of him sitting on the bench joking around with other players, having a good time.
    -Encourages less skilled players. You’ll see him standing on the sidelines often, clapping and cheering on a bench player after a big play.
    -Instills confidence in his teammates. Takes the full responsibility of failure, stays cool under pressure, lets his demeanor spread to the rest of the team.

    Hope that helps. There’s so many 25+ people on here lol, had to help out a fellow student.

  86. 82,
    Thank you! That will definitely help. I am also trying to include how he developed into the leader he is today. From being a leader on the court to becoming a leader in the locker room.
    If yall know of a good leadership videos related to Kobe thatd be great!

  87. Thanks for the explanation snoopy
    OK…so i got it…but exhelodrvr confused me just a bit. This salary cap detail stuff is hard. lol

    If a player has bird rights on a team…and he gets traded to another team…then he still has his bird rights with the new team? how does that make sense?

    Lets say Vince Carter has bird rights with New Jersey…lets say he gets traded to the Bulls…he would still have Bird rights in chicago? even though he hasnt played for them for however many seasons you need to be eligible for bird rights?

    anyone still with me?

  88. Snoopy2006 – I think defense with feet depends on eagerness and commitment, and I don’t mean this in a good way.

    Kobe earned the respect of his peers to such a degree that most really don’t intend to block his shot or steal the ball or stop his drive; instead they try to limit him a little here and there, such as a hand in face, soft/hard double and funneling.

    Kobe, on the other hand, probably is more willing to gamble a bit; stop a shot, stop penetration, etc, so he is more eager and more ‘committed’ when he makes a move. A fake or an unexpected crossover will break his ankles ;)

    Also I think what Zephid says is also very true; Kobe doesn’t really move much off the ball and instead tends to demand the ball after settling down, and many times that’s due to it being late in the clock when options are clearly limited.

  89. “Gasol only screams when he thinks he got fouled. ”

    Haha. That’s really very funny. However, in fairness to Gasol, he does scream when he gets a meaningful basket.

    But really, it’s very funny.

    Also, Zephid is right that Odom is the “glue” on this team. The way he talks in the game. Remember, he “rallied” the Lakers when Kobe was asking to be traded.

    Moreover, the circle thing with Lamar in the middle is really priceless. If he goes, I don’t see Kobe or anybody else doing that.

  90. 77) I would take a look at this article to understand the man.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/chris_ballard/05/27/kobe0602/

    I also think I would talk about Kobe’s strengths, and obvious weaknesses. As mentioned above, he is known to be a loner. He is more of a “lead by example, by work ethic” guy. I would look for some quotes from the summer, Team USA, and how they talk about Kobe.

    I have always seen Kobe as a driven individual not built for a team sport. I think the past few years he has balanced his individual ethos with the team.

    Also, Kobe, as a leader, has the vision – the championship, and has instilled that in his team.

  91. As part of the Road to Redemption series…the other best players in the league all have a section where they talk about Kobe as the leader…and how he shows it in practice. You can find all of those team usa Road to Redemption videos on youtube or nba.com

  92. #87. A player earns his Bird Rights after accumulating three years of service in the league. These rights travel with the player if he is traded. A player can only lose his Bird Rights in two different ways (at least in my understanding). 1). If the team that has the player on its roster renounces the rights to that player. IE, A player like LO is going to be a FA after this season. Because LO has Bird Rights and is on the Lakers roster, the Lakers have the right to go over the cap to sign LO using the Bird Exception. However, to execute that right, the Lakers have a hold on their cap (which uses up cap space) until they sign that player or renounce his rights to a roster spot. Once a team renounces those rights, he becomes a FA to them as well (in the classic sense; they must have space under the cap to sign him) and they no longer have the right to go over the cap to sign that player. And 2). A player can forfeit his own Bird Rights. When a player is a FA with Bird Rights, the team that he is on owns those rights. However, when players are FA’s (either RestrictedFA’s or UnrestrictedFA’s) they can sign one year contracts with their current team (Rookies do this when as RFA’s they sign a qualifying offer to stay with the team for 1 more season to earn their UFA rights (like Ben Gordon this past off-season) and veterans do this when they sign a 1 yr. deal to stay on with their current team). When a player signs that one year deal, they must agree to be traded in that season because by definition, they are giving up their Bird Rights. There are 2 recent examples of this. When our recently departed RadMan was traded from the Sonics to the Clippers several years ago, he was playing on his one year qualifying offer from the Sonics. Since that was the case, he had to agree to be traded to the Clips because he forfeited his Bird Rights in the trade (meaning that the Clips could only sign him to a deal if they were under the cap). And last season, another former Laker, Devean George chose not to forfeit his Bird Rights and he squashed the orginal Jason Kidd trade where he would have gone to NJ. George had earned his Bird Rights with the Mavs and when he re-signed with them he did so on a one year deal. Since that was the case he had the right to block his inclusion in any trade during that season because he would be giving up his rights. Many media people reported this as George having a No Trade Clause, but in reality he was executing his ability to not be included in a trade based off is Bird Rights.

    I hope this helped.

  93. One reason i think kobe has a harder time playing d on Pierce is because Pierce has great footwork. Peirce is not that fast but his footwork on offense and defense are what make him a much better player than he would seem.

  94. 88 – Thank you for the input. I’m not sure I completely agree. The move-your-feet defense is the most fundamentally sound, and ideal in my opinion. The best recent case I can think of is last Thursday, when Kobe iso’d on Pierce, and he couldn’t get by Pierce. Pierce stayed on his feet, didn’t fall for the shot fake, kept both arms up high, and forced Kobe into an awful shot.

    That type of defense requires more energy and effort, and so it rarely can be played for long stretches unless the player has no offensive commitments. That’s probably why Kobe gambles more. It has a lower success rate, but it allows him to conserve energy (relatively speaking). I would just like him to switch defensive styles near the end of games, in crunch time. He completely let Pierce blow by him with scarcely any resistance, just reaching around for a hopeful lucky steal.

    Fundamentally sound > flashy, IMHO.

    Derek – Good call. Pierce must do something at an amazing level, since he’s not that explosive. I do agree he has solid footwork, and I also think he does a great job of using his body to the best of his ability. Plus, he can still be relatively quick to the hoop when he wants to be (just not Kobe or Wade like explosiveness, which was what puzzled me).

  95. Darius…perfect….Thank you much.

  96. 99,
    Thanks for that link. Great article. Also I like how you said his vision rubs off on the team that is definitely true and the mark of a good leader. Thx!

  97. Kurt/Rest of you guys: If SA rested their biggies for one game in preparation for another; couldn’t we do the same for KB, PG & Fish, perhaps, for the OKC game? Not to underestimate OKC but consider: KB just had the flu, PG’s been logging in loooong minutes lately & Fish ain’t the same 0.4s-Fish of old. I’m thinking, 1 step back – 2 steps forward. Your thoughts, anyone?

  98. Btw, I hope my defense comments didn’t come off as pessimism after a big win. I had just made an observation during the Celts game (which I actually taped and didn’t watch until Sat night) and wanted to get some people’s opinions.

    97 – It’s interesting to think about, but I doubt it’ll happen. Right now home court is still up for grabs, every game truly counts. The only one I can possibly see sitting is Kobe since he is legitimately sick, but I can’t see Phil sitting 2 starters just to rest them. He might cut back their minutes, though.

  99. Losing to OKC could conceivably happen if we sit our top guys. A loss could diminish some of the good vibes the team has going, plus it could conceivably affect the home-court race. I think Phil will choose instead to give Powell and Mihm more minutes at the 4 and 5 in the first half, and give Sasha more minutes as Kobe’s backup. If our guys can build and maintain a decent lead into the latter part of the third quarter, then rinse and repeat.

  100. I don’t think thats necessary being that our next game is eight days from tomorrows game.

  101. San Antonio is not in an analogous situation to us.

    We are playing for homecourt advantage. Pound (Paund?) the ball inside against OKC and work out from there. We have had home court advantage throughout the playoffs on our minds all season. Why give up ground we fought so hard for?

    And aren’t we all anxious to see what Lamar has in store for the next game?

  102. 97. Right now it makes no sense, in that there are just two games this week, then the All Star Game (which is a vacation for most and not a lot of work for the players going in the classic sense, nobody plays more than 20 minutes or so and it’s not as all out on both ends). Most of our guys are going to get a break.

    SA did it to rest guys for a big trip and series of games like Boston. SA’s core is also older than ours. I think we need to keep learning how to win, that means not taking nights off. SA is much more of a flip the switch team.

  103. Snoopy2006 – what i meant there was that, in order to play defense with your feet, you have to limit your eagerness and commitment (of shifting center of gravity to one side).

    Anyway, to Kobe’s defense, I offer this:

    I’m guessing it’s a lot like boxing and MMA; in the perimeter, it is a lot like boxing where you prefer to be quicker (to penetrate) than holding ground, using the ball of your feet more than the heels, emphasizing footwork.

    In the paint(or when posting), it’s more like MMA where, players prefer solid base in order to exert force and use their weight more to launch kicks, and in basketball, to box out.

    Problem occurs when you have two players in different weight classes. Both Pierce and Kobe are listed at above 200 lbs, which is at Heavyweight levels, but Paul weighs 30 lbs more. That’s almost like a Super Middleweight going against a Heavyweight!

    A jab from an heavyweight will probably be just as devastating as a straight from a Super Middleweight, and thus the lighter player is facing quite a dillemma.

    Be pushed and shoved around when the other guy drives (like when Kobe or AI uses their hands) or gamble by planting your feet. Against some, choosing one of the two will give you decent results. Against PP or Carmelo, well, maybe not.

    Also, the lighter player doesn’t enjoy much of an advantage on offense either, unless you are already in full flight as your defender is not really sacrificing much mobility defending you (when defending properly, anyway).

    So, if Kobe doesn’t play ball-denial and does not have his miracle shots falling like usual, I don’t think it’s going to be much of a contest individually.

  104. Regarding the Bird Rights talk: Remember that one of the underlying principles of the CBA is to allow teams to keep players. The theory is a good one (I think): It is best for the league if the best players on each team are in one place for extended periods of time. To put it simply, it’s good for the league if Kobe is always a Laker or LeBron is always a Cav in the sense that fans better identify with a player as part of one franchise.

    So, the rules are set up to allow you advantages to keep players, both stars and role players. The Cavs can offer one more year and higher annual increases than any other team in a max deal to LeBron. The Lakers can go over the cap to keep Ariza and Odom. This is true across the league, the goal is to make it so Durant wants to stay in OKC or that Portland can keep its core together.

    Too much player movement hurts fan loyalty. The NFL doesn’t subscribe to that so much, and they seem fine, but I think the NBA has the right concept.

  105. The Lakers can extend both Odom and Ariza using their Bird rights, correct? Or is it really a “Bird exception” in that they can only use it for 1 player?

    For the cap people – what will we have to work with mid-season next year? (in case we need to pick up a veteran for the minimum or something). I think we used part of the midlevel on Fish – is that right? If so, what do we have left that we could use despite being in luxury tax territory?

  106. I love the new found look of resolve that was on the faces of these guys in The C’s and Cavs games.

    LO exploiting the weak side of the offense is a perfect vehicle for him to display his skill set; his length and quickness.

    With Wallace out and Mo Williams in, there was no one to guard or box out Odom. As the Fish, Kobe, Pau strong side triangle was set up. LO’s man was forced to think about doubling the post, and on most occasions they did. In LO’s dominant stretch of the third, Mo Williams and Wally S. are matched up with him! Mo leaves LO to double Pau, and Pau hasn’t even committed his dribble yet.

    In another play, Wally picked him up in transition but left him to help Gibson with Luke, as Luke took Gibson to the hole in the post. LO cuts and scores.

    On another possession, Wally turns his head to look at Pau in the post and Odom sneaks inside of him, to the rack, and 1.

    From their Mike Brown put a rookie on LO.

    Even with Bynum out, this team is still a nightmare match up, even for the elite teams.

  107. CL,
    One thing to keep in mind. The media has defined Kobe and you won’t get much more depth about him if you only read what they have to say. People like Roland Lazenby have a much deeper and more complex view of Kobe’s development than most.

    Remember, he did feed Shaq very effectively in the 3 championship years and only openly broke with Shaq in the year they separated. Kobe was about winning in those years and was able to be an effective assist partner when he was feeding the scoring beast so you can’t really say he was just a selfish scorer, like most of the media claim about that part of his career.

  108. Just a further clarification on the cap. Trevor will only be eligible for early Bird exception and not the regular Bird exception. Early Bird is two years. Bird is three years.

    The limitation on that to quote: “a team can re-sign its own free agent for either 175% of his salary the previous season, or the NBA’s average salary, whichever is greater. Early Bird contracts must be for at least two seasons, but can last no longer than five seasons.”

    I don’t see any team out there willing to offer Trev more than the average/MLE, so Lakers should be able to match and keep him. Assuming Trev wants to stay.

  109. Here’s the best site for any Salary Cap/CBA questions:

    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

  110. Craig,

    Yeah, you’re right. Luxury tax is unavoidable.

  111. the other Stephen February 10, 2009 at 7:56 am

    from my understanding of the collective bargaining agreement, we’re free to sign kobe, pau, lamar, trevor, lebron, dwade, cp3, batman, a young kareem, david stern, a nuke, and the entire cast of space jam. there would be no luxury tax, because there wouldn’t be any survivors.

  112. Thank you Craig W, behzad, beyond the blue, exhelodrvr, and snoopy 2006. You guys really really helped and I appreciate it. Most of the Rutgers basketball team are in my class like Mike Rosario and I was and am really nervous but I know I won’t look too bad because of your guys help! Thx!

  113. Great write-ups on Odom.

    But Odom’s jump shot is not improved. (82games.com)

  114. 94 – snoopy, i think you’re right. Kobe is certainly capable of playing fundamental, focused defense with his feet, but he tends to conserve his energy for offense and defensive stands at key points in the game. In the meantime, he will use his genius-level basketball IQ to play the passing lanes and roam off his man to try to disrupt the opponent’s offense that way.

    When it comes down to crunch time, however, he’s still got the goods to shut down even pierce – he singlehandedly derailed the celtic’s last possession in overtime by moving his feet to get his body in front of pierce when he made his move, then poking the ball loose.

  115. On a lighter note, someone put a picture of Morrison crying after losing to UCLA on his locker. Now, which of our UCLA alums pulled this off? ;-)

    http://www.dailynews.com/ci_11668308?source=rss

    Oh, and Morrison took this in stride, so I’m sure there are no problems here.

  116. 103, harold – I really like that analogy. I think you did a good job of putting into words what I’ve felt for some time. It’s not fair to group all “wings” together. Kobe does a phenomenal job on Ginobili and T-Mac – people he’s supposed to guard. But Pierce and Lebron have most of the strengths Kobe does, with a ton more power. We pressure Kobe because he’s earned a reputation as an all-world defender, but it’s a bit like asking Rodman to guard Shaq. Our problem is Ariza is built in the same defensive mode as Kobe. Great help defender, great length, active, but fairly weak as a wing. That’s why I would have just liked to see Lamar on Pierce for a little while. I think we should experiment with our versatility.

    Will Morrison replace Sun as the garbage time fan favorite? I can’t wait to see our new players in action (though it might be a while).

  117. I think Bill Simmons can be funny sometimes. But defending his “hater” status for kobe is just sad.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3896242

    I wish people will just watch him and appreciate him for everything he does for the love of the game.

  118. 117. Lebron’s night was so much more in the flow of his team’s offense that the Cavs were up by a wide margin of 1 with 1:30 left in the game, while Kobe disrupted his own team’s offense so much that they were up by a measly 17 at 1:30.

  119. 117 – Thanks for that link, makes me remember why I swore off reading Simmons. If Kobe had played for the Celtics, Simmons would consider Kobe be the greatest to ever play the game.

    The way that guy writes is backwards: make up a premise and cherry pick facts to support it. He doesn’t build an argument, he simply makes one up.

    Not that he can’t be funny or insightful, but he is just a homer.

  120. lakergirl – Yeah, Simmons is a hater. He says Kobe’s 61 point game is “the best and worst in basketball.” In my opinion, it was what this Laker team needed precisely at the right moment. I don’t doubt that if had a Celticlakergirl – Yeah, Simmons is a hater. He says Kobe’s 61 point game is “the best and worst in basketball.” Regardless of what he says, this Laker team needed Kobe to be that way for that game. Had Simmons watched the game, he would have realized just how shook up Kobe was after that play. To say that he did not care about Andrew is utter B.S. For God’s sake, he chocked up and said that it was not fair that Drew got hurt. What else does Simmon’s want?

    I don’t doubt that if had a Celtic done the same after one of their top three went down, he would be writing about how inspiring the game was to his teammates. But, as he says, his view of Kobe is tainted for personal reasons. While this is fine, he cites incidents that have all occurred in the past. That impetuous, arrogant kid Simmons disliked is not the same cat that helped the US win a gold medal in the Olympics (and whose teammates had nothing but great things to say about him) and that had Knick fans at MSG shouting “MVP!, MVP!” I guess he can’t bring himself to acknowledge that Kobe has matured both as a player and as a man.

    But, being Simmons, he focuses on one game, one night, and from there he extrapolates that Kobe is still selfish and immature. while I don’t expect every sports writer in the country to like our Lakers, I expect a guy like Simmons to be at least professional and recognize that – even if we assume Kobe was a total ball hog that night – the stats of that single game do not represent the type of player he is today. The only thing you can intelligently argue about Kobe’s performance is whether or not it was what this Laker team needed on that particular night – which would have been a valid point to argue before the Lakers went out and proved that it was the right thing to do by winning in Boston and Cleveland. Unfortunately, rather than addressing a valid point of argument, Simmons takes the road many folks who can’t stand the Lakers or Kobe take: he posits that Lebron is better. The funny thing about this argument is that it really does not matter who is better. Lebron James is an amazing player who will accomplish great things. No question there. But Kobe is and has been an amazing player as well. Why is it that we must argue about who is better? Does being the better player mean that you are “more deserving” of a title? What about being a better teammate? Considering that basketball is a team sport, I would say that neither matters. The team that wins the championship does so because it played better collectively, not because they had a better player or a more deserving one.

    Nevertheless, we can still find positive things from Simmon’s comments. One year ago, he would not have given this Laker team an iota of chance against the Celtics, as the Celts were hands down the favorites going into the All-Star break. This year, things are different. That’s why he has chosen to instead focus on whether he would rather have Kobe or Lebron on his team. The interesting thing about this is that, well, neither of them are Celtics. In fact the Celtic “Big Three” together could not put better numbers than Kobe or Lebron at MSG. So, what I take from Simmon’s rant is that even he, the most ardent and biased of Celtic fans, is starting to have some fears about his C’s chances this year. And, this is not the same b.s. “reverse hex” fear he had last year. Ladies and gentlemen, this is real fear. How awesome is that!

  121. This is by far Lamar’s best season, however the amount of money he commands after the terrible mistake we made by extending Bynum so early in the season could be disastorous. We could of easily saved 10 million by waiting to resign Bynum, as this was not his second but third devestating knee injury, as he had one in high school, the fact they happen on both knees suggests that his body is built this way and he will be continually sidelined. but oh weel…..

    Contract year, and a deeper more talented team has made LO’s job easier. I hope they only resign him if the Lakers win a championship. If he disapears again in the post season again adios. I think he has proved invaluable this year but worry he may return to old form once rewarded with a big payday. The value will be in signing Ariza and Pau to long term deals, and hoping Kobe has five or six more valuable years, and Bynum can miraculously become less injury prone, which is appearing very unlikely.

  122. dgdgaa, this year’s Lamar is the same as last year’s lamar is the same as the year before’s Lamar. Remember how he destroyed Marion in the playoffs for a couple years, then next year was streaky. There is no corner to turn. He is what he is. We need to just accept him for that.

  123. anyone watching the end of the cleveland game, crazy stuff

  124. last years lamar couldnt make a three, he is vastly improved this year. If he plays this way every year I want him back.