Media Day Thoughts

Kurt —  September 28, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 113-100
A few thoughts to take you into Media Day, then check back here for comments and thoughts during and after the press feeding frenzy.

UPDATE: Media day featured a lot of what you’d expect, a huge media circus around Odom who couldn’t and wouldn’t talk about the wedding, a lot of photos of Sasha’s new hair and everybody saying all the right things. Maybe the only bit of news was Andrew Bynum saying he will need to wear a knee brace for the rest of his career. This quote from Kobe sums everything up pretty well:

“You got to come with it. We have the talent to win another one. If we don’t, it’s because our lack of focus or an injury.”

Best line of the day was overheard by the always sharp BK of the LA Times Lakers Blog:

Ron Artest to the Dodgers folk taping scoreboard spots: “You want ME to do the Code of Conduct?”

————————————————————————————–

• You may have seen by now, Kobe went to Houston to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon and learn some of his post moves. For our younger readers who don’t remember, Olajuwon was maybe the smoothest players this league has ever seen in the post (and one of the quickest). He was one of the two guys taken in front of Michael Jordan, but was the one nobody looks back on saying “that was a big mistake” (and he finished his career with two titles). He is often overlooked as one of the games great centers.

Olajuwon said his style of play in the paint is really suited for a guy like Bryant.

“In my mind most of my moves for a guy (with) that agility can use it better than the big guy,” Olajuwon said. “Because my moves are not really for the big guy.

“It’s for the guards and small forwards. So he would benefit most on the post because of his agility.

“It was so much fun because how he picks it up. I worked with him for two hours, step by step.”

I think this fits into what we have been saying — look for a slower, half-court Lakers team this year that will work to exploit its length in the post more. Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Artest, Walton and Kobe all can play out of the high, mid or low post and the Lakers are going to exploit that a lot this year. If they can steadily knock down threes to keep the floor spread they will be very, very tough to defend.

• Thursday (Oct. 1) the NBA will be streaming live video from the Lakers training camp online at NBA.com starting at 10 am, then will air it later on NBA TV at 3 pm. We’ll be watching to see if we can glean anything, but really it would be more fun to just watch Phil make the team run suicides until they puke. That’s always fun when it’s not you doing it.

• I’m not that worried by the Dodgers crappy play of late. Baseball is the one sport where how you play going into the playoffs has little bearing on what happens when you get there. Especially with all the backups getting playing time right now.

• ‘Tis the season for previews, and there will be a lot of them. One often discussed figure around here, John Hollinger, has the Lakers winning the West by 10 games. That means for the next half an hour, many Lakers fans will think he is brilliant because they agree with him.

• Media day is a nice start, but man I want to see some real games.

Kurt

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63 responses to Media Day Thoughts

  1. Can’t believe it’s STILL September!

    I really hope we’re not slowing down so much to be indistinguishable from the Spurs, Pistons and the Celtics. It’d be nice to defend like them for 48 minutes, but I want some showtime sprinkled here and there, some telepathic passwork between our guys, etc.

    As for the Dodgers, if they sign Chan-Ho Park and Shin Soo Choo, then I’ll watch them ;) But baseball isn’t really interesting enough for me to watch when none of my countrymen are playing. Not saying that it will be a wise move; just will save me from following two different boxes every day.

  2. It’s good to here Kobe was working on his post moves with Hakeem. Hakeem in my opinion was the best center I ever saw (wasn’t alive for Russell or Chamberlain and yes he was better than Shaq). Lakers fan may be naive and not acknowledge this but Kobe’s athletic ability has diminished immensely. Do you ever notice how little he goes to the basket now?

    He will have to be much better in the post to stay at that elite level as he gets older and puts on more mileage.

  3. Rudy,
    I agree – this will extend his career.

  4. The Hakeem news fits in nicely with what we’ve been expecting of Kobe– basically post-retirement-MJ in a sense, with an emphasis on the low-post game and the fadeaway J. We know that a student of the game like Kobe will revive the post game to the level of high art.

  5. This post made me Chuckle. I’m looking forward to the season. Too bad I can’t watch the lakers practice. That would be a trip.

    I’m pretty sure the lakers are going to go 82-0 this year 98-1 for the season to clinch another title. I’ll give one loss to the cavaliers in the finals. Just kidding. One can dream!

  6. I just bought league pass and NBA TV yesterday (even thought I live in Southern California) because this season is going to be awesome. I couldn’t wait to get home and see all the great programming they had to offer while I waited for the season to start. Never have I been so disappointed in my life! It was nothing but WNBA hardwood classics and lame WNBA championship season recaps. I know it’s gonna get way better but that was a rough day to start tuning in. I’d rather watch the Bucks training camp coverage than see that.

  7. This is why I love Kobe Bryant. It’s what sets players like Magic, Jordan, Bird, Duncan, Malone, and Kobe apart from everyone else. No matter how good they are, they always try to get better! Every year they added another facet to their respective games. Too bad Kobe didn’t take Bynum, Odom, and Gasol along with him!

  8. I don’t think Kobe has slowed tremendously — he just doesn’t have to carry all the ‘down low’ scoring load and he is more aware of his own mortality as he moves into athletic middle age. You don’t keep trying to to the outlandish things you do when you are younger because 1) you don’t have to and 2) that is a high ego thing that has much higher risk attached to it. We fans don’t realize this until we see a Gilbert Arenas out for two straight seasons.

  9. Rudy i dont think his atletic ability has diminished “immensely”. Yes he does have a lot of mileage but he has a tremendous supporting cast and still command double and triple teams.

    Also with Gasol or Bynum in the low post there isnt a heck of a lot of room. Kobe may be the smartest player in the league and has a basketball IQ that is off the Richter, he is going to make the smart and right play. If that means drive he’ll drive, if that means mid range he’ll fade or now “dream shake”.

    athletic ability does diminish with age but let’s not get carried away here ok.

  10. I like it Kobe.

    This has been one of the few critical points of Kobe’s game is that he relies too much on dribble penetration to get his looks, which leads to more turnovers and guys without the ball watching him to see where he goes. Now that he doesn’t have the knees he used to have, he has to move closer to the hoop. We saw MJ’s game evolve this way, and now Kobe’s following suit. And in my opinion, MJ was most dominant when he perfected the high post.

    This is where Ron Artest is so important. With a SF who is a scoring threat, teams can’t put guys like Lebron or Carmelo to defend Kobe in the post. Also, with Ron as a 3pt. threat, it spreads the floor and allows Kobe more space to operate. Guys would sag off of Ariza, they won’t sag so hard on Artest.

    SOOOO many options!!! We will probably have 3 or 4 sets that are virtually unguardable (when executed) by the end of the season.

  11. Rudy didn’t say Kobe wasn’t still a great player but an average fan can see Kobe isn’t close to the athlete he was 7 years ago. Thats what happens when you age. It isn’t Kobe’s fault… because of his work ethic he has aged much better than others his age.

  12. Kobe is still the most (or 2nd most, now that we have Shannon Brown) athletic guy on the best team in the league. That’s saying a lot.

    But you have to agree, KB24 isn’t going to dunk all over Yao Ming and Tim Duncan like KB8 used to do.

  13. Maybe everybody else in the league has gotten faster. Except for Shaq.

  14. That is fantastic. Hakeem has had a rather low profile since he retired, so to see that he is more than willing to work with the greatest player in the game today is awesome. I guarantee Shaq never went to him and asked for work. Remember that an older Hakeem basically schooled the other top centers of the mid 90s in a two year span. It would have been nice to see what he and his Rockets could have done against Jordan’s Bulls in a Finals. There was a stretch from around 90 through 96 or 97 where the Rockets were the only team who had a winning record against Chicago.

    Kudos to Kobe for learning from another great player. Let’s get camp started!!!

  15. “…an average fan can see Kobe isn’t close to the athlete he was 7 years ago.”

    This just isn’t true. He is amazingly close to what he was 7yrs ago, for a basketball athlete with his age and mileage. Yes, I do put that qualifier there, but it doesn’t mean Kobe has dropped of tremendously from what he was. I think some are reading too much of what the talking heads are putting out there.

    We still see fantastic dunks from Kobe – just not as often. While this has something to do with his age and mileage, it has more to do with his IQ and job on this team. If he were not “close to the athlete he was 7 years ago”, we would see very few dunks and we sure wouldn’t see him block Yao Ming’s shots at the basket.

  16. kobe soaked up so many skills at this point he doesnt need to use the athleticism he used when he wore number 8.

  17. With positive reviews about our line up, our star player’s offseason training, and our projected success of the upcoming season; I just wanted to pose the question of what everyone thinks is our “kryptonite”? it has been talked about with our pg’s or the lack there of, ronron’s sanity, and now on ESPN they question our focus with a picture LO with Kardashian wrapped around him. So, I just want to get an idea, what does everyone think our most vulnerable spot is as a team?

  18. It’s really funny but whenever I think about Kobe within the context of the other greats I think of Peter Patrelli from Heroes. Maybe soaking up is not the best word to use because he’s integrating new skills within his own cognitive basketball framework where he’s constantly integrating his “moves”.

  19. Well, Kurt, today Hollinger said he will always believe the Cavs were the best team in basketball last season so expect a lot of Laker fans saying he’s crazy, let me be the first.

    And that’s cool, I hadn’t heard that about Kobe, I just can’t wait for the damn season to start.

    As far as kryptonite Jeremy, mark my words- the Portland Trail Blazers.

    We haven’t won there in a while and they are the only team that matches up with the Lakers height wise. On top of that they play the Lakers as if their lives were on the line. I really, really, hope we don’t see them in the playoffs.

  20. Craig W,
    “Tremendously” was probably too strong a word. But the decrease in his athleticism is definitely noticeable.

  21. Predictions are fun, but the reality is every team is one bad twist of a knee away from seeing its prospects dimmed in a second’s time.

    It’s tough to say what this year’s Kryptonite will be since we’ve not seen this year’s team on the floor yet.

    On paper, the team’s most apparent weakness in my view is the lack of a consistent, “You must respect me” outside shooter. Aside from Kobe, who must be accounted for no matter where he is on the floor, I don’t see that one guy who will open the floor for the inside game, cuts and drives by posing a realistic outside threat.

    If Sasha reverts to 2008 forum, problem solved. Otherwise, the lack of outside shooting is a concern.

    Likewise is the attitude: we can turn it on or off whenever we like. That’s been a main trait of the Lakers in recent years, one that aggravates me more than anything. There’s no good reason to lose to the Bobcats, or play as poorly as they did vs. the Rockets in the playoffs at times.

    Despite those two “weaknesses,” the Lakers got the job done last year. And if they’re healthy come playoff time, I don’t see anyone beating these guys in a seven-game series. There are just too many ways these Lakers can kill a team, Portland included.

  22. I hate Hollingers computer

  23. Well, I think Kobe’s athleticism is just fine these days

    September 27, 2009 at 12:42 am, I wrote the following comment:

    “I just keep thinking of that drive Kobe did in the Finals, where he faked with his right hand, holding the ball, the defender went for it and then he dished the ball in the basket with his left, the guy is just unbelievable to me.”

    He constantly tries (and succeeds) to improve his game to be the best.

  24. So I took a look at the 30 teams in the league and ranked the least interesting teams in the league. That is, not only are they promising, but they won’t fail in interesting ways like OKC (fun youth brigade), Memphis (AI, Zeebo, Gay and Mayo all looking for their own shots), etc. These are the teams with virtually no plots, let alone sub plots. Here’s my ranking f the top 5:

    5- Houston
    4- Minnesota
    3- Sacramento
    2- Charlotte
    1- Milwaukee

    Just something to think about if youre marvelling at the Khloe-Odom media circus. You could be stuck rooting for one of these teams.

  25. *Not only are they NOT promising

  26. Also, I think the league should let bynum wear these to protect his legs:
    http://hplusmagazine.com/articles/robotics/cyborg-exoskeletons-may-soon-become-common-bicycles

  27. J.D. I would argue that Minnesota, Sacramento and Milwaukee have some exciting rookies that may be worth watching (Jennings, Flynn, & Evans)

    Aaron I appreciate you clearing up my stance on Kobe’s diminished athleticism. I wasn’t saying that Kobe is no longer athletic. He is great and the fact that he isn’t nearly as athletic as he used to be and is still an elite player proves how great he really is. But if you watch old games of him as early as 4 seasons ago, you could see the difference in his athleticism. He was going to the basket more, he was dunking more and now he struggles finishing around the basket like he used to.

    Put it this way, LeBron James proclaimed last season that he would enter the dunk contest this year and encourage other players people want to see to enter as well. What are the chances Kobe would be in the dunk contest?

  28. #2, wait, Lakers fans are naive if they don’t believe that Kobe’s athleticism has declined IMMENSELY? Really?

    Please watch Kobe Bryant Clinic HD, on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FpzQiERt8I

    By far, the best Kobe Bryant highlight compilation, ever. All the clips are from 2008 and 2009, the past two seasons. You watch it, and then tell me again that this guy’s athleticism has “declined immensely.”

    While there is no doubt that athleticism declines with age, you’re the naive one for buying into John Holinger’s “Kobe is losing his step” BS. Kobe “decline” is marginal, borderline insignificant.

  29. #28 fantastic display of exceptional athleticism, in many ways Kobe’s athleticism is improved. Now maybe he doesnt dunk as often but athleticism is a lot more than dunking. The body control he displays is more developed, he awareness is even more profound. the everyone’s physical skills diminish over time, but what makes kobe remarkable is his work ethic and dedication to greatness is making him even better althletically. the things he is doing in the clips he didnt dream of doing 7 years ago.

  30. To be clear, I understand Rudy did not mean that Kobe is no longer athletic. My issue with his statement is that he claimed Kobe’s athleticism has declined “immensely,” and proclaimed all who disagree naive.

    The main reason Kobe isn’t consistently driving into the line is because, well, he no longer needs to. The Lakers have Gasol, Odom, and Bynum playing alongside Kobe, all very capable low-post players.

    I could also argue that these claims of Kobe’s declined athleticism appeared around the same time Kobe started playing alongside those three aforementioned Lakers, as opposed to Chris “Never Recovered” Mihm and Kwame “Stonehands/Butterfinger/Cake-Throwing” Brown.

    Simply put, while Kobe’s athletic ability has surely decreased due to the inescapable effects of aging, the margin of decrease is microscopic.

    Also, Kobe was far more fundamentally sound than LeBron at the same age. Kobe utilized his athleticism effectively, but he was never dependent on it.

  31. Just added a couple things at the top from Media Day. Just doesn’t sound like a lot of really interesting things were said, but nothing ever is at these things.

  32. Craig W.,

    “we sure wouldn’t see him block Yao Ming’s shots at the basket.”

    Hasn’t every player in the NBA done that at least once?

  33. Now, the Golden State media day was interesting. They asked Monta Ellis about playing with top Warrior pick Curry:

    “Us, together? No,” Ellis told NBC Bay Area, when asked about his on-court relationship with his new Warrior teammate. “You’re not going to win that way.”

  34. 27, Rudy- I think when you have to resort to selling people on a rookie PG (a position that typically takes years to master), the team has issues. I don’t know know how much PT Jennings, in particular is going to get under Skyles. Anyways, its all relative, and these teams ONLY have what you said going for them (unless you count Rambis coaching in MIN)

    Golden State is what the locals up here call “a hot mess”

  35. 28- that oop off Fisher around the 2 minute mark can silence all critics about his loss of athletic ability.

    However, you really can see that he’s pacing himself within the season and within the game, and won’t overdo stuff as much as he did when he was wearing 8. I’ve a feeling that he really, really, took a beating in that season of 81 and had a change of mind when he changed to 24.

    His hop is still there, he is just more judicious using it, and the zone just took away a lot of chances where he can display it. Also, he can now cut through defenses for a beautiful finger roll whereas before he’d have had to jump into a forest for a dunk.

  36. Kobe hasn’t lost athleticism, he just paces it. He was waiving the ball around D-How’s grill when he made that hang in the air bankshot (that would be canonized if MJ did it). How about the split the two Utah defenders and throw the basketball off the backboard dunk in 08 playoff series.
    C’mon, Kobe tea bags someone on almost a monthly basis.

  37. We Laker fans have a real problem…
    1) We continue to read the ‘talking heads’ and include what they say in our analysis of what’s is actually going on.
    2) We see Kobe play every game and there is no way we can avoid taking what he does for granted. 7 yrs ago some of the things he was doing, he was doing for the 1st time – now some of that stuff we consider ‘old school’ and don’t know why he doesn’t come up with new stuff.

    Yes Kobe is older, yes Kobe does fantastic new stuff less often, but no — he isn’t much less athletic. The only athlete I can think of, over the last 45 years, who can come close to him in taking care of his body is Kareem. That is some pretty rarefied air, because some of Kareem’s best seasons were around 35. We all need to remember this. Just because someone doesn’t take as many chances doesn’t mean he is much less athletic – just smarter – and surrounded by better talent.

  38. Kurt – the other side of the Warriors media day coin was Stephen Jackson saying how he wants to be a winner, how he brought his winning ways to GS, and how they failed to bring in a big piece as they promised him (read: Amare), and so he wants out.

    Our local media is having a field day with him and Monte. Saying this is the first season in league history to be lost during training camp. Makes me glad to be a Laker fan through and through.

  39. #6 K

    I’ve heard that league pass sucks. You can get ANY game off of the Internet, either streaming live or download it in HD quality. You just have to know where to look.

    #2
    Sorry but Shaq was far superior to hakeem, and there really is no question about it. Of course it has everything to do with Shaq’s size and power, but nevertheless, no unbiased individual can possibly say that if they were starting a team, they would rather have a young hakeem over a young shaq –NO ONE!

    And regarding Kobe, of course he has lost some athleticism. But he has gained much more in skill and understanding. It is the exact same progression which Jordan went through. At the start of his career he would drive the lane, by his 30′s he morphed his game. And he was a much more important player after his game morphed and his understanding of basketball increased. As measured by the number of championships he had after his game transformed. In fact, Jordan didn’t even win his 1st ring until he was 28, which is past your athletic prime. Jordan was far more athletic at 22 than 28, but he was a much better player. In fact, i think Jordan was 36 when he won his last ring.

  40. 39 – Sorry dude, but you’re way off. You can debate stuff all you want, but saying ignorant stuff like ‘there really is no question about it’ comes off arrogant, condescending, and in this case, just plain wrong. Though, judging from the poster, I can’t stay I’m entirely surprised.

    I’ve been a Shaq fan all my life, but I truly believe Hakeem is a better overall basketball player. Remember, Shaq spent his dominant years playing really only against 1 dominant big man (Duncan–who was really too skinny to guard him). Hakeem played his against some of the greatest big men ever–McHale, Kareem, Parish, Robinson, Ewing, young Shaq and Mourning, mostly HOFs–remember when he shut Robinson down in 95, the year Robinson won the MVP? Considered one of the greatest playoff series performances in history.

    Remember when Hakeem swept Shaq out of the finals, though Shaq had a far superior supporting cast? After that series, Shaq was so stunned that he actually said Hakeem had something like ‘four moves and five countermoves, that gives him 20 moves….he’s unstoppable.’

    Hakeem dominated in the Golden Age of big men. You ask anyone who remembers early 90s basketball, and Hakeem made all the great big men look silly with his Dream Shake. It was literally the most unstoppable post move ever seen, after the skyhook (more accurately, a series of moves). Shaq never played against that level of competition (when he won his titles). Who did he play against in the Finals? Jeff Foster? Jason Collins? Not even close to what Hakeem did.

    And if you want to look at their individual games, Hakeem truly had no weaknesses. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award TWICE, averaged 3 blocks and 1.75 steals a game, over 11 boards (including his demise in Toronto). He was also one of the quickest big men we’ve ever seen–Shaq’s so slow even in his prime he couldn’t rotate out on pick and rolls, and Hakeem could guard perimeter players. And yet his shotblocking and help D are far superior to Shaq’s.

    You want to talk individual D against another superstar? 94 Finals: Ewing with 18 ppg on 36% shooting compared to Hakeem’s 27 ppg on 50%. Defensive versatility? In Game 6 of that series, Hakeem saved the championship by blocking a potential game-winner from Starks – a block Shaq couldn’t have made if everyone had frozen for 30 minutes to give him enough time to get to the perimeter.

    Finally, Hakeem did something that not even MJ could do. He literally took a bunch of scrubs to the finals. Not even Michael could win without help, and Hakeem had to play with rookie Sam Cassell, Mario Elie, a young Robert Horry. Shaq could never reach the finals without Kobe or D-Wade.

    Oh, and he’s also the ONLY player in NBA history to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP in the same season. One of those, Shaq’s never come close to. Shaq was more dominant offensively for a very short window, but he never had the complete game that Hakeem carried 10-11 years into his career.

    lol and no, I didn’t just take the time to type all of that up – I had it saved from the same discussion a long while ago. Just thought I’d share. Debating big men is one of my favorite basketball topics.

    As far as this post…I’m truly looking to see if I can spot a difference in Kobe’s post game. I’m excited. Anxious about Sasha and Shannon and Jordan, but excited. Anytime I get worried I think of the 05-06 days and I stop taking this all for granted.

    It’s almost here, my friends, and this time let’s try to enjoy the ride more.

  41. Kurt – here’s a new suggestion. A bigger comment box and a preview option, so we can see how obscenely long our posts are (some of us) before we post them lol.

  42. On Kobe’s athleticism @15:
    It’s clear that Kobe no longer has the athleticism he had.
    Evidence: He goes to the basket and dunks less, has more difficulty finishing, relies more on footwork and fakes to get his shot off and so on.
    Age takes its toll. However, fatigue and injuries also do. Perhaps we may see some bounce back with his first offseason rest in a couple of years. Teammates who can create better and having a good team may also reduce the demands on Kobe, allowing him to ‘show off’ .

  43. 41 Snoopy, Chrome lets you resize the text entry field, or a greasemonkey script on firefox would do the same thing.

    I was really going to disagree w/ Kaveh on that one, but thanks for saving me the work =)

    But I will add that this statement that preceded the Shaq-Olajuwon argument pretty much discredits Kaveh – the logic of something is great so something else like it must suck
    Kaveh “I’ve heard that league pass sucks. You can get ANY game off of the Internet, either streaming live or download it in HD quality. You just have to know where to look.

  44. Who is that tall guy in Pau Gasol’s jersey with the groomed hair?

  45. Snoopy – thanks for taking time to more eloquently point out what I was trying to say above in my much earlier post. No Hakeem doesn’t have 4 rings like Shaq, but his peak was far and above Shaq’s. And one thing that no one mentioned was that during both of those title years he fasted (no water or food) during daylight because of his observance of Ramadan. Think about that – the man was dropping 30-12-4 and he didn’t even drink water during timeouts of playoff games. Additionally, Hakeem was very good at using his blocks to deflect to teammates and that usually started a fast break. Shaq just tries to send it into the 4th row. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful that Shaq helped our franchise win 3 rings, but at their best, it’s not even close.

  46. Golden age of big men… who played like big men.

    I think, now, we are at the tail end of the golden age of big men who play like wing players, although I guess that’ll depend on how Durant grows up.

  47. Gr8 Scott – Not at all, I thought you nailed it in your earlier post, I was just playing backup. That’s a really interesting point, I forgot about that. Before anyone says that it’s not basketball related, I think it shows Hakeem’s supreme discipline and commitment to the game (as well as his faith), which is in stark contrast to Shaq’s “got injured on company time so I’ll heal on company time” idea of playing his lazy ass into shape.

    Don – Sorry, I’m not exactly computer-illiterate, but what’s a greasemonkey script?

  48. the other Stephen September 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    OMG. if you guys want to get angry about something, look at this picture of the celtics. all of them. at once.

    http://nbaoffseason.com/photo/1280/195807148/1/tumblr_kqhaonbwD21qzyu7d

  49. the other Stephen September 29, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    who am i kidding. ricky davis is a swell guy..

  50. Maybe I just couldn’t spot them, but does anyone else find it strange they included Ricky Davis, Gary Payton, and the token end-of-the-bench white guy over Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett?

  51. If I may,
    Akeem’s signature move,the Dream Shake,was a quick series of moves,fakes that unbalanced his defender,followed by Dream taking a fade-away jumper. W/the moves,Akeem was able to keep his defender from playing physical and creating seperation for a jumper.
    Two yrs ago Yao worked w/Akeem and the results were great. Even tho Yao seemed to be executing the moves in slow motion,he was unstoppable. Until he broke his foot during the Streak,Yao was dominating the League.

    The low-post ability Kobe gains is almost irrelevant to the huge benefits Kobe will realize using his version of the “Shake” in the HI-Post.
    Kobe will be able to get the ball w/his back to basket and using his “Shake” get his defender off-balance and creating seperation for a virtually uncontested 20′ jumper.His defender will be too far away for the Battier hand defense that more and more defenders are using. The defender can’t body Kobe as Kobe will spin away from him creating more space and saving of wear and tear. Most defenders will be so wrong-footed they will not be able to contest the shot.

    Kaveh,
    While Snoopy2006 provided an excellent defense of Olajuwon I have a few more points.
    You could not foul Akeem at the end of a game as he was deadly at FT line late in games. Need I mention Hack-a-Shaq?

    I lived in Houston for Dream’s first few yrs and watched every game. I moved to Florida in the late 80′s and my local cable company aired the Magic and I watched all of Shaq’s Orlando games.
    Very simply,you move Shaq out of the lane and he could not score. Olajuwon was deadly from 20′ in,a skill he worked on diligently. Akeem worked on his skills to the point they matched his incredible athletic ability. Shaq never did. Young Shaq was able to out-quick or bull his way to the basket and has never had the desire to add anything more to his game.

    A last thought in this mini-saga(sorry!).
    In 1986 the Rockets were poised to contend for Championships for the rest of the decade and lost in the Finals to a Larry Bird who refused to let his team lose. But somewhere during the off-season cocaine became more important than basketball to the Rocket starting PG,SG and first Gd off the bench and shortly thereafter Sampson blew out his knee and the Rockets struggled to put together a team for yrs.
    If the Rocket gds had just managed to say NO,they could well have won a title or two.
    Everybody remembers the Sampson last-second Series winner,but no one recalls that it was GAME 5! The Lakers won only 1 game in that series.

  52. Working out with Hakeem is not the only thing that Kobe has worked on this summer, look for at least one other addition to his offensive game.

    That’s why those of us who love Kobe, LOVE Kobe!

  53. #50, you would have much more credibility had you spelled him name right, even just once.

  54. Akeem was how he spelled his name through college and the first years of his pro career. He changed it to Hakeem, which I believe was tied to a reawakening of his Muslim faith (although I may remember that part wrong).

  55. What I should’ve said was, “You should’ve used the name he wanted to go by.”

    Stephen, no offense. I was just imagining how I would feel if someone referred to Kareem as Ferdinand or Lew (or Mohammed as Casius), since they’re both historical players and they changed their names for a reason. That’s just my personal pet peeve.

    Again, meant no disrespect. It didn’t feel so rude when I was typing it. =)

  56. Snoopy2006,

    You make a great argument. Even the biggest Lakers homer would have to see the light.

    Kaveh,

    No need for me to add to what Snoopy and others have said about Shaq, but I can say this:

    League Pass doesn’t suck. I don’t know who told you it does, because getting EVERY NBA game (not on national TV) in perfect quality certainly does not suck. Plus, you cannot *always* find every game on the internet, and sometimes the feed sucks.

  57. Let me guess, Kobe’s next 2 summers would include:

    a. A trip to Utah to learn the one-hand bounce pass from Stockton…

    b. A trip to San Antonio to learn Ice Man’s free-throw-line finger roll…

    c. A trip to south Florida to learn Timmy Hardaway’s Killer crossover.

    My god this guy doesn’t stop. This is why we love Kobe because he doesn’t seem to be content with what he already is. He is simply chasing perfection.

  58. Monkeydump,
    You are right,I should have spelled Hakeem’s name Hakeem. I simply went into a mental lock as I was thinking of a young Olajuwon and just used the old pre-1991 spelling of his name.
    My bad.

  59. 47 Snoopy, greasemonkey is a firefox extension that uses user-generated scripts (HTML/AJAX based) to change the way websites behave – great for e.g. single page view on nytimes, direct links to images or articles instead of ads, automatically grabbing real time stats instead of having to pay for yahoo’s on fantasy basketball, and changing appearance of gmail etc.
    google it to get the extension, and then try userscripts.org or just google for greasemonkey scripts to install

  60. Shaq was a terrific talent. He had more potential than perhaps any other basketball player. The problem was, he was satisfied with being good enough to win much of the time, instead of trying to perfect his craft. That is just his personality and drive. He certainly isn’t the only player like that in the NBA, but ooooh the potential – sigh!

    There was one area Shaq was better than Hakeem in – other than strength – and that was in working the media. Hakeem is a really nice guy and everyone liked and respected him, but he wasn’t a bull and he couldn’t match either Shaq or Phil in manipulating the media. Shaq loves the limelight and uses every trick to stay in it. More power to him, but it doesn’t mean that he has done more on the court – just that the talking heads say more about him.

  61. Kurt, Hakeem, as I recall, put the “H” in is name because it was there to begin with. It’s a silent “H” and I remember him saying that because people had grown accustomed to pronouncing his name correctly (“Akeem”), that he can simply put the “H” back in as it was.

    The correct pronunciation has and has always been “Akeem,” but it seems that everyone under the age of 30 pronounces the H.

    As far as the lively debates of Shaq v. Hakeem, it’s fun to debate — that’s part of the reason we love sports — but you’re really splitting hairs. In re. pure basketball talent, I’d take Hakeem. If I were starting a franchise, I would take a 20-yr. old Shaq over Hakeem. Shaq, along with being the most dominant player I have ever seen in 30 years, had the persona to sell merchandise, fill the seats and add value outside of basketball to a team.