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Phillip Barnett —  August 4, 2010

Mar. 04, 2010 - Miami, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02065582 Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (L) drives the ball past Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (R) during their game at the American Airlines arena in Miami, Florida, USA 04 March 2010. The Heat defeated the Lakers in overtime 114-111.

From Ramona Shellbourne, ESPN Los Angeles: Phil Jackson has officially signed a contract to return to the Los Angeles Lakers. The 11-time NBA champion coach announced on July 1 that he would return for what he called “the last stand for me” but it took until last week to finalize a new contract, according to a source close to the situation. Terms of Jackson’s new contract have not been released. A message left for his agent Todd Musburger Monday evening was not returned.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Because Timberwolves vs. Kings is too big to waste on a day where fans might be distracted by toys or ham. Fortunately, the NBA was left with a decent consolation prize, insofar as ratings go. For the second straight season, LeBron James will return to Los Angeles on Christmas Day, though this time it’ll be in a different uniform (perhaps you heard he changed teams). There was certainly a chance the league could have gone Lakers vs. Celtics … but not really. L.A. vs. the SuperTeam! is the true made-for-X-Mas matchup, hypnotic as the yule log. Just as Christmas seems to arrive in stores earlier and earlier every year, so too will the hype and buildup for this game. As in … now.

From ESPN.com: Free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal will likely sign with the Boston Celtics, as soon as Tuesday night or Wednesday, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard. O’Neal had said earlier Tuesday that he hopes to make a decision about his future soon, and both NBA.com and Comcast SportsNet New England indicated that the Celtics were “close” to signing the four-time NBA champion. Later Tuesday, The Associated Press cited a person with knowledge of the negotiations as saying the Celtics were making progress on a deal for O’Neal. The Atlanta Hawks had been the front-runner to land O’Neal last month and are not completely out of the picture, sources told Broussard, but they have fallen behind the Celtics.

From Jorge Arce, Bettor.com: Can the conversation be started now? as Kobe Bryant won his 5th title this year. Basketball enthusiasts say Kobe Bryant might be a great player but he is still not at par with all time Legend Michael Jordan statically or charismatically. Considering statistically, Kobe is still shy of one championship compared to Jordan’s 6 world championship titles, which he acquired in 15 years. However, Michael took the Bulls to win 3 consecutive titles from 1991-93 and then from 1996-98. Experts say if Michael had not left in-between to pursue his dad’s dream of becoming a baseball player, undoubtedly his reign would not have come to an end and Bulls could have won 8 consecutive titles for certain.

From David Brickley, The Lakers Nation: What if Mitch Kupchak wasn’t one of the best GM’s in the league? A man that has assembled a championship team, who isn’t satisfied with just one championship, the thrill of victory makes him hungry for more. Whether it was the devastating loss in the Finals to Boston in 2008, or the last two seasons in which the Lakers have won it all, Mitch Kupchak continues to improve the roster year in and year out. One may say he is never satisfied, that he always looks forward to the next season. We all know what he is most famous for, trading away Kwame Brown for All-Star Pau Gasol. But what about Brian Cook for Trevor Ariza, or Vladimir Radmonivic for Shannon Brown, signing Ron Artest to the MLE, bringing in Steve Blake, or Matt Barnes at the vets minimum. Or what about not doing anything at all.

Phillip Barnett

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