From Tom Friend, ESPN Los Angeles: Interesting how so many surgeons wear sneakers. The family from rural Colorado noticed that right off the bat. The day the Shattucks met Dr. David Skaggs, at Childrens Hospital on Sunset Boulevard, he had bounced in to examine their 13-year-old daughter, Isabelle, wearing pitch-black running shoes. Their first impression was he seemed athletic. Everything after that was a blur. The doctor showed them an X-ray of their daughter’s spine, a spine that resembled a spiral staircase. Because of scoliosis, one side had a 56-degree bend, the other was at 52 degrees, and he told them that, unless he fixed it, Isabelle could end up deformed and unable to take a full breath. He recommended surgery the following week.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Right now, as you are reading this, the Lakers have a payroll of $91,906,072 for next season (thank you Sham Sports). That is more than $500,000 higher than the Lakers payroll last season, which was already higher than any other team in the Association. And we are underestimating Shannon Brown’s salary by roughly $500,000. Plus the Lakers have yet to sign second-round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, which will push the Lakers payroll for next season to the $93 million range. So all that talk about the Lakers cutting corners, Jerry Buss laughs at it. As he told Scott Howard Cooper at NBA.com.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: August is a pretty rough time for those of us who cover TEH HOOPS. Free agency’s over, and training camps are a couple months away. The FIBA tournament doesn’t start for another few weeks. To fill column inches and pixel quotas, you’ve got to lower your standards and scrape the gutter for stories you’d be embarrassed to publish any other time of year. In unrelated news, anyone want to know what Smush Parker is up to these days? OHAI, Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post! In yesterday’s edition of the paper, Mr. Staszewski wrote an article with the actual headline, “Ex-Fordham Star Parker Looks to Revive NBA Career.” No, seriously. Those are words that the Post printed and delivered to newsstands and subscribers. It’s one of those articles of which you wouldn’t have to alter a single word if you wanted to run it in the Onion.
From Robert Baptista, Silver Screen and Roll: I have a confession to make. When I first heard the Lakers were going to sign Ron Artest, I wasn’t exactly excited. Not only did I not want him, I wanted the Lakers to keep Trevor Ariza. Trevor was young, getting better, and a contributing starter on a Championship team. I knew Ron Artest was the better player, but we all knew about the baggage he had. Never mind his positive or negative impact on the basketball floor, did we really want or need him on the team that already went all the way? Did the Lakers really need to shake things up with such a seemingly high risk, albeit high reward player? There was his defense, that’s a given, plus he showed in the 2009 Second Round series against the Lakers that he could lead a team offensively. Yet, it was in that same series that he showed his poor decision making and bad leadership by shooting the Rockets out of games, and then earning ridiculous technical fouls. Was he really necessary? Did the Lakers really need to swing for the fences? I wasn’t so sure at first.
From Rey Moralde, The No Look Pass: So Shaquille O’Neal is headed to the Celtics. I wish him luck. I got many, many, many comments from fellow L.A. Laker fans saying that he’s a ring-chaser, a traitor, and that his jersey should NEVER be retired at Staples Center. What? Okay, so his “legacy will be a little tainted” because he played for another team. But let’s look at this for a minute or three. If Shaq wants to continue playing in the NBA for whatever reason, let him. Sure, he’s past his prime. Whatever. But he still has the right to continue his basketball career as he chooses. Wherever it may be. And don’t compare this to Brett Favre, who, as a starting quarterback, can hold up an entire NFL franchise by not making any decisions about his NFL career. And it’s even worse that he’s wishy-washy.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: Chuck Person spent the latest of his 25 years in the NBA as a player and coach as a special assistant coach on Phil Jackson’s staff last season, making such a positive impact that he was named a full-time assistant coach on Aug. 2. Person, known as “The Rifleman” during a 13-year playing career that began with a Rookie of the Year award for the 1986-87 season, joined us on the Popcorn Machine to discuss his basketball past, his relationship with Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant and what he’s learned from Jackson thus far. CLICK HERE to head over to our Lakers.com Popcorn Machine page to listen.
From Matt Smith, Fox Sports West: When I heard the news yesterday that the Boston Celtics would be signing Shaquille O’Neal the first thing that popped into my head was Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, and particularly the clash between Spitz and Buck. I’m sure a great number of you are familiar with the novel centering on a formerly domesticated, then trained sled dog named “Buck”. But in case you aren’t, the rivalry between he and Spitz, a Siberian Husky, was best described by their masters Perrault and Francois after it was discovered that the two had fought to the death with Spitz coming up short in the conflict. Perrault starting with “Dat Spitz fight like hell.”, while Francois countered “An’ dat Buck fight like two hells”. When it comes to the Shaq vs. Kobe dynamic, you get the sense there inevitably will be a fight to the death moment before we can finally move past the rivalry.