With Dr. Jerry Buss being inducted to basketball’s Hall of Fame — along with Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the 1992 and 1960 US Olympic Teams — and Lamar Odom set to take on the French National team along with Team USA on Sunday, I’ve put together a few links with those events in mind along with a few other Lakers and league wide issues.
From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: He has presided over the Lakers since 1979, turning the franchise into one of the most successful in sports. And for that, for all he has done to uplift the NBA, the Lakers and the game of basketball, Lakers owner Jerry Buss will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday in Springfield, Mass. He will be joined in the class of 2010 by Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Cynthia Cooper and high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. The 1992 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team known as the “Dream Team,” which included Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and the 1960 team that included another Lakers Hall of Famer, Jerry West, also will be inducted. Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and Brazilian star Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira will be honored posthumously.
From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: There are specific popular icons that achieve unanimous appeal. A person might not be a dedicated fan of the Beatles, the first two Godfathers, or Michael Jordan but there’s a uniform agreement that these are classics. You can debate finer aesthetic points — which album is best, which shot was the biggest, or whether you prefer the first or second installment of “The Godfather” — but an overall cultural verdict has been reached. Ironically, this consensus renders these standards pretty useless as measurements of what we love. An appreciation of the Beatles reveals a lot less about a person’s taste than say, how they feel about Television, Joni Mitchell or Elvis Costello. “The Godfather” might have a more permanent place in the cinematic pantheon, but if you want to get a better handle on someone’s pop sensibilities, listen to them recite their favorite narrative passages from “Goodfellas,” or have the rank all five seasons of “The Wire” in order of preference.
From Eddie Maisonet, SLAM Online: I never fathomed the day that I would consider Lamar Odom “an old man.” Not in a bad way, old, but old in a relative sense. As Team USA basketball prepares for its next challenge, competing in the FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on August 28, LO has been added to this roster because he’s a two-time NBA champion and provides a veteran presence. Odom is the second oldest person on the team (Chauncey Billups, 34, is the oldest), and the average age is 25. The competition in Turkey will be fierce, and Team USA is counting on Odom to keep his head when all about him is losing their minds and blaming it on Coach K, Durant, or the ball boy. (Kipling)
From Kevin Ding, Los Angeles Times: New Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal was asked when on Mike Wise’s radio show in Washington who is the greatest player he has teamed with considering he has followed Kobe Bryant with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. “A lot of people rank players from different opinions, but if you wanna go with ring standpoint it has to be Kobe,” O’Neal said. “LeBron is a great athlete, D-Wade is a great athlete, but it’s close. I’m lucky to have been able to play with both of those guys, but Kobe right now has had that eye for a long time. I’ve known him for a while. When he gets that eye there aren’t really too many people that can beat him.”
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: Appearing as relaxed as he ever can be, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant sat back during his exit interview in June full with smiles and little worry. He shared his plans to attend the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, admitted that he planned to take it easy this summer to rest his assorted injuries and even acknowledged some of his vulnerabilities during Game 7 of the NBA Finals. At the time, I noted that Bryant’s changed demeanor perfectly reflected how winning a championship helped soften his sometimes gruff exterior and revealed that he’s human after all. Bryant’s laid-back attitude couldn’t have been more prevalent than when The Times’ Mike Bresnahan asked him what off-season moves he thinks the Lakers need to make to secure a third consecutive title.
From Austin Burton, Dime Magazine: Last week, an argument broke out in the Smack comments section that was started by Dime reader Chicagorilla: “The one thing I don’t get about the Kobe as #1 argument is this BULL$H!T about him being fundamental. WTF? Have any of you actually watched him play? He does everything in his power to try and NOT be fundamental. … Everything (Kobe does) goes against basketball law. The fadeaway is a really low percentage shot, but (he) manages to hit them. The floater in the lane is not fundamental. The jump in the air, twist and turn, hang, then throw a no-look crosscourt pass for an open three (while entertaining and effective at times) is in no way fundamental.” As in every argument involving one of this era’s most polarizing public figures, Kobe’s loyal fans came to his defense to portray him as the textbook example of … well, being textbook, while Kobe’s love-to-hate-him critics supported the original suggestion that he’s closer to an out-of-control jacker. And as usual, the real answer lay somewhere in the middle.
From Charlie Rosen, Fox Sports: A while ago, when Andrew Bynum seemed to be making huge progress, you stated that the Bucks would eventually be sorry they drafted Andrew Bogut over Bynum in 2005. Now that both players have developed, who would you rather have? — Radu Nedelcut, Bucharest, Romania First, let’s compare the two young big men. If Bynum’s hands are much more adhesive, Bogut’s footwork is superior. They’re both legit 7-foooters, but Bynum has better hops, is quicker, heavier (285 to 260) and stronger. Indeed, many of Bogut’s moves in the low post require him to slightly fade away to prevent his rather flat-footed shots from being swatted. Even so, Bogut has a better left hand and much more sophisticated scoring options down there.
From Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated: The Pacific Division is home to the two-time defending champion, one perennial contender and three teams that didn’t even crack 30 wins last season. For the Lakers, this was a cushy division to begin with, and that’s before they improved with some subtle but significant tweaks over the summer. Their stiffest competition, the Suns, took a step backward with the loss of Amar’e Stoudemire. And their intra-city rivals, the Clippers, squandered a chance to make a free-agent splash. The Warriors got new ownership and the Kings a promising big man, but both of those clubs are still building, while the Lakers, again, look like a finished product.
League Wide Links
From Zach Harper, TrueHoop: The NBA’s 2010-2011 schedule has been released and with it comes a bevy of action to circle on your actual or proverbial calendar. Before you dive in I think it’s imperative we get something out in the open first. I realize a lot of people are sick of talking about LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But it’s something you’re going to have to accept this season and probably for the next decade. Heck, the entire opening section of this preview is about LeBron and the Heat. When two of the best players in the world pair up and bring along their tall friend, it’s going to make headlines — and great television. So let’s just accept that the Heat matter, and that their games matter even more, particularly in key matchups. Let’s hope for a lot of fun basketball between now and the next time the schedule gets released.
From Barbara Baker, NewsWeek: Two prominent college basketball coaches said Tuesday that they are uncomfortable with the consulting deal struck by Florida International University coach Isiah Thomas and the Knicks. “I am good friends with Isiah and I obviously like the Knicks, but I think it’s better if there is a separation between college and the pros,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was in New York with Team USA. “I would decline to do something like that.” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim took it a step further. Not only would he decline, he said he’s not sure the arrangement should be allowed. “I don’t understand why it would be legal either way, from the college standpoint or from the NBA,” said Boeheim, one of Coach K’s assistants on Team USA. “It seems like a conflict. You’re coaching kids and recommending them to pro guys. Well, if a pro guy comes in and asks about a kid and you’re a consultant to a different team, you wouldn’t be able to do that. You wouldn’t be able to help that kid.”
From Basketbawful: Robert Parish is one of my favorite players ever. I grew up screaming “CHIEF!!” every time Parish hit one of his patented turnaround jumpers or jammed home a pick-and-roll pass from Larry Bird. I loved his poise, his unselfishness, and his aura of stoic nobility. I also loved it when he sucker-punched Bill Laimbeer in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t love that, but I do. If anybody ever had it coming, it was Laimbeer. All that said, I’m starting to think Parish has lost his nut a little. And not just because he recently said: “I think Shaq will definitely bring a defensive presence along with Garnett. He’s going to cause a lot of havoc defensively.” (NOTE: I added this link because it features Larry Bird passing highlights. I could seriously watch those clips for hours at a time.)
From Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Last week’s foray into the positional revolution was a good start, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. As I noted previously, Drew Cannon’s positional system isn’t coming out of the internet womb fully-formed; a lot of adjustments and tweaks are necessary for the model to become viable. Still, Cannon’s design offers a welcome starting point for both discourse regarding positional fluidity and, hopefully, some eventual long-term change in the way we think about and define positions. There is no end to this process. Even if we successfully shed the five traditional positions in favor of some other system, players and their roles will continue to evolve. It’s critical that we’re constantly challenging the limits of positionality to match with the on-court product. Note that those limits aren’t being tested without reason. It’s important that positional rhetoric remains descriptivist in nature. We’re not saying “this is the way that position X should play,” but rather “this is the way that position X does play.” (NOTE: I added this link because it’s one of the better pieces that I’ve read on the positional revolution discussions going on around the world (wide web). Mahoney is brilliant and a fantastic writer.)
From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: Every acquisition has a cost, which is one of the bedrock principles of bartering. Unless you’re purchasing Manhattan or annexing the Sudetenland, it’s virtually impossible to get something for nothing. The NBA’s trade market has three primary currencies in circulation: talent, cap relief and flexibility — with the latter two linked to some extent. On Wednesday, Houston, New Orleans, Indiana and New Jersey cooperated on a blockbuster trade that saw each team forfeit assets in service of a larger goal.