From Adriano Torres, ESPN Los Angeles: Nearly four weeks after undergoing successful arthroscopic knee surgery, Kobe Bryant was moving well Saturday morning at a Nike basketball clinic at Rucker Park in Harlem to celebrate the World Basketball Festival. L ater Saturday, Bryant made a guest appearance at Niketown and watched a private scrimmage between Team USA and the Chinese national team at Madison Square Garden. The reigning NBA Finals MVP, whose surgery was reported by the Lakers on July 23, led youngsters through different drills at Rucker Park and at one point stopped a layup line to demonstrate proper technique. As a few dozen photographers snapped pictures, Bryant conducted a Q&A with Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: Since the end of the 2010 NBA season, most of the members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization have been enjoying their summer hiatus. Some of the players went to South Africa to check out the World Cup. Some went to Asia. Pau Gasol even scrubbed in on a surgery. I imagine the less wealthy members of the staff filled their time with less exotic pursuits, but there are plenty of coaches, trainers, security, PR people, and administrative assistants who are enjoying the fruits of a well-earned vacation right about now. But not Mitch Kupchak. He’s been one busy dude. Now, with news that the Lakers two 2nd round draft picks are either signed or agreed to terms, he can stand over the precipice of what he’s accomplished, and know that his work is pretty much done until October. I’m sure his plane tickets to Aruba are already purchased. Before he goes, I just wanted to deliver a message from all of us in Lakers Nation. Take a bow, Mitch, take a bow.
From Tom Hoffarth, LA Daily News: There’s been a star for the past four years on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recognizing the accomplishments of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. Look closer at the bronze logo embedded in the terrazzo plaque near the corner of Hollywood and Highland: It’s not a Lakers logo, a dancing girl or Jack Nicholson’s footprint. It’s a TV set. Twenty-five years ago – or just six seasons after he purchased the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke and set off a magical chain reaction that took over the sports landscape of the city – Doc Hollywood figured out how to put “Showtime” in as many Southern California homes as possible.
From Austin Burton, DIME Magazine: After Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Michael Jordan showed up at Rucker Park for the morning session of yesterday’s World Basketball Festival, there was only one way Nike could potentially one-up themselves: Bringing Kobe Bryant up to 155th & Frederick Douglass for this morning’s session. While a group of local kids were running through their paces at the Chainlink Fundamentals clinic, Kobe suddenly appeared in front of them — causing about half of them to freeze in their defensive slide drills while jaws hit the floor.
From John Schuhmann, Hang Time Blog: Just how good has the defense been? China and France scored a total of 104 points against it on 156 possessions. That’s an efficiency of just 66.7 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the U.S. has scored 184 points on 158 possessions, which is 116.5 per 100. Of course, teams like Spain, Greece and Brazil will be more efficient offensively. And that won’t allow the U.S. to run as much. So their half-court offense will need to improve quite a bit over the next couple of weeks if they want to beat those teams. The good news is that, though Brazil is in their pool-play group, the U.S. doesn’t need to be perfect in those first five games. They basically have nine more games (three exhibition games, five preliminary games, and a round-of-16 game against a not-so-great opponent) before they really need to be sharp.
From Rob Mahoney, Pro Basketball Talk: In establishing the hierarchy of teams competing in the FIBA World Championships, Team USA and Spain are clearly on the top tier. Both squads have superior talent to the rest of the Championship pool, and while both have their respective kinks to workout before the competition really ramps up, they’re rightfully considered co-favorites. However, it’s no stretch to say that Spain may have the slight edge over the Americans, particularly since Team USA has yet to prove itself against a worthy competitor. Thus far, USA has only played friendlies with China and France, neither of which is a particularly competitive squad. Spain, on the other hand, is a proven team with long-established chemistry and plenty of depth. Overlooking any game with the Spanish national team is an easy way to take a loss.
From Red’s Army: I was all prepared to hate Kobe Bryant today. He is fresh off beating the C’s for a title (ugh, still hurts) and he made me wake up way too early to cover his event. So I was looking forward to just flat out hating on him all morning long. And I couldn’t do it. He showed up at Rucker Park around 9:30 for the Chainlink Fundamentals clinic (part of Nike’s World Basketball Festival which is going on this weekend in New York). He spent time observing… talking to the kids… and then going from station to station and giving individual instruction. He was getting involved, talking to the kids, and doing it with passion.