Archives For September 2010

My All Time Lakers Team

Darius Soriano —  September 20, 2010

Feb. 04, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, EEUU - LOS ANGELES (CA, USA), 03/02/2010.- Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant (L), chats with legendary US basketball player Jerry West, during the homage that Lakers paid Bryant for being the maximum scorer of the team's history, prior to the NBA basketball match played against Charlotte Bobcats in Los Angeles, California, USA, 03 February 2010. Lakers won 99-97.Can you imagine these two playing together?  Pretty scary thought for opposing defenses, no?

Right now, over at ESPN dot com you can choose your all time starting line up for every franchise in the NBA, including the Lakers.  Pretty neat stuff as it allows you to choose between great Lakers past and present to form the ultimate “Franchise Five” in the history of any organization.

For the Lakers, this is a bit of a tricky proposition.  Much like when we discussed the various championship teams in Laker history, there are plenty of great players to choose from who donned the Lakers’ uniform.  And the fact that you can only choose one starter for each position means that there are bound to be snubs.  I mean, at Center do you go with Kareem?  Shaq?  Wilt?  Mikan?  What about at Shooting Guard?  Is it the Logo that wins out or is it Kobe?  Every position is stocked with at least one hall of fame caliber player or a fantastic role player that was a major contributor to one (or more) championship.  What to do?

Well, for me, I chose the best team (at least from a statistical stand point) and ended up with this team:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Small Forward: Elgin Baylor
Power Forward: Pau Gasol
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Not a slouch in the group and a team that, based off voting, is the one that most other fans chose as well.

However, at the time of creating that team, I felt limited.  With all the discussion of late about the positional revolution and with the very real truth that when looking at players as great as the ones listed above that these guys could easily play a variety of positions on the court, my team started to change.  Now, suddenly, I had a team that looked like this:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Jerry West
Small Forward: Kobe Bryant
Power Forward: Elgin Baylor
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

You’ll notice that Pau Gasol has been subbed out for (essentially) Jerry West.  Elgin slides up to “play” PF and we now have an undersized team that may have some trouble defending elite big men, but is also put together in a manner that takes advantage of Magic and West’s great ability to play uptempo basketball.  Could you imagine Kobe and Baylor filling the lane on a Magic led fast break with West running to the three point line and Kareem trailing the play to run a high P&R or just sliding down to the post to fire off sky hooks?  That’s a dangerous offensive outfit with enough defense and rebounding to also handle itself on the other side of the court. (On a side note, I used “play” when referencing Elgin as the PF because I actually think this team would have enough versatility to actually do whatever was needed in the half court.  Ideally, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe would be the the primary post up players with West being the spot up shooter/secondary creator of offense, and Elgin being another creator/slasher off the ball – similar to how James Worthy played for the Showtime teams.  And if all else failed, you could isolate whatever wing player had the big man on him and tell him to go get a bucket.  Considering all the offensive fire power in this group, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.)

But, because the Lakers have so much talent in their franchise history, I thought why just stop at five players?  If I was going to build an entire team from past legendary figures that played for the Lakers, what would that team look like?  I’ve come to the conclusion that my twelve man roster would look like this:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Jerry West
Small Forward: Kobe Bryant
Power Forward: Elgin Baylor
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Bench: Pau Gasol
Bench: Shaquille O’neal
Bench: James Worthy
Bench: Michael Cooper
Bench: Derek Fisher
Bench: Jamaal Wilkes
Bench: Lamar Odom

Now, that is a team.  Offense, defense, size, shooting, leadership, versatility, role players, stars…that team has it all.  I know that I’ve left off some other greats (Mikan and Chamberlain come to mind instantly), but that’s a team that I think could defeat any on-comer.  But, I’m just one guy and my opinion – as much as I’d like it to be – isn’t the end of this argument.  So, let me know who you’d take as your top 5 and then, how would you round out the roster?  Remember, building a team isn’t necessarily about just stocking the most talent.  Obviously talent helps, but there’s still the question of how it all fits together as a cohesive unit.

Oh, and one last thing.  Coaching the team would be Phil Jackson.  With all apologies to Riles, I think this group would need some serious meditation time together to ensure that they were all on the same page.

Apr. 14, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - The Clippers' Travis Outlaw scores against the Lakers' Lamar Odom in the second half Wednesday. The Clippers won 107-91.

Today we continue our journey through all of the NBA Team Previews a little closer to home. There is only one preview on the Clippers and it will be followed by a collection of Lakers links. Enjoy.

From Steve Perrin, Clippers Nation: What Significant Moves were made during the off-season? The NBA off-season was dominated by mega-star free agents, in particular LeBron James.  When the Clippers unloaded Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair at the trade deadline, they assured themselves of having enough money under the salary cap to pursue James or any other big name. Indeed, they were one of six NBA teams invited to make a pitch to LeBron and his minions.  But Neil Olshey and Andy Roeser probably never had a chance, their meeting lasted less than an hour, and LeBron eventually joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Still sitting on a big pile of cash, the Clippers could turn their attentions to another free agent.  Who would it be?  Joe Johnson?  Rudy Gay?  How about Clips Nation favorite Josh Childress?  Nope.  Try Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye and Brian Cook.

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From Gary Washburn, Boston.com: “The minute I heard Kobe [Bryant] say he had one more ring than Shaq, I said to Danny, ‘Let’s go get Shaq,’ and it happened,’’ said Grousbeck. “This is a very, very proud bunch of guys, the champions from ’08. And now with Jermaine and Shaq and Delonte, who haven’t been champions with us, this could be a good group. We’ve got huge challenges but we reloaded this summer. We really want banner No. 18.’’

From Jeff Miller, OC Register: We’re big enough here to admit when we’re wrong and, it turns out, there is now empirical proof we erred with Kobe Bryant. He is still superior to LeBron James. A survey released last week showed that Bryant remains the most disliked player in the NBA, the Laker again showing his renowned ability to close by holding off a fast-falling LeBron. The Q Scores Company reported that James, rocket-boosted by the manner in which he left Cleveland for Miami, went from being beloved to being a flesh-consuming virus. Based on how violently LeBron’s numbers shifted, he is now as popular as the recession.

From Lakers.com: Though no stranger to hitting clutch shots in the playoffs – including his two massive three-pointers that won Game 4 of the 2009 Finals – Derek Fisher had never dominated a quarter before … until scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 to lead L.A. to a critical 91-84 victory. The biggest of Fisher’s clutch plays was an and-1 layup over through three converging Celtics with 48.3 seconds to go, giving L.A. a seven-point lead they’d preserve to take a 2-1 series lead and home court advantage back from Boston.

From Eoin Connolly, SportsNooz.com: Los Angeles Lakers will make their first appearance in Europe for nearly twenty years after the NBA confirmed that the 2009 champions will join the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves for this year’s pre-season Europe Live Tour. The three teams will play two games each in the fifth edition of the tour, which tips off with a game between the Knicks and Armani Jeans Milano in Milan, Italy on 3rd October. The Lakers will play the Timberwolves at London’s O2 Arena on 4th October – the fourth game in four years at the Greenwich-based venue – before heading to Spain to play Regal FC Barcelona three days later. The Palais Omnisports Paris Bercy in Paris will host a game between the Knicks and the Timberwolves on October 6th.

From Mike Truddell, Basket Blog: Lakers second round picks Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter have been a constant, collective presence at the team’s practice facility since Labor Day, serving the dual purpose of learning Phil Jackson’s system and getting physically ready for training camp. Assistant coach Jim Cleamons was at the team’s facility on Friday continuing the off-season triangle offense instruction started in July by fellow assistant Chuck Person (pictured below), while strengh and conditioning chief Chip Schaefer continued to put the rooks through off-court drills and excercises. After a Friday morning session, Ebanks and Caracter joined us to discuss their first impressions of the organization, their days as AAU teammates, Tupac vs. Biggy and more:

From Kyle Stack, SLAM Online: Lamar Odom has been given many labels throughout his 11-season career — upcoming star, versatile, underachiever. At 30 years old, he can add another one. Winner. In the past 15 months, Odom has won two NBA championships and a World Championships gold medal. This isn’t the path many suspected he would take as little as three years ago, when he finished his eighth season with the Lakers getting promptly knocked out of the playoffs’ first round in five games. Up to that point, Odom had made the Playoffs three times but had advanced beyond the first round only once. Furthermore, he had been on just one team that finished with a regular season record more than two games over .500.

From Shane Lambert, Crunch Sports: Kobe Bryant is considered the favorite to win the coveted MVP Award for the approaching NBA seads that sportsbook have set odds on the Los Angeles Laker guard at +250 (5/2) to win the award outright.  That kind of status in that betting market carries the presumption that Bryant is the best player in the NBA but if you look at stats in depth then he’s not even the top 5 talent among all active players – not from a career perspective. The best statistic to look at in basketball is Win Shares per 48 minutes and if you don’t know what those are then I’m sorry but you know nothing about basketball.  Against all active players that have ample NBA experience, Bryant is 8th in that very important category.

Lakers We Miss: Byron Scott

Jeff Skibiski —  September 19, 2010

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Developing a championship mentality isn’t an overnight process for teams or players, but instead an experiment in developing the right mix of ingredients, influences and experiences. Players like Byron Scott—a key catalyst on three Lakers championship teams from 1983-1993—are simply born winners.

As the starting guard on the Lakers title squads in 1985, 1987 and 1988, Scott’s persistent energy, long-range proficiency, tough-nosed D and will to win were integral pieces of the team’s championship puzzle. The anchor-like role that Derek Fisher serves on the current version of the Lakers is a role that was similarly perfected by the Inglewood native in the 1980’s.

Though Byron was a talented offensive player in his own right—averaging 14 points in 14 NBA seasons, including a career high 22 in 1987-1988—he was more than willing to give up the spotlight to Hall of Fame teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy. In that vein, Scott was the perfect glue guy for those talented Showtime teams. His selflessness was again on display in the 1996-1997 season when he returned to L.A. to mentor a fledgling guard by the name of Kobe Bryant—a mentor/mentee relationship with which #24 still credits to this day for his rapid ascension in the league.

Scott’s value isn’t something that can be measured purely through on-court statistics though, as he has repeatedly proven himself as an impassioned leader in the locker room, both as a Lakers player and in his successful coaching career that has followed. Scott quickly moved up the NBA coaching ranks after starting out as an assistant in Sacramento, earning his first head coaching gig with the Nets and leading them to back-to-back NBA Finals earlier this decade (including a four-game sweep at the hands of the forum blue and gold in 2002).

Byron also nearly led an upstart Hornets team, still feeling the effects of Hurricane Katrina along with the rest of New Orleans, to within one game of facing the Lakers in the 2007-08 Western Conference Finals. His current task as coach of the now LeBron-less Cavaliers will provide yet another opportunity for Scott to show his rebuilding chops.

With Phil Jackson celebrating his 65th birthday this past week and Brian Shaw as a potential looming successor, Scott’s short—and long term—prospects of becoming head coach of the Lakers remains one of the team’s most divisive topics. Kevin Ding at the OC Register wrote a few weeks ago that Scott’s return to the team probably won’t coincide with an historic streak of championships as will likely be the case once Jackson steps down. Instead, he argues that Byron will once again eagerly swoop in during a moment of need—when his reclamation and leadership skills are best served. It’s a familiar role for Scott and one that has already earned him a slot in the pantheon of great Lakers role players.

Byron talks to Chick Hearn about his on-court success in this classic interview during the 1987-1988 season. What are your favorite memories from Scott’s days with the Lakers?

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 2, 2009. (UPI Photo/John Angelillo) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

All this week, we’ve been linking to previews for the Atlantic Division.  So with a little bit of help from the longtime (and excellent) Celtics Blogger Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog here is a summary list of all the previews from the Atlantic Division.  Enjoy.

Celtics: CelticsBlog Celtics 24/7Celtics CentralCeltics HubCelticsLife | Gino’s JungleRedsArmy.comSBNation BostonSBN Recap

Knicks: Posting and ToastingBandwagon KnickKnickerBlogger.NetSBN Recap

Nets: NetsDaily NetsAreScorching FanwaySBN Recap

Raptors: Raptors HQHoops AddictHip Hoop JunkiesSBN Recap

Sixers: Liberty Ballers

Recaps: All Previews

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Tomorrow marks the 65th birthday for venerable Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. With 13 rings as a player and coach already under his belt, the Hall of Famer has spent 20 percent of his life winning NBA titles. By now, we’re all familiar with his staggering career success rate—1,098 wins and a .705 winning percentage—so let’s instead celebrate some of Phil’s most memorable musings over the years, both from his books and via interviews. What are your favorite Jacksonisms?

“In basketball—as in life—true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.”

“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.”

“Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into the action and put your heart on the line. That means not only being brave, but being compassionate towards yourself, your teammates and your opponents.”

“Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do that, the game–and life—will take care of itself.”

“I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing. You have to be a salesman and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish on the basketball floor.”

“Red and I, I think, have a mutual admiration. That’s all I can say.”

“If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball”

“Despite their tremendous talent, (NBA players) are still, by and large, young adults, seeking validation from an authority figure, and there is no greater authority figure on a team than the coach. Needless to say, in today’s warped, self-indulgent climate, too many players couldn’t care less about appeasing the coach.”

“The best part of basketball, for those people on the inside, is the bus going to the airport after you’ve won a game on an opponent’s floor. It’s been a very tough battle. And preferably, in the playoffs. And that feeling that you have, together as a group, having gone to an opponent’s floor and won a very good victory, is as about as high as you can get.”

“Count me in. After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It’ll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one.”

As a bonus, check out the video below for an interview with Jackson, fresh after winning this year’s title.