Archives For September 2010

Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  September 8, 2010

May 27, 2010 - Los Angeles, United States - (100528) -- LOS ANGELES, May 28, 2010 (Xinhua) -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (L) shoots in a distance against Phoenix Suns during Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference final playoff series in Los Angeles, the United States, May 27, 2010. Lakers won 103-101..(Xinhua/Qi Heng)(dx.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Oh, a little of this, a little of that. Couple buckets here and there. Sell a few tickets, kiss a few babies. C’mon, now, he’s Kobe Bryant. At this point, his role on the Lakers isn’t exactly tough to define: Be Kobe Bryant. Of course, there’s being Kobe, and then there’s being Kobe. The former utilizes his ability to define a game without necessarily dominating every statistical category. The latter means plenty of heavy lifting, sometimes dragging teammates along and bailing them out in the end. Last season, it seemed every other day Kobe buried another game-winning shot. Fans were treated to some incredibly thrilling moments, while the Kobe Time Capsule had scads of video stuffed into it, for example. For The Legend of Kobe Bryant, it was a very bullish year. But exciting and healthy aren’t the same, and the extent to which Bryant is asked to repeat last year’s heroics — particularly during the regular season — could have a major impact on the team’s ability to Threepeat.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: We’ve grown so used to the metronome-worthy consistency it was jarring to see him struggle, relatively speaking, but from the moment he tweaked a hammy in training camp nearly a year ago, Pau Gasol set himself up for much tougher sledding than any he’d seen since arriving in L.A. (And not simply because it doesn’t snow here.) Twice he was forced from the lineup with hamstring problems, missing 17 games overall, and because he was injured so early in the process Gasol spent the season chasing, but never reaching, ideal fitness.  It was enough to dent some of Gasol’s numbers. His field goal percentage dropped from 56.7 percent in ’09-’10 to 53.5 percent last year. The assist rate was down, the turnovers up. The mid-range jumper, so key to Gasol’s game, wasn’t nearly as accurate in ’09-’10 as it was a season earlier.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: He remains the single element on the Lakers most capable of elevating them from “consecutive championships good” (which ain’t half bad) to “damn near bulletproof” (which is even better). A healthy, engaged Bynum means there isn’t a team in the league able to effectively match up with L.A.’s three-headed frontcourt monster of Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. More than anything, even more than Kobe Bryant, it’s what makes the Lakers unique. The abundance of length makes it tough to score down low- one reason L.A. was among the tougher teams to score against inside 10 feet- and provides a steady supply of high percentage points on the other end in the form of putbacks and lobs. The latter are particularly profitable for Bynum, both because he moves well on that end without the ball and his hands are Air Supply soft. It’s a luxury the Lakers exploit fully, to the point of near-recklessness. His teammates often toss the ball at the rim haphazardly, understanding Bynum’s go-go-Gadget arms will get to nearly everything.

From Eric Pincus, Hoopsworld: The 2010/11 NBA season rapidly approaches and once again the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorite to come out of the West.  While LA improved over the offseason with an influx of steady role players, it will be a tremendous challenge for Coach Phil Jackson to earn his fourth three-peat. Last year’s foe, the Boston Celtics have added two sizable players in Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal.  The Miami HEAT landed the high profile trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  The Orlando Magic remain a threat with All-Star center Dwight Howard. For LA to thrive, they’ll need a healthy year from center Andrew Bynum.  After three straight years with knee injuries, it’s time for Bynum to finally prove his worth. It took everything the Lakers had to get through the Celtics in June.  Andrew was able to contribute, playing through the pain of a meniscus tear.  Boston has improved and so too, must Bynum. Of course the Lakers aren’t the only team in the West.  A number of teams will look to challenge them.  Even the squads fighting to climb out of the lottery can be dangerous.

From The advantage over the field in the West is so obvious that the standings debate heading into camp goes only as high up the food chain as picking the second-best team in the conference. The Lakers are obviously not loved by all, but it has become impossible for even their greatest detractors to disrespect them. Not only is L.A. the two-time defending champion, with a third Finals appearance preceding that, but the summer moves were one direct hit after another: keeping Jackson, keeping Fisher’s leadership and playoff magic, signing Blake as a safety net if Fisher falters, signing Barnes to address the possibility of Luke Walton missing the entire season with a back injury. The Lakers didn’t just hold the line. They pushed it out even more.

From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: On paper, it appears the Lakers are even better than last season. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak took a bold step in ensuring a well-stocked roster after a second consecutive title and while Miami made big moves in assembling the so-called super team. Aside from retaining Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown, the Lakers also picked up Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff and drafted essential steals in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. And the Lakers’ losses were minimal, with backup guard Jordan Farmar going to New Jersey, Josh Powell signing with Atlanta and Adam Morrison and D.J. Mbenga still looking for a team.

From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: When Kobe Bryant decides that his playing days are behind him, there will be much adulation thrust upon the Lakers guard that I consider the greatest offensive player to roam the perimeter of a basketball court. Ever. No disrepect to Michael Jordan, who was a high flier when he came into the league and developed one of the greatest mid-range games ever witnessed as the seasons took a toll upon his legs. And it’s most likely that Jordan is the greatest player of all time, in terms of athleticism and all-around game. I differentiate the post players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain or a power forward like Karl Malone because they play a different all-court game. Not always one of style and grace but by necessity often one of power and fury, muscle and might.

From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: Lamar Odom won his second consecutive NBA championship in June playing for his team, the Lakers. Now he’s trying to win his first world championship in September playing for his country, the United States. Odom is the starting center for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, on a team that some consider too small and too inexperienced to become champions. But his team finished Group B play with a 5-0 record after beating Tunisia, 92-57, on Thursday and advances to the round of 16 with a No.1 seeding.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Players generally look heavier the higher a uniform number they sport, so it made sense that rookie Derrick Caracter went with No. 45 instead of No. 58. Caracter is being motivated by the Lakers to keep his weight down by an incentive to be fewer than 275 pounds Friday in the contract detail reported by Pro Basketball Talk further elucidates how Caracter, who slipped to the Lakers at the 58th overall draft pick because of past weight and behavioral issues, will get his contract this season fully guaranteed if meets that weight goal — after $250,000 of his $473,000 was already locked in because of how he showed NBA-ready strength and moves in summer ball.

June 10, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02195832 Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce (C) gets a shot blocked by Los Angeles Lakers player Andrew Bynum (L) and Pau Gasol (R) from Spain during the first half of game four of the NBA Finals at TD Gardens in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 10 June 2010. The Lakers lead the series over the Celtics 2-1.

Since before my time of heading up FB&G, the mantra of this site has been that the Lakers will go as far as their defense takes them.  Because while the Lakers offense (with Kobe being the centerpiece of it all) has often positioned them as a successful team and one of the true glamour franchises, it’s been the Lakers’ ability to get stops that has truly propelled them into contention.  No more evidence is needed than what’s been shown in the past three seasons where the Lakers have won two championships on the back of their ability to defend (at least in the key moments of games) and lost a title because their offense was flummoxed while their defense couldn’t secure the needed stops to earn the needed victories.

What’s had me thinking about the Lakers defense in the past couple of weeks are two specific things.  First is my re-watching of the Lakers’ game 7 win over the Celtics.  In that epic slug fest of a deciding game, the Lakers’ held the Celtics to a 45.1 EFG% while allowing an excellent 95.1 offensive rating from the C’s (stats via basketball-reference).  In no quarter did Boston score more than 23 points (and that was the opening period) and the Lakersessentially tightened the D en route to an NBA title.  (The Lakers’ offensive rebounding helped a bunch too, but securing stops, I think was just as important.  The ability to get secondchance points means nothing if the other team has built too big a lead for those second chances to really matter.)

The second thing that has had me thinking about defense are the series of excellent postsput together by Henry Abbott over at TrueHoop exploring the why in the definitive statement that defense wins championships (give them all a read – they’re well worth your time).  For the basis of his posts, Abbott used an article from Neil Paine at Basket Ball-Reference where the past 50 years of data were explored to show that when a team’s defense improved their chances of winning a championship also improved. 

One person that provided feedback to Abbott’s posts was David Thorpe (whose basketball insight is always appreciated):

David Thorpe has been reading all this, and loves the idea that good defense may be a marker for team cohesion. However, he also thinks we have been missing a major point, which is that good defense leads to good offense, and the opposite is less true.

And, as usual, Thorpe is right in that good defense typically does lead to good offense.  Whether by forcing turnovers (that lead to fast break points and easy baskets) or by forcing misses that lead to rebounds and the ability to transition to offense against a scrambling defense, good defense  is a great offensive spark for the team transitioning from defense to offense.  One only need to remember how successful the OKC Thunder were against the Lakers when they were able to force misses and then use their athletic advantage in the open court to ram the ball down LA’s throat for easy buckets and trips to the FT line.

However, when Thorpe says that “good  D leads to good O while the opposite is less true”, one team that this doesn’t necessarily apply to is the Lakers.  You see, the Lakers run an offensive system that is supposed to allow an easy transition to defense.  Said another way, when run correctly, the Triangle should allow the Lakers to transition to defense very effectively and set up their half court defense.  This is true even without producing a made basket; a made basket that should slow down the opposing offense by forcing them to take the ball out of the net before getting into their own offense. 

And the reason for this easy transition is offensive spacing and a balanced floor.  The Lakers strive to achieve both of these principles every time they set up their offense andby doing so, they are trying to position players on the court in a manner that leads to success both offensively and defensively.  For example, on nearly every offensive possession, the Lakerslike to set up in a two guard front where both guards (I use the term “guard” here loosely as any player – from Odom to Artest to Gasol – can be in this position) are above the three point line and outside the lane line.  Even when an entry pass is made and these top side guards cut through, the natural motion of the offense leads to players filling into these spots on the floor to allow for that spacing to remain intact.  And with this spacing and floor balance in place, any time a shot goes up the two top side guards can then retreat to the defensive end in order to slow the ball down and allow for the rest of the team to get back and join their defensive mates.  Essentially, when the Lakers play good offense, good defense follows.

I’ll use the OKC series as an example again.  In that series, many credit the switching of Kobe Bryant onto Russell Westbrook as the major change that increased the Lakers’ defensive effectiveness as a unit.  And while that is true, what also made a difference was the Lakers’ commitment to executing their offense at a higher level.  As we described in this post, the Lakers return to running the Triangle was a major theme of their Game 5 win.  And with that return of the offense we also saw the Thunder’s offense suffer through one of the worst games of their season.  I mean, the Lakers focusing on spacing, cutting, floor balance, and inside play directly led to OKC having to face the Lakers’ set defense for the majority of the game andthe results weren’t pretty – a series high 20 3pt FGA, their second lowest point total of the series, and their 2nd lowest FG% of the series. 

It’s no coincidence that the Lakers defense has proven to be stronger when their offense is executed better.  In fact, it’s actually a testament to the individual defense of the Lakers and their greater commitment to that side of the ball that they were able to maintain a high defensive efficiency this past season (4th in the NBA) even though their offensive execution was not up to the standard of past years.  I give a lot of credit to Artest, an improved Bynum, Kobe, and the still underrated-defensively Pau Gasol for helping the Lakers to thrive on that side of the ball this past year.  Next season, I hope to see a greater commitment to offensive execution which should only lead to an even better defensive year.  And if that does occur, I think we’ll finally see the full potential of this Lakersteam on both sides of the ball – with a win total to match.

World Championships Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  September 6, 2010

Brazil's Tyson Chandler (R) drives past USA's Lamar Odom in the first quarter during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game in Istanbul, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The FIBA World Championships may have started over a week ago, but really the tournament is just beginning.  The group stage is now over and the teams have started the NCAA style win or go home portion of the championships.  We’re now at the point where any slip up will mean an early return flight.  And for Team USA, it’s time to really prove if they have what it takes to compete at the highest level even though many have labeled them underdogs and the “B” team.  A few thoughts on the road ahead for this particular group.

*Today’s match up versus Angola really shouldn’t be a test at all.  With memories of the original 1992 Dream Team floating in my head, I recall what Charles Barkley said when that juggernaut faced the west African nation – “I don’t know anything about Angola, but I know they’re in trouble”.  In the past 18 years, not much will have changed.  The US will field an infinitely more talented team with advantages all over the court.  The US will surely use their pressure defense to create turnovers and generate open court offense.  We’ll likely see plenty of dunks from Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durnat, and every other Team USA player (save Billups and Curry as I’m not sure they can dunk).  I expect a 25+ point win and that will be that.

*But beating an overmatched Angola team isn’t really what this tournament is about.  Despite the US coming in as an underdog to Spain, it’s about winning the entire thing.  And in order to accomplish that, Team USA will have a tricky road to navigate.  While the match ups aren’t set in stone, the U.S. will likely face Russia in the next round and if they advance into the semi-finals a rematch with Brazil or a date with long time foe Argentina awaits (neither of which would be a cake walk).  In the Finals either Spain or host nation Turkey will be waiting for whoever comes of out the bracket the U.S. hopes to control.  Basically, if Team USA wins this tournament, they will have earned it against some very strong competition.

*Speaking of strong competition, the team that looks the best right now is probably Turkey.  Kurt explains over at Pro Basketball Talk:

The USA may prefer Spain right now. For two reasons.

One is Turkey has proven to have the best front line in the tournament. They start Omer Asik (coming to the Chicago Bulls), Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks) and Hedo Turkoglu (Phoenix Suns). Then they bring in soon-to-be Celtic Semih Erden.

Turkoglu had not impressed through the group stage of the tournament but broke out in a big way against France scoring a game high 20 and hitting 4 of 7 from deep. Basically 2009 in Orlando Turkoglu showed up. If he does that will be hard for everyone else to stop. Meanwhile Ilyasova has averaged 15 points and 8.2 rebounds a game through the tournament and is hitting 56 percent of his threes.

Basically the undersized USA would have to take on a long, skilled front line — Turkey’s strength is the USA’s weakness.

I know depending on a consistent Turkoglu isn’t exactly money in the bank, but Turkey is the host nation and will have all the fan support they’ll need to put on a major run to win this thing.  And with every other major contender missing some of their best players (besides a watered down U.S. team, Nene, Pau, Ginobili, and several other NBA players are missing from their respective teams), Turkey may just put it all together.

*In one of these games Lamar Odom is going to need to put on one of his classic performances to put the U.S. team over the top.  It won’t be needed against Angola and probably not even Russia.  But it would be nice if LO gave one of his vintage “wow, this guy really is good” performances against either Brazil or Argentina or in the Finals (should Team USA advance that far).  This tournament has been mixed bag for Odom as he’s shown flashes of his all court game but never quite put together a complete performance.  Lakers fans know better than most that he’s got it in him to do something special.  Will he show the rest of the world?  I think we’re all hoping to see it.

*Lastly, I’ve not seen as much of these championships as I would have hoped.  I DVR the games and watch the U.S. team, but I have not gotten to see as much of the other countries as I’d like.  However, as with the regular season there are some great writers and sites doing some fantastic work covering the tournament.  Go check out what The Painted Area is doing on a daily basis.  Visit NBA Playbook for break downs on plays, offensive and defensive sets, and individual players.  Follow the updates from John Schuhmann on his twitter page with everything that he’s writing about this tourney.  Really, you can’t go wrong following these folks.

Jun. 08, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02192960 Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen (L) and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (R) reach for the ball after Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher (C) is fouled by Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis (2R) during the Los Angeles Lakers 91-84 win over the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 08 June 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best of seven series 2-1.

Derek Fisher is a pretty divisive name amongst Lakers’ fans.  People just have a hard time agreeing on what his role should be on this Lakers team and how much value he actually provides as a player.  Should he be starting?  How many minutes should he play?  Is his leadership really that important to a team that is led by Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant?  Does he hurt more than he helps?  I could go on and on, but whether it’s these questions or others you’ll likely get varying opinions if you asked a room full of Lakers fans.

But what you won’t get any disagreement on is that Derek Fisher is clutch.  The man just has a knack for hitting big shots.  Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, Fisher comes through over and over again to the point that it’s not debatable – the man has stones of steel and will hit the dagger shot if you give him the chance.  A simple YouTube search reveals some of his greatest hits and on this day, I’m sharing some of the more memorable ones from Fisher’s career.  Enjoy.

We’re all familiar with this one, right? As a famous big man that donned the #34 jersey for the Lakers said about this shot, “one lucky shot deserves another”. Not only did this shot help the Lakers down the Spurs and propel them to a 4th Finals trip in 5 years, but it had the added bonus of putting that look on Bruce Bowen’s face.

Personally, this shot is probably my favorite of any of the ones that will appear in this post. At this point, the Lakers are down by three with less than 10 seconds left with the prospect of losing a 2nd consecutive game and facing a tied series. Fortunately though, the Lakers never get to that point as Fisher comes up huge with a deep three pointer to tie the game to force overtime.

The best part about this shot for me? Not the fact that it ended up being the shot that put the Lakers up for good in the game. Nor the fact that Fisher came up huge for the second time in 5 minutes to save the Lakers from a potential tied series. The best part to me is the smile on Fisher’s face. It’s both pure happiness and the ultimate face of self belief at the same time.

If you were to go back to this past year’s playoffs, this shot would probably be one that most people don’t remember. I think we’d all recall Pau’s tip in against the Thunder, Ron’s put back against the Suns, and Ron’s other great shot in game 7 versus the Celtics. But, this shot that Fisher hit was huge and it essentially sealed the fate of the Jazz in the playoffs. Sure, we’ll all look back at this series and remember how the Jazz were overmatched, but this was the contest (game 3) where the Jazz were really starting to show some life. If the Jazz win this game, maybe they win game 4 as well (something not difficult to imagine considering OKC did the series before). Then, the Lakers don’t get the same rest that they ended up getting. Rest that allowed Kobe to get his knee drained. Rest that allowed Bynum some extra time to off his damaged leg. When looking at Fisher’s shot through this lens, it’s actually a bit bigger than what our memories will show.

You know I had to save the best for last. This differs from the other clips because this wasn’t just one shot, but rather a fantastic string of great plays by Fish. He continuously threw his body around and hit the buckets that helped the Lakers regain control in the Finals. In comments of the player review that Phillip wrote on Fisher, commenter Aaron said it well so I’ll give him the last word:

With the season really almost on the line as the last 5 minutes began to tick down Fish didn’t just stand by the three point line open as Kobe or Gasol demanded a double team… he repeatedly created his own shot time and time again when the other Lakers simple couldn’t. To me it will go down as the most brilliant 4th quarter Finals performance by a role player of all time.

I really can’t think of another player who could be battered and basically beaten by opposing players and press alike so badly and for so long… and turn it on the way he did. Say what you want about him as a player (and I have) but as far as heart and dare I say balls… Fisher is second to no man.

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The highly anticipated 2010 offseason has lived up its billing as one of the most dramatic, controversial summers in league history. From the WWE-style arrival of the Super Friends in Miami, Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert’s now infamous lambasting of LeBron James to Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony’s escape plans, NBA management and players alike haven’t exactly provided a shining example of class or character over the past few months.

For the majority of their history, the Lakers franchise has excelled in both of those areas—led by the now legendary business model initiated by L.A. great, Jerry West. As West explained during an inspirational speech at the West Virginia Business Summit earlier this week, it is a model that is rooted in treating people the right way.

West shared a story at the summit about a man who used to escort him to his car when he was with the Lakers and the impact it had on him both at the time and still today.

“I came to practice, I came to games, always expecting to see him,” West said. “Whether we lost or not, he was always the same. I was away three years. When I came back, I learned he was going to retire.”

West even attended the man’s retirement party, where the employee praised the Hall-of-Famer for always remembering the little people.

“I walked into the room,” West recalled. “There were 50 people there. This guy had a very menial job. He got up and talked about the people who were important to his life. He saved me for last. He said, ‘Jerry, I want to thank you for how you treated me. One of my proudest moments was to get to know you, take you to your car, and how you treated me.’

“It was a great lesson,” West said. “When we’re involved in a big corporation or trying to grow a business and make the state more successful, we cannot forget these people. They are the essence and fiber of any organization. I don’t care if you make $10 million, that person making $10,000 might be more proud of their job than you are of yours. Don’t forget those people!”

With a possible lockout looming after this upcoming season, it is important to remember that sometimes, franchise’s still get it right—and that is something that almost always starts at the top. Though West has since removed himself from the game, the culture he created in L.A. still permeates throughout Lakers Land. Jerry remains the standard by which all other league staff are judged—a fitting role for the league’s ever-present Logo.

Photo Credit: ABC

In case you haven’t already heard by now, former Lakers veteran Rick Fox will look to add a new title to his resume this month as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Lakers fans should hardly be surprised by his participation as the forward has always had one foot on the basketball court and the other in Hollywood.

Fox is well-accustomed to performing alongside an all-star lineup as a key player during the Lakers’ three-peat run at the beginning of the decade. He’ll now compete alongside the likes of fellow athlete Kurt Warner, David Hasselhoff, The Situation, Bristol Palin, Brandy, Margaret Cho and more. Fox follows in the footsteps of former DWTS athletes Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin.

The North Carolina alum is approaching the competition the same way he would prepare for a grueling 82-plus game NBA season—only this time he has the help of his fitness guru girlfriend, Eliza Dushku.

“I’ve been doing exercises that I didn’t know existed—Pilates… [And we’ve been working on] creating flexibility at home,” said Fox.

Rick always understood his role and proper spots in the triangle offense when he helped the Lakers to three NBA titles. His excellent footwork and strong grasp of the game’s fundamentals also bode well for him in the contest. Check out the video below for a reminder: currently has Fox as an 11-2 favorite to take home this season’s title. As long as he stays as far away as possible from the Mark Madsen School of Dancing, we say he has a pretty good shot.

Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  September 3, 2010

June 10, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02195866 Boston Celtics player Tony Allen (R) tries to stop a drive against Los Angeles Lakers player Shannon Brown (L) during the first half of game four of the NBA Finals at TD Gardens in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 10 June 2010. The Lakers lead the series over the Celtics 2-1.

From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Everyone who follows the NBA understands how important the second unit is to not only winning games but winning championships. The moves the Lakers made in the offseason certainly filled their needs — a proven point guard in Steve Blake to team with high-flying guard Shannon Brown, providing a formidable long-range shooter and an athletic slasher. The departed Jordan Farmar was a fine second-unit point guard, but I think Lakers fans will be pleased with Blake’s efficiency, and I expect Brown to continue to improve.

From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Most people think that 6-foot-10 center Theo Ratliff is an upgrade off the bench from 7-foot DJ Mbenga, who really didn’t get much playing time during his tenure with the Lakers. Ratliff has been primarily a defensive stopper in his 15 years in the NBA, even earning All-Star honors in 2001. He averaged more than three blocks a game six times in a seven-year run during the prime of his career. He’s No. 18 all-time in blocks and tied for 11th in blocks per game. That’s impressive.

From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: A former colleague of ours, Scott Howard-Cooper, had an interesting article on about Magic Johnson possibly joining a new ownership group for the Detroit Pistons. Owner Bill Davidson passed away at age 86 in March and the family is expected to sell the team in the near future, likely to a Detroit group headed by Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Magic, an All-American high school player from East Lansing, Mich., and NCAA champion with Michigan State, has been rumored to be in talks to join Ilitch and Pistons GM Joe Dumars to become part of that group.

From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: Lamar Odom won his second consecutive NBA championship in June playing for his team, the Lakers. Now he’s trying to win his first world championship in September playing for his country, the United States. Odom is the starting center for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, on a team that some consider too small and too inexperienced to become champions.

From Brian Cronin, Los Angeles Times: In 1971, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of Haywood v. National Basketball Association, which involved NBA Star Spencer Haywood, who left college after his sophomore year at the University of Detroit and was eventually outright signed by the Seattle Supersonics. At the time, the NBA had a rule that stated that no player could join the NBA until four years after they graduated high school (they adopted this rule soon into the NBA’s existence). So, naturally, the NBA took issue with Haywood playing for the Sonics and the Sonics countered by backing Haywood in an anti-trust suit that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that players should be allowed to be drafted sooner than four years after graduating high school, although the rule was predicated on the player in question being able to demonstrate economic hardship that required him to pursue a professional career right away. The 1971 NBA Draft saw the introduction of a special “hardship draft” for these players.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Before change comes inspiration. Before inspiration, someone must inspire. Here is Jeremy Lin. Even if in his own mind he’s merely just another American kid playing ball, here is Jeremy Lin. He’s a somewhat reluctant torch-bearer for race. He has not even begun his NBA career and is trying to pursue his dream his way. His reservations are completely understandable – yet altogether secondary to the greater good. He is already someone to so many, and that’s the thing about inspiration: It’s not about the one causing the inspiration as much as it’s about the effect on many.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s time again to empty out the Land O’Lakers mailbag. Just because we’re in the dry, forbidding summer months doesn’t mean there are no issues to kick around. After all, training camp is just around the corner. So without further ado, let’s get going. Q: Yo Kamenetzky Bros! I’m splitting season seats for Lakers/Clippers/Kings this year, and I have to go to this draft next week to select my games. Its a snake draft but I wanted to have my picks ready to go. So for time’s sake, can you at least give me your guys top 10 games of the season, in order from best to worst? Also I really don’t want to pick any Clipper games in the top 10, but do you think I need to select Clippers/Heat that early?

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: The Triangle offense has enjoyed a nice little run of success over the past 20 years.  Since the 1990-91 season, there have been more champions who believe in the principles of the ol’ “Triple Post” offense than use some other antiquated stategy for putting a ball in an iron hoop.  Really, when you think about it, it’s a minor miracle that so few teams have tried to give the Triangle a shot.  If this were a copy cat league like the NFL, a full 60-70% of the league’s teams would be trying to duplicate success by running the Triangle, and screen-roll dominant guards like Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo might be reduced to coming off the bench for a few minutes at a time, as Kevin Harlan proclaims “It looks like the Hornets are turning to their Wildcat offense, looking for a spark.”

From Early in December, the Lakers found themselves down two points to the Miami Heat with just two seconds left showing on the clock, though it was L.A.’s ball on the sideline opposite Miami’s bench. Kobe Bryant received the inbounds pass and stumbled, but managed to move quickly to his left before rising into the air, avoiding the outstretched hand of Dwyane Wade and launching a high-arching bomb. The clock flashed 0.3 seconds as the ball left his hand, and after the buzzer sounded, banked home off the glass. Lakers win.

From Shaun Powell, Lamar Odom (Lakers): His shooting percentage and scoring average has dipped the last three years, and he seemed noticeably average during the championship run. Odom still has value to the Lakers as a rebounder, but the rest of his game has faltered. Once the Lakers cease winning championships, his weaknesses will become magnified. And that could happen this season.

Lakers on TV

Phillip Barnett —  September 2, 2010

In the past week, a couple of Lakers (both past and present), have made television appearances. On August 27, Derek Fisher interviewed Kobe Bryant on Jim Rome is Burning.

Three days later, Kareem Abdul Jabbar made an appearance on Jeopardy and goofed on a question involving him and ex-UCLA Bruin Bill Walton. Check the clip: