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Darius Soriano —  October 11, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson gestures during a practice session in Barcelona October 6, 2010. The Lakers will play against Barcelona in an NBA Europe Live basketball game at Palau Sant Jordi on Thursday. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: To know Kobe Bryant is to know that he changes all the time – his footwork, his messages, his moods – yet doesn’t change at all. When he says he really does want to keep winning and winning and winning, believe it. He’s not normal when it comes to this stuff. He’s a geek about basketball, but he’s a freak about winning. Two things since he won one for the thumb last June 18 speak to this, one shortly thereafter and one just the other day: Bryant did head off soon after the Lakers’ championship parade, having his exit meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson and then one last gathering with reporters before going on holiday in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup.

From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: They’re back. And if the Lakers needed any proof that Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t pleased with how their European excursion went and that it was time to get serious, they got it Saturday at practice. Jackson worked his players for three-plus hours at the team’s training facility. He said it was because his team “is not playing well” after two exhibition losses in Europe, because the Lakers were “out of focus a little bit” and because they didn’t “have a lot of practice time” while in London to play the Minnesota Timberwolves and in Barcelona, Spain, to play FC Barcelona. So after an 11-hour flight Friday from Spain to Los Angeles, Jackson had his players at work Saturday before he gave them Sunday off. They will practice again Monday.

From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times (with video): The NBA had hoped the Lakers’ trip to Europe would help showcase the league’s best talent before an international audience. Instead, fans from London and Barcelona saw the defending champs lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves and FC Barcelona. This trip included plenty of sightseeing for the Lakers — but also 11-hour flights, a travel alert in London because of perceived terrorist threats and multiple NBA Cares events. The Lakers’ visit to Spain marked a homecoming of sorts for forward Pau Gasol, a Barcelona native who, with all the activity, seemed to feel more drained than inspired. “It was more or less what I expected,” said Gasol, who visited with family and friends and had, as well, numerous publicity and media obligations. “That’s why it was filled with mixed feelings.”

From Elliot Teaford, LA Daily News: The Lakers hit the ground running Saturday. Well, most of them anyway. Kobe Bryant still isn’t fit to practice every day after having offseason knee surgery. Andrew Bynum still isn’t ready to practice or play after his knee surgery. Luke Walton still isn’t recovered from a hamstring injury. Of the three, Lakers coach Phil Jackson sounded most concerned about Bryant, who played only six minutes in last Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in London and then 25 in a defeat against Regal FC Barcelona on Thursday in Spain. “I didn’t like the way he looked on the floor, personally,” Jackson said of Bryant’s play against Barcelona. “He wanted to be competitive and tried to keep the game competitive. He’s decidedly not ready to play yet.

From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: Andrew Bynum. The next Shaquille O’Neal? Not quite. The next Yao Ming? Maybe. Or at least, that’s what Phil Jackson says. Now I would not pay any mind to that statement, as it is undoubtedly said purely with the intent of motivating Andrew and highlighting Phil’s current displeasure with him for being nonchalant in taking his sweet time to return from injury. However, it still bodes ominous, as Andrew Bynum’s injury history is, to put it in rather basic terms, ugly.

From Mike Snider, USA Today: How has the game changed from your playing days? [Michael Jordan]: It’s less physical and the rules have changed, obviously. Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I’m pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points. Of course, there’s always the comparison of you and Kobe Bryant. Where does Kobe stand in the status of NBA players through history? [MJ]: It’s so hard to say. I think he is always going to be within the conversations of some of the greatest players who’ve played by the time he is finished. Where does he rank among those, if you are talking about positions? If you are talking about guards, I would say he has got to be in the Top 10.

Darius Soriano

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  1. Ah, Michael Jordan… that great evaluator of NBA talent who exercised high lottery picks on pro stalwarts such as Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison, has deigned to leave the golf course and/or Hanes underwear ad studios to bless us all with his insight on where Kobe ranks among the all-time greats.

    How ever could we have gone on living without hearing this? And why wasn’t there a huge Nike ad campaign involved?

    Oh wait… He’s got a new video game to sell so he needs to inject himself unto the public conscious once again by offering opinions few care about. Life all makes sense again.

    Saying Kobe’s in the Top 10 is like saying winning five NBA titles is “really good.” Honestly, how much thought could MJ have put into that ranking?


  2. re: the Michael Jordan quote– really, Kobe in the ‘top 10’ of guards of all time? What an a-hole MJ is. Here’s my guess at Jordan’s top 10 guards:

    1. MJ
    2. MJ
    3. MJ
    4. MJ
    5. MJ
    6. MJ
    7. MJ
    8. MJ
    9. MJ
    10. MJ

    alternates: Kobe, Jerry West, John Stockton, MJ


  3. Eh, it’s no-win for MJ. His ego will never allow him to say Kobe’s even within sniffing range, and if he said “Top 5”, they’d ask him who his top 5 are. And then, even if he said something utterly noncontroversial like: “In no particular order: Magic, Oscar, Me, Kobe, Jerry”, they’d then ask him what order, really, come on now, you must have thought about this, Michael. And the order you said that, is it similar to your own personal order, or is it backwards, or…?

    Plus, the guy did draft Laker legends Kwame Brown and Ammo as noted by Chris J, maybe he’s just a hell of a player and not the world’s greatest judge of talent.

    But if you ask me, since no one did, Kobe at this point is inarguably Top 10 at any position (even hater Simmons acknowledges this), and while I don’t think he can really climb much higher than MJ/Magic level, his story’s not finished yet–if plays until 40 and ends up with 7 or 8 rings, and is the all-time leading playoff and regular season scorer, as well as a ton of other individual records he’s chasing (I think he’s close to top-20 all-time in rebounds, for instance), we might have to put in for a little work on basketball’s Mount Rushmore.

    But not yet.


  4. Er, my mistake. He’s #193 all-time in rebounds. But 1500 more will put him into the top 100, which is sort of silly for a guard.


  5. I am no fan of ‘who is the best or GOAT’ discussions. Comparisons break down due to so many factors. I think the best you can do is to say something like, “Kobe is one of the best to ever play.” The same goes for Jordan, Magic, Kareem, etc. I wouldn’t get worked up over this stuff. It is kind of like arguing over which girl (or guy) is better looking.


  6. VoR — I agree with you. My whole point was essentially, “Who gives a s— what MJ is saying, let alone when it’s clearly obvious that he didn’t even bother to put much (if any) thought into that remark.”

    The reporter ran it simply because Jordan was the source; there was absolutely no other reason to report that remark, since it has zero news value.


  7. You are all taking it the wrong way. MJ is just competitive as hell, and him simply saying TOP 10 basically means that he feels, or at least he knows that people think Kobe to be close to him and catching up.

    While I don’t think Kobe threatens MJ in any way (skills aside, MJ’s accomplishments are tough to challenge), MJ is probably irked that others do, and this not-so-subtle putdown just verifies to me that he is very conscious of it.


  8. It would have been interesting to see/hear MJ making those comments… because he’s never been one to translate easily to paper. Also, players from the past tend to guard the legacies of their generation and the ones that came before, pretty zealously. It’s all built on shifting sand.


  9. MJ is the greatest of all time as long as you’re referring to Magic Johnson.


  10. Listen, I’ve had a few October 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    It’s really specious to dismiss MJ’s evaluations of Kobe on the basis of his record as a GM. There are big, big differences between speculating about a player’s *future* and looking at the breadth of a player’s NBA career (at that player’s professional *past*)

    I’m not attacking or supporting MJ’s stated evaluation of Kobe. I’m just saying to those who are, that citing Kwame or Adam Morrison as a way to dismiss that evaluation is not at all persuasive.