From Brett Pollakoff, NBA Fanhouse: There were a wide variety of rule-based points of emphasis discussed by the NBA’s Vice President and Director of Officials, Bernie Fryer, during his session with the media on Tuesday in Phoenix. But the one that stood out was the conversation about a certain type of play that became increasingly popular last season, and one that fans (for the most part) seem to be the most upset about. If you watch a lot of NBA basketball, then you’ve seen this one a bunch of times: a player has the ball in the triple-threat position, usually quite far from the basket, and often near or behind the three-point line. The defender is trying to prevent the uncontested shot, so he extends his arm into the space of the player with the ball. The guy on offense swings the ball from his lower left hip to his right, creating contact with the defender’s arm and initiating a shooting motion — by taking a shot he’d likely never make, mind you — which forces the referee to call the defender for the foul. In case it’s unclear what we’re talking about here, video can be seen below before we continue the conversation.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: With exactly two weeks remaining until the start of the NBA regular season, the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers still have a lot of work to do. So much so that head coach Phil Jackson said Tuesday he hasn’t thought about the curtain coming up against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 26. “We’re aware of it, but it’s out there at some distance,” Jackson said. “I think next weekend, at 10 days or so, I’ll be ready to think about it.” Jackson’s thoughts about star player Kobe Bryant’s right knee were put somewhat at ease after the 15-year veteran joined the team midway through practice and impressed after going through full shooting and weight workouts on his own in the morning before the team’s session started.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Ever since our live show at Media Day, Brian and I have been tracking down the players who weren’t directed to our table. First came Derrick Caracter. Then Shannon Brown. Our next victim… I mean, Laker? Rookie Devin Ebanks. Question: What have the first couple of weeks in training camp been like? Devin Ebanks: Pretty much a learning experience, really. Still trying to get the plays down. My defensive rotations. And just playing as hard as I can. Right now I’m just trying to do everything right and listen to the coaches. Q: Phil Jackson mentioned that defensively you were up to speed, but the offense is something you’re still trying to catch up to. Right now, are you playing as much on instincts as anything else? DE: Pretty much. Just using every skill that I learned in college and bringing it to the NBA level. I played that kind of NBA defense in college, so I’m pretty much up to speed on that. Just learning the offense and get my footwork right.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The Lakers landed back on our side of the Atlantic on Friday, then endured what was apparently a very long, somewhat raggedy practice the next day. But after a leisurely Sunday away from El Segundo, the Lakers started fresh Monday morning. So fresh, in fact, the right shoe of Phil Jackson’s gleaming new pair of white Nikes still had the tag on them. He also had no beard. Fresh kicks, fresh shave: It’s the dawn of something new for the 2010-11 season. Not all new, though. Kobe Bryant again wasn’t a participant in practice. Instead, he was lifting weights and receiving treatment for his surgically repaired right knee. With three games this week, Jackson says the team will try to monitor Bryant’s minutes a little more carefully, noting the 25 he played against F.C. Barcelona in Spain were a few too many. Jackson said he spoke to Kobe about not pushing too far too fast. “A couple appearances on the floor. Maybe 16-18 minutes are fine. Any more than that right now, I think, is expending a little bit too much,” Jackson said. As for the regular season, though, Jackson isn’t anticipating any problems.
From Mark Medina, LA Times (with video): In an ordinary practice, Lakers forward Devin Ebanks showcased an extraordinary effort. He tenaciously guarded Steve Blake at one point, trying to strip the ball away. As soon as he saw the loose ball, both Ebanks and Blake dove for the it. Ebanks came out on top. That play epitomizes the grit and determination Ebanks has showcased with the Lakers thus far in training camp. Kobe Bryant has praise for Ebanks’ work ethic, and Ron Artest says, “He has some feistiness in him.” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had this to say: “Devin’s reacting really well defensively. … Offensively, it’s still a little bit of a mystery to him. But he’s got the ability to find open spots and take shots and get down the court and be real active in our offense.”
From Jiang Yuxia, The Global Times: LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant stopped in Beijing for an event promoting his new book, Kobe 24 (China CITIC Press) during his China Tour 2010 which ended on Friday. Co-written by Doris Stockstill, the 253-page Chinese-language book released in June, illustrates his thoughts on the connections between martial arts and basketball, while offering Bryant’s insight on and passion for the sport. “It was important for me to put some of the ideas that I dedicate to my basketball career into the book, the philoso-phies I’ve learned, different preparations and techniques I use,” said Bryant during the book signing held at the Grand Hyatt Beijing Hotel last Monday. Bryant’s tour brought the shooting guard to six cities, where he took part in various charity and publicity events from July 26 to 30.
*Want to vote for Kobe for MVP this season. Here’s your chance.
*In the comments, there was a discussion about the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Once Brothers” that chronicles the friendship of former Laker Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic as basketball, war, and nationalism intervene. Over at True Hoop, Zach Harper has a very good review on the film.
*Since the Lakers are trying to repeat as champions this year, I was looking through the SI Vault and found this article by Jack McCallum on the ’88 Lakers and their quest to do what no tean had done in nearly two decades. Give it a read.
Finally, in case you missed them here are the season previews from the Northwest Division. We all know that the West is deep (every playoff team from last season won 50 or more games). And typically, the Southwest Division with the three Texas teams is the division that is the most competitive. However, when you look at the Northwest (the ‘Wolves aside) this division is pretty tough.
Recaps: All Previews