From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: Ask him what he embraces in his early 30s that he never understood in his 20s, and there’s no hesitation: It’s what everyone insisted he had been a failure with, a perception that he has transformed with two post-Shaquille O’Neal championships. “How to truly make players better, what that really means,” he said. “It’s not just passing to your guys and getting them shots. It’s not getting this or that many players into double figures. That’s bull[expletive]. That’s not how you win championships. You’ve got to change the culture of your team – that’s how you truly make guys better. In a way, you have to help them to get the same DNA that you have, the same focus you have, maybe even close to the same drive. That’s how you make guys better.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Andrew Bynum said he’ll undergo an MRI exam on his right knee Tuesday, and with medical clearance will then begin jumping and lateral movements on the court. He said, however, he will not join team practice for a week or two weeks after that, meaning he’ll miss his goal of doing that by Thanksgiving by a significant margin. Phil Jackson has projected a Dec. 10 season debut for Bynum, even though Bynum told Jackson the timetable was probably a week later than Jackson was suggesting. Bynum’s comments Monday jibe more with a Dec. 17 debut.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: There are, admittedly, a few things I don’t know about the intricate machinations of time, but I’m quite certain about this: Projecting a return from an Andrew Bynum injury is the time/space equivalent of cat herding, particularly when the source of any information is Andrew Bynum. As we’ve noted multiple times over the last few seasons, Drew is notorious for, well, just kind of saying stuff, often appearing more definitive than he ought. So last week, when Bynum said he hoped to be practicing by Thanksgiving and playing again before Christmas, I noted it’s best not to run out and start marking up the desk calendar. So it should come as no surprise that Monday in El Segundo, ironically a day he was wearing his game uniform to film some clips for the Staples scoreboard video screens, Bynum adjusted his most recent timetable once again.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: We know that LeBron James, when firing on all cylinders, is the best player in basketball. We know that Kobe Bryant is the cruelest, the most devastating when he has to be, that Chris Paul can affect the game differently than any small man, and that Dwight Howard can absolutely dominate a game even while going full quarters at a time without a field goal. But has Pau Gasol been the best player in the NBA during its first month? I’m OK with saying yes to that.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Time and time again, there appeared Lakers guard Derek Fisher, making a three-point shot off the dribble, off a pull-up or over an opponent. Time and time again, there appeared Fisher, forcing himself into the passing lanes, deflecting passes and even making steals. Time and time again, there appeared Fisher, leading fast breaks, finishing layups and throwing alley-oop lobs. You read this in April, May or June and you conclude there goes Fisher, proving once again his playoff clutchness. But you’re reading this in late November, when Fisher is usually struggling to defend young point guards, fighting an inconsistent shooting stroke and justifying to a forgetful fan-base how his locker-room standing and experience have brought plenty of Lakers championship banners and parades.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: A late-November game against Golden State is as good an occasion as any to ask the question: What exactly motivates Kobe Bryant these days? What gets the modern-day Mr. June, the guy who has had seven of his 14 seasons in the league finish in the NBA Finals, ramped up for a one-of-82 regular-season matchup against the perennial Pacific Division also-rans? Does he just take joy in teaching the next generation what it takes to be great? He’s already punished former USC products O.J. Mayo and DeMar DeRozan this season when the Lakers played the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors, respectively. During the summer he’ll play pickup with those guys and geek out in their shared love of the game, but when the season rolls around and the cameras are on, he does whatever he can to degrade them with his play.
From Nick Friedell, ESPNChicago: It was about 16 years ago in Saint Joseph’s gym in Philadelphia, where a talented high school player first met an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers. On Tuesday, for the first time since that meeting, the two meet while at the top of their professions as Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers host first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls. “He was crucial. He was with me when I was 16 or 17 years old,” Bryant said Sunday night at Staples Center, after leading the Lakers to a 117-89 win over the Golden State Warriors. “Just doing drills and just working on ballhandling and just teaching me the game. He was there from Day 1.”
From Bill Simmons, ESPN: Upon further review, the Summer of South Beach gave the Lakers an edge that’s atypical for most two-time defending champs. Three Lakers are playing their best basketball ever: Pau Gasol (doing an ’86 McHale impersonation), Lamar Odom (a top-20 player this season) and Shannon Brown (outstanding off the bench). Kobe seems more invested than ever. Their bench is better thanks to Steve Blake and Matt Barnes. They’re 10-2 without Andrew Bynum, and like Boston, both their losses came in the final minute.