From Janis Carr, OC Register: Jerry West found it difficult to look at the bronze statue that towered over him. The former Lakers star and executive said he would check out his likeness later, when no one was around. Harder still for the former general manager was listening to the accolades and compliments from his friends and family on a night when the Lakers honored the man who helped build them into a global entity with a bigger-than-life statue in front of Staples Center. West true to his humble roots, sat uncomfortably on the stage Thursday as Jerry Buss, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mitch Kupchak, Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor spoke about his accomplishments as a player, coach and GM. He seemed almost embarrassed when his family joined him on the stage and curtain was lifted on an oversized bronze likeness of the Hall of Fame guard.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Even as I type, the great and good of the pro basketball industry are descending on Los Angeles for the combination carnival/trade convention known as All-Star Weekend. On the schedule, among other attractions big and small, are the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the dunk contest, the three-point competition, an actual All-Star Game and presumably numerous parties to which I’ve not been invited. I’m pleased (and perplexed) to report that someone in the league office has decided to issue me a media credential for the whole three-day jamberoo. Frankly, I don’t need to tell you what a bad idea this is. But I’ll be there behind the scenes as this all goes down, I’ll be reporting on it both here and at SBN Los Angeles, and if I’m lucky I’ll get through the experience without exposing either myself or the league to undue embarrassment or financial liability.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: For the NBA exec who guides a squad of two-time defending champions fresh off lost three straight losses punctuated by an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the NBA’s worst team a mere eight days before the trade deadline, even the most special of occasions become work events. So it’s no surprise Mitch Kupchak was stopped by the assembled media in the plaza outside Staples Center following the dedication of Jerry West’s statue Thursday night. Needless to say, the atmosphere locally regarding the Lakers is a little too tense to let him escape with just a few nice words about his former boss. That Kupchak, who would make a spectacular spy given how difficult it is to extract information from him, doesn’t drop any bombshells isn’t surprising. There were, however, a few interesting nuggets to be mined.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Turning around to face Jerry West, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak couldn’t resist joking that he needed some advice on how to handle the team’s loss Wednesday to the league’s worst team in the Cleveland Cavaliers. But following West’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center, it’s clear Kupchak is taking an even-handed approach to the team’s personnel after the Lakers (38-19) sputtered into the All-Star break losing their last three games after winning the first four games of a seven-game trip. The first question, of course, involves whether the Lakers would make a trade before the Feb. 24 deadline.
From Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: The playwright behind the Broadway play “Lombardi” is moving from the gridiron to the hard court. Eric Simonson is working on “Magic/Bird,” a new play that will chronicle the lives of basketball Hall of Famers Earvin “Magic” Johnson andLarry Bird Producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo were encouraged by the response to “Lombardi” — the story of legendaryGreen Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi now on Broadway — to push ahead with a second sports-themed play. “We’ve been fired on by the experience to keep on going and feel that it can be a really thriving series,” Kirmser said Thursday in a phone interview.