From Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: For the past three or four years, the Kobe-LeBron debate has been at the forefront of NBA discussions as players, coaches, experts, fans and media members have all shared their opinions on which player they thought was better. James has owned Bryant in their head-to-head regular season match-ups, whereas the Black Mamba has won the proverbial games that matter, helping the Los Angeles Lakers earn the last two NBA titles. These players have never once competed against each other in the playoffs and yet will be linked with one another for the rest of their careers. Tupac Shakur’s Hit ‘Em Up will always be mentioned with Biggie’s Who Shot Ya, much like Jay-Z’s Takeover will always be in the same conversation as Nas’s Ether. We might just have a new addition to the list that involves how we perceive and remember LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: The Decision…
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: Every once in a while, the circumstances and events of life require us all to take a good hard look in the mirror and analyze an aspect of our being that isn’t necessarily what we want it to be. Sometimes, if we’re honest, we don’t particularly like what we see. This is one of those times. Ladies and gentlemen, fine patrons of Silver Screen and Roll, we need to be honest with ourselves about something … Andrew Bynum has a bit of a mean streak. Drew doesn’t exactly qualify to be a head of state in the Axis of Evil or anything, but our young big man has a growing list of incidents in which his participation was neither innocent nor benign. Friday’s flagrant foul on Michael Beasley was the latest, and most egregiously blatant, incident, but we’ve seen similar plays out of Bynum in the past.
From C.A. Clark, SBNation: Last week, GQ released a list of the worst fans in sports. Clocking in at No. 15 were the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the only NBA team to make the list. Whereas all the other teams listed achieved their villainy through a combination of rowdiness and excessive vitriol, Lakers fans are apparently guilty of the exact opposite: they aren’t devoted enough to the cause. GQ calls the Lakers’ fanbase the fairest of fair weather fans, citing two separate instances (after the retirement of Magic Johnson, and again after the trade of Shaquille O’Neal) in which Laker Nation suddenly shrank, only to grow again a few years later once the Lakers managed to rebuild. Also referenced was the environment of your average Lakers game, in which a fair number of the “fans” close to the court are more interested in their phones and the people sitting courtside than in the game itself.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: By now, the Lakers (and fans) are used to Derek Fisher’s late-game heroics, whether it be a key pass or game-winning shot with mere seconds remaining. Maybe they are too used to it. Kobe Bryant said Fisher has been playing like that since the two of them entered the league in 1996 and he has come to rely on the 36-year-old guard’s sense of order down the stretch. Bryant said he realized how much he leans on Fisher during those three seasons when Fisher played elsewhere. So you missed him? “What, instead of throwing it to Smush (Parker)? Yeah. I would shoot with three (men) on me. Now I shoot with one or two (players guarding him),” Bryant said after Monday’s practice.
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: The Lakers really can’t fully quantify the value of Lamar Odom. His coach, Phil Jackson, said Odom has been “invaluable” to the team. When Odom was a free agent, Jackson urged the organization to re-sign him. The Lakers and Odom agreed to a four-year, $33-million deal in July 2009. Otherwise, the Lakers might not be back-to-back champions and be talking seriously about winning a third straight NBA championship, Jackson said. “We made a decision as an organization two years ago to sign Lamar, which put us in a difficult [salary] cap situation,” Jackson said. “Yet we’re convinced that without him, we wouldn’t win a championship again. That was a good decision by the organization.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Displaying the same aggressiveness he uses when fighting through double teams and grabbing rebounds, Lakers center Andrew Bynum rushed past the assembled media Monday after the Lakers’ practice. That left everyone else on the team to explain how Bynum’s handled his two-game suspension for getting a flagrant foul, type 2, after throwing Minnesota forward Michael Beasley with his right forearm. The assessment sounded fairly mixed. “He was frustrated,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.