From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s always enlightening to hear from Lamar Odom following any season, win or lose, and Wednesday was no exception. Odom is always good for a few laugh lines along with a healthy dose of honesty. Among the more notable moments came when Odom weighed a year of personal achievement- it was among his best seasons as a pro, arguably his strongest- with team disappointment. “It’s funny, but on the plane, that’s what kind of broke me down,” he said. “When I was with Derek [Fisher], and I was talking to him about individual success, but after experiencing championships? To hell with it. You go through so many things in life, and the one year when I get “noticed” or get accolades, or to work with my wife, the reality show, the fragrance happening, is the year my team comes up short. We lose. It’s just the way it is.”
From Daniel Bruege, Lakers Nation: Kobe Bryant has long been the best player in the NBA. Despite constant arguments from pundits claiming other players had surpassed him on the court he continued to prove why he was the best. But during the 2011 season he took a clear step backwards, as the beating his body has taken over the last decade finally seems to have caught up to him. ?However, it was announced that Bryant was named to the first team All-NBA and first team All-Defense teams once again. While Bryant did have a good season and was one of the best players in the league, both those awards should have gone to somebody else.
From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: There is a recent blueprint here, even if it’s a tad incomplete. The same Phil Jackson who headed off into retirement on Wednesday was close to doing this dance a year ago, thinking seriously about leaving the Lakers behind and forcing the purple-and-gold powers-that-be to plot this new plan. The rumblings could be heard even then, whispers that the vaunted triangle offense that had played such an intimate role in Jackson’s career wasn’t welcome anymore. Only Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss truly knows how badly he wants a new brand of basketball, an evolution into a Showtime-esque era that would require the right kind of coach and a more athletic roster to suit that style. But as the Lakers begin the league’s most high-profile coaching search in the coming weeks, that question will be crucial in the decision-making process
From Sam Amick, Sports Illustrated: By the time Kobe Bryant was done with his state of the union address at the Lakers’ practice facility, he had spoken for nearly 24 minutes. He reflected on the departure of Phil Jackson, shared his insight on what led to the end of this reign, and explained why the future remains as bright as the Southern California sun for the fans here. But his most telling message, the most obvious sign that the Bryant of old still plays a bigger role here than the old Bryant, took only a few seconds: “A wasted year of my life.”
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who has become a hot candidate for a few head-coaching vacancies in the NBA, including his current team, has gotten the OK from management to interview for the Golden State Warriors head coach opening. “Yes, we have been given permission,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a text message Thursday. He said the Lakers also gave assistant coach Chuck Person permission to talk to the Warriors.
From Matt McHale, By The Horns: In the NBA playoffs, thanks to the best-of-seven series, the better basketball team usually wins. That’s what happened last night. While it’s certainly true the Bulls haven’t always played up to their potential this postseason, they did it on the road in Game 6, blowing out the Hawks in their own arena. There were some crazy numbers in this one. Like Chicago’s 53.2 percent shooting. If you subtract their 3-for-13 effort from beyond the arc, the Bulls converted 59 percent of their two-pointers. And they registered 34 assists on their 41 made baskets. That’s pretty incredible.
From Bret Lagree, Hoop Onion: The problem with energy is that it’s finite. The Atlanta Hawks fell behind early in Game 5, they fell behind by a lot: 15 points just 10:37 into the game. They worked hard to get all of that back before the third quarter ended but had nothing left in the tank to compete effectively in the fourth. The Bulls played Taj Gibson and Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer for the entirety of the competitive portion of the fourth quarter. In normal circumstances, they aren’t collectively better than Jeff Teague and Josh Smith and Al Horford. When they’re fresh (none of the Chicago trio had played more than 10 minutes in the game prior to the fourth quarter) and the Hawks players are exhausted, well, energy won out. It’s not a knock on Teague or Smith or Horford or Joe Johnson that they ran out of gas three-quarters of the way through the 93rd game of the season. They gave all they had. Nor is Larry Drew in line for criticism for riding his starters too hard. Only Zaza Pachulia provided any productive auxiliary minutes. Jason Collins didn’t hurt the team when he was on the floor but he didn’t help, either.