From Arash Markazi, ESPNLA: Lakers forward Ron Artest doesn’t believe the NBA labor situation will result in an NFL-style lockout and expects to play an 82-game regular season beginning in October. “I don’t think there’s going to be a long lockout,” Artest said Sunday night. “I don’t think we’re going to miss any games. I think there’s going to be some negotiations but I see us playing in October. I think [NBA commissioner] Mr. [David] Stern and [NBA Players Association director] Mr. [Billy] Hunter will resolve it. I think they’re going to learn from the NFL lockout. America isn’t America without sports. You wouldn’t want to be the guy who messed up sports.”
From Danny Savitzky, Hardwood Paroxysm: There’s no quick fix to major issues of social tolerance, and that is why it was no surprise to watch Joakim Noah utter the same disparaging slur Sunday night for which Kobe Bryant was shouted down just a few short weeks ago. Movement is not going to come quickly, and it’s not going to come without a lot of work. I won’t rehash everything I wrote about Kobe after his incident, but in short, he was wrong, and he should be held accountable. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t mean to imply hateful feelings, and it doesn’t matter that a fan provoked him. He needed to be more mature and contain his emotions. That’s what professional athletes are expected to do. What’s more interesting this time around, though, is the marked difference between the penalties handed down to Bryant and Noah. Kobe was fined $100,000, while Noah was docked just half that number. Same word, same situation, same penalty, right? Apparently not. The NBA’s explanation for the variation in the totals of the fines was this: Kobe’s outburst involved verbal abuse of a game official, while Noah’s did not. I just don’t see how that reasoning could be any more bogus.
From Brian Champlin, Lakers Nation: Sometimes the blame game is the only game in town. When the season is over, when your team has exited the court amid disappointment and embarrassment, feelings of bitterness are bound to take hold. ?Over the past few weeks Lakers fans have made their frustrations abundantly clear. There have been many soft targets to go after. Bynum’s disgraceful foul on Barea, the bench’s lack of production, Lamar’s distracting foray into reality television. But head and shoulders above all all others was the performance of Lakers big man Pau Gasol. For his part, Gasol asserted that his porous play had less to do with any truth to the rumors swirling around his personal life than it did to with what many of us suspected about his physical condition after virtually three straight years of playing basketball, “It wasn’t about self-esteem. It wasn’t about confidence. I collapsed. I was exhausted a little bit too. It hasn’t been a lack of confidence,” Gasol told the Spanish website Marca in a recent interview.
From Royce Young, Daily Thunder: “That was bad.” That’s what I heard a fan saying as he walked out in front of me. Simple, succinct and entirely correct. That was bad. Very, very bad. I’d also accept horrible, awful, tragic, disgusting, pathetic, sickening, terrible and cruel. Yeah, cruel. I like that one. I’m going with cruel. I honestly don’t even know what to point to. I don’t know who to blame. When you blow a 15-point lead with five minutes left in a must-win playoff game, it’s everybody’s fault. Right down to the ballboys and security guards. I want to grab Tony Brothers and shake him for calling such a touch foul in such a big moment, but it’s not even worth it. It should’ve never, ever come to that. Scoring two points in the final five minutes is nobody’s fault but your own.
From Eddie Maisonet, Ed The Sports Fan: Last night after the Dallas Mavericks came back in miraculous fashion versus my beleaguered Oklahoma City Thunder in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, I changed the channel with the hopes of escaping the reality that I witnessed just minutes ago. HBO boxing was on, and the replay of the WBO light heavyweight championship between Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal came on the set. Being a boxing connoisseur and having no desire to sleep, I watched the entire fight in what would be a microcosm of what I just witnessed earlier that evening. Bernard Hopkins, at age 46, became the oldest sports champion of our generation by putting the beats to the younger, stronger, faster, Jean Pascal in a way only an old man could. He used every ounce of his skill, he was as crafty in the ring as an old player talking to a woman, and he cheated like his life depended on it. Thumbed him in the eye, elbowed him in the mouth, did push-ups in front of him between rounds, holding behind the refs back, everything he could to get an edge over a fighter 18 years his junior. Jean Pascal never had a chance. In reality, the Oklahoma City Thunder never had a chance either.
From Mike Trudell, Basket Blog: If you have a better moniker than “Iron Man” for the player that has taken the court in the most consecutive professional games, let us know, but it’s worked pretty well from a self-explanatory sense over the years. In the NBA, it’s L.A.’s Derek Fisher. By completing his sixth-straight 82-game season, the Lakers point guard has his games played streak all the way up to 495, currently the longest in basketball, dating back to April 15, 2005 (point of reference: the Sonics still had three more seasons to play in Seattle). Fisher moved into pole position this past December when Portland’s Andre Miller missed a game due to an NBA suspension, stopping his run at 632 contests. Historically, former Laker A.C. Green dominates with a remarkable mark of 1,192 (11/19/86 – 4/18/01). And how do the NBA streaks compare with those in other professional leagues?
From Jeff Miller, OC Register: We met Phil Jackson for the first time in the old Forum, in a dimly lit room with wall-to-wall shag. The carpet was purple. He wore a flannel shirt that, much like the Forum itself, made Jackson appear as if he had been dressed in the 1970s and not changed — or perhaps even showered, frankly — since. But this was 1999, and Jackson was about to open his first training camp here. He talked about installing the triangle offense, about “establishing a learning curve” and about how his new players would be “squeezed inside a box they haven’t been in before.” At the time, there was talk that Dennis Rodman would be rejoining his old coach. None of the talk, however, had come from that old coach. “We need guys who can facilitate an offense,” Jackson explained that day. “Dennis can debilitate an offense.”
From Janis Carr, OC Register: James Worthy urged the 100 or so fans who showed up to Saturday’s “Go Green” event in Pico Rivera to recycle. But that’s not what he wants to see the Lakers do with their head coaching position. While the Lakers TV analyst and former player said he hopes assistant Brian Shaw will get the Lakers job over former coaches such as Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy and Mike Brown. Shaw worked six years as an assistant under Phil Jackson, who retired at the end of the season. “It’s never a quick process with the Lakers. I’m sure Mitch (Kupchak, Lakers general manager) and Dr. (Jerry) Buss and the family are studying who they want. Brian Shaw – that’s who I like to see get it, but it’s a process of elimination and I’m sure they will look at a few.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: The Lakers had strongly encouraged Shaw to get into coaching, allowing him to join meetings during his time with the Lakers from 1999-2003 where he’d learn how the coaching staff put its scouting reports together. But instead of immediately joining the coaching ranks after retiring in 2003, Shaw told The Times in January that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson told him to spend a year scouting the team’s coastal opponents. Jackson required that out of Shaw because of his concern that he remained too closely connected with the players on the current roster and they may not give him the respect he deserves. After a year of scouting, Shaw joined the Lakers’ coaching staff in 2005 as an assistant for five seasons. Part of his responsibilities in the 2010-2011 season entailed putting together game preparations for contests against the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls where he compiled a 14-6 record.
Lastly, NBA.com’s Art Garcia has put together a fantastic post on all of the issues surrounding the NBA labor talks. Give this the once over (I’ll probably have to read it 10-12 times). This is a great start for anyone who isn’t familiar with what’s going on. Great supplemental reading for those who do. You can check that out here.