Around The World (Wide Web): Sunday Morning Reading

Darius Soriano —  May 29, 2011

From T.J. Simers, L.A. Times: A year ago Jerry Buss talked about his son running 90% of the basketball business. Much of the media took that to mean Jim had a 90% say on decisions made. “That’s just not true,” says Jim, a passionate sports fans still upset at the Rams for moving to St. Louis. “Nothing has changed. My dad, Mitch and I discuss everything. If one person feels strongly for something, they might push. I did that when we picked Andrew. But the other two people in the room agreed. “I do more day-to-day stuff because my dad just isn’t interested, but on the big decisions there is the three of us.” The media, though, have Buss hiring Brown as a way of making his own mark while purging the memory of Jackson and the triangle offense. “What do you do about stuff that just isn’t true?” he says.

From Mike Trudell in an interview with Gary Vitti, Lakers.com: MT: What more can you tell us about the specifics of knee injuries for players with so many miles on the court as it might apply to Bryant?
Vitti: What happens with older players — and this isn’t Kobe’s situation – is that tendinitis turns into tendinosis, and the tendon doesn’t have the same properties that it used to have. As a result it slows them down, and once you become a step slow in this league, it’s very, very difficult to compete. That’s not Kobe’s problem, however. His is an articulating cartilage problem. The way I describe that to people is that if you look at the end of chicken bone where it’s nice and white, well, that’s not bone, it’s cartilage. Sort of like a Teflon surface that when two bones come together, that cartilage is there so that bones don’t rub on each other. Now, the fact that it’s nice and white tells you it doesn’t have a good blood flow to it, and that means it cannot heal or regenerate. So, over time, as that cartilage wears away, you end up with osteoarthritis. Kobe doesn’t have an arthritic knee, but he has a knee that has some joint degeneration to it. His issues and his age are such that it eliminates some procedures, like microfracture and that type of things. But he is a candidate for certain other things, and we know all the procedures all around the world that are available to him, and the appropriate decisions will be made, he’ll have the best care.

From M. Haubs, The Painted Area: I’m somewhat amazed that there’s been so much backlash and even vitriol in the reaction to L.A.’s hiring of Mike Brown, as I think the guy’s a heckuva coach. Though I guess I’m not surprised, considering he was an easy scapegoat for the Cleveland Cavaliers falling short of a championship in the LeBron era. But I credit Brown for helping the Cavs become as good as they were, for developing LeBron as a defensive player, and for creating outstanding defensive teams out of decent personnel overall. The jury’s still out on his offensive acumen, though it’ll be interesting to see Cleveland’s perceived offensive shortcomings were a function of LeBron hijacking offensive sets at all (though LeBron was of course primarily responsible for Cleveland’s offensive numbers being as good as they were, and the Lakers have a guy who might be prone to doing same once or twice). I’m also intrigued by the rumors that Brown is considering bringing exceptional European coach Ettore Messina, a long time Painted Area favorite, over to serve as an assistant.

From Kelly Innes, Negative Dunkalectics: Fortunately, there’s a home-grown hoops theorist who’s engaged these problems directly: Phil Jackson. In his books Sacred Hoops and The Last Season, Jackson offers memoirs that are, quite strangely, meditations on how best to enable players to compose themselves and how best to compose singular players into a functioning collective, the team. Stories about Jackson typically render the Zen stuff a caricature. But the books are very clear that Zen practice, Jackson’s Lakota warrior bits, and even the little narratives Jackson culls from movies he shows to his teams or the books he famously gives to his players are simply variant means to the end of composing players’ selves into a team. The Zen stuff is an effective set of practices that will enable a player to subordinate all the forces swirling about in and around himself amidst the flowing energy of a basketball game in order to remain calm and centered. “Centered” is an important keyword in Jackson’s lexicon. Zen practices are a disciplined set of techniques for distilling all the forces within or around the self into a singular focal point — a “center” — that can remain calm, still, and engaged in the moment. The unreflective element is important precisely because “reflection” inherently cuts into or interrupts the present and thus strangely disables one from being fully engaged with the moment. When Jackson describes the best instances of playing basketball, he always frames them as moments when a player isn’t either actively reflecting or passively reacting but is instead just operating within the total flow of the game. One way we might think of this along the lines of a particle-wave distinction: player is a particle integrated in the flowing wave of the game yet still remaining a particle.

From Mark Medina, LA Times Lakers Blog: Below is the first post in a series looking at the potential Lakers assistant coaches. We look first at Ettore Messina, whom The Times Broderick Turner and Hoopsworld’s Eric Pincus reported might be added by Mike Brown as an assistant coach. Turner noted that the position might be part-time. Style: Pincus describes Messina as “tough” with a “strong personality,” noting that he often calls his team’s plays and has developed post players well. The Times’ Randy Harvey noted in a story in 1994 that when Messina was hired as the coach of the Italian national team that he cut several of the team’s stars and replaced them with players with less talent but fit better into what Harvey called Messina’s “disciplined system.” And Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen describes Messina’s efforts to build Real Madrid into a championship team: “He was trying to create an environment of humility that would eventually position them to succeed, but he was convinced the habits couldn’t form at a club that wasn’t invested in the process.”

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: This is going to be one fascinating NBA finals. One of the most improbable and unexpected rematches. But it’s got big shoes to fill after last season, a seven-game thriller between the two most iconic of NBA franchises. In honor of that series and to dream about what could be coming up, we decided to look even farther back. Here is our list of the five best NBA finals ever. Something for the Heat and Mavs to aspire to (even if both of them would prefer to win in a dull sweep)…
2010, Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in seven games :Yes it did just happen last season, but how many NBA finals have had a fourth quarter comeback in Game 7? This is going to go down as one of the better finals we have ever seen. In Game 2 Ray Allen went off and hit eight straight three pointers to lead the Celtics to the win and tie the series. In Game 5 there was Kevin Garnett falling out of bounds but making the breakout pass up the court to a streaking Rajon Rondo to seal a win. Game 7, playing without Kendrick Perkins but getting a huge lift from Rasheed Wallace, the Celtics led by 13 in the third quarter and had stunned the Staples Center crowd. But the Lakers got huge baskets from Ron Artest and Pau Gasol — he had 18 points and 19 boards —while Kobe Bryant had a poor game overall but had 10 points in the fourth quarter when it mattered. Without Perkins the Lakers dominated the paint and the boards and that combined with Boston foul trouble proved to be the difference.

From Mark Medina in an interview with Trey Johnson, LA Times Lakers BlogYou’ve been on both sides of the coin, playing under Mike with Cleveland and last season under Phil. How would you compare the two experiences as far as what they brought?
Definitely different guys, but at the same time, they’re similar in how they run their practices. Everybody’s accountable from a standpoint that you have to hold yourself accountable. I don’t think the atmosphere will change much in the sense of it being a professional mindset and you get your work in. But they’re different. Phil is definitely a cerebral guy. The way he prepares for a game is a lot different than the way Mike prepares for a game. But you still get the same ending results in the fact we’re winning games. Of course Mike hasn’t won a championship as a head coach, but he was [an assistant] under Gregg Popovich and he has a great future. It was great. I saw two different sides of the spectrum, but they were both great guys and were winning guys. Both had great personalities. It’s going to be interesting. Hopefully I’m part of it again.

Darius Soriano

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