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, 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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  1. Was Viti saying that if Kobe was younger with this same knee he would be having Microfracture surgery? Wowzers. That isn’t good.


  2. Warren Wee Lim May 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Whats the high/low on Kobe not buying into Mike Brown’s system and “asks” for a trade?


  3. Kobe’s health/age is going to be a big issue going into next season. I am very happy to hear that Mike Brown has ideas on ways to prolong Kobe’s career. I guess we all just have to trust that Mike Brown, Mitch and Jim Buss know what they’re doing. Although I want to see an impactful trade to get us more athleticism as I am not optimistic this group can win anymore championships, I am going to wait and see what the Mike Brown era brings.


  4. How does everyone think Kobe will handle Fisher potentially starting on the bench next season? Does that become the potential “wedge” between Kobe and Brown? I’d like to see more of TJ battling for that bench PG spot as well…Should be interesting to see how Blaker, Fisher, TJ (if they retain him) all battle for the starting gig or back-up if Lakers get that elusive star PG.


  5. I know it’s the hip thing to speak about Kobe’s decline as if it’s a foregone conclusion, but I’d argue that he’s actually in as good a position as he’ll ever be to win another MVP award next season.

    – It’s not like he can’t play any more. He just averaged 25 points over 82 games, was 1st team all-NBA, and finished 4th in MVP voting.

    – He’s going to have more time to rest this summer than in several seasons, and has no major offseason injuries to slow him down.

    – He’ll be determined. To say the least.

    – Most importantly, the storyline (which frankly is how this award is decided these days) lines up for him. Expectations are low, just like in ’07-’08. He doesn’t really have to do anything different on the court. If the team is winning – a summer of rest, fresh motivation, and a little new blood can go a long way – he’ll be perceived anew as a leader, whose play galvanized a team in turmoil.

    I’m telling you right now, it can happen. I’ve seen the guy pull off a lot more improbable feats.


  6. This is a good time for Lakers to have a good plan for the next season. In the West, there are only 3 teams, Lakers , Dallas,and OKC. I don’t think Dallas will go back to NBA Finals again next year,Nowitzki plays great this year, but he dissapeared in the last 4 seasons . OKC they have problems too, Westbrook is a PG or shooting guard ? Can OKC have a system to beat teams in 7 game series ? Portland made a big mistake to keep Nate McMillian and get Wallace from Charlotte. Lakers have a great chance to go back to the NBA Finals, because in the West teams don’t play great defense.

    Kobe was MVP of All-Star game this season, his knee was ok at that time. Right now, they talked about his bad knee, it was bad before the playoffs or after round 1 ? So the next season, Lakers have to find the way to save Kobe for the playoffs, or Mike Brown will try to win over 60 games and get home-field avantage ? Can the Lakers improve the rosters ? If these quetions have the answer, Lakers will be ok.


  7. Nowitzky disappeared the last four seasons? The West doesn’t play great D? Wow. I guess I must have been watching a parallel universe NBA.

    I said it in the last post but the quotes in Simers’ interview reinforces one of the positives i see in Jim Buss so far. He’s still keeping an even keel and not banging the drum about it all being him. I like that he had no problem admitting the communication mistake with Kobe. For now, it’s definitely a wait and see attitude on what else will happen with the franchise.


  8. @4 I don’t think that’s going to be a really big issue. I remember reading during the title run 2 years ago that Fish has never been to Kobe’s house. They’re close on the team, but I’m not sure Kobe is really close with anyone off the court. Now back to the team and I think Kobe is all about what’s going to get another championship, unless it means putting himself on the bench. If anyone gets a chance to read the TJ Simers interview with Jim Buss on LA Times I recommend it. After reading that, makes me feel a whole lot better about thetp direction the team will be in. I think part of the problem is the ESPN hype machine taking bits and pieces and running with it. The Buss’ family acknowledges that time is running out on this core and after reading the article it doesn’t seem to me that they want to jeopardize the opportunity.


  9. @8, I thought it was a decent article as well although I don’t really buy Jim’s explanation about not talking to Kobe about the hire. It a nutshell it came off as something that hadn’t really occurred to them, but in hindsight, he guesses they should have. And, when I think about the explanation for a while, it just starts to puzzle me. It’s kinda like saying, well I guess there was an elephant in the corner but we hadn’t really noticed it. Or, we probably should have brought the horse to the racetrack but we forgot and left him back at the barn. Anyway, apart from that he does seem like a pretty sincere guy.

    So what are we gonna do about a point guard? I’ve always been one to support Derek but it’s become pretty evident that we need some upgrading. One of those elephant in the corner kind of things.


  10. I am not sure what the Lakers can do personnel wise, since they are still up there at some $90m in salary. Maybe they will spend the MLE, even though that player will end up costing them $12m, instead of the $6m. I just do not see any major or significant changes next season, but then you never know what can happen I guess. Money seems to be an issue now with the franchise, although it is still making a profit.


  11. 9) dave m,
    If Buss can keep his ego in check, I think he will do OK. At PG, I suspect the default is that Blake will be the starter, but they will see who will be available with the MLE. (If there is an MLE with the new CBA.)


  12. ReignOnParades May 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Judging from the quotes, Jim Buss isn’t a bumbling fool. That’s all I can ask for.

    Speaking of competence, every time I read a Simers article I wonder how he makes a living as a professional writer.


  13. @12. I used to get that feeling a long time ago when I was still reading Plaschke’s articles and the cumulative frustration at having wasted a minute of my life hadn’t yet been built up to a perceptible degree. I always thought that TJ, on the other hand, was playing a role/adopting a persona.


  14. 12) reign… hahahaha!! That’s what I like to hear!

    11) ex… a year ago I would have thought of Blake as a potential starter. Now, I’m not so sure. He had his moments but he never really put it all together and I’m not sure why. I don’t think it was a matter of figuring out the system. Thoughts anyone?


  15. I already have separation anxiety. Phil, where are you!?


  16. Dave M., 12 & 14

    For the record, either Jimbo or the scribes are lying with regards to number of coaches interviewed. According to NBA scribes, only Mike was interviewed and Jimbo immediately (run as fast as he can to beat the Warrior) requested Mitch offer a contract. Well, in his interview with T.J. Slimers there were several coaches interviewed.

    It appears that this will be the modus operandi on credibility…. he said, they said. The fans will never really know the truth unless you put them under oath in front of a Grand Jury or take them to FBI lie detector test. lol!


  17. #15

    Me too, the lockout season hasn’t started yet, we are already getting bits and pieces of info. Mike Brown trying to lure John Kuester of Piston to come to the Lakers as an assistant coach. He just caused a tornado-liked coaching among his players and was reported that he is about to be fired with the Piston team. Well, Lakers will accommodate all these coaches that have been fired. It sums with this saying: “One Team’s Trash equals Our Treasure.”


  18. @16 – you don’t mean to suggest chicanery, do you?!

    With reports that Kuester’s signing is near, I am relieved and filled with calm. Our offensive acumen is secure. The man offered up a six-man rotation against the 76’ers because he’d benched the other seven for staging a protest. I look forward to seeing John giving instruction to Kobe and Ron. Should be good.


  19. 14) dave m,
    I think it was a combination of the system and the people he had to play with. No continuity all year for the second unit, with all the injuries.


  20. 18) ex,
    I’m not so sure. There’s been more than a little evidence that Kuester lost control and the team’s respect. I know that I’ve poked some fun at Jim Buss and the Mike Brown hire but in all honestly, I don’t have a good feeling about all this. The end to our season is still very fresh and raw. Getting swept by Dallas was a harsh way to exit and it seemed pretty clear that the team wasn’t all on the same page. It’s just hard for me to see Brown and Kuester as a confidence-building move. I hope I’m wrong, I hope they come in and have great success but right now, it feels like a weird way to start the next chapter.


  21. 20: I don’t know how the (possible) Kuester hire translates for the team as an assistant, but as a head coach with the Pistons, if you inspire a mutiny… “that won’t get it done” (Stu voice).

    Also, I know it’s Simers and the LA Times, but I do think there could have been a couple more questions asked to Jim Buss. Maybe it’s just me but the interview seemed a little bit “softball” like.

    A question about Asst. GM Lester being let go and the other personnel (scouts, etc) would have helped explained things.