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Darius Soriano —  June 18, 2011

From Mark Medina in an interview with Joe Bryant, LA Times Lakers BlogThe rest of Kobe’s career obviously centers on how he will try to find a way to play through the mileage and injuries. What’s your assessment on how he’s been doing that? You can’t put it on age. All players have injuries, even young players have injuries. You learn to deal with pain and you learn how to understand your body. You also understand your game. When you’re a student of the game, a lot of players rely on their athleticism. Once you get older and their athleticism is not there, then you don’t know how to play. But Kobe knows how to play and understands the ABC’s of the game. He understands the scouting report and how players are going to play and he understands his teammates. When you understand the game, it goes back to playing chess. You know how to move the pieces and you know how to move the ball. You’re not going to run as fast. You’re not going to jump as high. You have to pick your moments. The great example when he picked his moment was the playoff game when he went down the middle and dunked, the one he had against [New Orleans center Emeka Okafor] in Game 5 of the first-round series. That was checkmate. He’s a warrior and understands the game. All players have injuries. It’s part of it and how he can manage it. He’s been doing a good job with that. Nobody is going to run and jump [like] when they were 18 or 19. It’s impossible for people to think that. As long as he’s enjoying the game and keeps the two seven-footers [Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum], I still think he has three, four or five more years to play at a high level.

From Mike Trudell, Since he was announced as the new Lakers coach on June 1, Mike Brown has been traveling back and forth from Cleveland, preparing to move his family to Los Angeles, and tying up loose ends. Among his primary tasks in the meantime? Building his coaching staff. “There’s been progress,” said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. “We communicate daily, and a lot of times he needs a quick answer. Sometimes it’s me giving him names of people who call me, sometimes he’ll call and say he’s thinking of interviewing a certain person. I do know that he intends to interview several candidates to be assistants in person in the next week.” Since getting the gig, Brown has been contacted by what Kupchak estimated as around 100 coaches looking to be considered for his open coaching slots. Accordingly, Brown has filled two or three pages in a yellow pad full of names and phone numbers in advance of a decision Kupchak maintains will be very much Brown’s. “I’m not going to have too much input unless there’s a red flag,” said L.A.’s GM.” Some of these people are under contract with other teams; because of all the coaching changes, some of these people have had chances to go someplace else. It’s kind of a revolving list. He’s pretty confident in what he wants, and he didn’t come into this (blind). He’s just working down the list.”

From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen & Roll: Caracter was indeed passable in the playing time he did receive, putting together rather impressive per-36 numbers of 14 points and 7 rebounds, coupled with a less-impressive 48.5% eFG; though his defense did leave something wanting. He showed a decent capability to find his own shot, even over larger opponents, although his lack of size did inevitably lead to some issues. He was willing to chase down rebounds and use his body, which somewhat compensated for his lack of height in giving him a decent (for a 6’7″ rookie) 11.3% Total Rebound Rate. He was, however, foul-prone, with a rate of 8 fouls per 36 minutes, obviously not something conductive to receiving greater playing time. And playing time did prove to be an issue: despite Bynum’s absences and Pau’s exhaustion, Caracter invariably only received absolute garbage time (even less so than would be expected, due to Phil’s irritating habit of playing Pau late into blowouts); with Phil instead preferring to push his starters to play extra minutes or opt to play small-ball with Artest or Walton at the 4. It’s unknown how much of this refusal to give Caracter minutes was warranted, and one must respect the Greatest Coach of All Time’s judgement, but I cannot help but feel that this serves as an example of rookie bias. Pau was getting burnt out, Andrew was often injured, and Phil often preferred playing the likes of the useless Luke Walton or the ancient Joe Smith or Theo Ratliff ahead of Caracter, a mystifying move to be certain. Caracter was even inactive for much of the season, sent to the Lakers’ D-League Affiliate for the season, the Bakersfield Jam. This, coupled with Ebanks’ similar lack of role, does indeed suggest that the rumours of Phil having an anti-rookie bias are true.

From Jonah Freedman, Sports Illustrated: Uncertainty. That’s the key theme in’s eighth-annual compilation of the 50 top-earning American athletes by salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. Being on top of the Fortunate 50 has never been so tenuous. Perennial No. 1 Tiger Woods still reigns for the eighth straight year — barely. His quickly shrinking earnings have never been lower on our list, nor has he ever been this close to surrendering his once insurmountable lead. As Woods’ personal life and game have seemingly fallen apart, he’s also seen most of his sponsors desert him, too. Meanwhile, big question marks loom over the other big names on the 50, as labor strife in the NFL and NBA threaten the future paychecks of their players. Between Tiger’s near one-third decrease in total earnings all over sports, the average earnings of the athletes on this year’s 50 is $24.3 million, down 7 percent from 2010. In all, the 2011 list features 19 NBA players, 17 baseball players, eight NFL players, three NASCAR drivers and three golfers.

From Howard Beck, The New York Times: The process now comes down to a single meeting and whether the parties can make enough progress to justify further sessions. If a new labor deal is not adopted by June 30, the owners will impose a lockout that is expected to be lengthy and costly. “It’s just important because of the substance of our conversations today,” Stern said of Tuesday’s meeting, “and because time is running out, and because both parties still remain, at least to me, intent on doing the best they can to make a deal before June 30.” Asked if a breakthrough was critical Tuesday, Stern said, “Yes, yes.” Asked if he would know by the end of that day whether a lockout was likely, he again answered in the affirmative. As players and owners dispersed for the weekend, the gap between them remained massive — more than $700 million, by one measure. They also remain at odds over the fundamental structure of the league’s economic system. The owners are pushing for a hard salary cap and the players are lobbying to retain the soft-cap system that has been in place for nearly three decades. “We’re not asking for anything in addition to the things that we’ve negotiated some 10, 15, 20 years before now,” said Derek Fisher, the president of the players union.

From Ric Bucher, ESPN The Magazing (From May 2002): Says Horry, “From the moment my daughter almost didn’t even make it, I realized you can’t control what life hands you. I used to get nervous before that. Excited nervous, like gimmetheball-gimmetheball-gimmetheball. Hey, I love what I do, and it’s important in a sense, but not compared to my family. It’s just a game.” The lesson might have faded if Ashlyn merely had had a difficult birth instead of a missing chromosome that means she may never speak or walk unaided or discard her feeding tube. An absent chromosome that turns every simple cold into a life-threatening ordeal. It might be different if Horry didn’t live and work most of the year 1,500 miles away, limiting him to no more than hearing Ashlyn’s labored breath over a phone during the NBA season. Hearing his wife, Keva, describe the latest Horry trait displayed by his healthy 3-year-old boy, Camron, keeps life’s fickleness front and center. Take a shot to win or lose a game? Bury the game-winning three against the Kings with 0.2 seconds left? He knows that’s just the right time, right place. After back-breakers against the Blazers and Spurs earlier this postseason, Horry was so grateful to have something within his control he said to Kobe afterward, “Thank you for trusting me.” He’s said that to a teammate after every clutch playoff shot he’s made. If anyone knows it’s impossible to accomplish anything alone, it’s Horry.

Darius Soriano

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