From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: During the Finals, I published some research compiled by ESPN’s Alok Pattani showing how today’s players compare to Michael Jordan when it comes to taking shots in the final seconds of very close playoff games. It included a chart, showing, for instance, that Jordan made half of his 18 such shots. Nobody could touch that. An assortment of players had great percentages on tiny numbers of shots, while Ray Allen had made half of his dozen, LeBron James was a tick behind at 5-of-12, and Dirk Nowitzki was 5-of-13 for his career. Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, was 7-of-25, for 28 percent — which happens to be the league average field goal percentage in this pressure situation. That’s in keeping with lots of other research — and comments from Lakers coaches — showing that in crunch time Bryant is a very high-volume shooter, and a guy who makes incredibly tough shots, but not one who is especially likely to make the shots he takes.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: Where in the world will Ron Artest, a.k.a. Metta World Peace, be playing basketball next? It’s been less than two weeks since the NBA lockout went into place and the Los Angeles Lakers forward has already been linked to two different European destinations. And already, both basketball locales — Finland and England — have been debunked by Artest’s agent, David Bauman. ESPN TrueHoop Network blog BallinEurope.com reported that LoKoKo Loimaa of Finland’s top league Korisliiga had reached an agreement with Artest to have him join the team in September. Bauman shot the report down, telling the L.A. Times that it seemed like a “publicity stunt” by the Finnish team.
From Gary Lee, Lakers Nation: Following Kobe’s arrival in Manila, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant will catch a quick flight over from their tours over in China to play some ball with the Black Mamba. Rose and Durant will come down and participate in a couple of games vs. Smart Gilas Pilipinas and PBA selection at Araneta Coliseum, which is the last stop of the day for Kobe. Details are still coming in for the event, but these NBA Superstars are all meeting up in the Phillippines to help raise money to support the MVP Sports Foundation, which helps develop Filipino athletes. So far, the details of the basketball event is that a team of NBA players that include Kobe, Rose and Durant will play against the Pilipinas and PBA selection. NBA players that are being listed on the rosters included Darko Milicic, Tyreke Evans, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers and Russell Westbrook of the OKC Thunder.
From Matt Smith, Fox Sports: This past regular season, for the first time in nearly a decade, the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t the NBA fan’s team of choice when it came to off-the-court drama. That designation went to the Miami Heat, and they won that title in a rout. Nobody seemed to care much that Kobe Bryant wasn’t practicing at all, instead choosing to save his deteriorating body for game action only. In Phil Jackson’s final season on the bench, there was no pomp and circumstance at every stop the team made; instead, it actually felt like any other season when it came to Jackson. Sure the Lakers had the sideshow that is Ron Artest, but by all accounts “Ron-Ron” wasn’t only on his best behavior, he was a positive force while contributing to the Los Angeles community more than any other player on the team. Lamar Odom became a reality TV “star,” but it had so little impact on his on-court performance that he finally got national recognition – as the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year – for his supremely important contributions to this team’s success.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: During your interview with Coach Brown, what points did you emphasize to him and what questions did he want to know from you? “The hiring was pretty much immediate because of the relationship I had with Mike working with him in Indiana under Rick Carlisle. He asked me if I wanted to be here and I told him yes because I like the Lakers organization, what this team’s about and what type of players we have moving forward to try to win a championship again in the future.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Kurt Rambis’ 32-132 record through two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves may have warranted his firing, which became official Tuesday, but not in the way that Minnesota General Manager David Kahn handled it. Rambis may not have gotten the best out of a roster that averaged about four years’ of NBA experience when he inherited the job, but Kahn didn’t provide much in talent to make Rambis’ coaching job any easier. And Rambis may not have gotten his players to respect him enough to fully buy in to his concepts, but Kahn’s lack of respect toward Rambis was worse because it reeks of unprofessionalism.