Ettore Messina, From A Local’s Perspective

Darius Soriano —  July 13, 2011

The announcement went a bit under the radar, but the Lakers officially introduced Ettore Messina as a member of Mike Brown’s staff last week. This has been in the works for what seems like months, so it’s no surprise that his official hiring didn’t get the type of press that an addition like this would normally garner.

Make no mistake though, this is a big deal. Messina is one of the most decorated coaches in the world, is well respected, and his arrival as a coach in the states has been highly anticipated. So with his hire finally being set in stone, I reached out to long time FB&G’er Xavier Sánchez who is our de facto foreign correspondent. For those that aren’t familiar, Xavier is a professional youth team coach in Spain and has done countless posts for us on all things European basketball. Xavier was kind enough to answer some general questions about Messina and provided some excellent insight. Now, on to the Q&A…

FB&G: When Messina was first mentioned as a potential addition to Mike Brown’s staff, one of the first hints at his style was the video clip of a clinic he ran on post play. Is he a coach known for developing big men? Do you think he can help get the most out of Gasol and Bynum?

XS: Gasol will absolutely love Messina, and its not entirely because of the European flavor (Messina is Italian and Pau is Spanish, not even the same country) but because Messina loves fundamentals.  As you can see in the video from the post play clinic everything he talks about is position, the right foot to land first… Pau’s game is about all that.

Bynum will pick up a lot of tricks he doesn’t have because he’s never been asked to be a polished low post player. But the key is on Bynum and his desire to learn how to do it. Messina puts a lot of pressure on the technical part of the game as it’s easy to recognize both for the coach and the player and they can work on it. Mental errors are harder to work on and that’s where Bynum could choke. If he doesn’t he’ll learn a lot from Messina.

He’ll probably make the transition from the triangle easy because he likes the players to read the offense and work what the defense gives them, that’s why he stress so much the importance of versatility and fundamentals. The more things you’re able to perform, the bigger problem you are for the defense. Bigs tend to move a lot, setting picks between bigs and switching between the high and low post. That of course requires high basketball IQ. In recent years of NBA, high basketball IQ was related to the triangle, in Europe where physical talents are not the bread and butter, we call it just basketball.

Messina is an amazing communicator. He’s a straight talking man with an incredible knowledge of the game. Its not like the zen culture the lakers had before, he’ll be chasing players telling them every minimal thing they could do better and if the player listen and tries hard (I’m looking at you Bynum) fundamental heaven is the sky.

FB&G: How “guard friendly” is his system? Does he rely on a PG to create offense for others? How do you see him using Kobe Bryant and his varied skill set?

XS: Messina has always relied on “big” playmakers. Antoine Rigaudeau, Marko Jaric, Manu Ginobili or Theo Papaloukas are just the kind of guys he wanted to give the ball to, all of them over 6-6 feet.  Neither of those have been great shooters (Ginobili being the best of them) but incredible ball handlers, with good penetration and playmaking skills.

He’s also used a lot 2 american guards during his stint in CSKA Moscow, JR Holden and former Duke (Blue Devil) Trajan Langdon, both under 6-3 but with great shooting stroke that could compensate the lack of shooting touch its big PG had.

I could see Kobe being that kind of playmaker if he buys on sharing the ball and letting the game come to him. Kobe is a fundamental beast, he studies the game as few others do in this league and that gives him an edge. Messina will kindly love to use 2nd round pick Morris could also enjoy coach Messina predilection for tall driving guards. Fish could fill the short SG role that Holden and Langdon used to play for him but he’s way past the prime. At least he’s smart enough and a good leader, just hope he can hold himself on D. A guard with more playmaking ability wouldn’t hurt.

In his four Euroleague titles, 3 of the MVPs where guards (Ginobili, Papaloukas and Langdon) but saying his system is “guard friendly” would be taking it too far. I like Messina when he says that a good coach has the ability to detect the player strengths and draws a system to work for them. He’ll share his philosophy but he doesn’t have a closed system he applies everywhere as D’Antoni does with his run and gun or Jackson with the triangle.

The 3 things I’ve seen the most from his teams are:

  1. A more than impeccable pick and roll game. Having a beast as Papaloukas helps as he is (not exaggerating) the European Stockton reading P&R situations. As you can see from this small clip of the high P&R they ran in CSKA Moscow; expect some of this to happen this season.
  2. High efficiency shots. Bad shots lead to easy fast break points. If he has fast and young players that might mean run, run, and run the fast break and stop it if they can’t finish the easy basket. With a veteran Laker team it will probably mean long worked possessions.
  3. More all-around players, less specialists

FB&G: Many think of Messina as an offensive coach and envision him helping out mostly on that side of the ball. But, what is his philosophy on defense? Do you see him being able to help the Lakers on D?

XS: As I said before, Messina starts defending by attacking smart. Bad shots lead to long rebounds and easy transition points so that’s the first thing he’ll try to transmit to the coaching staff.

He’s always been a guy more in the line of help-recover than help-rotate. I hated how the Lakers changed defenses on every pick and roll situation, I don’t think Mike Brown will like that neither, but the team is what it is, full of vets. Again, it all depends on what the staff sees and the reaction of the players to the more aggressive defense Brown will ask for.

As you may see in this clip, it’s a CSKA Moscow – Macabi Tel Aviv game. In the first quarter they are already full court press, double teams, super aggressive off the ball defense on Vujcic (Metta World Peace like) and even some well executed 2-3 zone.

See what I was saying? I repeat. This is JUST the first quarter clip. THE FIRST QUARTER!

Messina is a master teaching that kind of D, but I don’t see any of these applied in the NBA. Maybe some tweaks and suggestions and opinions, but Brown and the rest of the staff have an advantage on him in the NBA world… for now.

FB&G: What do you think are his main weaknesses as a coach? Do you see him having any adjustment issues in coming to the NBA? Specifically in coming to a Laker team with so much star power and such high expectations?

XS: The main issue in Messina as an NBA coach will be on the topic we talked before – Defense. European defense is so much different than the NBA’s. For instance, real zones are not allowed in America as we see them in FIBA ball, more closed into the paint making it harder to get to the hole.

Also, in Europe, every game is played at the top intensity. Of course there are games with rivalries and more things at stake but it’s not like in the NBA where most teams cruise during a game just to sprint the last 8 minutes, or even cruising the whole season to click for the playoffs. For European teams, the dynamic is 1 or 2 games a week, 2 practices per day 4 to 5 days a week. Not shooting sessions, PRACTICE – drills and actually working on the game. That’s quite a big change of rhythm not just for players but also for the coaches. See again the clip from question 3 and tell me if you’ve ever seen that in a regular season first quarter. Yeah right, cruising… (I know, I know, 3-4 games a week and all that stuff, but I’d rather see a well played game than 3 games that don’t matter for the first 40 minutes. Don’t kill me please, just an opinion). 

The last big adjustment Messina will likely have a hard time making is the control of the game the coach has over its players. You call Avery Johnson the “little general”? You’ve seen nothing. Coaches in Europe walk the bench up and down, don’t usually sit and are giving commands to its players. He’s probably calmer than the average euro coach but I can’t see that on an NBA bench. 

I don’t think the jump to the NBA via the Lakers bench will make the transition harder. Messina is a winner and is not afraid of it. Would Coach K be listened and respected in the Lakers bench? Messina has probably done more than him basketball wise. He’s got his head straight. He could have jumped into a starting gig in Toronto had he wanted it but as he said, he first needs to prove himself to be a good assistant coach in the NBA, make the transition the right way, and then see what happens. Adjusting to the players and situations has always been his forte, that’s just another adjustment he’s doing.

FB&G: Messina’s been a hot name in coaching circles for many years and there have been reports of him potentially coming to the NBA in past years. Why do you think he chose to come now?

XS: Well, Messina is a tremendously respected coach in Europe, he has enjoyed a great career with a combined 26 trophies and medals (also coached the Italian NT) including 4 Euroleagues in 7 final four trips.

His last gig in ACB league with Real Madrid didn’t go well. First of all he got a very young team with no chemistry at all. The situation was that bad that he resigned when he realized that neither the team front office nor the players were doing their job. The team had a pretty fair way to (what could have been) his 8th final four appearance but in that situation he could not go on.

After that, offers are still raining for him (Its Real Madrid’s image that is hurting right now) but in the wake of the Lockout I think Messina has seen the perfect occasion for him.

Let me dig into that: As I said before, Messina wants to see if he can be an assistant coach for an NBA team before jumping at the starting job but… have you dumped your job as head kitchen chef in a small bistro to be the guy that washes the dishes in a fancier downtown restaurant? I guess that it will be easier to do if the season is shorter.

More over, if he isn’t working on another euro project he can now concentrate in a more in depth study of the NBA until the lockout clears.

Now he has 19 years of top European experience, enough to be well respected and at “just” 51 years old is “young” enough to move to another goal after winning it all in Europe. 

I’m looking forward to see what he can do over there.

—————————

I also asked Xavier to talk some about Ricky Rubio; to explain what he thought his prospects were as he comes over to play for the Timberwolves. Below is his brief take on the young Spanish PG that we’ve been waiting to see in the league…

As you might have seen, the shaggy haired kid from my town has already worn his Timberwolves jersey. The word now in the US, for what I’ve heard and read, is that Rubio has peaked at 20 years old, that he’s nowhere near the talent he was when he was drafted. Can’t help but deny that.

First of all, stats argument with European players is totally out because of the difference of the game style, possessions per game and defense played.

Brandon Jennings played in a lower level league (Italian) for a much less talented team (Lottomatica Roma)  and played 19.6 min a game and averaged 7.6 points, 1.6 rebs, 1.6 ast, 1.2 steals and 1.2 To in 16 games.

Meanwhile, this season, Ricky has recorded 6.5 pts, 3,3 rebs, 3,6 ast, 1.6 steals and 1,8 to at 22.8 min in 20 games.

That isn’t to say that Ricky will have better numbers than Jennings next season even though his euroleague stats outplay the American kid. This tells you that European stats means almost nothing when translated to the NBA.

The one thing I’ve seen that I didn’t like of him this year is that he played in a system that didn’t fit him. Ricky belongs to an up tempo rhythm, running up and down the court, throwing passes left and right. Barcelona played half court games with JC Navarro (as great as he is) absorbing at least 12 to 14 seconds of each possession.

He still cannot hit consistently shots but neither is Rondo. He’s working on it though and I’ve seen a great improvement in his shooting mechanic from the last 3 years to now.

In a Timberwolves team, in need of a pick and roll capable PG, looking for a guy to distribute the shots that Beasley, Williams, Love and the kind will like to take, a pass first PG like Rubio will fit as Cinderella’s shoe. Plus, his defense is really underrated. He’s really smart on that side of the floor and his 6-9 wingspan also help.

I wish him the best.

Darius Soriano

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31 responses to Ettore Messina, From A Local’s Perspective

  1. Great stuff. Xavier’s has provided some outstanding info and perspective in the past and this is no different.

    I’m curious what he’s seen in Bynum that makes him think Bynum wouldn’t be open to the fundamentals and techniques Messina would teach. Seems like Bynum is one of the more polished big men out there considering his age and when he started. KAJ had a lot to do with that of course. But seems like Bynum had to also be receptive and desire to learn. Had Xavier heard or seen something different for implying Bynum wouldn’t?

    I like that bit about Morris potentially catching Messina’s attention and thought of him instantly when Xavier said “Neither of those have been great shooters (Ginobili being the best of them) but incredible ball handlers, with good penetration and playmaking skills.” That seems to describe Morris’s skill set based on what I’ve read on him so far.

    Philosophically on both sides of the ball, Messina really seems to match what Phil taught. The details may be different but giving multiple looks on O and not taking bad shots to help out D mirrors Phil’s thoughts through the years. This could really help the team, something new for the veteran team to learn but not a change in core beliefs so easier buy in from all parties.

    With Messina being behind the bench, I don’t really see a problem with him wanting to micro manage more during the game. He really won’t have the opportunity to walk up and down the sidelines and call out every play. Although that seems a little contradictory to his stated stance of letting the players read and react.

    I love the thought of a coach coming in with the fire to teach the details and getting into people’s faces. I think that part of Phil’s coaching was overlooked because people only saw his game time demeanor. From what I understand Phil and his staff were very hands on during practice and harped on the details a lot more.

    The failures of this past year was partially attributed to Phil not having as much fire to get after players in practice and no coaches getting through to them. A fresh voice with the same core philosophy teaching interesting new details seem like a great combination for the team.

  2. I just hope the Messina hiring is a positive thing. I’m pumped to see how he will help and give the team a breath of fresh air. The Lakers definitely never had an assistant with THIS pedigree(albeit in Europe).

    Amazing that he’s going to learn the NBA from the greatest team in it.

    Bye.

  3. Antes de más, gracias Xavier!

    I’ve stated my opinions on Messina before and he is well respected enough to be sure he will also be respected in the Lakers’ locker room. What I’m not sure about Messina is how will he cope with the coasting through the regular season that’s so usual in the NBA. I know my coach would kill me if I coasted for 1 minute, nevertheless games… I really don’t know what will happen and how much of the offensive scheme will be his doing. It’s a wait and see thing.

    Regarding Rubio, while you can’t compare stats, one thing is sure… He can’t shoot consistently! I wonder what will happen when teams start giving him the Rondo treatment, daring him to shoot. And it’s not that I don’t like Rubio, it’s that I appreciate Navarro’s game so much more than his. But you may be right when you say that Barcelona’s team was ill suited for Rubio’s skill set. And by the way, aren’t you from Barcelona or a Barça fan, if I recall? Just want to know how much bias is into your analysis (joking…)

    (Note: I seriously dislike both Real and Barcelona)

  4. the other Stephen July 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    great questions and answers, darius and xavier!

  5. awesome. a great example of FB&G at its very best. thank you!

  6. #3

    Renato, Messina will bring Euro type of basketball to the Lakers that’s constant p&r and 3pt shooting. I’m sure Kobe would like this guy so at least he has two good friends in the coaching staff i.e. Chuck Person and Senor Ettore.

    With the economic crisis in Italy and Spain, what are the chances of Lakers getting some good players in those league when the lockout is lifted.

    Note: Darius, in as much I am barely new in your blog, please inform me when I make another “asinine” comment. The last time I heard that word was from AK of Kbros in ’07 in another blog, we carried our heated arguments in several threads until he apologized in the end.

  7. Glad to see some attention being given to this hire specifically, and to the strength of the Laker coaching staff more generally.

    Lost amidst the criticism of Jim Buss and Mike Brown is the fact that the Lakers replaced what was clearly an excellent staff (though one that was not able to get the most out of its players in the playoffs this year) with an excellent group.

    Brown was arguably the most successful available coach out there (though Adelman was right there), and with Kuester, Messina, and the Rifleman, I thnk this is a very experienced and solid group, with an excellent balance of experience & emphasis on both sides of the ball.

    Ultimately, it will be up to the players to execute, but I think management did its part re: coaches, as did Brown in bringing in a very solid group. Well done.

  8. @1. Chownoir, you’re right, Bynum skills are nice for a 7 footer but still lacks of a whole fundamental package. He has a couple of power moves but… what if he had 10? he’s not versatile and well scouted he could be stopped. Then again I compare him to Pau: How many moves does pau have?

    the difference between Morris and Rigaudeau or Papaloukas is that those two would still read the court better blindfolded. We are talking of playmaking magicians. But I like the prospect as I see it.

  9. @#8, Xavier, Thanks for the reply and the great answers to the Q and A. It’s very much appreciated and the kind of excellent info I get spoiled by from this site.

    I agree that Bynum is nowhere near as polished as Pau, few in the world are. Maybe it’s a language issue, but in your answers you seem to imply that Bynum may not have the will and desire to improve and that might impact his working with Messina.

    I was thinking of this passage: “But the key is on Bynum and his desire to learn how to do it. Messina puts a lot of pressure on the technical part of the game as it’s easy to recognize both for the coach and the player and they can work on it. Mental errors are harder to work on and that’s where Bynum could choke. If he doesn’t he’ll learn a lot from Messina.”

    Bynum has struck me as someone who’s shown continuous growth and the ability to translate lessons to the court (if he doesn’t get injured). He has shown growth in understanding double teams and passing out of them.

    In your answer it seems like you think he would struggle and may not have the desire. Again, not sure if it’s a language issue. Anyway, I was curious if you saw or heard something that would indicate a lack of desire or ability on Bynum’s part. If so that would be worrisome.

    That’s what I was trying to understand.

  10. @3. Renato,

    About Ricky bias. Yes, I am from Barcelona but not an FC Barcelona fan (more like my second team). I’m a Club Joventut Badalona fan (Rudy Fernandez and Ricky’s former team) But still, I’ve seen Ricky play since he was 9.

    In one of my jobs as a basketball coach I scout teams and individual players so I have my share of analising no only talent or skills but also character. The kid is full of it. I’m no wrong with him.

    I used to argue with Adam Filipi, former director of international scouting for the Lakers (I said former because during the lockout all the scouting staff is unemployed), who would be a better fit: Fernandez or Ricky. He’s point was that Rudy’s athletic skills, shooting couch and ability to run screens fit better in the NBA than what Ricky brings. My point is that, even though Ricky’s shot is crancky he has a special feeling for the game few others do and in an era where great PGs are setting bigger diferences Ricky is a soon to be polished diamond.

    Navarro is awesome, don’t get me wrong, one of the top european players in euroleague history, and that’s why the team is more constructed to fit him better than Ricky. Imagine Nash running a Larry Brown team, you got the impression something’s wrong there…

  11. @9. Chownoir,

    What I’m trying to say is that fundamentals are not a fun thing to learn. It requires a lot of repetition, and practice time (which you don’t have in the NBA).

    Basketball is not a sport you can learn on the fly. There are a lot of moves, ticks and stuff that basketball players develop while growing up and assimilates into his coordination. You can see the diference between who has been playing ball since he was 6 and another who started playing at 12. You just see it because its easier to learn how to coordinate your body the way basketball requires you to when you are young.

    Methaphorically, Basketball is like a language. Try to learn a new language at the age of 30 instead of being your born language. You better be a very good student.

    Kobe is a student, I don’t know if Bynum is such a gym rat to get there. I see he wants to get better, but how much extra work is he going to put on to learn the basics he should have learned 10 years ago?

  12. @11 Xavier, ahh got it. I understand what you’re saying now. Thanks. I completely agree that the fundamentals are not a fun thing. Many players won’t put in the time.

    I think you’re underestimating Bynum. Bynum is only 23. I think saying he should have learned the basics from 10 years ago is based on bad information. From what I’ve read, he didn’t start playing high level ball until 15 or 16. He came to basketball late in life. Even then he never was in the club or AAU circuit. He only played two years of high school basketball at a competitive level.

    Then he was drafted straight into the NBA. Considering that he’s had 3 devastating knee injuries and has had to devote rehab time to that, I think he’s shown a remarkable amount of growth and dedication. In 6 years, he’s gone from a doughy high school teen with little to no high level coaching to being one of the top centers in the league both in physical conditioning and skills.

    I have my doubts about his health. But to me his history has demonstrated a willingness and dedication to getting better and learning. He has shown improvement every single year. Every summer when he’s not rehabbing he’s worked on his game and his physical fitness.

    I’m optimistic that Bynum will soak up Messina’s lessons. Bynum absorbed a lot from Kareem and he is where he is today because of Kareem’s coaching and Bynum’s desire to improve. I think Messina will find a willing student in Bynum.

  13. People forget that Bynum tends to bore of tutoring and feels like he knows more than he actually does (like a typical kid). Remember he threw KAJ under the bus in 2009.

    http://www.insidesocal.com/lakers/2009/10/has-bynum-outgrown-kareem.html

  14. @13

    Your definition of “threw KAJ under the bus” must be different from mine. I didn’t read anything disrespectful or demeaning in that piece. He was ready to trying riding with no training wheels. Nothing is wrong with that. Was he supposed to stay joined to Kareem’s hip for the rest of his career? Bynum probably had his best stretch as a pro during LA’s 17-1 streak this past season. By all accounts he seems to have responded very well to Chuck Person’s defensive philosophy. He proved he is still a student of the game and open to learning. Give the guy a break.

  15. My point is that he stopped using Kareem. People speak like KAJ was still there last year and the year before that. His public speach was that he had learned all that he needed to learn and did not want to listen anymore. He was disrepectful in the way he spoke of KAJ. That is what I meant by people forgot that situation.

    Yes, Bynum was dominant last year because we funneled everything into him, which was the same premise we used with Shaq. Both were terrible on pick and rolls, because they did not show long enough and allowed the point to make easy passes to set up the bigs who were left unguarded because of poor rotation. I did not say Bynum was uncoachable, I said he maybe somewhat impatient and naive.

    All that goes to why I would like to see Kwame back in the fold. He plays the pick and roll and one on defense the way it’s supposed to be played. He just sucks on offense.

  16. Renato Afonso July 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    10. Xavier,

    I always rooted for Estudiantes in Spain, since the portuguese league sucks anyway… But back to the point: Rubio.

    While I agree with his feeling for the game and everything you said, his lack of shooting touch is really amazing. Generally, from Spain, you can expect good fundamentals (not to the level of the old Yugoslavia school, but still great), solid basketball IQ and a good shooting touch. I’ve played my share of games against spanish teams when I was U-20 and you could really see the difference between the spanish teams and the rest of Europe. Rubio, for all his skill and tremendous feel for the game, simply can’t shoot and it keeps puzzling me. Maybe the reason for that is being promoted to the main team too soon (age 15, right?) and skipping a few steps. What happened there?

    While we know that the games on this side of the Atlantic are far more gritty with a lot of focus on defense, we also know that our players are slower and a little smaller than those in the NBA. Sure, you can say that the concept of team defense and weak side help in the NBA is almost laughable, but I simply don’t believe that he will ever be the all-NBA PG that people expect him to be. I really hope I’m wrong, but it took the league a couple of years to figure out what to do with Rondo (the player with the most similar skill set) in important games so I don’t see him having a transition to the NBA as smooth as most expect.

    Regarding Messina, what’s your take on his adjustment to the NBA? We know how practices are in Spain, with a lot of intensity and focus on transition defense. We know that even looking as calm as he looks (for our standards), he demands a 100% effort from his players at all times. We know he will sub whoever is not giving his best on defense. How much impact will the typical coasting during the regular season have on his ability to get something out of the Lakers? I’m not worried with Fish, Kobe or Pau, but rather Artest, Bynum, Odom, Ebanks…

  17. Renato Afonso July 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    15.

    I agree. Having Kwame has our Theo Ratliff/Joe Smith, seems good to me. His defense is solid enough and he actually can get some defensive rebounds. Sure, he sucked as a starter, specially on offense, but his defense as a role player would be enough to convince me.

  18. Here is a nice story what Kobe said in Manila that: “he will end his career with the Lakers”.

    http://www.philstar.com/thedeanscorner/articlescontent.aspx?articleId=706003&publicationSubCategoryId=69

  19. #15 Busboys. Sorry no where in that article did Bynum said he was done with Kareem. He said he was cutting back. The quote: “As long as he doesn’t stop helping me everything is going to be fine.”

    After four years of intense regular coaching I can see where Bynum might feel like he needs a break. Not that I completely agree with it but I can see it. I think it’s a pretty far leap from that to say he tends to bore of tutoring. You’re going to ignore four years of him studying and developing? His growth in those four years was pretty large, I’d say he was paying close attention.

    I love KAJ and think he’s criminally overlooked in any GOAT discussion. He’s my choice for GOAT. That said, KAJ has a long history of being very prickly and not a great communicator. Part of the reason he’s had a hard time getting a job. I think it’s a testament to Bynum’s dedication that he had regular contact with KAJ for four straight years without once making any complaints. This when he’s started at 17 and could be immature like any other teenager.

    I don’t see anything in that article or in other things I’ve read that he disrespected KAJ at all. He’s always spoken highly of KAJ. In that article, Bynum just wanted some time off and less daily instruction. He even noted: “Bynum said he still intends to work with Abdul-Jabbar in practice and watch film with him, but acknowledged their work won’t be as extensive as it was in the past. ”

    I just don’t see the basis for your argument and belief.

  20. None of the Lakers moves, picks, trades will mean anything unless kobe bryant is willing to share the load and the credit on offense. I think this year was a big wake up call for everyone. If kobe is willing to play within the team. we will win. Even if we keep it the way it is. You have to play a team game. Being around a team dynamic (as most people that comment arent) I can tell you that I would HATE to play with kobe, this year he played like that guy at the rec center who thinks he’s better then he is and doesn’t pass and takes all the shots, even if he is the best player on the court it gets old quick. It’s not fun to play with someone like that and its funny to me that he is getting worse with age not better about that. I think Pau has hinted at getting more touches, bynum has hinted at getting more touches. Before you couldn’t argue because we kept winning (barely) but now he needs to wake up and look at a stat line that looks more like 33mins, 20 6assts 4rbs. He needs to take a step back and pick his spots better. The best game the Lakers played and looked dominant in was the game kobe played fewest minutes but attacked the rim (against new orleans when he dunked on okafor) this is not a secret, its not a mystery. Kobe needs to play team ball. He’s still the man and he has a unique opportunity to show people he did it Michael’s way, and now he can do it magic and bird’s way. win a couple more rings and retire on top.

  21. This is a Laker blog. Even here we have the tinge of Kobe haters.

    Sorry people, life just ain’t all Black or White. We even invented religion to describe some absolutely White – and absolutely Black – kind of world.

    We live in greys and always will. Sorry that is how the universe is built.

  22. I sure hope Kobe doesn’t do it Magic and Bird’s way for retirement.

    Magic – forced out of game due to AIDS right when Lakers had finally acquired a solid combo guard in Sedale Threatt to address the team’s biggest weakness. Lost in last Finals appearance the year before that to the first of the Bulls/MJ championship teams.

    Bird – Back problems the last 4 years of his career causing him to miss huge chunks of each season. Aging Boston team that was good in the regular season and could get into playoffs as a high seed but that was it.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I don’t want Kobe to follow either of those paths in how they ended their careers.

  23. Chownoir,
    “I think saying he should have learned the basics from 10 years ago is based on bad information. From what I’ve read, he didn’t start playing high level ball until 15 or 16″

    Considering the normal timeline of a basketball player, Bynum is still behind when it comes to his skills. It’s pretty rare for someone who starts so late to ever catch up – it takes a very unusual amount of effort. He hasn’t shown that level of drive to this point.

    Is it possible for him to do so? Certainly. Is it likely? Probably not.

  24. My recollection is that Kareem was disappointed by Bynum’s decision to go on his own, and that Kareem felt he had plenty more to teach.

    As far as Bynum’s improvement, his level of play skyrocketed the season after Kobe’s trade demands. He was an absolute beast for a couple months, and his play was a major reason the team was in first place in the West, before his knee injury. IMO, he has yet to return to that level. Not having to share the paint with Gasol may have contributed to his effectiveness, but overall, although he has become a better passer, he is not as dominant as he was in the months prior to his injury in 2008. He’s lost some explosiveness and his lateral movement has slowed.

    In other words, Bynum has NOT improved much, if at all, since 2008.

  25. #19 Chownoir

    There you go again. The interview was not the only proof. It was an example of Bynum not wanting anymore of KAJ. Bynum speeches against KAJ were discussed on talk radio. I didn’t feel it necessary to search for them because I thought the interview would remind people of his actions. Obviously, it did not affect you the way I intended. While true, Bynum did listen for four years, his biggest improvements were in the last year. His foot work (though deliberate) is better than before, his defensive positioning and challenging of shoots without fouling is also way better than before.

    A better example of the Bynum’s lack of maturity or proper understanding is Phil telling him what the Lakers required of him and Bynum firing back that he wanted to be an All-Star. The Lakers did not need an All-Star. They required someone to protect the paint, get rebounds, and score down low. Ten points, 15 rebounds, two blocks, and several altered shots is what Phil spoke of and Bynum wanted to be 20 points 10 rebounds. Then all of sudden the light clicks on for Bynum and he follows Phils lead. Voila, the Lakers go 17-1. But the day after Phil leaves what does Bynum say….? I want to be an All-Star and a more focal point on offense. Sorry Chownoir, like you, he just doesn’t get it.

  26. @#24 LT, I think Bynum has shown a lot of development since 08. Much better post moves, better understanding on how to pass out of the post. I’d disagree he hasn’t improved much since 08.

    @#25 Busboys, oh I get it just fine without having to resort to cheap shots. I’ve probably read all the same articles and heard the same interviews. Not once has Bynum been disrespectful of KAJ. He’s always thanked him and given him credit. Bynum has only stated that he doesn’t need KAJ every single day. A far cry from disrespect.

    You and I have complete different interpretations. As for his statement after Phil left, I see nothing wrong with his desire for wanting to be an All Star and wanting more touches.

    Heaven forbid a young talented player doesn’t have high ambitions. Now if he sacrifices the team to achieve individual success, then yes that’s immaturity.

    Heck Kobe complained he had been subliminating his game to Shaq’s even during the threepeat run. But he stayed within the team concept during that run. I guess he was also immature for mentioning that.

  27. @#24 Exhelodrv, I don’t think Bynum is perfect by any means and I think he’s got his share of faults. But I also think he brings a lot to the table.

    What exactly have you seen that makes you say he doesn’t display that level of desire?

    The guy has worked his tail off every single summer to improve his body and add skills. Sure he doesn’t live in the gym 24/7 but he hasn’t exactly been like most other young big men who signed a big contract only to never improve. He’s a far cry from Benoit Benjamin or Stanley Roberts. Compare him to just about any other big young men who came out early. I’d say the amount of work he’s put in would put him among the tops in that category.

    This is a guy who in his first two summers after being drafted went back to Atlanta and stayed a month in his trainers basement. He stated he did that because he didn’t want any distractions, living in the trainers basement meant he could get to working out right away. Even if Atlanta was hotter and more humid than LA. I think that shows a pretty good drive and maturity from a 17/18 year old.

    Whether or not he can achieve his potential due to starting late and his health, who knows? But I think there’s plenty of evidence that Bynum is willing to work hard, accepts instruction and translates it into the court.

  28. http://nbaplaybook.com/2011/06/22/ettore-messina-and-more-post-offense-that-los-angeles-could-run/

    NBA Playbook’s always excellent Sebastian Pruiti on some sets Messina could bring over. The cross screen to get the post man better position and the double big screen with presumably Kobe running through them both look fairly interesting. Assuming Brown incorporates some of the double post sets he said he would take from SA, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the offense turns out next season.

  29. I just love it when history is whitewashed. Messina was an unmitigated disaster in Real Madrid, but as coaches in Europe are the real stars and they are not to be criticised, Messina’s failure is excused. Real Madrid did not have a young team, in fact Real Madrid had a roster full of old players with a just couple youngsters: Prigioni (33), Hansen (32), Lavrinovic (31), Kaukenas (33), Garbajosa (33), Bullock (34), Vidal (29), Hervelle (27), Jaric (32), Reyes (30). All of those players were in the team last season. When Messina left, he blamed the disaster on the players, the front office, even the media. What about himself? He was not to blame, he had chosen the players, trained them and directed them during games, but he had no responsibility in the result. Good luck with him.

  30. john,
    The thing is, Messina is an advisor to Coach Brown, not even an assistant coach. He may well have more influence on parts of the game that way, but it is very hard to see him ‘pushing around’ Mike Brown, unless he wants to be pushed in that direction.

    If Mike Brown is a good head coach he has certainly surrounded himself with people who can add something to the team. I think that is the important ‘take away’.

  31. Of course, and Messina arrives after a long career in which he has achieved significant success. He may well be a positive asset for the Lakers. But you have to tell the whole story including his shortcomings and failures.