Around the World (Wide Web): Sunday Reading

Phillip Barnett —  July 24, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: There are natural athletes. There are natural athletes who take an unusual path to the NBA. And then there is Golden State Warriors forward and South Los Angeles product Dorell Wright. To put Wright’s athleticism in perspective, he didn’t take basketball seriously until the 11th grade. Before that, he was passionate about making the big leagues, and even transferred from Washington High School to Leuzinger for its baseball program. A casual invite to meet the basketball coach eventually resulted in a change of athletic priorities. After graduating from Leuzinger, Wright did another senior year at South Kent School, a Connecticut prep school. But rather than better prepare him as planned for the transition to college, South Kent was Wright’s last stop before jumping straight to the NBA.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: In the inaugural edition of TWITL, I confidently declared that there was nothing I’d less rather be writing about than the NBA’s work stoppage. That statement, it so happens, was incorrect. This past Tuesday I discovered a topic even more unpleasant and spiritually draining, involving Andrew Bynum and his fondness for handicapped parking spaces. At this point I know better than to hope this was a low point in the offseason. In fact, I now fear that Drew’s locked in a spiral of criminality that will soon find us posting articles about how he’s been caught: (a) running guns to Kurdish separatists in southern Turkey,?(b) bilking pension funds and rich dowagers out of millions in an industrial-scale pyramid scheme, and/or?(c) presiding over a black market organ-harvesting syndicate.

From Emile Avanessian, Silver Screen and Roll: To borrow a Yankees analogy (a stretch, I know), if Kobe Bryant is the Lakers’ Derek Jeter, Derek Fisher is Jorge Posada. The steadying influence for five title winners, Fisher has provided the kind of toughness, leadership and timely play a franchise is lucky to find once in generation. He’s done it twice – first bridging the chasm between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and later, the only guy in shorts who dared challenge Kobe, helping to link the Lakers’ monomaniacal great with his teammates. Twelve seasons. Six three-pointers in the 2001 title clincher in Philly. “0.4.” A pair of massive triples (one to force overtime, another to secure victory) in Game Four of the 2009 Finals in Orlando. Eleven fourth-quarter points, including a coast-to-coast three-point play that was nothing short of miraculous, in Game Three of the 2010 Finals in Boston, capped off by the greatest postgame interview you’ve ever seen. Fisher is the Lakers’ rock. He has secured his place in Laker lore and, in my eyes, a roster spot for as long as he wants one.

From David Murphy, Searching for Slava: The cicadas drone in staggered waves, the heat brings headaches – suggestions for pickle juice and Himalayan salt remedies. There’s not much going on with the CBA, the latest revelation was the release of BRI figures which only show that profits increased coming out of a recession while player salaries were  actually reduced. The sides proceed apace on parallel tracks, carved like trolley ruts in cement. I’m reminded of our other national dilemma – the debt ceiling talks. The difference is any sense of urgency – the nation faces default while the league’s battles are a matter of choice, greed and good old-fashioned union busting.

From Matt Moore, Pro Basketball Talk: This lockout is perceived as two sides in a standoff with one another, owners and players. In reality, it’s six sides. You have the rich owners, the poor owners, the moderate owners, the superstar players, the role players, and… the agents. When it gets down to it, the agents are the men behind the curtain in this little play. Those escalating salaries that the owners themselves agreed to with ridiculous, long contracts? The owners are on the hook for them, those were the product of the owners’ decisions. But they were created by the work of agents, forever raising value, forever edging the bottom line (and subsequently their cut) higher and higher. It is the agents advising the players on their money to prepare for a lockout, it is the agents keeping the players in line to whatever degree they can.

From Matt Moore, Pro Basketball Talk: This is like “War of the Worlds.” Besiktas is Orson Wells, we’re the poor, unsuspecting public gathering rifles for possemen to go hunt the little green Martians invading from Turkey. Pau Gasol is the Tom Cruise’s little girl. Or something. It’s not a perfect analogy. This thing is going to drag on for a while. Bryant’s going to continue to solicit offers. Supposedly Bryant and Besiktas are going to meet next week when officials come to the United States for Deron Williams‘ signing. But Bryant’s also scheduled to continue his Nike tour in Asia next week. But hey, facts have never stopped a good story before.

From Kevin Ding: OC Register: It’s quiet across the locked-out NBA these days, but there’s even less chatter in the offices of the Lakers, who parted ways with many familiar faces in cost-cutting moves at the start of the month. Now there is already one tangible loss from the Lakers’ decisions not to renew nearly 20 expiring contracts for trainers, scouts and staffers and save money for services not needed during what figures to be a lengthy lockout. Alex McKechnie, who rebuilt Shaquille O’Neal’s body once upon a time and in this era did specialized pregame training for most Lakers including Pau Gasol, has decided to take his innovation in analyzing core strength to the Toronto Raptors.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: With an indifferent expression, stony silence and a downplaying of each milestone, Kobe Bryant tried hard to show that he wasn’t preoccupied with climbing the NBA’s all-time scoring list. But not many believed him, including Phil Jackson. When I asked the former Lakers coach last season which player Bryant wants to pass on the scoring list the most, Jackson replied without hesitation, “Michael Jordan.” Bryant argued that wasn’t true and continued touting his sole motivation entails trying to minimize the gap between Bill Russell’s 11 NBA titles and his own five. Bryant isn’t lying when he says that’s his main motivation, but it’s misleading to act indifferent about it when teammates, media and the general public know he’s driven to be the best player ever.

Phillip Barnett

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8 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Sunday Reading

  1. The Philippines witnessed an NBA All-Star treat last weekend as a team composed of Playing coach Kobe Bryant, MVP Derrick Rose, scoring champ Kevin Durant, CP3, Tyreke Evans, #2 overall pick Derrick Williams, Javale McGee, Derek Fisher and James Harden played two games against the PBA (Philippine Basketball Ass’n) and the Smart-Gilas (Philippine National Team).

    The first game was more like an All-Star weekend game, no defense and a ton of dunks and highlight plays, with KB24 and company winning 131-105. The second game was excitingly competitive as the Gilas team never let the NBA Stars pull away and kept the game close especially late in the fourth, eventually going down 98-89.

    It was fun and the atmosphere was electric, and the NBA players very much appreciated how the were received in Manila by playing hard on both ends (most notably KB24, CP3, Derrick Rose, and McGee). It was weird but fun to see the Philippine pros taking photos with the NBA players before the game, during halftime, and after the game, but it was more fun to see the NBA stars like Rose, Durant, Harden, Paul asking for autographs and photos with pound for pound boxing champ Manny Pacquiao after the game!

    As a Laker fan, it was awesome to see the Black Mamba in action for the first time, and even more awesome to see him playing serious ball. Fisher really cannot put the ball in the hoop even if it was just an exhibition game… I mean I love Fish, but he was the only player who didn’t score in the first game, and managed just 5pts in the second game, with one field goal! and he couldn’t stay at was constantly beaten off the dribble by the Gilas PG!

  2. Even in the Philippines, Fish can’t stay in front of anyone. Most people would take the hint. I wonder if Fish will.

  3. Oh yeah and Kobe traveled and carried over on the video.

  4. #1

    Nice recap from you. Perhaps, Fish was thinking more of the negotiations he left behind than the game itself while his physical state was on R&R mode which is normal for oldies. lol! it’d take a preseason regiment to warm him up; Secondly, the Philippine teams were competitive in some quarters because there was no D applied by the this NBA selection except for McGee; and thirdly, the latter don’t want to disappoint the hospitality given by Filipino fans, home teams and organizers.

    Philippines is the only country in Asia that has a strong passion for basketball. Despite their handicap in height and other unrelated problems, they stuck to this sport as the national past time. The highest achievement received by the country was a bronze medal at the FIBA world tournament in Rio de Janeiro 1954 and perennial Champs in Asian Games in the 60’s before the resurgence of mainland China.

  5. Let’s not blame Fish for being unable to guard the Gilas PG. The Gilas PG wouldn’t be able to guard the Gilas PG. The NBA stars won, and likely would have lost without Fish’s leadership and half time speech. He is the only person on that team who can say no to Kobe, which is obviously an important factor for winning games. His 5 points in two games were clutch, and more than made up for his sub par performance on both sides of the ball.

  6. Here are links to the game yesterday. A little treat for us fans while waiting for the lockout to end:

    1st half – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwhFaLIBabc

    2nd half – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0r1BVx7dsc&feature=related

    The fourth quarter was pretty competitive, with both teams playing serious basketball as the Gilas team made a run to cut it down to single digits. Interesting to note that 80% of the Gilas players are just about 2-3 years removed from college. Also #11 Marcus Douthit, a newly naturalized Filipino, if I’m correct was a former second round draft pick by the Lakers, as well as a regular training camp invite for LA

  7. 5) LT M,
    You forgot to include “He wasn’t afraid of the moment.”