From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: As a 34-year-old veteran about to embark on his 17th NBA season, Kobe Bryant knows that he’s much closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning. That doesn’t mean, however, that he’s going to quietly fade into the background, even on a team that he described as “on its face, the best talent I’ve been around.” The Lakers might have added a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard and a two-time MVP in Steve Nash since last season, but the No. 1 guy is still going to be No. 24 if he has anything to say about it.
From David Leon Moore, USA Today: Expectations are always high in Lakerland, but this year, with the addition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to go with established stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers’ have inspired comparisons to the team’s last Big Four. That was in 2003-04, when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined forces with Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant to forge a superstar-studded lineup that . . . oh yeah, didn’t win. Those Lakers endured chemistry issues all season, then Malone injured a knee and the Lakers were outplayed badly by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land ‘O Lakers: The fine folks at ESPN Stats and Information have been digging for juicy little nuggets heading into Monday’s media day kickoff to the 2012-13 season, and were kind enough to send them along. Here are a few of the more interesting bits of information, along with milestones to watch for over the course of the year…
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Blake arrived at media day Monday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo in full uniform — and wearing shoes. He didn’t show any limitation when he walked to the various photo shoots and interview sessions. Blake said doctors have cleared him for spot using drills. Nonetheless, Blake said that “cutting, anything that causes friction will open the wound up.” Hence, Blake will be limited for at least three weeks.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The guy really does love to make people smile. So in that sense, this is definitely Dwight Howard’s time. His arrival here – especially with news from Philadelphia that Andrew Bynum’s knee already hurts, a bone bruise contributing to him being sidelined three weeks – has people all around Howard in Southern California smiling simply upon seeing him. Howard knows he stumbled in Orlando as he tried to assume the weight of Disney World. The idea he is now free to be me – and meeting Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show after she voiced a character in Howard’s favorite movie “Finding Nemo” – makes this the undisputed happiest place on earth for him.
From Mike Trudell, Lakers.com: The type of media horde that assembled in El Segundo for Lakers media day on Monday morning usually only converges for the NBA Finals, but with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joining Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in their fresh purple and gold outfits, a massive contingent of journalists was to be expected. Yet with each one having been the media’s go-to guy on an NBA roster, being just one of four was a piece of cake, producing a bevy of interesting story lines. Here’s what stood out from our first chance to hear from the Lakers ahead of what promises to be an intriguing season:
Marc J. Spears, Yahoo Sports: Kobe Bryant won three NBA championships on Los Angeles Lakers teams with Shaquille O’Neal. The 2003-04 Lakers also had a talent-heavy roster that included Bryant, O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, even though they lost in the NBA Finals. And Bryant’s last two titles came with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum by his side. Yet, Bryant now looks around at his current teammates – a star-filled group that includes Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash – and calls this season’s Lakers his most talented supporting cast ever. “On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around,” Bryant said. “Whether that translates into winning a championship remains to be seen. But just on paper you’re talking Defensive Player of the Years, MVPs, and All-Stars. You’re talking about a myriad of things. Guys who are at the top of their position at one point or another. It’s pretty dope.”
Lastly, we leave you with two video clips. First, is Dwight Howard’s talk with TNT’s Craig Sager at yesterday’s media day. Dwight talks his health, his role, and more. Second, here is another installment of “Story time with Jalen Rose” where, this time, he talks the night Kobe went off for 81 points on him and his Raptors teammates. Good stuff here: