From Daniel Mulitauopele, Lakers Nation: It’s not enough. In the sociology world (yes, it’s awesome), there is a term called social capital: the idea that increased human networks allow for greater productivity among people groups. Alex de Tocqueville noted in the 19th century that Americans often meet in groups to discuss all realms of the public sphere, and that openness allowed for increased efficiency when dealing with social problems. Social capital, in essence, is the stored use of all positive social interactions.Yes, the definition gets kinda fuzzy, but we see its use all the time in our public square, and especially when we’re dealing with professional sports stars. Kobe Bryant had a plethora of social capital (generally good standing under common scrutiny) that he could have used to increase his place as a sports icon. Dealing with rape charges in 2004 depleted it. No Twitter account can replace what could have been. Dwight Howard was generally considered a fun-loving, amiable superstar. That social capital was nearly bankrupted after the “Dwightmare” fiasco that was finally resolved this past summer. One can see the effects that social standing has on a superstar of Bryant or Howard’s caliber; sometimes it’s as real as monetary loss.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Kobe Bryant played more than 40 minutes for the 13th time in his past 14 games. Bryant going nonstop the entire second half has somehow become standard protocol. And upon seeing Danilo Gallinari’s 3-pointer drop to boost Denver’s lead back up to six points with 13.8 seconds left, Bryant very uncharacteristically let his shoulders dramatically slump and his head hang low. Steve Nash looked around the Lakers’ locker room when the loss had sunk in Sunday night and summed it up with three words: “Guys are down.” The guy whose injury return and ability to make others better was supposed to save the season saw the depression – and not the first depression – the players would have to overcome, saying later to reporters: “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. … We can’t give up on ourselves.” Mike D’Antoni left his postgame news conference Sunday night and needed a big, deep breath just to get going back to his office … and when you take into account training camp, D’Antoni has coached only half the season. Everything comes so, so hard for the Lakers. It’s not easy; it’s not fun. It’s just too hard. It’s not how teams win championships.
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The New York Daily News is reporting that a league “source” has told them Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard nearly came to blows after a loss to the 76ers. Lakers sources, however, maintain the claim is “simply not true”. Late last night a report from the New York Daily News began to circulate the internet that Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant nearly came to blows after the loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. “Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant just can’t get along, and there’s a team in Brooklyn that might be waiting to pick up the pieces.” A league source told the Daily News that the Lakers stars got into a heated exchange following a New Year’s Day loss to the 76ers, and Bryant went for a low blow – referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms of Howard being soft. ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne immediately shut this story down last night via Twitter.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Metta World Peace predicted during the summer that the new-look Los Angeles Lakers would give the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ historic 72-10 record a run for its money. Oh, how things have changed. Following the Lakers’ 112-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday that dropped their record to 15-18, the Lakers weren’t talking about the 70-win plateau or even championship aspirations.The bar has been lowered so far that several members of the team were focusing on using the final 49 games of the season to simply qualify for the postseason. “I’m concerned,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “Everybody’s concerned. You say, ‘Oh well, we’ll turn it around’? Well, we’ve got to do that. Yeah, there’s concern. The hole’s not too big. Mathematically, we can still make the playoffs. We just got to figure out our identity and play better. We’re just not playing well.” The Lakers are in 11th place in the West and three games behind Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: It was an odd thing for the coach of Team Dysfunction to say.His star players have repeatedly exchanged angry glances and gestures, a 7-footer has griped about being misused, a reserve has openly complained about not being used at all … and somehow none of it explains the Lakers being three games under .500? “I understand it a little bit,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said of his team’s chemistry concerns before things worsened with a 112-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at Staples Center, “but everybody has a job to do. The only thing we can ask players is to play as hard as they can. Whether you’re happy or not doesn’t really matter if you are playing as hard as you can.” D’Antoni unfortunately had more to say.
“You don’t have to love each other,” he said. “I’ve been on a lot of championship teams in Europe where there’s edges and we don’t go out to dinner every night. That is not why we’re losing. We’re losing right now because we don’t have a consistent 48 minutes of good basketball.”