From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Phil Jackson never liked to compare Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan. Believe me, I tried everything. Sometimes I’d ask him after random Lakers practices or before games against Charlotte, the team Jordan owned. Or after games in Chicago, where nostalgia hopefully would add to the mix. There would be a little nugget here, a tiny nibble there, but nothing that mattered. It’s coming out now, though, in Jackson’s 339-page memoir co-written with Hugh Delehanty and available Tuesday: “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.” MJ vs. Kobe? Here it is from the man who would know best. “Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around,” Jackson said in the book, which was obtained in advance by The Times.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: Barring some magical turn of events, the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans will be in a situation they haven’t seen in nearly two decades next year. They will play (or watch) the entire season with hopes for success, but they will do so with one eye firmly cast on the year ahead. Steve Nash will still be trying his hardest, of course. We hope Kobe Bryant will make an appearance, and we hope Dwight Howard decides to stay, too. Combine those three players with either Pau Gasol or whatever more suitable pieces can be found for him, and you have the foundations for a formidable roster on paper. Sure, we now know just how badly “on paper” can go, but it is still the only way you can assess how good a team can be in advance while you prepare for the season to come. Under normal circumstances, making sure they have the best team possible for next year would be the only consideration of the Lakers front office for the next few months, but circumstances are not normal. In fact, they may never be “normal” again.
From News Services, ESPN: Kobe Bryant and an auction house that wants to sell memorabilia from his high school days and early pro career are heading for a trial next month, unless they can work out a deal before then. U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb on Monday set June 17 as a trial date, but also set a court-guided mediation session for Friday in a case that’s the manifestation of an ugly family dispute that all sides seem to want to resolve quickly. “Maybe I should have had you bring your witnesses today and we would have tried the case,” Bumb said at a hearing. “You’re all so ready to go.” The main reason she didn’t schedule the trial for an earlier date was that Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, said he could not get to a trial sooner because he’s coaching a Thai team in the Asian Basketball League playoffs. The animosity became public earlier this month, shortly after Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions announced its plan to auction off Bryant’s mementos, which date to his days at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia. Goldin’s April 30 announcement promised a June sale of the 100 items of a collection provided by Bryant’s mother, Pamela Bryant.
From Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports: In the spring of 2012, after a disappointing second round ouster, then-Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown met with Kobe Bryant to discuss initiating a Princeton-styled offense for 2012-13. With capable big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol already on the team, Brown set to hire former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, a noted Princeton expert and former Laker player, to be his lead assistant, with Bryant’s full blessing. Things kind of fell apart from there. The offense was thrown for a loop when the team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash later in the summer, as the Princeton eschews the sort of ball domination that makes a player like Nash so effective. After a winless preseason and 1-4 start to the regular season, Brown was let go as head man. Former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, owner of offensive sensibilities that fly directly in the face of the notoriously slowed Princeton O, was then hired. Jordan, sent to the end of the bench, ended up taking a gig to help resurrect the flailing and failing Rutgers NCAA men’s basketball team.
From Gabriel Lee, Lakers Nation: Remember when Harvey Dent said in the Dark Knight “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain?” Well former Laker Derek Fisher has been dangerously tip-toeing that line since being unceremoniously dumped at the 2012 trade deadline for Jordan Hill and cap relief. Lakers Nation felt empathetic towards Fisher when he signed for Oklahoma City the first time around; he never asked to go from the declining Western Conference powerhouse, the Lakers, to the emerging powerhouse in the West, Oklahoma City. Though he did ask to be released from the Houston Rockets, whom the Lakers dealt him to. Things always tend to work out for Derek Fisher. Since being drafted by the Lakers in 1996 he was never an elite point guard in the NBA, heck he barely cracked the top 20, but with him at the point the Lakers won five championships.