From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: This past week, Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. The one-time Laker averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists in his career and was the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year. Payton made three Finals appearances, where he eventually won his one and only championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. Another former Laker is also eligible for the Hall of Fame, and there is much debate about Robert Horry’s chances. While he didn’t put All-Star numbers like Chris Webber, Alonzo Mourning, Anfernee Hardaway, or Eddie Jones, Horry is considered one of the greatest clutch performers in the game. He wasn’t any ordinary role player as he has the fourth most championships in NBA History with seven and is one of only two players to win with three different teams.
From Marc Stein, ESPN:After two seasons in Turkey, former Lakers and Nets guard Sasha Vujacic is determined to force his way back into the NBA. Sources briefed on the Slovenian’s thinking told ESPN.com that Vujacic is working out feverishly in L.A. in hopes of landing an NBA roster spot following his stint with Anadolu Efes that began during the 2011-12 lockout. Word is Vujacic, now 29, has been playing well in L.A. pickup games and plans to stay stateside in pursuit of an NBA deal as opposed to returning to Europe. “He’s in the best shape of his life,” one source offered, “which is saying something because Sasha has always taken care of himself.” Vujacic last played in the NBA with New Jersey in 2010-11.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: When you talk about the guy whose game opened the door for Dr. J and eventually Michael Jordan and all that followed, it was Elgin Baylor. He would get the ball out at the top of the key and could blow by his defender to dunk going either way, or if you pulled back to stop the drive he would knock down the jumper. He was a gifted passer and one of the best rebounders at the three the position has seen. You want numbers? Baylor finished his career averaging 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. He was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, 10 time All NBA First Team, and an 11 time All Star. He is in the Hall of Fame (plus went on to coach for four years and be the Clippers GM for 22 years, but that didn’t go as well as his career). Happy birthday to Baylor, who turns 79 today. Here is a look back at his game.
From Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: Kobe Bryant’s 2012-13 season ended in gruesome fashion when he tore his left Achilles tendon during an April game against the Warriors. Well, it actually ended after the Lakers’ All-Star guard walked back onto the court after a timeout to take two free throws following the initial injury.That decision to keep playing rather than head immediately to the locker room — not to mention the fact that he made both shots — will always have a place in Kobe lore. While speaking with Nike employees at the apparel manufacturer’s Oregon headquarters on Friday, Bryant explained what exactly was going through his mind at the time of the injury, which occurred as he attempted to drive to his left past Harrison Barnes.“When I first did it, right there, I was trying to feel if the tendon is there or if it’s gone,” Bryant recalled, in comments recorded by Nike. “I realized it wasn’t there. I was literally trying to pull the tendon up so hopefully I could walk and kind of hobble through the last two and a half minutes and try to play.” It’s safe to say that the free throws were just the beginning of his plan.