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Here is Part 2 of Forum Blue & Gold’s interview with Lakers sideline reporter, Mike Trudell. Trudell also has his Twitter account at @LakersReporter and does a lot of work (writing/podcasting) for Lakers.com. If you missed Part 1, you can go here.

In this part, we talked about the Lakers’ summer and the different personalities of the roster.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Let’s talk about the Lakers. Were you surprised with the Steve Nash acquisition or were you saying, “It was Mitch being Mitch. Of course, he’d pull off that deal!”

MIKE TRUDELL: It’s a little bit of both. I remember my first year traveling on the team plane in 2008-09, when there were some questions about how the team would fit, if it were enough to win, what would happen when Kobe (Bryant) eventually retired and so on even though the team seemed like title favorites. My thinking was: “Just look at the history of the Lakers. They always get the best players. Why would that change?” And I think that’s what we saw in Mitch Kupchak’s press conference with Nash. He was asked if he were surprised to be able to acquire the two-time MVP, and in one sense it was certainly a surprise just because of L.A.’s lack of the type of assets other teams were offering for Nash and it was with a division rival in Phoenix. But in terms of getting great players, it was no surprise at all; that’s what the Lakers always do. So Kupchak said something like, “You know, people wanna play here. We’re the Lakers.” It’s a great city. It’s the best fan base. There’s a gravitas to playing at Staples Center that opposing players always talk about. Moves like that are how Dr. Buss and his son Jim alongside Kupchak operate.

FB&G: What about Dwight Howard? Did that deal seem inevitable?

MT: I wouldn’t use the word ‘inevitable,’ but that one did seem more likely based on what Orlando was looking to do. The whole “whether or not Dwight wanted to come/ stay to/in L.A.” was way overblown, however. I thought that was the kind of thing that would take care of itself once he got to the city. As he said during his press conference, he was walking around (in L.A. doing his back rehab this summer) and talking to people on the streets. He experienced the pleasures of the city – the warmth without humidity, the tons of places to eat and things to do and so on – and said he was influenced by all of the Lakers fans constantly telling him they wanted him to come to Los Angeles. I think a lot of the people around the organization recognize that any player who comes to L.A. and plays for the Lakers wants to stay, and we’ve seen that historically. Now, the basketball reasons on why it wasn’t a surprise ramped up when Brooklyn maxed out Brook Lopez, and Andrew Bynum remained the biggest trade piece to be used to acquire Howard.

FB&G: People are always curious about Mr. Kobe Bryant, #24. You’ve talked to him plenty of times. What is something about him that the general audience doesn’t know about yet?

MT: The Kobe that I’ve observed is constantly cracking jokes around the practice facility and at arenas around the league with his teammates on one hand, and doing a lot of teaching with younger players on the other. There’s still this perception of him as such a killer and that’s certainly true on the court, but when you talk to the guys at the end of L.A.’s bench, they speak about Kobe like he’s the coolest big brother of all–time. That might surprise some people who think he’s in there cracking the whip and yelling and screaming every time Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock doesn’t pass him the ball at practice. If you talk to Morris, for example, he speaks in reverential tones of the knowledge about the game that Kobe hands down, sharing his weight lifting and nutritional routines and, more than anything else, his basketball knowledge. Bryant is very free and willing about that with teammates.

The second thing that I’ve noticed most about Kobe is that he’s very, very coachable if he thinks you have something to tell him. You would think he knows everything about basketball at this point, but he spent a lot of time with certain coaches last year as well as the training staff towards developing new methods in training his body. He really has this kind of insatiable, maniacal desire to continue to get better. That’s something I’ve always found interesting. He’s like a sponge when he actually believes somebody can help him. Finally, I try to talk to him about anything but basketball when there’s a moment just as a refresher – music and soccer are the most common topics.

FB&G: You said funny. Is he the funniest guy on the team? Or is someone else the main prankster of the team?

MT: Once Lamar Odom left, Kobe climbed up a bit. L.O. was more of the guy that was always funny and engaging and kept everybody loose. Kobe’s humor is more like what a senior captain would say to the new freshmen on the team. It’s a little bit more direct and cutting. Like the Jeff Ross-type of biting humor.

But the funniest guy on the team? We’re going to have wait and see come October when the new guys arrive, but I happen to think that Nash is actually really clever and funny. He’s such a nice guy that I doubt he cracks jokes at the expense of his teammates, but I’m gonna put him as the early favorite for actually coming up with things that would overtly make me laugh.

FB&G: That seems like a tough one. There’s Dwight Howard on the team who seems like a pretty funny guy and we all know about Ron/Metta. This is going to be a tough one to decide, I’m guessing.

MT: Metta World Peace always makes me laugh. I do think that he’s funny. But I just wrote a piece the other day on how Metta takes better care of his body than almost anybody, including from a nutritional standpoint. He even will bring the type of food that he knows he can eat on the road, in case he can’t buy it there. He’ll walk around the locker room with his huge bowl of weird nuts and different proteins. And his body fat is lower than almost anybody’s, especially for how large he is.

FB&G: Favorite interview so far that you’ve had over the years?

MT: My first couple of months on the job, I did a sit-down piece with Odom on camera for Lakers.com that was memorable because he’s so naturally easy to talk to and funny without trying. We discussed which receivers he would have on his team if he were an NFL quarterback, he refused to admit the cut off sweats he wore in practice were capri pants and so on.

The most interesting player to speak with intellectually is either Kobe or Pau Gasol, though I’ve had more chances to sit down with the Spaniard. There have been several interviews in which we end up talking about music, food, culture, the difference between how people are in Madrid and Barcelona, French Philosophy, and, always, soccer (I’m a big fan of his hometown club, F.C. Barcelona). Pau is an extremely bright guy, so he’s always great to speak with.

FB&G: Do you think about doing something else after being the Lakers sideline reporter? Maybe play-by-play, color commentary, or even a studio analyst?

MT: I really try to focus on my immediate jobs, which keep me plenty busy between Lakers.com and now sideline TV for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, so I don’t really think about that. I try to just think about being as prepared as I can because Lakers fans are very smart and unforgiving. You have to be able to give them accurate and good information. To be thinking about other career paths for anything else is perhaps a disservice, especially when I am so happy with the position I’m in right now.

FB&G: I mean, it’s a pretty cool job, right?

MT: Yes, it is. I’m very fortunate.

(And as a bonus, Trudell told us one of his road trip stories.)

MT: My first year (2008-09), the team flew to Oklahoma City at the start of a road trip. Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton wanted to play X-Box but Farmar had forgotten his at home. So he and Walton took a cab to a Best Buy, and came back to the hotel with a new X-Box and a couple of games. When we got back to L.A. at the end of the trip, Farmar told me he already had two X-Box’s at home, and asked me if I wanted the one he just bought. I didn’t have to think very long about that one.

The only catch was that, at times, he would want me to bring it on certain trips as a back up. FIFA soccer was the go-to game at that point and it’s usually him, Walton, Adam Morrison, and Odom playing two-on-two. I played the most with Morrison, who was amazing at it, incidentally. Most NBA players are really just normal dudes who you’d like to be around and hang out with … they just happen to be great at a sport.


We’d like to thank Mike Trudell for his time and this incredible interview. We’d also like to thank John Black, director of Lakers’ public relations and spokesman, for granting us this interview with Mr. Trudell. Once again, you can catch Trudell doing the sidelines for Laker games this upcoming season at Time Warner Cable. Don’t forget to check his work at Lakers.com and Twitter account at @LakersReporter.

You guys may know Mike Trudell. He has been on Lakers.com for the last few years and was the sideline reporter of Laker road games for local L.A.’s K-CAL (Channel 9) last year. You probably also know him as @LakersReporter on Twitter. This year, he has signed up to be the sideline reporter for the Laker games at Time Warner Cable. We caught up with him yesterday and touched on a variety of topics.

This is Part 1 of our interview with Mr. Trudell. We talk about his current gigs and what goes on behind the scenes of his job. Enjoy!

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: First off, congrats on the new deal with Time Warner Sports. How long have you been working for the Lakers?

MIKE TRUDELL: This will be my fifth season. I was “traded” (ED’s note: Acquired his rights.) from the Timberwolves to the Lakers prior to the 2008-09 season. Little-known fact: the Timberwolves have yet to beat the Lakers since I came over here. I think it may have a little bit more to do with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol than me. I wanna say it’s 19 consecutive games.

FB&G: Were you a Lakers fan growing up? Or were you a Timberwolves fan growing up?

MT: I was born in 1981 and the Timberwolves were not in existence for like ten years. So I actually grew up as a Bulls fan. The Bulls were on WGN, at a time which came in on basic TV and no cable. I got hooked on Jordan at a very early age. I didn’t have the pleasure of watching much Showtime other than when they played the Bulls. There weren’t really as many national games; NBC had ‘em for a time and I would watch the Finals. So I grew up as a Bulls fan then I converted over to the Timberwolves once they started. Kevin McHale did color and Kevin Harlan did play-by-play; that was kinda the first time I really got into broadcasting. I was not a Lakers fan.

Right now, since I’ve been covering the league professionally, I don’t really consider myself a fan as much as any team but, certainly, my life is a lot better when the Lakers win. Just easier to cover, more people are happy, and everything is better with winning.

I wouldn’t consider myself a fan; I try to serve the fans, though. That’s really where I keep my role. You’re always gonna have teams that you root for. But you just try to keep it out of your coverage. I do like it when the Lakers do well; I just try not to root for them so much as cover them.

FB&G: Some people think that sideline reporting is easy. I don’t think it is at all. So what goes into your preparation for this job?

MT: It’s certainly not easy. It’s kind of a specific skill. And the way that I approach it is to be overprepared with information because, during the course of the game, you never know what might happen and what you’re gonna be called upon to do. The day before the game, I’ll send a lengthy E-Mail to the producer of the broadcast that highlights anywhere from 10 to 20 stories that I might be able to touch on if they come up.

Let’s say Kobe is about to score his 30,000th point, then I’ll have a good paragraph of stuff… about what the significance is, etc. Let’s say I spoke to Pau Gasol in the locker room the day before and got information on where he wanted to receive the ball that he wasn’t the previous couple of games… that would be a storyline. And so on and so forth. Or I’ll talk to one of the players about what music they were listening to and try to work that into the broadcast during a dull spot of the game if the Lakers are up or down 20. I’ll have a whole list of stuff that I can go to that the producer’s at least aware of so once the game starts happening, I can tap into my mic and say, “Hey, Mark. Kobe’s on the free throw line. I have a story on this.” It really happens that quickly. That’s one way to describe it. But you also have to be completely prepared. Like if somebody gets hurt, you have to be able to go over and know enough information in advance to relay it on the spot. It’s kinda like preparing for a test. You have all the information that you feel like you’re ready to get out to but you also have to know the stuff just well enough to be able to freelance on what ever might come up.

FB&G: It sounds like a very exhausting job. Has something gone wrong yet on your sideline reporting? I’ve watched nearly every Laker game and I haven’t seen anything gone wrong but is there something that I missed that has gone wrong in your reporting?

MT: I was very fortunate not to have any super obvious on-air screw-ups (where I said something wrong). But there are tons of moments you don’t see as a viewer of stuff going wrong. Most often for me was on the technical side. At one point where they tried to go down to me at Detroit, but my mic didn’t go on. So that’ll happen at times. I have an earpiece that has a direct channel to Billy Mac (Bill MacDonald) and Stu (Lantz)… and the broadcast is coming in my ear. At the same time, the producer has an “INTERRUPT” button so if he wants to talk to me, he can press that button and his voice will come over the broadcast. So I’ll be watching and listening and the producer will say, “Trudell, do you have something on this?” I’ll have to keep it in line with what’s going on at the game and, also, throw something back to the producer. Then they want me to go on in 10 seconds. Generally speaking, every single NBA arena has a team that they hire; they have two guys specifically working on audio. There’s the camera guy so there’s all these crazy moving parts and you sorta have to keep track of, in addition to knowing what’s going on in the court and the broadcast. You can’t ignore what Kobe did in his previous possession. It’s challenging but it’s fun. It’s just like a whole other game.

FB&G: So, at least, that brings to light on how difficult your job really is.

MT: It could be difficult, I suppose. But, sometimes, the challenges (also involve) doing the Lakers.com job and the tweeting. I’ll tweet something but then I have to be sure I’m not forgetting about the fact that I could be on air any moment. I know that (one hit, for example) will be right before the second half starts so I have something prepared for that. But I might be waiting there for the commercial to end and I could be tweeting something from my phone and writing up the diary. I enjoy (the whole process), though. I’m very, very fortunate to have the chance to do it.


We’ll run Part 2 of the interview tomorrow. In that part, we talked about the Lakers (of course!). Thanks for reading!

(I was on here as R.R. Magellan, the guy that usually does the goofy game recaps on here. But from now on, I will go by my real name as Rey Moralde. So please note the change. Thanks.)

After the game between the Lakers’ summer league team and the Golden State Warriors (the Lakers looked like a disaster but, hey, it’s Summer League!), we talked to Lakers assistant and summer league coach Chuck Person about a few topics.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: The key young guys like (Darius) Morris and (Andrew) Goudelock. What do you need for them to improve?

ASST. COACH CHUCK PERSON: They need to come out and slow down. Obviously, the summer league guys come out and they’re frantic with their breakneck pace. We need to have them slow down, see the game, make the right play, make the right pass, and then defend. The one thing that a Mike Brown team does is we defend so we need to make sure they do that first.

FB&G: Do you expect them to be contributors on the bench next year?

PERSON: Well, there’s an opportunity. We have a core group that we play with but there’s a chance for a guy like Goudelock to come in… Christian Eyenga… and Darius Morris to get some minutes. If they come out and do the right things and impress Mike and our staff, I think they have a chance to play.

FB&G: What was the biggest problem last season?

PERSON: Down the stretch, we didn’t score the ball like we thought we could. We only shot 42 percent in the playoffs and our defense struggled a little bit, at times. For the most part, we played okay. We just ran up against a tough Oklahoma City team.

FB&G: And, lastly, Steve Nash. You have to be excited for this one.

PERSON (smiles): Well, one of the greatest point guards of all-time. He knows how to run a team. He can facilitate very well and he can make threes. So we’re looking forward to having him our team and being able to get more guys involved in our offense.

We’d like to thank Coach Person for his time as well as Lakers’ PR John Black for letting us have access.

Jeff Camarra, Trey Johnson Horse

On April 13, Trey Johnson came off the bench for the Lakers and scored six points in 13 minutes. At the time, it was a cool story that had some fans wondering if Johnson could be the answer to the Lakers point guard woes. For Jeff Camarra, this was the end of the story.

Camarra, a Knicks fan, read about Trey Johnson after learning that the Knicks were looking to pick up a D-Leaguer, and became intrigued by his story. He emailed the Bakersfield Jam owner, then got Johnson and the NBA on board to film a documentary on Trey’s road to the NBA. After approvals across the board, Camarra lived in Trey’s house for eight days to get a feel for what the day-to-day life is for Trey and all D-Leaguers. All of this resulted in a documentary that could be released shortly after the NBA Lockout ends.

Jeff talked with ForumBlueAndGold about Trey, the D-League and his documentary.

Forum Blue & Gold: What was it about Trey Johnson that initially interested you in making this documentary?

Jeff Camarra: Trey’s perseverance in making it in the NBA was what really intrigued me. He has been the last player cut by the Hornets, Heat and the Lakers. Everyone was picking Trey to be the first player called up after the D-League Showcase, a week when all D-League teams play infront on NBA scouts. This past season was his fourth season in the D-League; most of the players in the development league only play a year or two before going overseas. Because of this, there was more of a sense of urgency with Trey. That’s the big tradeoff for the players in the development league. Players in the development league don’t make the money that they could make overseas, but opt to play in the states for the NBA exposure. Some players might have given up after a couple years in the development league, but its Trey’s commitment that sets him apart from the rest.

FB&G: Were there any other D-Leaguers who caught your eye?

JC: A lot of guys in the D-League have intriguing stories; one player that caught my eye was Antoine Walker. Walker was a NBA-All Star for a few years with the Celtics and won a championship with the Heat and is now trying to get back into the NBA through the D-League. I recognized a lot of names who were great college players; Patrick Ewing Jr, Scotty Reynolds, Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet, etc. But with 20% of the NBA coming through the D-League, I expect the development league getting more recognition.

FB&G: Were you thinking about making a similar documentary before you came across Trey?

JC: I grew up a basketball junkie and dreamed of playing in the NBA. Although my playing days ended after high school, I always wondered what it would be like to live that dream of playing in the NBA. I thought there was a story in the players that take the unconventional route. I knew about the development league, but didn’t learn about Trey until a couple of weeks before we started filming. I read the New York Knicks were interested in calling up a player from the development league and Trey was one of the players the Knicks were interested in. I did some research on Trey and found this diamond in the rough talent who never really got a legitimate shot in the NBA, but he was believed to be the first player called up to the NBA after the D-League showcase. D-League president Dan Reed compared the Showcase to American Idol and I think that’s a very fitting comparison.

Jeff Camarra, Trey Johnson bench

FB&G: What was it like living with Trey for eight days?

JC: Living with Trey was interesting because it gave me a glimpse into the life of a D-League player. These guys all make enormous sacrifices to achieve their dream. I think a lot of people have a preconceived notion that professional athletes have it easy and everything is handed to them, but that’s certainly not the case for players in the development league. Trey has two children who live in Mississippi, where he is from, who he doesn’t get to see as much as he would like. He’s constantly working on his game and in the gym, all to make it to the NBA. He could go overseas and make a very good living, but he always dreamed of playing in the NBA. Overseas has great basketball, but he said he didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in Europe. Seeing someone with so much at stake was inspiring. I hope that’s what people get out of watching this, that what it’s about, a guy working to achieve his dream with so much on the line.

FB&G: How long did it take to put the project together from start to finish?

JC: The planning and preparation of this project was done in just a couple weeks. I first emailed the owner of Trey’s D-League team to get the ok from him and then he put me in contact with Trey. After Trey was onboard, I had to convince the NBA to allow me to film the D-League games, because they own the content. I think they were initially reluctant to allow a group of 20 year olds to film their product, so it took some explaining on our end. I filmed it with three friends (Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew, Nayim Saati and Dan Zinn) with financing from brother Chris Camarra and his business partner Bryan Kobel. Editing down the 100+ hours of footage we got took a few months, from start to finish it was about a five month project.

FB&G: Was Trey open to the idea when you presented it to him?

JC: I think he had some concerns at first, but we spoke through them. I didn’t know Trey at all before calling him and asking to live with him and film him 24/7, so I understood where he was coming from. We documented Trey throughout the D-League Showcase, which is a week when all the D-League teams come to one venue to play in front off all the NBA scouts and GM’s with the hopes of being called up to the NBA. Everyone in the league assumed Trey would be the first player to go up, but he was still under pressure to perform.

FB&G: What was your biggest challenge in putting this project together?
JC: Editing this has been the most difficult. After our last day of filming I flew back to Florida, to finish my last term of college, while the other three guys flew back to New York. Nayim and Dan did the editing and we were sending clips back and forth from January to nearly May.

FB&G: Were you a little disappointed that he ended up on the Lakers and not a Knicks?
JC: When I left Trey and returned to college to begin editing this he was still with the Jam, so I was just hoping a team would called him up. Living with him for a week, we built a friendship and still keep in contact. In those regards, it would’ve been cool for him to play in New York, but I’m glad he got with a team that fits his style of play. A couple weeks after filming he was called up to the Raptors and played under two consecutive ten-day contracts. I thought they would’ve kept him around, but they didn’t. That was a big blow. In the end the Lakers signed him and it looks that situation will be better for him in the long run. The first night I met Trey he scored 31 points and after the game we watched the Lakers play the Hornets in a regular season game, four months after that he was on the Lakers playing the Hornets in the NBA playoffs. I couldn’t think of a better
ending.

FB&G: What do you hope people learn about Trey and the D-League after watching your film?
JC: I hope more than anything people see the grind these D-League players go through and why they do it. I think it’s hard to learn Trey’s story, what he has gone through, and not pull for a guy like this Trey to make it; it’s a real life “Rudy.” The maximum salary a D-League player can make is $25,000 so they certainly are not there for the money. I think when people think of the NBA, they think of the star players with the huge contracts and sponsorship deals. This film isn’t about that. It’s about the guy laying it all on the line to fulfill his dream.

FB&G: When can we expect this documentary to be open to the public?
JC: It’s completed and has been submitted to the NBA for review. It’s tough to say with the lockout, but I would say shortly after the work stoppage.

(For more information about the documentary, you can check out the Facebook page. You can also follow Jeff on twitter here. Photos provided by Jeff Camarra.)