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People may not know this about my basketball fandom, but I love a good rookie.  I watch them on draft night, choose them for my fantasy teams, and read David Thorpe’s rookie report and weekly rankings to see how this year’s crop is performing.  I figure that tomorrow’s best players are today’s rookies and watching them learn, grow, and mature as players is one of the things I enjoy most about basketball.

And while I’m high on the two Lakers’ rooks, Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, this isn’t really about them right now.  They’re bit players on this current team and even though I think they’ve got very good chances of developing into contributors that can make an impact, they’re both probably a year or two away from cracking the rotation on a contending team like the Lakers.

Instead, this is about John Wall and your chance to see him in action next Tuesday, December 7th when the Wizards make their one and only visit to Staples to play the Lakers.  Thanks to the good folks at StubHub*, Forum Blue & Gold is giving away two tickets to the game so you can see Wall (and Arenas and the rest of the Wiz) in action and marvel at some of the things that he can do on the court (and I don’t mean doing the Dougie).  (For those wondering, the tickets are in section 107, row M at the Staples Center.  Pretty good ducats, I’d say.)

Winning the tickets is easy.  All you have to do is tell us about your favorite moment from a rookie in NBA history.  Just go into the comments of this post and relay what rookie moment you’ve found most memorable and why.  The staff here at FB&G will read them, group the best of them, and then randomly select the winner.  That person will win the tickets**.  If you’d like to know mine, it has to do with a young man from Michigan State who played a pretty good game in the playoffs against Philly, but that’s just me.  Surely you have your own moment that you’ve found to be classic or character building or truly memorable that you’d like to share.  So, comment away and we’ll announce the winner in the next couple of days.  Good luck to all!

*A truly special thanks to StubHub for providing these tickets.  If you’re ever looking for tickets for a Lakers game, you can click on the link in right hand side bar.  Or if you’re looking for tickets to any other event, just visit their site and they’ve got you covered.

**While we encourage anyone to enter to win the tickets, local readers are preferred as only the tickets will be provided. Once a winner is chosen I will reach out to you and make arrangements for you to receive the tickets.  When leaving your comment, please fill out the email address section on the commenting box (will not be published) so we have an easy way to contact you.

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Six years ago this morning, I clicked on a little button that said publish and started a blog with this sentence:

Welcome to my attempt at keeping personal sanity in the midst of the swirling vortex of controversy that is the Lakers.

As I remember, 25 people read it, and they all found the site on accident stumbling through Blogger. But to this day that idea is sort of what this site remains, save it’s not just for me anymore.

Six years later, it feels all so different. The Lakers aren’t controversial, they are steady and professional (well, maybe professional isn’t the word I’d use to describe last night’s Timberwolves game). My sanity is fully up for debate, but life feels far crazier.

Forum Blue & Gold is different, but the same at its core. It’s not really mine anymore. But it still feels like home.

For those of you a little confused, my name is Troy McClure Kurt Helin, you might remember me from such posts as “Tip Off” and “Forum Blue?” I was the guy who started this little site as a hobby and had no plans for what it would become or how it would change my life. It really was my little attempt to keep some sanity and have some fun. I had gotten married and was watching more Lakers games focused in at home on a television rather than slightly blurry-eyed at a bar. Then I’d wake up the next morning and read the analysis of the game — not the Lakers beat writers, who have always been good, but the columnists — and think, “what were they watching?”

Basically, I was watching Rudy T’s painful inside-out, live-or-die by-the-three offense (which works fine with Hakeem surrounded by shooters but was a dud in LA) then picking up the paper and reading about what Shaq said about Mitch. I didn’t care. I wanted to talk basketball, and if nobody else would, I just would start my own little site. I modeled it after Dodger Thoughts. Maybe some others would find me and we could have a semi-smart conversation that didn’t involve how anybody’s ass tasted. There was no marketing plan or goals, no thoughts of monetization (which wasn’t even a word yet), no thoughts of getting into the business, there was just me writing and chatting with likeminded souls.

To me, that’s always what FB&G was and will be. It’s why it’s still home.

I wasn’t totally alone. The NBA blogsphere was just a handful of us — me, Mike at Knickerblogger, Jeff at Celtics Blog, Matt at Blog-a-Bull, Henry at TrueHoop, a few others — and all of us just doing it for fun. Just because. No corporate entities and no money. Which makes it sound far more idealistic than it was — it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows.

Things change. The site grew. FB&G became part of the TrueHoop Network at ESPN, because I liked and trusted those people. More people found the site and the conversations became more interesting. The goal was always not just growth but growth in a way that fit FB&G. That’s why no message boards, there are great Lakers message boards out there but the feel on those is different. FB&G was always seemed a little more mature and nuanced, it seemed to me.

I’ve got this new(ish) gig, a new home on the Web. But I view that as my Upper West Side place in NYC. Posh and somewhat high profile (that may be overstating it, but I’m stuck with this analogy now). Urban, and both stimulating and isolating the way a great city can be. I work hard to make it home like I remember. But it means I am rarely around the place I grew up on the Web (I read everything but rarely participate).

FB&G is that home, it is coming back to may parents place in Woodland Hills to see the Christmas lights up and smell peanut butter cookies being baked. It’s Lakers fans talking Lakers, but in a sane way. Most of the time. It’s warm and comfortable.

It’s all that more because of all of you than me. I was just the host, but the party is no fun with just a host. It took Scott, Darius, Reed, now Philip and Jeff and Bill Bridges and so many others. It took all of you. FB&G is a gathering spot, a warm and inviting one hopefully. One where we can really enjoy celebrating Lakers wins with friends.

And hopefully this season, we’ll get to celebrate another big one. Thanks for coming by and being part of the fun.

Yesterday afternoon and through this morning FB&G had some server issues that disrupted the site, leaving the site down for that time period.  My sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused to all of you looking to talk Lakers with us.

This issue is now resolved and we will continue putting up posts this afternoon, starting with some thoughts on Summer League in preparation for today’s game between the Lakers and the Spurs.  Over the next couple of days, we’ll catch up with all the latest news including Raja Bell spurning the Lakers for the Jazz and the likely return of Shannon Brown.  We’ll also continue with our player evals and may even throw in another mailbag.

I was having serious FB&G withdrawls, so I’m happy things are back in order and we’ll update the site soon with some new thoughts.

First, things first: I enjoyed the Lakers win in Portland as much or more than any Lakers fan. It was kind of cathartic. And because of the circumstances for that win, I am now on the bandwagon for having Kobe as the sixth man, coming in off the bench. What do you want in a bench player? A guy who can light up the scoreboard and just comes in and changes the tempo and feel of a game. Does that describe anyone better than Kobe? Clearly, this is the direction Phil needs to go.

I kid, I kid. My quick 2¢: The win in Portland and the team’s play may have had something to do with the locker room mood after the Denver loss. The Lakers, more than any time this season, seemed clearly stunned by that outcome, it hit them in a way other losses have not. It seemed to make them think about how they are doing things, going about the games. At least that seemed to be the feeling. Whether or not that translates into anything beyond a win against a banged-up Portland team remains to be seen, but the feeling was there. And there is plenty of time to right the ship, if the will is there. As a fan, that remains my hope.

While Kobe has been taking nights off, sitting with his feet up in the back of the bus, I’ve been busy at my new project, which launched today: Pro Basketball Talk. Please click the link, come on by and check out my new digs. There’s a great group of bloggers there working with me, and I’m excited about what we can do with the site.

I again can’t thank everyone who reads and comments at this site for all they have given me the last five years. I have loved talking basketball with all of you, I’m a smarter and better basketball fan for it. I see and think of things differently.  This blog will always be close to my heart, and I’ll still be around commenting this year. And celebrating (I hope).

Now you may resume arguing about Derek Fisher.

—Kurt

The Transition Game

Darius Soriano —  January 29, 2010

As you’ve likely read, Kurt is leaving Forum Blue and Gold. He leaves us to pursue the dream of any NBA junkie that loves to talk, debate, and write about basketball – a full time gig covering the entire league. I wish him nothing but the best of luck and plan to bookmark his site the day it goes live. Kurt is nothing short of a legend around these parts (and by “these parts” I mean the entire basketball blogosphere) and he deserves a big congratulations from all of us and a thank you from me. I thank Kurt for creating Forum Blue and Gold. For providing a place for me to come every single day, discuss the team I love, and learn something about the Lakers and the game of basketball. For being smarter, wittier, and more level headed than any other Lakers fan I know. And, most of all, I thank him for handing me the reins of this tremendous site.

First things first, this site and all of its core values are not going to change. FB&G has always been a community that thrived on high level discussion and analysis about the team we follow every day. None of that is going away. In fact, we’re going to try and bring you more of it. More analysis. More information. More topics to discuss and debate with a style and substance that all of us who have called this site home have come to love and appreciate. And that’s where you come in. In order to move FB&G in this direction, I’m going to need some help. I’m going to need more people that love this team to help contribute to the growth and further development of this site. Do you love to break down the X’s and O’s of the game? Are you a person that can’t get enough of the statistics and advanced analytics of basketball? Are you a Lakers fan with a unique take that wants to write about our team? If so, I’m looking for you. And if you’re looking to contribute, get at me. Submit writing samples, links, proposals, etc. to me at lakersfans@forumblueandgold.com

My goal for the future of this site is simple: I want to grow this site while keeping alive the tradition that has been established over the past 5 years. The foundation has been laid, let’s build this thing bigger than ever before and evolve the site to its next incarnation. We’ll be here every single day trying to make this site the best place for Lakers fans to follow our team. I hope to have you join us.

Darius