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With the 19th pick……

Kurt —  June 17, 2007

With the 19th pick in the SB Nation (and friends) NBA Mock Draft, the
Los Angeles Lakers select Rodney Stuckey, guard from Eastern Washington University.

After considerable effort to make a trade that might mollify a certain cranky superstar, none of which came to fruition, we had to make the pick and went with the best player left on the board. There are questions about Stuckey because he played at a directional school, but scouts across the board think he can score consistently at the NBA level and is a combo guard in the Ben Gordon, Randy Foye mold. If he can score like that, there’s a corner for him in the triangle.

Sick and Tired

Kurt —  May 30, 2007

Power.

It’s all about power. The last few days of the Lakers soap opera has been about power, the power to control the direction of the franchise. The power of trust. Kobe’s power as the star player. Jerry Buss’ power as the owner. Jim Buss’ power as the heir apparent. Mitch Kupchack’s power. Jeannie Buss’ power. Jerry West’s power. Magic’s power. Phil Jackson’s power to try to bring it all back together.

And I’m sick of it all, weary of the four-year-olds fighting over the sandbox.

Any regular reader of this blog knows how I feel about the soap opera surrounding the Lakers — I despise it. I like it as much as I like the trend of flopping. I started this blog in large part because I wanted to talk about the Lakers on the court at a time all regular media wanted to talk about what Shaq thought of Kupchak and who Kobe’s wife was talking to at games. I just wanted to talk about the games.

And yet, in the last few days I got sucked into the front office power struggle made public, the “who is the insider?” soap opera. Certainly all this impacts the team on the court, but it’s still more General Hospital than NBA professional. And I feel like I need a shower just following it.

Is it really all that hard for Kobe, Jim and Jerry Buss, Mitch, Phil and anyone else in the loop to sit down in a room and talk? Is negotiating through the media really necessary? Don’t successful organizations have a master plan that everyone is aware of and working toward? Isn’t talking things out face-to-face what good managers and mature adults do? Not everyone has been mature, but now everyone is being immature.

These are the days that try fans’ souls. It is the kind of day that makes me question my fandom (which Dan said so well) and makes me question blogging about it all.

Kobe says he’s tired of talking. I think I speak for a lot of fans when we say we’re sick and tired of this whole situation, too.

Maybe it costs me a bunch of readers, but I’m stepping away from the edge of insanity for a couple days. Write what you want in the comments, but I’m done updating who is fighting for what part of the sandbox for now.

I hope that Kobe and the entire front office can get on the same page, start pulling in the same direction. Like Kobe says in his latest diatribe, I love the Lakers as a franchise and want to see it return to winning. Maybe that is without Kobe, although I’d prefer him to stay.

But the last few days made me queasy. And I need a break from it.

Commenting Guidelines

Kurt —  May 11, 2007

One of the beauties of the Web is the blend of diversity and community — the fact that basketball fans, Laker fans, from around the nation and the globe can get together and talk hoops. The community that has built up at this humble little blog the best thing about it.

And that community has grown — with the playoffs and a few higher-profile links, a lot of new people have found FB&G. Everyone’s welcome, you’ve added a lot to the discussion.

My goal is to keep the site fun, the smart tone going, and to have thoughtful discussions of what has happened and what could happen (or maybe should) with Lakers basketball and the NBA.

So, to that end, here are some “commenting guidelines.” There are no hard-and-fast rules, but if we can all live by these I think the discussion will remain at a high level. Here we go:

1) Don’t use profanity.
2) This is a basketball blog, keep the focus on the Lakers and other hoops — leave politics at the door.
3) The goal is discussion, so try not to make multiple comment posts in a row (that is a lecture, not a discussion).
4) The goal is not an argument — don’t start one or bait other commenters into a fight.
5) No personal attacks on other commenters.
6) We use complete sentences here, not ALL CAPS or short cuts u luv. This is not an IM conversation. That said, there’s no need to mock others grammar.
7) Talk of potential trades, ideally ones that have been reported as things team management is thinking of, is okay. Posts of fan fiction speculation on how the Lakers can land KG (or whomever) are not. (There is no shortage of other Lakers sites that welcome that kind of speculation.)
8) Try not to make the same point over and over, the goal is a ranging discussion.
9) Don’t drink and comment. We’ve all done it and it’s not pretty.
10) Basketball is a game; don’t confuse it with the really important things in life.

And have fun. That’s why we’re all here.

Magic, Nash and Some Blog Talk

Kurt —  February 14, 2007

There is so much great and interesting stuff put out in the basketball blogsphere the last couple days that to just talk about Lakers’ lack of focus on defense last night seems masochistic. So today bask in the sunshine, the darkness may creep back in tomorrow.

Let’s start with friend-of-this-site Nate Jones of Jones on the NBA, who takes a look back at Magic Johnson’s 1996 comeback (read the entire thing, this is just an excerpt).

Magic would return to the Lakers as a 6th man on January 30, 1996 against the Golden State Warriors. After not playing in an NBA regular season game for almost five years, Johnson came back and had a tremendous impact on the team. The Lakers planned to use Magic as a back up power forward/6th man for the young Laker squad. In his first game back he played 27 minutes, scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists. He would have his down points (such as the drubbing he and his young teammates took at the hands of the mighty 72 win Chicago Bulls), but for the most part had the Lakers rolling.

They were 13-5 in his first 18 games back with the team when the jealousy of the younger players started to set in. Cedric Ceballos, an All-Star the year before, became upset that he had to give up some of his minutes to Magic and decided to take out his frustrations partying on a lake in Arizona. Despite the Lakers victory against the Western Conference leading Seattle Sonics, Ceballos bailed on the team, upset that he only played 12 minutes and scored 2 points while Magic played 34 minutes, had 14 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds. With Ceballos missing and controversy hanging over the team’s head, the Lakers would end up losing their game two nights later (against Seattle again). Ceballos would join the team again in Orlando (where they upset them at home…a big deal considering Orlando was undefeated at home up until that point), but the team was never the same. Guys like Nick Van Exel started to join Ceballos in their jealousy of Johnson. The team was winning, yet the young guys were too worried about their minutes and who the leader of the team was to enjoy it. The Lakers got through the regular season going 22-10 during Magic’s return. But by the time the playoffs rolled around the fight over team leadership had torn the team apart. Despite having home court advantage in the first round, the Lakers would eventually lose to the defending champion Houston Rockets in four games. Realizing that he wasn’t cut out for playing with young players Magic left the Lakers for good.

I was at that Golden State game and it is one of my fondest memories as a Laker fan. The building was electric, like a playoff game but one you just knew was going to go well. I remember Magic setting up in the low post then making brilliant passes out of it that left Golden State looking like a YMCA pickup game team on defense. It was, well, magical. And thanks to Nate for bringing up those fun times.

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Kevin Pelton has put up a story talking about just what Nash — and his absence the last few games — means to the Suns.

Over the last two-plus seasons, Nash’s primary backup has been Barbosa. Barbosa has matured into an explosive scorer with lightning quickness, but he is no Nash, particularly when it comes to distributing the basketball.

Phoenix’s ability to play without Nash can be evaluated by Nash’s net plus-minus rating over the last three seasons – the difference, measured per 100 possessions, in Phoenix’s play relative to opponents. As the table at right shows, the Suns have become more dependent on Nash this season. Only two players in the league (Washington’s Gilbert Arenas and Dallas’ Devin Harris) have higher differentials. Most of the difference, predictably, is on offense: Phoenix’s Offensive Rating drops from 119.6 with Nash to 105.4 without him.

What’s interesting is that Nash missing games, and the struggles the Suns had in his absence, two years ago helped him to the first MVP trophy. That could happen again, which I will add I think is grossly unfair — you are punishing Dirk for not getting hurt (or Kobe or Wade or whomever). Long way to go in the MVP race, but this will be interesting.

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The biggest news in the NBA blogsphere, which many of you already know about, is that the amazing True Hoop is now part of ESPN.com’s empire. I can tell you this has bloggers buzzing.

I think it’s fantastic — both for Henry and the multitudes of NBA fans who didn’t know what they were missing. His is the best basketball blog out there, leading the field like Secretariat at the Belmont. He deserved to get paid (and get paid, well, one could hope). Also, credit is due to Royce Webb (I assume he pushed for this) at ESPN.com for pulling together a bunch of diverse basketball voices at his corner of the Web. You may not love Hollinger or Stein or Ford, but what you get at the site is not the same old talking heads saying the same old stuff. They get it; there is a diversity of voices.

True Hoop’s move has a lot of bloggers wondering what the next step is for the NBA blogsphere in general, and how they can get paid (at least something) in particular. And I’m really a guy without good answers to those questions. I think I’m just starting to get my head around the niche of blogging about the NBA (and in my case an NBA team) fits into the larger blog and online media as a whole. I’m behind on that learning curve. I’ve tried to broaden out doing more mainstream-style blogging at LAist — I don’t really question my ability to write well enough for a more mainstream audience, but to do that well without dumbing down the content is another matter. I think I’m getting better at it. I hope I can take better advantage of future opportunities that roll my way.

But here’s the bottom line — I started FB&G with no expectations. No expectations of readers, certainly no expectations of income. What this has grown into (a community of smart, thoughtful and passionate basketball and Laker fans who can have civilized discussions) is beyond what I dreamed. And I guess what that means is this — I’m not changing the style here. There are professional bloggers doing Laker blogs that are fun and a more mainstream. If I’m going to get paid for this site, well I guess the mountain will have to come to Mohamed (so to speak). Because I like it here.

Thanks

Kurt —  January 29, 2007

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to Rob and Gatinho for filling in for me while I went to bask in the sun. They did a great job with interesting posts. I’m back now, complete with flip-flop tan lines on my feet, and eager to talk Lakers and discuss what NBA All-Star is most likely to grab headlines for an off the court incident in Vegas All-Star Weekend.

Aloha

Kurt —  January 19, 2007

I can’t take these brutal Southern California winters, I mean it barely got up to 65 degrees yesterday. How can a man live in these conditions?

So, my family and I are off for 10 days in Kauai, where the low yesterday was 70. While I may watch a Laker game while sipping on a fruity blended drink with a little paper umbrella in it, I will not be blogging. I’m leaving FB&G in the more than capable hands of Rob and Gatinho, who will take very good care of the place while I’m away.

Aloha.

Tickets Wanted

Kurt —  January 11, 2007

Regular readers and commenters here may recognize Xavier, a Laker and hoops fan living in Barcelona.

He’s using his spring break to come to Los Angeles and is going to try to catch a couple of Laker games — but buying tickets while overseas has proved problematic for him. Most of the ticket exchange places won’t ship outside the United States.

So, he’s looking for a little help — if you have tickets to the April 1 game against Sacramento that you are willing to sell, Xavier will buy them off you. (He already has tickets to Memphis the previous week.) If you want to help, send him an email.

Thanks for helping out. And by the way, if you’re still wondering who Xavier is, maybe you remember over the summer when he wrote this:

please, DON’T SING SHAMOND WILLIAMS.

the 2 teams of my city are Joventud ( rudy fernandez’s team) and Barcelona ( JC Navarro, Pau Gasol ex-team… and Shamond Williams last team)

ACB (spanish league) is the strongest domestic league in europe and it’s doubtful that if a player can’t play great basketball or to show potential there, he wont contribute in the NBA. and shammond was just above average playing the PG. Sergio Rodriguez played better than him, he’s younger and was drafted 1 spot after Farmar.
This season Shammond was a shoot first player who wasn’t a great defender and who had some important turnovers… i think that Wafer will play a better basketball for the lakers than Williams, and Wafer it’s not the answer so imagine.

Thank You

Kurt —  November 10, 2006

Today is the two-year anniversary of Forum Blue & Gold, and I just wanted to quickly say thank you to all of you who have made this place a regular stop.

The comments that came in last night are a perfect example of why I’m proud of what this little blog has become. In case you missed it, John R. made a comment and threw in some stats about the Lakers getting favoritism from the refs. What followed was an interesting discussion, with both Derek Banducci and Rob using statistics they keep to bolster their arguments. It’s well worth the read (and maybe it’s own post next week).

It’s those comments — and many more like then from many more commenters — that make this so enjoyable for me. Smart discussions take place and I learn new things and alter my views from what I learn from the people who stop by. That’s more than I ever expected. And many new doors have been opened for me. The site has grown from that first day when I had 21 visitors (thanks Mom), now more than 230,000 have stopped by. But even with hundreds and hundreds coming by every day now, the site has retained its intimate feel (as intimate as one gets on the Web). And, most importantly, the discussion has remained sharp.

So thanks. And keep coming by, this is shaping up to be a very fun season.