When friend of the site and video producer extraordinaire LD2K comes out of “retirement” to drop a Lonzo Ball gem, of course I’m going to show it some love here at FB&G. Happy to present – The Ball Prophecy: Rise of the Lakers:
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It was one year ago today that Kobe Bryant played his last NBA game. Around the league, it was #MambaDay – a celebration of a player whose 20 year career influenced the league like few have. Kobe did not disappoint in his farewell performance, either. Scoring an astounding 60 points on an equally astounding 50 shots, it was more than a night to remember – it was a night which added to a mystique and legend few players in the history of the league possess.
After the game, I wrote the following:
Kobe provided us a night for the ages; he gave us a moment to seal away as ours forever. He turned a night which was supposed to be a sad one filled with teary-eyed goodbyes into a celebration filled with smiles and cheers and did I really just see that? reactions.
In other words, he was Kobe Bryant again.
I will remember this game for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a championship sealing win. There will be no parade down Figueroa. But the feeling of watching a player who has meant so much — to me as a person, to an organization, to a city, to so many fans around the world — was more than just a regular game.
It was one last glimpse into what made 20 years of watching him play such an event and reflective of how he, more often than not, seemed to understand how to turn those events into unforgettable memories. Kobe Bean Bryant. There will never be another quite like him. Goodbye, one last time.
Re-reading those words now, a year later, I still have trouble grasping it actually happened. But now that we are a year removed, it allows us to look back and remember all that went into that night and all the special moments it produced for fans and those in attendance. With that, here are a few of the best posts, videos, and reflections floating around the internet today. Hope you enjoy a trip back in time as we remember #MambaDay.
The Lakers lost to the Wizards on Tuesday. It was their 53rd loss of the season in 74 games. They ended up losing the game by 11 points, 119-108. None of this sounds extraordinary at all. Considering the team’s record after their 10-10 start and the quality of opponent, one might even wonder how the Lakers lost by only 11.
Well, I’ll tell you how. The Lakers led most of this game. They were actually in full control heading into the 4th quarter and it took a 37-13 final frame from Washington to win. You can do the math, then, that the Lakers were ahead by 13 going into the 4th when it all sort of unraveled due to the Wizards turning up their defense, the Lakers missing some open shots, and Tyler Ennis having one of the more rough quarters I have seen for a guy who never got subbed out.
Anyways, that’s the background to the collapse, but the Lakers got to the point where they were comfortably ahead by having one of their best stretches of basketball of the season during the 3rd quarter.
I still remember watching the press conference and not really believing what I was seeing. There was Jerry West standing next to a 24 year old and in his prime Shaquille O’Neal, posing for pictures after announcing he had signed with the Lakers. The entire thing seemed surreal.
Before Kobe was Kobe, Shaq was the savior. The Lakers had recovered from the Magic Johnson HIV announcement 4 years prior to build a winning team. They saw their win totals rise from 33 to 43 to 53 the three previous seasons to his arrival and then West, in all his mastery, carved out cap space and opened up the starting C spot (by trading Vlade to the Hornets for the rights to Kobe) to make his run at Shaq. After finally getting the game’s best young big man to sign on the dotted line, West almost looked more relieved than happy. He knew the Lakers were really back.
D’Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Cavs and he brought an offensive explosion with him. Russell shot the lights out, scoring a career high 40 points while dueling with Kyrie Irving the entire night. It was quite the sight to watch Russell score almost at will and from all three levels of the floor:
HIGHLIGHTS: D’Angelo Russell sets a new career-high in points with 40, connecting from downtown seven times. pic.twitter.com/halIIWjZYz
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 20, 2017
Sometimes it’s just fun to revel in the potential of one of the young players. Russell’s ice in my veins shooting, Randle beasting and showing an ability to put together counters to pet plays, and, well, Brandon Ingram fully extending with a go-go-gadget dunk over Malcom Brogdon after driving by Giannis Antetokounmpo:
Larry Nance Jr. lives to put people on posters. Against the Warriors, David West became Nance’s latest victim, finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffering the consequences for it.
(h/t to @cjzero for the clip)
There’s really nothing else to say except damn, you lived a good life David West. We’re all sorry it had to end at the hands of Larry Nance Jr.
If you look only at the cumulative stats, Brandon Ingram is not having a very good preseason. He’s shooting 41% from the field, scoring 8.1 points a night, grabbing a little over 2 rebounds, and dishing almost 2 assists a game. For most of the team’s 7 exhibition contests, he could be seen floating around the perimeter, looking more like a ball moving role player than the 2nd overall pick in his draft.
Over the past couple of games, however, Ingram is starting to find his way. On Saturday, in the 2nd half against the Warriors, coach Luke Walton put the ball in Ingram’s hands to be more of a facilitator. This unlocked his ball handling and shot creation ability (for him and his teammates). But more than that, it engaged him in the process of making the offense work.
In Wednesday night’s loss to the Warriors, Ingram again was more engaged and looking for his offense even when he was mostly playing off the ball. As the game progressed, though, Ingram was again put back in position to facilitate and again he thrived. His fourth quarter was one of efficiency and offensive aggression — he poured in 14 of his 21 points and half of his 4 assists while playing the entire period.