The Lakers are in that weird in-between time where they have a head coach, but since he’s still working for another team others have to speak for him. So, here’s Mitch Kupchak speaking on how Luke Walton’s past has informed his coaching perspective and the style he envisions the Lakers’ playing. There’s insight to be gained from those comments, but in reality, until we get those comments from the horse’s mouth with more detail in the plan to make those things happen, there’s really very little to learn there.
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I don’t often discuss what happens with players off the court. But, dammit if I’m not going to share this fantastic ESPN 30-for-30 short film with you on A.C. Green called “Iron Virgin”.
Green, who had two stints with the Lakers and won three championships (1987, 1988, 2000), was the hard working, blue collar type player most title teams have at least one of. He defended, rebounded, ran the floor, finished inside*, and even had a pretty reliable 15-18 foot jumper. He was a key contributor to the Showtime teams and even made an All-Star game in 1990.
While Green boasted a portable game (he could have been a high level contributor on countless teams), what he was best known for during his career were two traits: his durability and his virginity.
To be honest, I’m still in a bit of shock that Luke Walton is the Lakers’ new head coach. Not because I don’t think he’s ready or didn’t support his candidacy, but because it happened so quickly. Mitch Kupchak said he did not expect to have a coach hired within two weeks, but Walton was hired only 5 days after the team announced they had parted ways with Bryon Scott.
Us being heavily Lakers’ centric here, it is somewhat easy to forget that Walton deciding to come to Los Angeles also means he has decided to leave the Bay Area and the Warriors. Saturday, as that team prepared for his second round match up with the Blazers, they reacted to Walton’s eminent departure:
After Kobe made the announcement this season would be his last, every “last game” against a road opponent became a chance for that team (and, on April 13th, the Lakers) to pay tribute to Kobe in some way shape or form. Some teams did nothing at all, but others took the chance to say “thank you” in some way.
Maybe it was a highlight montage, a former teammate or longtime opponent speaking about playing with/against him, a special lineup introduction, or a shout-out during a quarter break or timeout. What I have tried to do is find every tribute video put together for Kobe and have it live below. If I missed one, let me know. Enjoy.
It’s been two days since Kobe shocked everyone, including himself, by scoring 60 points in his epic farewell game.
In the lead up to and the aftermath of the game there have been so many great stories to read, podcasts to listen to, and videos to watch that I haven’t gotten close to getting through all of them. I joked I might get through them all until the summer is over, which is more accurate than hype.
There is one video, though, that is worth your time right now. Watch this fantastic highlight/tribute video from @Maxamillion711 from Kobe’s last game:
It is hard to think about it this way now after 20 years of amazing play that has made the sublime routine, but Kobe has built a career, no, a legend, off defying odds. It seems strange to say this about someone whose father was an NBA player and has the pedigree he does, but it’s true.
A prep-to-pros guard wasn’t supposed to make a successful jump from highschool to the NBA. He wasn’t supposed to be an All-Star so soon. He wasn’t supposed to be a champion. He wasn’t supposed to win without Shaq. Wasn’t supposed to come back from a torn achilles. Or a broken knee cap. Or a torn up shoulder.
And he sure as hell wasn’t supposed to score 60 points in the final game of his 20 year career.
But he were are. I guess after 20 years of turning impossible moments into expected ones, we shouldn’t be so surprised. Again, though, here we are.
This is it. The end of a season. The end of a career. Both of these carry meaning, but only one of them really matters to me today.
Thank you to Kobe for a wonderful 20 years with the franchise I root for. There has been much written and said over the years, but there has been way more good than bad and the highs provided are ones which will stick with me forever.
I really have nothing else to add. Enjoy the game, folks. Regardless of the outcome and the final score, I know I will.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet and ESPN2 nationally. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.