From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: The Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki (29 percent) and Lakers’ Pau Gasol (29 percent) finished tied as the best power forward in the league, replacing the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, who had been selected as the best at his position for the past eight years. The Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (96 percent) was voted as the top center. The Heat’s James (68 percent) was named the best small forward. The Lakers’ Bryant (86 percent) was voted the best shooting guard. Bryant is currently the only player to have been selected as the best at their position every year of the survey. Thirty-nine percent of GMs believe the Heat will be the most improved team in 2010-11 while 14 percent of general managers feel the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards would be the most improved teams. For the ninth consecutive season, Bryant (79 percent) was also selected by GMs as the player they most want taking the shot with the game on the line.
From Saurav A. Das, Silver Screen and Roll: Amazing. Inconsistent. Talented. Underachieving. Lackadaisical. Leader. Lamar Joseph Odom is all of those, and much much more. As the Sixth Man and arguably soul of this Laker team, he is quite a character, open yet mysterious. Over the 10 seasons of his career to date, Lamar has both amazed critics with both his undeniable yet sometimes unbelievable talent, and his seeming reluctance to put it on display, or even consistently use it for the good of his team. A misfit, an underachiever, a wanderer.. those were the early years of Lamar Odom’s career, his stints with the Clippers, Heat and post-Shaq pre-Gasol Lakers. But then everything changed. With Andrew Bynum’s development, the Gasol trade (with the development of Marc, I refused to call it a ‘heist’, as many are wont to do), and the re-emergence of Los Angeles as a true contender pushed Lamar back to a sixth man role where he would be the third or even fourth option on offense. And he fit like a glove, flourishing in the role. In fact, his statistical best season as a Laker was his first with Gasol. It seems Lamar has finally found his place in this League, as the sixth man and proverbial ‘glue guy’ on the two-time defending champions of the NBA.
From Dave McMenamin via Land O’ Lakers: When the NBA hands the Larry O’Brien trophy over to its title winner every June, it doesn’t dub the team the team as “American champions” or “champions of the United States,” it calls them the “world champions.” Because of that distinction, the back-to-back world champion Los Angeles Lakers feel a twinge of extra pressure headed into Thursday’s preseason game with the 2010 Euroleague champion, Regal FC Barcelona. Normally, the outcomes of preseason games don’t matter much. Remember, the 2008 Detroit Lions were a surprisingly delightful 4-0 in the preseason and a historically dismal 0-16 in the regular season. But the outcome of this game matters more than a little bit more for the Lakers for three reasons: They want to win it for Pau Gasol in his homecoming game against his former team.
From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Amid the din of Pau-a-palooza 2010, as the unofficial king of Barcelona returned to his hometown amid throngs of delighted Spanish fans, came a dose of somber Lakers news. It’s not going to happen this season, the Lakers hope, but Andrew Bynum might be forced to play limited minutes as a career situational player if he suffers one more serious knee injury, Coach Phil Jackson said Tuesday. Bynum has experienced knee problems the last three years, each injury different but nonetheless representing a pattern that has forced Jackson to contemplate the big picture.
From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Coach Phil Jackson gets asked the question every once in a while and is often reluctant to go into great detail with his answer. Who’s better: Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? It came up again thousands of miles from Los Angeles, after the Lakers practiced in Barcelona, Spain, on Day Six of their eight-game European trek. “Well, I guess I’d be about as good a judge as anybody on that, having been able to coach both those players,” Jackson said. “Great competitors. Similarities in their game are great. Perhaps the eras have changed a little bit….” Then he got a little less politically correct. “We love the idea that it could happen, that Kobe could win a sixth ring. I’m sure Michael is watching with great anticipation as to how it’s going to come out too.”
From Michael Lee, Washington Post: Adam Morrison remembers being matched up against Kobe Bryant in one of his first practices with the Los Angeles Lakers. Coach Phil Jackson was trying to get a sense of what the new arrival was made of, less than three years after Michael Jordan had made him the third overall pick of the 2006 NBA draft for the Charlotte Bobcats. The results were as lopsided as one would expect. “He was killing me,” Morrison said. But Bryant didn’t just welcome Morrison to the Lakers with a barrage of post-up moves, pull-up jumpers and fadeaways. Bryant saved his best work for the locker room after practice, when he posed a question to Morrison. “He said, ‘Can you guard me without S.O.S. on the back of your jersey?’ ” Morrison said, adding that Bryant never let up with the trash talk during his time in Los Angeles. “Some of the stuff I can’t repeat.”