From Dan Devine, Ball Don’t Lie: When Nike decided to debut a new House of Hoops location in Miami back in October, it commissioned artist Alberto Russo to create a handful of illustrations to commemorate the grand opening. I missed the super dope drawings back then, but thanks to a tip from the indestructible Tas Melas, mine eyes saw the glory at the Behance Network’s website Thursday morning.
From Rick Reilly, ESPN.com: Yes, Ron Artest is crazy. Crazy people think Ron Artest is crazy. But he’s not crazy 24/7. For instance, this morning, Artest is taking his kids to school in his Escalade, not his bright red, open-wheel Indy race car. But he has. “Cops always pull me over, but it’s street legal!” protests Artest, 31. Like so much in the life of the most unpredictable man in the NBA, the Indy car is four parts crazy, one part brilliant. Take, for instance, during the playoffs, when he usually rents himself a Lamborghini. Why, Ron Ron?
From Brian Kamenetzky, 24/7/365: There isn’t a player on the roster with whom Kobe’s relationship isn’t important, because for all their talent the Lakers still orbit around 24. Not that he needs to be hosting weekend barbeques and movie nights down in Orange County, or giving guys complimentary rides in the Kobe chopper, but it’s important Bryant maintain an accessibility on and off the court. He can’t afford to shut down or shut guys out. Talking to Luke Walton earlier in the year about Kobe’s development as a teammate, he described how Bryant is no longer a “my way or the highway” type of leader, but something more collaborative. This is vital for the team’s success. Ultimately, though, it’s Kobe’s relationship with Phil Jackson that is the most important for the team. It’s remarkable to think about how far they’ve come since the original Three-peat squad was broken up, sending Shaq to Miami, Kobe to a temporary but ringless purgatory, and Phil to his study to write a book. A book not terribly well reviewed by Kobe Bryant.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Derek Fisher is a pretty serious guy, particularly when it comes to people pointing out those (generally age related) deficiencies in his game. So it wasn’t surprising, after winning Wednesday’s game against the Clippers with a last second drive past rookie Eric Bledsoe, he poked one of the most prominent “Fisher sucks!” criticisms with a pointy, game-winning, hero stick. “I’ve been in that situation before,” he said, interjecting into his own very well-detailed breakdown of how the play developed. “Many of you have documented how easily guys get around me at the top of the floor. When you’re in the middle of the floor, and a guy can go left or right regardless of what hand he is, it’s a very tough spot to be in. I’m not as fast as they come, obviously, and I can get around a guy if I have the ball on the top of the floor, in the middle like that.”
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: With the latest installment of “The Fish that saved Los Angeles” printed in fresh ink, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves limping into their first long road trip of the season. They boast one of the least impressive three game winning streaks in basketball history, and it comes on the heels of the franchise’s first four game losing streak since returning to relevancy in 2008. Andrew Bynum still hasn’t returned, and Derrick Caracter’s day-to-day ankle sprain has placed the very idea of front court depth in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol is being forced to gobble up minutes like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo, and in doing so, he looks about as beat down as … sorry, there’s just no way to complete that line without an offensive attempt at domestic violence humor. In other words, it’s the perfect time to go out on the road for 10 days straight.
From Mike Trudell, Basketblog: Rookie backup center Derrick Caracter suffered a minor ankle injury after colliding with Kobe Bryant in the second quarter of L.A.’s 87-86 win over the Clippers on Tuesday, and did not return to the contest. Caracter, however, said after the game that his ankle is “fine,” reporting that he would be able to play on Friday against the Bulls if Phil Jackson calls his number. L.A.’s front line was so thin in the second half against the Clips that small forwards Ron Artest and Matt Barnes each saw extended time at power forward, with Artest shining in his defense of Blake Griffin.
From NBA.com: President Barack Obama will honor the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers next week, the White House said Thursday. It’s not clear, though, that the basketball-loving president will shoot hoops with Kobe Bryant and his teammates. Continuing a practice of emphasizing community service while celebrating champion sports teams, the president will accompany the Lakers to a Boys and Girls club, and visit with the kids on Monday, according to a White House advisory. Typically the president brings teams to the White House — as happened after the Lakers won the NBA title last year — but this time he’ll make his comments congratulating the team at the club.
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: Andrew Bynum eased his way down the hallway inside Staples Center after the Lakers stirring, last-second 87-86, victory over the Clippers Wednesday night, his mind now on injured teammate Derrick Caracter. Caracter went down in the first quarter with a sprained left ankle, leaving the Lakers even more short-handed with big men because Bynum remains out while he rehabilitates his surgically repaired right knee and backup center Theo Ratliff remains out after left-knee surgery. Bynum, a 7-foot center, had already changed his timetable on when he might return to play, moving the date up. So he was asked if he felt any more pressure, now that Caracter is out, to return even sooner — say Friday in Chicago against the Bulls, when the Lakers start a six-game trip back East.
From Gregg Patton, The Press Enterprise: It didn’t happen Wednesday night, in the first meeting of Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and Blake Griffin’s Clippers. It won’t happen next month or next spring, and probably not even next year. But you can see it, in the not-too-distant future. When Bryant fades away, Griffin emerges as the city’s premier basketball superstar. A Clipper over a Laker, whoever he may be? There’s a first time for everything. If the Clippers do manage to build something with their young talent over the next year or two, it will likely be a tandem act — Griffin and shooting guard Eric Gordon, another emerging, every-night talent — paving the way.