From Phillip Barnett, Lakers Nation: One of the most ubiquitous sports debates revolves around the greatest basketball player of all time. It’s a difficult one because every decade adds or takes something away from the game, making it hard to compare players across eras. We can go back and watch the games, but different players found success against different competition in different ways. Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best basketball player of all time, but he isn’t nearly the most winningest player of all time (Bill Russell) and trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in all time scoring. Then there are guys like Kobe Bryant, who is regarded as the best player from the Jordan era, and LeBron James, NBA’s reigning NBA and Finals MVP.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Perhaps partly because Dwight Howard is out of the picture, perhaps partly because Pau Gasol is far healthier than last season (OK, mostly because Howard is out of the picture), Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni has made an about-face from his initial coaching instincts when counting on Gasol’s services. Remember when Gasol was benched late in games last season? Or relegated to sixth man status? Or positioned on the perimeter when he was on the court and encouraged to attempt the most 3-pointers of his 12-year career? Not the case anymore. Just three days into training camp, D’Antoni has already named two definitive starters while Kobe Bryant is out: Gasol at center and Steve Nash, his longtime pupil, running the point. And expectations are high for the former four-time All-Star in the middle.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: It’s a line Steve Nash would rather leave off a resume that includes two most-valuable-player awards, 10,249 assists and a record 90.4% accuracy on free throws. He’s now the oldest player in the NBA. “It’s not a privilege I ever really dreamed about,” the 39-year-old said Saturday while encircled by reporters during Lakers media day. “It’s pretty strange and I guess surreal in a way.” That would make it like everything else Nash has experienced since becoming a Laker. Weird has become the new normal for a usually durable player who last season appeared in only 50 games because of injuries and was transformed into a hybrid shooting guard even though he’ll enter the Hall of Fame as one of the all-time-great point guards. Nash’s first season as a Laker included one perplexing development after another. Instead of running the pick and roll, he would largely linger on the perimeter to stand and wait. As opposed to making jaw-dropping plays, he was more likely to be involved in bickering-with-teammate exchanges. Rather than leading his team deep into the playoffs, he was spearheading the charge into the trainer’s room.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: For centuries, before the existence of radar, before radios and satellites and cell phones and airplanes, the only way to get from one part of the world to another not connected by land was to pile into a ship and set sail across the ocean. A few days out, you could not see the land from whence you came. All you could see is a vast expanse of blue, spread out in all directions. Voyages often took months; months with nothing to do but handle your daily responsibilities, months in which your routine is all you had. Imagine the boredom of being stuck in a confined space with the same hundred or so individuals. Imagine the insanity of having to do the exact same thing you did the day before because there are no other options. Imagine the fear of not knowing when, or even if, your journey might finally come to an end.