Kobe needs to cut this out. This picture was taken in Hong Kong two summers ago when Kobe was promoting Nike in Asia. I’m sure the mantra, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” applies to foreign travel as well, but damn this needs to stop.
I’m all for hugs and general outward expressions of care and compassion. But Mike Miller and Pau need to get a room at this point. I mean, this hug is passionate. Look at Pau’s closed eyes. It’s a really heartfelt hug. This is Oscar-winning stuff right here. Look at Mike Miller right hand go for Pau’s rear end area. Likewise, look at Pau’s hand around Mike Miller’s head! I don’t even think I’ve hugged my girlfriend this way before. It’s probably a European thing. As for Mike Miller…shame on you. NBGay all day.
So I was wrong. I thought that the Nike Hyperdunk/ZK IV Hybrid experiment was an indication of Kobe’s scepticism about rocking a true low top. But here we are today with Kobe actually wearing these shoes in an NBA game. Both Nike and Kobe are being extremely bold in emphasizing the low nature of the shoe. Nike’s boldness could backfire in the shoe selling terribly. Basketball players could reject them as well. Kobe could roll his ankle and the whole world will say, “Ha, told you!”
Nike is clearly cutting down material to constantly tout its brand as having the lightest basketball shoe ever. This is a completely legitimate unique selling point. They did that with the Nike Hyperdunk and have now done it with the Nike Zoom Kobe IV. It sure is a better selling point that adidas’ gayass “Brotherhood” campaign. The only thing left for Nike to do is to come out with a basketball sandal that performs like a sneaker. I’m calling it right now. But then again, I’ve been wrong before.
Kobe’s clear inspiration for this shoe was soccer. After all, soccer is the sport closest to basketball. Therefore, Kobe wanted his next signature sneaker to mimic a soccer cleat. This “Venom” shoe, however, pays homage to Venom of the Spiderman series. Notice the webbing details all over the shoe. This is the first of the gazillion colorways to come out in the coming months, so save up. Kobe and Nike are schemin’ to take your money!
As of this writing, the Lakers are 18-3. That record is highly misleading considering all the grumblings from Laker Land about the recent play by the Lakers. Perhaps the bitching and moaning can be attributed to peoples’ big city egos and the general dissatisfaction with this championship-caliber team. Remember, Laker fans have a high standard of success. They know that 18-3 is an excellent record, but they are upset that it’s still behind the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s all relative.
This is why Kurt Rambis, the Lakers’ assistant coach, was asked about the state of the Lakers’ defense during his weekly interview on the PMS show on AM 570 KLAC. He says that the recent Laker slump isn’t really just about defense, but a general lack of intensity during the last few games. One case in point that Rambis brings up was a sequence against the Sacramento Kings where 3 weakside Laker defenders were on their respective assignments, but had their back to the basketball on the strongside. Kurt Rambis brought this glaring mistake to bear by claiming that staying on one’s man, while watching the ball is something that “should have been learned in elementary school.” Similarly, during the Phoenix Suns game on Wednesday, Rambis mentioned how a missed free throw by a Sun led to a football pass down the length of the court for an easy score, even though the Lakers knew that the Suns had no timeouts remaining and would do such a thing. Again, its this lack of focus that Rambis reiterated.
From a technical standpoint, Rambis expanded on why the high screen and roll seems to give the Lakers a lot of trouble. First, he mentions how the refs are allowing moving picks. Think of all the moving picks that Garnett set on the Lakers during the Finals last year. This then causes our perimeter defenders to run into the screen-setters’ hips and puts the defender in a delayed situation. However, Rambis ultimately blames the Laker defense’s lack of communication. The perimeter defender is partly at fault for not staying in front of his man. The help defender is partially at fault because he’s not telling the perimeter defender if he’s going to get up on the pick or help with the penetration. Everyone in Laker Land doesn’t understand why Jordan Farmar, probably the first or second most athletic Laker, can’t stay in front of his man. Rambis attributes this to the system that Jordan played under at UCLA. He says that Jordan is used to Bruin bigs getting up on the pics, whereas the Laker bigs generally stay at home. This confusion has to be overcome with communication and instantaneous reads by both players.
This Laker youth and complacency of thinking that they can just “turn it up whenever they want to” needs to be kept to a minimum. The Lakers are so talented that these thoughts do enter the mind. After all, the Lakers have probably won half of the games without even trying. But as the season progresses, too many teams are going to be gunning for victories over this team. All the Lakers need to do is to keep their level of play on pace with the Celtics and the Cavs, not the competition that night. Sadly, our defensive statistics are behind both teams at this moment. Because the Lakers don’t adhere to a certain philosophy, they tend to play to the level of competition that night. They do just enough to win that night. Though that is the “American Way,” that isn’t going to build the right habits for this team to take it to the next level.
So the question remains. Who’s going to crack the whip in L.A.? We all know who cracks the whip in Boston. Just ask Glen Davis.
Janice Morse of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes:
Basketball star Corie Blount grew up poor in southern California, amid a culture where “everybody wanted to sell drugs,” he told UC Magazine in its September issue.
Blount seemed to escape that fate. His athletic prowess gave Blount the chance to play for the University of Cincinnati’s 1992 Final Four team and to enjoy an 11-year, multi-million-dollar NBA career. Blount was a volunteer coach this season at Cincinnati State and he earned a degree this year in criminal justice.
Now Blount stands accused of being deeply involved in the drug business.
On Thursday, Butler County authorities arrested Blount after he accepted a U.S. Postal Service delivery of 11 pounds of marijuana at a Liberty Township property he owns. They followed Blount to his home nearby and arrested him. There, they found 18 more pounds of pot.
Drug-sniffing dogs found the dope even though it was enveloped in mustard, plastic wrap and fragrant clothes-dryer sheets, police said. The drugs came from an undisclosed location in California, and authorities there are investigating, officials said.
In addition to the pot, police confiscated $29,500 in cash, a Mercedes Benz, a Cadillac Escalade, a Chevrolet Suburban, and three guns– one of them an SKS assault rifle, said Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Hackney.
Blount, 39, is accused of possessing 29 pounds of marijuana. He was freed after posting $10,090 bond. Blount is scheduled to appear in Butler County Area II Court, Hamilton, on Wednesday.
If convicted on the possession charge, Blount faces one to five years in prison. More charges are possible, officials said.
The court had no attorney listed for Blount, and an attempt to reach Blount at his home for comment was unsuccessful Friday.
According to a news release from the Butler County sheriff’s office, authorities learned that a package of marijuana from out of state was scheduled to be mailed to an address on Serenity Place in Liberty Township.
Sheriff’s deputies, working with federal agents and Middletown police, scheduled what they called a controlled delivery of the marijuana to the residence on Thursday.
They said that Blount arrived at the residence to retrieve the package, which contained 11 pounds of marijuana.
“Blount was followed to his residence where deputies stopped him and arrested him,” the news release says.
Police searched Blount’s home and the residence where the package was delivered. At Blount’s residence, deputies said they found a second package of marijuana containing about 11 pounds of marijuana. Authorities say a third package contained seven pounds of marijuana.
The marijuana found at Blount’s home has an estimated street value of about $52,200, police said.
Blount, who played on UC’s 1992 Final Four team and the school’s Elite Eight team in 1993, was the Chicago Bulls’ first-round draft pick in 1993.
He played on five NBA teams before returning to the Bulls’ roster in 2002-03, according to nba.com.
Blount received his college diploma in June in criminal justice. Blount was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
This season, he had been a volunteer assistant men’s basketball coach at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
“We are disappointed to see this turn of events, especially since Corie has been a first-class professional in his volunteer activities with the basketball program,” according to a statement from the school.
The basketball team is coached by Andre Tate, who played at UC from 1988-1990.
Former UC teammate Terry Nelson said he was shocked to learn of Blount’s arrest. Nelson said the two have known each other since junior college in California.
“I was sick to my stomach. I had no idea this was going on,” said Terry Nelson, a former UC Bearcat teammate who has remained in close touch with Blount. “I am blown away. I never expected something like this.”
Nelson said he intends to sit and pray with Blount when the time is right. “I pray for mercy. I pray the Lord can and will use this to turn his life around,” Nelson said.
Blount’s former coach, Bob Huggins, declined comment on the situation, says a spokesman at West Virginia University, where Huggins now coaches.
Even law enforcement authorities were surprised at this case.
Hackney said he and other investigators can’t figure out why a guy like Blount would jeopardize a dream-come-true lifestyle.
Blount co-owns a bar called The Garage in Sharonville. He also owns multiple parcels of real estate including a secluded Liberty Township home valued at over $500,000, where he lives with his wife and five children.
“You just think, ‘Why? Why would somebody th
at’s been so successful take these risks?’ It doesn’t seem like somebody who had a good life like that would do this,” Hackney said Friday. “I keep shaking my head.”
Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones said Blount’s name was well-known to
him, but as a basketball player, not someone accused of running afoul of the law.
“I had no idea he’d have a mug shot and be in my jail,” Jones said.
As jailers photographed Blount, they granted his request to remove the UC-themed sweatshirt he was wearing. Blount didn’t want the UC logo to appear in his mug shot and further embarrass his alma mater, Jones said. Blount was photographed in a green polo shirt instead.
Officials granted the request, “not because we felt sorry for him, but out of respect for UC,” Jones said.
Blount is easily the most high-profile drug suspect ever locked up in the Butler jail, Jones said.
“It’s another role-model let-down. He’s let down everyone at UC, all the fans who’ve paid to watch him play, all the little kids who looked up to him,” Jones said. “We’ll see him in court. It’s not the court that he’s used to playing on – and he’s not going to be the star player in this court.”
John Hollinger of ESPN writes:
We’ve heard the whispers all season: Can the Lakers win 70?
With the L.A. juggernaut off to a 15-2 start that includes an average scoring margin of a staggering 12.8 points per game, and with the Lakers adding star center Andrew Bynum to a mix that already was good enough to win the West a year ago, it’s becoming an increasingly relevant question to ask.
Certainly the capability seems there. The Lakers have one of the game’s best players in Kobe Bryant, two All-Star caliber big men in Bynum and Pau Gasol, and a second unit so capable that it could probably make the Eastern Conference playoffs on its own.
While Lakers coach Phil Jackson downplayed his team’s chances of winning 70 this week, noting the difficulty of the travel for Western Conference teams, the Playoff Odds still see a chance for L.A. In playing out 5,000 simulated seasons, the Playoff Odds have the Lakers winning 70 or more games 515 times, or 10.3 percent of the time (see chart).
As for equaling the 1995-96 Bulls’ mark of 72-10, the Lakers pull that feat off in 187 instances, or 3.7 percent of the time. And to win 73 or more games is still faintly possible as well — they did so in 2 percent of the simulations.
Of course, there’s one problem with that analysis: It ignores strategic considerations. Several recent teams have seemed on pace to break the 70 barrier, only to fall short when they began resting their starters in anticipation of the playoffs. With nobody pushing L.A. for second in the Western Conference, it appears likely they’ll be following the same blueprint. Since even the littlest bit of late-season backsliding makes the goal of winning 70 far more daunting, it stands to reason that the Lakers’ odds are really much lower than the ones I stated above.
In fact, the ideal scenario for a team to win 70 or more would be a situation where a great team has a second team closely pushing it for the conference’s top seed, because then each team has an incentive to keep playing its top performers heavy minutes straight through April. In the absence of a once-a-century collection of talent and chemistry like Jackson’s Bulls had, winning 70 requires more than a great team — it also requires great competition.
That’s why what’s happening in the East is so interesting. Boston (18-2) and Cleveland (15-3) have already run away from the rest of the conference, and both are on pace to threaten the 70-win plateau. For each, the best chance of breaking through would be if the other stays close enough to push them through April. So far, it seems we might be headed for that outcome.
According to the Playoff Odds, it’s Cleveland, not L.A. or Boston, that has the best chance of breaking the 70-win barrier. The Cavs did so in 20.8 percent of the simulations, giving them better than 1-in-5 odds. They match Jordan’s 72-win team in 9.4 percent, and break the record with 73 or more in 5.1 percent.
Boston is right behind them, projecting to win 70 or more games 5.9 percent of the time, and busting through with 73 in 1.2 percent of simulations. And because the Celtics and Cavs can push each other all winter long, these odds seem a bit more realistic than the ones for the Lakers.
Of course, by far the most likely outcome remains that nobody wins 70. Today’s Playoff Odds see all three clubs settling between 62 and 66 wins, which makes sense — while everything has gone right for the league’s power trio so far, too many things can go awry in an 82-game grind for a 70-win season to be probable.
Besides, the ultimate goal is to be on top not in April, but in June. Even if Boston and Cleveland are fighting for the East’s top seed, neither club should be expected to sacrifice its chances in May and June just to scratch out an extra W in February. That’s why the Bulls’ 72-10 mark was such an extraordinary achievement — and why, even with two dominant Eastern teams pushing each other, both are likely to fall short of it.
Odds of winning 70+ games*
|Team||Winning 70+||Winning 72+||Winning 73+|
* Based on Playoff Odds tool, through Wednesday’s games (12.03.08)
I like Hollinger’s idea about the competition in the East breeding incentive for the Cavs and Celtics to reach that 70 win plateau more than the Lakers have the incentive to. However, I find that flawed because that only stands true under the assumption that teams only viciously compete through the end of the season to jockey for first place in their conference. Though that is true (remember the Western Conference dogfight last year with under 5 games of separation between the first and eighth seed), you have to remember that the Lakers are playing games not to only to win first place in their conference, but in the whole league for homecourt advantage all the way through to the Finals. Hollinger even concedes this point at the end. It’s all about the Finals not the end of the regular season.
But I think his vision becomes clouded because he’s caught up in the resting aspect of the players rather than the homecourt advantage aspect that I am looking at. He mentions nothing about homecourt advantage when that is actually the main goal of these top teams. Of course, if these teams find themselves down 20 with 3 minutes to go in a given game, the starters will be pulled from games. Popovich does this quite often and early with his aging Spurs. But these 3 teams will scratch and claw to every win they can in order to get homecourt throughout the playoffs and Finals. Homecourt is so key. Though the Celtics were taken to 7 games by the Hawks and Cavs last year, the tipping point was homecourt advantage. The Lakers smashed the Nuggets, Jazz, and Spurs on the road last year in the playoffs. Celtics couldn’t do shit away from home. But guess what? Every series would inevitably end at TD BankNorth Garden and that’s the point. You can live with playing like shit on the road because that’s not where the series will be decided. The Lakers and Cavs want that this year. As of this writing, the Cavs are still undefeated at home. A team like that could really use the homecourt advantage and I doubt they are going to give that up just so Lebron and company can get a little rest here and there. At that point in the season, it’s all adrenaline anyway. Who needs rest?
Therefore, in the end, the Lakers will be pushed throughout the whole season not to keep pace with Portland or New Orleans, but to keep pace with the Cavs and Celtics. Now I don’t know how this alter’s Hollingers odds, but I’m sure the Lakers will have a better chance at winning 70 games than what he projects.
Phil changed up his look this year by chopping the facial hair and growing out his hair. Kobe lost the shooting sleeve and went back to the classic 90s Jordan style of rocking a wristband around his elbow. Now it’s Rad’s turn to change up his style, too. Though the general public might feel like Rad lacks personality and general American bubbliness, I would argue otherwise. Interviews with teammates and coaches always reveal that Rad’s nature is “jocular.” In fact, Rad changes his look more than anyone on the Laker squad along with Jordan Farmar because of the constant hair square-inch flunctuations on his head. But Jordan Farmar is still young and is from L.A., so its pretty expectable that he’s into his looks. But Vlad Rad? Yes! He just might be the second most image-conscious Laker (next to Sasha). Yes, there’s a functional reason for the tinted goggles (a Carmelo Anthony poke to the eye), but trust me, there is an ulterior “L.A.” reason for the goggles. I just can’t put my finger on it…
Lakers 112, Raptors 99. Above is every Laker field goal before garbage time when things got really sloppy. Ho hum, it’s been difficult finding new things to write about when the Lakers do the same thing every night – dominate. So far the average margin of victory has been +13.7 points per game.
But tonight, the big story is the fact that Andrew Bynum is back! Thus far, Bynum has been doing what he needs to do on the defensive end, but lacked on the offensive end. Sure, its unreasonable to expect 20 and 10 a night from Bynum, but that isn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was Bynum’s lack of aggressiveness. After setting picks, he wouldn’t roll. No slips screens, either. He was also unwilling to punch in from the weakside to the strongside to seal his man near the block, which would lead to an easy basket. But tonight, and even in the Dallas game, he looked like the Bynum of January 2008.
He had no blocks tonight, but he shut Bosh down and held him to just 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 turnovers in 36 minutes. He made Bosh take tough shots. The Laker frontcourt was a different story: Bynum had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 0 turnovers in 29 minutes. Gasol finished with 24 points, and 9 rebounds in about the same amount of time. Phil even kept Bynum on the floor for the majority of the 4th quarter to seal the deal and let Pau sit it out. Up until now, I still believed that if we played Boston in a series, we would lose because of the Powe, Perkins, Garnett frontcourt. However, if this is the Andrew Bynum we see from here on out, Boston’s in truh-bull.