Vitamin Water is already playing up the Finals in a roundabout way. But they are right. There is really no need to focus on any of the other matchups right now. The Lakers and Cavs are set for a collision course in the 2009 NBA Finals. May the best team, and by extension, man, win.
At the end of the day, all of the pressure is on Kobe Bryant. Not only is he older and more seasoned than Lebron, but now Kobe has a winning cast around him. Therefore, if the Lakers do not win the title this year, Kobe fans have really run out of excuses. If the Lakers lose, the recent debate of who’s better, Kobe or Lebron, will finally be resolved. However, if the Lakers win, the age old question of whether Kobe can win without Shaq is brought to bear. Kobe fans, brace yourselves!
ESPN’s Rick Reilly writes:
It’s 49 miles from Kobe Bryant’s house in Orange County to Staples Center and yet, even in a Ferrari, it takes him 10 hours and 16 minutes.
What takes him so long? You’re about to ride shotgun and find out:
7:15 a.m. Nearly $140 into a cab ride from my place, a security gate opens at the end of a very swank cul de sac to reveal Kobe Bryant, father of two, standing in front of seven vehicles—the Ferrari, the Range Rover, the Escalade, the Bentley Coupe, the two-door plastic Fred Flintstone car, the training-wheels bike and the tricycle smashed into a bush.
“You ready to go?” he asks. “I hate to be late.”
I have a bag and nowhere to put it, since the Ferrari is basically a 503-horsepower engine with two seats. So he takes two helmets out of the trunk and puts the bag in.
Helmets for a car? Uh-oh.
7:21 a.m. I immediately spill my coffee in the $300,000-plus Ferrari, but how was I supposed to know he’d demonstrate its 0 to 60 mph in 3.1-seconds right at the very moment I was about to sip my delicious venti mochachino?
Trying to wipe up the puddle with my sock without him noticing and trying to be heard over the Ferrari’s throaty roar, I nearly yell my interview:
Me: Why are we leaving so early for a 6:30 Clippers game?
Bryant: “Game day. Lots to do.”
Me: Why does a Los Angeles Laker live clear down in Weeds suburbia?
Bryant: “It’s peaceful. It’s a better place to bring up kids. Nice people down here.”
Me: What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven this thing?
Bryant: “We’re about to find out.”
Me (to self): Did I ever complete my will?
Of course, the 11-time All Star doesn’t always drive to work. Sometimes he has one of his off-duty, armed, Lakers-provided, police officers take him in a customized van so he can watch scouting DVDs and ice his feet and knees. (He ices them for 20 minutes three times a day. The man spends more time in ice than Ted Williams.) Occasionally, though, he charters a helicopter. “Sometimes, there’s just things you cannot miss.”
“Like my daughter’s soccer game. Because what if I miss her first goal?”
Can’t say I ever choppered into one of my daughter’s soccer games, but still.
Bryant, 30, has been known to get up earlier than many barn owls to conduct his famously brutal workouts. One time, Larry Drew II—who had just won a title with North Carolina—asked to shadow him on one.
“OK,” Kobe said. “Pick you up at 3:30.”
But 3:30 came and went and Kobe never showed. Then, at 3:30 the next morning, he was ringing Drew’s doorbell.
“You ready?” Kobe asked.
|Kobe works hard on the court but works even harder off it.|
“I like to just get up and get it done,” he explained to me, “then I’m back home and nobody’s even up. Haven’t missed a thing.”
7:30 a.m. Bryant pulls the yellow Ferrari up to a massive OC health club and leaves it. This will happen many times today, leaving the car right in front of buildings. Gods do not park.
Today is a Sunday and it’s bothering him that he’ll have to miss coloring with his girls—6 and 2—watching Ariel in The Little Mermaid for the 1,003rd time with his girls and going to Disneyland with the girls. But he’s obsessed with winning the 2009 NBA title, which means he’s committed to his boys. He wants to be as chiseled as possible for the coming playoff pounding. That’s why it’s no surprise we’re met by Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s genius strength and conditioning coach.
Grover puts Bryant through a game-day workout like I’ve never seen. (Warning: If you don’t want to feel like a complete jelly-filled donut, don’t read this next part.) Among a dozen other drills, Bryant does suicide push-ups. At the top of the pushup, he launches himself off the mat so hard that both his feet come off the ground and his hands slap his pecs. He does three sets of seven of these. This makes me turn away and whimper softly.
8:35 a.m. Bryant wheels the asphalt-eating Ferrari onto the 405 North and begins answering my questions about this remarkable comeback he’s making in America, in basketball and in his life, which would be fascinating, if it weren’t for the 70 mph-circus going on all around us.
People are pulling up next to us and waving. And screaming. And taking pictures with their cell phones. And honking. And craning back in their seats to see. And not watching the road. And getting too damn close. And Kobe doesn’t seem to see any of it.
“Life is really good now,” he’s saying.
Kobe! Kill ’em tonight! Yeeeeaaahhh bbbboy!
“And it’s funny. A lot of these companies who dumped us during the [sexual assault] trial [in which all charges were dropped] are calling us now asking us to come back. And I just kind of smile and go, ‘No. No, thanks, homie. We’re good.’ But that hurt, dude. To just be dropped like that. It hurt.”
The guy in the Toyota Tundra is signaling that he wants an autograph.
“But my wife and I, we toughed it out. She and I, we got through it. We’re going to be celebrating our … “
Two morons are motioning to me that they’d like Kobe to get off at the next exit and take a picture with them.
” … eight-year anniversary together. And when I think about how I almost lost it, the family and everything … “
I can read their lips: “Dude! Please?!”
” … I’m just very thankful and blessed. It was really close there for awhile.”
Even a weekly shopper reporter would follow that answer up with, “What do you mean?” But a knucklehead in a Ford truck is trying to cut in front of us so his buddy can take a picture out of the back window, so I ask, “Do you ever wreck on this commute?”
“No,” he says with a grin, “but one time, this one guy was looking back and hit the guy in front of him. Not hard or anything, but he definitely hit the guy. It was kinda funny.”
With all that chaos, I can’t really vouch for the accuracy of all this, but I’m pretty sure Bryant says:
- He’s taken up golf. Played Pelican Hill the other day with Bobby Plump, the inspiration for the Jimmy Chitwood character in Hoosiers. Forgot to ask why.
- If I weren’t in the car, he’d be listening to Lil Wayne, Jay-Z or Biggie Smalls.
- He loves marketing and advertising. In fact, he conceived and wrote a Carl’s Jr. poster, which featured Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and himself, and the slogan: “They Who Endure, Conquer.”
- He and his wife, Vanessa, have no nannies.
- Most sports talk radio makes him nauseous.
- He’s addicted to Discovery Channel, loves to spear fish, and reads New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
- He has no plans to opt out of his contract at the end of this season, but “you can never absolutely say no, right?”
- His daughters speak a mix of English, Spanish and Italian.
- He’d like to have a boy.
Forty minutes, 37 missed quotes, and 118 gawkers later, we’ve gone the 43 miles from the health club in OC to the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, right near LAX, for shootaround. He pulls up to the spot in front of the door, gets out of the car and doesn’t lock it. It’s all I can do not to get on my knees and kiss the ground.
12:03 p.m. After his two hours of shooting and stretching, we’re off to a downtown hotel, where Kobe will ice, shower, sleep, eat (it’s always the same: chicken, rice and broccoli), watch scouting DVDs and make calls until it’s time to go. This time we’re following one of the off-duty cops, who’s driving the gray van.
“Why are we following the cop?” I ask.
“Because I need my jug to ice,” he says.
“So why don’t we take it ourselves?” I ask.
Do you love it? His ice jug gets a police escort.
“What if you can’t sleep at the hotel?” I ask as he leadfoots it up the 110 North. “What do you do? Walk around downtown L.A.?”
He laughs and looks at me like I just landed from the planet Nimrod.
“Uh, no. I can’t walk around LA. There are fans and then there are LAKER fans. LAKER fans are, like, 10 times more into it than regular fans.”
Example: One time, he met a man who had the exact same tattoos as him. Literally, the exact same tattoos, down to the size, color, font, style, even the names of his daughters, his wife, the Bible verses, the crown, everything. And this was in Ohio.
“I mean, what do you say to something like that?” he says, still amazed. “I’m like, ‘Wow.’ And then I whispered to my security guy, ‘Get his social security, OK?'”
12:14 p.m. Four security guards are waiting for us at the hotel. We leave the Ferrari AND the van out front, go through a side entrance, up a freight elevator, to a suite that’s waiting for him. What does he pay for use of the suite for a full season? Zippo! “I just take care of them with playoff tickets.”
Does the man ever see the inside of his wallet?
5:03 p.m. I get a call on the phone in my room and it’s the cop, sounding urgent. “Mr. Reilly? Kobe is going to need to leave in exactly one minute. He was mistaken as to the start of tonight’s game. Can you be expedited down here immediately?”
|Could Kobe still do this at 40?|
“Uh, well, yeah, I can expedite.”
“Good. Much appreciated. Kobe doesn’t like to be late.”
So I’ve heard.
Turns out he thought it was a 7:30 start. “I’m such an idiot,” he admits. “I do this all the time.”
The drive to Staples is going to be a very expedited three minutes, so I have a lot of ground to make up.
How bad do you want this title?
“Beyond your comprehension,” he says. “I’m obsessed. It keeps me awake at night.”
Can this team do it?
“Yeah, we can do it. We’re better equipped this time. Last time (in the finals) we ran into a buzzsaw. That Celtics team was hungry. And not just hungry, but full of hungry veterans.”
How long do you want to play?
“I’d love to play until I’m 40, but I’m not sure anybody would want me then. Put it this way: I’ll play as long as they’ll let me.”
As a couple in a red Hyundai shrieks, “Kobe! Kobe! Take care of us tonight!” he turns into the players’ gate, where a guy with a mirror on a pole checks under the Ferrari for bombs. I’m terrified what they’ll find.
Excuse me, Mr. Bryant? There seems to be mochachino leaking from your car?
He pulls it right up front, hops out, and immediately there’s a still photographer and a mini-cam taking our picture as we walk. I try to get away, but he yanks me back into the shot. “Just mean mug it,” he whispers. He wears the expression of a mafia don on the way to a trial. I try it, but I can’t pull it off. I look like a man suffering upper gastro-intestinal blockage.
I try to say goodbye and thanks, but he’s on the phone to his daughters, going “Ciao, bella!” as he walks into the locker room.
It’s 5:31 p.m. The Kobe Kommute is over. He’s still got the game to go. (The Lakers will defeat the Clippers, 88-85, with Bryant scoring 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting—proving that, occasionally, Kobe DOES miss things.) As for me, I’m so exhausted, there’s only one thing I want to do.
Go somewhere quiet and watch Ariel.
As published on KB24.com:
“You might have heard something about Kobe taping an episode of Sesame Street in celebration of the show’s 40th anniversary.
If you’ve heard about this and wondered whether or not it’s true, we’re here to confirm that yes, Kobe did make a recent appearance in the Sesame Street studios, and yes, the episode will air in November.
But we can’t let you wait that long to get a glimpse of Kobe and the Sesame Street characters in action, because it’s just plain awesome.
Below we’ve got a clip of Kobe interacting with Elmo, Abby Cadabby and even a mini-Kobe. Listen as KB starts to sing the show’s theme song, but then shifts to beat-boxing and remixing the song on the fly!”
Wow. Kobe loves this shit now. To Kobe’s credit, he and his marketing team have done an excellent job turning his image around since 2004. Most of this turnaround has been done by himself, too. No real outside public relations agency or crisis management team has helped Kobe leave his “rape image” behind. Not even Nike. The combination of savvy marketing, focus on the championship and entering fatherhood has truly made the Kobe brand more market and family friendly.
Do whatever it takes to stop the opposition. I do this, too.
Well, there’s a first time for everything. Check out this in-traffic dunk over 2 Wackramento Queens! Sasha Vujacic all day.
Arash Markazi of “For The Record” writes:
“Just like last season, the Lakers’ chances of winning a championship may hinge on the health of Andrew Bynum, who has been out since February with a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Coach Phil Jackson said recently that Bynum could be at least a few weeks away from returning. Now, I’m no doctor, of course, but at the Playboy Mansion on Saturday, the Lakers’ 7-foot center looked to be well on the road to recovery.
While the Lakers were in Atlanta preparing for what would be an 86-76 loss to the Hawks on Sunday, Bynum was in Los Angeles mingling at a pajamas and lingerie party after the Playboy Golf Finals.
Wearing a green smoking jacket and slippers, Bynum, whose injury status is generating daily headlines in Los Angeles, partied like a rock star near the infamous grotto.
He picked up Playmate Nicole Narain and placed her on his shoulders and got somebody to take a picture with his digital camera.
Upper-body strength, check.
He hopped over a velvet rope near the DJ booth so he could take a picture with Narain and other Playmates who ended up sitting on his lap.
Jumping ability, check.
He sidestepped a few of the roaming cameras and got down with some Playmates on the checkered dance floor set up in the backyard.
Lateral movement, check.
Later, with lines around the bar getting longer, he pulled out a bottled beverage from one pocket and four plastic cups from another and offered up drinks to three Playmates who were with him.
Ability to adjust to game situations, check.
If Bynum isn’t healthy enough to play, should he be able to live out his Playboy fantasy in the meantime? Maybe, but while he’s rehabbing his injury and the Lakers play shorthanded without him, perhaps it’d be wise for him to keep a low profile and sit out a couple of pajama parties. The grotto and Playmates will still be there. The Lakers can only hope the same can be said for Bynum come playoff time.”
Phil responded to the media’s need to blow things out of proportion with the following statement:
“I think there’s a lot being made out of that that is unnecessary. This is a young guy. I don’t think Andrew is 22 yet, is he? He’s a 21-year-old guy. He’s been out of basketball 5½-6 weeks. He’s got to have some energy and vent and have some fun. Now I don’t know if putting a girl on your shoulders…The fact that people are beating him up over that, I think that’s crazy. Andrew is doing fine and he’s going to be fine.”
Yea! What Phil said. Do your thing Drew!
Let’s face it, Trevor played the ball. This type of thing happens in the modern game of basketball when players are going at high speeds and coming down at awkward angles. So Portland, stop being gay. The only person who got suspended from this was Lamar just because he got out of his seat on the bench.
This also reminds me of last year when the Blazers admittedly worked the Lakers yet again. This frustration tends to lead to short tempers and half-way altercations. The following clip is of when Lamar played the ball and happened to foul Brandon Roy fairly hard. Though the video quality isn’t great you can tell that Lamar played the ball; it’s just that he is a bit sloppy and doesn’t control his limbs very well. Again, Portland, stop being queerfags. This is a sport. This happens at LA Fitnesses around the country so deal with it. Even the commentators are too caught up in the moment and say how dirty of a play it was. This makes me thankful that Laker broadcasters, Stu Lantz and Joel Meyers, are very objective in their basketball analyses. Compared to broadcasters of other cities (i.e. Toronto and Portland), they are very fair and balanced in their assessments of things. One might say they are the Fox News of sports commentating…;).
Kobe calls him Congo Ca$h. Others call him The Belgian Blocker. Whatever his moniker, D.J. Mbenga just had the best game of his career and has started to really play a vital role on the Lakers in Bynum’s absence. He finished the night with 10 points and 5 blocks in just 17 minutes. It’s not so much what he did, but how he did it.
He’s filling the role left void by Turiaf’s departure this past summer by playing with constant energy and, of course, stuffing the shit out of people. These aren’t “fake blocks” where he’s sneaking up on someone from the weak side. These are on-ball blocks and in succession, too. It’s become clear that Mbenga has Turiaf’s sense of timing along with his added physical gift.
Mitch Kupchak has done an excellent job of shedding un-athletic players for specimens the past couple seasons. We have ditched Radmanovic for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown; that’s plus one specimen points. We somehow got rid of Chris Mihm and received a bag of marbles in return; that’s plus two. Who can forget the Brian Cook and Mo Evans trade for Trevor Ariza. Though Mo Evans was a specimen he lacked skills, whereas Brian Cook lacked both; so that’s plus five. The Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown trade was even more Mario bonus points. Kupchak is just pulling shit out of his ass and just making it happen. He’s basically making Memphis and Charlotte the Laker recycle bin. We just unload our garbage and out comes something tight. Now if only such a thing was commodified and commercialized. What am I talking about? Mbenga and Shannon Brown all day.
I had a good feeling about this guy. This is the nastiest block I’ve seen in a while. Hopefully he’s our shorter, stockier, Derek Fisher-y version of Trevor Ariza…if that makes any sense.
Dang DJ Mbenga getting at it! Chris Mihm needs to step off. Too bad there’s no audio for this clip. DJ Mbenga is an 8th degree black belt in Krav Maga, the Israeli army fighting style. He is also purported to run at 20 miles an hour for 5 minutes straight. Straight thuggin’. Any center in this league is getting their teeth kicked in if they try to box with DJ.
So you thought you’d never see A.I. in a jersey other than a Sixers jerseys. Then you thought you’d never see A.I. in a jersey other than a #3 jersey. And until today you never thought you’d see A.I. without cornrows…
The “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” look. This would be courtesy of Dwyane Wade on January 11th. Give this guy a few stitches and he will be right back on the court. Whether it’s a messed up pinky, knee or eye, this guy comes to play every night. Loving basketball a little too much…
The Zoom Kobe IV Book is comprised of over sixty pages of in-depth content detailing all things Kobe. Sole Collector sat down with designers Tinker Hatfield, Eric Avar and Tom Luedecke and broke down each shoe Kobe has worn over the past five years. You’ll also learn about every last inspiration and cue from this year’s Zoom Kobe IV.
View or Download your copy here:
In an interview on January 6th on AM 570 KLAC, the guys asked Phil why Bynum doesn’t learn the “Sky Hook” even though he has been working with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 3 years now. The simple answer that Phil gave was the fact that Bynum just can’t. Phil says:
“It’s really a specialty shot. It’s a step shot in our league. You take off of one foot and in our league there’s so much body contact that if you don’t have that base, and it’s hard to get a base off a one-foot step, you can’t shoot that shot with a lot of accuracy. And we really worked with Andrew on this both left and right and yet that first step usually puts him off balance and if he gets nudged then he doesn’t have the kind of base that you have to have… but yea he does work on it, but it’s not natural for him.”
Check out this two-handed block where he just rips the ball out of Rasual Butler’s hands and takes off the other way…and then travels.
Though the greatest signature basketball shoe line, Air Jordan, has always been influenced by man-made engineering feats like Ferraris, watches, high heel shoes and fighter jets, the Zoom Kobe line has been influenced by various things such as the natural world. Kobe seems to love Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel because he likens himself to animal quickness and instinct. He calls himself, “The Black Mamba,” which is why we see faux snakeskin details on a lot of this shoes. He’s even gone so far as to choose the Orca Whale as a source of inspiration for his Zoom Kobe IIs a couple years back.
For the Zoom Kobe 4, Kobe seems to look to Marvel Comics’ Venom and DC Comics’ Joker for influence. As you saw in a previous post, Kobe’s “Venom” edition of the Kobe 4 was debuted in Miami. However, another indication of Venom influence can be seen on every sole of the Kobe 4. The detailing on the bottom is supposed to mimic the “symbiote” suit that grabs a hold of the victim. Kobe stated in interviews that the “symbiote” detailing was in keeping with the theme of the shoe as a lock down performance sneaker that becomes one with the foot.
The next shoe that takes a cue from DC Comics’ Joker is the Nike Zoom Kobe IV “Chaos.” The purple nubuck material looks a lot like Joker’s raggedyass purple suit. The shoe is set to officially release at the House of Hoops by Foot Locker beginning on January 10th at the House of Hoops Los Angeles. The next weekend, January 17th, the House of Hoops Chicago and the House of Hoops NYC will release their pairs. Pairs will be limited.
January 4, 2009 has to be the weirdest and fakest day in the season so far. Just when I thought the top dogs in the East were real, they all acted fake…in concert. The top 3 teams in the East, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando, all lost on the road last night as they lost to New York, Washington, and Toronto, respectively. I am not sure how much I should read into this, but I hope these are ancient New Year omens of what’s to come in the remaining 2/3 of the season. Both Boston and Cleveland are up to 6 losses with Orlando at 8 losses. The playoffs in the East is going to be all about homecourt advantage it seems. The Lakers, meanwhile, are still at 5 losses, still smoking the rest of the Western Conference.
Let’s hope the Lakers’ winning ways will continue for the next couple of weeks because there is much to redeem. The Lakers will face 3 of the 5 teams that handed them losses last month in Indiana, Miami and Orlando. Also, in between the Miami and Orlando games, the Lakers will make a mini-Texas swing to face the Rockets and the Spurs. Then on January 19th, the Lakers will wrap up this tough stretch of games against the league MVP thus far: Lebron James. The next two weeks will truly test the Lakers’ desire to maintain the best record in the league.
Bynum vs. Oden. Oden vs. Bynum. This will be the storied matchup for years to come. Due to Oden’s injury during their first ever NBA matchup during the Lakers’ season-opener, face-time between the two was very limited. However, it was clear that Bynum would come out to play during this game because Oden did have a monster block against Bynum their first go-round. Their matchup last night did not seem epic mainly due to the fact that neither exactly filled up the box score. Oden finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 0 blocks. Bynum finished with 4 points, 10 rebounds and 1 block. So who played better?
Oden was a bit better on offense than Bynum was last night. That was because Oden got post position very deep in the paint. Oden is just a beast. Oden was the most physically imposing player last night. Even when Bynum did ask for the ball in the post, the Laker wingmen often swung the ball to the other side of the floor because Oden pushed Bynum out to the elbow area. Bynum is essentially useless out here. Bynum could not seal this guy. However, this is not a knock on Bynum. Oden did the same thing against Garnett and Kendrick Perkins in the Blazer victory over the Celtics last week. It will be interesting how his physicality compares with that of Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. This post position also enabled Oden to get to the charity strike 7 times last night, the most by any Blazer.
Bynum was a lot better on defense than Oden. Even when Oden did back Bynum very deep into the paint, Bynum did a fairly decent job of playing position defense. He was always right between Oden and the hoop at all times. When a guy like Bynum can play position defense well, it is very effective because his added length makes the shot for the offensive player that much more difficult. Bynum also finished with 6 more rebounds and one more block than Oden. There were countless times that Bynum’s activity on the defensive end resulted in Laker steals on the perimeter or poor shots by the Blazers. Altering shots is just as much a part of defense as blocking shots is and Bynum was effective in doing that.
In the end, the matchup was fairly equal. More than the numbers, the exciting thing to watch was the wrestling match in the post. In fact, it would have been even more entertaining had either team not thrown help defenders at them causing them to pass the ball back out. Watching Bynum front Oden in the first half, while watching Oden force his way in the block was amazing. It was truly a bruising affair. It wasn’t exactly pretty basketball, but it was gangsta.
If you wanted to see pretty basketball, it was definitely the LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Pau Gasol matchup. These guys are just offensive machines. Though Gasol’s skill set is more playoff-proof, you can tell that Aldridge is going to be a star in this league. You just know the Bulls are banging their heads on a table for letting him go. Aldridge was 11-19 from the field finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Gasol was equally as effective finishing with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while he was 7-9 from the field. Both seem to be able to hit shots regardless of the speed or complexion of the game. Aldridge still hit fadeaways consistently even when the Blazers were down big. The momentum going against him didn’t seem to bother him.
These two teams are the hottest young teams to look out for out west. Though Brandon Roy is injured at the moment, even his matchup with Kobe Bryant is one to watch as well. So there you go. Three fairly even matchups in the starting lineup. We’ll see what the Lakers are made of once they travel to Portland. The Lakers haven’t won at the Rose Garden for god knows how many years.
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.
Lakers 114, Dallas 107. Dallas, you are the train that thought you could. Sadly, you just can’t. Dallas was up the majority of the game. Even when Dallas was playing lights out and the Lakers were smoking weed, Dallas was only up single digits. That’s the difference my friends. After the Lakers woke up from food coma and blazing, they finally started to play and play without panicking. It was just execution down the stretch. Fluidity. No nonsense. Kobe was about as nasty as D-Wade (formerly D-Fake) was tonight down the stretch.
Carlisle, save yourself the grief. Your squad is fake and always will be. 8th seed is all you can hope for at this point. I’m getting tired of even hating on you guys. I’m out.
Though the Lakers are preaching teamwork and are touting the NBA’s best record, there is more to it than meets the eye. During the matchup on November 18th against the Chicago Bulls, we finally saw the first glimpse of internal beef within the Laker organization in a long time. Because of all that Kobe drama a couple years ago, it seems as though every Laker has gone out of his way to be best buds for the sake of team chemistry, real or imagined.
However, there is no need to be worried. Basically, Trevor Ariza was upset that Sasha took a contested three even though Ariza was wide open in the corner. After the Lakers play defense on the other side of the floor and a timeout was called, you can see Ariza getting into Sasha’s grill on the far right portion of the clip. In fact, he actually pointed his finger in Sasha’s face. This seems like a fairly extreme gesture for this to have been the initial flare-up. I just can’t see Trevor being that upset over this one play. Perhaps this is but one episode of a reoccuring pattern of beef between the two.
It could be that the Lakers’ depth is starting to chip away at these young professionals’ egos due to lack of playing time to go around. Sasha’s minutes have been down this year even though shooters need to stay on the floor long enough to get into a shooting groove. Luke Walton doesn’t even play anymore. Remember a couple years ago when he used to start? Remember how devastating it was to the team when Luke got injured in the ’06-’07 season? If Luke were to get injured now, it would barely get any press. Though we sports fans might think that some of these guys would love getting paid while sitting on the pine (Stephon Marbury), most do not. Sasha and Trevor are both young men who are out to prove something and want to see playing time. That’s why Turiaf left for Golden State. He wanted minutes.
But what if I’m wrong? What if these two scrap? Who would win? Ariza is a bit taller with more reach, but looks a bit weak. Sasha looks like he gained some muscle over the summer, but he looks like a lover not a fighter. Perhaps he could resort to choking Trevor with his hairband. Anyway, let’s hope that this fake beef never gets out of hand.
In the meantime, I leave you with this clip. This chest bump from Trevor decimated Sasha. Hilarious. Was Sasha being a sissy or was Ariza just waiting for the perfect time to knock that damn Slovenian to the floor? You be the judge.
Say what you want about the Class of 1984 and the Class of 2003, but the Class of 1996 is just too sick. During the Lakers/Pistons matchup on Friday, November, 14, 2008, Allen Iverson surpassed Elgin Baylor on the NBA All-Time Scoring List, while Kobe Bryant surpassed both Larry Bird and Gary Payton on the All-Time Scoring List.
So far, it looks like Allen Iverson will stay ahead of Kobe on the list, unless Kobe plays a gang of more playoff games than Allen Iverson or something. If Iverson stayed in Denver than you could imagine Kobe closing in on A.I. more, but now that Iverson looks to be playing more postseason games in Detroit, it doesn’t seem as likely. Despite Kobe’s ridiculous couple seasons as scoring champ, most of Iverson’s Sixers career revolved around him scoring most of the points. Kobe entered the league onto a veteran Laker team as a second option, which is why Kobe is so far behind A.I. Had Kobe been on the 2005 or 2006 Laker squad for the past 12 years, Kobe would be on par with or ahead of A.I. in this category. Props to both. Here is the Top 30…
|1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||1,560||15,837||6,712||24.6||38,387|
|2. Karl Malone||1,476||13,528||9,787||25.0||36,928|
|3. Michael Jordan||1,072||12,192||7,327||30.1||32,292|
|4. Wilt Chamberlain||1,045||12,681||6,057||30.1||31,419|
|5. Moses Malone||1,329||9,435||8,531||20.6||27,409|
|6. Elvin Hayes||1,303||10,976||5,356||21.0||27,313|
|7. Hakeem Olajuwon||1,238||10,749||5,423||21.8||26,946|
|8. Oscar Robertson||1,040||9,508||7,694||25.7||26,710|
|9. Dominique Wilkins||1,074||9,963||6,031||24.8||26,668|
|10. Shaquille O’Neal||1,051||10,476||5,478||25.1||26,431|
|11. John Havlicek||1,270||10,513||5,369||20.8||26,395|
|12. Alex English||1,193||10,659||4,277||21.5||25,613|
|13. Reggie Miller||1,389||8,241||6,237||18.2||25,279|
|14. Jerry West||932||9,016||7,160||27.0||25,192|
|15. Patrick Ewing||1,183||9,702||5,392||21.0||24,815|
|16. Charles Barkley||1,073||8,435||6,349||22.1||23,757|
|17. Robert Parish||1,611||9,614||4,106||14.5||23,334|
|18. Adrian Dantley||955||8,169||6,832||24.3||23,177|
|19. Allen Iverson||837||8,035||6,056||27.7||23,156|
|20. Elgin Baylor||846||8,693||5,763||27.4||23,149|
|21. Clyde Drexler||1,086||8,335||4,698||20.4||22,195|
|22. Kobe Bryant||874||7,526||5,673||25.0||21,817|
|23. Gary Payton||1,335||8,708||3,265||16.3||21,813|
|24. Larry Bird||897||8,591||3,960||24.3||21,791|
|25. Hal Greer||1,122||8,504||4,578||19.2||21,586|
|26. Walt Bellamy||1,043||7,914||5,113||20.1||20,941|
|27. Bob Pettit||792||7,349||6,182||26.4||20,880|
|28. David Robinson||987||7,365||6,035||21.1||20,790|
|29. George Gervin||791||8,045||4,541||26.2||20,708|
|30. Kevin Garnett||1,009||8,188||4,017||20.4||20,557|
Lakers 106, Mavericks 99. Although this was the closest thing to a nailbiter this season for the Lakers, the game wasn’t as close as it might have seemed. This game was actually already lost by the Mavericks when Kobe Bryant was actually born, again when they thought that Dirk Fakevitzki was a star player, then again when they thought they were going to be real by getting Jason Kidd. Sure a lot of shit has happened since then, but all of those factors have culminated into this loss today on November 11, 2008.
Newsflash Cuban! Your team sucks not because of the coach or lack of a point guard. You suck because of the usual reason why teams suck or don’t suck – the players. You retardedly gave away an all-star caliber point guard in Devin Harris. Probably the only real players on the team now is Jason Kidd, Gerald Green and Brandon Bass. Sure, Josh Howard and Jason Terry are good offensive players but they are one-dimensional players essentially who will fall by the wayside as they age since they have no other skill set to fall back on. Gerald Green is surely rough around the edges, but the kid’s got talent. He reminds me a lot of J.R. Smith of a couple years ago. Sick as fuck, but just gets too cocky in the fourth quarter and takes Kobe-esque shots. Oh well, that’s better than being fake. The other players aren’t too pretty to look at either. Jerry Stackhouse is Jerry Stackhouse. Erika Dampier is a slight improvement over Kwame Brown, while the other players just don’t matter enough.
As far as their “star” player goes, Dirk is an excellent spot up shooter. That’s why he owns 3 point contests because those shots are shot in a vacuum – no defender, balls are on racks, etc. However, once he’s on the move, he can’t seem to gather himself to take a technically sound jumpshot. His legs are like action-figure legs and don’t seem to have the flexibility that human athlete legs are supposed to have. As you all know, legs are the foundation for a jump shot or layup, so if they are being fake then the shot will be as well (See Exhibit A). The next knock on Dirk’s shooting technique is his constant need to fade away and fall down on jumpshots (See Exhibit B). He might as well shoot lying down. Kobe’s fadeaways are controlled and serve a purpose. Dirk will shoot these shots over Allen Iverson from 8 feet away. Unreal. If he can learn to stay on his feet and shoot shots standing straight up, he will drastically see improved results and possibly more wins. Until then it’s fake city for Fakevitzki.
Okay, I’ll stop the Mavs-hating. I’ll only do this 3 more times this year I promise. Back to the game. The best stretch of the game came just after an explosive Gerald Green dunk that put the Mavs up 81-76 at the start of the fourth, when a 7-0 run featuring a Sasha Vujacic three, Lamar Odom finish in the lane and Trevor Ariza two-handed flush from the baseline gave L.A. a lead it would not concede. Nine points in the next two minutes from Kobe Bryant, some of which were of the truly special variety, helped build an eight-point Lakers lead, and a collectively strong defensive effort that limited Dallas to 20 fourth-quarter points sealed the deal. This is a testament to the fact that the Lakers can play horribly for most of the game and still pull out a win on the road. This game was won through defense and bench play – two telling signs of playoff success.
The Lakers have everything to look forward to. As far as the Mavs go, they could have spent their Veteran’s Day running errands or going to their daughters’ volleyball game or something. Instead, they decided to waste people’s time.
I know it’s too early in the season to tell, but let’s face it. The Rockets are not as real as most people think they are at the moment. Yes, Ron Artest brings another dimension to this Rocket team because he can create for himself and defend. However, T-Wack and Meow Ming are just not real enough. You have to slow the game down basically to slow motion for Yao to be effective. As far as T-Wack goes, he’s more beat up than Paris Hilton’s v_g_na. On one sequence, T-Wack fell down and I almost thought his career was over.
I think most of the Rockets’ hype is due to the fact that the West is getting relatively weaker and so they seem to shine more. The Spurs are too old, the Mavericks are just too fake (2-4 so far this year), while the Suns and Jazz are pretty good , but we all know they are not actual contenders. Yes, the Hornets are definitely one of the brighter spots in the west, but most people agree that their bench is too thin to really go far in the playoffs. Therefore, sports analysts are just looking for someone in the west to pit against the Lakers as the favorites to come out of the west and the Rockets just happen to be that team.
However, I must give the Lakers some credit for tonight’s win. Their defense is looking like Celtics defense. The Lakers are even leading the league right now in rebounds per game. Tonight’s defensive statline looks like this: Bynum, Kobe, and Odom had 2 steals each, while Trevor Ariza had 3. Pau and Bynum had 3 blocks each, while Odom and Kobe had 2 a piece. Though Kobe was molesting Artest all night, this weakside block on Yao was the highlight of the night.
Look familiar guys? Backtrack to one of the Lakers/Rockets games from last season where Kobe stuffs the shit out of Yao weakside. Yao, you need to do your moves a bit faster and stop being blocked by someone a foot shorter than you are. This is becoming an annual thing dogg.
Against good defensive teams that clog up space in the paint and swarm around the perimeter, it’s important for opponents to have great ball handlers who can create shots for themselves. The Rockets, like the Pistons in the east, just don’t have much of those guys. That’s why Aaron Brooks was the only Rocket today to really do anything because he was out there creating shots for himself. Teams like the Lakers and Celtics push teams too far away from the paint. Not only does this spoil the amount of real estate the offense has to work with, but it also disrupts the angles at which passes can be thrown and received. This is where swarmy perimeter defense looks to make steals. Even if they can dump a pass to the center, he will most likely be too far away from the basket to make a good post move and will most likely be too poor of a ballhandler to take it in deeper. This is where they get jacked again. This is why against teams like this, ballhandlers and shot creators are absolutely necessary.
Similarly in the Pistons/Celtics game today, Will Bynum was one of the few sparks on offense for the Pistons against the defensive Celtics. This is probably why Detroit got Allen Iverson. Detroit doesn’t have a lot of creators like Rodney Stuckey or Will Bynum. This is the beauty of the Iverson trade. Now Iverson just needs to be okay with going out and taking 20 shots a game instead of passing so much. He was very hesitant on offense today.
What I’m trying to say is that although the Rockets boast some good talent, I still don’t think they have that go-to guy you could always count on to score in the 4th quarter. Both the Rockets and Pistons have good lineups, but there isn’t a clear cut pecking order as to who the go-to guy is. Detroit is hoping that Allen Iverson is that guy. The Rockets will have all season to figure that out before they are finally tested in the Playoffs. Is it Artest, McGrady, Yao, or is it Aaron Brooks?
Last night in Denver Kobe shocked the sneaker community by debuting a new sneaker that includes the upper of a Nike Hyperdunk along with the tooling of the Zoom Kobe IV. While it was an under the radar move and there’s no word on any such shoe releasing, there’s several ways to analyze the move by Nike and Kobe.
Both the Hyperdunk and Zoom Kobe IV feature identical cushioning set-ups, with heel Zoom Air and Lunar Foam units embedded into the midsole, but the lone difference between the two is surely in the traction department. The Kobe IV features a perfectly squeaky and trusty herringbone pattern along the entire forefoot, while the Hyperdunk incorporates recessed grooves to handle its traction duties, and can become a bit slippery once some dust collects. Did Kobe switch simply for better traction? Both shoes have a similarly exacting support outrigger, carbon fiber spring plate and a radiused heel for great heel-to-toe transition. Or, is Kobe not yet ready to debut his 5/8 cut Zoom Kobe IV, and for now relying on the higher cut of the Hyperdunk? My guess is that although the Zoom Kobe 4 will have a more casual appeal to it, Kobe simply cannot wear a low-top shoe to play at such a high level. Therefore, it has the cosmetics of the Zoom Kobe 4, with the basketball fit of the Hyperdunk. We’ll see if he ever rocks the true Zoom Kobe 4 full-on in an actual game.
Every time Kobe sets foot in the Pepsi Center, it’s always a night to remember. The city of Denver is notorious for giving him grief about the infamous rape case about 4 years ago. This is why, in typical Kobe fashion, Kobe always returns to the scene of the crime and owns the Thuggets. On a night where basically every Laker was in foul trouble and couldn’t get a rhythm going, save Pau and Kobe, Kobe scored 14 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal against Denver. What can I say, Kobe is just good at playing when he’s pissed off.
Also, Melo cut his cornrows off for the first time since his NBA career started. Now if only he could learn to make a layup in traffic or just anything other than a jab-step pull-up jumper…
If you’re looking for the reason why Melo cut his hair, peep the following…
First off, I would like to congratulate Andrew on the massive 4-year, $58 million contract extension! That’s one richass 21 year-old. The following confirms that Andrew Bynum is now attempting to be “fabulous” along with Sasha and Kobe.
Recently in an interview with Kurt Rambis on AM 570 KLAC, the radio guys stated that they heard Andrew Bynum trying to push a new nickname (A-Train) for himself to the public so that it’ll catch on. Sound familiar guys? Both Kobe and Sasha (still debated to this day) are guilty of this little gay thing called “making up your own nickname.” Kurt admits that no one in the locker room actually calls Andrew, “A-Train,” which means that he is indeed pushing it himself. Hahahah. Big game, big pockets, big head. LA all day 08-09!
First off, I would like to congratulate Andrew Bynum on a Happy 21st Birthday. I’m sure this dude can drink anyone under the table given his size. But Bynum’s age isn’t the only thing that’s changed about him. Sure, he’s leaner and more muscular. Sure, he’s older and wiser. But there’s something else. Oh, that’s right, the California sunshine and the glitzy LA lifestyle has finally gotten to Andrew Bynum. Look at this 21 year-old kid throw money in the air at his birthday bash at an LA club this past week. He’s even throwing the Rocafella Diamond in the sky. Hahahaha! What would Phil think?
Kids these days…
We all know Sasha went Hollyweird and will continue to do so. Ask any girl and she will say that she thinks Sasha is the “cutest” Laker. You can’t pry Sasha away from the women and you sure as hell can’t pry the women away from Sasha.
We all know Kobe’s been a Hollyweird resident for over a decade. In fact, Kobe went Hollyweird even when he was still a Lower Merion High School student by taking Brandy to his Senior Prom. Then, came the drama with Shaq and now this. Notice how he’s not wearing boxer briefs like the rest of those high-profile guys. That’s bargaining and negotiation skills baby!
Though you might think that this is just Laker-only club, we also tend to forget that the “other” Los Angeles team is also prone to go Hollyweird, too. Baron Davis travelled 360 miles to go Hollyweird by rollersgayting in short shorts and a women’s spaghetti strap tank-top.
What’s next? Pau coming out with a beard trimming set or a beard-specific line of shampoo and conditioner? I suppose only time will tell…
Lamar has had his problems with using his head in the past. Lakers assistant coach, Kurt Rambis, even once mentioned that on a given play, Kurt would swear that Lamar should take it to the hole using his left, but actually goes right. Other times, Kurt would swear that Lamar should go his right, but actually goes left. This is the eternal mental struggle that Lamar Odumb has with himself night in and night out.
Tonight was no exception. In an otherwise nasty display of Laker offensive superiority over the Blazers in Greg Oden’s debut NBA game, Lamar boneheadedly chooses to pass to Sasha Vujacic on the bench instead of someone on the court. Hilarious. However, Sasha’s childish grin of utter confusion was just as priceless.
However, this isn’t the first time Lamar passed the ball to someone not on his team. He’s even passed it to a referee before. Check this nice chest pass to a referee during a Laker – Pistons matchup. Kobe’s reaction is just hilarious.
And of course, who can forget the time when he inbounded the ball himself because he confused a referee with a teammate. Lamar…referees wear grey, teammates wear purple and gold!
After 2 weeks of some uninspiring preseason basketball, the Lakers are finally starting to really gel. For the most part, Phil has been tinkering with different combinations of players out on the court to see which unit can do what. The Lakers are such a deep team that we don’t just have 5 starters with the remaining players filling up the 2nd and 3rd units. Instead, we have 2 very strong units with all 10 guys really able to start or come off the bench. That means that instead of the 5 best players in the starting lineup and the 6th-10th best players in the 2nd unit, the Lakers have the luxury of mixing and matching 10 core guys according to what the situation calls for. Phil can put out big and thick rebounding units like Powell, Kobe, Fisher, Bynum, and Mbenga or he can put out light and quick units like Farmar, Odom, Ariza, Pau and Sasha. The combinations are endless.
For those of you have been watching Laker preseason the starting lineup as of late has been composed of Fisher, Kobe, Radmanovic, Gasol, and Bynum. Then, instead of wholesale substitutions, we’ll have a lineup with Kobe, Farmar, Ariza, Odom, and Bynum. Therefore, Phil is able to keep half the starters in with some quickness added to it. Then, when those starters get tired, the rested starters who came out first can come in later on. This means that the Lakers could potentially always have 2-3 starters out on the floor at all times with the other starters resting more frequently. This is ridiculous. I don’t even know if we will ever be able to get to our 3rd unit of guys unless we’re smashing by 20 or something in the 4th. Our 3rd unit is basically the equivalent of other teams’ 2nd unit in terms of talent.
Now I know the heading says “Lakers 112 vs. Raptors 89,” but this website is not about sports analysis per se. The only thing you need to know about this particular game is…
1. Laker defense is looking gangster a la Celtics or Spurs. The Laker lineup is so big now that we take up so much space on defense. Now we can zone up by sagging off a bit, while allowing a 1,2, or 3 to roam around the perimeter. This will ignite our fast break.
2. Kobe is looking for his shot more and more, thus making these meaningless games more entertaining.
3. Jermaine O’Neal was looking like his old self somewhat. Lookout for him and Bosh this year.
4. Andreas Bargnani is still fake as hell. The Leastern Conference’s equivalent to Dirk Fakevitzki.
5. Two of our most athletic and quick guys, Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza, are becoming our two-man fast break squad. Sick Sick Sick.
6. Jordan Farmar can flat out jump.
Remember last summer when Kobe wanted to work on defense? All that paid off because he was able to get in the passing lanes better and was a better help-defender. All that weight he shed that summer enabled him to dunk a gang, too. However, his position defense suffered a bit because of his smaller size. Can’t have everything.
Well this summer, Kobe told KCAL 9 that he worked on his left-hand shooting ability, particularly for his interior game. I’m not sure exactly why if he was hitting left-handed shots like this a few years ago. I’m sure he wants to revisit these this season.
LOS ANGELES (AP) ― A 34-year-old woman has been charged with stalking Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton.
Police Sergeant Steve Tobias said Stacy Elizabeth Beshear of El Segundo was arrested Sept. 18 after she pulled up to Walton’s car and pretended to fire gunshots at him with her hand.
Beshear has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of stalking. A Nov. 6 trial date has been set in the case. District attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said Beshear faces up to a year in county jail if convicted.
Walton said Beshear has been harassing him since late last year.
He told The Orange County Register she waited outside his Manhattan Beach home numerous times and wrote on his car with a marker after he refused to sign an autograph.
Walton said Beshear is “not all there in the head.”
Hahahahahahhahaha! Man everyone wants a piece of Luke. He’s just too lovable. All-American smile, Arizona Wildcat, dog park frequenter (if that’s a word). His image is so clean I bet he could pull off being a trusty car salesman and even sell you some insurance if he really wanted to. Luke Weezy all day. By the way I posted her mug shot as small as possible for obvious reasons…wow…just wow.
This is Luke Walton in mack-daddy mode when he wants to get at orange-skinned, platinum blonde, Newport Beach bitches.
This Asian lady seems to want to saute Luke in a wok with assorted vegetables and some soy sauce.
Shit, he’s even irresistible to black men.
Peep this new screen t-shirt by my homies over at OVRLK Clothing. Shirts can be purchased in Laker Gold or Purple at http://www.OVRLK.com. Perfect way to kick off the season. And yes, that is Mr. Warren G!
Media Day didn’t only update us on what we should expect from a basketball standpoint, but also what we should expect from a sneaker standpoint. Judging from the photos below, it looks like Nike and Kobe have agreed to wear some Laker colorways of the already classic Nike Hyperdunk for the rest of the calendar year. Since they are Los Angeles exclusive colorways and/or Player Exclusive colorways, they might only be available in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
Kobe is wearing the Home version of the Laker Hyperdunk (below).
Here are some pictures of the Away version of the Laker Hyperdunk.
Now those were basically General Release kicks that someone in LA could get at a local Footlocker. However, some may even be more limited in release. The type of limited release where you have to sleep in line outside a store for a week to get. The type of release where people will actually use their “sick days” to cop a pair either to enjoy or flip on the internet.
The shoes below will be available in very limited numbers at the new House of Hoops by Footlocker at the Beverly Center. It is set to open in early October sometime and will finally give eager Californians a chance to cop exclusive shit without having to go to the only other House of Hoops in existence in Harlem. I know the rest of the world is sick of being ripped off by New Yorkers on ebay just because of lucky proximity. Now we Californians can do the same.
The “Snake Pool” Hyperdunk
The “Making History” Hyperdunk
The “Ronaldinho” Hyperdunk
The “Lower Merion Aces” Hyperdunk
So what next? The shoes above will probably stop being worn by Kobe himself at the end of 2008. The business model of releasing one model, but in a million different colorways is basically just a ploy by Nike to milk everything they can with this Kobe/Hyperdunk connection. Remember, this is not a signature Kobe shoe. Nike did an excellent job of breaking this new shoe’s technology to the world by using the image of the best basketball player in the world. Pat on the back to the retards over at adidas who let Kobe get away from them because of the rape case. Even Charles Barkley agrees that “KobBryanisbesplayerindaworl.” While most sneakers have one storyline that lasts for a few months, the Hyperdunk has had many lives.
It exploded on the scene with the Aston Martin video. Nike quickly released limited Kobe versions of the Hyperdunk at the House of Hoops in Harlem. These were quickly snatched up and sold on ebay for upwards of $3,000. Then, Nike rode the “Olympic Game wave” to market the Hyperdunk the shoe on a global scale. Numerous colorways could now be purchased at local sneaker shops, while fans could see other Nike athletes like Deron Williams and Yi Jianlian wear their versions of the shoe. Now, it looks like Nike is using the first part of the NBA season to market more colorways of the same shoe. I’m sure at some point next year during the playoffs, they will release the Hyperdunk 2 and continue this cycle.
Starting in 2009, Kobe will unveil his next actual signature sneaker: The Nike Zoom Kobe IV (below).
The shoe is a drastic departure from past Kobe models because of the low-cut and its cheaper price at $120. The Zoom Kobe II and III were both priced at $130. Nike has gone the same route with the Lebrons this year as well. Therefore, I would assume that Nike is trying to hit a more broader market this year due to lackluster sales of both the Lebrons and Kobes, their two biggest signature lines. The Kobe III looked almost alien, while the Lebron V looked and felt about as bulky as a cement block. Perhaps Nike is trying to promote these shoes to be worn in a more casual setting with jeans and shorts on. In any case, I cannot imagine Kobe wearing these shoes in a game setting because of the lack of ankle support. However, nimble players like Steve Nash can do it, so perhaps Kobe has okayed Nike that he will give it a shot.
Boo Yah! Prepare for the Year of Bynum, I mean The Lakers. Well, today was the annual Media Day for the Lakers where the media ask the same things over and over and expect a different answer each time they ask them. Media Day is always refreshing because to the players and staff, it is almost like the start of school again. Everyone looks a bit different and everyone usually has on a smile because the players are meeting each other for the first time since the exit interviews.
Though everyone basically looks the way we last remembered them, there are some noticeable differences that must be noted. For instance…
Phil Jackson used to resemble the likes of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
However, Phil went ahead and chopped his mustache off and cleaned up a bit. Now he looks 15 years younger. Look out for the leaner, sleeker, faster Phil Jackson this year.
In terms of Laker players, Andrew Bynum is looking yoked and cut the fuck up just ready to fuck up Amare Stoudemire, Shaqueer O’Neal, Dwight Howard (That’s right Dwight muthafuckin’ Howard), Meow Ming and especially Kevin Gaynett. All Bynum has been talking about to the media for the last month is not his role in the Laker offense, but his commitment to defense. Sounds a lot like Garnett and the Celtics last year. Though Kobe has everything to prove this year, the most heated matchups this year will be between Andrew Bynum and the rest of the league’s bigs. You will see a passing of the torch this year as the young Bynum battles the league’s older bigs like Shaq, while testing his skills against his younger peers. Just remember those Shaq, Hakeem, David Robinson bouts of the 90s. So, out with the old and in with the new. As you can see, Bynum followed through on my prediction that he will grow out facial hair. One for one, baby. Check his interview below.
Meanwhile, Pau‘s beard is still patchier than ever, while Kobe looks a million times happier than he did during last year’s Media Day. Last year’s barrage of questions revolved around Kobe’s future with the team. This year’s barrage of repetitive comments towards Kobe seems to be about his age, since he turned 30 this summer. Phil also entertained the fact that he will try to limit Kobe’s minutes this year. Newsflash geniuses…Phil tries to do this every year with every player. If he is playing Kobe 40+ minutes, it’s not because he wants to, but because he has to. It’s just that Phil probably thinks that those scenarios will be more rare this season because of the Lakers’ insane depth. Just as Sasha would say, “We have a very dip tim [deep team].”
Probably the most interesting thing Kobe lets us know is that because of people’s disbelief in his abilities now, he was drug-tested after he windmill dunked in the layup line before an Olympic game. Not too sure if he was joking or not though. You be the judge. Don’t matter: 30’s the new 20.
It’s official! Last week, Sun Yue chose to sign with adidas and today he officially signed with the Lakers. He will be joining fellow Laker, Jordan Farmar, Gilbert Arenas, T-Wack, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Dwight Howard at adidas.
In other news, true old school Laker fans will realize that the number on Sun’s jersey is #9, the jersey number of the most badass point guard the Lakers ever had – Nick “The Quick” Van Exel. This is for all you 90s babies who think rap music these days is cool and who haven’t grown up in the Golden Age of Civilization.
During the mid-90s, when Kobe still had a boy’s body, when Shaq was the Laker noob, there were a group of sickass talents who were never bigger than the sum of their parts. Never great, just sick. Cedric Ceballos, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Vlade Divac and Elden Campbell were the main pieces of that Laker team I believe. And the coach? Well, it was none other than Del Harris, who is now an assistant coach with the Mavericks I think. Back in the day, Nick and Del Harris were the perennially quarrelsome couple. Just think of the relationship between every coach and Ron Artest/Stephon Marbury or the relationship between Amy Winehouse and husband Blake Fielder-Civil. Something like that. Then, Del Harris gets fired for obvious reasons and then Nick Van Exel gets passed along from team to team like a blunt at a Bone Thugs concert.
So why is Nick Van Exel so important?
1. Did sick little dances after sick plays. He even shadow-boxed.
2. First to do the 90s slit through the front of the flat-top hair cut, but to his eyebrow. Badass.
3. Shot free throws from in between the free throw line and the 3-point line. Distance didn’t matter to Nick.
4. First to attack a referee. It was more of a shove, but hey the referee ended up flying onto the scorer’s table. Again, badass. Most players are so afraid of David Stern’s fines and punishments they wouldn’t even think to do this, so they resort to complaining. Weak.
On that note, here is a good mix of Nick’s nastiness to the very fitting score of “All Eyez On Me” by 2Pac. Sorry, but much of this is him in other team uniforms, but hey it was the 90s, there weren’t cameras everywhere and the internet was still in infancy. Again, I digress. So, yea…Sun Yue, do #9 right!
Yes, that means 3 days for the United Colors of Benetton (LA Division) to enjoy their last days of rest before the grind of yet another long season of whooping the shit out of every team in the NBA. So what might our multicultural basketball team members want to fit in before the ring of Phil’s whistle sets in their ears for the next 8 months?
Kobe Bryant: Rest? What rest? Kobe is practicing his pull-up J as of this writing. I would not be surprised if he pulled out a sleeping bag next to the free throw line, peed into a catheter between drills, and ate freeze-dried astronaut food to squeeze in as much practice as possible. Yes, that’s what MVPs do.
Pau Gasol: Quickly shredding the receipts to his ballet and dance lessons before the guys find them and make fun of him. You didn’t think he played dainty for no reason did you? That free throw shot technique of his was taught by Mademoiselle D’Aubigne not Kurt Rambis.
Andrew Bynum: Finishing off the last week of his mean lean fighting machine summer workout regimen. He might also start growing out facial hair to separate himself from his long lost twin “Little Foot” from Land Before Time.
Jordan Farmar: Consulting with the most famous plastic surgeons in Hollyweird to somehow pin those ears back…but not look too fat at the same time.
Trevor Ariza: Still trying to get the stench of Grant Hill out of his groin area that’s been lingering since last Christmas. I wonder if Hill is doing the same for his facial region…
Derek Fisher: Multi-tasking his life away. Can’t figure out whether he wants to run for mayor, work for Green Peace, help blind kids, help negotiate for player salaries or just play basketball. Can’t knock D-Fish.
Chris Mihm: Begging the Lakers to keep him around for some reason even if not for basketball purposes. Life-sized paper-weight? Door-stopper?
Lamar Odom: Doing strength and conditioning drills, so he does NOT beat his record for the most trips and falls in an NBA game ever by anyone ever this year.
Vladimir Radmonovic: Visiting his mnemonics coach for the final week of his class called, “How the fuck to remember how to play the game of basketball for periods longer than 2 days.”
Sasha Vujacic: Hair appointment, manicure, pedicure, the whole nine. Also, trying not to associate himself with the other guy whose last name rhymes with his, so he doesn’t get his ass kicked off the team.
Sun Yue: Watching the Rush Hour series to study what a Chinese guy needs to do to fit in with black people.