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He's Mitchtastic! Part II

Here's the rest of Mitch's final conference, with my comments in italics.

—BK

On Kobe and USA Basketball:

"We talked a little about that in our exit meeting. They start towards the middle of July in Las Vegas and they travel quite a bit. They're in Vegas, they go to Korea, they go to Japan. And then once they're in Japan they make a stop or two before they finally get to the finals, hopefully, which is right outside Tokyo. (They have five games of pool play?) That's correct. I saw Coach Krzyzewski in Phoenix two days ago (this would have been around the first weekend in May), we talked for about 20 minutes about what his vision was for the Olympic team. How he hoped to play with the talent that he had on the team. With Jerry Colangelo lurking in the shadows and with Coach Krzyzewski's feel for players, I don't expect to see two-a-day practices that go three hours that players get burned out at. I expect to see a group of players that are going to practice hard, (but) I don't think they'll jeopardize their careers with overpractice and fatigue, and they have a certain vision for the type of basketball they'd like to play as well, which I think fits with what Kobe feels as well going forward."

Do you expect Sasha and Ronny to play for their respective teams?

"Well Lamar is (going as well). Lamar and Kobe for USA Basketball, Ronny would be for the French National Team, and Sasha would be for the Slovenian National Team. I think it's possible that all four of those players would be on their national teams this summer."

Was it hard for you and Coach K to talk? Duke and North Carolina?

"Not with this year's recruiting class at Carolina. (laughter) Actually, as you know, we interviewed him two years ago and I have a relationship with him. He's very easy to talk to."

//Here's the rest of Mitch's final conference, with my comments in italics.

—BK

On Kobe and USA Basketball:

"We talked a little about that in our exit meeting. They start towards the middle of July in Las Vegas and they travel quite a bit. They're in Vegas, they go to Korea, they go to Japan. And then once they're in Japan they make a stop or two before they finally get to the finals, hopefully, which is right outside Tokyo. (They have five games of pool play?) That's correct. I saw Coach Krzyzewski in Phoenix two days ago (this would have been around the first weekend in May), we talked for about 20 minutes about what his vision was for the Olympic team. How he hoped to play with the talent that he had on the team. With Jerry Colangelo lurking in the shadows and with Coach Krzyzewski's feel for players, I don't expect to see two-a-day practices that go three hours that players get burned out at. I expect to see a group of players that are going to practice hard, (but) I don't think they'll jeopardize their careers with overpractice and fatigue, and they have a certain vision for the type of basketball they'd like to play as well, which I think fits with what Kobe feels as well going forward."

Do you expect Sasha and Ronny to play for their respective teams?

"Well Lamar is (going as well). Lamar and Kobe for USA Basketball, Ronny would be for the French National Team, and Sasha would be for the Slovenian National Team. I think it's possible that all four of those players would be on their national teams this summer."

Was it hard for you and Coach K to talk? Duke and North Carolina?

"Not with this year's recruiting class at Carolina. (laughter) Actually, as you know, we interviewed him two years ago and I have a relationship with him. He's very easy to talk to."

It sounds like you're not planning on a whole lot of changes next year. Is that fair to say?

'"You cannot predict a major change. There's only two or three, maybe four teams that have significant cap room in the NBA. This is not a great year where you're going to see 8 [to] 10 stellar free agents available. So even if you had $10, $12 million  worth of cap room, there aren't a great number of players to spend it on. And the teams that have cap room are just three or four teams. The other 25 or 26 teams in the NBA are in the exact same boat we are, which is you're over the cap, you have a draft choice, you might have a second round pick, and you have your exceptions, which is a midlevel exception and a biannual exception. So we're in the exact same boat that 25 or 26 other NBA teams are in. In fact, I think we're in a better position. We're not approaching the tax, because once you get to the tax you're paying double for a player. So if you think a player is worth $4 or $5 million but you have to pay him $10, then are you making a good business/basketball decision? So we're not even approaching the tax this off-season, so we're in a position where we can spend our biannual, we can spend our midlevel, we can spend both. If we can make a trade and bring back more money that we take on, we have the ability to do that.

So we have those possibilities. We have a big window two years from now, which we may continue to decide to prepare for, or we may not if something does come up. None of our plans are etched in stone, but we do feel that we have a lot of flexibility with our roster and financially, and we're no worse off than 26 other teams in the NBA regarding the cap."

On balancing the big window two years from now with the present, and making an available move?

"To be honest, it's actually helpful when making a decision. Because when you make a decision you look at a player and it was helpful during the period of time prior to the trade deadline this year. We had a bunch of opportunities to take back a player or two players we could have made three or four deals. But it would have entailed using substantial salary next year and a couple of them would have put us in jeopardy two years down the road. And where we are today looking back on it, we're glad we didn't make those deals. You know, during the season you're not playing well, you have this feeling to improve the team, but to know that you may be giving up a big part of your future by making a deal like that, you give it actually a second thought, which is what we did, and we didn't do the deals and we're happy we didn't. We're very pleased with the group of players we have right now, and then we have all this flexibility this off-season and also going forward."

On balancing the need to bring in more experience with making sure the young players have enough court time to develop:

"Well I thought we had a great balance this year. Up until three or four days ago, I thought we had great chemistry. Even bringing Jimmy Jackson on if you watched him during timeouts and during practice, you'd watch him go to the players and whisper something in their ear or pull them aside and show them something. Aaron McKie didn't play a lot due to injury, but he had the same profound effect on our younger players and our less experienced players during the playoffs and during the season, even when he was injured. So you do have to have the right balance. You can't just have 10 or 12 really talented young guys, because it just doesn't work. They don't have a pecking order, they don't know where they stand, they're all trying to prove themselves in the league, they're all trying to get their next contract, they're all trying to prove that they belong. So a mix is really important. Aaron's going to be back next year, Jimmy's a free agent, we haven't had time to discuss it, but it's a factor. It's a factor getting the right mix."

On having both Chris and Kwame together on the roster, and some of the issues that presents:

"Phil and I haven't really discussed it. We spent a minute or two talking about it briefly this morning. The one thing that he did say to me was he's always had three centers on his roster. If Kwame is a center, which is what he's played the last month and a half, and Chris is a center and Andrew's a center, then we have three centers. There's nothing wrong with having three big players in this league. One player's not going to play big minutes, and the other guy's going to play three or four minutes, or he's going to have a mix of substitutions, there's going to be foul trouble. And who's to say that Kwame or Chris can't play some big forward? So at this time, we're comfortable with having a big roster."

Knowing what it takes to win a championship, is that something you see in the future for this core group?

"If we could have gotten past Phoenix, you can make an argument that hey, we can get to the conference finals. We'd have to get through the Clippers, but we lost two, we won two. So maybe we could have got past them, maybe we couldn't have. So now you're in the conference finals with this group. The group that we have is going to be back next year, they're going to be a little bit older, a little bit more savvy in terms of accomplishment, and experienced in terms of the playoff series this year. I think it's safe to say they'll be a better group next year. If we can make an off-season acquisition, I don't understand why we wouldn't be in a position to duplicate what we did this year in terms hoping to get past the first and second round."

And a championship?

"A championship run really includes a lot of experience and you don't see teams that average 23 or 24 years of age at one point in time during the season, our average age was 23.7, I think. You don't see teams that young getting to the finals. Do an average age of the San Antonio Spurs (or) Detroit Pistons and you get a better feel for what you're talking about. I wouldn't discount it a year or two down the road, and clearly that's our goal. But to say that we're going to be a championship contending team next year, I'm not prepared to say that although I think it's a possibility."

On what they hope to see from Bynum this summer:

"Well Andrew fell behind the eight ball a little bit in training camp when he got injured, and then when Chris Mihm went down and we were looking at giving Andrew a lot of time he got injured again. So his progress in the last month or so really fell behind. We've got four to five months off right now. He's going to have to get in the gym. We have a big summer program scheduled that's going to be almost three weeks, he's going to have to play every day and play a lot. I'm sure he'll go to Pete Newell's Big Man Camp in Las Vegas again. He'll have to be in this facility every day between now and the end of the summer. For a kid that just turned 18 years old we're very pleased with his progress, but he has to continue to work and he has to play."

 
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Good comments from Mitch. I read an article this morning and Jason Kidd was asked if New Jersey has to make a major overall after being beat by the Heat and he responded that this league, and the way its set up in getting free agents and the like is currently set to bring parity. I think Michael T and others said that this is the most wide-open playoffs we have seen in awhile and I have to agree. I know I have concerns about this roster, but Kupchak kind of re-inforced the idea that the majority of the teams in the league are in the same boat where they can't make any real big changes.

That being said, if we can parlay the experience and development we made this year into a few more wins next season and hopefully some added composure in the playoffs I like our chances to make some noise.

I Sasha's slovenians play us over the summer, that'd be a great boost to the lakers. Kobe would be in charge of guarding Sasha, which he obviously won't do because he doesn't respect SV's game. So Sasha will score 20 with 10 assists and his confidence will sky-rocket going into the season. Call it the Steve Blake effect.

hmm its mostly the same old things.
BK i know that u didnt get the kobe interview but can u post a link for it please.
bad luck for big baby hope he and turiaf gets 10-15 a game next year.
i think the national squad will do wonders to ronny and sasha.

Mannie-

I love the optimism. If you're right, the Lakers will be the beneficiaries, no doubt. I'm just not all that high on Sasha, honestly. As for Mitch, I think he's saying what they have to say. The organization considers this year a success (which it was) and are encouraged for next year (as they should be). But they also recognize that the roster is fairly set already. Short of the KG rumors, which will fire all summer accurate or not, they don't have much ability to add major pieces. A vet here or there, stuff like that, but to a large degree, the Lakers need to express confidence in what they have, because the most likely scenario is that's what they'll have next year, too (with some modifications). If they can make aggressive moves, great. But the odds favor this being the basic group that's back next year.

purple and gold-

I don't think Kobe's interview exists, at least not in transcribed form. We're the only people masochistic enough to do this sort of thing (hahaha). Check the old Extra! links from around Tuesday the 9th, and you can get some Kobe copy.

BK

hmm all i founf is guys insulting each other typical blog (haha) well thanks anyway .
i would be sad if he finally chose to stop saying the politcly right stuff and say what s rally on his mind but thats not going to happen.
hope team USA takes it (lebanon is in it ha u wouldnt have guessed that) but i hope a bonding thing happens between 24 and lo.

Hmmm, we have four players playing in their national team. We'll not make any move because we're in the same boat with other 24 or 25 teams (they can't move so we don't move too.) We're happy with our set of players, with our four players in the national team, Bynum getting to Pete Newell's gym, Kwame, Cook, Smush learned their lessons, we have hired Aaron Mckie and JJ as whisperers on the sidelines, hey don't expect for Championship for 23 & 24 years old players but one shot here and one defense there, we could be playing at the conference finals next year. Do you get it?

Are you all happy DEMANDING bloggers? I really don't care, we need to increase again the price of season tickets, club seats, etc. cuz' gas prices and interest rates went up, that's my concern. Summarizing our accomplishments, I produced a team within the salary cap I just made Dr. Jerry Buss very happy, that's what is important to me as a General Manager. You see, I am a good Steward.

someone was saying awhile back that the lakers do not need a pg. well the lakers definitely need major help in the back court, the person sighted the fact that in the triangle you don't need a pg, yeah but you need someone other than kobe to run the offense and call plays when lamar is not holding the ball or out of the game. someone with savvy, experience who can guard and hit the mid range jumper. i do not want any pg from college. people are already talking about farmar being better than smush, that was college, this is a new ball game. smush needs to focus on set shots, i have never seen him make an off the dribble shot ever! but work on the mid range jumper. sasha needs to learn to slash, b'cos people respect his jumper so it would be easier for him to blow by 'em. we need someone who can create for himself, and give kobe a breather. those of you thinking we can get lo and kg, must be on something. no team would want to trade with us, by giving us their best for our scrubs.

I was joking about Sasha mainly. My first thought upon reading that he would be on the Slovenian team was, "Boy they're pressing that much for talent?"

As to Sasha's upside, it's pretty clear cut to me. He either learns to hit shots during the game or he doesn't. If he does, and can become around a 40% shooter from 3 point range (as he apparently shows all the time in practice), he'll be a valuable role player, who plays passable defense (as opposed to Cook). If he doesn't (and it doesn't seem likely right now), then he'll be out of the league in a year.

Something is going to happen this off season, I feel it!!! I don't know if it's K.G. but he made mention of an "off sesaon aquisition", something is up, ya'll!!!

Overall, I like the fact that we seem to have a direction going forward & we've all seen something positive in this roster that'll give us hope for next year. I love the short leash that Big Baby & Kwame are on!! The summer in LA can be quite distracting for young 7 foot millionares with too much time on their hands, so keeping them focused is key!!!

I can't wait until the free agent season!!

AK, BK, or ANYONE WITH KNOWLEDGE,

Quick question,

What are the chances of us aquiring a big time player through the "Alan Houston Rule"? The Spurs got Finley, Suns got Grant, etc. When does that list come out? Please help a brother out?

ON STEVE NASH

It's not hard to interpret what Nash's body language is saying on the court these days, though. The man is tired. He even said so after his Suns labored to come back and beat the Clippers in double overtime last Tuesday.

So when your two-time MVP admits, "I'm physically not really able to shoot at a good percentage at this point in time," there can only be one response.

AND

The fatigue is evident in Nash's jump shot that is lacking the leg lift. And it can be seen in his trademark dodging-and-darting drives through the lane that suddenly aren't dropping through the net.

"I felt fine," said Nash, whose points (17) and assists (11) confirm that statement until you see his shooting numbers – six makes in 16 attempts. "Obviously, I'm not 100 percent, but I don't expect to be anytime soon so I'm not really concerned with my health."


I'm telling you, we had them if we would have only attacked Steve with D. George in games 6 and 7. I'm telling if you make a guy work on defense the offense goes.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=jl-nash051806&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

mike

BK,

What exactly is the salary cap situation? I was under the impression that Brain Grant's monster comes off of the books after next season; at which point the Lakers have flexibility to take on a big contract. Kupchak's comments indicate that they will not have this flexibility until 2008.

Just looking for a little clarification?

I think a lot of fans lose sight of the fact that this is a business and Mitch Kupchak seems to be quite a good business man. He doesn't get to involved with players and personal issues and doesn't seem to lose sight of the fact that Dr. Buss' main priority is making as much money as possible (and don't tell me you'd do different in his shoes).

Every team needs a 1-2 punch and I think Kobe and LO are a good duo to build around. I think Turiaf with a full off-season of good health, and hopefully Kwame and Bynum working hard will make us a better team next year.

I think we need to pursue either Bobby Jackson or Marcus Banks in free agency, which ever fits our finances better, and draft specifically for athleticism in a swing-type or guard position. Someone who can move up and down the court and jump out of the building. We need some of that on this team since we were run out of the building by the Suns and that's a team we're going to have to deal with every year for the next five or so. We might as well get some horses to run with them.

I noticed he didn't mention Smush...

Daniel Ewing and James Singleton are players with amazing potential and they are not going to get a lot of minutes over the next couple of years with the Clippers.

I would so rather watch those players go to the Lakers and make a major contribution than marinade/rot on the Clippers bench.

James Singleton is a spark plug!

GO LAKERS!

GO CLIPPERS!

GO L.A.!

i was thiking that rush ,walton midvedenko all the recent rookies hell even kobe was never brought a teacher or sent to camps or given video (only kobe searched and asked for them as he is a student of the game).
the lakers obvuisly see something in Bynum and they wont trade big baby.he is lucky as most rookies dont get this treatment.and if they do they are from college whith more experience and 1-5 draft picks.
and they dont candy man got kareem and he was the 1 pick and if he did go to the camp he was the only other one.
i would give up the trade talk coz they are working on this very and i mean very (hell he is only a year older than me and a lot younger than u and he has size)young center. and the is a center s game and the only center around (true center )is old shaq.

Wasn't the "Alan Huston" rule a one time thing? I'm pretty sure it was. Not sure if it was 1 time per team to either sign or release. Or if it was just for last year.

mike

Mitch,

Unless I'm wrong about it, the Allan Houston rule was a one-year thing that was only last season. So it's non-factor.

AK

Mitch,

The "Allan Houston" clause was a one-time only thing that happened last year. It won't happen again.

SantaMonica4ever,

Grant's contract comes off the books after next season, but the Lakers extended Kwame's contract through 2008 once Amare and Yao resigned (the only good free agents in '07) so by extending Kwame one more year they pushed back their 'under the salary cap year' to 2008.

I don't know why anyone would expect the coach or GM to give honest opinions in these interviews. He's not going to tell how they really feel about the players, or who they are really interested in pursuing (if anyone.) Deals they make this summer will not be aimed towards getting a title next year, they will be aimed towards setting the table for 2007-8.

Lebron is balling out of his mind in the playoffs, and tonight he could send the mighty pistons home. The whole thing is just driving me crazy. I have nightmares of Kobe being to Lebron what Drexler was to Jordan.

I fear cupcake is going to sitback and let my nightmare turn into a reality. Kobe needs to come back better than ever, offensively and especially defensively. He needs to take every game personally, treat every possesion like it's his last, otherwise he risks being just another subject in the King Jame's court.

Kobe will have to win a champions inspite of cupcake's lameness. And pls don't draft any high schoolers this year, we got enough of them on this team.

The Alan Houston rule was a one time exemption and the players salary was only removed from the luxury tax, not the salary cap. For example, the Lakers will pay Brian Grant about $15 million this season, but will save the $15 million they would have had to pay in luxury tax by waving him. So this season there will be no players available under the Alan Houston rule (which is funny in itself since the Knicks didn't even waive Allan Houston. Leave it to the Knicks to make a stupid contract move).

SantaMonica4Ever,

The Lakers would have been under the cap and able to offer big contracts after next season but they exercised the option on Kwame's third year and that's about $9 million dollars. At that time they will have about $42 million tied up in contracts with Kobe, LO, and Kwame alone and the cap will probably be between $50-$53 million (I think it was $49.5 this year). That would only leave us with $8-$10 million (not including exemptions) to field an entire roster. that $9 million Kwame will be making could have gone to a big time free agent at that point, but we get...Kwame Brown.

We don't have flexibility after next season because we guaranteed Kwame's last year back when he sucked because they hoped it would give him confidence. I still think the reasoning was flawed (this player isn't playing well. Maybe if we give him another 8 million dollars he will!), but they're off the hook since he started playing better.

Anyone ever heard of the BOBB?

B=BRYANT
O=ODOM
B=BROWN
B=BYNUM

The BOBB! LOL! If Bynum would concentrate on defense this summer, can you imagine that? Brown and Bynum holding down the defensive end, the middle. The offense is going to score anyway.

BRING ON THE BOBB!

mike

hey guys, is mitch gay?
"Actually, as you know, we interviewed him two years ago and I have a relationship with him."

hahaha..just kidding..

Michael T,

I definitely think Bynum should focus on that defense. The main thing is to get some playing time on the court. He really hasn't played that much basketball, period, and developing defensive instincts is something that only comes with experience. However, I agree that Mitch, Phil, my mom, whoever, should make it very clear to Andrew Bynum that if he wants to log some PT he needs to work on his defense.

maybe kwame will be convicted of sexual assault and therefore have his contract voided..that'll free up some dough

ok, im going to hell for that comment

Thanks for the clarification guys!!! That's wack that the Lakers are victim's of that rule & not beneficiary's of it!!! Brian Grant's contract!!! Unbelievable!!!

Bynum is very likely not going to be ready to be a serious contributor yet next year. And Kwame as PF?

Thank you Kevin McK and Andrew Z.

Being stuck with Kwame Brown is a tough pill to swallow. But if the guy has any shot at being a good NBA player then it will come under the tuteledge of Phil and Kareem and it will come in the next two years. Otherwise he will always be known as the biggest draft bust ever (though Sam Bowie sucked pretty hard too)...a second rate Elden Campbell at best (ouch!!).

Yup! That's my thought, Kwame at the 4 spot. Bynum strictly for defense and rebounds. That's not a bad combo. With Turiaf, Brown, and Bynum we really don't need a Mihm caliber type player. We could go with some kid, I forgot his name, who is going to be playing in the Lakers summmer league. He's either 6'10 or 6'11. He would be perfect for a back up center. Anyway with Turiaf in the mix, we could go with Brown at 5 and Turiaf at 4 until Bynum is ready. Either way...Mihm could bring in something valuable on a trade, especially for a PG.

mike

You know, I would even keep Brian Cook. He would be great as an instant offense player from off the bench.

mike

This is a good article that I largely agree with:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jackson/060519

I think one of Bynum's main goals this summer should be building muscle. After losing all his weight last summer he didn't have a lot of tone, so his size was less effective than it could be. After replacing the weight he lost with muscle mass, he'll be able to truly bang inside.

Then it's just a matter of getting him the minutes to reduce the awkwardness on offense and defense.

I wouldn't mind seeing Kwame at the 4, but I think he's going to have to train hard all season to learn that position. Hopefully we have somebody acting as his chaperone.

Anyway, my thoughts about Brown are always with defense in mind. With Kobe and Lamar, offense isn't really an issue. I tell ya, if we get our defense together, you'll all be loving Brown.

Can you imagine Odom, Brown, and Bynum controlling the defensive boards?

mike

I would love to see Kwame be able to play the four. i think pairing him with Mihm on defense would be very beneficial. On the offensive end i couldn't care less where each plays. Obviously Kwame feels more comfortable closer to the basket so you could do that.

If we could get a player of some quality for Mihm I would do it, but trading big for small is a tough pill to swallow and Chris Mihm is a pretty solid big man.

anyway, its going to be a long off-season with a ton of speculation. This could get tiring.

I honestly believe Kwame is going to be a 4 with the Lakers. I, also, think he knows that. That's why he said he's going to work on his 12-15 footer over the summer. The only way he stays at the 5 spot is to be a complete flop as a player. That is based on his size and muscle, which automatically makes him a servicable 5. If he works on his jumper...he a 4 with benefits.

mike

Kwame "A 4 with benefits?" ...must... not... make inappropriate... joke...

Taliq,

I dont think LBJ is balling out of his mind right now. Wait till he does that and the Pistons will be routed. His teammates have really picked up these playoffs and LBJ has done so much during the season that even if Flip Murray helps the Cavs more than LBJ in a single game, LBJ is going to be credited.

That said, LBJ's become a cerebral cat. If he wins tonight, I am officially on the King James bandwagon. Dont worry too much abt Kobe being overshadowed though. It's possible to like LBJ even if you are Kobe fan. Trust me, I've tried and its working! I hope we are going to see a rivalry ala Magic-MJ '91 in the future.

What's the contract status of Manu Ginobili ?

SantaMonica4ever, Mannie,

Kwame...is not....an inappropriate joke...next season, he could be like Sean Rooks or Michael "Candyman" Olowokandi.

Edwin-

You mean a Clipper? And we'd get Elton Brand for him? It's a tough decision, but I'll take you up on that offer.

Edwin Gueco,

Ever heard of Mike Smrek?

Just kidding...that is taking it a bit too far. Though Sean Rooks is just about in Kwame's neighborhood.

I think if someone were to tell Kwame that he was being compared to Sean Rooks it would scare the living sh*t out of him! Might motivate him to put in some work this summer. On the other hand, if someone were to tell him that he was being compared to Elden Campbell he migh just decide to take the summer off!!

Either way it goes, Kwame Brown as a bust is a servicable 5, which Mihm will never be able to push aside. As long as the Lakers use Brown at 5, Mihm is out!

mike

MICHAEL T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!
are you trying to pass a message here? what's with this bobb thing, and if we know how good the defense would be with odom , brown and bynum? well for your information, i know what you are doing, trying to get rid of mihm, to create space for brown. i want brown to fight for his spot, if mihm getting hurt is the only way he can play up to par, then it is a shame on brown. mihm is still the best option in the post. the only way i'll let him go, is to bring in a valuable guard. other than that , he stays. kwame is a professional, he needs to figure out how to play with mihm, or with bynum. this is his profession not his hobby.

Kwame can't even dunk or make layups consistently yet. Then he needs to work on his 5-8 foot hook shot. THEN start on the 12-15 foot jumper.

Ravi,

You either live in L.A. or outside the US. Cuz for the rest of us being a kobe fan means you have to put up with the haters. They're always quick to point out that Shaq gonna win another ship cuz Dwade better than kobe, or LBJ is already better than kobe, etc. So I'm constantly on the defensive, constantly having to fight for kobe in school, at work, at the barber shop. Hell I was asked to leave a bar once during the heated Sac-LA series back in the day because I was rooting for kobe and the lakers. I loved dwade when he wuz @ marquette, but now I can't show love for him cuz if I did the haters would go "See even Kobe's man is feeling Dwades game, that's cuz he no Kobe ain't shyt". So nah can't ever jump on LBJs bandwaggon.

And yeah he's already overshadowing Kobe. Has been from day 1 with that $90 million contract from Nike. I just wish kobe was still playing, still making some noise in the playoffs...so I wouldn't be forced to watch LBJ, wouldn't be forced to admit the kid is bigger and faster than anyone else on the court, wouldn't be forced to admit he makes it look easier than kobe does.

I am a kobe fan because I saw in him something special early on...he refuses to lose...I refuse to be a witness to LBJ. Kobe pls comeback with a vengance next year, I can't live in a world where LBJ is better than you or as good as you. You have no equal...i need you to shoot 50% in the face of tripple teams...i need you to shut your man down night after night....i need you to average even more scoring wise...i need you to learn how to leverage whatever teammates cupcake provides...i need you to win on your own if that's what it'll take...i need you to retire as the g.o.a.t. You called L.B.J. a great player on TNT, I don't need to hear you singing his praises...i need you to make him a pretender...I need you to make 'em forget LBJ

Go Lakers.

ravi,

He recently signed a big extension, maybe this last offseason. There's no one out there of any consequence and if there was, we couldn't afford them until Kwame comes off the books in 2008. Start loving this roster because you're going to be seeing a lot of it for the next two seasons.

michael t. !!!!!!!!
we are impressed with kwame's progress, that doesn't mean we are impressed with his stats. a 4 with benefits? pleeeeeeease! we laker fans are keeping our fingers crossed, hoping. kwame ain't there yet. stop hyping him. we love kwame, if not for his 1 on 1 def. and belief we have in him, he would play 4 mins a game.

chucky!!!!!!!!
the kwame joke isn't funny. why would you wish him bad, then say you know you would go to hell for saying that? why didn't you just delete or backspace? i'm not mad at you though, so don't take it personal. it's one of those statements that flirts with funny and irrational, you want to laugh but you know it is wrong.

michael t.!!!!!!!!!!!
i'm on you like white on rice today! the more i scroll back to your comments(while waiting for the page to refresh) the more i see something funny. you said to play kwame and bynum, with bynum strictly playing defense and grabbing boards, duh! that's kwame. bynum has better offense than kwame, just wasn't strong enuff, also rookie/18yrs. since when did kwame become our go to man in the post? not every team is phoenix. i love kwame, but not as much as you. someone did ask awhile ago, are kwame's agent? lol!

Michael T,

"Kwame Brown as a bust is a servicable 5"

What?!?! Kwame played pretty bad at the beginning of the year and it cost us. He needs to realize that he's going into his sixth year and if he doesn't make some big strides over 82 games that he probably will be labeled one of the biggest busts ever (he's probably top 5 or so right now).

I totally agree with emman that Kwame needs to play well no matter who's on the floor. He can't wait for the team to have no other option to put him in, he's got to bring his game to a level where he makes this team better, not just fill in for someone when they're injured.

I was under the impression that Kwame was brought to LA to play the 4 and I still think that's where he should be. I've said it before that he is going to have to learn that position of he will be out of LA when his contract is up, we have Andrew Bynum as our center of the future.

AK/BK

Have you heard any rumours about who the Lakers might target at guard? Who are the free agent guards available that could help? I know they could possibly resign Laron Profit.

I think Sasha has the potential to be a Steve Kerr type player if he can get his shot to drop with any consistincy.

michael t!!!!!!!!!!
you really think kwame is better now than mihm? i want to be on the stuff that you're on,mihm is the only consistent player for the lakers other kobe all season, are you serious. if not for foul problems, mihm can give you 20 points easy, he was shooting over 50% that includes jumpers. kwame can't catch, can't dunk, can't lay up, at 7"0. i have been making excuses for kwame all season, up until yesterday, from here henceforth, he is on his own. no more talks on potentials, he has been in the league too long, and after a whole season with the lakers, he better show up next season.

andy b!
check hoopsworld.com/la hoops. that would answer your questions.

Michael T,

I think Chris Mihm wronged you in a past life. I know he isn't an all-star center, but there were many times during this season and last when the only other guy I could spot on the floor giving even a decent amount of effort other than Kobe was Chris Mihm. I bet if you polled all GMs in the league and asked them which of the two guys they rather have on their roster, the majority would pick Chris Mihm.

I only pull for Kwame because I'm a Laker fan and I know we need him to really develop, we've invested a lot in the kid. His attitude and approach to the game I absolutely despise and if he had any trade value at all I would be screaming for a trade. Problem is we'd only be able to get some other crappy player with a long, expensive contract, at least Kwame is big.

Andy B,

I've heard Marcus Banks and Speedy Claxton get tossed around a bit. It's not a really strong free agent class when it comes to PG's.

I do think Profit is a pretty safe bet to be back on the team next season, assuming he heals up well and doesn't ask for the world in salary (and with all due respect, he won't prompt a league-wide bidding war). But he practically lives in the Lakers locker room, so L.A. appears to be his first choice. And he played well before getting hurt and I've never heard anything other than the team really likes him.

AK

andrew Z!
i'm with you.
how can kwame say, he is not a "back to the basket player", then say he wants to play center. if he doen't play with his back to the basket, then he better have a jumper, or be a slasher. and since he has been working on the hook, its been getting better, but i want to see him against the other none-suns' centers of the league.kwame is no longer the project, bynum is.if he can't play the 4, and bynum matures, sorry, mike t. they would send him away.

I'm tired right now, just finished a working out, cut the grass, and ate a huge meal. Will answer emmem and andrew z. later.

mike

Michael T,

Thanks for the break down on your day. I just raced go karts and ate a chicken sandwich for lunch. I plan on using the restroom and brushing my teeth later. Look forward to resuming discussion later.

emman,

I'm with you, this is Kwame's 6th season in the league. No more excuses, no more kid gloves, no more working on his confidence. This is the NBA, make it happen or get the eff out.

I hope Ronny Turiaf shows him up this year.

Man those are watered down comments if I ever heard one...just kidding lol. Did any of you feel like he was talking about LO when he was talking about trading during the season? I got the feeling it was the Artest-LO, or LO-Garnett thing (cause he said more than 2). Of course it'd have to be LO cause let's face it, we aint got no tradeable commodities, whatever, we'll make our own. Man towards the end of the season, I swear we could have traded 3-4 people who's stock are getting higher, Kwame being one of them. But I'm glad we didn't. I have this feeling that if they're going to be stars, they better be stars here, I'd hate to have passed on "one of the greatest to play the game" LO. Or at the very least, for them not to suck here lol.

In light of all this playoffs talk, I was thinking about it, each of those teams have a "defender," a perimeter defender (outside of their best player), and we got none (outside of Kobe). Hell we got none at all most of the time, cause he's expending so much energy on the offense. So we definitely need to get one (is McKie a defender? what are the chances of him starting next season instead of Smush?) or we need to make our own.


Man Michael T has a rough life! :)

Faith,

You're right, we don't have our "lock-down" guy that can guard the other team's number one guy. that dude should have one responsibilty and that's to make the other guy work for his points. If we could find one of those we'd make huge stries next year.

Andrew Z,
Make sure you wash your hands. And floss.

The Laker team that playing the Suns will be the Laker team of next year. All the talk about Odom for Garnett is simply talk. Lamar can shoot, rebound and make assists - a valuable asset in the triangle. It'll take 3/4 of a year for KG to figure out the triangle. PJ doesn't have that kind of time to waste. PJ and Mitch will maybe add one player - hopefully a mature point guard - and let all the kids develop for another year.

Michael T, AZ-

So it's really true, huh? Nobody on this board actually works during the day. I guess that's a relief because I'd hate to think of what would happen to the economy if everybody was as motivated as me.

I think it's pretty simple to get Kwame to live up to his potential. Put Kobe's brain in his body.

mannie, lol

it is simple, we need to put Kobe's brain on all our other players as well...and bingo! A championship team!

Seriously though, a change in attitude, some of Kobe's attitude rubbing off on our other players ain't the worst thing. I think we saw some of that in LO (a little) cause before he'd approach the game differently, now he's talking about attacking, and he's just more competitive in my opinion. Now if we can only get that to rub off on the other guys.

Lost Luster

It will be hard for the Lakers to get a top-tier free agent due the the type of offense and shots taken by Kobe Bryant. One look at Lamar Odom and the decline of his overall game illustrates that. An agent worth his mettle would not advise a player the quality of a Kevin Garnett to join the Laker organization and fade into obscurity

If KG were to play in the City of Angels it would be with the up and coming Clippers before it would be with the Lakers. I just don't see a quality Big coming to LA due to the past actions of the Two K's, Kobe and Kupchak. The Laker organization has been on decline since Jerry West left for Memphis.

Maybe change should start at the top with the General Manager. The Lakers need a change at the top in order to regain the luster, excitement and confidence that emitted from this once storied franchise.

OUT!!!!
The truth

We all either have no life or desk jobs. Or wait, no we all have no life.

I actually do work, quite a bit.

i'm a hell of multi-tasked, and I have two computers.

I'm just that dedicated to the Lakers (ahembullsheetcoughcough).

OK, first let me say this: I have nothing against Chris Mihm whatsoever. But after watching him play I have to conclude that he is, at best a boarder line starter and at worst a quality back-up.

Chris Mihm averaged 10.2 ppg. and 6.3 rebounds. That is Mihm at his best.
A bumbling Kwame Brown averaged around 12 ppg. and around 8 rebounds after Mihm went down. Those numbers alone should tell you that Brown, if he just keeps those numbers, will be the starting center. But that isn’t the issue as to why Brown would start over Mihm. Brown’s defensive presence makes him almost irreplaceable. Sure Brown doesn’t have the fundamentals of Mihm, but teams don’t attack at free will when Brown is in there. That’s why the Lakers are please with this guy. Did you think it was because of his offense? Think about it!

The only way Mihm can compete with Brown is to bulk up. Mihm doesn’t have the body/weight to hold down the 5 spot on the defensive end. If it was just a matter of offense, Mihm is more refined than Brown, but it means nothing if teams like the Celtics, Sonics, Hornets, Blazers and every other weak team attacks the rim on Mihm.

As for Brown being a “back to the basket” player. He isn’t! That’s why he struggled with those easy hook shots. He was barely learning that shot. We only saw that towards the end of the year, when he was pushed into the 5 spot and after, finally, going to Kareem. Brown is a face up player with a quick first step. But that means nothing if he doesn’t balance that with a 12-15 foot jumper. If he works on his jumper during the summer, which he said he would do, then he’ll be effective as a 4.

Again, if Brown flops at the 4 spot he’ll still be able to put up close to 12 ppg and around 8 rebounds ppg., plus his defensive presence. Mihm doesn’t have a chance at the 5 spot.

Mihm needs to bulk up if he’s to have a chance.

mike

P.S. I'm a bohemian through and through. For those who don't know what a bohemian is: A bohemian is the 1st cousin to the bum and distant cousin to a writer.

That was a short nap.

mike t.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
i missed your reply, i was busy. i was hoping to catch you online, but i guessed i missed you again. well catch you later, in regards to kwame.

WE LAKERS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT ONE THING, then comes steven with another thing, kobe this and kobe that again. STEVEN!!!!! how old are you seriously? i'm not trying to be funny, i really want to know. matter of fact i need to do what i should have been doing, ignore you!

Andrew Z!!!! WHAT'S UP WITH MIKE T.? that's strange, he is not defending kwame right now, may be he would be back with a 20 page reply/thesis! lol! just joking mike t. you know we love you, men.

Mannie,

FYI, Candyman is no longer a Clipper but a Celtic (whisperer like Mckie). Elton stock price has risen, Elgin will not exchange it with schrubs.

Faith,

I think before the All-Stars, Larry Bird was asking for Lamar + Bynum for Artest. At that time, LO was not playing good, no confidence with his role as facilitator, so Phil/Mitch countered with Lamar + George or Kwame, the trade talk died down, so Larry went for Peja instead, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season so cap space is free again. (That's the brilliance of GM Larry Bird, he'll get a player good for few months and not tie the team for three years with nothing in return I'm referring to B. Grant.)

You noticed our lack of perimeter defense, we survived the season by playing defense only in the last3 minutes of the last quarter, so that bad habits was carried on during the playoffs. Playoffs are games of adjustments so we lost miserably in Games 5 & 7. PHX made some adjustments and positioned their shooters on perimeters. D'Antoni noticed that our guards have weights on their feet, they're slow to react on pick & roll or mutiple screens so we got burned big time! You can see in the Clippers game how they help one another in trying to stop those perimeter shooters, veterans like Cassel & Mobley know and understand the need of extra tight defense and in offense, take it to the post cuz' that's PHX weaknesses matched them with fire against fire.

Well, Mckie is good perimeter shooter himself and decent defender too with Sixers in '01 Championship but they released him last year. they probably sensed that old age was creeping, like an old battery won't die-out easily, they just become less effective until they eventually fade away. lol!

Michael T,

We're calling you Kerouac from now on.

I think all of our discussions end up about Kwame Brown. Hmmm. Anyway, the main thing that I disagree with you in your last post is this:

"Chris Mihm averaged 10.2 ppg. and 6.3 rebounds. That is Mihm at his best.
A bumbling Kwame Brown averaged around 12 ppg. and around 8 rebounds after Mihm went down"

Those numbers for Kwame are by far the best he has ever put up as a pro so it's unfair to say he did that easily or "bumbling". It should also be noted that Kwame averaged 10.7 and 7.8 as a starting center. My point is that the stats are a wash.

I guess what I'm saying is Kwame played the best basketball of his career and to get to 12 an 8 and I just don't think he's the team defender that you make him out to be, although one-on-one against bigs he's much better than Mihm.

MICHAEL T.!!!!!!!!!!!!!
aha finally i catch you. you said some stuff that i can't believe you of all people would say, considering yur knowledge of the lakers and the game. mihm doesn't need to bulk up, mihm is 7"0 and 265lbs, brown is 7"0 and 248lbs, so enuff with the bulking stuff. you bring up numbers of kwame after mihm was hurt, did you realise that mihm had those numbers playing shorter mins.? and when mihm was playing, so was kwame. kwame used to start with mihm, did you know that? did you know that cook of all people, benched kwame? when mihm averagd those numbers, the lakers were struggling, you think if they went to mihm and mihm alone like they did kwame at the end of the season he wouldn't get better numbers. mihm could easily have averaged 20 against the suns. did you remember that it was mihm the lakers went to in the post against shaq? can you rely on kwame to post up shaq, would you even pass him the ball? remember mihm could play with kwame, but kwame can't play with mihm. when kwame was doing great, it was him and him alone, no subs! kwame said he played better b'cos he wasn't scared that he would be taken out if he made a mistake, that to me is a wimp!next season might be worse, with turiaf, bynum, cook, mihm, lamar. he better step it up, and also pray we don't get another 4!

Living in Denial

The present players the Lakers got trades such as Mihm and Kwame were traded for one reason, because the teams they were traded from DIDN'T WANT THEM!!! They are average to below average NBA players. These types of players and deals are the only ones Kupchak can make happen.

Kupchak was a marginal player or bench jockey during his playing days with the Washington Bullets and also a backup for the Lakers behind Kareem. I recall only seeing Kupchak when Kareem was suffering migrains or the game was handily out of reach.

With the 2 K's, Kobe and Kupchak, don't expect the Laker organization to regain any semblance of it's lost luster. Expect bad trades along with bad shots to haunt the Laker organzation for the length of the 2 K's contracts.

OUT!!!
the truth

Andrew Z,

It's not even about Brown's team defense. It's just about him being in there. Teams have to go around Brown as oppossed to going straight at him. Team go straight at Mihm when he's in there. It has nothing to do with rotations or whatever. That's why Mihm looks better because his fundamentals are better but in the end they go straight at him. I'm mean, no offense, but small guys go straight at Mihm. That was our problem last year and that's why we got Brown for this year.

mike

michael t!!!!!!!!!!!!!
are serious about when you say that players don't attack the lane when kwame is in there? wow! remember you don't even watch the games, you always say after every game that you listened on the radio! who scared of taken it to kwame in the post, nobody. even cook is a better shot blocker. you know why kwame plays def. without getting foul calls, he never tries to block, so he doesn't fall for all the pump fakes,now my point is, if you don't block shots, why would someone be scared to take it to you. instead of nash shooting jumpers over kwame like he does other big men, he takes kwame to the post = and 1!

Kwame Brown needs to be at that Big Man's Camp in Vegas big time working on his footwork and inside game. He needs to learn to finish strong around the rim. Unlike Baby Bynum who has an open window for the time being, it is time for Kwame to sink or swim.

emmem,

I knew those numbers. I tell you they're wrong. No way is Brown 248. He is pushing 270.

mike

not to get in between the kwame vs. mihm thing...but to be fair...I think we're all forgetting the crazy foul troubles that Mihm gets in! I mean we were counting on him, for the better part of the beginning of the season, and he'd get in the dumbest foul troubles! And while I admit he got better as the season wore on, who's to say, he's not going to regress. So with Kwame and his bumbling, and Mihm with his foul troubles, they both have bad things wrong with them.
I think when Mike T, says bulk up, I think he means physicality not so much weight. I'm just not sure it's in the body type of Mihm. Mihm is great offensively, good defensively, but as a center, his body is just soooo thin! There was a reason we were horrible at paint defense 2 years ago, there was a reason they went to go get Kwame (though it hasn't paid off yet...it will I have faith). Go the Kwam! lol Darn I got in between...nevermind! lol jk

One more thing about Mihm. He averaged 10 ppg and that was with his teammates feeding him. Brown got his 12 points, at the end of the season, with clean ups, dump offs and an occassional alley-oop.

It doesn't really matter because come game 1 of next year, if Brown isn't at the 4 spot, he'll be at the 5 spot.

mike

emman,

I kept track of the scores while Mihm was in there and when Brown was in there. I also saw it on the games I watched. But it doesn't matter, lets watch when the season starts. I'll remember this conversation and will bring it up to remind you, then.

mike

Edwin Gueco

There were 2 deals on the table that Lakers rejected.
one is Pacers wanted Odom for Artest and Croshere. 2nd one is for Bynum, George, and a draft pic for Artest. It's been said on newspapers that Phil wanted to pull the trade Bynum for Artest, but Jimmy who orchestrated the draft of Bynum strongly opposed it and it didnt go through. According to sources, Phil wanted to draft Granger over Bynum feeling he's more polished, but Jimmy did not listen to him.

I think now they're regretting not listening to the Zen master.

as for trading Odom for KG. I would roll with it bue I much rather prefer to trade for Boozer or Kmart. Both can be abtained without giving up kobe (obviously), LO, Kwame or Bynum. Denver newspaper already stated that Denver's might want to trade kmart for Mihm and Cook. They like cookie's game because they need a shooter so badly. I know some are thinking about the huge max contract and Kmart's knee. It's definitly a concern but if we can really get him for scraps like cook and mihm then I'd do it in a sec. He's a former all star, the defensive stopper we need to block shots and got the cocky attitude that we need. He didnt play much but a lot of it has to do with him and Carl not seeing eye to eye. When he did play, he was still explosive unlike Webber or Grant Hill who came back from the same surgery. They couldnt get off their feet. Just imagine Kobe or Odom driving and instead of passing to just Kwame, they dish to Kmart for a 1 handed monster jam in traffic. LO would be tossing up backdoor ally opps all day.

If we can get Kmart, sign Reggie Evans and Jason Terry. Anyone have any dealts that we'll make it to the WCF? forget the 08 plan. LETS WIN NOW!

Kwame/Bynum
Kmart/Reggie Evans/Tariff
Odom/Luke
Kobe/Profit or Rush
Terry/Smush/Sasha

Michael T,

I think I agree with emman that Kwame really didn't limit the opposition from taking it to the hole, he just played better man defense in the post than Mihm. I really don't think either was all that good at securing the paint, but Mihm was definitely a better shot blocker which makes him a bit better.

Again, I think having Kwame at the 4 and Mihm at the 5 is the best way to go. On defense Kwame can play the best big one-on-one in the post and give Mihm the freedom to help from the weakside and roam a bit more, enabling him to block more shots. He's a better leaper than Kwame and has a better motor. That would be the ideal situation in my mind.

Since we all work less, blog more...may I interject on our discussion.

That's the problem of having an underachieving manager (oops!) we compare two underachieving seven footers, a foul- prone Mihm and a cross-eyed Kwame. Compare a bad to worse what do you get out of it...still between bad and worse.

If we have big time GM, we could be comparing a good vs. better like Chris Kaman vs. Z. Ilgauskas they can dunk, they can block and they can alleviate the burden of their superstars, unfortunately, they are with the other teams.

All we can do now is continue the debate for the next two seasons, who is better Mihm or Kwame?????

Does anyway smell that?

OH MY GOD...IT'S A TROLL!!!

Now we all know what to do with trolls...

...DON'T FEED THEM!!

Ok I think i was being unrealistic. I doubt we can sign all 3 of those players. but we can definitely afford Kmart + Cassell!!!

Kwame
Kmart
Odom
Kobe
Cassel

and even if we do go over the salary cap... so what?! it'll only be one year before Grant's contract expires.

Andrew Z,

It doesn't matter if Brown's numbers were the best of his career. He was still bumbling plus his free throw shooting was terrible. He make those free throws and he's averaging 15 points easy.

mike

Kwame can't CATCH

All you Kwame cheerleaders need to put down your pom-poms and face reality. Kwame Brown is a po'-man's version of Elton Campbell, only with no hands!!!

Kwame has the worst hands for a Bigman in the NBA. As a matter of fact to illustrate how enept Kwame is at CATCHING anything that comes his way. It could be noted that Kwame can't even CATCH A CASE, from the LA County District Attorney. Kwame should be rebranded as 'Teflon Kwam'.

Caron Butler should have remained with the Lakers. Caron was the only player that could play along with a Kobe Bryant style game.

Butler for Teflon Kwam was another Brilliant trade by the short-sighted Kupchak.

OUT!!!
the truth

M-T,
Mihm blocks shots! Mihm makes opponents alter shots! Mihm makes opponents shoot pull-up jumpers instead of taking it to the hoop. Kwame does none of that right now. The ONLY thing Kwame does is play decent defense when someone is trying to post up in close. And in today's NBA, that is becoming relatively less important, because almost all the big men have an outside game.

Andrew Z,
Mike T was absolutely right when he said a "bumbling Kwame" got those stats. That is the entire problem with Kwame. Given the circumstances (Kobe and Lamar getting double coverage a significant amount of the time), a halfway decent player would have been scoring 25 points a game. Opponents were leaving him wide open underneath the basket!! And look what happened when teams did start defending him.

What would it take for all the haters to stop not hating because they live to hate, but to just go about their business and let the Lakers be what they are?
Are they afraid of the Lakers? But why would they? If the Lakers will never win again, if Kobe is not a great player like Lebron or Wade (according to them.) Then why take the time to write over and over on this blog and say that Kobe is selfish, that Bron is better, that Wade is better?

We know that this is a public blog not exclusive to Laker fans, and we are able to take on the haters, but is the same thing over and over, Kobe will never win again, Kobe is selfish, Kobe is a bad person, Kobe .... well you get the point. Also is the Lakers will never be in that elite level. Lebron is better, Kobe sucks, Wade is better, Kobe sucks. We get it.

So I was just wondering why all the concern about Kobe and the Lakers? If a team sucks, if a player sucks, they can't generate hate, because they suck plain and simple, why bother?

Isn't better to just focus on the haters team, the one he hates the Lakers for, or the player that he hates Kobe for?
I tend to thing that it takes a lot of energy to focus on the team that you love and the team that you hate. So if a hater already made his/her point, why do it again?

I mean we as fans (or at least me)get the point.
The haters hate Kobe and the Lakers. Whatever they do is wrong and we get it.

Edwin-

Fine. We'll just have to live with trading Kwame for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker then.

Faith-

I think watching Kobe's brain in Sasha's body would be more hilarious than effective, as he becomes frustrated at his decreased abilities. To say nothing of how he'd freak out finding himself in Mihm's body.

Mike T, emman, et. al.-

I have shared Mike T's thoughts that Kwame seemed to struggle him way to 12 and 8 whereas Mihm excelled to 10 and 7 (before his rebs went down after injuring his shoulder). I definitely think Mihm is a bench player, period. Emman raises some good counterpoints, though.

And I can't remember ever seeing a time Kwame intimidated anybody from driving inside. I remember a lot of times when Mihm would contest people driving inside then look like he was about to cry after being called for a questionable foul, though. And I remember even more times when all 5 lakers watched a guy go uncontested to the basket as though expecting Shaq was still back there.

What about Odom? He may be our best inside defender ultimately. He just can't be expected to be down there because he's technically supposed to be guarding on the perimeter.

emman,

I mean Devean George is listed at 6'8 and weighs 235. Are you telling me that Brown outweighs George by 12 lbs? I'm 5'11 and weigh 230. I'm muscular. No way Brown is 248.

mike

GREAT GREAT READ! BY SCOOP JACKSON:

Wednesday night Kobe Bryant addressed the issue at hand -- the issue of his Game 7 performance against the Suns, and the issue between him and Charles Barkley that had developed over the last week. Barkley called Bryant "selfish" on national television after the Lakers lost huge in a Game 7, a game in which Kobe took only three shots and scored one point in the second half.

It may have been the most confusing performance of his career. It was also the moment when it became overtly evident that no matter what he does for the rest of his career, Kobe Bryant can't win.

"The important part is that we play the game and play the game to win … to label me as selfish is something that I took up with Charles … it's one thing to criticize an individual's game but it's another thing to … "

On the TNT set Kobe spoke his peace. Said what he felt needed to be said, explained the issue and not necessarily why he did what he did, but where his mind was and why he didn't do what he'd normally do. Or more directly, what we all know someone else would have done if he'd been in the same situation.

Bryant said, "we stuck to the script … " and "it depends on who we're playing … " and "to demoralize them you have to stop them … " when answering questions about his performance. About Barkley, he then said, "I'm not going to jump over the table and lump him in the head."

As the words left his mouth he seemed comfortable in his belief, comfortable in why he went out like he did and "allowed" Game 7 to end the way it did. And regardless of what he said, there seemed to be something left unsaid. Something deeper than a strategy and plan that he and the Lakers wanted to execute.

And the problem is: Even if he did go deeper and tell all of us what we wanted to hear, half of us would still hate him and not believe him while the other half would hold on to his every word as gospel.

He can't win.

And probably never will.

The reason he won't is because of the ghost that has followed him ever since he entered the NBA. The ghost of Jordan. Outside of never winning with the fans, teammates, Madison Avenue or the media, Kobe Bryant's mythical but amazingly eerie connection to Michael Jordan is the single reason why this paradox of life follows him the way that it does.

Kenny Smith even alluded to it when KB was on the set. "The barbershop question" is what he called it, to which Kobe responded, "I handle the ball more [than Jordan] … the only similarities I see are our competitiveness … we're different, we're just different."

But no one sees that but him. Just as no one sees his three-shot second half to end his unbelievable 2005-06 season as something that is a part of his basketball character.

And the Jordan "thing" is why we think that. Essentially, the rationale everyone used after Kobe's Game 7 performance -- making the judgments much more severe than they should have been -- is the mental attachment that, "Well, Jordan wouldn't have gone out like that."

And anyone who says they haven't said that out loud or to themselves since May 7 is lying.

Theories give reason. If this is true, here's two to grow on.

Theory 23/45/23: Had Michael Jordan never existed, Kobe Bryant would probably be the most celebrated basketball player in the world.

Why? Because we would have never seen anyone do what he does on the basketball court; we'd be amazed … the same way we were when He blessed us in 1984. But the problem is, he did bless us and he did exist. Which is good for us, but over the years has made Kobe Bryant's life a living hell.

Theory 8/24: Had Kobe Bryant come into the league in 2002 with Amare or 2003 with LeBron, D-Wade, C-Bosh and Melo, or in 2004 with Dwight, or any year after Michael Jordan left the NBA, the comparisons would not haunt him the way they do.

And without haunting him, we -- the fans and the media -- would not forever draw the immediate comparisons between the intimacy of MJ's exit and KB's entrance. Had LeBron James come into the NBA in 1990, while Magic was still playing, and LB played against Magic, his life would be haunted the same way Kobe's is.

But LeBron didn't; he lucked out. So all we do is make general analogies, suggested resemblances. It's the difference between "LeBron James is the next Magic," as opposed to "Kobe Bryant is trying to be like Jordan."

There's an extremely big dissimilarity in the two statements. One that probably only Kobe recognizes because he's the one that has to live and live with it.

But the fact that Kobe came into the L on the heels of Jordan's second exodus -- and being so Jordanesque at the time -- human nature alone makes us connect him to Jordan like Bapes to Air Force Ones, Ask.com to Google, Chris Brown to Usher, Dime to Slam.

And this season may have been the worst for Kobe. By averaging 35.4 ppg, it took everyone back to 1986-87, when Jordan went ballistic, averaging over 37 a clip.

It's funny when they reminisce over you inside of a paradox like this, because no one mentioned how that season the Bulls played under-.500 basketball (40-42, fifth in their division, 17 games out of first place) and how they got swept in the first round by Boston, yet Kobe got the Lakers to play over-.500 ball (45-37, third in their division, nine games from first) and push the Suns to a "win or go home" game in the first round … and he gets dogged. Or how Michael came in second in MVP voting that year to Magic, yet Kobe came in fourth this year, fifth in the general managers voting poll.

Yet, they basically had the exact same statistical season.

MJ, '86-87: 37.1 ppg/5.2 rpg/4.6 apg
KB, '05-06: 35.4 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.5 apg

Yet, Kobe's season is being held against him.

Which leaves the question open: Is the MJ lineage Kobe inherited unfair?

The answer is yes.

It's yes because without Jordan, direct analogies would not be made about everything he does on the basketball court; it's yes because we would not have a barometer to judge his every success and failure; it's yes because we wouldn't automatically say things like, "Damn he sounds just like MJ when he talks and damn he walks like MJ when he walks" to "his shoes don't sell like MJ's and he didn't sign with Brand Jordan because he wanted to be Nike's Jordan" to "the only reason he cut his Afro was to be more like MJ and the reason he's switching his number to 24 is because it's one number higher than MJ's."

He can never run from it.

His career is Jordan's in reverse. Win early, struggle late. But Jordan never had to go through this. Never had to deal with this type of scrutiny, never had to deal with this type of hate, never had to come on national television to discuss why he did what he did in the second half of a ball game that was lost at halftime.

In a season that was lost the minute the ref tossed up the ball in the very first game.

Overlooked in all of this new Kobegate is a point Kenny Smith made during and after the infamous Game 7. He talked about Kobe being in a place no other basketball player exists. A damned if he does, damned if he doesn't place. Hoops purgatory. A place where he can't win.

Which is funny, because the first comment out of Kobe's mouth the other night was, "We play the game to win."

Unfortunately for Kobe, you can only play basketball to win.

The game that is his life has slowly become a no-win situation.

whoops mispelled doubts. LOL. on my first post

emman and AndrewZ:

Props for standing up for Chris Mihm, the forgotten Laker. I have repeated many times that Chris was playing great when he got hurt, scoring at will inside, hitting the midrange with consistency, avoiding the silly fouls, and showing great hops and timing blocking shots in the help defense. He was the ONLY player that Kobe trusted to give the ball to inside. If we had him back full strength versus the Suns, we would have won in 5. The media would have been talking about how the Suns had nobody that could stop Chris Mihm instead of nobody to stop Elton Brand.

No, he does not have the body to play the 1-on-1 interior defense that Kwame can play, but he is superior to Kwame in almost every other area AT THIS POINT. Yes, I believe Kwame has a bigger longterm upside, but the potential that Kwame shows glimpses of may take another 2 years to bring to fruition. In the meantime, we need to keep both of these guys and find a way for them to be on the court at the same time. That is the quickest and surest way for us to really improve our interior defense -- unless Andrew adds 30 pounds and two years maturity over the summer.

http://www.hoopsworld.com/article_17376.shtml

LAKERS IN THE MARKET: The LA Lakers are starting to sniff around according to a league source. Word is the Lakers are willing to move some of their younger pieces if it yields the right veteran. The Lakers have identified point guard and small forward as areas they will target this summer, and it seem young Andrew Bynum could be moved in the right package. There has been a long running theory that the Lakers were waiting for 2007 or 2008 to get aggressive, but given the way the team came together this year it's believed the Lakers are open to jumpstarting the process - they just may not have the pieces to deal. Lamar Odom has been labeled untouchable according to Laker sources, but it seems that the team is going to be busy this offseason trying to make something happen.


Mike T said, "Brown got his 12 points, at the end of the season, with clean ups, dump offs and an occassional alley-oop."

That's true, but do you see it changing? The guy has a superhuman capacity to lost passes out of bounds. He'll have to actually catch the ball to improve much. If his FT% improves like it did towards the end of the season, then you might be right about his scoring going up.

If what the Lamar Show said about KMart is true, I might weep with joy. For Cook + Mihm? Oh the age of athletic big men, and that would let us start 3 of them.

 
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