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This week's 710 ESPN.com Lakers PodKast!... plus a Twitter mailbag

Andy's still on his honeymoon, meaning it's just me this week with a pair of guests,producing scads of Giant Ear listening joy suitable for the whole family. Truly, if you only listen to one Lakers themed podcast this week before you listen to next week's Lakers PodKast, it should be this one.

  • ESPN's Eric Neel stops by to talk about Michael Jordan's all-too-revealing Hall of Fame speech and what it says about him, as well as larger issues about how we as a media and fans look at athletes generally. Click here for that discussion, which was prompted by a question sent to us over Twitter, specifically "Will Kobe's HOF speech be as bad as Jordan's?" The short answer? No. The long answer? That's what we cover. I hope to write a little more on the subject tomorrow.
  • Earlier in the week, ESPN The Magazine's feature on Trevor Ariza was the focus of some debate. I had the author, Sam Alipour, on to talk about the story and provide some additional insight. With the dust settled, it's a good way to put a bow on what was one of the NBA's bigger offseason stories. Click here for that interview
  • After that, it's a dip into our favorite obscure athletes, prompted by the "contest" currently running deeper down the page. 

I also answer a few more reader/listener provided questions. A mailbag if you will. Unfortunately, time constraints- yes it's a podcast, but nobody wants to hear me prattle on for much more than an hour, if that long, save perhaps me- meant I couldn't get to all of them. So click below for answers to questions not touched on during the show.

Thanks for sending them.

From tommydacomicguy: "Do you see LA trying to do the two styles thing again this year? It was working great last year till Bynum went down."

Absolutely, or at the very least, they'll try if for no other reason than Phil Jackson enjoyed the stylistic contrast he could create with change of pace personnel and the pressure it put on the opposition. It's tough enough to prepare for one very good team playing one style of ball. When that same team can go in a variety of directions, as the Lakers can, that preparation is damn near impossible.

There could be an even more dramatic difference in style of play between the first and second units than last season, because Ron Artest doesn't run the floor in the same way as Trevor Ariza. So, at least in theory, when guys like Jordan Farmar come in with Lamar Odom, the contrast in pace could be more pronounced. But remember, much of the success LA had pushing pace with their reserves was early, when Farmar was healthy and Ariza came off the bench, so it's hard to make fully linear comparison.

The key is Farmar. If he's good and earns minutes, that means more running from this season's Bench Mob. Shannon Brown isn't the same type of guard. Yes, he can sky like Sandwich, the Amazing Jumping Cat, but leading the break with pure point skills isn't his strong suit.

Both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol can and will run the floor, so whichever guy is out there with the reserves will enjoy some easy buckets.

Ling24: What will be the Lakers biggest challenge this coming season in order to successfully defend the title?

Some will say complacency. It's hard to keep that edge after a title, or so says the CW. Except most teams don't have Kobe Bryant, who is particularly gifted at both motivating himself and laying a prod to slacking teammates. Add in Artest, who wants a title like Bow Wow Wow wants candy, and I think they'll be plenty motivated. 

I touch on this a little in the poddy, but my worry is injury. Yes, Bynum was relatively hurt early and wasn't the same, but outside of him the Lakers were remarkably healthy where it mattered most. Kobe played in all 82 games, as did Fish and Ariza. LO was there for 78 (missing a game because of suspension), Pau 81, Sasha Vujacic 80. Yes, he didn't play well for most of those games, but at least he was there, right? The rest of the injuries were among the reserves. Luke Walton, Farmar, and so on. Can the Lakers again stay that whole? For the record, over the last three seasons, Artest has played in 70, 57, and 69 games.

In short, knock on wood, find your four leaf clovers, consult your local shaman. Good health is science (training, diet, treatment, etc.) but also luck. LA will need both. The good news? The team is so skilled and has spent enough time together that even if injuries come, if the Lakers are healthy come April, a repeat is still a very strong possibility.

tommy, 2.0:Do you think Kobe changes his game over the next few years to be a Kidd type point guard? With his skill set he would rule!

Kobe's a fantastic passer, but I don't think Kidd is necessarily the comparison, especially if the Lakers stay in the same offensive system for a while. Still, Kobe's game will continue to evolve. He's incredibly smart about this sort of thing, and I suspect as the years go on, 24 will press his all-court game in ways that allow for more physical preservation during the regular season. Continuing to dominate other guards in the high and mid-post, developing and honing even more stop-and-pop shots, feeling out games in ways that let him exert influence without requiring the sort of pounding guys take with endless drives to the basket. This is all stuff he does now, but he'll continue to tweak the formula as the years pass.

The best way for the Lakers to protect Bryant and promote his longevity is to continue surrounding him with good players.

BK

 
Comments () | Archives (21)

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I believe Ariza when he says he wasn't offered a contract from Mitch. Previously, Ron on his Twitter said that as soon as free agency signing period started (12AM), Mitch was on the phone with Ron's agent trying to negotiate a deal.

Poor Ariza, but it is a business after all.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-44-67/Kobe-Bryant-s-Best-All-Time-Dunks.html

Anyone see the new Abbot article on TrueHoop? Now that is just bad bad BAD journalism.

Assessing Kobe through a highlight reel? Especially saying Kobe should not have dunked, and instead passed the ball to Kawme Brown? What a joke. I can't believe he gets paid to write that type of garbage. WOW.

I mean, I'm shocked at the piece. He could bring up a point that Kobe "should" pass more, but not assess that through a highlight film.

The Abbott column is one of the most ridiculous I've ever read. First, he should not have passed to Shaq on the dunk over Duncan. Kobe wasn't going to have that shot blocked; Duncan didn't have a very good angle and Kobe was probably looking for an and one. And passing to Kwame at that time in that playoff game would have been insane. Really, Abbott needs to get over what ever it is that sticks in his craw about Kobe because its affecting his judgment.

MJ or Von Wafer (my favorite Laker dunk)

http://tinyurl.com/8smwsz

http://tinyurl.com/lonva2

Anyone read Henry Abbot's "I hate Kobe 100%" article on BSPN??

http://tinyurl.com/op7atg

Dude's criticizing about some of the dunks Kobe made over his career. He says at some dunk, he should have passed to a "open" Kwame. Kwame, the "best" #1 pick draft pick in history. Instead of passing to Kwame, he could have as well given the ball to the opposition LOL..

Also, you dunk over 2-3 people to energize the crowd, and to dent the opposition's confidence. Instead if he passes the ball to Kwame/Shaq (and both will mostly miss at least one FT), the team actually's gonna score less than what could have happened if Kobe took the shot (it could be 2, it could be 2+1FT or 2FTs)

Further, what kind of dunks do you see on highlight shots? Kobe standing all open and doing a ferocious dunk (a'la queen james) is not a highlight, a highlight shot is where you rise over 2-3 ppl and flush the ball down.

I really fail to understand such haters. and what relevance does that article carry now??

For all those who call Kobe "selfish", please tell me who leads Lakers in APG over the last few years. Nuff' said!!

Wow, to say Kobe should have passed the ball to Kwame "hands of stone" Brown? Abbott proves he doesn't know a lot about individual player's abilities. Just knows who he doesn't like. That's okay, the Lakers will once again send his Jailblazers home in the playoffs.

I'd love to see a highlight reel (low light) of Kwame dropping perfect passes.

Matt

LA Lakers, 2009 NBA Champions

the selfish claims don't come out of nowhere ... they don't ... dude is just plain selfish ... i mean he really is ... oh wow, he's so selfish

wtf ... let me put pen to paper and write a 5 page rebuke to this espn tool ... oh wait a minute

we're the champs ... bite us

Re: the Abbott article, there are those who say that Magic should have passed to Kareem instead of taking the baby hook, too.

However, they miss an important point. Basketball, even for all purists who relish the pass and sharing the ball, isn't about finding the open man. Its about getting the best shot. there's a reason why certain people are open.

Kwame doesn't get passed to because its Kwame. Kareem doesn't get passed to because he's there for the rebound, and there's no time to pass the ball to get him that shot.

If I'm coaching those 2 plays, I say kudos to Magic and Kobe. An alpha player that hesitates is no longer a alpha in my opinion. They must be trusted to make the right decision.

While passing and such gets you through the game, at times and moments like the one Abbott cited, and the one I just cited, its important to consider upon whose shoulders the decision falls. Trust and selfishness miss the true issue, IMO. The moment must be seized, and typically guys like Kobe, Magic, Jordan, Larry, etc are best equipped to handle that situation.

Kobefan in Cupertino,

Looking over those dunks, in each of them Kobe is going so fast and so hard to the basket, if he would have passed the ball he would have risked turnover, particularly to Kwame Brown.

Henry Abbot is an idiot AND it is further evidence that ESPN is not truly a center for sports journalism, but a center for sensationalism.

It's part of the problem, not part of the cure.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Kobefan in Cupertino,

I thought Kobe had lead the Lakers in assists over the last seven years or so, if I'm not mistaken. Does anyone have stats on this?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

thanks for the specific interview links, BK

I haven't read Henry Abbott's latest, but the guy is generally pretty sharp and doesn't just say things to create controversy. Agree with him or not, but if he says something, it's worth listening to.

I feel a bit bad for gilbert arenas. Say what you will about the guy, but he's always honest and tells you what he thinks. That's rare in an athlete with that much exposure. I don't think it's really in his best interest in the long run, but I can at least appreciate it.

And hey, if I was a gm thinking of signing or trading for him, at least I would know exactly what i was going to get.

phred-

You're welcome.

I would agree about Henry. I'm a big fan of his work. In this case, though, I think the vehicle he took to make his point- a highlight reel including plays from a while back- wasn't the right one. His points are valid enough, even if you don't agree- he's not the first person to say this sort of thing, I just don't think the context worked. You could just as easily cut together two minutes on amazing great basketball decisions he's made. We're talking about a guy who has made thousands of plays, good and bad (many more good) in his career). But Henry's hardly a basher by nature.

Plus, nobody should advocate passing to Kwame Brown if the goal is to finish a play. :) And those dunks were sick.

BK

Kurt at FG and B gets it right on Henry's Kobe post.
http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2009/09/18/henry-abbott-misses-the-point/

BK

A lot of people mistake selfishness for players thinking that they have a better chance to score, even with a more difficult shot, than a more open teammate does. That is not selfishness, it is actually attempting to put the team first. (Even though it may be an incorrect assessment.) It’s fine line, and I think that Kobe did stray into the “selfish” zone early in his career. I don’t think he does any more.

There is also an entertainment factor – pro ball is an entertainment business, using a sport as it’s vehicle. And the business aspect often takes precedence over the sport aspect. (Think schedules, for instance.) Is it selfish for a player to do a reverse dunk on a breakaway? Clearly there is an increased chance of both injury and of missing compared to a simple layup.

BK

The thing is that Henry Abbott is a smart guy who is fairly knowledgeable about basketball. He's not an idiot. Not at all. That's why when he posts a negative critique of Kobe that's based on a highlight film you know there has to be something off in his thinking concerning Kobe. The clincher is his contention that Kobe should have passed to Kwame in that situation. Abbott should know better. He must know better. Henry isn't a hater but I suspect he formed an opinion of Kobe as a player a long time ago and is constantly on the look out for evidence that substantiates his position.

btw, I wrote a long note a while back on why it's not appropriate to compare MJ's to Kobe's. This is the mini-version: 1) tempo was faster when MJ came into the league; there were 10% more shots taken his first year in the league; 2) 49% of all shots taken in the NBA during MJ's first season were made; last year less than 46% were made; this is partly due to shot selection, partly due to tempo (fewer fast breaks); and partly due to changes in the rules; and 3) changes in the rules have effected things other than just shooting percentages; for instance, last year there were 15% fewer steals than there were during MJ's first year in the league. So Kobe's shooting percentage is down relative to MJ's but so is the leagues (a little over 2% over the course of their respective careers). Moreover, their pps are identical. Kobe and MJ both averaged the same number of assts. when playing the triangle (MJ averaged more assts before PJ became coach which is odd). There's more but this is all I'm saying: When comparing players of different eras, stats lie.

a long note that i didn't post i meant to say

Jon K,

Yes, the same Kobe Bryant, which the media portrays as "selfish" has been Lakers' leader in APG at least over the last 5 seasons(this is the post-Shaq period, when the team had no stars than Kobe, and even then Kobe has averaged between 5-6 assists per game)
And the media calls him selfish.. ...hehehe

For all the talk about Tony Parker being a great PG, let us compare his assists numbers with Kobe's :

Tony Parker's career APG is ONLY 5.6. Does anyone know what is Kobe's average APG during those yrs ??(2001-2009), It is 5.34. So there is ONLY 0.26 APG difference between Tony Parker and Kobe during those yrs.

How does it translate to : Over the course of every four games, Tony Parker dishes out ONLY one extra assist more than what Kobe does!! So shooting guard Kobe's APG numbers are as close to that of a elite/premium PG, and he's still called selfish..

Comparing Kobe's APG figures over other team's notable shooting guards between 2001-2009:

Who Johnson(Joe Johnson): 4.4
Ray Allen: 4.1
Tracky McGrady: 5.2

Kobe's numbers of 5.34 are above all these three guys (which could be called as elite SG's, and are starters).

So, where does the selfish question arise from - because he did not want to pass the ball to Kwame Brown or Smush Parker, thereby averting a turnover? LOL

Come on BSPN media, keep the talk going and continue to throw trash on him. We all know your true colors.

Wasting my time stating the truth. This idiot don't know a lick about basketball. No wonder he works for ESPN. He should get a job for something he knows about.

Wasting my time stating the truth. This idiot don't know a lick about basketball. No wonder he works for ESPN. He should get a job for something he knows about.

excellent cast re: MJ and Trevor. MJ showed his true colors, and may not give a damn that he did. Unlike another all-star who went into management (Jerry West) he lacks humility and empathy. I'll take Jerry every time. As to Trevor, he has his agent to blame. He overplayed his hand by far and you don't do that to Jerry Buss. Further, Trevor will be a disappointment without a system like the Triangle to set him up. People underestimate the power of that system to make role players look like stars.


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