Caught in the Web: Lakers gearing up for All-Star weekend
Without the esteemed duty to coach the Western Conference All-Star team this season, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged he prefers it that way.
"That will be my personal time," Jackson said regarding All-Star weekend, which begins today with the celebrity game and rookie challenge. "Jeanie [Buss] has to go to Dallas, so I probably will be doing laundry and feeding the dog."
It certainly beats the alternative in his mind: repeating how he spent the 2008-09 season, when he found himself coaching Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant again. The picture at left shows this time they got along.
Other Lakers will probably have a more eventful weekend than what Jackson has in store. Though Kobe Bryant won't make what would be his 12th All-Star appearance because of a sprained left ankle. forward Pau Gasol will play as a reserve, one of those reasons being that he has many skills that the Riverside Press-Enterprise's Jim Alexander says are hard to match. On Saturday, Lakers backup guard Shannon Brown will compete in the dunk contest, making LetShannonDunk.com no longer a plea but more of a statement that no one will get in the way of Brown slamming it home.
As for everyone else on the Lakers? ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin provides a pretty thorough rundown on all the different plans. Lakers guard Derek Fisher will be in meetings as president of the National Basketball Player's Assn. Lakers guard Jordan Farmar will be there too as the team rep. Lakers forward D.J. Mbenga will be in Dallas trying to sell his house. Lakers forward Ron Artest may or may not be there. Lakers forwards Luke Walton and Josh Powell are visiting family. Lamar Odom is staying at home, and Adam Morrison, Sasha Vujacic and Andrew Bynum are taking it easy.
The Lakers may all have different plans for All-Star weekend, but they all agree it couldn't come at a more perfect time.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
-- For those in need of a Brown fix before the slam dunk contest, ESPN Los Angeles' Andrew Kamanetzky has a must-read piece on UPS. Lots of sourcing, lots of reporting, lots of writing. AK tops it off with a highlight video.
-- Meanwhile, Silver Screen and Roll has a detailed scouting report on one of Brown's competitors, Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace.
-- Not only is New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson definitely competing in the dunk contest, he is guaranteeing that he will defend his title. Don't worry, UPS. With Dwight Howard's prediction that you'll win it, it's likely he won't be Robinson's prop this year.
-- Brown may be in strong contention for the dunk contest, but Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reports that Brown and Morrison are possible trade assets for Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich.
-- No need for detailed power rankings. Here's the Twitterized rundown of the league's top teams, according to Ball Don't Lie.
--Some sad news to pass along. Fred Schaus, who coached the Lakers for their first seven seasons in L.A., died Wednesday at age 84. The Times' Barry Stavro mentions that Schaus was Jerry West's mentor when Schaus coached the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Lakers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Colin Dunlap quoted WVU Coach Bob Huggins as saying, "From a great college coach to a great pro coach to a great pro front office guy, then coming back to college and winning at Purdue and then coming back to be a great athletic director here at WVU, he excelled in every area of athletics."
Tweet of the Day: "David Lee in, AI out. J-Kidd in, Kobe out. The All-Star game has officially become the Pro Bowl." -- ChrisMannixSI (Sports Illustrated's NBA writer Chris Mannix)
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: When Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant were selected co-MVPs of the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, the former Lakers center referred to the pair as "The Big Legendaries." Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press