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D.J. Mbenga brings hope, championship ring to his native Democratic Republic of Congo

Visiting his native Democratic Republic of Congo, Lakers center D.J. Mbenga sported his 2009 championship ring for all the citizens to see.

Even if he played a marginal role in securing the Lakers' second consecutive title, Mbenga's ring symbolized hope for a country ravaged by poverty, violence and corruption.

"All we have are sports," Mbenga said. "That's why all these kids listen to you easily. But they won't listen to politicians. They don't trust the political people."

Mbenga's visit over the weekend coincided on the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence from Belgium, yet the area's still suffering with rebellions forcing a reported quarter of a million people from homes. Mbenga's limited playing time; the eye, head and ankle injuries he suffered this season; and the uncertainty of whether the Lakers will keep him once he becomes an unrestricted free agent Thursday heavily pales in comparison to the problems facing his native country.

That's why he makes sure to give back. He donated a basketball court in Kobe Bryant's name to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He visited South Africa during the last off-season for the NBA's Basketball without Borders campaign and shared the issues Congo faces. And he shared his aspirations to become president of his native country one day.

"I always dream to be president. I like politics," said Mbenga, who joked that Lakers spokesman John Black would serve as what Mbenga called his "special secretary." "I know more on politics than you know I do. I love to see kids be educated. I know it's very important. When you have a good education, you save the world. Especially for young women, they always say when you educate a women you educate the world. What's going on in my country now is a lot of bad stuff."

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
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DJ Mbenga for President of Congo!!!


What do we play for? RINGS!!!


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


GO LAKERS!!!

DJ Mbenga for President of Congo!!! Posted by: Jon K. | June 29, 2010 at 03:58 PM
*
He got my vote! And all I can say is...YES HE CAN!!
Mamba24(larrY)

GO CONGOLIAN BEEF!

No- this is what its all about, no- this is what we work so hard for.
No sport cliches, Mbenga speaks from the heart. I wish he would of had more playing time this past season. I like this guy, he's real.

Well, as long as he can give a good speech, that should be enough to make him president. Sprinkle in some hopenchange, and he'll be a shoo-in.

DJ Mbenga possibly the best and biggest heart in the NBA!

Good luck Mr. Mbenga!! Where ever you go and what ever you do there is no denying that you are a truly remarkable human being!!

"Well, as long as he can give a good speech, that should be enough to make him president. Sprinkle in some hopenchange, and he'll be a shoo-in."

Yeah, either that or have a parent who has connections.

Seriously though, Mbenga is a great person. I wish him the best and wouldn't mind seeing him back.

Go Lakers!

DJ Mbenga possibly the best and biggest heart in the NBA! Good luck Mr. Mbenga!! Where ever you go and what ever you do there is no denying that you are a truly remarkable human being!! Posted by: The Infamous El Guapo | June 29, 2010 at 04:37 PM
*
And all I can say is...OUT FREAKIN STANDING SIR!!!!
MAMBA24(larrY)

Is Mbenga a good politician and a leader of the Congolese people? The last time I knew about his history, he almost got killed when he was in Congo. If he becomes the President, how long is he going to live compared to being a NBA player. The people of Congo should clamor for Didier and protect him from the malfeasance before deciding his fate. It is best to just put up a school, a hospital, a business institutions that creates employment than getting involved in politics. There are people who are born as actors, as basketball players and as leaders of a nation like Jefferson and Washington. Not all popular individuals can be good leaders.

Do we want Mbenga in the next season for the Lakers? Why not? For a $1M bucks you get a 7 footer who could replace Drew or Pau during the 82 games. It is a matter playing DJ, trusting DJ will help the Lakers than just rot him on the bench and wishing he could help the Lakers. What opportunities did Mbenga and Morrisson obtain in sitting on the bench? PJ gave them a short leash to prove their worth.

@Edwin G., Come on Edwin, let the kid have a dream.
Mamba24

I know Mamba24. Let DJ become a President of Congo in exile. We want DJ to live longer and have the Congo people. Definitely, this is not the time to get involve in the quagmire where nobody wins, there is a civil war going on there. My point is, put in the GOOD PEOPLE first in position before moving in and become a martyr. The people Congo also wish that he comes back when everything is already normal.

My point is, put in the GOOD PEOPLE first in position before moving in and become a martyr. The people Congo also wish that he comes back when everything is already normal. Posted by: Edwin Gueco | June 29, 2010 at 05:14 PM
*
Now you talking buddy! And further more, I have to say it...OUT FREAKIN STANDING SIR!!
MAMBA24
*

carl,

GREAT POSTING! Keep it up dude and don't let the naysayers keep you down.

The generic defense of Phil Jackson has always been something to the extend of "... If so and so is such good coach then why didn't he win as many rings as Phil?" or similar. Well, the REAL answer is simple: so and so did not have Jordan/Pippen or Shaq/Kobe or Kobe/Gasol.

It's funny that supporters ALWAYS point to the eleven blings as proof that Phil is such a great coach but they can never pinpoint EXACTLY what it is that Phil is great at:

1) Phil is a master of the triangle? no, not exactly. Somebody else invented it. Tex Winter developed it and Jackson basically let Tex teach the players and the rest of the time he lets "the players figure it out on their owns".

2) Phil is a offensive genius? not exactly either. Phil's teams won but it wasn't like Showtime or for that matter run-n-gun Dallas, Phoenix, Golden States... at their bests. Granted his teams always were near the top of the league in offense but with top-50 HOF players like Jordan, Shaq, Kobe... that doesn't figure to be too hard.

3) Phil is a defensive genius? sorry I don't know Tom Thibodeaux but I know Phil is no Thibodeaux (LOL). You'd think a great coach would be able to teach his team how to defend simple the pick n roll...

3) Phil is a genius at strategies? like in prolifically drawing up Xs and Os? brilliant real-time in-game adjustments? masterful usage of timeouts? Puuullleeeze, years and years watching the team played and I almost NEVER heard a TV commentator or media pundits cited Phil as excellence in these regards.

4) But wait, at least Phil is expert at taking in young talents and developing them into superstars? yeah right...

Somebody challenged your assertion that Phil is not good at drawing specific plays by using Kobe's six game winners for examples. Au contraire it's ONLY because Kobe is Kobe that he could have made those shots. Precisely because those last-ditch plays were so awfully designed that Kobe had to take such tough acrobatic shots that normal mortals would not have made.

Carl you got it right that Jerry Buss is like us, sick and tired of the triangle. He made that clear the first time Phil left and it's only because he wanted to appease the celebrities and season-ticket holders clamoring for his return after Tomjanovich left that Phil came back the second time. That and probably some lobbying by Jeannie...

This is why Shaw is leaving. Buss has probably made it clear that once Phil leave, the triangle and whatever/whoever remotely connected to that system will go as well.

My bet is that Jerry West and Magic are just as tired of Phil's system as we are and are convincing Jerry Buss to go back to "traditional" coaching. The Laker top brass may grin and bear it while the team wins but they are "old schools" who were steeped in the fundamentals and excelled in them were probably never fans of Phil's new age touchy-feely basketball philosophy and thus couldn't wait to get rid of it.

I can't believe people are so critical of Phil and the triangle. How many championships did we win with Kobe and Shaq before Phil? How did we do with Rudy T and Hamblen? We play our worst when Kobe decides to forget the triangle and do his own thing.

Congo Cash...GOOD LUCK to your future...

He has been a great teammate, a true professional and it seems a politician...

My favorite line of DJ...

Asked if he would rather play on another team and get more playing time, he responded:

"No thanks, I would rather sit here and watch Kobe play"

I am glad he has 2 rings, and to anyone who says he didn't deserve them, ask Kobe and the rest of the team...DJ did a lot during practice, making sure to challenge the starters to keep them sharp, and playing the roles in practice to emulate the opposing big man, like a Howard, Perkins, KG, Chandler, Lopez and even Shaq...

hiya, not sure if this has been mentioned...

if PJ comes back, & it still looks like Scott's the future replacement - can he replace Shaw next season, some what of an 'intern' maybe to get to know the basics of the offense & the chemistry/tendencies of the players - especially the core. p/u some tips on how to keep the ship steady & to motivate them by observing PJ's style. if it works out, here's hoping for a smooth transition. if not, the search continues.
anyways, would Scott's pride be able to take a temp back seat? all this is moot if PJ doesn't want to continue to be the conductor. then..... anyone know Tex Winter's #?

http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2010/6/29/1542696/if-you-dont-want-to-get-called-for

the above link is an article titled:

If You Don't Want to Get Called For So Many Fouls, Don't Foul So Much

It gives a detailed break down on the celtic fouls/physical defense.

Shannon Brown is making a big mistake opting out of his deal. There is no team in the NBA that will give him more than the 2.something million he'll be leaving behind. None. Not one. In fact, I think once all the big names sign, there will be 5-10 prime backup players (shooters, PGS, wing players and even bigs) wanting to play with the lakers at the vets minimum. I think we'll sign one or two of the million dollar players, not use the midlevel at all, and play the rookie 2nd rounders big minutes.


And even of we trade Odom to save money, we'll eventually be forced to use the midlevel on someone to make up for Odom's absence, then we'll only have saved like 2.7 million. Not enough to let Odom go.


In fact, since rookies cost less, I see us signing a rookie PG to keep the FAs at a min. I'm starting to feel, in fact, that it may be best for the Buss family to sell the Lakers to some entity with bug pockets.


If we're letting all our bench guys go after winning a ring and just because they make a half or one or two mill more than scrubs off the street, the right owner may not be in place. The Buss family may be too broke to run this team. I like the Busses, but I like the Lakers a heck of a lot more, and if the time has come when saving a few bucks means more than securing a championship, then the tide has probably turned away from the Buss family.


Wes

Bug and big pockets.


Wes

DJ is one scary dude. I hope they find a place for him on the roster and give him some more playing time.

Fatty's equation to AB being healthy in the playoffs.

Give DJ more of AB's minutes. May cost us some regular season games but will make our job easier in the playoffs.

psycorps - That was a pathetic attempt to justify an already lost debate, lost many times before on this blog. I've looked at your writing and logic in the past and you can do better than that. With all due respect - Fatty

If You Don't Want to Get Called For So Many Fouls, Don't Foul So Much. It gives a detailed break down on the celtic fouls/physical defense.
Posted by: hobbitmage | June 29, 2010 at 06:08 PM

That was excellent writing Hobbit. Well done.

Wes, your certainty is matched only by your inaccuracy. Indiana offered Shannon more money a year ago, and is in even greater need of backcourt help this year.

Moreover, Shannon is opting out of his deal because his deal has only one year left. The guy wants the security of a longer term deal, even if the annual pay isn't significantly higher (e.g., 5 years at $2 million per is $10 million guaranteed dollars, compared to the $2 million guaranteed he's got on his current deal).

Our society needs to get out of this "what have you done for me lately" mentality...

I know business...is business...

But sometimes you have to look out of the box, go with intangibles, be daring and innovative, go with your gut instinct...

My gut feeling is not to break up this team...

I have had these feelings before, and when I'm wrong, it's gas...

But I'm not wrong this time...I took my Mylanta...lmao

2010 CHAMPIONSHIP RING?

They don't get those until october.

I am loving Ron Ron more everyday...This is very funny...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIQ5BEZaZKI&feature=related

Hobbitmage -

Great read on the Chowds and foul habits...

Thanks....

Psycorp,

you wrote some really *interesting* things ...

you wrote: It's funny that supporters ALWAYS point to the eleven blings as proof that Phil is such a great coach but they can never pinpoint EXACTLY what it is that Phil is great at:

my response: Phil is great at getting *responsible* players to learn to think, so
that they can make decisions on the court where the game is actually played.

you wrote: 2) Phil is a offensive genius? not exactly either. Phil's teams won but it wasn't like Showtime or for that matter run-n-gun Dallas, Phoenix, Golden States... at their bests. Granted his teams always were near the top of the league in offense but with top-50 HOF players like Jordan, Shaq, Kobe... that doesn't figure to be too hard.

my response: Jordan didn't win anything without Phil. Shaq won in Miami
*BECAUSE* of D-Wade. Phil Jackson has won 5 championships with one
of the slowest PG's to ever play the game.

You can compare Phil Jackson to Jerry Sloan who had the great Karl Malone
& John Stockton & yet never won a championship. That's two top -50 HOF
players isn't it?

Once upon a time Penny Hardaway was the next MJ. What happened?
V. Carter. What happened? T-Mac. What happened?

you wrote: 3) Phil is a genius at strategies? like in prolifically drawing up Xs and Os? brilliant real-time in-game adjustments? masterful usage of timeouts? Puuullleeeze, years and years watching the team played and I almost NEVER heard a TV commentator or media pundits cited Phil as excellence in these regards.

my response: How many of the media pundits have won a championship?
By my count, you've got Kenny Smith with 2. I can't think of anyone else.
Collins - 0, JVG -0 , Barkley - 0, C-Webb - 0, M-Jackson - 0 ...

you wrote: Carl you got it right that Jerry Buss is like us, sick and tired of the triangle. He made that clear the first time Phil left and it's only because he wanted to appease the celebrities and season-ticket holders clamoring for his return after Tomjanovich left that Phil came back the second time. That and probably some lobbying by Jeannie...

my response: Smoke some of that with me, please.

Let's look at some things. Are the Lakers in the top 3 valuable teams in
basketball? Yes. That means it's about $$ right? That's a yes. Ok. So ...
Everytime the Lakers host a post season game, the cash register rings for
Dr. Buss. Every time a Lakers jersey is sold the cash register rings for Dr.
Buss. Ok. This is still inline that this is about $$.

The Lakers tried Rudy T. He couldn't take the pressure & bailed. The
Lakers didn't make the playoffs. That means w/o the triangle Dr. Buss lost
$$ that year.

In 5 seasons, Phil Jackson has gone to the playoffs 5 times, the NBA finals
3 times and won the championship twice. By my math, Dr. Buss has made
~ 100 million in profit over the last 3 years. Would *YOU* be tired of
making 100 million dollars?

Can you think of anybody in any sport who would be unhappy with winning
the championship of whatever 2 out of 3 times?

Appeasing the celebrities? Ok. Let's do some more math. Whenever the
Lakers are playing home playoff games, the front rows are filled with
multi-millionaires, right?

A quick search turned up prices b/n 5 grand & 80 grand.

http://www.chacha.com/question/how-much-do-courtside-lakers-seats-cost-for-a-playoff-game

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_does_it_cost_to_get_floor_seats_at_a_lakers_game

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports/80000-Buys-a-Seat-Next-to-Jack-96560424.html

So ... Yes, I want to appease Jack Nicholson. By my math that's b/n
20 K & 320K for 12 hrs worth of occupancy. You can't beat that with a
stick!

Finally you wrote: My bet is that Jerry West and Magic are just as tired of Phil's system as we are and are convincing Jerry Buss to go back to "traditional" coaching. The Laker top brass may grin and bear it while the team wins but they are "old schools" who were steeped in the fundamentals and excelled in them were probably never fans of Phil's new age touchy-feely basketball philosophy and thus couldn't wait to get rid of it.

my response: PUT THE CRACK PIPE DOWN AND RUN AWAY!!!

Magic is a 5% owner. Magic offered to pay part of Phil's salary. That
doesn't sound like he's tired of Phil's system to me. What language do you
speak? "Old schools" steeped in fundamentals??? And that's why they
drafted a 17-yr injured, pudgy senior who's senior year was cut short due
to an injury? That's why they refused to trade an inexperienced, non-playing,
C for an all-star/HOF pg? Because they're old skool and steeped in
fundamentals???

Do yourself a favor. Find whoever sold you that crack & beat the tar
out of them! You got robbed!

LEWSTRS,

you're welcome for the article && Art -FL Lakers fan should be happy
because the links should work well for hand held devices. :)

MM,

Thanks for the clip, I enjoyed it. I'm a big DJ 'Congo Cash' Mbenga fan and hope that he remains with the team. I also like that he said that he wants more PT...I'd be disappointed if he didn't. I also like his committment to his home country and its youth.

I also would like to take a moment to commend LO for stating that he realizes that he didn't perform up to his capabilities this postseason and that he wants to improve his game in the offseason. I just hope he follows through on it. When he scores BIG, the Ls usually win BIG. 'IF' he can become more consistent the Ls will be that much better, and a 3-peat would be almost a forgone conclusion.

As far as acquiring players goes, I'd like to see the Ls go after Mike Miller. I think he'd fit in nicely with this team but, if all that I've been reading and hearing about Dr.B's 'austerity' plans are true, then I guess the idea of them picking up Miller(or anyone else for that matter) is pretty much null and void. Oh well...


Let's go Ls...all the way to a 3-peat!!!

BTW, Winton that link was funny as ish.(LOL)

Every time DJ would block a shot, it would always bring the Staples crowd alive. I am a big fan of his now and wish him the best.

If DJ becomes president of the Congo, the Lakers will have a cheap source for diamonds for their rings!

If Didier is serious about getting involved in Congo politics, he needs to get hip to Dambisa Moyo.

Actually, everybody with an interest in Africa needs to read Dambisa Moyo.

http://www.dambisamoyo.com

This is what happens when you tell the truth. Hackers converge on your website. If you're having problems connecting with Dambisa Moyo's website, run her name on Google and check her out. She has a better understanding of Africa's problems and solutions than anyone else in public life. Her website will return. Until then, she is in print in numerous articles and, of course, her book "Dead Aid".

Mbenga reminds me of another Lakers player few years ago, Ira Newble.

Although not from the Darfur region of Sudan, he heard about the problems there and tried to raise awareness.

"But even such good fortune [his being on one of the teams favored to win the NBA title] can't dull the pain of having seen young children draw pictures of their parents being murdered, or erase the horror of hearing a young woman talk about being raped night after night. And it doesn't dim the image of a young man whose eyes were gouged out."

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/19/sports/sp-newble19

it's really good to hear stories about people having compassion for others who are suffering so much around the world.


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