Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Highlighting the best comments from Lakers blog member Rick Friedman

March 15, 2011 |  7:09 pm

Highlighting the best comments after the jump of former Lakers blog member Rick Friedman, who recently passed way after fighting cancer.

"It's become almost impossible to stomach watching an entire Lakers game. Smush chokes at the charity stripe when the chips are down, Brian Cook is incapable of playing defense, and nobody told Sasha he had an extra time out to get the ball in to Kobe. Oh yeh, and Cook didn't know there was only one second to catch and shoot? Is this going to be a lost season because we lost Lamar, Luke and VladRad at the All-Star break? We have nothing to lose by giving Scottie Pippin a ten day contract to see what's left in the tank. If there's anything there, keep him through the playoffs if the Lakers even make it that far. Aaargh. I know all of you reading this are sharing the same pain. Ouch!" -- March 6, 2007

"I like the Ron Artest idea. It would certainly take the focus off Kobe as a so-called "dirty player." Any new blood would certainly help the Lakers stagnant chemistry at this point in the season. Other than Kobe, Lamar, Kwame and Bynum -- everyone else is expendible based on their performance this dreary season." -- March 11, 2007

A lot of criticism on this board for PJ for giving Smush one more chance. Psychology says PJ did the right thing. He didn't want to lose the guy if Smush really wanted it more than we all thought he did. Now, he can bench the guy with a clear conscience, and that's what needs to happen. PJ must send a message to Smush and the entire team that if you give your all, you'll be rewarded. If you give anything less, you're not long to be a Laker." -- April 6, 2007

'm looking for a Game 1 win by the Lakers over the Suns. If ever there's a game to motivate this team to come out with energy and focus, this is it. Will it be a struggle to play with intensity for 48 minutes, you bet? But the Lakers will play this game with a chip on their shoulder. LO will give it his best to validate playing with all the pain. Walton knows his future as a free agent is on the line. Kwame has something to prove to all the doubters. Jordan wants to go into next season with the job being his to lose. Kobe and PJ are always motivated. Smush and the second unit will be playing just for the right to be back in the NBA next season. Except for Ronny, the valuable sixth man, who will give them the spark. To the Smush fans, saying his scoring offsets the points he gives up on D shows you don't understand the game. Jordan understands his job is to get the ball to the SCORERS -- Kobe, LO, Kwame, and Luke. Jordan will stay on Nash like Velcro. One of the keys is to keep Cook on the bench. He's lost the right to be in the Playoffs rotation. The other is for PJ to be aggressive in calling time-outs before things can get out of control. Just because it's been a crappy season doesn't mean the Playoffs are hopeless. Go, LAKERS!" -- April 21, 2007

"Reality check, everybody. Kobe won't be able to go bananas if there are two or three Suns swarming him at all times. And based on the Lakers' play on Sunday, if Phoenix only worries about Kobe, the odds are in their favor. Kobe can't get open unless the others are making their shots and playing aggressive defense. If we want the 4th quarter to be "Kobe Time" there has to be something left in his legs and he has to be confident that if he's patient, someone else might get open and hit a big one. The Suns have a killer instinct the Lakers have shown they lack. Phoenix doesn't want this series to go back to LA. No matter how close Game 5 turns out to be, the Suns will have a greater desire to close than the Lakers will have to keep the series alive." -- May 1, 2007

First to my fellow bloggers, it's an honor to share this space with you. We're often in disagreement, but we share our passion for the team. Now, to off-season moves. Let's begin with the assumption that no team in the West wants to help the Lakers. The top tier teams in the East have little reason to make significant moves, and will protect their stars. The best of the free agents will be looking to sign with teams that can get them a ring. That leaves us with the middle and lower rung teams in the East, and free agents without a high price tag. Most of the guys we want to dump will do better in the weaker Eastern Conference. We can protect Kobe and Lamar, and hang onto the kids that have shown us promise like Turiaf and Farmar. And we should only re-sign Walton if he'll take the same money; he's not worth a penny more than he made this year, and he should not be a starter. Everyone else should be on the table and be unloaded in as many three-for-one deals as we can make. Accepting this premise, there are some good guys on the Eastern Conference mid and lower tier teams with short contracts who would fit here and succeed. This would allow us to trade up, and a year from now have a nucleus we could either keep or trade for guys we REALLY want. Except for Jermaine O'Neal, none of the other prominent names mentioned on this blog in the last few weeks are likely to be on our next roster. I'd like to think there's a better scenario; I just can't come up with it." -- May 3, 2007

"This exquisite Game 5 between Utah and Golden State is a harsh reminder of how far the Lakers have fallen in the Western Conference hierarchy. This time of year we should be rooting for the Purple & Gold, but we can't. Look at the teams still in the hunt: Utah, Golden State, Phoenix and San Antonio. And the team with the MVP and the best season record -- Dallas -- isn't even in it. Even the Rockets have a better team than LA. We're talking tonight about Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Steve Nash -- I could go on and on... This is reason alone to grade Mitch Kupchak with an F. Even without this season's injuries, man for man, the Lakers can't match these teams. We're reduced to talking about bringing in players who, if they haven't already "gone fishing" soon will be. This is how far the Lakers have fallen. Will we be having this conversation next year at this time?" -- May 15, 2007

I think all this debate about whether Kobe should stay or whether Kobe should go so the Lakers can rebuild misses the point. Kobe is the biggest asset the Lakers have. Kobe fills seats. Kobe sells merchandise. Kobe warrants national TV exposure. Mitch Kupchak does not fill seats, sell merchandise, or warrant national TV exposure. And I hate to bruise Jimmy Buss' oversized ego, neither does he. Ultimately, Jerry Buss, as he has in the past, will put an end to this tortuous soap opera. As he has in the past, Jerry Buss will side with Kobe, because he wants to fill seats, sell merchandise, and have the national TV exposure -- things he will all lose if Kobe leaves. If Kobe is gambling that all the things said above are true, who can blame him for using his clout? The big question is, when will Dr. Buss make his move?" -- May 28, 2007

"reality check time, You're absolutely right: We need to spend less time debating Kobe and more time debating the real problems: Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, and Mitch Kupchak. We all get the sense that other GMs around the league are laughing at Kupchak every time the Lakers call to inquire about a deal. "You want me to take Brian Cook for a real player? Mitch." "Sasha who?" "Sorry, we play basketball, not go snowboarding. Try to sell Vlad somewhere else." The Buss family and Kupchak have so long been trashing the franchise by piling up table scraps on the roster, it's become a trailer park not a palace. It's going to be a long hard summer unless something drastic happens." -- June 8, 2007

"Whatever Kobe is demanding, the Lakers' decision on what to do is bigger than he is. As I've said before, this NBA franchise is really an entertainment business. 1. How much can be charged for tickets and boxes and filling those seats, both at home and away. 2. Merchandise sales. 3. National TV exposure. If the Lakers keep Kobe, what are the positives and negatives from a business perspective? If the Lakers move Kobe, how do they replace him in kind? If they can't replace him in kind, what is the business impact? It's pretty clear, the sentiment today on the Blog is, 'enough already!' What is the sentiment of the season ticket holders, both individually and corporately? If the sentiment is the same, Kobe is probably gone. If the Lakers decide it is in their best interest to move him a year from now, when they might have a better option to replace him in kind, they might hold the line and say, 'Kobe, sorry, but you're not going anywhere now.' If they do, Kobe probably has to suck it up and shut up. Likely other teams might be worried they would be buying themselves a huge problem, based on how Kobe has handled himself, and it would be self-destructive to make things any worse. It's time for Kobe to take the self-destruct button and lock it in a safe and throw away the combination. And if the Lakers decide to let him go, I have to believe it would be to the Eastern Conference. There's no gain in making any of their Western Conference rivals better than they already are. If Kobe goes, it is also unlikely that Phil Jackson would return if the roster is a bunch of hand-me-downs. Bottom line, there seem to be two possible outcomes: 1. The Lakers make some big moves and Kobe stays, as does Phil; or, (2) The Buss family feels they have to blow it up. This soap opera has been painful to watch and it is probably equally or more painful for all the participants. Now that the Playoffs are over, maybe David Stern will try to intervene behind the scenes. Television ratings for the NBA Finals were a disaster which is bad for business. As I've noted before, having all the premiere franchises in shambles hurts the league. Only if Kobe goes to the Bulls is there a chance the league would be stronger than if he stayed with the Lakers. But what would be left of the Bulls or any other team if they had to pay Kobe the big money. We might be left with a scenario when this is all over that there are no winners, only losers." -- Jun 16, 2007

"I am amazed at some of the comments tonight on the Blog. We are all Laker fans. But some of you are taking your eye off the ball. This isn't about Kobe. This is about a franchise run amok. The blame game is out of control. Kobe didn't cause this train wreck. Neither did Phil Jackson. It started the year before Shaq and PJ were let go -- maybe sooner. Management let the Shaq vs Kobe thing get out of control. It was Dr. Buss who terminated Shaq, then terminated PJ, leading to the Rudy disaster. It was Dr. Buss who lied to Kobe about rebuilding right away when he re-signed. All the hate towards Kobe and PJ is misdirected. Phil didn't lose the players; the front office gave him misfits like Smush, Brian Cook and Vlade who were uncoachable, and weak-minded players like Andrew Bynum. The Laker franchise we used to love is no more. Get a grip on it. For Dr. Buss it is time to reap what you sow. Lies, poor decisions, and giving power to retarded progeny only have one result, and we are all witnesses. If the Lakers lose Kobe it is not just a break-up. Like any divorce it will leave a trail of wreckage. Like friends of any divorced couple, we are now confronted with having to choose sides. It is not a choice any of us would make voluntarily. Some will go with Kobe. Some will go with the Lakers. No matter which choice we make, we will have mixed feelings. We will be sad. At this point, I'm sad, regardless." -- Jun 16, 2007

"WHAT TO MAKE OF THE MITCH-KOBE MEETING If no one is talking about what was said in Friday's meeting between Kobe and Mitch, that's probably a good thing. The fact that they met face to face, rather than talking by phone, is likely also a good thing. The history of Kobe is about two things: (1) He's always had something to prove, whether to himself or to others, and (2) he doesn't like to bend to authority figures. It's not easy for Kobe to trust. What we've been seeing from Kobe since the close-out of the Phoenix series is really nothing new. He is rebellious when he is not in control, and he mouths off instead of checking himself. Is it possible that everyone has made too big a deal of all the ranting? Have we just seen Kobe expressing himself the way we always have? Kobe is someone who has always thought he knows the best way to win. But what we don't know is which accommodation was made in Friday's meeting. Did Kobe back off a little and apologize to Mitch for his tirade, or did Mitch and Kobe agree on how he would be moved? After all the press and with all the turmoil, at this point almost any resolution would be positive. Thinking back to last season, I think we can all remember as fans how good we felt the next morning after a Laker victory, and how miserable we felt after a loss. Considering the number of games when Kobe carried the team on his back to achieve a victory, it is hard to imagine how the team could achieve more victories in the season to come without him. Even the Kobe haters can't blame him for Kwame's dropped passes, Andrew's second-half slump, or Cook and Walton's poor defense. And getting back to the trust issue, when Kobe looked around the floor last season, who could he trust to make the shot if he didn't take it himself? He made a good-faith effort early in the season to be a play-maker, not a shooter, but down the stretch (except for Lamar) it seemed nobody was willing or able to step up with any consistency. The Organization's failures have been well documented on this Blog and it is as hard for us as it is for Kobe to trust the Front Office to do the right thing. But that's where we are, just days ahead of the draft, and a couple weeks before the signing and trading season officially begins. Not that many seasons ago, it was Phil and Kobe who didn't want to deal with each other. If anything positive came out of last season, it's not only that Phil and Kobe were able to repair their relationship, but that they actually found a way to make it a strong one, and to trust and depend on each other. Some of us can only hope that Kobe has gotten his anger and frustration with the Organization out of his system, looked around at the other possibilities, and realized that at least for now he is better off where he is. Whether that's the case we don't know. But maybe there is hope." -- Jun 23, 2007

"ESPN KOBE POLL Only 25% think he really wants out. 61% believe he will be in a Laker uniform next season 63% agree he is the most talented player in the NBA 47% blame Dr. Buss for trading Shaq Laker Nation is not alone. The entire nation of sports fans pretty much see things the same way. Now, if we can only get the principals to come to the same agreement." -- Jun 25, 2007

"MYTH BUSTING TIME A lot of statements presented as facts on this blog are only myths. So, it's myth busting time right here, right now. MYTH #1: The Lakers would have greater success if the team abandoned the Triangle and if Phil Jackson were replaced as coach. THE TRUTH: First, the Triangle is primarily about good spacing, which is a basic tenet of the game. What people are saying is they'd like to see the Lakers play a more up-tempo style of basketball. Let's not forget what happened when Rudy T came in and abandoned the Triangle: disaster. In fact, the players started lobbying for a return to the Triangle even before Rudy T stepped down. As for playing at a faster tempo, the team is not athletic enough to run that kind of game. Other teams are more athletic; when the Lakers try to keep up with them, they just fall into a deep hole. MYTH #2: We haven't been able to get deals done because of Kobe's tantrums and players not wanting to play with Kobe. THE TRUTH: Once the Management made it clear Kobe was NOT going to be traded and everything quieted down, any disadvantages were substantially minimized. The team hasn't gotten any deals done because the terms sto the Lakers were too onerous. Besides, we have precious little to offer another team. MYTH #3: If we trade Bynum now, we are mortgaging our future. THE TRUTH: Bynum may indeed turn out to be great (although I doubt it). Trouble is, it'll be four years or so down the road when he fulfills his "potential" if he ever does. The Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson must compete NOW. This is, after all, Los Angeles. Neither the Wolves nor the Pacers seem to be in a hurry to grab Bynum while they can. But we should hope McHale likes him enough to do a deal with us for Kevin Garnett." -- Jul 8, 2007

"I have to say, I'm still not in favor of any trade that throws Lamar Odom under the bus. Night after night, he almost had a triple double, barely coming up short in one of the stats. He played through a lot of pain and he loves being a Laker. A player who loves being a Laker is worth holding onto amidst all the slackers. If we can get Jermaine O'Neal without giving up Lamar, let's do it. Like D-Fish, Lamar has character, he is a warrior. I want BOTH of these guys on my team. Put the quitters on the trading block. You know who they are. Let's begin to restore the franchise by putting a premium on honor and character. Heart and mental toughness are the difference makers we too often forget or ignore. Let's stop subtracting by addition and be smart about who we want on the team. Big names and stats are nice, but honor and character have no price tag." -- Aug 1, 2007

"I'm feeling the current cast is the roster we're going into training camp with. The quandary is, you never know which Lakers are going to show up from game to game, from period to period. PJ must somehow find a way to get these guys to play with consistency. Sometimes, they're out of sorts at the start of the game and the other team racks up a big lead. Sometimes they'll win the first half, then come out sleepwalking at the start of the third period. Other times, they just can't close out the other team with a vengeance at the end of the game. This team seems to lack a killer instinct. They can rise to the occasion when they're facing a top drawer team, and then the next game lack respect for their opponent, which turns out to be fatal. How much does each player believe in himself? Sometimes they stand around on the floor more like paying spectators than participants. Most of these guys make good enough money, but there are too many nights when players don't give the ownership or the fans their money's worth. The individual limitations of the players have been discussed ad nauseam here. But each player also has parts of their game that can make them valuable contributors. So, the part that's unknowable here is -- will each member of the roster play with commitment, play with consistency, play with heart, commit to playing defense, and step onto the floor determined to give their best and play to win? As a fan, I'd just like to watch a game without screaming "W--- T-- F---?" at my television. Give me good basketball! Is that too much to ask??? If we go into this season with the current roster, they have the ABILITY to be a better-than-.500 team. Do they have the heart, commitment, and WILL to be a better-than-.500 team? It looks like we're going to find out." -- Sep 23, 2007

"I'm having a crisis of faith tonight: If I love the game of basketball, can I still be a Laker fan? About Basketball: I love the one-on-one competition between great athletes, the art of the dunk, the pass, the steal, the rebound. I'm intrigued by the match-ups and the strategy. It's awesome to see when a truly superior athlete makes a seemingly impossible move, resulting in a score. To breathlessly watch a buzzer beater. And so much more. About the Lakers: Jerry Buss says it's the most fun thing he can do. He doesn't say anything anymore about creating the greatest franchise in the history of the game. The thing with Kobe. Does Kobe respect him, appreciate him? Buss' poorly timed remarks in Hawaii were all about his frustration. He could have just said that what was between him and Kobe would stay that way. But Buss had to prove he's the man. Buss is all about keeping the Lakers in his family, and stretches the truth about how wise Jimmy was to support bringing in Andrew and Ronny. There was the blog item today about Jimmy Buss being the reason Phil got fired a few years back. We'll never forget the Jimmy vs Jeannie radio riot. There's poor, happless, in-over-his-head Mitch Kupchak, whining that he didn't have the pieces to do a major deal over the summer. There's the Heisler insider, and the AM570 insider who caused such a ruckus on Tuesday. Here we are on the eve of the exhibition game in Bakersfield on Thursday night, but bloggers are still firing up the trade machine as if we were in the off-season. Yeah, I know the trade deadline is still far away and everyone's wondering what Buss can get for Kobe if he pulls the trigger. But with the Lakers, BASKETBALL seems to have an impossible time taking the main stage. Will we be watching the game because it might be the last time we see Kobe in a Laker uniform? Yes. But if I'm a true basketball fan, shouldn't I be watching to see the growth of Bynum, Farmar, J-Crit, and the rookies without guaranteed contracts. The haters are all attacking Kobe for the drama. But remember always that the fish rots from the head. It's Buss who drove away West, Shaq, and now seemingly Kobe. If the blog is to be believed, it's Jim Buss who pulled the plug on PJ once and would like nothing better to do it a second time with no fingerprints. It's Buss "insiders" that keep fueling all the media commotion. I'm exhausted by all the off--court drama. I just want to watch great basketball. I'm beginning to wonder if the Lakers will deliver any, this season. My crisis of faith is unresolved." -- Oct 17, 2007

"To those who still want Kobe to remain a Laker, all I can say is, I too wish it could be so. But it can't. For Phil to call Kobe out in public is an indication that PJ doesn't feel he's gotten through to Kobe in 3 or 4 private conversations. In a sense, it is a final warning. What Jackson has said to Kobe is likely similar to the words in Mike T's very eloquent Lakers Journal. Mike perfectly found the intersection of Judeo-Christian ethos and Zen. The tragedy is that on the fast-approaching Judgement Day and Kobe finds himself in another uniform, his tortured soul will experience extreme buyer's remorse. The peace and tranquility Kobe is seeking will not come from playing for another team. Both Dr. Buss and Kobe Bryant have chosen to play a dangerous game of brinkmanship. What should have been a joyous pursuit of a Championship title has instead turned into an episode of "24." Kobe should have been aware that only Dr. Buss has aides carrying the nuclear "suitcase" with him at all times. Now, in only minutes, Dr. Buss will likely put his finger on the button that launches Kobe far from the life he has led as a Laker.into the scary realm of the unknown. The clock is ticking. We'll soon know whether either side can or wants to disarm it. Tick... tick... tick..." -- Oct 28, 2007

"Open letter to Lamar Odom Lamar, You promised yourself and your fans that this would be your breakout All-Star season. You even shaved a star on the side of your head to remind yourself and us of that commitment. Your coach has generously allowed that you are just trying to find your way in the new offense. It's nice that you are getting that kind of support, but the reality is, it's time to look in the mirror. The reality is, you are not living up to your promise to yourself, the team, and the fans. This is your 9th NBA season. You're earning an unbelievable $12 million a year. You have no excuses. After Wednesday night's loss, you had the temerity to say that the coach should have taken you out of the game. Would a true warrior like Kobe ever say that? Dude, that was the lamest thing you could have said. After Friday night's loss, Mychal Thompson commented that mentally, you never seemed in the game. His fellow radio commentator, Spiro Dides, agreed. How can you be missing in action in a big game like that? Your team is now 7-4. If the Lamar Odom who promised a breakout All-Star season had shown up on the court for the last two games, the team would be 9-2. Sure, it's a team game, but you're supposed to be the number two scorer. You're supposed to be a leader. All summer on this blog, a furious debate raged on whether you should be traded. Many of us, myself included, rallied around you and said you deserved to stay a Laker. Was I wrong? Are you truly lacking "the right stuff?" It's not too late to prove your value to the team. The rest of the season can still be a statement. But any more games like Wednesday or Friday and you will be making a different kind of statement. Lamar, I'm calling you out. Hopefully, behind closed doors, your coach and your team mates are also calling you out. Step up now. Otherwise, give back the money and call it a career. It's "either," "or." Period. Sincerely, Rick Friedman" -- Nov 24, 2007

"Now that the Christmas Day euphoria is starting to wear off, an honest assessment of the Lakers suggests that the team may not be as good as its record, right now. On the plus side: 1. Kobe is pretty good at sharing the ball most of the time. This needs to continue. 2. Bynum truly is coming into his own as the legitimate center the Lakers have been missing. 3. When Bynum is dominating as he has been, Lamar is more effective within his comfort zone. 4. The Fisher/Farmar combo at PG is really working. This becomes clear when you watch the struggles of other teams without any legitimate point guard. 5. Ariza may actually be the answer at a position where the team was weakest. Concerns: 1. Whether the team wins or loses, most games go down to the final buzzer. I can only remember 2 games where the Lakers were able to be so dominant that Phil could pull the starters at the end, creating legitimate garbage time for projects like J-Crit to get any real playing time. To be a playoff contender, the Lakers have to be truly able to put away their opponent. The team is not there, yet. 2. Ronny Turiaf is getting torched on both offense and defense. He’s clearly hobbled and lacks the explosiveness we’re used to seeing. Ronny needs to get healthy if he’s going to play valuable minutes. 3. VladRad and Sasha are still streaky. The team needs consistent shooting from both of them to be a true threat to teams like the Spurs. Question Marks: 1. Kwame – how long will it take to find his game once he comes back, and in what role will be most effective? 2. Walton – he really belongs in the second unit but only seems to play well when he starts. Can he make the adjustment to play well in a diminished role? 3. Mihm – he seems to be relegated to the seat at the end of the bench once assigned to Brian Cook. Now that December 15th has come and gone, can we find a team to take him off our hands? 4. J-Crit and Coby2 – Both guys need playing time to mature into the NBA game. Until the Lakers find a way to start dominating games, where will the needed PT come from? When the Lakers win right now, it seems to be because they’re playing over their heads. At this point in the season a Win is just a win. The team has made great progress since the season started, but an honest assessment says their record is still Fool’s Gold. An even higher level of play is needed to rate the team as a serious contender. It’s way too early for players, coaches, and fans to become complacent." -- Dec 26, 2007

"The conversation about the Lakers having to play without Bynum has gone astray. Every fan knows that unless the team signs another big, Kwame is our starting center for the next eight weeks; every fan wants Kwame to play well. Every fan knows Kwame has had good games in the past. The record is clear that Kwame's psyche is extremely fragile. It is great that, to a man, Kwame's team mates are standing with him shoulder-to-shoulder to say they support him. These are all givens. It is also clear that the Lakers will have to adjust their style of play. Kwame isn't Andrew. Equally problematic, despite the "depth" so many were talking about, the team is very short-handed. VladRad isn't available. Walton is more badly hobbled than had been noticed prior to the Suns game. Fish has been in a four-game funk or slump that few have talked about. In the Seattle game, Kobe demonstrated that he is willing to carry the team on his back the way he did for much of last season. He was roundly criticized for taking so many shots in that game. The coaching staff was firm, that was not the style of play he should engage in. The result is, we are likely to see a few more games where the team stumbles. There are no good answers in the short term for a starting five. But we should see as many minutes as possible for the rotation we saw in the 4th quarter on Thursday night:: Sasha, Jordan, Kobe at the 3, Lamar, and Ronny. No doubt everybody will be singing "Kumbaya" on Monday. That's fine. But it is still likely to be rough going until the Lakers get healthy again." -- Jan 19, 2008

"While I share in the euphoria permeating this blog, I fear that the Lakers are not quite there yet. Don't jump on my case till you read what my concerns are. They are two: 1) The Laker defense still shows vulnerability. Other teams still get too many of their own rebounds. Easy second chance points for the opponent can spell doom on a night the Laker offense is sputtering. A defensive minded team like Detroit can still be a challenge. 2) With VladRad (possibly 2 weeks), Bynum, Ariaza, and Mihm all sidelined, it could get ugly if anyone else goes down. The Lakers still have a 15th roster slot open, I believe. A playoff experienced insurance player is worth the small investment. I'm always of the belief one should never rest on their laurels until their are laurels to rest on. I'd rather be optimistic than pessimistic any day, but it's never to soon to make sure all the loose ends are wrapped up in a bow. I'm chomping at the bit for a Championship parade. The players, coaches, and front office still have some work to do. GO LAKERS!" -- Feb 25, 2008

If there is any such thing as a GOOD loss, the pounding in Portland would qualify. The Lakers were coasting and overconfident. That's almost natural after ten wins. There is a difference between playing a lifeless, dejected team like the Heat, and a conference rival that sees only a bright future like the Blazers. The situation will be similar on Sunday. The Mavericks with Dirk and Kidd are playing for the same prize as the Lakers. A Championship. This year. For the past few games, we've seen the Laker defense come and go. It showed up when the team needed it. But the squad was hardly playing 48 minutes of committed D. The Rose Garden game also showed how much the team missed Bynum and Ariza. Having Walton and Fish on the floor at the same time just doesn't give the Lakers the athleticism to shut down a worthy opponent. No knock on Luke and Fish in this regard. There are simply situations where they don't match up well. As critical as I've been of Luke (and likely will continue to be), he has stepped up his game this week. With only seven weeks left in the regular season, this is the time for everyone to be in ascension. Which also makes Fish's slump so puzzling; it's gone on longer than anyone might have thought. Sunday's game against the Mav's is the right place to re-energize, and truly recommit to playing DEFENSE. I believe it is doable. GO LAKERS!" -- Mar 1, 2008

As thrilling as it was to see Kobe put the team on his back as only an MVP can, the game against Dallas was a reminder how much the team needs Vlad, Andrew, and Trevor. The Lakers need Bynum big time, but the swelling indicates he may not return until the Playoffs, at best. It was also pointed out the Lakers have now played six games in nine days. The fatigue factor could be seen front and center both Sunday and on Friday against Portland. The fatigue factor always impacts the role players the most. That's why fans should not be too hard on Sasha, Jordan and Ronny for their play in these last two games. They will more easily overcome this as they mature. It also seems to have affected Gasol, which is surprising. Apart from Kobe's phenomenal performances, the best part of the past few games has been the sudden and welcome ascension of Luke Walton. His ability to rise to the occasion couldn't come at a better time. Hopefully, he can sustain this through June. If there's something external to his play going on with D-Fish, personally, the Lakers should disclose it. Fish has been a non-factor for about two weeks, which is now great cause for concern. The team is at its best when he is a solid contributor. Tuesday, the Lakers play at ARCO, which is nearly as hostile as the Rose Garden. Fortunately, the Kings are not having a banner year -- although they can be very pesky. But this is a game where the Lakers can get their groove back. In fact, the next 4 games should all end in the Win column if a Championship is truly in sight. GO LAKERS!" -- Mar 2, 2008

"I'm actually kind of disappointed by what was said in the sound bites: "a little slippage is normal, "we just didn't win the game." I'd like to see beat reporters get tougher with the questions. Phil and Kobe are like politicians: they are very schooled in what they say. They need to be pressed. Excuse me. This team did not show up on Sunday night. Period. These sound bites were hardly more informative than the ones from right after the game. Making adjustments in the 2nd half is nice, but why wait for 24 minutes to elapse? Isn't that one of the things that time outs are for? Where were the questions to, or about, Jordan Farmar. That was the worst game he's played all season, maybe ever, in a Laker uniform. Has the guy apologized to his team mates? Phil's comments on how the refs have changed their calls since the All-Star game seems to prompt the follow-up: "And how many games have you played since the All-Star break that you're just now addressing this? Sorry. The sense of denial about what a disaster Sunday night's game was is disturbing. These guys are all basketball professionals, but didn't show up. As a Laker fan, I am disappointed, appalled, and angry not just at Sunday night's poor play, but the lack of accountability and contrition exhibited the day after. Shameful." -- Mar 10, 2008

Good morning everyone, Somehow we have to pick ourselves up today. I'm waking up feeling like I have a hangover and a distorted memory of a game that couldn't possibly be as bad as I remember it. Oh! It was that bad. And I didn't drink a quart of Thunderbird; I just wish I did instead of watching the game. Let's put the onus on the Starting 5. Sorry. There was no Starting 5. Just Lamar and four impostors. This group is supposed to set the tone and rhythm of the game. Sorry, again. That's right, they did. Just the wrong tone and rhythm. Jump on Sasha and Jordan all you want. They were just trying to get the Lakers back in the game, and for a few moments at a time they did, including when they were joined on the court by DJ Mbenga. It's just that every time the Bench Mob got into the game, the lack of defense and poor shot selection of the Starters had allowed the struggling Bobcats to see a hoop as big and wide as the Gulf of Mexico. Do you remember anyone except Jordan with the guts enough to take the ball into the paint? Ok, I've vented. There's been no restraint from venting since the opening buzzer Wednesday night. Can we all feel better now that we've vented? Let's re-focus, just as the team has to do. They know they let themselves down. Now it's time to reconstruct the Lakers' game as they know it can be played. With 49 wins, so far, they've exceeded the expectations most of us had before the season began. There's still time to regain the top seed and bring home the Championship. It all starts today. Let's do it Lakers!" -- Mar 27, 2008

"Good morning Laker Nation, I am not going to spend the day crying over spilled milk. There are four regular season games left for the Lakers to finally tune-up to Playoff level. The psychology of the team is what seems to be in question. In almost every game of late, the Lakers' opponents have come out with more desire to win than the guys in Purple & Gold. When the other team wants it more, only bad things can happen. Even when the Lakers win, they don't play like they're in a domination mindset. Frankly, it is scary that after being MIA in a game, it is always Lamar who is the first to speak out, "We got our **** kicked." Every one of the next four games is a question mark. We could easily go 2-2, if the mindset doesn't change. Are the 2007-2008 Lakers a team of destiny? We're about to find out." -- Apr 9, 2008

"Message to the Lakers: You haven't won ANYTHING, yet. _enver isn't _ead until you stick a fork in them. Every team good enough to get to the playoffs has latent qualities of a vampire. They can easily come back from the grave when you least expect it. The Thuggets were humiliated on their home floor on Saturday and they know it. Bet on this: They're gonna give it one more go on Monday night. They WILL show up. Neither the Laker players nor us fans should be blinded by the glow of the post-season's great start. It is still April. There is a lot of basketball to be played between now and June. All I'm saying is, let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's a time to celebrate. but it's not here yet. The Lakers need to continue to play one game at a time. If you're old enough to need reading glasses, you know if you use them for distance viewing, you're likely to trip and fall. The book is still open. It's all about preparation and execution, game by game. We are all blessed with an amazing Laker team, capable of playing basketball for the ages. Destiny will be here soon enough. Go Lakers!" -- Apr 27, 2008

"Disappointing, for sure. But the Lakers showed a lot of heart down the stretch. The big concern: how badly is Kobe injured? The MVP is critical to the team's Championship goal, no doubt about it. Lamar Odom was HUGE! No one can question this guy's heart. If the Lakers truly are a Championship calibre team, we will see it for the rest of this series. Despite the disappointing play of VladRad and Farmar, there are a lot of positives. Faith, I can already hear you say there are no moral victories. You're right. But the Lakers showed a lot of toughness in the face of adversity, there's no denying it. The Lakers will still win the series, but none of us fans will have any fingernails left by the time it's over. Go Lakers!" -- May 11, 2008

"I have to give props to the Lakers for a decisive spanking of the Spurs. This has been an amazing night of basketball. I had been counting on San Antonio to play like defending champions. The Lakers were ready. Lamar was amazing throughout. Who would have predicted a breakout night for Jordan Farmar? Meaningful minutes for Ariza to get his rhythm back. Kobe and Fish doing what they needed to. I'm just in awe. This is our team. This is our year. Go Lakers!" -- May 23, 2008

"What's sad is that the Lakers are better than this. The Lakers for whatever reason just haven't shown their true selves in this series. Odom and Gasol 2 for 9 in the first half? Never. Except in this series. Kobe brought out Black Mamba at the opening tip, but his team wasn't with him. Gasol, asleep. Lamar, lifeless. Inexplicable. There's still the 2nd half, but the dream is on life-support. There's still time to rally. There's still time to play Lakers basketball. But the clock is ticking. The hour glass is emptying. Let's get it done. Go Lakers!" -- Jun 17, 2008

"This lack of news until today is like the sinking feeling an attorney gets when the jury is out too long. Frankly, if the Lakers fail to re-sign Sasha, I am going to be one extremely angry fan. We've seen far too often that players are not interchangeable parts. You can't just replace Sasha with another guard and expect the same results. Mitch Kupchak assured us after the Finals that very few changes were needed or contemplated going into next season. As fans, we need to hold Kupchak's feet to the fire and demand that the Sasha deal gets done. As I've said previously, if money is an issue, just start the season with 14 players on the roster. After investing in Sasha all the seasons he was an 11 am shooter only, that investment has now paid off. What do you do, just kiss it goodbye? As has already been expressed by so many of you, money is being wasted on Luke and Vlad as the result of poor Front Office decision making. So now, the fans must be victimized by another poor Front Office decision that it can't afford Sasha? I say, that's ridiculous. Mitch: Give Sasha the money. Maybe the players can't take a pay cut, but the GM can. Take it out of your pocket, Mitch. Give Sasha the money." -- Jul 24, 2008 If the key players can stay healthy, a return trip to the Finals by itself will not be satisfactory. Only a trophy restoring the Lakers to the NBA Championship will satisfy. Too much pressure on Bynum? Not if he wants and gets that maximum extension. Can Pau Gasol settle for only a a Western Conference title and a silver medal? I sure hope not. Is Lamar Odom going to be more than an expiring contract? Etc. Etc. No need to go through the whole roster. Every player in the rotation has a reason to play Championship calibre ball. Notice I didn't mention Kobe. No reason to. He'll play to the highest level he can throughout the season and post season. And how about Phil? That elusive Red-topping ring still has to be the holy grail. Yes, this 2008-2009 Laker Team must achieve a Redeem Team level of commitment and has all the right reasons to do so. Go Lakers! We fans love a parade." -- Aug 29, 2008

"It's way too early to be concerned about the Lakers offensive output, regardless of how tonight's game turns out. From the beginning of training camp, this team has been rightly focused on Defense, something the team has ignored to its peril for too may seasons. The Offense will come. Bynum is still not in top form. Sasha is still not in top form. The first and second units are just starting to gel and getting used to playing with each other. The other thing missing is patience. Hasty decisions on the floor are costing points. This, too, will be solved. What's most important, this team is loaded with weapons. The mass destruction of other teams will come. What every Laker fan has most to fear is injuries. Other teams are already snakebitten by early season injuries to key players. Staying healthy is paramount. If the Lakers stay healthy, the parade we've all been waiting for will come. Go Lakers!" -- Nov 9, 2008

"Wow! I'm totally dismayed to see so many people pushing the panic button. The Bench Mob's play has degenerated for four reasons: (1) Sasha is having a terrible year and he's been unable to shoot his way out of it. As a result, a needed go-to shooter is not on the floor. (2) As amazing as Ariza is, he has been inconsistent for the past two weeks and is picking up unnecessary fouls. (3) All of a sudden Josh Powell is playing extended minutes, creating an X-factor in the unit's chemistry. (4) PJ is paying the price for not giving Mbenga more minutes until now. The guys just aren't used to playing with him. Right now (except for when they're sleep deprived, as in Denver) the Starting Unit is clicking better than it has all year. Lamar and Luke are playing their best basketball of the season. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. When Andrew comes back, play him with the Bench Mob. It's not a demotion. It's just recognition that the instant chemistry of the current starting rotation shouldn't be messed with heading into the Playoffs. Having someone of Andrew's caliber in the post will give whomever has the ball first a ready target, something the Bench is badly lacking at the moment. It also gives Andrew an opportunity to play his way back into top form. If Sasha can find his shot, all will be well. Please put the panic button back in the drawer. The Lakers are on their way to the Championship everyone is counting on. Go Lakers!" -- Feb 28, 2009

"What an intense game! 1. The Lakers got the game they needed from Jordan Farmar. He's clearly the team's best match-up against Brooks. After the game, Phil was cleverly modest in his praise, not letting Jordy's ego get out of check. 2. We saw the kind of intensity the Lakers too often lack. Why hold it back? 3. Odom, too, gave the team what it needed tonight. We really need LO to be active. 4. Ron Ron's press conference after the game was very well handled. The penalty will be reduced to a Flagrant 1 and he will not be suspended. I liked his newfound maturity. Like him or not, he is an awesome weapon for the Rockets. 5. Important to guard against a let-down on Sunday. The Lakers need the same intensity on Sunday. Go Lakers!" -- May 8, 2009

"I'm glad Kobe is finally getting the moment he has so long deserved. And he has paid back the money Dr. Buss has invested in him many times over. I don't care what Kobe makes next season. That's between him and the organization. They've done the right thing before and we can count on them both to do it again. As much as I've criticized Phil during the season and post-season, I hope he comes back. I don't always understand his ways and certainly haven't always agreed with him. But they work. What else matters? As for Trevor and Lamar, i fervently want them to come back, too. The Lakers are greater than the sum of their parts. Luke Walton's disappearance to the far end of the bench during Rudy T's brief tenure demonstrates how players flourish best in a particular system. This has been the first season where Trevor has truly established himself. But another contract with the Lakers and a chance to flourish in the system here would make his following contract worth way more than he can get this time around as a free agent. Lamar's unhappy journey from the Clippers to Miami and back to LA with the Lakers shows that he too has acquired a unique value with our team. Kobe has proven he is not yet in decline. He can lead this team back to the Finals at least a few more times and everyone else who can should make sure they're along for the ride." -- Jun 21, 2009

"I wouldn't have wanted Artest if it were the season immediately after the brawl. But now enough time has passed and he has fully demonstrated his ability to be responsible. Besides, the brawl is not nearly in the same category as Vick's horrific behavior. I'm glad now that Artest is a Laker. I'm not saying Vick should be banned forever. But he needs to demonstrate that he has changed as a man before putting on an NFL uniform. The suit Vick wears in the 60 Minutes interview and his serious demeanor demonstrate nothing. There are still those who hold the Colorado incident against Kobe. I am not now nor have I ever been one of those people. The case was settled and sealed and the matter is closed. A court of law never found Kobe guilty of anything. During the trial, Kobe upheld his responsibilities to the team and the fans. I am proud that Kobe is our team's leader. Michael Vick's case has been through the legal system. But the court of public opinion must still be convinced." -- Aug 14, 2009

"No disrespect to all the other teams, but I think the Lakers still want to thrash Boston and Cleveland in the Finals to set the record straight once and for all. No time for complacency until all of the elite teams in the East are sent into the gutter like bowling pins. To do so requires besting worthy and improved competitors in the West this season and in seasons to come. Complacency? I think not. The Lakers have an owner who EXPECTS Championships and fans who think the season is for nought without a parade. There's way too much pride in this organization for complacency. Sure, sometimes the players try to pace themselves instead of reaching for the jugular. But that's not complacency. That's just the grind. It IS a long season. But it will be considered a wasted season without bringing home the trophy. These players want to be remembered as a Dynasty. I think they have a pretty good shot at it. Go Lakers!" -- Sep 28, 2009

"I'm disappointed in the loss to the Grizzlies. The Lakers were deficient in nearly every stat. But reality is reality. It was a long road trip. The guys were wasted. They just wanted to go home. Despite the loss, the night belonged to Kobe Bryant. Years from now, no one will remember the outcome of this game. They will only remember one thing when playing Lakers Trivia. It was the night Kobe Bryant became the Lakers all-time leading scorer. 44 points on the night he surpassed #44. We are the most fortunate fans in the world. The Mamba is on the planet to give us joy and the rush of continuous amazement. Ruin the experience if you choose by debating the G.O.A.T among so many Lakers greats. Not me. Kobe is a gift to anyone who loves the game, a gift to any sports fan who loves competition and great competitors, a gift to anyone who celebrates mind over matter. This moment is an occasion we'll revisit and replay over and over. Don't take it for granted. I'm feeling lucky. You should, too." -- Feb 1, 2010

"Good morning, Still feeling like we're the luckiest fans in the world. This Lakers team is finally showing its mettle. Three wins against quality teams, with two of our best players on the sidelines. More important than the wins - yes, there is such a thing - beautifully executed team basketball by individual athletes reaching deep for their best selves. That's what makes the wins so rewarding. Now, about our wounded warriors. For me, it's like the proverbial tale of two cities. Kobe seems focused on treatment, treatment, treatment. Kobe seems committed to doing whatever it takes to restore his ability to contribute on the court. Andrew seems focused on rest, rest, and more rest. He says he'll wait until Monday to decide on a cortisone shot and draining of the fluids impairing his play. Why wait? Is he 2 years old and afraid of the doctor? All that inflammation needs time to dissipate. This blog is full of opinions about the Lakers with and without Kobe. Some are informed (regardless of position) and some are just the rantings of people who hate Kobe. If you're a Kobe hater, stop reading now. I've got nothing to say to you. When the Mamba is at his best, there is no one like him. His ability to make the otherwise impossible shot is a joy to watch. The trouble is, sometimes the other players become like me, paralyzed with awe. They love watching him, too. All of a sudden, they become bystanders, or worse, finding themselves lacking just by his presence. Their self-confidence crumbles. Team basketball disintegrates into Kobe ball. Of course, that hypothesis is unprovable. But you've seen it, just like I have. I'm hoping that three games with Mamba in the locker room will restore the team mojo and that the squad can recognize that they're players, too. They are. I'm also hoping that the coach will renew his confidence in the other players, and give them all a little more leash to let them play without fear of being sent to the pine for the smallest infraction. Kobe, too, must be more willing to distribute. And we fans must be less demanding that Kobe assume his hero persona too soon in a game. In short, team basketball requires a balanced perspective on all fronts. None of this will happen unless the players who showed their stuff when Kobe was sidelined continue to contribute at a high level when he returns. The onus is on them. More minutes by the role players means the front line will be more rested for the high level of play demanded by the playoffs. They know that and we know that. The idiots screaming trade Kobe or that the Lakers are better without Kobe are best ignored. Kobe's absence in the three games before the All-Star break showed how good the Lakers can become. When he returns, his presence can assure the Lakers of domination through June. There should be no doubt that the Lakers are better with Kobe, pure and simple." -- Feb 11, 2010

"1 down, 15 to go." That's still going to be a tall order, if Game 1 is any indication. Checking bits and pieces of all the games in the Eastern and Western conferences this weekend, the Lakers don't stand out as the team to beat. Eeking out a win over the 8th seed at home is hardly a confidence builder. But let's wait til Game 2, when both teams make their adjustments. The Good: 1. A strong return by AB17. 2. An impressive defensive stand by Ron Artest. 3. Solid stats from Pau Gasol. The Bad: 1. Lamar Odom's 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist in 26 minutes on the floor. 2. Luke Walton's 5 minutes for Ron Artest. The Worrisome: 1 - 5. Kobe. Kobe is still a wounded warrior. He just doesn't look healthy enough to carry the team throughout the playoffs. The Wildcards: 1. Fish 2. Farmar 3. UPS We simply don't know what to expect or what we can count on from game to game. Conventional wisdom has the Lakers emerging to the next round. Who am I to disagree? The rest of the West will be a test. But the East is a beast. Garry Vitti might consider renting a hyperbaric chamber to accelerate Kobe's healing process. Without a healthy Kobe, the Lakers will be challenged in ways the defending Champions don't even want to contemplate. Neither do I." -- Apr 18, 2010

"Good morning, First, R.I.P. John Wooden. Not having grown up in LA or attending UCLA, I only know what I've read about the man. The universal accolades are instructive and inspiring. Now on to Game 2. Some thoughts about Pau Gasol's comments. The context of this commentary is important. (1) As a fan, I find most athlete soundbites useless, uninformative and inane; I only care what they do on the court. (2) Even I am appalled by how many times I bag on Gasol. I don't want to. The guy is the most skilled and gifted PF/C on the NBA floor today. Caveats in place, I want to say, "Pau, shut-up!" Pau's statements about Kevin Garnett were ill-timed and ill thought out. Why create artificial "bulletin board material" about your adversary? Garnett knows he's hobbled. But you don't want him banging on you more focused on your words than focused on his aching body. You thinking Doc Rivers hasn't already challenged him enough? You think he doesn't already think his own pride is on the line? The last thing I want to see on Sunday is for the Lakers to come out cocky because of their victory in Game 1. Doc Rivers has brought his team back from the dead more than once this post-season. These guys think they deserve to be champions as much as the Lakers do. The wounded Celtics staggered off the floor Thursday night barely knowing what hit them. For any of the Lakers to rub salt in those wounds is a mistake. Gasol was a major factor in the Lakers' Game 1 victory. I was thrilled by his play and my expressions of joy are recorded more than once in the text of the game chat. But he's set himself up for an even greater challenge in Game 2. He now has the responsibility of playing to even greater heights on Sunday. To all the Lakers I say, let your actions do the talking." -- Jun 5, 2010

"At this stage of his life, Kobe is all about his legacy. No matter what scores Kobe might want to settle, he will be even more sensitive to the importance of how he wants his HOF speech to be remembered. Kobe's HOF speech will be tinged with grace and humor. He will talk about the great players before him and how he learned from each of their games. He will talk about the honor of spending his entire career as a Laker, and praise his teammates like #2 for their unselfishness, his respect for Phil (although that was not always the case), and his appreciation for Jerry Buss. Kobe Bryant understands marketing. Kobe will be all about marketing his legacy. The ironic part is that those of us fortunate enough to have watched him at work already appreciate that legacy. No words are needed." -- Aug 18, 2010

"Even my 90-year old mother in Philadelphia couldn't resist commenting on how badly the Lakers stunk up the joint on Christmas Day. If the players want to humiliate themselves on national TV, that's their business. But when they perform so badly that they humiliate us fans in the process, they've crossed the line." -- Dec 26, 2010

"I'm betting that Phil has chosen to let his team fail enough times, so that they'll actually pay attention when he starts coaching. All these players who think they know it all because they have one or two rings, may finally be waking up this morning ready to listen. Good idea. As for the Kobe bashers, why wouldn't he think a game is on his shoulders when he looks at his team mates on the floor and sees a FAIL sign? No "players only" meeting is needed. No "by-the-book" inspirational speeches by Fish are welcome. Let's get to work, Lakers. If this edition of the team has Championship DNA, let's show it. The ASG will be here in a heartbeat. Which reminds me, a little "heart" would go a long way. Go Lakers!" -- Dec 29, 2010

"Wrong. Yes, Wrong. I wish I’ve been wrong all these months. Wrong about what? DNA. Championship DNA. These Lakers, as constituted don’t have it. How do I know? Coach. Coach Jackson’s only official word going forward in the Lakers locker room is the report time on Monday. Change is in the air. Forget mix tapes. Forget clogne. Team after team, night after night for the final three games of the road trip, results at best unacceptable. Yes, unacceptable. Why? I wish I knew. Why am I being so harsh? Expectations are high when you’re a Los Angeles Laker. That’s not a secret. Kobe knows that. Pau knows that. Andrew knows that. Excuses matter not, only results. This board has been polluted with excuses and allowances. None of them have been answers. The Lakers Championship DNA will be found elsewhere." -- Feb 17, 2011

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at