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Category: ESPYs

ESPYS: Cedric Ceballos explains why he rented a houseboat during Lakers' season

Cedric Ceballos entered the Lakers proving to be a critical piece to the team's rebuilding process, but he left the team on what appeared to be bad terms.

But that's not how Ceballos characterized his three-year career with the Lakers (1994-97) Wednesday at the 2011 ESPY's. He conceded the team's initial struggles in team chemistry and mixing in young talent together, even charging that former Lakers Coach Del Harris "couldn't control us." But Ceballos offered a different take on why he missed two games, two practices and a morning shootaround in 1996 that cost him nearly $55,000 in salary, a move some thought was in response to Magic Johnson taking his playing time.

The Times' Mark Heisler, who's well connected with the team, noted in his book "Madmen's Ball" that Ceballos was absent because he took his family to Lake Havasu City, Arizona and rented a houseboat at the London Bridge Inn & Resort, a trip Heisler said "would tear things between Ceballos and teammates, terminate his usefulness to the Lakers and mark the turning point in a career that was now headed down the drain.

Ceballos painted a vaguely different picture.

"It was some situation with me and my family," said Ceballos, who was soon traded with Rumeal Robinson to the Phoenix Suns for Robert Horry and Joe Kleine. "We were taking care of business. I did the best thing I could do for it. A lot of people either approved or disapproved with it, but the Lakers organization was fine with it and were happy with it. Once they knew what the reasons were, they had no problem at all?

When asked what the reasons were, Ceballos said, "No, it's still private."

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--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

ESPYS: Blake Griffin accuses Kevin Love of cheating in Jenga

The trash talking has persisted between Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Minnesota forward Kevin Love ever since they started leading the league in double doubles. It carried over into the 2011 NBA All-Star game when Kobe Bryant stole their thunder by grabbing a team-leading 14 rebounds and boasting "I'm the double double king." And it continued when the two played Jenga as a promo for the 2011 ESPY awards, a video Love said has become a "viral sensation"

Don't expect the two to soften their stance just because they're moving from the hardwood floor to managing hardwood pieces. After all, Griffin and Love have differing theories on what led to the two splitting the difference with Love picking up the first game before Griffin rebounded in the second.

"The first game was rigged," said Griffin, who also joked he's tailoring his own suits to pass time and save money during the NBA lockout. "I lost that game. It was rigged. I came back and redeemed myself.

"When the game's on the line, he's a little bit shaky," Love said. "He's able to get the blocks out here and there, but he's a little bit shaky toward the end. But when the pressure is on, he fumbles."

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ESPYS: Robert Horry, Cedric Ceballos, Lisa Leslie & Bonnie-Jill Laflin all argue Lakers need to upgrade at point guard

ESPYS: Robert Horry touched by well wishes over daughter's death

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

ESPYS: Robert Horry, Cedric Ceballos, Lisa Leslie & Bonnie-Jill Laflin all argue Lakers need to upgrade at point guard

The overriding theme on what led to the Lakers' early playoff exit in 2011 pointed to their numerous fatigue and injuries accumulated from three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. The overriding theme on how to solve that issue pointed to rest and upgrading the point guard spot.

Of course, this is something that Laker fans have longly debated, but it's telling that former Lakers Robert Horry and Cedric Ceballos, former scout Bonnie-Jill Laflin and former Sparks center Lisa Leslie were so open about it moments before the 2011 ESPY Awards.

It's comforting for the Lakers that they believe a possible lockout-shortened season will do wonders in helping an aging roster recover from fatigue. Said Horry: "They have more time off to rest. If they don't mess with the team and do nothing ridiculous like blowing it up, they'll be fine."

It's comforting for Lakers center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol to hear Ceballos' spirited defense on why the Lakers shouldn't trade them, even if it could help the Lakers land Magic center Dwight Howard. Said Ceballos: "Dwight, I love the guy. He's unbelievable ... but those guys won championships. You have to go with the guys who won rings for you."

And it's comforting for the Lakers to hear Leslie's argument that "hard work" will help restore the Lakers to another title and Laflin's belief that Kobe Bryant can help lead the Lakers again. 

But this is also discomforting for Derek Fisher. Even close friends in Horry and Leslie conceded the Lakers sorely need to address the point guard situation.

"No disrespect to Derek Fisher. Derek is alone. I've been there, done that. They need a point guard who can distribute the ball, get everyone in order and not be afraid to tell Kobe no," Horry said. "You can't outrun age. I think age has caught up to him. There's some things he can do, but there are some things he can't do."

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ESPYS: Robert Horry touched by well wishes over daughter's death

ESPYS: Matt Barnes hopes to play five-on-five within two weeks

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

ESPYS: Robert Horry touched by well wishes over daughter's death

It's been exactly one month since Robert Horry's 17-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, passed away after living her life with a rare genetic condition, and the overwhelming fan support has touched the former Laker forward since then.

At the 2011 ESPY Awards, Horry thanked my colleague Brad Turner for spreading the word out about his sentiments surrounding his daughter, who was born on April 2, 1994 with severe respiratory issues and eventually was diagnosed with the 1p36 Deletion Syndrome, caused by the missing part of chromosome No. 1. He didn't allow the unfortunate news to ruin the festive vibe surrounding the awards show. And he's felt overwhelmingly appreciative to the fans who've donated to the Ashlyn Horry Foundation

"If you want to donate, donate," Horry said on the red carpet. "But if you don't want to, you don't have to. Make sure you know somebody who has a child, brother or sister who has a certain syndrome and show them love. That's all we're asking for, to show them love and understanding."

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--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

ESPYS: Matt Barnes hopes to play five-on-five within two weeks

Beyond the frustration in remaining sidelined for nearly two months and feeling limited afterward,  another ramification of Matt Barnes' lateral meniscus tear in his right knee entailed staying away from the golf course

It's one of his favorite hobbies and something that centers around his foundation devoted to cancer treatment. But with participating in the ESPYS golf tournament Tuesday, it also served as a legitimate benchmark regarding the progress surrounding his surgically repaired right knee. He didn't make a hole in one like he had jokingly promised with Sparks center Lisa Leslie, settling for chipping a ball about six feet from the cup. But 18 holes of golf also revealed he no longer felt the normal pain and swelling around his right knee.

"I had a few awkward swings and no pain in my knee, which was great," Barnes said. "It’s good to be able to get back out there and do everything I used to do."

Except for one thing. Barnes expects that he's two weeks away from playing five-on-five scrimmages, something he plans to do in pickup games at UCLA and Loyola Marymount once he's healthy enough. For now, Barnes' exercise has entailed running, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike.

While many NBA players are at least leaving the possibility open of playing overseas and lamenting the possibility of a lost season, Barnes called the current lockout a "blessing in disguise" because he was able to take two months off instead of his usual routine of two weeks before rehabbing his knee.  

"Overseas is not something I’m looking at right now," said Barnes, who exercised his $1.91-million option to play with the Lakers next season. "I’m one of the few players who doesn’t mind the lockout at this point. It’s given me time for my knee to heal. I’m just going to make sure my knee is 100% and be ready for next season." 

It also gave Barnes time to check out Kobe Bryant's basketball camp last week where Barnes witnessed Bryant perform a 360-degree dunk. Said Barnes: "Kobe looked great in camp. 360s and dunking, he was great." 

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--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

ESPYS: Handing out Laker related awards

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In another sign that the Lakers' 2010-2011 season was a sour one: the team has only one ESPY-related nomination.

Usually this honor - the Best NBA player - goes to Kobe Bryant. But with him battling various knee injuries and the Lakers falling in a four-game sweep in the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks, it's likely Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki will take that honor instead. But even if the Lakers' failure to win a championship in 2011 leaves plenty of Lakers fans sour, there were at least a few good moments worth of an ESPY-like honor, even if it takes a little bit of digging.

Best NBA player

Kobe Bryant - This is pretty obvious even if Bryant only warranted a B+ average in his performance as he constantly weighed how to manage his numerous injuries, ranging from his right knee, left ankle and right index finger. 

There's no argument that Bryant's play isn't as dominant as it once was. Bryant's regular-season averages of 25.3 points in 33.9 minutes per game marked his lowest statistical output since the 2003-04 season. His playoff averages of 22.9 points in 35.4 minutes marked his lowest mark since the 1999-2000 season. And his missed potential game winner in the series opener against Dallas preceded a 19 points per game average in the final three games. 

Even with those numbers, Bryant proved to be the team's best player, will still be relied on to close games and will still earn plaudits from opposing players and coaches as the league's best player.

Best Breakthrough Athlete

Andrew Bynum - He finally showed the full potential he has when he's healthy and here's the scary part: Bynum's only going to get better, assuming he avoids further injuries of course. But at least for one season, Bynum was able to avoid a major injury. His delayed off-season surgery and prolonged rehabilitation that caused him to miss the first 24 regular-season games divided plenty of Lakers fans. It's also indisputable that the Lakers couldn't absorb his absence, with Pau Gasol struggling to play heavier minutes despite resting for most of the summer. It's clear, however, that Bynum's long-term approach in making sure he completely healed his knee paid off. 

He came back within the Lakers' good graces by taking large ownership of the team's defense, which both empowered him to finish with a Western Conference leading 12.3 rebounds and 2.36 blocks per game after the All-Star break rebounds as well as avoid further injury because he stayed closer to the basket. His team-leading  9.6 rebounds and second-best 14.4 points per game in the postseason also suggested he's becoming more efficient offensively even if there's going to be plenty of tension in determining the Lakers' pecking order next season. 

Bynum soured some of that good will with a cheap forearm shove to Dallas guard J.J. Barea that earned him a five-game suspension and a $25,000 fine in addition to losing $677,272 in salary. But at least Bynum isn't missing games because of an injury. 

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