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Category: Lakers Poll

Poll: What is the most divisive Lakers topic?

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One of the great things about the L.A. Times Lakers blog involves the comment threads and how they serve as a never-ending tool for debate. For some Lakers fans, they can also be frustrating because there are just some topics that seemingly never get resolved.

It seems like the discussion revolving around Andrew Bynum is one of those. I haven't been able to break it down percentage-wise, but there is a definite split among fans who doubt he'll ever stay injury-free, those who point out that his injuries were all just coincidental, and those who say his effort in the postseason shows he'll be effective regardless of his health. Many of these fans make great points, but there seems to be some frustration that there isn't a resolution; each fan holds to his or her viewpoint no matter how well someone else presents an opposing argument.

Taking off from that conversation, I was wondering what other "Lakers topics" seem to be the most divisive. I'm not talking about things you'd argue over with a Celtics or a Heat fan; what do you think are some of the topics that most split Lakers fans?

Even though I think the split over the issue isn't as strong as in years past, it seems that the debate over Kobe Bryant and his scoring mentality still seems to be the strongest.

Some argue that he's always justified in taking over a game because of his skill set and that the other Lakers just need to adapt. There are some who believe that Bryant's scoring mentality alters team chemistry and alienates some of his teammates. And then there's a viewpoint, which I hold, that acknowledges the truth on both sides of the coin. I believe the situation has improved over the years, but it remains an issue every now and then. The reasons for that seem to ping-pong back and forth between Bryant and his teammates, creating the never-resolved chicken-and-egg debate.

Other topics that come to mind: Who is the Lakers' all-time greatest player, the Lakers' all-time greatest team, Lamar Odom's potential/inconsistency, Derek Fisher's leadership/inconsistent regular-season performance/playoff clutchness, whether the Lakers need to play with more urgency/need to pace themselves for the playoffs, and the bench's inconsistency/lack of opportunities.

I'm interested to know your take on what's the most divisive topic, so feel free to vote in the poll below. If you vote on "other," please explain in the comments section below. This should get the conversation going.

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: The Lakers players, coaches and staff. Credit: Los Angeles Lakers

Will the 2010-2011 squad be the best Laker team under Jerry Buss?

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Lakers owner Jerry Buss wasn't shy about setting the bar for the 2010-2011 season. "As of now, I feel there's a good chance this could be the best team we've ever had," he told reporters Tuesday. Fitting he made those comments at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, where he was hosting a charity poker tournament for the Lakers' youth foundation, because that just raises the stakes for the Lakers even more.

There are reasons why Buss feels so optimistic only days since being inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Lakers are back-to-back champions. They have their main corps in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest locked into long-term contracts. Despite concerns over limiting spending this off-season because of luxury tax implications, Buss and the Lakers decided to spend anyway, re-signing Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, and upgraded their roster by snagging free agents Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff and two second-round picks -- Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter -- who some consider a steal. Add the fact that many of the injured players last season (Bryant, Bynum and Gasol) are abstaining from basketball this summer and there's plenty of reason why Buss should feel optimistic.

Still, Buss' proclamation is bold, considering the impressive teams that helped him win 10 championships since purchasing the team in 1979 and because Eastern Conference teams in Miami, Chicago, Boston and Orlando all seem to be gunning for the Lakers. In order for the 2010-2011 team to be considered the best under Buss' watch, at least statistically, the Lakers would obviously need to win a title, go undefeated in the postseason to eclipse the 15-1 mark the 2001 team set, and surpass the 65-17 regular season record the 1987 and 2009 Laker championship teams compiled.

Of course, numbers don't mean everything. For example, some Laker fans would value an NBA title over the Celtics (1985, 1987, 2010) more than, say, a championship against the Philadelphia 76ers (2001) or New Jersey Nets (2002). In order for the Lakers to boost their profile as the greatest in the Buss era, would they need to beat Miami to prove the Super team isn't all that super? Or would the Lakers have to win against Boston so the two franchises would be tied for total championships (17) and so Kobe Bryant can get one of his rings against Shaq?

Then there's the case of how the team on paper meshes in reality. Below the jump are the best and worst-case scenarios

Continue reading »

Poll: Assuming the Lakers make it to the 2011 NBA Finals, which team would you like them to face?

Looking ahead to next June, we're all assuming the Lakers will advance out of the Western Conference, ready to take the final step toward another three-peat as NBA champions. Right?

The question is, who would you like to face the Lakers out of the East? Of course, two potential opponents leap to mind: the hated Boston Celtics (Kobe versus Shaq with everything on the line, the Lakers looking to tie Boston for most overall championships) and the hotshot Miami Heat (the two-time defending champs versus the so-called Big Three, the prospect of preventing King James from winning his first NBA title).

Vote, then leave a comment letting us know why you voted the way you did.

-- Chuck Schilken

Poll Question: How will Andrew Bynum's surgery go?

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Wednesday would appear to be just another ordinary summer day, with Lakers fans wondering who else the team can pick up on the free-agent market, predicting the next funny antic Ron Artest will perform and lamenting that the NBA season hasn't started yet. But beyond everyone in this corner of the blogosphere being a Lakerholic, there's another reason why you're anxious. In case you're trying to remember why, I'll tell you.

Andrew Bynum is having surgery.

I'd cue the dramatic music, but chances are it's already playing in your head. You're remembering this marks the second time in three years that Bynum has had surgery on his right knee. You're wondering if this date will just mark another setback in Bynum's injury-laced career. You're wondering why can't I just enjoy the Lakers' championship DVD instead of worrying about this?

Even though I expressed strong sentiments that Bynum showed this season he can play through injuries and will find ways to be effective when he's not fully healthy, I honestly don't know if he will report to training camp at 100%. To assuage some concerns, there are no developments that suggest why anyone should worry. Bynum delayed his surgery by 10 days simply because his doctor, Dr. David Altchek, didn't have an appointment available until now. Before fans blame Bynum for putting off surgery until after the World Cup, keep in mind that most athletes don't have surgery right after the season ends; the procedure is tiring on the body, and most would prefer to rest up before an operation. And the Lakers expect that Bynum will report to training camp at 100%, though the team won't set an exact timetable until after the procedure.

Still, there's one huge reason why some Lakers fans will remain anxious until who knows when. Bynum's injury history and slow recovery time give plenty of fans reason to believe history will repeat itself. But I don't want to assume this. To get a breakdown on where Lakers fans stand on this issue, we're going to get a vote in the poll below.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum is scheduled to have surgery on his right knee. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Poll Question: Which free agent signing excites you the most?

We will be having a live chat today at 3 p.m. with the G-Snap! interface. I've been told that from the moderators there the font size is in the process of being corrected, but it's not guaranteed it will be fixed in time for the chat. Nonetheless, this is something that will be improved fairly shortly.

There's obviously plenty to talk about regarding the Lakers' off-season. Among the latest story lines: Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff signed with the team last week. Kobe Bryant had surgery on his right knee. Andrew Bynum plans to go under the knife on Wednesday. And the Lakers are still in negotiations with Shannon Brown. Below are a few poll questions to get everyone started for the chat later today.

--Mark Medina

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

Poll: What would it take for the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul?

For the second time this week, plenty of Lakers fans analyzed a possible acquisition, only to see the scenario get squashed within 24 hours. A day after CBSsports.com's Ken Berger reported that the Lakers are one of three teams Hornets guard Chris Paul wants to join, ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reports that list actually includes New York, Orlando, Portland and Dallas, but not L.A.

It's not my place to evaluate which one is accurate, but the differing reports provide a good case study on how not to overreact over anything involving free agency. Case in point: It appeared the Lakers were acquiring Harvard guard Jeremy Lin earlier this week, but he wound up with the Golden State Warriors.

Bottom line, the truth will emerge at some point, but we just don't know when. And with the off-season in full swing, what else is there really to talk about? How the Lakers won the 2010 championship? I'll pass.

Even if the latest report suggests the Lakers have less of a chance to get CP3, surely Lakers fans will continue to discuss the trade scenarios. And upon request from readers in the previous thread, below is a poll on which trade scenario would be most likely if the Lakers managed to acquire Paul.

Laker fans content with how the off-season is shaping up

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There's never a moment that goes by in which fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog aren't discussing possible trades, both real and imagined. When free agency kicked into gear on July 1, the talk escalated even more, turning to speculation and criticism on where LeBron James would be heading, whether Phil Jackson would return as head coach, the likelihood Derek Fisher would remain a Laker and whether the Lakers could pick up a few free agents.

When it comes to the off-season, usually it is the basement dwellers and teams that cleared up cap space that dominate free-agency discussions because they have the resources and needs to make some signings before the regular season begins. As far as the Lakers are concerned, the defending champions can afford the luxury of not needing to make the biggest splash. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak remarked shortly after free agency began that he'd much prefer this quieter setting than having to stay glued to ESPN's ticker as one of the main active participants. It's also certainly a lot less stressful these days than when a guy named Kobe Bryant went on a radio tour three years ago, changing his mind every few hours on whether he wanted the Lakers to trade him.

The Lakers' off-season has resembled the clear skies and perfect beaches that define summer in L.A., while the shuffling Eastern Conference movement seems to have only increased the humidity over there. Yet, NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper made a convincing case that the Lakers have become even better this off-season, a dangerous sign considering they're the defending champions. Even with Laker fans never running out of trade scenarios (some seriously want Shaq to come back?), their sentiment shows a general satisfaction with how the Lakers' off-season has transpired thus far. That's a scary thing considering recent poll results show that 95% believe the Lakers will win a third consecutive championship and 90% point consider them the favorite to win the 2011 NBA title.

Sure, some fans expressed some concern over the Miami Heat's busy off-season, with 53.5% of them considering the Heat the Eastern Conference's most dangerous team after they retained Dwyane Wade and signed LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. There was also 65% of fans who believed Oklahoma City Thunder could give the Lakers fits after the team signed Kevin Durant to a five-year extension. But there's very little that's giving Laker fans doubts about their chances to three-peat.

While some of that points to the fact the Lakers are back-to-back champions, some of it points to the team's moves it made this off-season. Some off-season activity actually just involved retaining their corps, but that's huge considering that's the personnel that put the Lakers in this position. The majority of Laker fans -- 51.4% -- gave the team's off-season moves a B, while 24.7% gave the Lakers an A.

The reasons are fairly obvious. One, Jackson decided to coach one more season, with 96.8% of fans arguing that Jackson's staying will significantly influence the Lakers' chances of three-peating. Two, veteran guard Fisher reached a three-year deal with the Lakers, with 88% believing Fisher will continue to make clutch shots and provide a valuable locker room presence during the rest of his stay with the team. And third, the Lakers acquired free-agent guard Steve Blake, with 80% predicting he will provide the perfect ingredient for the Lakers' aging backcourt.

The Lakers losing Jordan Farmar to New Jersey and failing to acquire free-agent guard Raja Bell resulted in fans expressing a collective shrug. In fact, the fans didn't feel strongly one way or the other about Farmar or Bell. About 67.3% of fans say Farmar's departure won't significantly help or hurt the Lakers, while 64% of fans argued Bell needed the Lakers more than they needed Bell. After all, the Lakers can still pursue other free agents, though they only have $1.8 million remaining on the mid-level exception. Still, that's not preventing fans from drawing up scenarios. There's a strong sentiment toward the Lakers acquiring Matt Barnes (34.5%) or Tracy McGrady (32%), though the exact percentages may have changed with reader comments suggesting there's high interest for Harvard guard Jeremy Lin. (ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reports Lin has been in contact with the Lakers.) There's also strong enthusiasm for rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, with 94% pegging them as the best players on the Lakers' summer league team and predicting they'll land a spot on the roster.

Nothing is all clear skies for Laker fans though, as their concerns go beyond free agency. Their concerns mostly point to the current roster and how healthy they'll be coming into next season. There's 20% of fans who are worried about Andrew Bynum's health. He played through torn cartilage in his right knee for most of the playoffs and planned to get surgery sometime in mid-July, though it hasn't been reported whether Bynum's undergone the procedure or changed his timetable. There's 17% of fans who want Kobe Bryant to take it easy. They're comforted by the fact that he opted to skip the FIBA World Championships this summer in Turkey, but fans are wondering whether Bryant will finally get surgery on his index finger, which was fractured for most of the season and then experienced arthritis around the knuckle of his finger. Although Bryant shared in his exit interview he was open to have surgery, he hasn't publicly announced what he's going to do.

Those questions will be answered another day. But for now, Laker fans are basking in the sun, enjoying the Larry O'Brien trophy and loving that their championship roster remains mostly intact.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: The Lakers' acquisition of guard Steve Blake was one of many moves the team made this off-season. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lakers fans believe Phil Jackson will return as head coach

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Lakers Coach Phil Jackson contended during his exit interview that he was leaning toward retirement because of health concerns. He reiterated that sentiment over the weekend in Montana at the Western Governors' Assn. annual meeting, pointing to George Karl's situation in which throat cancer prompted the Denver coach to miss the last part of the 2009-10 season as a reason why he wouldn't come back another year unless he knows he can last an entire season. Jackson also brought up the grind of the NBA season and how it becomes increasingly difficult each year to go through it.

Despite all those concerns, Lakers fans revealed in a series of polls that 79% many of them believe Jackson will still return as the team's head coach. There are plenty of reasons beyond wishful thinking why Lakers fans believe this will happen. Jackson still made it clear he hadn't made up his mind, saying he'd decide sometime later this week after getting the results of various medical tests he took following the Lakers' championship. Though he's had two hip replacements, a sore knee and kidney stones, Jackson suggested that those tests could sway him back into the coaching fold. That's why 20% of fans believe Jackson will come back.

Then there's 12% of fans who argue that the allure of capturing his fourth three-peat will be too enticing for Jackson to pass up. As of right now, the Lakers main core --- Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest -- are locked into long-term deals, and it appears likely veteran guard Derek Fisher will stay (68% of voters believe he will stay because of his playoff performances and his leadership). So even if the attempt to three-peat will present numerous challenges with facing an opponent's best performance and the exhaustion that's come with three consecutive Finals appearances, Jackson returning would help keep the continuity intact and give the Lakers a best chance to win the title again.

That sentiment is shared by Fisher, who recently told ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne that "not even just the Lakers, but the NBA as a whole, would lose a big part of what this game has been about the last 20 years if he's not back. If he's not back, it changes the whole landscape." Lakers fans agree, with 58.2% saying keeping Jackson serves as the Lakers' most urgent need this off-season. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently said solidifying the Lakers' backcourt remains the team's highest priority, but only 20.4% agree with that sentiment, while Toronto forward Chris Bosh remains the top choice in a trade among Laker fans (27.4%).

That's because Jackson's future indirectly affects other variables, such as who among the Lakers' six free agents will come back and who the Lakers would get as Jackson's successor if he decides to retire. There's 41% of fans who believe Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw would take the vacant position, but The Times' Broderick Turner reported this morning that Shaw is probably going to agree to a deal that will make him Cleveland's head coach. There's 46% of fans who believe former Laker Byron Scott would succeed Jackson, but Scott recently told Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears that he's not going to just wait for Jackson to make his decision. If either of those two candidates aren't available, Lakers fans lack definitive consensus on who else could fill the position.

In fairness, there are other issues the Lakers must tackle. If the fans are accurate, Jordan Farmar will leave (92% of the vote), as will Shannon Brown (50.8%), who recently opted out of his contract. All of the team's reserves on the front line -- Adam Morrison (95%), D.J. Mbenga (64.4%) and Josh Powell (55%) -- will be gone. And the possibility that the Lakers would dump Odom's salary? There's 70% of fans who don't think that will happen, with 47% saying the Lakers only floated that report out there to grab Odom's attention and make him aware he needs to play better.

But very little of that has concerned Lakers fans. Heck, 64% of them insist they don't care whatsoever about where LeBron James lands. That's because all eyes are on Jackson. Even though Lakers fans are optimistic he'll return, they know deep down inside what the consequences will entail if that doesn't happen.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Despite Phil Jackson's health concerns, the majority of Lakers fans believe he will remain the team's head coach. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters.

Poll questions surrounding the Lakers' off-season

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There's no such thing as an NBA off-season, especially when the Lakers' title run immediately follows with a championship parade in downtown L.A., exit interviews, the NBA draft and soon enough, free agency. The Lakers' likely won't produce another memorable off-season, such as Kobe Bryant's radio tour or Lamar Odom's prolonged negotiations. And it likely won't catch the nation's attention, as say, where LeBron James ends up. Still, there are plenty of things the team must deal with once free agency begins Thursday.

The first order of business involves Coach Phil Jackson, who said during his exit interview that he's leaning toward retirement, a sentiment he reiterated in Montana on Sunday after giving the keynote speech at the Western Governors' Assn. annual meeting. Still, he's not expected to officially make a decision until later in the week after he receives results from the medical tests he took last week that caused him to miss the championship parade. 

Although the Lakers' core -- Bryant, Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest -- are locked into long-term deals, they have several free-agents, including guard Derek Fisher. It appears the team unanimously wants Fisher back. Lakers guard Shannon Brown recently opted out of his contract, though the Lakers own his "early-bird" rights. Guard Jordan Farmar made it abundantly clear he wants out of L.A. And if it were up to D.J. Mbenga, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell, they'd remain Lakers, though The Times' Broderick Turner recently talked to an NBA executive who said the team doesn't plan to keep any of those three players. There's the interesting revelation, as reported by The Times' Mark Heisler, that said the Lakers are considering dumping Odom's salary a season after re-signing him to a four-year deal worth $34 million with a player option in the final season. And there's the contention from General Manager Mitch Kupchak that the team's most urgent need involves the backcourt.

The Lakers will answer at least some of these questions this week, but in the meantime, it's best to hear what fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog think will happen. After all, they live and breathe this team. And they'll be the first to attest that there is no such thing as a Lakers' off-season. Based on the poll results below, I'll then follow up with an analysis piece assessing how Lakers fans think everything will transpire once free agency begins.

Continue reading »

Kobe Bryant considers Jerry West the greatest all-time Laker

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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and most fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog agree on one thing: the possibility that the Black Mamba wins his fifth NBA championship won't significantly enhance his playing legacy or his standing in the Lakers' organization. In a pre-Finals poll, 56% of voters deemed it too early to say whether a Lakers' title against the Boston Celtics would enhance Bryant's career, which is expected to last at least through the 2013-14 season. Meanwhile, 18% of voters believed a title against Boston would cast Bryant as the Lakers' all-time greatest player, 4% thought it would cement Bryant as the league's best player and 16% predicted Bryant would top both categories.

It's also not surprising to read the following exchange between Bryant and a reporter Saturday during the Lakers' media session. Bryant's apparent apathy both spoke to his insular focus on winning a ring sometime this week and camouflaging his obvious desire to be considered the best in all things basketball.

Reporter: If you don't beat the Boston Celtics, can you go down as the best Laker ever?

Bryant: No.

Reporter: Is it important to you to go down as the best Laker ever?

Bryant: No.

Reporter: Do you think you are?

Bryant: No.

There is much debate to this conversation. In a recent Sports Illustrated profile on Bryant, former Laker Michael Cooper told SI's Lee Jenkins that beating the Celtics in the Finals would bear great significance on Bryant's standing as a Laker, a feat only accomplished by various Lakers greats, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Cooper. "It's not about beating the Celtics in the regular season," Cooper said. "You have to beat them in the playoffs. That's when you become part of the club."

There was also disagreement over that ranking once Bryant surpassed West as the Lakers' all-time leading scorer. The Times' Bill Plaschke ranked Bryant third behind Johnson and West. ESPN's Michael Wilbon doesn't rank the players, but he lumped Bryant with Johnson, West, George Mikan, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain and O'Neal as the Lakers' best all-time players. And West gave the honor to Bryant immediately after he surpassed his scoring record. And Bryant himself? Well, he passed the honor right back to the man who drafted him.

"In my opinion it's Jerry West because in terms of everything that he's done, as a player and then as a general manager," Bryant said. "He's responsible for managing here, he's responsible for Shaq, he's responsible for myself. He put the whole picture together and everything that he's done, to me he's the greatest."

That answer prompted a reporter to ask a followup: "Magic [Johnson] doesn't get the edge because he did beat the Celtics and Jerry West didn't?"

Said Bryant: "What is everybody's fascination with the Celtics in terms of going down in history -- it's a little weird to me. I think Jerry's body of work and the championships that he's been responsible for, just my opinion -- you can have your own opinion, it doesn't really matter to me. In my opinion I think Jerry West is."

Well, you've heard Bryant's take. What's yours? The best comment will be featured in tomorrow's links post. Who is the all-time greatest Laker?

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has his shot challenged by Celtics defenders Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett (5) in the second half of Game 4 on Thursday night. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

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