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Why Michael Jordan says Kobe Bryant deserves to be compared to him

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation with Lakers author Roland Lazenby. He's writing a biography on Michael Jordan titled "MJ: The Life," which is scheduled to be released in 2013. Lazenby has already shared (via Twitter) why Jordan says he believes that Kobe Bryant deserves being compared to him. And with the Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats visiting the Lakers on Tuesday, it's timely to touch on Lazenby's recent conversation with me. You can listen to the entire 25-minute interview above.

Lazenby on why Jordan thinks Bryant deserves being compared to him: "Kobe had done the work. He [Jordan] was very aware and taking in great interest in Kobe Bryant's great work ethic. Michael Jordan's work ethic also is legendary. He said Kobe had done that work to deserve the comparison. He says Kobe's the only one to have done the work."

Comparing Jordan and Bryant: Jordan was this kind of guy who could get position in the post and hold it. Jordan is one of the greatest post weapons in the history of the game despite the fact he's not a post player, center or power forward. But he's a great post-up scorer. Tex [Winter] always remarked that Kobe didn't quite have the same strength or center of gravity. Kobe is a fine post-up player, but he could get shoved off the block easier than Michael.

Kobe has defined himself by his singular pursuit of this agenda of the Jordan legacy. That causes him to be overshadowed, but Kobe has clearly staked out territory as his own. In some ways, his drive and determination is every bit that of Michael Jordan. In some ways, it probably eclipses that. There's no question the game preparation and the effort that Kobe has done from the time he was 17 years old, no one comes close to that. Tex would say not even Michael in that regard, and Jordan worked very hard.

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Trail Blazers will beat the Lakers

Among the highlights of my interview with The Columbian's Trail Blazers beat writer Matt Calkins on the Lakers-Portland game:

  • Why Calkins believes the Blazers will beat the Lakers: "Given the Lakers' struggles at the Rose Garden, I'm sticking with Portland. There will be no answer for Gerald Wallace."
  • Calkins, who previously worked for the Riverside Press-Enterprise, considers Blazers fans more knowledgeable than Lakers fans: "They're breaking down salary caps. They're breaking down efficiency ratings. I've been really impressed with it. I'm not trying to win anybody over here.... L.A. is very underrated for their sports knowledge. They're smart, but I think there might be more superficial concerns from among the average Angeleno fans than Portland fans."
  • Calkins on where Portland ends up in the Western Conference: "Are they championship caliber? No. But can they host a playoff series and win one? Absolutely, they could."
  • Calkins on the chemistry between LaMarcus Aldridge and Raymond Felton: "It's developing. They really like playing with each other. It's lot more entertaining brand of basketball watching them fly up and down the court."
  • Calkins on why Portland has no answer for Andrew Bynum: "Their internal defense leaves something to be desired. Marcus Camby has a phenomenal career. But when you have Gasol and Bynum, the Lakers' length scares every team. Portland doesn't have the depth to contend with those guys."
  • Calkins on Brandon Roy's retirement: When you look back at Brandon Roy's career, he really was special here.... He's the most beloved individual in Portland right now. People love him here. It was heartbreaking for them." 
  • You can follow Calkins' work on the Columbian's website and on Twitter
  • RELATED:

    Andrew Bynum's full potential untapped

    Why the Lakers struggle at the Rose Garden

    --Mark Medina

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

    Things to watch in Lakers-Nuggets matchup

    Among the highlights of my interview with the Denver Post's Nuggets beat writer Benjamin Hochman on the Lakers-Nuggets game: 

    • Why Hochman believes the Nuggets have enough depth to compete in the Western Conference
    • The challenges Denver faces with Lakers center Andrew Bynum back in the lineup
    • Why Hochman believes Nuggets center Nene is inconsistent
    • How the Nuggets adjust defensively after losing power forward Kenyon Martin in the off-season
    • How Hochman personally knows Lakers assistant coach Quin Snyder
    • How the Nuggets will fare in their set of three games in consecutive nights, including a back-to-back against the Lakers. 
    • Whether Danilo Gallinari's music video can ever become the anthem at Denver's Pepsi Center
    • Hochman's optimism or lack thereof that the term "Hochmaning" could become a trend the same way Denver quarterback Tim Tebow did with "Tebowing"
    • You can follow more Hochman's work on the Denver Post's website and  on Twitter.

    RELATED:

    Andrew Bynum has potential to make All-Star team

    Josh McRoberts plans to bring same approach as reserve

    Mike Brown expects to play Andrew Bynum 34 minutes against Denver

    --Mark Medina

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

    Lakers' Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher discuss 98-79 loss to Milwaukee Bucks

     

    Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on loss to Bucks

     

    Lakers forward Lamar Odom on loss to Bucks

     

    Lakers forward Matt Barnes on loss to Bucks

     

    Lakers forward Ron Artest on loss to Bucks

     

    Lakers guard Derek Fisher on loss to Bucks

     

    --Mark Medina

    Twitter.com/latmedina

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

    Lakers' Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes discuss 124-105 victory over Memphis Grizzlies

    Lakers Coach Phil Jackson (in audio format)

    Phil Jackson on Memphis Grizzlies


    Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

    Lakers center Pau Gasol

    Lakers guard Steve Blake

    Lakers forward Matt Barnes

    --Mark Medina

    Twitter.com/latmedina

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

    Audio of Phil Jackson's pre-game press conference against Utah Jazz

    Phil Jackson in Anaheim on Utah Jazz


    Among the highlights from Phil Jackson's interview

    --Jackson's reaction to Magic Johnson selling his stake with the Lakers: "It's not so much what I think of Magic as it is what he's going to invest in the next time around. I think that's going to be an interesting thing." He also added that Johnson could be driven to own a team because of Michael Jordan running the Charlotte Bobcats.

    --Jackson whether it's feasible Orange County could have an NBA team: "The possibility is that they are oversaturating the market, but this is a big enough metropolitan territory that they certainly could have a team. I'm not so sure the Honda Center is in the form that modern NBA arenas are like in this day in age. But they could renovate that."

    --He says he's fine with the current pre-season schedule (eight games), although he brought up how the European trip limited the Lakers' practice schedule and clumped six games afterwards in nine days.

    --In an interesting note, Jackson believes the triangle offense won't go extinct whenever he retires. "Basketball coaches always bring things back," he said.

    --Jackson's updated perspective on the NBA's new technical foul rule that's meant to reduce players' overt and contentious reactions to calls. "It's another one of those subjective things again," Jackson said. "that make it difficult to be fair."

    --Mark Medina

    Twitter.com/latmedina

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

    Lakers Roundtable: Discussing Matt Barnes with Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz

    Among the highlights from my conversation with the Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz about Matt Barnes

    --- What Barnes will bring to the Lakers after agreeing to a two-year deal.

    -- The relationship between Barnes and Kobe Bryant, which has ranged from contentious matchups to constant text messaging.

    -- Why the Magic didn't offer Barnes a contract.

    -- How much it means for Barnes to return to L.A. after playing for UCLA.

    -- You can follow more of Schmitz's work here and you can follow the rest of the Orlando Sentinel's coverage on Twitter.

    -- Mark Medina

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

    Josh Powell maintains positive attitude despite lack of playing time

    Before every game, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hears words of encouragement from teammate Josh Powell.

    It sounds like a simple gesture, until you realize what the dynamic means. Bryant, one of the world's most recognizable players and the Lakers' franchise player, openly admits there's not many he allows within his inner circle. Yet, Powell, who averaged only 2.7 points in 9.2 minutes per game in the regular season and struggled in becoming an effective fourth big man, somehow has earned Bryant's respect. It all points to what Powell presents in practice where he's solidified his reputation for his hard work and positive attitude, two admirable qualities for a bench player whose opportunities remain scarce.

    "Through my work ethic and my drive," Powell offered as reasons veterans, such as Bryant and Derek Fisher value their relationship with him.

    Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak offered similar sentiments Friday in Powell's exit interview, an assessment Phil Jackson and his assistants outlined in note form since Jackson has already left for Montana to help clear his mind before deciding next week whether he'll retire or remain the Lakers' coach.

    "He was understanding of the fact that the opportunities were less, but just saying I worked really hard and was a professional off the court," Powell said of the meeting with Kupchak.

    It's unclear what Powell's future entails once he becomes a free agent Thursday. It if it were his call, he'd remain on the Lakers because of the two championship rings he's gotten, the learning experience and the appreciation he's felt from the team. Whether the Lakers cut Powell -- something an NBA executive told The Times' Broderick Turner the team will likely do -- or keep him, Powell says he isn't going to fret about his future.

    "I'm just going to put it in God's hands and understand the organization has decisions they have to make," Powell said. "I understand it and respect it. I just have to make sure that no matter what, I'm ready, wherever it is I'm supposed to land next year."

    It's the same mindset he carried as a reserve. Even if the constant work in practice yielded little in playing time, Powell wanted to show he could somehow contribute to the team. Even if his approach required extra work since limited minutes makes it harder to maintain a rhythm, he wanted to remain sharp in case he earned some run. Though Powell played a team-low 3.1 minutes per game in the playoffs, Jackson often said he'd feel most comfortable with Powell playing in the NBA Finals if Lamar Odom remained ineffective because of how alert Powell had been in practice.

    Powell never received those kind of minutes Jackson envisioned, but he believes his attitude opened many eyes. It gave Jackson reason to consider playing him, Bryant a willingness to listen to him and other teammates to appreciate him. Whether or not the Lakers keep him remain another issue. But Powell said he felt at least comforted hearing the staff noticed his effort.

    "We did our parts especially in practices to get the guys ready and make it competitive and go really hard," Powell said of himself and the bench. "Whatever we could do to help with the practice or the energy we brought in games, hopefully that was very helpful to the guys performing."

    -- Mark Medina

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

    Audio from Josh Powell's exit interview

    Highlights from Josh Powell's exit interview: 

    -- How Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Powell's teammates appreciated his work ethic

    -- How Powell stayed positive even without much playing time

    -- Why he wants to stay with the Lakers

    -- How he struck a close relationship with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher

    Josh Powell exit interview


    Audio from Derek Fisher's exit interview

    Highlights from Derek Fisher's exit interview

    --His exit interview consisted of team business, player performance and chatting

    --Fisher outlines how he's weighing whether he'll come back, including his admission that a starting job is a "priority," although not a "deal breaker." Nonetheless, he said he'd like to return as a Laker. "I've never mixed in any statements or positions about winning and wanting to be associated with winning championships and being on the best team in the NBA," he said.

    --Fisher said he's open to a one-year or multi-year deal, saying "it depends on the circumstances and the details of how the deal would look."

    --Fisher said he'll field offers from other teams just so he properly goes through the research process. He said his family would like him to stay in L.A.

    --Fisher details the key to maintaining longevity in his 14-year career

    Derek Fisher exit interview


    --Mark Medina

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

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