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Category: Lakers History

The Dunk Contest: Remembering Kobe

Posted by Ben Taylor -

All-Star weekend continues tonight with the NBA slam dunk contest, and it's hard to believe that a dozen years have passed since an 18-year old Kobe Bryant graced the dunk contest stage with a young Brandy cheering him on. The other participants that night in Cleveland were Michael Finley, Chris Carr, Darvin Hamm, Bob Sura and Ray Allen. Looking at that field, it's no wonder the NBA suspended the dunk contest the following year.

Kobe donned his Lakers shooting shirt for the first round dunks – a one-handed reverse and a two-handed double-clutch 180. For the final round, he discarded the warm up and unveiled the winning dunk of the night. Sure, Kobe's had better slams in games, but this was good enough to secure the 97' title.


Know your Lakers All Stars

Here's a list of all the players who have (or will have by Sunday afternoon) represented the Lakers at the All Star Game:

Kobe Bryant
Pau Gasol
Shaquille O'Neal
Eddie Jones
Cedric Ceballos
Nick Van Exel
Magic Johnson
AC Green
James Worthy
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Jamaal Wilkes
Norm Nixon
Gail Goodrich
Jerry West
Wilt Chamberlain
Elgin Baylor
Archie Clark
Darrall Imhoff
Rudy LaRusso
Frank Selvy
Hot Rod Hundley
Dick Garmaker
Larry Foust
Vern Mikkelsen
Clyde Lovellette
Slater Martin
Jim Pollard
George Mikan

That's a lotta dudes.  More fun numbers... Since they cranked up this bad boy back in '51, only five times have the Lakers not been represented. Moreover, this year will mark the 45th time the franchise has had multiple players on the Western Conference roster. 

Quick question: Any names you're surprised not to see?  The greatest Lakers never to represent the squad in an All Star tilt?

Kareem and Bruce Lee

Found this clip surfing for vintage All Star highlights this morning.  Obviously, I got a little sidetracked:

The footage, from Game of Death, gives a great illustration both of the kind of athlete Kareem was, and also the size of his world view.  A couple years back, when Andy sat down with Kareem, the Cap talked about his relationship with the late martial arts icon:

AK: Did your friendship and training with Bruce Lee help you with your approach to basketball, either mentally or physically?

Oh, definitely. Bruce, more or less, backed up what I had learned from John Wooden. The whole thing about being prepared and understanding your own skills. What you have to offer and what you don't have to offer. Channeling to your approach to everything specific. It was just an echo of John Wooden, from Hong Kong as opposed to Indiana. You have to be committed. You have to be prepared. You have to be willing to sacrifice to be totally prepared. To be in shape and understand the nature of competition. And he wanted to do that.

AK: How did you guys meet?

: I studied a little martial arts between my sophomore and junior years in New York. And when I came back out to L.A., I wanted to continue my studies. So I went to a gentleman that was publishing a martial arts magazine and I said, "Where can I go to study? I'm out there at UCLA." And he said, "Bruce Lee lives out there." And I was a little put off, because I had started the aikido, which is the Japanese style. And Bruce did Chinese style, so I was gonna have to start over. But he said, "No, no. Bruce is really unique, because it's an eclectic style. You should go have a talk with him." I called him and he invited me over to his house. We talked and immediately got be friends. And he liked the fact that I was a trained athlete coming through the door. It wasn't like I had to get in shape. And I was easily won over by the logic and approach to his style. We were friends from that day on.

Cool stuff.

UPDATE: I think this comment from The D properly summarizes the Kareem/Bruce nexus:

Seriously, my brain cannot comprehend the unbelievable coolness of Bruce Lee giving Kareem jeet-kun-do lessons. I need to go lie down.


Then and now

We've spoken about it on the blog, you've written about it in the comments, others have picked up the theme, but every so often it's worth pointing out how quickly fortunes have changed for the Lakers.  Here is the box score from Game 5 of the 2007 first-round series against Phoenix.  Now I present last night's box, from L.A.'s paste job of the Clips

On every level, from improvements on the roster (Gasol for Kwame, Fish for Smush, Ariza for Mo Evans -- no disrespect to Mo, whom I like as a player), to growth from within (Bynum, Sasha, Farmar), to increased health (Mihm, Vlade), it's borderline shocking how fast they've gone from a fringe playoff team to a Finals favorite.  As the Laker faithful bask in the early season glow, it's easy to forget that it wasn't too long ago that things weren't so rosy. 


Giving the people what they want

Every week, Lakers Blog HQ is inundated with letters and emails. Some are filled with praise, others criticism, some simply contain logistical questions about things like game times and parking (for the record, our rides rest in that long garage across from the Convention Center).  But by far, the most overwhelming complaint centers on the consistent, some say systemic, lack of love given to the '95 squad, which finished third in the Pacific and made it to the second round of the playoffs behind Ced Ceballos, Nick Van Exel, and Vlade Divac. 

Our bad.  Point taken.  Here you go. 




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