Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: LeBron James

Caught in the Web: Lakers preparing for the regular season

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--The Times' Broderick Turner explains what the Lakers' coaching staff want out of Pau Gasol.

--The Times' Mark Heisler believes the Lakers will win the West, but predicts it won't be easy.

--Check out Ron Artest's new freestyle.

--ESPN's NBA writers size up the Lakers.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky talk in their latest podcast about the Lakers' preseason, why they will three-peat and if this team will be the franchise's best ever.

--Slam Online's Ryne Nelson reacts to Kobe Bryant's contention that Portland's Brandon Roy is the toughest defender he's had to face.

--Fox Sports' Charley Rosen predicts the Lakers will win the 2011 NBA championship.

--Slam Online's Jason Rowley argues Bryant is the league's best player, even if the publication ranks him at No. 2 behind LeBron James.

--Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen addresses several NBA preseason questions.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell breaks down the team's guards, forwards and centers.

--The Orange County Register's Mark Whicker argues it's not a bad idea if the NBA contracts, but faults NBA commissioner David Stern for allowing the league to be in this position.

--Silver Screen and Roll's Saurav A. Das breaks down the Lakers' schedule.

--Lakers Nation's Emily Wilson argues the NBA's rule on cracking down on demonstrative acts towards calls is misguided.

Tweet of the Day: "Congrats to Celine Dion. Everybody tweet her. She gave birth to twins. Celine and Whitney ; my two favorites" -- RONARTESTCOM (Lakers forward Ron Artest).

Reader Comment of the Day: "Right now, he's rusty, but he's getting where he wants to go. You better practice patience, because he has to too (which doesn't mean he's not pulling it all right now, accordingly to the rhythm of forces and strengths he has now at his disposal). Champions are like fine cars, or extremely precise machines... until everything is at its right place, they don't seem that special. But they're not made and customed as the rest, and when they are in roll, they simply belong to another category. Be patient: your patience will be rewarded and right now we don't need "Kobe". He knows. That's why he's not worried about any of his struggles, and PJ follows him there. I trust him more than myself." -- ZairaAmaterasu

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic passes the ball to teammate Steve Blake as he hits the court during a scamble in the first half of Friday night's game against Golden State. Credit: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Kobe Bryant opens up on LeBron James, Chris Bosh joining Miami

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Kobe Bryant hates the question, hasn't really answered it at all other than a few platitudes here and there.

But on Thursday, he gave a little insight into his thoughts on LeBron James and Chris Bosh taking their talents to South Beach to join Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat.

He said his first reaction was, "Wow. How did Pat Riley pull that [expletive] off?"

Then he had another thought.

"I said I've got to get my knee healthy, that's what I said."

Bryant has shot poorly in exhibition play, making only four of 28 shots (14.3%) during a slow, methodical return from offseason surgery on his right knee. He practiced Thursday and said he would play Saturday and Sunday in the Lakers' first back-to-back exhibitions this season.

He said the Heat had the potential to be "great," but he wasn't entirely motivated by Miami's new look, even though Las Vegas oddsmakers have made the Heat, not the Lakers, as the favorite to win the NBA championship.

"I don't need it," Bryant said of the added incentive.

-- Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Kobe Bryant. Credit: Andreu Dalmau / European Press Agency.

NBA general managers predict the Lakers will three-peat and that Kevin Durant will take league MVP over Kobe Bryant

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This news may be met in this corner of the blogosphere with a collective "tell me something I didn't know" attitude, but I'll tell you anyway: According to a preseason survey, the majority of NBA general managers predict that the Lakers will three-peat.

Granted, the fine print makes it clear that not all 30 general managers voted. The percentages are based on a pool of respondents to each question. But it's not as if the results come from Mitch Kupchak voting repeatedly, like Yao Ming's fan base relentlessly votes for him to be in the All-Star game. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel.

There are plenty of the GMs that like Miami's chances (33.3% say the Heat will win the title), and there are serious doubts about Boston's chances to offset their 2010 NBA Finals loss (3.7% say they believe the Celtics will return to the Finals and win).

Among the other findings (below the jump):

Continue reading »

Q Score reveals Kobe Bryant slightly more disliked than LeBron James

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The comparisons between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James never end. They start with their play, despite Bryant winning five more championships than James' zero. They continue with their personality: Bryant holds an uber competitive streak that for better, propels him to accomplish unthinkable things, and for worse, alienates himself from the rest of society. James presents a joyous demeanor that for better, lightens the mood for those around him, and for worse, feeds into his constant need in feeling self-absorbed. And it apparently ends with their likability: CNBC's Darren Rovell reported The Q Scores company's latest findings, which say fans list James as the sixth-most disliked athlete while Bryant stands in fifth place.

It's an interesting revelation considering Bryant jumped from fourth to a first-place tie with Tiger Woods as the favorite American sports star, according to the findings of a Harris Interactive Poll, while James dropped from third to sixth.

So what to make of it? Well, first off it's clear that very few people were fans of James' "The Decision." Regarding Bryant, I wrote at the time regarding the Harris Poll that his jump in popularity coincides with winning two consecutive titles, displaying his dogged work ethic and lightening up a little after numerous events (Colorado, Shaq, trade demands, first-round playoff exits) fueled his image as angry and narcissistic.

Obviously, some of that perception still exists, as indicated by the Q Score. But it also reflects the sentiment that fans outside the Lakers have no reason to like him. Bryant's been way past the stage where he's a divisive figure. And when you look at the other names on the list -- Woods, Michael Vick, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco - it's apparent that he doesn't have nearly the same baggage as the aforementioned athletes.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: LeBron James' Q Score has taken a hit since going on an hour-long special with ESPN to announce he was joining the Miami Heat. Credit: David Maxwell / EPA

 

 

Miami Heat shouldn't count their titles before winning a game

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There's no doubt that the Miami Heat should be a formidable foe this season. But like most of you, I was a little taken aback when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had their introductory love-fest and started using two hands to count the number of NBA championships they'd bring to Florida.

We all know how difficult it is to win one title, let alone several in a row. The fact that the Lakers are seeking a three-peat for the second time in less than 10 years is remarkable, as in only Michael Jordan and the Bulls have accomplished that feat since the Bill Russell-led Celtics dominated the 1960s.

There have been great trios in the past that couldn't get it done: the Elgin Baylor-Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers, the Julius Erving-Charles Barkley-Moses Malone 76ers, the Hakeen Olajuwon-Clyde Drexler-Charles Barkley Rockets come to mind. I'm sure you might be able to think of others.

While Wade, James and Bosh have familiarity with one another from their days on the national team when they won the 2008 Beijing Olympics (with Kobe Bryant, of course), they will be playing alongside each other with an entirely new cast of supporting characters. And therein lies the biggest hurdle they will have to clear.

While the Heat have some nice pieces to put around them -- retaining power forward Udonis Haslem, who does all the dirty work, signing a sharp-shooter in guard-forward Mike Miller and bringing in serviceable if not spectacular 7-3 center Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- the team's depth and cohesiveness will be their Achilles' heel. While pint-sized Eddie House has a title under his belt with the Celtics from 2008 and he can light it up from time to time, does anyone really think he's going to be a vital role player? And reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo? Not a difference-maker. They do have quite a collection of aging big men: IIgauskas, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magliore. Combined age? About 100. Not good.

Miami does have rookie DaSean Butler, a silky smooth swingman from West Virginia who should have a very good NBA career, starting in about three to four years. And there's third-year guard Mario Chalmers , a solid reserve, but skinny shooting forward James Jones is a liability anywhere but the three-point line. The rest of the roster? Forgettable.

Now, the triumverate of Wade, Bosh and James should be good for 50 wins on their own. They are that talented, although there is only one ball and I'm not the only one that sees that as a problem. In fact, there's plenty of reasons floating around on the Web as to why the Heat will fall short.

Which brings us to this conclusion. The Lakers are two-time defending NBA champions that have actually improved their roster and all challengers should fight their way to the top of the standings and into their respective conference finals before talking about multiple championships. Wait, maybe they should win one before talking about it.

--Dan Loumena

Photo: New Miami Heat teammates (from left) Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James greet the masses during an introductory celebration at American Airlines Arena on July 9. Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images

Pundits predict another title for Lakers, but team falls short in player rankings

Lebronmiamiheat It’s summer, and the pundits of hoops are busy.

ESPN recently asked 93 of them: Which team wins the NBA title next June?

The Lakers topped the list, with 52 votes, followed by the Heat with 34, and in the back of the bus were the Magic (five votes), plus the Celtics and Thunder (with one each).

ESPN’s panel didn’t include ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. But earlier this month he said the Heat, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, is history-about-to-happen on the hardwood.

The Heat “will break the single-season win record” of 72 wins, set by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1995-96, Van Gundy said. “And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers’ 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72] as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year…

“There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will.”

Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer ranked, from 1 to 30, the top NBA players at each position, and the Lakers didn’t fare particularly well.

His rankings of point guards start with No. 1. Chris Paul and 2. Deron Williams. His list continues to the bottom dwellers: Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Lowry (No. 30). But there’s no Derek Fisher anywhere.

Dwyer wanted to “rank players [who] will be more valuable to a hypothetical team in a vacuum. So while Derek Fisher might be more important to a triangle offense than someone like John Wall would be…come on, it’s Derek Fisher vs. John Wall.” Wall, the top pick in the NBA draft, is ranked 17th.

Other samples from his rankings:

Shooting guards: 1. Dwyane Wade. 2. Kobe Bryant.

Small forwards: 1. LeBron James. 2. Kevin Durant. No 15. Ron Artest.

Power forwards: 1. Pau Gasol. 2. Tim Duncan. 19. Lamar Odom.

Centers: 1. Dwight Howard. 2. Andrew Bogut. 5. Andrew Bynum.

Be calm; training camps start in four weeks.

--Barry Stavro

Photo: LeBron James is welcomed to Miami in July. Credit: El Nuevo Herald / MCT / Hector Gambino

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 »

Readers share their nicknames for Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat's Super Team

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On Wednesday I asked the Lakers blog faithful to share their nicknames for Shaquille O'Neal after he joined the Boston Celtics as well as for the Miami Heat's "Super Team" featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. My plea for everyone to keep the comments clean and tasteful was met with sneers, laughs and eye rolls because of the rightful assertion that asking a fan to talk trash isn't exactly the most sportsmanlike thing to do. Though this doesn't exactly keep us immune from getting on James' supposed "enemies list," at least there were  plenty of comments appropriate for print.

"1. Creep and the Miami Meat 2. The Big Putrid and the Green Slime" -- Jon K

"The Three A-ME-gos featuring DUH-wayne, ME-Bron and RU-Paul. I like Shraq, the Big Green Ogre. That's funny." -- puddle

"What about Three Blind Mice? Once our defense kicks in, they won't be able to throw a pea in the ocean (RIP Chick). Snaq? Who?" -- Don't Blame Del Harris!

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"For Miami Trio-- THE AXIS OF EGO. For Shaq--THE BIG BANDWAGONNER" -- lone star laker fan

"Boston - Grandpa Shaq; Miami - We're taking our egos to South Beach" -- LDM

"Shaq - The Big Leper or The Big Leperchaun; Heat - The Ringwraths, the 3Me-Egos, the Super-Egos" -- Konster

"Shaq: The Big Minimum. Heat Big 3: The Persuader, the Traitor, and the Canada Hater." -- Logo44

"Snaq = Refried Green Bean OR just "Green Bean" if you wanna get cute. Meame = The Three Stooges OR Miami (c)Heat" -- Jell-O is Jiggling

"Shaq -- The Big Leprechaun; Miami -- Sound Machine -- because all we've heard is talk" -- Bryant

"Shaq's name is Froghopper. The name for the Heat 3 is Miami Thrice." -- Jason

"The Big Underachiever & the Three Pendejos" -- Bill

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Top photo: Lakers fans don't view Shaquille O'Neal in the same light as they did during the Lakers' three-peat from 2000 to 2002. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: There were plenty of creative nicknames for the Miami Heat's Super Team, which includes LeBron James.  Credit: Hans Dery / Reuters

What nicknames do you have for Shaquille O'Neal and Miami's Super Team?

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Perhaps I'm taking a huge risk going down this path and leaving myself vulnerable that this exercise will just open the floodgates. But I'll do it anyway.

Throughout the 2010-2011 season, surely fans of the L.A. Times Lakers blog will leave comments denigrating Shaquille O'Neal and the Boston Celtics as well as Miami's Super Team in some fashion, along with some not-so-flattering nicknames. I want to keep this clean, but I hope this forum can serve as a launching pad for what nicknames you plan to assign Shaq as well as the Miami trio (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh).

Instead of presenting a poll with wide-ranging options, I'm going to leave those choices up to you so it doesn't stunt anyone's creativity. I will then follow up with a post on Thursday tallying all the results and featuring some of the best comments. Feel free to use it as a reference tool throughout the season in case you forget one of the names.

Remember, let's show some maturity and keep this in good taste.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Laker fans have plenty of nicknames for LeBron James. Credit: Paul Tople / Associated Press.

Caught in the Web: Reaction to the Lakers' 2010-2011 schedule

--The Times' Broderick Turner highlights the main parts of the Lakers' 2010-2011 schedule.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding provides his preseason predictions.

--Fox Sports West's Michael Eaves contends that the criticism regarding Shaquille O'Neal from Laker fans is unwarranted and that his number should be retired. Meanwhile, Lisa Leslie tells 710 ESPN's Steve Mason and John Ireland that the Lakers shouldn't retire O'Neal's number.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper notes how Miami's schedule will prove more difficult than it will be for the Lakers.

--Craig Sager and Chris Webber debate in the video below on whether anyone can unseat the Lakers next season.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky shares his take on the schedule.

--Fox Sports' Charley Rosen compares the skillsets of Andrew Bynum and Andrew Bogut. Rosen also lists Lakers guard Derek Fisher on the NBA's all-underrated team.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell highlights the main games from the Lakers' upcoming schedule.

--ESPN.com's Royce Webb breaks down the Western Conference.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano reviews D.J. Mbenga's performance from last season.

Tweet of the Day:"Don't think for one min that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!" -- KingJames (Miami Heat forward LeBron James)

Reader Comment of the Day:"My reaction is schedule, schmedule. All I care about is that they forever abandon the "turn it on" mentality and play all out from the git go. With a stronger bench, this should be a no-brainer, with less minutes for the starters to keep 'em fresh for the real season. Speaking of which, THAT's the schedule I can get excited for" -- justanothermambafan

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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