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Category: Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper unconcerned if Kobe Bryant plays in Italy [Video]

The unspoken question hanging in the air about the NBA lockout and Kobe Bryant possibly playing overseas.

In fact, Magic Johnson immediately noted the irony when he arrived at the debut of the NBA 2K12 video game Monday evening at a local Best Buy and spotted Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak in the parking lot.

"Mitch," Johnson said, with his arms around him, "you're not allowed to talk to reporters during this time."

"I can talk to them," Kupchak said with a smile. "I just can't tell them anything."

In fact, there were a lot of people who fit in that category as they strolled down the red carpet promoting the game's launch, including Johnson, Kupchak, Jerry West and Mike Brown. But there proved to be one exception in USC women's basketball coach and former Laker Michael Cooper, who currently has no formal NBA ties. That enabled Cooper to speak freely on why he doesn't believe Bryant possibly playing for Virtus Bologna in the Italian League should spark concerns about his injuries.

"I don't think it's a good thing or a bad thing," said Cooper, who played in Italy during the 1990-91 season for Pallacanestro Virtus Roma. "I think players should be making as much money as they can in the short amount of time your body can provide for you. Unfortunately the lockout is forcing him to go over there, but I don't think it will do anything with the lockout."

RELATED:

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Bryant's overseas venture would weaken union

Bryant and Italy's Virtus Bologna work to iron out deal

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

NBA TV to air memorable Lakers playoff games

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird With nearly a month gone by since the NBA began its lockout, it appears the general public has nearly completed phase one of its reaction to the work stoppage.

That's the hand-wringing about who's to blame for this situation, the billionaire owners, the millionaire players or both. It's involved discussing whether NBA players will eventually take their talents overseas and if that's a necessary negotiating move or a needlessly risky gamble with their bodies. And it's included, at least in this corner of the blogosphere, going over nearly every story line entering the 2011-2012 season, assuming there is one.

Now we've entered phase two, in which the lack of summer-league play and the possibility of a lost season have spurred many to watch old NBA games.

Many this weekend clamored to find video featuring the likes of Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose balling in an exhibition game. Others are headed to Washington Park each week to check out the Drew League, which sparked a surprise appearance last weekend by LeBron James. Others of us are watching and rewatch classic NBA games, hoping this will somehow make us forget that the current season is on hiatus. 

Tuesday marks one of those days, as NBA TV will air Game 6 of the Lakers-Sixers 1980 NBA Finals series at 9 a.m., Game 4 of the Lakers-Celtics 1987 NBA Finals series at 10:30 a.m. and Game 5 of the Lakers-Warriors Western Conference semifinal series at 12:30 p.m. Below is a look at some of the memorable moments surrounding those games.

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How should Mike Brown determine the pecking order of the Lakers' offense?

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With a booming and confident voice, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant provided a clear blueprint on how the Lakers' offense should look.

"I'm going to shoot the ball," he said during his exit interview.  "We all know that. Pau [Gasol] is going to get his touches. So he's No. 2 in command. So [Andrew Bynum] has to fall in line with that. It's pretty simple."

Oh, if only it were that simple. This revelation isn't anything new. After all, Bryant famously mentioned that "I eat first and Pau eats second" during the 2008-09 season when Bynum complained about lacking touches. Bryant's argument isn't problematic. After all, he remains one of the best players in the game and the Lakers' best player, while Gasol's poor 2011 playoff performance doesn't wipe away the fact that he's one of the league's most efficient power forwards. But what is new is Coach Mike Brown. How exactly will Brown enforce the pecking order of the team's offense, and in what instances will he find a certain pecking order most appropriate?

After all, it was only a day before Bryant's bold proclamations that Bynum envisioned a much different reality involving his offensive role in the 2011-12 season.

"I'm coming back next year expecting to be a bigger part of the team," Bynum said during his exit interview. "I'm going to work to be a bigger part of the team."   

Brown's overall vision on how his offense will run provides a few clues but the picture remains incomplete. There only be "bits and pieces" of the triangle offense remaining, he has said. Brown wants Bryant to get shots in his "sweet spots" with a mix of on- and off-ball movement. He wants a system similar to the one San Antonio ran when Brown was an assistant from 2000 to 2003, substituting Gasol and Bynum for the roles attached to Tim Duncan and David Robinson and involving receiving touches in the high post and running pick-and-rolls. Brown wants the team to "attack the clock" by getting the ball past the time line and set in its offense within the first three or four seconds of the shot clock, enabling the Lakers to run their offense earlier and require them to execute at a faster pace. 

But as far as how the pecking order will go? Brown provided an answer that sounds good in theory but one that will be tested once the Lakers actually compete.

"It’s going to determine itself, with how well guys play," Brown said. "I can’t score for any of them. So if they go out and show they can do something, I’m not going to go to Pau if he’s having a good night, if he’s going for 35, 36, and he’s leading us and say “No, no no, you’ve got to slow down and let Kobe pass you.” We’re just going to play the game, and our guys are going to play the game the best way to help this team win."

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Sporting News ranks 1971-72 and 1986-87 Lakers as second- and third-greatest NBA teams

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The headline pretty much writes itself.

Based on interviews with current and former coaches, players, executives and journalists, the Sporting News determined in its latest issue that the 1971-72 Lakers and the 1985-86 Lakers are the second- and third-greatest NBA teams of all time. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were named as the best team for setting a league-record 72-10 regular-season mark en route to their first title of a second three-peat that decade. 

The 1971-72 Lakers featured the team's first NBA championship since moving to Los Angeles, capped off with an NBA-record 33 consecutive victories. "Each game became a new challenge," said former Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons, who was a reserve on that Lakers team. "But the challenge wasn't not to lose. It was to find a way to win the game." Among the highlights:

--This season marked the 11th consecutive time Jerry West would average 25 points or more in a season. 

--Wilt Chamberlain, at age 35, appeared in his second-to-last NBA season, averaging 14.8 points at a 64.9% clip and a league-leading 19.2 rebounds and picking up Finals MVP honors.

--Elgin Baylor retired nine games into the season after suffering numerous knee injuries
Overcame the loss of 37-year-old big man Elgin Baylor, who retired nine games into the season after suffering through a spate of knee injuries.

--The Lakers' championship run marked the first season for Bill Sharman at the coaching helm. 

The 1986-87 Lakers finished with a 65-17 record (the second-best mark in franchise history) and beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals for the second time that decade. That season featured many memorable moments:

--Magic Johnson, whose "baby skyhook" in Game 4 against Boston became a highlight of that year's Finals, won both regular-season and Finals MVP honors. Michael Cooper was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

--The Lakers made a significant trade on Feb. 13, 1987, shipping Frank Brickowski, Petur Gudmundsson, an '87 first-round draft pick (Greg Anderson) and a 1990 second-round draft pick (Sean Higgins) to the San Antonio Spurs for Mychal Thompson.

--At the Lakers' championship parade, Coach Pat Riley guaranteed another title, a vow that he kept. 

Related Posts

All Things Lakers: 1971-72 season

All Things Lakers: 1986-87 season

All Things Lakers: Magic Johnson

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: The 1971-72 Lakers in their team photo. Credit: Los Angeles Lakers

Michael Cooper previews the Lakers' 2010-2011 season

For a fanbase that loves debates, you're in for a real treat. The preseason question of the day has served as a great springboard to get you ready for the season, and to get you talking. But when I talked with former Laker (and current USC women's basketball coach/ABC7 Lakers analyst) Michael Cooper, he touched on a few topics that will surely get the Lakerholics rolling.

Among the highlights:

--Whether Lakers center Andrew Bynum will manage to stay healthy this season.

--What challenges he remembers during the 1988-89 season after winning two consecutive titles, and whether there's anything the current Lakers can learn from that.

--What it means for Kobe Bryant's legacy now that he won a ring against Boston.

--What he likes about how Ron Artest and Matt Barnes play defense, ringing praise considering Cooper won the following honors: NBA defensive player of the year (1987), five-time All-NBA defensive first team (1982, 1984-85, 1987-88) and three-time All-NBA defensive second team (1980, 1983, 1986).

--Who he thinks is the Lakers' all-time greatest player

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina.

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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