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With every waking hour, we inch closer and closer to September 29th’s Media Day, and the official start to the Lakers’ new season. Granted, Brian has the day circled on his calender mostly because of the El Segundo facility’s high-end air conditioning system, but the ensuing basketball is a nice bonus, right?
The show can be heard by clicking on the module, and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the high points…
- We take a look at the latest headlines. The Atlanta Hawks have potential buyers. Why does Dwight Howard run so many red lights? Did LeBron James fix his depleted hairline?
- We dig into some of the details of Mark Medina’s interview with Byron Scott for The Daily News. To begin, there is Scott’s desire to limit Kobe Bryant’s minutes this season. How realistic is this goal, considering Kobe’s legendary stubbornness when it comes to staying on the court? Moreover, could Byron actually convince the All-Star to sit out one end of a back-to-back? Is this even a necessary goal to begin with?
- For the time being, Scott has penciled in a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Thumbs “who cares?”
- Byron has promised a training camp so tough, dudes are gonna be puking. Kinda boss or kinda stupid?
- It’s time for AAK!!! Disney cartoons or Looney Tunes: Who ya got? What is Dan Aykroyd’s best performance? And would you prefer Kobe Bryant as a player only, player/coach, player/owner or player/POTUS?
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A few weeks ago, it was silly season. Now, it’s slow season, but that doesn’t mean “no” season! (As in no-thing to talk about… I’ll show myself out.) As training camp creeps a little closer by the day, there is definitely some ground to cover.
The show can be heard by clicking on the module, and below is a list of talking points. Among the highlights…
- A look at the latest headlines. DeMarcus Cousins had an injury scare practicing with Team USA. He should be fine, but does this add to the concerns about NBA players’ offseason commitments? Steph Curry says he’s a better offensive player than LeBron James. Believable? And speaking of LeBron, he and Carmelo Anthony are really, really skinny.
- The Lakers have an official schedule, but given how the team isn’t realistically in contention, the specifics feel inherently less exciting. For example, are fans (much less the participants themselves) still geeked to see Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard finally square off more than one year after their separation? Generally speaking, the stakes aren’t pressing, and stakes are what make schedule intriguing.
- Having said that, the Lakers play 28 nationally-televised games this season despite strong odds of missing the playoffs. Safe to say, Kobe remains one helluva draw.
- What does it do for Byron Scott’s legacy with the Lakers if he ends up a rousing success as a coach?
- How does the Lakers’ apparent non-pursuit of Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe feel with the players reportedly set to accept respective qualifying offers from Phoenix and Detroit?
- We discuss Brian’s recent article for The Cauldron about Steve Ballmer taking over as owner of the Clippers, and how it changes the L.A. basketball landscape.
- It’s time for AAK!!! What doubles tournament sport would the K Bros fare best at? Is it possible to barbeque a Hot Pocket? How long should one wait before dating again after the death of a treasured pet lizard?
- We take a look at the life, legacy and career of Robin Williams.
Just wanted to pass along a piece I wrote for ESPN’s TrueHoop section about the potential schism over the next several years between two very distinct sets of Laker fans: The ones who care first and foremost about the franchise and the ones who care first and foremost about Kobe Bryant. These divided priorities among many fans have never been a secret, but also never terribly problematic so long as the Lakers remained a powerhouse. But in its current state, with the franchise desperately in need of a smart, methodical rebuild and Kobe openly impatient towards anything short of “win now,” the stakes may be on the verge of rising for those taking a side.
You can read the article by clicking here, and below is an excerpt:
Kobe Bryant is anything but an ordinary superstar, and Kobe zealots are a breed different than I’ve seen in my entire life watching and covering sports.
The Mamba is regarded by this contingency as half basketball god, half political prisoner. An indestructible force of nature, yet encased in bubble wrap to protect him from the slings and arrows of jealous haters consumed with denying the Mamba’s greatness. True Kobe-ites will gladly step into traffic to protect him from an oncoming car, but feel disappointment it wasn’t actually a bus.
In fairness to Kobe’s vigilantes, getting his back has often felt like getting hit by a Greyhound. Bryant’s career has been shaped by persistent PR turbulence. Feuds with Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson. (Too much) blame for the threepeat core’s dissolution. Colorado. The 2007 offseason, in which he demanded a trade to Pluto. His relentlessly demanding relationship with teammates. An-court persona that would raise Hannibal Lector’s eyebrows. Throw in the reductive — and idiotic — idea that Kobe’s first three titles on “Shaq’s teams” somehow counted less, and the guy has spent considerable time between the crosshairs. Bryant may be more popular than polarizing these days, but likability will never be his calling card.
Of course, Kobe Bryant is also an indisputable icon, an athlete destined to go down as one of basketball’s all-time greats, and a lifer for one of sports’ most storied franchises. The fervent didn’t choose him by accident. Even Lakers fans who don’t worship at the altar take considerable pride knowing Kobe is one of their own.
However, that sect pledges its loyalty to the franchise first, and these fans are hyper-aware of where life currently stands for the Lakers. The future has been mortgaged bone-dry after surrendering multiple picks to acquire Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, and to jettison the contracts of Derek Fisher and Luke Walton. The new CBA was designed to prevent teams like the Lakers from reloading through economic superiority.
Painful as these losses have been, another underwhelming season might be necessary to create a sustainable bright future. For the first time in eons, the Lakers are in position to build from the ground up, and whatever critical designs in place can’t be altered to placate a 36-year-old player with over 54,000 career minutes (playoffs included) coming off consecutive significant injuries. Even if that player happens to be Kobe Bryant.
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It’s not necessarily that a ton of things have happened in the land o’ Lakers since we last recorded the Land O’Lakers podcast, just that the thing that did go down was a doozie.
Jordan Hill missed the team picture.
That, and Phil Jackson took a pretty plum gig with the Knicks. (Do I really need to add a link-to-the-news, here? If PJ-to-NY is information you haven’t yet heard, I suspect you’re here on accident.) And fair to say, the average Lakers fan reacted with a combination of anger, fear, and… no, anger and fear pretty much covers it. No surprise, it was the major topic of conversation for the newest show, which can be heard by clicking the module above (or the link below). A list of the major talking points…
Click above to play, or just download the show here. Hope you enjoy it. To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click here. You can also find us on TuneIn.com by heading here.
On the odd chance some fans hadn’t yet started seeing the Lakers’ world for what it currently is, Wednesday was a stark, unpleasant, steaming plate of reality. One symbol of last season’s failure returned to Staples to a strong chorus of boos (kudos to fans in the building, who kept up the enthusiasm for heckling Dwight Howard longer than I figured, given the score) and a very strong performance. The other symbol, Steve Nash, was not in the building. The Lakers said he had an upper respiratory infection, probably because like everyone else they need a little variety and are tired of writing “nerve root irritation” on the injury sheet.
Meanwhile, as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches, the Lakers were busy with the completely unglamorous business of (hopefully) stripping the house down to the studs, selling off the fixtures, all the copper wiring, and anything else the market might absorb. First to go: Steve Blake, sent to Golden State for MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore, and a cleaner payroll.
And, predictably given the players available, the Lakers proceeded to get shit-canned by the visitors. Howard’s Rockets are rising in the standings, while the Lakers lost for the eighth time in 10 games and continued their frontal assault on last place in the Western Conference. That their struggles are in big picture terms properly categorized under “NBA Circle of Life” doesn’t make it any easier for fans to watch. Wednesday was as painful an evening as the Lakers have had this year, which is saying something.
A few more postgame thoughts…