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PODCAST! Kobe’s done (what’s next?), Ghostbusters reboot, Super Bowl and the mature J.R. Smith

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Byron Scott, free agency, Jeanie Buss, Jeremy Lin, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Opinion, Podcast |

Kobe Bryant is on the shelf for the rest of the year and his availability and effectiveness for next season are in question… again.  After steadfastly projecting what I refer to as “faux competitiveness,” the Lakers front office is staring down another season without a postseason and and a summer of critical importance… again. And these crossroads feature a coach who’s yet to reveal himself as right choice moving forward… again.

The show can be heard by clicking on the module and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the talking points:

  • Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery for a torn rotator cuff, meaning he’s done for the season. This being his third consecutive season ending injury, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll call it an early retirement. But if Kobe does return, what can be realistically expected from the superstar guard next season? And either way, how should the Lakers move forward as an organization?
  • We take a look at the latest headlines. With Brandon Jennings and Kemba Walker injured, is Jeremy Lin suddenly a more valuable trade commodity? J.R. Smith is partying less in Cleveland than in New York. The Warriors reveals Chinese New Years jerseys that are either very classy, totally insulting, or both. The lineups for the All-Star Game’s three-point shooting and dunk contest are pretty damn awesome.
  • We react to the casting news for the all-female Ghostbusters reboot.
  • If Lance Armstrong could do it all over again, he’d do it exactly the same. And by “it,” he means “take PED.” What should we make of this rather candid admission?
  • It’s time for a Super Bowl-themed AAK!!! Who is the ideal halftime performer? Would we rather watch the game at the 50 yard line in person or on a 60-inch screen at a party? Do the K Bros root “Bud” or “Bud Light” in the Bud Bowl?

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.

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What I want for Kobe Bryant when he returns

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Opinion, Steve Nash | 6 comments

When Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles last April, I was initially concerned that game against the Warriors could very well be his last. This is a brutal injury for any athlete, much less a 35-year old with the equivalent of about 20 seasons under his belt when you consider playoff mileage. The effects are typically devastating, the rehab is grueling, and few NBA players have been remotely the same afterward. Kobe’s also stated on countless occasions a deep disinterest in performing below his lofty standards. The league is filled with grizzled ballers hanging around in their late 30s because they’re either willing to accept a supporting role on a contending team or simply aren’t ready to abandon the NBA lifestyle. Bryant will never be among them. Once it’s clear he can’t play at a high level, he won’t play at all.

With all these factors potentially stacked against him, the notion of Bryant forced into retirement certainly crossed my mind, and it wasn’t a pleasant thought.

However, there’s also a part of me that would have been okay with this, because Kobe’s last act as a professional basketball player would have been draining two free throws while supported by an Achilles with all the stability of a wet noodle, which to me stands as the greatest accomplishment of his entire career.

Greater than the five titles. Greater than 81 points. Greater than anything else on his first ballot Hall of Fame resume.

Physically and especially mentally, that Kobe managed to summon the strength to sink those free throws is nothing short of amazing. The pain alone would be (quite understandably) enough reason to tap out. Instead, Kobe walked to the line under his own power. And mentally, the task was even more daunting. Kobe knew immediately what just happened, which means his mind must have ventured into a pretty dark place as he stared down an injury capable of forever changing him. With the Lakers’ postseason hopes in the balance, Kobe had already played through a few nasty collisions against Golden State. He was now tasked with sinking a pair of free throws to keep those playoffs hopes alive, all the while knowing there was no prayer of actually participating.

The focus required to simply hold back tears was Herculean. That Kobe actually succeeded under those circumstances was astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like that moment in all my years watching sports, and I’m not sure any other athlete could have met this challenge.

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Power Rankings Ire: Are the Lakers really the 20th best team in the NBA?

Posted by on Aug 4, 2013 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers News, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Pau Gasol | 5 comments

Yes, at least according to these power rankings at SBNation.com.

20th, down there with the Pistons and Raptors, behind the Pelicans, Wizards, and Cavs. Fair*?

To some degree, the Lakers are a little tough to handicap. It’s clear they won’t contend for a title short of some Damn Yankees!-style bargaining, but it’s reasonable to argue last season’s debacle combined with the dark mood surrounding Dwight Howard’s departure has pushed people too far towards the negative. Lakers fans will point to the end of the year (28-12!), and note how during the 2012-13 season basically everything capable of going wrong, did, and that had Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill and Steve Blake stayed healthy and the beginning of the year not been such an excrement show of coaching changes and foul chemistry, they might have been challenging for home court advantage in the last week of the season, not just trying to get into the tournament.

So maybe people are piling on.

But probably not.

It’s not that the Lakers don’t have the potential to be a mid-to-(much, much more likely)-low end playoff team in the West, and it’s easy enough to look at the roster and say, Kobe Bryant! Steve Nash! Pau Gasol! Still plenty of name brand talent! Decent work in the free agent market, too. Except it’s not even a matter of peering behind the curtain. The team’s flaws, and considerable obstacles they’ll face, are out there in plain sight:

  • Bryant, despite his many adamantium parts, is coming back from an injury typically devastating to players of his age. I’m probably more optimistic than most, believing he’ll be back sooner rather than later looking something pretty similar to the Kobe Bryant we’re familiar with. But even then, I’m not talking about Day 1. If in his mid-20′s Dwight Howard required half a season to touch previous form (off a totally different injury, but one in the same neighborhood of significance), Kobe in his mid-30′s will need time, too. Most of us made the mistake last year of confusing Dwight’s presence for his return. I’m not making the same mistake again.
  • Gasol, at 33, is coming off surgeries on both knees, something that would be much bigger news if not for Kobe’s recovery.
  • Nash, who defied the odds in Phoenix by stringing together a bunch of healthy seasons into his late 30′s, now needs to prove he can stay healthy in L.A..
  • It’s not like Jordan Hill has been the picture of health over his career, either. If he, Gasol, or Chris Kaman miss any time, the Lakers as currently constructed become painfully thin up front. If the Lakers were an injury risk last year, what would the actuaries say about this crew?
  • Even if the offense clicks, and there’s no reason to believe a healthy roster will have trouble scoring, the Lakers will almost certainly be “John Carter” awful on the defensive end. Consider how bad they were without Howard on the floor last season, then subtract Metta World Peace, their second best defender. No scheme of Kurt Rambis can fix the fundamental problem of personnel. If Mike D’Antoni morphed into Tom Thibodeau, it wouldn’t matter. (Actually, it would, but this option feels unrealistic.) A bad defensive team can only win so many games, and even in the best-case scenario for these Lakers, being anything more than average will be a monumental struggle.

The Western Conference has six teams — OKC, San Antonio, the Clippers, Houston, Golden State, and Memphis — ranging from light years to unquestionably better than the Lakers. Denver is too, even with a recovering Danilo Gallinari and no Andre Iguodala. If the Wolves stay healthy, they’ll contend for a playoff spot, and Portland quietly improved. The Pelicans could — could — make a little noise, as well. There will be plenty of competition for what could be one, maybe two spots in a season the Lakers enter with little margin for error. Add in teams in the East, and it’s easy to see how the Lakers move down the list, even if some squads are getting a boost for boldness or newness for which they may not prove worthy.

Of course, losing games in 2013-14 is hardly worst thing in the world. It improves L.A.’s draft position, and as the year goes on makes unloading whatever chips they have (Gasol, Hill, and perhaps Blake) to gather assets that much easier. Mediocrity serves no purpose in the NBA, and the odds strongly favor this team being mediocre, or a little worse. Are they really the 20th best team? I’d stick ‘em a couple rungs higher on the ladder, but with so many health questions surrounding critical players, at this point it’s hard to argue much.

*(Setting aside for a moment that Power Rankings are meaningless during the season, and even less so in August, I digress…)

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Why Dwight Howard should see "This is the End."

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Jim Buss, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, This is the End | 1 comment

Last weekend, I saw “This is the End,” the new movie starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson. All playing themselves, the six attend a party at Franco’s opulent Hollywood home — filled with recognizable faces like Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, and Jason Segal — when the apocalypse arrives. For all intents and purposes, this sextet are the lone survivors left to fend off Armageddon… and often each other. Negotiating the end of the world brings out the worst in everybody above the title, and that self-centered behavior is displayed with a winking nod to each actor’s public image.

Franco eggs on a tabloid culture that’s painted him as a pretentious, artsy douche who may be in the closet. McBride presents himself as a somewhat better-spoken version of his “Kenny Powers” character. Hill is so relentlessly and condescendingly nice, Baruchel (self-righteously “anti-industry,” but also jealous of everyone’s more successful careers) eventually decks him. Rogen is a useless, selfish pothead. The flaky Robinson reacts to danger with a girly scream.

Audiences will hypothesize how closely the film versions of every actor who appears match reality — save perhaps Michael Cera, who by all accounts is nothing like the dude who spends his final hours snorting coke and slapping Rihanna’s ass — but that’s both beside the point and the point. A movie like “T.I.T.E.” can only be made if the participants are secure with that inevitability. Clearly, this cast ain’t losing sleep. The goal is to get laughs. And while the last 20-ish minutes are uneven, the movie is often hysterical because of everybody’s willingness to don a “kick me” sign.

Watching the film, out of nowhere, Dwight Howard popped into my head. Given how the center is at forefront of damn near every NBA conversation, particularly in Los Angeles, a day without Howard on the brain is unfortunately a rare luxury. But this was different. Seeing these actors mock themselves, it dawned on me how Dwight, despite his reputation as someone who “never stops joking around,” seems the least likely person on Earth to participate in a project like “T.I.T.E”

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Podcast: Kobe Bryant and postgame rhetoric, untimely slides, and D.J. Mbenga stories

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Mar 27, 2013 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Podcast | 5 comments

REMINDER: Subscribe to our show in iTunes here…

Those happy days when it looked like the Lakers might actually climb up the Western Conference playoff ladder and even (gasp!) make a little noise come the postseason are … well, if not gone are, in the parlance of seldom acknowledged Pink Floyd albums, Obscured By Clouds.

Now, having lost three straight including Monday”s not-nearly-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicates game against the Warriors in Oakland, the Lakers have lost touch with Golden State and Houston, and are just trying to hang on to the eighth spot. And they have some company.

With that backdrop, we sat down Tuesday afternoon to record the newest Kamenetzky Brothers Land O”Lakers Podcast (before the news about Metta World Peace”s lateral meniscus tear, just as an FYI). Among the talking points:

  • Why aren”t bulletin board material for the Lakers, but reflect bigger problems for the Lakers heading into the postseason … assuming they get there.
  • Speaking of which, will they?
  • After Monday”s loss, Kobe Bryant took the action hero, steely approach when asked if he was concerned about L.A.”s shrinking cushion in the playoff race. “I”m terrified,” he said. “Do I look terrified? Not at all.” Lest you think his question was rhetorical. Are zen calm and unshakable confidence the right approach at this point? If he”s saying the right stuff, what else ought Kobe be doing?
  • Finally, we take a comment from the Facebook Mailbag that most Lakers fans certainly identify with, and I share a conversation with V.O.T.L.* John Ireland following Friday”s loss encapsulating the ways in which this season has gone very wrong for the Lakers.

Finally, one more mention for this piece Andy put together for Red Bull Media House, on OKC”s Nick Collison”s evolution into the consummate role player.

*Voice of the Lakers. 

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