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Podcast: Kobe Bryant’s latest ETA, Magic Johnson’s criticisms, David Stern’s legacy, B-Movies

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Audio, Magic Johnson, Mitch Kupchak | 6 comments

The Lakers continue to lose. Kobe Bryant continues to watch games while donning black suits. Magic Johnson continues to lobby his dissatisfaction with the team. Chris Kaman continues to sit on the bench angrily growing out his beard. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day,” except considerably less funny and the day begins with I Got a Feeling” instead of “I Got You, Babe.”

You know things have gotten bad when Cher is the preferable option.

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

  • We take a look at the latest headlines. LaLa Anthony thinks ‘Melo will stay in New York and denies HoneyNutCheerios-Gate ever happened. Do we believe her on either count? The Memphis Grizzlies are back in the Western Conference playoff conversation. At the halfway point, who would we vote for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc.?
  • Tuesday, President Obama addressed the State of the Union. Wednesday, we address the state of the Lakers. And unless he’s a diehard Celtics fan, both assessments will make John Boehner frown. As is typically the case, fans have a bone to pick with Mike D’Antoni over this mess, and the Complaint Du Jour is Ryan Kelly getting minutes at the expense of either Jordan Hill or Kaman (and their presumed extra rebounds) How much does this affect wins and losses, and does it even matter, considering this season is clearly lost?
  • A reexamination of Kobe Bryant’s knee has revealed more swelling, placing him on the shelf until, realistically speaking, late February or early March at the earliest. Assuming Bryant does take the court this season, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak will get a very small sample size by which to evaluate where he stands as a player. How much will this affect the front office’s decisions this summer?
  • Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Magic Johnson is publicly criticizing Jim Buss and D’Antoni. We ponder Magic’s endgame with these constant critiques, and how damaging his words could be to the organization moving forward.
  • Dr. Buss’ birthday as Tuesday, and it’s been nearly a year since his death. We examine the state of the franchise specifically through the prism of his absence.
  • On Saturday, David Stern will step down after 30 years as NBA Commissioner. How will his tenure be remembered?
  • It’s time for some AAK!!! We make Super Bowl predictions and name our favorite B-Movies.
  • Unrelated to the show (but still important), I wanted to give a heads up that we’ll be appearing again periodically on ESPNLA 710 radio. Check our twitter feed (@kambrothers) to stay in the loop.

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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Magic Johnson obliterates Jim Buss

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Magic Johnson, Opinion | 19 comments

Let’s stipulate the following from the top:

  1. Magic Johnson is, at worst, the second greatest Laker of all time, and if you polled the city he’d almost certainly take the top spot.
  2. Magic Johnson undoubtedly cares about the Lakers, deeply loves and respects Dr. Buss and feels protective of his legacy.
  3. Magic Johnson says all kinds of shit, all the time, about the Lakers.
  4. Anything Magic Johnson says about the Lakers is news, owing to his being Magic Johnson.
  5. Magic Johnson is not a fan of Jim Buss.

All of that was front and center after Magic teed off on Jim Buss earlier this week to the Los Angeles Times. The highlights:

  • “This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired.”
  • “The biggest problem they’re going to have right now … you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team.”
  • “You’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ … “You need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship.
  • Johnson said that current Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak is doing a good job. “Mitch is great,” he said, “but he doesn’t have the power.” Johnson also added, “Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]…. They’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy? … “Dr. Buss was smart,” Johnson said. “He said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [in Phil Jackson]. He wanted to work with the best.”

Overall, Magic is, as is generally the case, spot on in some ways and all over the place in others. On the one hand, to even reference the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard as a bad idea requires an incredible comfort with revisionism. Magic, like everyone else in the free world, thought the Lakers absolutely knocked it out of the park with those deals, as Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report notes, said as much.  The trades obviously didn’t work and mistakes were made subsequently, but that doesn’t mean those transactions were a bad idea.

He has a tendency to lob out big names (Pat Riley! Jerry West! Phil Jackson!) without any sense of context. Sure, Magic said the Lakers need “someone like Jerry” to be the face of the franchise, because the actual Jerry is under contract with another team. But Riley isn’t walking through that door, either, and in fact there’s nobody out there I can think of the Lakers could find to run the front office who is “like” either. (Instead, the Lakers seem to have basically abdicated to Kobe the role of “guy who is supposed to bring calm and reassurance to fans and the basketball world alike.” Not a good idea since that’s not his job, it’s a very temporary “fix,” and I don’t think Bryant is a magnet for big time free agents.)

Sometimes Magic is right — in the same interview he noted the Lakers should have waited on Kobe’s extension — but for the wrong reasons. Magic’s? Because the Lakers should seen who might be signed this summer. Incorrect. A) They can still sign people, and b) the free agent class is actually pretty weak. A better reason to hold off? How about seeing if Kobe showed signs of high level play coming off Achilles surgery? Especially when there is no practical threat of losing him and the plan was (apparently) to give him gobs and gobs of money at the first positive signs. $48.5 million would have soothed whatever hurt feelings Kobe had at having to wait an extra month or two.

On the other, Magic is absolutely correct about Jim needing to step back from the player personnel role he could (though not necessarily should) carry out while his dad was alive and ultimately had final authority over big moves. Now, Jim signs the checks and decides who ought to get them, too. In professional sports, that’s a terrible idea. But the Lakers don’t need to go find a “face.” Mitch Kupchak will do just fine, assuming people believe he has the type of autonomy West used to wield, where Dr. Buss was a presence but not involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the roster. It’s an opinion I’ve held for a while, and would hold even if I felt Jim Buss was great at his job (which I don’t) and was well-respected across the league (which he isn’t).

As an organization, the Lakers have badly botched their last two coaching hires. Mike Brown was a poor choice. Mike D’Antoni might have had potential had the Lakers not comically botched his hiring with the Phil Phiasco. (First rule: If you’re going to make people think you’re hiring Phil Jackson, hire Phil Jackson. You can’t rip off that tablecloth and expect the flowers and china to remain on the table.) Eventually D’Antoni will have to be canned, too, and Lakers fans can hardly be blamed for worrying about which guy will come next. (Particularly if  they feel limited once again to guys named Mike.)

Nor can the respect factor be overlooked. While Dwight Howard was a bad messenger, some of his message was nonetheless important. That was reportedly very unimpressed with Jim Buss, for example. Deserved or not, if too many people across the NBA universe don’t believe in Jim, the Lakers are obviously damaged by it, particularly as the rebuild kicks into full swing.

There are reasons to be sympathetic towards Jim. He has an impossible legacy to match, for one, something that will never change. If Jim Buss teams win three titles over the next (oh…) 20 years, that would constitute a nice run for most NBA teams. Here, he’ll be called a failure. He’s adjusting to a life professionally and personally without his father. That’s tough, and takes time. His personality doesn’t resonate and is still, after great effort, only periodically passible with the media (Side note: Take off the effing hat, Jim.)  He’s trying to overcome a well-established narrative of a generally well-meaning incompetent. That’s a tough boulder to move.

Particularly when he has the much more popular Jeannie on the business side, and has to deal with Magic, fiercely loyal to Jeannie but not him,  lobbing grenades at his office from up on Mt. Olympus (or, depending on his schedule, Chavez Ravine). I can’t imagine the circumstances in which Jim Buss wins a public spat with Magic Johnson. He just has to take it.

Which gets to the most important point: His incredible stature means Magic doesn’t really have to be correct or informed when he opines on the state of the Lakers. (And when the state of the Lakers is bad, his opines often.) But even when he’s on the money, his criticisms are generally counterproductive. Things like this are not harmless. Magic’s comments further erode public confidence in Jim Buss, and even if it’s deserved, that hurts the Lakers. When he goes scorched earth, it hurts even more.

It’s one thing for me to slag Jim Buss. I’m not family.

Magic Johnson is, and therefore has a responsibility to be more measured with his public comments. Generally speaking, I’d just as soon he stop talking about the Lakers at all.

 

 

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A list of candidates to join Kobe Bryant's #VinoClub

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in #Vino, Kobe Bryant, Opinion |

Among the batch of #AAK!! submissions for the most recent podcast was a question from @SDonTheTrack:

#AAK question: Other than Kobe and people he's tweeted, who deserves to be in the “vino” club? Not just sports maybe Tom Hanks?*

Fun, fun question!

For those living under a rock when Kobe revealed his most recent nickname, “Vino” was officially coined last March after a win over the Atlanta Hawks, highlighted by Bryant’s game-winning layup and an explosive dunk. This was about a month removed from throwing down over Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, and before the Achilles injury, the Mamba's 2013 season was fairly bouncy. As Bryant told the media he perceives as having written him off, like fine wine, he’s getting better with age. (Once on crutches, Kobe tailored the nickname to become “Coach Vino,” a persona none too popular with Mike D’Antoni, but that’s neither here nor there.)

So who are the current members of The #VinoClub? September saw Kobe induct Peyton Manning into the ranks, which according to the congratulatory Tweet pushed the club's membership to four. Kobe. Manning. Floyd Mayweather. Justin Timberlake. However, Bryant has also propped up Mariano Rivera as part of the crew, and given his constantly expressed admiration, I can't imagine 42 has been booted. Therefore, I'm setting the membership at five, with room to grow.

During the podcast, Brian nominated Tom Petty on the strength of his consistency and longevity, and I concur. Most musicians, even the great ones, inevitably churn out lesser albums with age. Petty, however, is the rare artist for whom the latter half of his career has arguably produced better music than a seriously great earlier half. Simply being able to make this case on Petty's behalf puts him in rare company. I cited Ben Affleck, who by 26 was an Academy Award winning screenwriter and rising star, then squandered that good fortune with a string of above-the-title box office and critical duds, plus the debacle that was “Benifer.” But with age came wisdom, more mature choices in front of the camera, and a serious, natural talent behind it. Affleck is now among the hottest directors in Hollywood, improbably poised to perhaps become his generation's Clint Eastwood. (As for the “Batman” grumblings, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale were also unpopular choices at the time. Just sayin'.)

And if I may, some other candidates, in no particular order…

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Podcast: Lamar Odom, Michael Beasley, new faces(?), Kobe’s rehab, hangover cures and tacos

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Podcast |

Before we know it, training camp will be upon us and a new season will be underway. Until then, a handful of recent developments, one of which pains us to talk about, unavoidable as the topic may be.

The podcast can be heard by clicking on the module above, and a list of talking points is below:

  • We discuss Lamar Odom’s sad situation, the tragedies he’s endured amidst professional triumphs, and wish him the best moving forward.
  • Many Laker fans have expressed interest in signing the recently released Michael Beasley on the cheap. Is this really a good idea?
  • What are the odds that the partially guaranteed contracts of Shawne Williams and Xavier Henry get paid in full? How well would either player fit in with the Lakers?
  • How does a man as accomplished (and philanthropic) as Pau Gasol fail in his bid to secure Madrid as the site for the 2020 Olympics? We explain.
  • Does Kobe Bryant have an ulterior motive for keeping the public so in the loop about his Achilles tendon rehab?
  • It’s time for “AAK!!!” Just like we asked Flea in a recent podcast, who would be our ultimate All-Lakers pickup squad? What’s the ultimate hangover cure? Which NFL squad that finished last in their division during the 2012 season has the best chance of making the 2013 playoffs?
  • Tragedy in Portland. How pissed would Staples Center patrons be if the Lakers and Jack in the Box ended the in-game “two free tacos” promotion?

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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Podcast: Flea on the Lakers, Kobe, Magic, music, and The Big Lebowski

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Dwight Howard, Flea, Houston Rockets, Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Audio, Metta World Peace, Mike D'Antoni, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Podcast | 5 comments

After three-plus decades as the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which launched a career resulting in Grammys, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors and oodles of albums sold, Flea is a man who requires no introduction to anybody remotely familiar with music since the early 80′s. (To wit, when I told Mom about this show, she responded, “Oh… I know who that is.”) Similarly, after countless appearances in the stands cheering on his beloved Los Angeles Lakers — plus, the song “Magic Johnson,” which appeared on 1989′s “Mother’s Milk” — no introduction is needed for Flea as a man who bleeds purple and gold. With the possible exception of Jack Nicholson or Dyan Cannon, it’s hard to argue any celebrity has earned more stripes as a Lakers fan. We’ve been hoping to get Flea on the show for a few years, and at long last the holiday weekend presented an opening. We spoke for almost 45 minutes, covering everything from basketball to music to his role in “The Big Lebowski.” Here are a couple of excerpts, the first in which Flea describes the commonality between sports and music:

“I love to play sports. I’ve played sports my whole life. I play sports constantly. And it’s all very similar to music. It’s the same thing to me. Especially basketball. The communal effort. The solo effort. The supportive part of it. When it’s time to play a role, when it’s time to take over and go up front. All of that stuff. The telepathic improvisational aspect of it is something I really relate to as an artist in a creative way. When someone like Kobe’s in the zone and absolutely unconscious and going off, it’s that thing. The same thing as a musician. When you’re able to get your mind out of the way and let go and just try to channel something beautiful and be a vehicle for this uplifting energy, you’re in the zone. You’re letting go. You’re not thinking.

“And I think that’s what all human beings in one way or another, whether you’re a garbage man or a poet, when you’re in the act of doing something and you’re completely in the moment and free of what people think or even you think, that’s when you’re living to your highest potential. So I really relate to that in sports because it’s so evident when it’s really happening.”

Later, Flea mentioned how Kobe’s reminds him in certain ways of longtime RHCP guitarist John Frusciante. When I noted how Frusciante always seemed to me less comfortable with fame than Kobe, Flea didn’t completely agree.

“That’s true, but I’ve never seen Kobe being entirely comfortable with fame, either. It’s funny. Kobe has this reputation for being arrogant or cold, and I never feel that from Kobe. I feel him being, and it’s changed, too, as time has gone by, but until the last few years, I’ve felt he was just kind of a geeky guy, you know? Just sort of, not a savant, but kind of just someone who works so hard on basketball that he’s not a socially skilled guy. But he never made me feel like he was arrogant or cold. It just sort of felt like he didn’t feel comfortable or know how to really relate to people or make them feel warm in the context of an interview. Whereas other players can really have that political skill of saying the right thing on the microphone and making you feel good, but I think they’re completely full of shit, like they’re being politicians. Well, I never felt that with Kobe. I think he just says what he thinks. But I think as time has gone by he has been able to make people feel better when he does interviews because he’s grown more comfortable over time with just being natural.”

Not that Flea takes issue with any lack of social skills, by the way.

“Ultimately, I don’t care about the social skills. To me, actually, being uncomfortable socially is kind of charming to me. So it never really bothered. But I really respect craftsmanship and people who take their craft seriously and do their best. I think that Kobe has been unfairly and really misunderstood as being a selfish person. I don’t see it as being selfish to be as great as you can be. I think ultimately it’s giving the greatest gift.”

The show can be heard by clicking on the module above. Below is a list of talking points.

  • Flea describes the difficulty and heartache of last season, a campaign he considers among the worst in franchise history.
  • Stars, they’re just like us! The overwhelming majority of Lakers fans are neither famous nor fans of Mike D’Antoni. Flea may be a rock star, but along these particular lines, consider him Joe Q. Public.
  • For that matter, the bassist ain’t exactly choked up over Dwight Howard’s departure, either. He doesn’t deny D12′s talent or even the void that will be felt in his absence, but as a die-hard Laker fan, Howard’s lack of commitment and respect towards the franchise is a deal-breaker.
  • Flea is, however, a huge admirer of Kobe, and for several different reasons.
  • Flea shares the process of recording “Magic Johnson” and explains why the legendary point guard means so much to him on a professional and, especially, personal level.
  • The first time I ever saw the Chili Peppers perform was in 1989 on “Night Music With David Sanborn.” We recall the wild performance, highlighted by Flea’s pants made out of stuffed animals (!), and learn the sad fate of said pants made out of stuffed animals.
  • What would Flea in his 20′s think of Flea at age 50?
  • Is there a commonality between what the Buss children are dealing with while trying to move the Lakers forward after the death of Dr. Jerry Buss and what the Chili Peppers faced after the death of Hillel Slovak in 1988?
  • Flea describes working with a marmot in “The Big Lebowski,” the vibe on a Coen Brothers set, and why he exposed so much ass crack in the bowling alley scene.
  • We asked Flea to pick a fantasy all-Lakers squad to join him in a 5-on-5 pickup game. His answer will surprise you, because it ended up surprising him.

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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