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Land O’Lakers Podcast: Does D’Angelo lead? Is Phil a good idea? NBA players and bear fights!

Posted by on Mar 2, 2016 in Lakers Audio, Podcast, Uncategorized | 1 comment

We’re back!

We vowed not to podcast again until the Lakers earned their 12th victory of the 2015-16 season, and Tuesday, it happened! And we were so confident, we recorded before the purple and gold took the floor against the Nets.

On the agenda…

NBA News. Does Kyrie Irving really want out of Cleveland? Who loves Chuck the Condor? Is the Dirk Burger an appropriate culinary honor for Nowitzki? And how much has Phil Jackson actually helped the Knicks?

Lakers. Before D’Angelo Russell blew up for 39 Tuesday against Brooklyn, the big conversation of the week centered around his leadership skills. How good are they now? How good can they become?

We introduce the Lakers Statue Game. Everyone gets one, but where? And how big? This week, Nick Van Exel!

Finally, AAK! You ask a Kamenetzky, and we answer. Oscar talk — Did Spotlight deserve best picture? Which NBA player takes down the bear from The Revenant? And finally, choosing between Iron Maiden and Rush, in concert.

 

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What the Lakers can learn from the Knicks (seriously)

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Lakers Analysis, Opinion | 1 comment

There’s a narrative that states the Lakers “can’t afford” to rebuild as another, less glamorous team might. They’re the Lakers, after all. Fans wouldn’t tolerate it. Season ticket holders would abandon ship. The stars would stop showing. Sponsors would revolt. Media partners would freak out. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria

L.A., a city famous for its entertainment options, would move on to other things.

It’s compelling stuff, playing well into the championship image the team and fans are so rightly proud of.

It’s also completely untrue.

Sure, if the Lakers suffered through another couple seasons like this one, it would be embarrassing. Fans would be angry. Stars wouldn’t line the courtside seats. The rest of the NBA would point its collective finger towards El Segundo and laugh. But do you know what would really happen? Absolutely nothing of long term consequence. And all the evidence you need for visits Staples tonight. The New York Knicks have been an acrid, smoldering tire fire for most of the new millennium. And yet going back to 2001, they’ve never had a year where the Garden was filled to less than 96 percent capacity. Forbes values them at $2.5 billion, which is far less than they’d sell for on the open market.

The Knicks are, and will remain, a money printing machine, despite a tradition and track record that doesn’t approach what the Lakers have.

Last week, I was talking to a season ticket holder I’ve grown to know over the years. Big money, ungodly expensive seats. He’s had them for years, and he’s not giving them up, even knowing the Lakers could suck for a couple more years. Nor does he know anyone who will, because they’ll get snatched up in a heartbeat and can never be had back. In a world where live broadcast rights have never been more valuable, media partners aren’t going anywhere, either. If other sponsors ducked out for a couple years, they’d be back (perhaps paying higher rates) as soon as the team is good again. People who stop watching now, entertainment glitterati and salt of the earth alike, come right back when there’s something to see. That’s how this works.

The moral of the story? Don’t confuse a hit to the collective purple and gold ego with actual damage. That kind of thinking is what gets teams to do stupid things. The best way for the Lakers to make themselves relevant again (assuming you buy the supposition that they’re not, which I don’t) is to build something sustainable, by which the team can contend — legitimately contend — on a year-to-year basis. When that happens, or even appears to be really, all the heat returns.

If it takes an extra year or so to get the rebuild right, so be it. Panicky moves designed to win summer TV broadcasts and brochures for season ticket holders don’t do much good when the games actually start. There have been signs the Lakers understand this better now than they did before. Mitch Kupchak speaks openly about not mortgaging the future to try and send Kobe out a winner, for example. They’ve used language, at least periodically, talking about how it could take a couple years to get this thing back on track. But if the Lakers can’t shake the star-(bleep)er mentality as the primary means of roster construction, they’ll run into real problems.

Which is a shame, because assuming you believe the organization is still committed to winning — there is zero evidence to the contrary — the reality is they have all the time they need to do it right.

Just look at New York.

 

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PODCAST! The new Kobe, CLE-OKC-NYK Trade, aging action heroes, Stuart Scott and more

Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Byron Scott, ESPN, free agency, Jeanie Buss, Jeremy Lin, Jim Buss, Jordan Hill, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Podcast | 3 comments

2015 is in full swing and while the Lakers don’t seem any closer to adding a sixth ring to Kobe’s finger (or even making the playoffs to create such an opportunity), the last several games have been nothing if not compelling. Is a legit sea change underway for The Mamba’s final days?

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

  • OUR TOP STORY: What a difference three games off, sensibly reduced PT, and a change of deployment can make. After being driven nearly to the verge of collapse, Kobe Bryant is now playing fewer minutes, is functioning as the team’s primary facilitator, and is succeeding brilliantly in the new role. Will this change stick and if so, what are the potentially positive implications for the Lakers moving forward? What would have happened had he continued down the road traveled at the start of the season? (Here’s a  link to the piece I wrote a few years ago expressing concern Kobe could end his career like, as Chris Rock put it, “the old guy at the club.)
  • AROUND THE LEAGUE: We take a look at two recent big headlines. The second round of returns on All-Star voting reflects fans largely paying attention to the season… and that Chinese hoops fans enjoy voting, period. Bucks center Larry Sanders reportedly has lost interest in playing basketball, which is either great or horrible news for Milwaukee, depending on how you look at it.
  • “ALMOST TOP” STORY: Monday saw a huge three-way deal between the Cavaliers, Thunder and Knicks. Cleveland receives J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. OKC receives Dion Waiters. The Knicks receive a bunch of dudes subsequently cut for cap space, cap space and more cap space. How did each squad fare? And how does this blockbuster impact the Lakers?
  • NON-SPORTS STORY: There are reports of another “Rambo” movie in the works for Sylvester Stallone. At the risk of sounding like ageists, Sly seems a bit long in the tooth at 68 to be killing folks in the jungle. Then again, Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington have successfully aged into sexagenarian ass-kickers. Is there a difference? (Also, this is a link to the “Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period” podcast referenced during the show. Very funny and entertaining.)
  • PERSON OF INTEREST: We take a look at the life and legacy of ESPN anchor and personality Stuart Scott, who died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
  • RECOMMENDED VIEWING: With award seasons in full swing, we each recommend a movie in the mix for Oscar nominations.
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Kobe Bryant, the Lakers, and loyalty

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Opinion | 2 comments

I love my wife.

I’m fortunate, too, to have a strong and (far as I know) happy marriage. Still, because it’s a marriage there are moments of frustration and tension. When they come, I still have no interest in leaving because I love my wife and live a far better life with her than without. But while that is the primary and overwhelming consideration, it’s not the only one. I wouldn’t do anything potentially jeopardizing access to my boys. Pushing 40 and off the market for a decade (sorry ladies), the idea of dating seems foreign and absurd. I don’t want to divide all our stuff in half, not that there’s that much of it. Independence, if I wanted it, comes with real costs.

Which brings me to Kobe Bryant.

Before the legs grew too long, Bryant shot down the (and I use this term in its loosest possible sense) “rumors” of potentially asking — or perhaps demanding — his way out of L.A., ostensibly to escape the brush fire quickly enveloping the 2014-15 season and end his career with a title opportunity.

Via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

“I hear the chatter of Kobe should ask out and he should go and play for a contender in this latter stage of his career,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “But that’s not what I do. I’m extremely loyal to the Lakers… I believe in fighting through the tough times as well as enjoying the good times. It’s my responsibility to get us to be the best that we can be. It’s important that we approach that on a day-to-day basis.”

and…

“I’ve enjoyed a great amount of success here. You can’t just enjoy the successful times and then run away from the bad ones. No, I don’t even think about [departing]. I’m a Laker.”

There’s no reason to doubt his sincerity. Kobe should be loyal to the Lakers, supported for nearly two decades with aggressive roster building and about $280 million in salary, with another $25 mil on the way next season. When the Lakers had to choose between him and Shaquille O’Neal, they (rightly) chose Kobe. When Colorado happened, they stood by him. When he demanded trades to far flung former planets, the Lakers attempted to oblige him, but then quietly rode it out and eventually acquired Pau Gasol.

Everybody, from the organization to Bryant to Lakers fans, has been a huge winner in the relationship. It makes total sense for Kobe to stay, even if the team is losing. But his comments don’t provide a full view of the landscape. Bryant obviously understands the optics, and how awful it would look to force his way out after being given a $48.5 million contract before actually playing a game following his Achilles surgery. It’s a deal, after all, contributing to the predicament in which he currently finds himself.

(And no, I do not buy his explanation that the Lakers simply granted him this money. If there was no negotiation, it’s because the Lakers knew the numbers they had to hit to avoid any controversy. Whether they handled it properly is a separate debate.)

And where would he go? Yes, he’s looked good this year and still carries tremendous cache, but Kobe is nonetheless a 36-year old guard coming off two big injuries, with a massive cap number this year and next, for whom the Lakers would demand major assets in return, holding veto power over any deal potentially stripping his new team of too much stuff. For all the talk of New York being an ideal landing spot, with plenty of organizational familiarity in Phil Jackson upstairs and Derek Fisher on the sidelines (plus the sexiness factor of Kobe playing every night at The Garden), I don’t think the Knicks would actually pull the trigger. Phil has a plan. Giving up picks and young talent to have Kobe obliterate $25 million of his cap space next season isn’t part of it.

Particularly since Carmelo Anthony, Kobe, and J.R. Smith don’t make a likely championship trio, even in the East. Phil knows that, and more importantly, so does Kobe. His well-documented hyper-competitiveness notwithstanding, he’d recognize the brand and emotional connection built playing every year of his transcendent career with the same iconic franchise has more value than a very speculative shot at a sixth ring, even in New York.

And if not the Knicks, where? He’s extremely hard to trade, and the only thing more damaging to Kobe’s rep than forcing his way out of Los Angeles would be trying and failing.

For all the chest-puffing, social media driven, “Winning is the only thing” hyper-Lombardi-ism infecting our sports culture, there are still things we value as much as final scores. In different combinations for different situations, fair play, honesty, character, and loyalty all matter. Titles can be tainted should too many of those qualities be compromised in the process. Kobe might want more hardware, but doesn’t need it. Does a sixth ring really help Kobe’s legacy if brought by bailing on the Lakers? Is even a crack at the postseason enough to sacrifice everything else he’s built up?

In the end, the Lakers and Kobe are married to each other,* for better or for… well, this. When the two-year extension was offered and signed, both sides understood what could be coming. There would be attempts to improve the team, but they might not work. Fingers crossed, the Lakers might surprise people. But they might not, and the Lakers could not afford any heroics aimed at saving the end of the Kobe Era at the expense of whatever comes after. Kobe, eyes open, chose, deep continuity and money. The Lakers knew, and did the same. They didn’t offer Bryant that contract purely out of loyalty after years of success, after all. He keeps them relevant and brings income. They made PR calculations, too, particularly in the post-Dwight Howard aftermath.

Doesn’t devalue the loyalty the Lakers and Kobe are showing each other, but nobody should pretend it’s the only thing in play.

Maybe something comes along, changing the calculus for one side or the other. Maybe the perfect opportunity presents itself to give Bryant one last chance at a chip while helping the Lakers rebuild faster after he’s gone. More likely, though — much, much more likely — Bryant stays, ending his career in purple and gold, honored and revered for his accomplishments, just with less glory than everyone would have hoped.

*It can be argued, fairly easily really, a trade demand from Bryant — petitioning for a divorce, to flog the marriage metaphor that much more — does the Lakers a favor, since it takes the blame for ending the Kobe Era in L.A. off their hands. He, by definition, asked for it, and that’s the only way this process could start. But that’s a different discussion. 

 

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Podcast! Phil Jackson is gone… so what now?

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Jordan Farmar, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson | 5 comments

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 hereHope 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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