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Jerry West: (Kobe's Teammates) just are not mentally tough


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#1 LALakersFan4Life

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 02:01 PM

Michael Jordan and Tex Winter Discuss the MJ-Kobe Comparisons

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Lindy's Pro Basketball 2008-09 is on the market now. If it is not sold in a bookstore near you, you can order a copy online--choosing from among nine different regional covers--at the Lindy's website.

For this year's edition, I wrote the Sacramento Kings preview for the third year in a row, the Phoenix Suns preview for the second year in a row and I wrote the Cleveland Cavaliers preview for the first time, ending my run of writing three straight previews about the Denver Nuggets. For the sidebar stories that accompany each preview, I wrote about Ron Artest, Shaquille O'Neal and the Cavaliers' underrated defense respectively.

Editor Roland Lazenby contributed a very interesting story about Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant titled, "In Michael's Image." Lazenby has long had a very close working relationship with Tex Winter, the inventor of the Triangle Offense who coached both Jordan (with the Chicago Bulls) and Bryant (with the Lakers, for whom Winter is still a consultant). Lazenby's excellent article is well worth reading. Here are a few bullet points:

1) Jerry West, the man who originally drafted Bryant, believes that Bryant's greatness is not appreciated or understood by the general public: "The people who write and say things, they know nothing about him," West said during the 2008 NBA Finals, according to Lazenby.

2) Lazenby indicated that the Jordan-Bryant comparisons do not bother Jordan as much as they bother others: "Frankly, Jordan doesn't see what all the big fuss is about. After all, human behavior is mimetic. That's what humans do. They copy and ape another." Jordan acknowledged that Bryant has patterned aspects of his game after Jordan's but does not see this as a bad thing at all: "But how many people lighted the path for me? That's the evoluation of basketball. There's no way I could have played the way I played if I didn't watch David Thompson and guys prior to me. There's no way Kobe could have played the way he's played without watching me play. So, you know, that's the evolution of basketball. You cannot change that."

3) Lazenby added, "In conversation, it becomes quickly obvious that Jordan respects Bryant, without even a hint of condescension. After all, Jordan respects anyone who does the work, who has the mental toughness, to climb the heights. Bryant's done the work and displayed the toughness, he says."

4) Winter has repeatedly emphasized that Scottie Pippen's role in the success of the Bulls cannot be overestimated; on the flip side, Winter and West both criticized the lack of mental toughness of Bryant's current supporting cast, a weakness that became glaringly apparent during the 2008 NBA Finals. "The Lakers just are not mentally tough," West said point blank, while Winter agreed and added, "We had some tough guys in Chicago, guys like John Paxson and Steve Kerr who could hit those open shots."


In a sidebar piece, Lazenby pointed out that several years ago the Lakers coaching staff--which of course contained several people who also coached Jordan in Chicago--"concluded Bryant and Jordan were much alike, almost eerie, in fact, when it came to the alpha male qualities of their competitive natures. Kobe and Michael were ruthless when it came to winning, everyone agreed. And their skills were similar. Except Michael's hands were larger. The major difference between the two came with college experience. Jordan had played in a basketball system for Dean Smith at North Carolina, thus he was better prepared to play within a team concept."

In a statement that may surprise a lot of people, Winter told Lazenby that he doubted that Jordan would have been a good fit playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal. It will probably surprise Bryant's critics even more to learn that Winter said that his critical examination of game tape shows that Bryant's shot selection is quite good: "Actually, for the most part, he's not forcing up a lot of bad shots. When he gets hot, he does take shots that would be questionable for other players. But a lot of the shots he's taken go in." After all, while some aspects of shot selection are universal--running the shot clock down at the end of the quarter to get the last shot and deny the other team a scoring opportunity--other aspects of shot selection depend on the skill set of the player who is taking the shot (and the skill sets of the players who he would be passing to if he did not shoot).

Winter concluded, "I tend to think how very much they're alike. They both display tremendous reaction, quickness and jumping ability. Both have a good shooting touch. Some people say Kobe is a better shooter but Michael really developed as a shooter as he went along. I don't know if Kobe is a better shooter than Michael was at his best."


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#2 ファイナルファンタジ

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 02:07 PM

Pretty spot on. Kobe is unstoppable when he's on FIYAAAAAAAAA!

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#3 fido

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 02:08 PM

I actually think most of the mental absence on this team was from a lack of experience and from not knowing where the role players fit in alongside the premiere players on the squad.

Nobody ever wants to hear it, but Luke hasn't been physically right for a long time. he sucked it up and played hurt knowing it would leave the Lakers thin in the front court 2 seasons ago. when Luke is healthy he's an asset - a valuable asset off the bench.

I think losing to the Celtics is the best thing that could have happened. The mental toughness that was lacking has either developed or has started developing from that loss.

The only person whose drive is questionable is Radmanovic. for every other player on the team, I think the mental strength is there.

Fisher = yes
Bryant = yes
Odom = yes
(now that he's the 4th option relaxation will outweigh what he lacks in toughness)
Gasol = yes
(he's gotten a taste and you could tell in the Olympics and by his statements afterward that winning is foremost in his mind)
Bynum = yes
(the injury humbled him a bit and gave him the drive to be a part of this emerging powerhouse rather than go along for the ride)

Farmar = yes
Vujacic = yes
Ariza = unknown
(he's an unknown commodity, but i assume he, like Bynum got some motivation watching the team struggle w/o his help in the Finals)
Walton = yes
(trust me - the guy has keen basketball smarts and now that he's healthy he'll be back in form)
Radmanovic = questionable
(he' s a wild card - when he's on he's a giant help, but when he's off he drags everyone down with him)
Mihm = yes
(simply the desire to stay on the court a full season will give him drive enough to play a sufficient backup role)

#4 MDI

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 02:24 PM

Fido, Radman did show flashes of being tough tho

He did frustrate Carmelo Anthony and made him take bad shots in games 3 and 4 in the first round

In the game against the Hornets, chandler just shoved him to the floor, Rad got up chased him down and let him have it

He earned my respect right then

yes yes he needs to get tougher but i think he has shown that he can be a mentally tough player

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Props to sidthekid871


#5 fido

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 03:13 PM

Honestly, frustrating Carmelo doesn't go too far in my book. I'm not a huge Carmelo fan and I've seen many players (including Vujacic) get under his skin with a minimum amount of effort.

But all in all, you're right. But for me that's what's frustrating about him.

People get aggravated with Odom and his flighty personality, but Radmanovic's strong games are further between than most and his brand of aloof play is even more mystifying. I'm not saying he doesn't ave it, but it is questionable to me. When the guy is on he's absolutely deadly. The problem for me is that those "on" times are almost completely unpredictable.

#6 last stand 2.0

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 08:30 PM

oh but i thought guys like john hollinger, B-scott are more basketball intelligent than jerry west, michael jordan, and tex winter
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#7 ReaListik

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 08:56 PM

I think that there's a definite difference in the level of toughness between the Bulls and these Lakers. Kerr and Paxson hit the shot when it counted, and they didn't let the pressure get to them either. I remember getting chills down my spine when Kerr told MJ in a timeout, "You look for me, and I'll be open. I'll hit the shot." MJ looks at him like, "alright, lets do this." and *bam* Kerr hits the shot and wins the game. You put some of our current Lakers in that spot and I don't know of anyone besides D-Fish that would hit that with regularity. In fact, I'm pretty damn sure that if you put Radman or Luke in that situation and they'll say, "You look for me, and I'll run from that crap. I guarantee that I'll either brick it or turn it over for the other team."

Besides Fish and Kobe, there's Sasha...maybe. To me, Sasha still has a lot to prove. There's a lot of fans of Sasha(the machine) or whatever, which is cool, but when I think of Sasha I think of the guy that was slamming his hands against the two chairs on either side of him yelling out the F-Bomb because he knew they were going to lose to Boston...which doesn't signify much mental toughness in my book. Bynum's shown great progress from the beginning of the season to the point where he got injured, but I haven't seen anything since the Shaq confrontation that signifies mental toughness. He's lost his temper before, but I'm not impressed by that.

Composure is the key to winning. That's what it comes down to. Do you have the strength to take whatever is thrown at you and turn it to your advantage, or are you going to crumble under the pressure?
Kobe and MJ have one blatantly obvious quality in common. They will beat the hell out of their own family member to win a game. They take it personally when someone blocks or steals the ball from them. They push hard as hell during the off-season to train and be the best not only in their own sport, but in ALL of sports. There's not a word yet that describes these kind of people.

Besides Kobe and Fisher, I don't see anyone else on this team who has proven unquestionably that they are mentally tough enough to win a title against any type of adversity.

Edited by ReaListik, September 15, 2008 - 08:58 PM.

"We are the goodest" - Shaq during an interview on ESPN.

#8 last stand 2.0

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Posted September 15, 2008 - 09:33 PM

bynum is tough after getting ripped by kobe the best player on the planet something that ruined kwame brown's career and coming back not only mentally tougher but establishing yourself as a top 5 center

thats mental toughness in its purest most obvious form
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#9 The Original 81

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 03:37 AM

As time goes on, they'll get mentally tougher.

#10 BadScooter

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 06:21 AM

Radman did show flashes of being tough


One of my 3 favorite Vlad moments ever:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=2QJ7a_rtQbM

He simply did not give a f--- that Tyson was bigger and stronger and, frankly, more intimidating than him. Tyson took a cheap shot at him and Vlad let him know that he was not going to be pushed around.

I just wish he'd show that heart, toughness and intensity more often.

#11 netlord

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 06:49 AM

I think that there's a definite difference in the level of toughness between the Bulls and these Lakers. Kerr and Paxson hit the shot when it counted, and they didn't let the pressure get to them either. I remember getting chills down my spine when Kerr told MJ in a timeout, "You look for me, and I'll be open. I'll hit the shot." MJ looks at him like, "alright, lets do this." and *bam* Kerr hits the shot and wins the game. You put some of our current Lakers in that spot and I don't know of anyone besides D-Fish that would hit that with regularity. In fact, I'm pretty damn sure that if you put Radman or Luke in that situation and they'll say, "You look for me, and I'll run from that crap. I guarantee that I'll either brick it or turn it over for the other team."

Besides Fish and Kobe, there's Sasha...maybe. To me, Sasha still has a lot to prove. There's a lot of fans of Sasha(the machine) or whatever, which is cool, but when I think of Sasha I think of the guy that was slamming his hands against the two chairs on either side of him yelling out the F-Bomb because he knew they were going to lose to Boston...which doesn't signify much mental toughness in my book. Bynum's shown great progress from the beginning of the season to the point where he got injured, but I haven't seen anything since the Shaq confrontation that signifies mental toughness. He's lost his temper before, but I'm not impressed by that.

Composure is the key to winning. That's what it comes down to. Do you have the strength to take whatever is thrown at you and turn it to your advantage, or are you going to crumble under the pressure?
Kobe and MJ have one blatantly obvious quality in common. They will beat the hell out of their own family member to win a game. They take it personally when someone blocks or steals the ball from them. They push hard as hell during the off-season to train and be the best not only in their own sport, but in ALL of sports. There's not a word yet that describes these kind of people.

Besides Kobe and Fisher, I don't see anyone else on this team who has proven unquestionably that they are mentally tough enough to win a title against any type of adversity.



No Gasol in there?
As Fido said, concerning Pau, I think he had to live it, to see how it really is, and he knows how it is now, beleive me. Mentally he is going to be a lot tougher, playing out of position affected him greatly.
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#12 fido

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 09:53 AM

Thank you - someone else noticed he played out of position the entire time last season!

#13 GCMD

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 10:17 AM

I actually think most of the mental absence on this team was from a lack of experience and from not knowing where the role players fit in alongside the premiere players on the squad.

Nobody ever wants to hear it, but Luke hasn't been physically right for a long time. he sucked it up and played hurt knowing it would leave the Lakers thin in the front court 2 seasons ago. when Luke is healthy he's an asset - a valuable asset off the bench.

I think losing to the Celtics is the best thing that could have happened. The mental toughness that was lacking has either developed or has started developing from that loss.

The only person whose drive is questionable is Radmanovic. for every other player on the team, I think the mental strength is there.

Fisher = yes
Bryant = yes
Odom = yes
(now that he's the 4th option relaxation will outweigh what he lacks in toughness)
Gasol = yes
(he's gotten a taste and you could tell in the Olympics and by his statements afterward that winning is foremost in his mind)
Bynum = yes
(the injury humbled him a bit and gave him the drive to be a part of this emerging powerhouse rather than go along for the ride)

Farmar = yes
Vujacic = yes
Ariza = unknown
(he's an unknown commodity, but i assume he, like Bynum got some motivation watching the team struggle w/o his help in the Finals)
Walton = yes
(trust me - the guy has keen basketball smarts and now that he's healthy he'll be back in form)
Radmanovic = questionable
(he' s a wild card - when he's on he's a giant help, but when he's off he drags everyone down with him)
Mihm = yes
(simply the desire to stay on the court a full season will give him drive enough to play a sufficient backup role)

:hysterical2:

Just a few points I'd like to comment on:

Farmar - IMHO, he's struggling with his role. He's not the man and he doesn't have the greenlight to run the team as he sees fit. He's having a hard time "letting the offense run itself", being a PURE PG. He's not a strong shooter, which makes his slashing and 1-on-1 talents less effective in an offense that depends heavily on spacing...

He worries me long-term. Not his mental toughness...just his idea of his station in the pecking order and chain of command.

Vlad - Every aspect of his game depends on how many FGAs he gets up and whether he has the greenlight. If he hits his first 2 or 3, he becomes a very valuable asset and his level of play increases 2-3 times more than his salary...but even when he's average, he's a decent player. He's primarily a shooter and a very good one at that.

Good thing about Vlad? He's actually decent in most aspects of the game...he's a perfect role player for this team. Mr. Mental Toughness? Not the poster child but definitely not the anti-thesis...


Luke? I agree 100%. He's taken alot of flak for his play this year...which was preceded by VERY good play in the previous years. He won't ever be DPOY but he plays within the the team concept and within himself. He needs to be healthy as his physical attributes (or lack thereof) don't afford him much wiggle room, as far as his ability to play both sides of the court against elite comp.

There is one player I will not comment on, as this has been debated ad nauseam. I respectfully disagree and leave it at that.


This team needed a trial-by-fire. Now that they've had that, I expect alot more of the close games to be won, alot of the large leads to kept and increased, and alot more of the open shots to be hit.

MJ's teammates had to deal with MJ...the media did not shield them from him, as they do with Kobe. The things Kobe gets ROASTED for saying today (about his teammates), MJ would have been applauded and praised for saying. That's why it's taking so long for the team to develop the killer instinct...but if they don't have it now, I doubt they EVER develop it.

#14 GCMD

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 10:18 AM

As time goes on, they'll get mentally tougher.


Some will...
Some won't.

#15 Nirvana

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 12:53 PM

No Gasol in there?
As Fido said, concerning Pau, I think he had to live it, to see how it really is, and he knows how it is now, beleive me. Mentally he is going to be a lot tougher, playing out of position affected him greatly.


I agree. Gasol needed to experience the NBA Finals, it was something he had never felt before. Now he has experienced it, he can put his experience to use in next years finals, assuming we get there of course. I don't know why people doubt Gasol so much, he's not soft, he's just not defensive. With Bynum playing the defensive enforcer role, Gasol will be unstoppable and everyone will love him again. Playing out of position is hard, playing in the NBA Finals is hard, both of those things added together makes things VERY hard.
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#16 fido

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 04:26 PM

GCMD, I agree on every point you made.

The Farmar take is spot on! I hope his drive and desire point him in the right direction and not into frustration which he looks like he teeters on from game to game.

The guy you don't want to comment on - we all know how its is and yes, best to leave it where it is. Everyone will never fully agree on him and its just the kind of enigma he can be.

Otherwise, like i said, I couldn't agree more with everything you said.

#17 ReaListik

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 05:35 PM

No Gasol in there?
As Fido said, concerning Pau, I think he had to live it, to see how it really is, and he knows how it is now, beleive me. Mentally he is going to be a lot tougher, playing out of position affected him greatly.

I don't think that Gasol will ever be tough enough to really matter. Yeah, he was playing out of position, but I still don't see his toughness, even if increased being on the same level as is needed. I'm hoping Bynum's toughness is enough to do the job.
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#18 Nirvana

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Posted September 16, 2008 - 10:46 PM

I don't think that Gasol will ever be tough enough to really matter. Yeah, he was playing out of position, but I still don't see his toughness, even if increased being on the same level as is needed. I'm hoping Bynum's toughness is enough to do the job.


How could you think that Gasol will ever be tough enough when we haven't seen him play under "normal" circumstances? He had an injury last year and he was out of position. You under estimate how much that can throw a person off. Give Pau a little longer and I believe we will see that mental edge that all are looking for. Remember, physical toughness and mental toughness are COMPLETELY different things. They are not related.

Edited by Darth Bynumite, September 16, 2008 - 10:47 PM.

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#19 LoLo

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Posted September 17, 2008 - 05:39 AM

"The Lakers just are not mentally tough"


:unsure:

An exceptionally well-connected league insider once told me the story of how Brian Cardinal got his mid-level. Seems Memphis owner Michael Heisley, frustrated by general manager Jerry West's lack of activity, walked into West's office one day and asked why he hadn't signed anyone yet. So an exasperated West picked up his phone, called Cardinal's agent and offered the mid-level on the spot. Then he turned to Heisley and said something along the lines of "There, you happy now?"



#20 UKUGA

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Posted September 17, 2008 - 09:44 AM

We were mentally tough enough to win the West, beating familiar foes along the way.

But, the Finals were a whole new stage to the majority of this bunch, and they weren't yet ready.


I have no problem calling this team mentally weak. However, I think that mental toughness is often developed, and if we have HCA in the Finals next year, it should be enough to get us over the hump.

Additionally, if we were to play the Celts in the Finals again, and did not have HCA, I think our experience from this past season would help us steal one of the first 2 games.

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