Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Blog Page 112

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Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

With the NBA labor situation steadily climbing to its peak of uncertainty, Kobe Bryant is finally speaking out. This afternoon, he spoke with Yahoo! Sports.

“We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we’re too close to getting a deal done. We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter.”

Meanwhile, a rift between players continues to threaten the NBPA, and most importantly, the chances of an NBA season.

There are some, like Bryant, who believe a deal is on the doorstep and now is the time to bring it home and get a new CBA completed. Reportedly Lakers guard Steve Blake shares Kobe’s posture and has spent the last couple days attempting to rally support for an NBPA vote on the latest proposal.

On the other side is a growing contingent of unhappy players (and their agents) who are pushing for union decertification, a process that could potentially produce a better deal down the road. If executed, much of the labor battle would happen in legal courts, rather than a Manhattan hotel.

In order to decertify, 30% of active players would need to sign a petition, then following a 45-day period, a majority vote amongst the entire union would be needed. Many legal experts have speculated that a decertification would be “nuclear” and would almost certainly spell the end of the ’11-12 NBA season.

The only thing we know for sure is that the NBPA is scheduled to have a league-wide meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to weigh their options.

We ask you: Do you think the players should accept the owners latest proposal?

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In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 7, 1991
MAGIC JOHNSON ANNOUNCES HE’S HIV POSITIVE, RETIRES FROM PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL

At the start of the 1991-92 season, Magic Johnson, then 32, was underpaid. With five titles, he wasn’t one of the top-paid players in the NBA with a $2.5 million salary; he wasn’t even the highest paid Laker on a team that had just gone to the NBA Finals with a 31-year-old point guard and new head coach.

Because of the salary cap in place, owner Jerry Buss could only pay Johnson in the form of a $3 million loan to supplement his salary. However, Buss’ advisors suggested that he take out a life insurance policy on Johnson as protection against the loan. The only necessary step in taking out the life insurance policy was having Johnson take a full physical. Naturally, Johnson agreed.

The results of the physical would reveal that Johnson had contracted the HIV virus.

Johnson would request a second and third test to confirm the results, then holding a press conference the day following the third test on November 7, 1991. Owner Jerry Buss, NBA commissioner David Stern, then-Laker GM Jerry West and teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabaar would be in attendance to support Johnson for the announcement. At doctors’ requests, Johnson retired from the NBA at age 32, vowing to become an advocate and public spokesman of the disease.

Photo by Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

At the time of Johnson’s retirement, team doctors had no expectancy of how much time Magic had left. While there were expectations that Johnson would be able to survive for more than a decade with regimented medications and healthy lifestyle, there was no way of knowing how fast the HIV virus would react with Johnson’s body. Johnson’s doctors prohibited him from playing basketball for the Lakers, and, at the time, in the 1992 Olympics, citing that the physical nature of the sport and its conditioning would be too taxing on Johnson’s body and would make him more susceptible to weaknesses in his immune system.

For the Lakers, the unexpected retirement of Magic Johnson would send the roster into a period of upheaval, as the Lakers would drop 15 games in the win column from the previous year to finish the season 43-39. Mike Dunleavy, then coach of the Lakers, would leave at the end of the season to coach the Milwaukee Bucks, and the “devastating” loss of Johnson would force GM Jerry West to begin rebuilding the Lakers in the following years.

Since his retirement, Johnson has been the main speaker for the United Nations World AIDS Day Conference in 1999, served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and has agreed to partnerships with drug firms to cut AIDS rates among African-Americans by 50% by the year 2014. Johnson’s advocacy work over the last 20 years began with the creation of the Magic Johnson Foundation in attempts to address the educational, health and social needs of urban communities.

Quote of the Night: “What we have witnessed today is the courageous act by a very special man. He is not compelled by any legal descriptions or legal requirements to disclose what he has disclosed today. He is not a person who is invisible, and because of his presence, because of his potential impact on society, with a situation that is not only serious but for which we are all at risk, I think that he should not only be commended but held as a modern day hero.” – Dr. Michael Mellman, then-Lakers’ team physician.

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Photo by Getty Images

In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 6, 1979
LAMAR ODOM BORN

Taking a step back from the lockout and Laker history, it’s necessary to celebrate a birthday that’s mostly gone under the radar, as longtime Laker and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom turns 32 today.

Odom would play five years for the Clippers and Heat before being traded to the Lakers in the deal that sent Shaquille O’Neal to the Heat following the 2003-04 season. Since joining the Lakers, Odom has averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds across seven seasons, winning titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Odom would become the first Laker to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award since the award’s inception in 1983.

Nicknamed “Candy Man” by his teammates for his affinity for sweets, we’re sure that Lamar will have quite the cake for his special day. Happy Birthday Lamar! We here at Laker Nation hope you have a good one!

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Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

Yesterday’s labor meeting followed a familiar script.

First there was pessimism, primarily fueled by the presence of Michael Jordan and Paul Allen, both considered to be the vocal leaders of a hard-line ownership group. It was later reported by a source involved in the meeting that M.J. “never opened his mouth, not once.”

Next, there was optimism after a tweet sent by Chris Broussard indicated that “progress was being made” and a follow up tweet by Michael Lee said the two sides were “very close” to landing a deal.

Finally, several hours later, the two sides emerged and the results were eerily (and pathetically) the same as they have been for the last 128 days: No Deal.

Instead, left in the wake of the 8 ½ hour meeting was a confusing ultimatum from NBA commissioner David Stern, which he described as a deal allowing the players a chance to make up to 51% of BRI. NBPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler quickly dismissed both the offer and the Commissioners suggestion that it would actually allow the players to reach 51%.

“Under the wildest, most unimaginable, favorable projections and we might squeeze out to 50.2%.”

Stern has said the deal remains on the table until the close of business Wednesday, at which time the offer will be retracted and the owners will retreat to their initial proposal of 47%.

“We want to allow the union enough time to consider our most recent proposal, and we are hopeful that they will accept.”

By all indications from NBPA president Derek Fisher, Wednesday will come and go without a deal.

“We’ve been given the ultimatum, and our answer is that’s not acceptable to us.”

Kessler further drove home the point:

“The players will not be intimidated. They want to play, they want a season, but they are not going to sacrifice the futures of all NBA players under these threats of intimidation. It’s not happening. It’s not happening on Derek Fisher’s watch, it’s not happening on Billy Hunter’s watch.”

And for the time being, the ’11-12 NBA season isn’t happening on their watch, either. The more things change, the more they really just stay the same.

Information from Yahoo! Sports was included in this article.

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Photo by Wen Roberts | Getty Images

In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 5, 1971

THE STREAK BEGINS

The day after Elgin Baylor’s retirement at 37 years of age, the Lakers would go on to play at home against the Baltimore Bullets, winning 110-106.

Baylor’s retirement would force then-Lakers coach Bill Sharman to adjust his lineup in the absence of the longtime small forward, placing young Jim McMillan into Baylor’s former spot and switching Gail Goodrich into the starting lineup. Veterans Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West would be offered co-captain spots in Baylor’s absence, but West would decline, saying that “he wished to concentrate 100% on his game.”

The following night, the Lakers would travel up to Oakland to beat the Golden State Warriors 105-89. The following night, they would travel back home, defeating the New York Knicks 103-96. After three straight victories in three days following the retirement of their team captain, the Lakers would take a day off…only to win their next 30 games in a row. The Lakers would not lose a game in the next two months, and no game would come as close as their first victory of the streak over Baltimore (though a December game against the Phoenix Suns would go to overtime, the Lakers would dominate the period and win 126-117).

McMillan would average 19/7/3 in his sophomore season, good enough to put him third on the team in points and rebounds. Goodrich would put up 31 points against the bullets and  would go on to lead the Lakers in scoring for the 1971-72 season, despite his modest stature at 6’1″. The Lakers would put together three smaller winning streaks of eight, eight and five to set the NBA’s best regular-season record mark at 69-13,  and the Lakers’ 69-13 mark would stand for more than 20 years until being broken by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Lakers’ 33-game win streak has stood for 40 years, with no other team streaking for more than 22 games in that time.

Fact of the Night: Wilt Chamberlain became only the second captain in Lakers history after Elgin Baylor’s retirement; before Baylor, the Lakers had never had a team captain (from the LA Times, Nov. 8, 1971).

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Photo by Getty Images

In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 4, 1971
ELGIN BAYLOR CALLS IT QUITS

Hobbled by long-standing knee injuries that occurred during the 1963-64 season, Baylor was finally forced to retire nine games into his 14th NBA season. Averaging 40 minutes a game throughout his career, calcium deposits in both knees had limited his ability to drive to the basket, and the quick starts and stops on the court demanded by a NBA career were nearly impossible by 1969, forcing Baylor to see 11 total games in his final two seasons in the league.

Baylor went to the NBA Finals eight times, leaving with no rings (Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics would be responsible for seven of those losses throughout the 1960s). Perhaps his most miraculous accomplishment, despite his many transformational moves on the court, was his fourth NBA season where Baylor was called into active duty as a US Army reserve. Despite playing only 48 games during the season solely on weekends, Baylor managed to average 38 points, 19 rebounds and 5 assists per game.

So just to put that in perspective, Baylor, for five months, would fly across the country on weekends to meet up with his team to play against the NBA’s premiere teams, only to fly back to the army barracks in his conscripted state of Washington to work as a reserve during the weeks. Amazing.

Baylor’s NBA career was filled with highs and lows. Despite never winning a championship, Baylor’s 27 points per game still ranks fourth all time in NBA history, his rebounds per game and assists per game totals also grace the top ten. What may be the greatest tragedy of any Laker’s career, the game following Baylor’s retirement would be the first of a still-standing NBA record 33-game winning streak for the Lakers. Furthermore, the 1971-72 Lakers would go on to win their first championship in Los Angeles, finally winning a ring for Laker legend Jerry West and a second for Wilt Chamberlain.

Quote of the Night: “If [Elgin] had turned me down then, I would have been out of business. The club would have gone bankrupt.” – Former Minneapolis Lakers owner Bob Short, on Baylor’s acceptance of joining the NBA over returning to Seattle University for this senior season.

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Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

Yep, it’s about that time again.

After a complete meltdown last week, the players and owners are scheduled for another cocktail mixer in a plush Manhattan hotel tomorrow afternoon. On the agenda this time?

Well, that’s tough to say, considering neither side has shown even a trace of willingness to concede anything. Even worse, both the NBPA and the owners are now dealing with some disruptive internal issues, making tomorrow’s negotiations (if we can still even call it that) feel more like Armageddon for the NBA season.

It came out earlier this week that Michael Jordan (current owner of the Charlotte Bobcats) doesn’t approve of Commissioner Stern’s willingness to accept a 50/50 BRI split. It’s been rumored that he, along with a subset of owners in agreement with him, are unwilling to sign-off on anything less than 53% for the owners. (Call me crazy, but something tells me M.J.’s stance has a whole lot more to do with winning the negotiation than it does with the actual dollar signs.)

Meanwhile, the NBPA seems to be on the verge of detonating.

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Photo by Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 3, 1989
LA LAKERS 102 – DALLAS MAVERICKS 94

It was the first time in 20 years that the league had seen an NBA season without hall-of-fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and the first year since 1975 that the Lakers didn’t have him on their roster. After a season-long farewell tour that culminated in an NBA Finals loss, Abdul-Jabaar retired at 41 leaving behind a Lakers roster that was struggling to find its new identity.

Then-Lakers coach Pat Riley, in an attempt to fill the hole in the low post left by Abdul-Jabaar, had begun the season trying to establish a run-and-gun style that focused less on establishing an inside game and more on spreading out the half-court offense. While this move was partially motivated by the success of the Showtime Lakers, at the start of the 1989-90 NBA season, the Lakers starting lineup had no player taller than 6’10”.

Though this Laker team was athletic, it was one that could be easily exploited in a half-court offense by a team such as the Dallas Mavericks, a team that featured two seven-footers in its starting lineup.

With Abdul-Jabaar gone, the Lakers would turn to stars Magic Johnson and James Worthy for production, though all five starters would score in the double digits.Laker rookie Vlade Divac would make his NBA debut, his much-needed 7’1″ frame pulling down eight rebounds in 15 minutes of play, though his three traveling violations would show his youth and inexperience.

When a 19-point fourth quarter lead would dwindle to six points in the final four minutes, Johnson would have to close out the game for the Lakers, scoring six of their final 10 points and assisting on another two. Lacking an experienced true center, the Johnson-led Lakers would never reach the same level of success as they had with Abdul-Jabaar, losing their sole post-Abdul-Jabaar NBA Finals to Chicago in 1991.

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Photo by Getty Images

In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 2, 1999
LA LAKERS 91 – UTAH JAZZ 84

The 1999-00 season opener for the Lakers was the head coaching debut of Phil Jackson, who had spent one year away from the NBA after leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships during the 1990s.

Jackson’s introduction of the methodical Triangle offense was a stark contrast to the Showtime run-and-gun style of the 1980s. Jackson’s tumultuous relationship with the Lakers would last until Jackson’s retirement in June 2011 after five championships and two stints with the purple and gold.

The start of the 1999-00 season would be a turning point for the Lakers, who had built a reputation as perennial underachievers that had lost in the playoffs to the Utah Jazz twice in 1997 and 1998 and San Antonio Spurs in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. The injury-depleted Lakers would defeat the Jazz 91-84 in Utah with a strong 28-point effort from Glen Rice with Derek Fisher chipping in 12 points as well.

Then 21-year-old Kobe Bryant missed the season opener after breaking his hand during the Lakers’ first preseason game against the Washington Wizards. He would go on to miss the next six weeks of the regular season.

Shaquille O’Neal would put up 23 points and 13 rebounds against the Jazz, beginning arguably the best statistical season of his career that would later garner him a near unanimous vote for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. The Lakers would finish the 1999-00 season with a 67-15 record, earning the top seed in the playoffs and finishing with their best record since 1972.

Quote of the Night
: “Phil said this is going to be like a way of life, like a certain type of karate. So we have to learn our moves over and learn things over because different teachers and different senseis teach different styles.” – Shaquille O’Neal, on adjusting to new coach Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense.

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Patrick McDermott | Getty Images

I sat at my computer last night thinking, ”We should be kicking out our first post-game column of the season.”

You know, something like…

“Bryant Drops 45, Brown Era Begins with a Bang”

Instead, the NBA lockout drags on, and directly under fire is NBPA President Derek Fisher. Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock stirred up some controversy earlier this week when he suggested D-Fish was in Stern’s hip-pocket. He followed up his initial accusation (citing anonymous sources, of course) by suggesting that Fisher had been secretly negotiating with Stern to improve his position within the league after retirement.

As you might expect, Fisher fired back with this statement:

The statements made in recent articles on the Fox Sports website are inexcusable. Among the many baseless accusations, to allege that I am working with the league for my personal gain is unequivocally false. The implication that I am doing anything but working in the best interests of the players is disgusting, defamatory and a flat-out lie. I have issued a letter through my attorneys demanding a retraction for the libelous and defamatory stories the site and reporter have continued to publish.

Regardless of the media reports, the players association, our staff, executive director and executive committee are unified and working side by side to serve our players.

There should be no more distractions. We must continue to negotiate a fair deal for our players.

The teeny-bop drama didn’t stop there.

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Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

In purely hypothetical terms, how much would you pay to watch a one-on-one game between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James? Would you put down $25 to watch it from the comfort of your home via Pay Per View, noshing on snacks while two of the greatest basketball players of the last fifteen years duked it out? Or would you be willing to pony up 50 to 100 dollars to watch the one-time event in person at an NBA arena?

While being a basketball junkie’s visual ambrosia, there’s little to no way that this would happen. Bryant’s aging body doesn’t need the extra wear of defending the 6’8″ 250-pound James for any amount of time, and James surely wouldn’t risk the possibility of a loss to Bryant further tarnishing his reputation as Ringless King James.

Still though…that hasn’t stopped the LA Times from looking into the question of who would win this epic matchup. From the LA Times Fabulous Forum, we have NBA players’ opinions on who would win between the Black Mamba and King James:

In one of a series of interviews at the Drew League vs. Goodman League rematch last month at Long Beach State, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said Bryant would win.

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Photo by Getty Images

Today, the Lakers were supposed to open their NBA season against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Obviously, with no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, we’re scheduled to miss basketball at minimum until December 1st.

Instead of fixing fantasy basketball lineups, worrying about Kobe’s knees, and arguing over how successful the Mike Brown era will be, we’re stuck waiting to see when the next bargaining meetings will begin, constantly updating our Twitter apps to see if an NBA beat writer has any news on terms like “BRI”, “mid-level exception” and “amnesty clause”.

So here at Laker Nation, we want to take you back. Back to a time when your NBA news wasn’t snippets of economist theory or legal jargon, back to a point when NBA players wore jerseys, not suits.

For the time being, every day will feature This Day in Laker History, a recap of an important game, record or piece of news that happened on that day years ago. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.

NOVEMBER 1, 2009
ATLANTA HAWKS 110 – LA LAKERS 118

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Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

Happy “Regularly-Scheduled-NBA-Season-Eve” Laker Nation!

Here in internet-land, it’s been a day overflowing with feuds. Most obviously, we have the on-going lockout feud, where both the owners and players would rather lose $400 million than concede about half of that (which, of course, makes no sense).

Next up, and threatening to blow up the internet this morning, we have the Kardashian feud, where Kim, a sex-tape diva (and the artist responsible for recording the worst song of all time) filed for divorce from Kris, a mediocre NBA player for the lowly New Jersey Nets.

Wait… why do we care about this again?

Finally, we have the resurfacing of the Shaq vs. Kobe feud, an almost decade-long quarrel that ripped apart one of the greatest duos in NBA history. In Shaq’s new autobiography, Shaq Uncut: My Story, the Diesel shares his take on the feud, how it all got started and, well, quite a bit more:

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.