Thursday, November 27, 2014
Blog Page 114

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Since CBA catered lunches negotiations broke down earlier this week, there was a hushed suspicion that the two sides would quietly meet again before Monday – the day the first two weeks of the regular season is expected to be cancelled – to come to an agreement and preserve an 82-game season.

According to reports this afternoon, that was on the agenda, but will not be happening. The players meeting request was met with a callous rejection by the owners, who also added that no further meetings would be agreed to until the players accepted a 50/50 split in BRI (Basketball Related Income).

Barring an unexpected, unlikely resume in negotiations, on Monday the Lakers will officially lose six (6) home games, and three (3) road games. They are listed below:

11/1 Oklahoma City Home
11/2 Golden State Away
11/4 Phoenix Away
11/6 New Orleans Home
11/7 Sacramento Away
11/9 San Antonio Home
11/11 Denver Home
11/13 Detroit Home
11/15 Washington Home

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On Wednesday morning, Kobe Bryant stopped by a UCSB classroom where he fielded some questions – specifically addressing Carmelo Anthony, Kwame Brown and Smush Parker – during an informal Q&A session with a group of students and their professor. We have posted the video(s) below, courtesy of Laker Nation member Imadul Kabir from MixMakers.net. For those that are feeling especially lazy today, here are a couple of the more ‘memorable’ quotes from Bryant.

On a conversation with Kwame Brown during a timeout:

“So we go back to the timeout and I’m [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, well, ‘I’m nervous. If I catch it and they foul me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’”

On who he would most like to play with in the NBA right now:

“Well, current, I would actually like to play with ‘Melo. Because, you know, championships are won on the inside. And I’m always thinking about winning a title.”

[Second video after the Jump]

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Neilson Barnard | Getty Images

Here we are, day 96 of this juvenile pity-party we are now affectionately referring to as the NBA lockout. Thanks to the patheticness (yep, made that word up) of what both David Stern and Billy Hunter are mis-labeling as real negotiating, I am stuck penning another lockout update column (despite earlier reports that I would rather jump off the Santa Monica Pier).

This time around, let’s cut the politically correct according to published reports BS and talk about two things, (a) the most important group in the negotiations and (b) the most effected group in the negotiations. They are, in fact, one and the same group.

The fans.

The lockout could be likened to a lot of things (e.g. any number of scenes from Mean Girls), but here’s the easiest way to break it down.

Your cell phone provider calls you and says, “Thanks for being a great customer and paying your bill every month. We can’t decide how we want to use your money to pay our employees, so we’re going to discontinue service until we work it out.”

As if that’s not preposterous enough, here’s where the implicit arrogance of the NBA trickles into the conversation:

“And as soon as we work it out, we fully expect you to continue spending your money for our service as if we didn’t completely disconnect you for an extended amount of time.”

Is there any company on earth that would even consider temporarily discontinuing their product (basketball) – which is where 100% of their revenue comes from – so they can figure out how said revenue will be distributed?  Imagine that staff meeting…

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David Brickley, Jason Riley, and Kevin Figgers are back for another episode of VOTN: Fastbreak. This week, the guys discuss:

Make sure to watch for your chance to win an Andrew Bynum Workout DVD

  • Kobe Bryant says he might play in Italy if lockout continues
  • Kobe recently took yet another shot at Shaq’s work ethic
  • 2K Sports explains why Kobe is rated lower than LeBron and D-Wade in NBA2K12
  • China Reveals the Black Mamba Smart Car
  • QUESTION OF THE SHOW: Do you think Kobe Bryant Should Play in Italy?

 

Check it out below, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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Michael Cohen | Getty Images

Yep, you guessed it… this is the obligatory ‘lockout update’ column, brought to you, once again, by the NBA: Where no progress happens. At this stage of negotiations (I use that term loosely), we have reached well beyond ludicrous and settled right into the Lindsay Lohan zone.

In a bit of striking news, Commissioner Stern did confirm that both sides “now understand each others’ position.”

Wait. Hold on. Is this day #92 of the lockout, or am I crazy? It took 92 days to understand each others’ position? … No, wait, I forgot. We’re in the Lindsay Lohan zone here. I can’t expect things to make sense. While I go get medicated, here are the relevant updates from today’s CBA meeting:

• The owners and NBPA met for almost five hours in NYC today. The meetings were described as ‘contentious’, and some sources have said that D-Wade ‘yelled’ at Stern at one point during the meeting when he felt like the Commissioner was ‘belittling’ him.

• Neither side made any new offers or proposals, nor was any deal agreed to.

• A larger committee of both players and owners are expected to be present tomorrow as negotiations are planned to continue at 10am ET.

Quotables:

 

Fisher on if a deal can be made this weekend:

“I can’t answer that. I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if that’s going to happen this weekend.”

Fisher on today’s meetings:

“We did not come out of here with a deal today, but we will be back here at 10am.”

Fisher on current proposal:

“Definitely not anywhere close to where we’d be able to agree to it.”

Stern on earlier threat to cancel the season:

“Both sides agreed that the consequences of not making a deal lead us to the prospect of possibly at some point in the not distant future losing regular-season games. And we agreed that once you start to lose them and the players lose paychecks and the owners lose money, then positions on both sides will harden and those are the enormous consequences that I referred to in terms of trying to make a deal.”

Fisher on how close to an agreement the two sides are:

“We don’t feel like we are any closer to an agreement.”

Several sources contributed to this report, including ESPN, KBergCBS, HowardBeckNYT and WojYahooNBA.

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Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

Reports have flooded the virtual world this morning after Virtus Bologna President Claudio Sabatini told an Italian radio station that:

“We have reached an economic deal [with Bryant]. There’s still some things to arrange, but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 percent done.”

The latest offer from Italian club Virtus has Bryant in uniform for the first 40 days of the season (around 10 total games) for $3 million.

What we are learning this morning is that 95% done doesn’t guarantee a deal, and an economic deal isn’t a signed contract. There are still some major hurdles to be overcome, most importantly the refusal from certain teams to re-organize their schedules to accommodate Sabatini’s goal of having Bryant showcased in the leagued biggest arenas.

Due to the recent pushback and other teams’ unwillingness to cooperate with scheduling requests, Virtus Bologna released this statement on their official website this morning:

“With great surprise, Virtus Basketball notes that, due to the negative view of some clubs, it’s not possible to go forward with the 10-game agreement, therefore putting in serious doubt the economic deal behind the plan to bring Kobe Bryant to Italy.”

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images


After months of speculation about whether or not Lakers guard Kobe Bryant would play overseas during the NBA lockout, a decision has finally been made. According to the Associated Press, Virtus Bologna and Bryant have verbally agreed to a contract that will pay the star guard $3 million over a span of the first 40 games of the Italian League season. In an interview with a Roman radio station, team president Claudio Sabatini all but confirmed the signing, saying, “There’s still some things to arrange but at this point I’m very optimistic. I would say it’s 95 percent done.”

As we reported earlier this week, Bryant was quoted as saying that it would be “very possible” that he would play for Bologna. Bryant spent much of his childhood in Italy while his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played there professionally. Bryant has even been quoted as saying that Italy is “my home.”

There has been much debate as to whether or not Kobe Bryant should compete overseas during the lockout. Supporters of his decision will suggest that Bryant needs to keep active in some way during the elongated off-season and that playing professionally overseas will keep his body in basketball shape and keep the competitive juices flowing. Detractors will point to Bryant’s age and health issues over recent seasons and feel he’d be better suited to take as much time off as possible and use the lockout as extra time to rest before having to compete in the NBA again. Whatever your stance on the development is, theres no doubt that the offseason just got a little more interesting for Laker fans.

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Neilson Barnard | Getty Images

Tired of reading lockout columns? Well, good, because I’m sure tired of writing them. Here are the latest developments in bullet points:

    • The CBA negotiations in New York ended today with no significant progress (at-least none that was confirmed by either side)
    • Both sides have agreed to continue negotiating through the weekend, as long as actual negotiations are taking place.
    • Several of the NBA stars (including Kobe, LeBron and Wade) have been summoned by Union executive director Billy Hunter to meet Friday in New York.
    • Reportedly the owners have ever-so-slightly budged from their ‘hard cap’ stance during the last couple days of meetings.

 

Quotables:

 

Derek Fisher on the progress being made:

“I think it points more toward the calendar than actually being able to measure progress. It points to the realities that we face with our calendar and that if we can’t find a way to get some common ground really, really soon, then the time of starting the regular season at its scheduled date is going to be in jeopardy big-time.”

Commissioner Stern on the importance of this weekend:

“I’m focused on let’s get the two committees in and see whether they can either have a season or not have a season, and that’s what’s at risk this weekend.”

It appears that by weekends’ end, we’ll know the immediate future of NBA basketball. For a full write-up on the situation, you can go here.

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Jay Directo/AFP | Getty Images

If I could title the summer, I’d call it the summer of speculation… only we’ve now reached well past the summer and the fall of speculation sounds like one of those half-assed titles 48 hours Mystery would use.

We can only speculate that speculation will continue in regards to the NBA lockout (more likely to come on that later today), but most interesting to many Laker fans, we can also speculate that Kobe Bryant is serious about playing in Italy. According to the Gazetta, an Italian publication, Bryant spoke about the possibility of signing with Virtus Bologna:

“It’s very possible. It would be a dream for me. There’s an opportunity that we’ve been discussing over the last few days. It’s very possible and that’s good news for me.”

Rumor says that Bryant and his agent are focusing on a specialized offer that has him in uniform for just 10 games (10/19 – 11/16) for a reported $2.5 million. After taxes, that rounds up to about $800… or $1.5 million, not that Bryant, who’s worth around $140 million, would probably notice the difference.

We will speculate more on this story as other reporters and writers do. You can read more on this story here.

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Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images

In what could be described as a small injection of optimism, the NBPA and owners have cancelled internal meetings this week in favor of resuming negotiations in New York on Tuesday. If history is any indication, this can be considered progress, as neither side during the ’98-99 lockout met between the time they cancelled the first part of training camp and the preseason (9/24/98) and the time they nixed the remainder of the preseason (10/5/98).

These meetings are expected to be short-lived, as Wednesday marks the beginning of Rosh Hoshanah (the Jewish New Year), which will significantly affect attendance.

Adding to the urgency of the situation, well known agent David Falk, who was involved in the ’98-99 lockout negotiations, told Fan 590 in Toronto that, “I could make this deal in one day.” He went on to say:

“We’re right up against the deadline. Unlike ’98, when we had a 50-game season, I would bet a lot of money that if we miss one or two games, we’re going to miss the whole season. This is like Texas Hold’em; it’s all in.”

He even alluded to a failed sense of responsibility on the part of some NBA stars, including the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant:

I’m disappointed that the young stars of the NBA today, the LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, those guys need to be involved full-time, not part-time. … I think that they are allowing other people to determine their future financial fortunes, which is a terrible mistake.”

It appears the Kobe and his agent have been doing a little bit of negotiating themselves, this time with the Italian club Virtus Bologna. According to reports, Virtus has offered Bryant a variety of deals in addition to the one year, $5 million offer for the upcoming season:

- 2 months = $2 million.
– 1 month – $1.3 million.
– 1 game = $900k.

Each deal would allow Bryant to return to Los Angeles if the NBA lockout is resolved and play resumes. If a deal is reached, Bryant would be in uniform for Bologna’s season debut vs. Roma on October 9th.

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Photo by Getty Images

He may be a bad dancer, as we saw on Dancing with the Stars, but few can compete with Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) on the charity front.

World Peace continued spreading his wealth on Wednesday by donating $285,000 to mental health charities across America.

According to the LA Times, World Peace briefly discussed his own struggles with mental health:

“When I was a kid, I did see a counselor. My mom helped me out, she realized I was having problems when I was 13 years old. She realized I was going through a lot. We have a big problem right here in America with mental health, from little boys not understanding what it takes to be a good dad or be a good older brother or a role model — to violence.”

Here are the different charities World Peace donated to:

  • $65,000 to Steinway Child and Family Services in Queens, New York
  • $55,000 to Child Center of New York
  • $50,000 to Centers for Youth and Families in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • $40,000 to Indiana Community Health Network in Indianapolis
  • $37,500 to Cleveland Christian Home in Cleveland
  • $37,500 to Centerstone of Central Tennessee in Nashville

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Kobe Bryant is widely considered the most popular NBA player in China, so it only seems fitting that a car has been named after him.

Bryant’s signature Smart car is called the “Black Mamba” Fortwo. Only 500 have been made, making this model a limited-edition.

According to the OC Register, the car features a fully blacked out exterior and interior Brabus wheels. Topping it off is Bryant’s signature “Kobe Edition” written on the hood. The price tag is set at $19,412.

Watch Kobe in a commercial spot for the car below:

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David Brickley, Jason Riley, and Kevin Figgers are back for another episode of VOTN: Fastbreak. This week, the guys discuss:

  • Kobe Bryant could face up to six months in jail
  • Report: Italian team offers Kobe Bryant $600K per game
  • LeBron license plate with Lakers frame
  • Ron Artest is the first to be eliminated from Dancing with the Stars
  • QUESTION OF THE SHOW: On a Scale of 1-10, How would you rank Ron Artest’s performance on Dancing with the Stars?

 

Check it out below, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Podcast:

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Neilson Barnard | Getty Images

We both knew this was coming, so I’ll just go ahead and throw it out there. Sources have confirmed that the NBA plans to announce on Friday that the first two weeks of both training camp (slated to begin on 10/3) and the preseason (slated to begin on 10/9) will be cancelled. This news comes on the heels of a largely negative and unproductive meeting between the two sides in Manhattan this morning.

In what has become a messy, high-school drama, it’s been relatively easy to overlook the rhetoric (from both sides) and get down to the real issue. Here’s a simple explanation of the fundamental disagreement both sides are negotiating (or not negotiating) on.

In the last CBA agreement (which caused the NBA to miss time in ’99), the players received 57% of Basketball-related income (BRI). Obviously, the owners weren’t exactly thrilled by this agreement, often complaining that many of the teams were losing money (upwards of a combined $300 million) as a result. In essence, it has come down to this:

To cite NBA commissioner David Stern, the owners want that figure “to be well below 50 percent.” The players counter-offered at 54% (a 3% pay-cut), which was quickly dismissed by the owners. Since that point, neither side has been willing to negotiate too far from their original stances, leaving the NBA season is serious jeopardy of being cancelled.

NBPA President Derek Fisher on the likelihood of the season starting on time:

“I don’t have control of that part of it, that would be more of a commissioner Stern, Adam Silver question. I’m not going to try and make a guess on that one. The calendar’s obviously not our friend, but we’re not going to give up on the process because of the time.”

Stern left the negotiations without saying much to the media, and no date has been set for the two sides to reconvene. It appears that barring a major concession from either the NBPA or the owners, we’re headed for a winter without NBA basketball.

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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.