Friday, December 19, 2014
Blog Page 226

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Gary’s contributions and work put into the team is/are invaluable and I’m sure the players think so too.

L.A. Times: Gary Vitti eased his way into a hat store in Cleveland on a recent Lakers trip in search of a lid for his bald head, when the door quickly opened and a man burst in.

“Hey, you’re Gary Vitti, the Lakers’ trainer,” the man blurted out. “You’re the man! You’re more important than the coach.”

Vitti rubbed his head and laughed at what he had just heard. “No, man,” Vitti said, smiling, “no way.”

When this story was shared with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, he cracked a smile and laughed.

For 26 seasons Vitti has been the Lakers’ trainer, dating to the Magic Johnson “Showtime” era. And seven championships later, there is no downplaying the significant role he has played in the team’s success.

Vitti, 55, is responsible for the care of the Lakers’ prized multimillion-dollar assets, the one who treats their players and keeps them fit.

“It’s obvious that I think trainers are a major part of the scene,” Jackson said. “We have a really good staff. I’m not going to lay it all on Gary because I think Gary recognizes that everybody has their expertise.”

Vitti agrees, saying his entire staff plays a role in keeping the Lakers fit, including assistant trainer Marco Nunez, athletic performance director Chip Schaefer, athletic performance coordinator Alex McKechine, massage therapist Marko Yrjovuori and equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas.

“When a player gets hurts or sick, the first thing he does is come to me. Then I decide what we’re going to do,” Vitti said.

Continue reading ‘For Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, its more than a tale of tape’

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I would say the Lakers can win a few games here and there without Kobe, but not the post season.

Bleacher Report: The Los Angeles Lakers’ recent winning streak in the absence of Kobe Bryant says more about the overall talent of the team than their efficiency without their fallen star.

Any proof needed as to the value of Bryant can be gleaned from the Lakers’ defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics, where his defense and clutch shooting were sorely missed.

I would be willing to bet few true Laker fans are offering the team as improved without Bryant, because the people saying it have no respect for what he means to the team.

The ability of the Lakers to repeat is contingent solely on Kobe’s ability to return from injury and assume the superstar level of play to which he is accustomed.

It’s not an easy task by any means, but the road becomes impossible if the Lakers are faced with a postseason devoid of one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.

Continue reading ‘The Lakers are a poorer team without Kobe Bryant?’

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Pat Riley uses strong words used to describe Lamar, but hey, its the truth!

Bleacher Report: Lamar Odom has become so synonymous with the following phrases it’s become cliché to use them; inconsistent, enigmatic, sugar-addicted.

The truth about Lamar Odom is that he’s the perfect fit for the Lakers, and was always the right choice for them.

Lamar was at the center of trade rumors for years, never expected to be a long-term solution for anything the Lakers were doing. Fans clamored to flip him for a more “elite” player such as Shawn Marion, Jermaine O’Neal, and Kevin Garnett, peaking during the summer of ’07 when the mere mention of KG in a question to Mitch Kupchak brought a room full of season ticket holders to a rousing applause.

And I would take Odom over them all. While those players have broken down into a faint glimmer of what they once were, Lamar has never been better. He’s still bursting with intangible talent, yet completely in control of his unique role as the Lakers game changer off the bench.

Even the man Odom was originally traded for (Shaquille O’Neal) has fallen off so considerably that that blasphemous trade that rocked Los Angeles has now become lopsided in the Lakers favor.

“The only player to come into this league, who had the ability to play like Earvin (Magic) Johnson,” is the way Pat Riley described Odom. He’s the only big man alive who can grab a rebound on one end of the court and dribble it all the way to the other side for a layup. He’ll never be a legendary superstar like Magic. Even the pressure to be an All-Star is off. Both he and the fans know that will never happen. We’re not waiting for it anymore.

What we do know is that Odom’s versatile skill-set is perfect for these Lakers. It’s that skill-set that made Pau Gasol’s integration (from trade) and Andrew Bynum’s absences (from injury) so seamless. He’s the motor the drives the second unit, and Phil Jackson’s choice to finish games, because the Lakers are most effective when he’s on the court.

Continue reading ‘Lamar Odom is the right choice for the Lakers’

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With a healthy Kobe, why can’t they. A healthy Kobe is scary to play against.


Bleacher Report: The Cavaliers have lost three straight.  The Lakers had won four straight before losing a one-point decision to the Celtics the other night.

Who can remember when the Cavaliers lost three straight regular season games?  And who can remember when the Lakers won four games in a row without Kobe Bryant?

In fact, who can remember when Kobe Bryant missed four games?  But all that should change this week as Bryant is expected to rejoin his teammates on the hardwood possibly in Memphis on Tuesday.

Will the complexion of the NBA standings change as well?

With a well-rested Kobe Bryant returning to the Lakers lineup for the first time since February 5th and the Cavaliers stumbling, will Bryant and the Lakers finally overtake the Cavaliers and once again hold the best record in the NBA and regain home court advantage throughout the playoffs?

Not only are the Cavaliers stumbling in the East, but the Lakers’ greatest rival in the West, the San Antonio Spurs, are having difficulties of their own.  The Spurs have lost three out of their last five games, and now Tony Parker has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

The stars seem to be aligning for the Lakers. In addition to the Cavs and Spurs declining and Bryant returning, the players around Bryant have never given as good a team performance this season at both ends of the court as they have in the past five games.

If they can keep it up and Bryant can work his magic into the mix, the Lakers should be able to surpass the Cavaliers with the best overall record.

Continue reading ‘Can the Lakers overtake the Cavaliers?’

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The most clutch player in the NBA history of the NBA.

L.A. Times: Bryant watched in the locker room when the Lakers lost to Boston, 87-86, on Thursday night. The Lakers inbounded the ball with 2.2 seconds left, only to see Fisher miss the shot Bryant normally takes.

Bryant said Luke Walton told him the next time he’s injured, he should sit on the bench with his uniform on and be ready to go in like New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

“That was the best solution,” Bryant joked.

Continue reading ‘Bryant the Closer’

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With Kobe set to return on Tuesday, hopefully the rest did him good.

L.A. Times: The Lakers are half a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA, gaining ground even with Kobe Bryant missing the last five games with a sprained left ankle.
But in the Lakers’ own Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets lurk, having pulled to within five games of L.A. for the best record in the West after beating the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Even though the Nuggets have defeated the Lakers twice this season and have the attitude that they can compete with and may even be as good as the Lakers, Los Angeles isn’t looking behind at Denver.

Rather, the Lakers are more concerned with themselves.

They didn’t practice Sunday, but the Lakers got some good news when Bryant practiced Saturday and said his hope is to play Tuesday when they visit Memphis. The Lakers are 4-1 without Bryant.

“Some of these guys’ sentiment is that they think Utah is going to outplay Denver,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “They are right there, aren’t they?”

Continue reading ‘For the Lakers, it’s never mind who’s trailing’

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I’m looking forward to the road games. Playing too much at STAPLES is getting boring.

L.A. Times: The Lakers have 26 regular-season games left, 16 on the road — although one is a Clippers home game at Staples Center.

The Lakers will face some tough opponents, starting Tuesday in Memphis, where they lost to the Grizzlies this month. They also play the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night in a back-to-back game.

March will be the toughest month for the Lakers, who’ll play 11 of 15 games on the road.

They’ll play at such venues as Miami, Charlotte, Orlando, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Atlanta, all jockeying for playoff positions.

So the four days the Lakers will have had off since they last played Thursday night is a good thing before they hit the road.

“We’re looking forward to it, actually,” Jackson said. “It’s a time for us to kind of bond and to get out there and play our best ball.”

Continue reading ‘On the road again’

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The Lakers recent chemistry is only going to increase and lead to a dominant post-season run. Check out a few things (and numbers) about this team that aren’t really being talked about.

  • The Lakers are now #1 in Point Differential at 6.7
  • The Lakers also have the most home wins (26)
  • The Lakers have the fewest road losses (9) in the league.
  • They are 1/2 game behind the Cavs for league’s best record, 42-14 (though Cavs own the tie-breaker 2-0)
  • Kobe Bryant has been resting up for a near two weeks; a healthy Kobe is coming back Tuesday

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Everybody’s favorite writer weighs in on Kobe and the free agency… [/sarcasim]

N.Y. Post: Until Kobe Bryant officially signs a Lakers’ extension — in the works almost as long as the construction of the Second Avenue subway — I’m guessing he’d be another rising free agent the Knicks may be interested pursuing this summer to team up with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

Entitled to opt out of next season’s $24,806,250 salary, Kobe has repeatedly professed he’s not going anywhere, scoffing at the often-broached notion he’d consider abandoning the Lakers’ liner.

The fact such critical business is taking so long to finalize amps speculation Kobe has a perfectly good motive for stalling.

Yeah, maybe some sticky wicket technicalities simply need twisting and tweaking.

More likely, common sense dictates, Kobe is declining to commit until Phil Jackson’s coaching status next season is resolved.

Are we experiencing a related ricochet romance moment? Flashback to Jackson’s last two seasons with the Bulls when (Jerry) Crumbs Krause had Tim Floyd waiting in the wings. Jordan made it clear: “If Phil doesn’t coach, I don’t play.”

Eventually, after six crowns in eight seasons, prevalent disrespect by managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf and Krause, whose proclamation, “Organizations win championships, not players,” continues to incite Jordan (Hall of Fame speech), induced His Airness and the Zen Hen to vacate Chicago . . . leaving another title crusade or two on the chart.

Considering Kobe’s delay to re-up, as well as the likelihood that owner Jerry Buss will shrink Jackson’s annual $11 million salary in half, if he even makes him an offer (I’m told this picture is a distinct possibility, with Byron Scott waiting in the wings this time), it’s certainly not unreasonable to wonder if Kobe has adopted an identical stance: “If Phil doesn’t coach, I don’t play.”

Continue reading ‘Kobe could fly ‘free’ without extension’

5

These men helped Shaq and Kobe to a 3-peat. Thats right Shaq, it wasn’t just you.

Bleacher Report: The “Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Era” began for the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 1996, not long after Magic Johnson retired (for the second time), and ended in 2004, when the team was dismantled following their defeat to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

During that eight-year time frame, the Lakers won three consecutive championships from 2000-2002 led by Shaq and Kobe. However, those two superstars didn’t win the titles all by themselves, as a slew of role players did their part to help.

This slideshow will feature ten of those role players. You know the names: Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Devean George, etc. In order to make the list, though, the player had to have won at least one title with the Lakers and averaged at least 20 minutes per game during a regular season.

Well, let’s begin.

View the slideshow of ‘Lakers Top 10 Role Players of Kobe-Shaq era’

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The rest came at the right time.

L.A. Times: Beware of any movement within the Lakers organization the following week. We’re not talking about trades. That deadline has already passed. We’re talking about the repercussions if Lakers guard Kobe Bryant isn’t healthy enough to play Tuesday against Memphis.

“If not, I’m firing everybody,” joked Bryant, who has missed the past five games because of a left ankle and tendon injury.

All kidding aside, Bryant anticipates playing against Memphis after practice Saturday, but he’ll have a much better idea how he feels tomorrow when he gets treatment.

The Lakers’ schedule this week couldn’t come at a better time. After their 87-86 loss Thursday to the Boston Celtics, the Lakers had the day off Friday, a short practice Saturday and plan for another day off Sunday before playing Tuesday at Memphis . With Bryant’s sprained left ankle, Andrew Bynum’s right hip, Luke Walton’s pinched nerve in his lower back and Sasha Vujacic’s sprained right shoulder, the Lakers hope the extra rest is the right subscription for full recovery.

The most urgent case obviously involves Bryant because of his skill level and because he’s on pace to recover fairly soon. Bynum has already returned to the lineup for the past two games. Walton is out indefinitely. And Vujacic is expected to miss “a couple weeks,” the team said Saturday.

And after today’s practice, Bryant says there were several things that pleased him, including his elevation (“I can jump.”), his conditioning (“I’m really fortunate I got these really huge lungs.”) and his level of pain (“The ankle is still a little sore in certain points, but it went away.” )

He joked that he would’ve stayed in the lineup had he known he was a game away from playing in 1,000 career contests, a feat guard Derek Fisher ultimately reached before Bryant (“I would’ve just limped through the game.”). He kicked around the idea that Walton proposed when the Lakers trailed Boston by one with 2.2 seconds remaining (“He said next time what you do when you can’t play is sit on the bench in your uniform. If it comes down to that situation, just send yourself in like Mariano Rivera.”). And then the interview came to a screeching halt when Bryant was asked what he thought ofTiger Woods’ apology (“I’ll catch ya’ll later” as he walked away with a frustrated look.).

Continue reading ‘Lakers’ rest-heavy schedule comes at the right time’

40

Sasha will be out a few weeks due to the shoulder injury..

O.C. Register: Sasha Vujacic had improved his play and survived the trade deadline … And now he’s hurt.

Vujacic is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right shoulder suffered in a collision with Boston’s Kendrick Perkins on Thursday night.

“It’s frustrating,” Said Vujacic, whose absence in addition to Luke Walton’s back problem opens the door for Adam Morrison to play some.

11

Kobe talks about his injury and suggests he could play Tuesday.

O.C. Register: Kobe Bryant said he was able to “pretty much do everything” in Lakers practice Saturday and expects to play Tuesday night in Memphis.

Bryant has missed the past five games with a strained peroneal tendon in his lower left leg, but he said he “should be” back in Memphis.

Bryant kidded in reference to all the medical treatment he has done to recover that if he isn’t playing Tuesday, “I’m firing everybody.”

Bryant is set to practice shooting on his own Sunday, even though it is a day off for the team. The Lakers will reconvene Monday for another practice and further re-integration of Bryant before flying to Memphis later that day. The Lakers lost with Bryant on the floor — and breaking Jerry West’s all-time Lakers scoring record — on Feb. 1.

The Lakers went 4-1 without Bryant but have some challenging games coming up. The Lakers have Dallas, reinforced with Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, the day after playing in Memphis. They have a home showdown against Denver on Feb. 28; the Nuggets are 2-0 this season against the Lakers, who beat Denver in the West finals last season.

Bryant said teammate Luke Walton jokingly told him that Bryant should at least suit up and sit on the end of the bench for any future games he misses to be ready for situations such as the one at the end of the Lakers’ loss to Boston on Thursday: The Lakers were down by one point with 2.2 seconds left … an obvious opportunity for the game’s renowned closer.

Phil Jackson said Bryant’s health is now about “how he recovers strength-wise” from testing it Saturday, but Bryant had little concern. He said he could “drive, push off, get to the basket.”

Dismissing any threat he’d be out of shape upon his return, Bryant said: “I’m fortunate to have these really huge lungs. Seriously.”

12

We talk about trades ourselves, now we see what the Lakers think about them.

L.A. Times: It’s a time period the Lakers and many of their fans don’t like to revisit. The 2004 NBA Finals, you know, the one where the Detroit Pistons upset the Lakers and denied them their fourth consecutive championship.

But Coach Phil Jackson brought up that season in context with the latest trading deadline. After Rasheed Wallacewas traded to the Atlanta Hawks from the Portland Trail Blazers, the Pistons acquired the current Boston Celtics forward in a three-team trade involving Boston and Atlanta. The effect was felt instantly that season, resulting in an NBA championship.

Jackson didn’t see any of the trades this past week bearing the same magnitude. And the Lakers made no moves before the deadline, meaning they’ll look to defend their NBA championship with nearly the same roster as last season’s, with exception to the essentially off-season swap withTrevor Ariza to Houston and Ron Artest to L.A. Nonetheless, Jackson still kept an eye on specific moves from the perspective on how it could affect the Lakers in the postseason.

Jackson seconded the viewpoint of General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who recently told The Times’ Mike Bresnahan that Dallas’ acquisition of Washington forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood will be significant. The Clippers trade involving shipping defensive specialist Marcus Camby to Portland also caught Jackson’s eye because the Trail Blazers (32-15) are slated to face the top-seeded Lakers (42-14) in the first round of the playoffs.

But there was one trade Jackson initially refused to discuss, that one involving Cleveland’s acquisitionof forward Antawn Jamison from Washington for center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. A little bit of prodding revealed Jackson’s true feelings.

“I don’t know what that does for them to tell you the truth,” Jackson said. “They’re going to get Ilgauskas back and it’s going to be one of those scenarios we see in the NBA where you ship a player out, then you get another player, then that player retires and they pay him off. Then he comes back in 30 days. I don’t know what that does for the league. I think it’s kind of a weird situation.”

Continue reading ‘Lakers share mixed perspectives on trades made in NBA’

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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.