In a recent interview with the New York Post, former Lakers coach and current New York Knicks President Phil Jackson answered questions as the team prepares to enter its first training camp under the Zen Master and new head coach Derek Fisher.
All questions pertained to the Knicks, but one specially included a certain Lakers superstar. Jackson was asked if Kobe Bryant is the model for Carmelo Anthony. His response:
No. No one can approach that. I don’t expect anybody to be able to model their behavior after that, although Kobe modeled his behavior a lot about Michael Jordan, but he went beyond Michael in his attitude towards training, and I know Mike would probably question me saying that, but he did.
In yet another answer that will surely spark one more Kobe/Jordan debate, the answer is not shocking. Kobe’s work ethic and competitive drive has long been considered second to none, with many comparisons being drawn to Jordan, considered one of fiercest competitors of his time.
The challenge for Melo will be handling the pressures of success with Jackson overlooking the team. While not coaching, Jackson will have his fingerprints on the team and with past players like Kobe and Jordan having immense success under him, Melo will be walking in their shadow. Fair or not is up to public opinion, but it comes with the territory of being linked to Jackson.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold in this off-season version of “A Blast from the Past,” with some of the best Laker-memories from June, over their 66-year history.
June 2, 1985
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer when he exceeded Jerry West’s previous record of 4,457 playoff points in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Celtics. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 5,762 playoff points, but was eventually surpassed by Michael Jordan’s 5,987.
June 9, 1985
At 38 years old, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest player ever voted NBA Finals MVP, after the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games to secure the title.
June 14, 2009
Phil Jackson won his 10th NBA championship as a head coach when the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic in five games in the NBA Finals. Jackson passed Red Auerbach for most-ever coaching titles in NBA history. He would go on to win one more NBA title as a head coach in 2010, before retiring from coaching in 2011.
June 15, 2001
With their Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals, the Lakers solidified themselves as the most dominating playoff team in NBA history. Los Angeles set NBA records, which still stand today, for best playoff record (15-1) and highest playoff winning percentage (.937).
June 19, 2000
Shaquille O’Neal became the third player in NBA history to sweep MVP honors during a season when he was named the unanimous MVP of the 2000 NBA Finals. O’Neal also captured the All-Star Game MVP award before being named the NBA MVP at the end of the regular season. O’Neal joined Willis Reed and Michael Jordan as the only three players in history to capture the NBA’s version of the triple crown.
June 25, 1979
The Lakers selected Magic Johnson from Michigan State University with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. The sophomore Johnson became the first underclassman selected with the top pick in NBA history. Johnson won both the NBA title and Finals MVP award in his rookie season with the Lakers, making him the first-ever rookie to do so.
June 29, 1982
The Lakers traded Don Ford and Chad Kinch to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft. With the pick, Los Angeles selected James Worthy of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden. Worthy spent his entire career with the Lakers and won three NBA championships during his 12 seasons in Los Angeles.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of June 15-21, over their 66-year history.
June 16, 1975
The Bucks traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers after the three-time MVP requested to be traded away from Milwaukee. Abdul-Jabbar went on to win five NBA championships, three MVP awards, and became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer while wearing the purple and gold. His number 33 was eventually retired by both the Bucks and Lakers after his playing days came to an end in 1989.
June 16, 1999
The Lakers hired Phil Jackson to become their head coach after his wildly successful run as the head coach of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. In his first three years as the Lakers’ head coach, Jackson led the team to three-straight NBA championships. During his second coaching stint with Los Angeles, Jackson led the Lakers to consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010. In 12 seasons at the Lakers’ helm, Jackson won five NBA championships and became the NBA’s career leader in playoff victories and playoff winning percentage.
June 17, 2010
The Lakers defeated their rivals, the Boston Celtics, 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Despite an ugly game on both sides, an unlikely hero emerged for Los Angeles, as Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, stepped up and dropped 20 points for the Lakers. Although Kobe Bryant struggled uncharacteristically, going 6-24 from the field, he finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the win. The Lakers’ Game 7 victory avenged their loss to Boston in the 2008 Finals and secured their second consecutive title.
June 21, 1988
“Big Game” James Worthy picked the perfect time to live up to his nickname, as he recorded the first triple-double of his career with 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, to lift the Lakers over the Pistons 108-105, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Worthy’s clutch performance allowed the Lakers to become the first NBA team to defend its championship since the 1969 Boston Celtics. With their victory in the title-clinching game, Los Angeles also became the first team in NBA history to win three straight playoff series in seven games, having done so consecutively against Utah, Dallas, and Detroit.
March 25, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers look to build off of their win vs. the OrlandoMagic on Sunday as they face off vs. New York Knicks (29-41) tonight.
F Jordan Hill had a career night, scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Sunday’s win. Hill’s numbers do not come from plays getting run through him, but through effort and hustle, primarily grabbing offensive rebounds. Although the chances Hill will match his numbers from Sunday tonight seem unlikely, Hill should still be able to make an impact in tonight’s game also.
However, the Lakers chances of winning tonight will be hampered since C Pau Gasol will not play tonight. Gasol, who has been one of a few consistent Laker this season, suffered a vertigo illness that caused him to miss the 2nd half of Sunday’s game and get taken to a hospital by ambulance
Things have turned around for the Knicks franchise ever since rumors they are now only 2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After losing 6 straight games, Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson decided to shake up his lineup, bringing G JR Smith and F Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup. Although they lost another game after Woodson switched the starting lineup, the Knicks then went on an 8 game winning streak until losing a close game vs. Cavaliers on Sunday.
F Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks team into Staples Center tonight. Anthony, who has scored 28.1 PPG while grabbing 8.2 RPG and dishing out 3.1 APG, seemed like a sure thing to depart the Knicks a few weeks ago. Now, with the hire of Jackson and the Knicks strong push to make the playoffs, Anthony not only seems to be unsure about departing New York now and seeks to will his team into the playoffs with his strong play.
PG – Raymond Felton / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Even] SG – JR Smith / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even] SF – Carmelo Anthony / Nick Young [Advantage: Knicks] PF – Amar’e Stoudemire / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Even] C – Tyson Chandler / Chris Kaman [Advantage: Even]
Notable Bench Players
Knicks: F Tim Hardaway Jr., G Shannon Brown, G Iman Shumpert, G Pablo Prigioni, C Cole Aldrich Lakers: F Wesley Johnson, C Robert Sacre, G Xavier Henry, G Kent Bazemore
Bench Advantage: Knicks
Knicks: Out-F Kenyon Martin, Out-F Andrea Bargnani, GTD-G Iman Shumpert Lakers: Out-C Pau Gasol,Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G Kobe Bryant, Doubtful-PGSteve Nash, Will Play-G Xavier Henry
Knowing that Phil Jackson will be in the Knicks front office have definitely given the Knicks player a major jolt that they have been lacking. Although the Lakers looked great vs. Magic on Sunday, the Knicks will play with a huge sense of urgency to sneak into the playoffs. The Lakers will have to play very smart on the defensive end to have a shot at defeating the Knicks tonight.
While Laker fans are undoubtedly upset over the Phil Jackson making his way to the New York Knicks, it is important to remember that the situation is not on the shoulders of one particular member of the Buss family.
It is easy for everyone to point the finger at Jim Buss, the Executive Vice President of the Lakers as well as the main man running the basketball operations of the team, mainly citing the publicized ‘bad relationship’ between him and Jackson over the years.
This will all make for another great Lakers book someday, and maybe then we’ll find out if all the chatter is true that Jerry made Jim swear in his final days that Jackson would never return after he was gone… It would shock no one, then, if it turned out that the senior Buss’ aversion to Jackson’s return was extended out of respect to their father from there.
Could Dr. Jerry Buss have been the driving force behind Jackson not returning to the Lakers? If true, does that change the perception of Jim Buss amongst fans who have no issue blaming him for the team’s troubles?
Friday afternoon on ESPN AM 710 in Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne talked more in-depth about the dynamic surrounding Jackson not coming back to the Lakers, saying it was not only one of Buss children who had reservations about Jackson joining the franchise, but multiple Buss children that were uncertain about creating a role for the legendary coach.
According to Shelburne, the Buss children had ongoing discussions since December regarding the Jackson situation but with multiple members of the family against the change, it never reached a vote. Additionally she mentioned it was a case of the family wanting to continue with the franchise structure their father left for them, instead of changing it a little over a year after his death.
In the end, was this simply a situation of children carrying out what their late father wanted? While nothing has been confirmed directly (and it may never be), it is easy to understand how the family would go down this road in order to honor their father and his wishes.
Now with Jackson out of the picture, the Buss family can continue on the path laid out for them without the pressure of the fans calling for another figure head to take control of the purple and gold.
It is time for the Buss children to show what they can do.
Although it was reported earlier by NBATV’s Greg Anthony that Phil Jackson is joining the New York Knicks, the deal with the Knicks is apparently not done yet.
In the meantime, according to USA TODAY Sports, some powerful members of the Lakers‘ family have been working to sway Jackson back to Los Angeles:
Although a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that Jackson has an agreement in principle to become the Knicks’ team president, some of the most powerful men in Laker Land spent much of Wednesday attempting to pull off the seemingly-impossible: come hell or high water, as Lakers star Kobe Bryant likes to say, they want Jackson back. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet done.
Earlier Wednesday, Kobe Bryant shared his admiration for his old coach.
“Well, I mean you know how I feel about Phil,” Bryant said. “I have so much admiration for him and respect, and have a great relationship with him, so personally it would be hard for me to understand that [losing out on Jackson’s services] happening twice. It would be tough. I don’t really get it.”
Magic Johnson also did his part Wednesday in showing his respect for the eleven-time champion coach.
I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a recent interview with USA Today Sports, legendary coach Phil Jackson spoke on different topics, ranging from potential future opportunities in the NBA to the state of the Lakers and what they could do moving forward.
Below are the key points regarding Jackson and the Lakers, plus his comments on the direction of the NBA:
On the direction of the Lakers:
“Well really, there’s a limited free agent market this year. Luol Deng, and Pau Gasol is going to be a free agent — they can resign their own guy, which I don’t know if Pau would want to re-sign with them or not. Maybe he feels that’s not the best place, but he likes LA, he likes the fans. Who else is in the free agent market besides Luol that jumps (at you)?”
On potentially having more involvement with the team:
“I don’t think so. I have a good relationship with the vice president in business affairs (Jeanie Buss) — at least it has been pretty good (laughs).”
“Their father’s memorial service is not a year old, but he has been gone for a year now and they’re still just kind of figuring out, ‘How are we going to do this?’ So I think they want to have an opportunity to do it.”
“Some of the major moves, Dr. Buss was still there. But the other stuff Jimmy and Mitch have been working on. They’ve got a relationship, so I don’t see that happening.”
On if that will disappoint Lakers fans:
“I know, I’m trying not to gin up any hope in that direction. I don’t go to games. I keep encouraging them as fans to follow their team, and they’re having a hard time doing that. They’re not used to being in the position they’re in, so it’s tough.”
On if he ever received a clear answer as to who signed off on hiring D’Antoni over him:
“Jimmy was pretty happy about it and Mitch was still saying, “We’re going to keep interviewing people,” and I think the ultimate (decision) kind of rested with Dr. Buss and he made the decision in the hospital the day after. I haven’t chosen to bite on that. I’ve just let that go. I’m real comfortable with it. I don’t have any trouble. I think Jesus could probably coach this team pretty well, but outside of him maybe Mohammed, maybe Gandhi, someone like that.”
On the direction of offensive systems in the NBA:
“Well, the game has moved on to another level. Three-point shooting has become like the (pauses). Really the analytics people have taken it to the point of saying, ‘The worst shot in the game is a 20-foot jumper, a two-point jumper that’s 20 (feet).’ And the best shot might be the corner three. Efficiency, OERs (offensive efficiency ratings), all these efficiency ratings are pointing to how many points per possession you generate from certain types of shots. … But there’s so much more to the game.”
On if he is a fan of analytics in the game:
“I like the analytics. We were always on the forefront of that. I’m not going to go after that. I think that it’s a really important movement. I think a lot of owners have turned the game, the general managers’ jobs, over to people who are more analytic-minded than basketball hierarchy or guys who have been around the league.”
“I do think that it’s still about that being able to look a guy in the eyes and kind of understand that this one is going to go in the fox hole with you and this guy is going to be one of the guys who’s on board with what we’re doing. Yeah, he’s going to be on the line when it comes to that time that’s the challenge. And then the rest of the stuff kind of falls in together.”
Could Jackson return to the bench? No one except he and Jeanie know the answer to that, but I will say that his response about the direction of the league is telling. Could motivation to show the league that old school system basketball wins in the NBA be enough to lure the Zen Master back to the bench?
One thing to remember when reading anything from Jackson is that he is the master of words. Sometimes you need to read between the lines instead of reading directly what he is saying.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 2-8, over their 66-year history.
February 2, 2002
Phil Jackson became just the 13th coach in NBA history to notch 700 career wins in a 100-85 Lakers’ victory over Memphis. In his 12th season as a head coach, Jackson improved his record to 700-246. Jackson retired from coaching in 2011 with a record of 1155-485 and a winning percentage of .704, which is currently the highest winning percentage of any coach in NBA history.
February 2, 1996
The Lakers and Bulls set a then-record for the highest-rated NBA game ever on cable television, when Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson faced off on the hardwood for the first time since the 1991 NBA Finals. Jordan notched 17 points for Chicago, while Johnson scored 15 points off the bench for Los Angeles, in a 99-84 Bulls’ win in Los Angeles. The game, which aired on TNT, was viewed by 4.75 million homes and earned a 7.1 rating and 13.1 share. This record lasted for just three months before it was broken during a playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.
February 2, 2009
Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 61 points in a 126-117 victory over the Knicks in New York. Bryant went 19 for 31 from the field and 20 for 20 from the free throw line. He broke Michael Jordan’s opponent record at the Garden of 55 points, as well as Bernard King’s overall record of 60 for most ever points scored at the Mecca. Carmelo Anthony broke Bryant’s Garden record when he scored 62 points against the Bobcats just last month.
February 4, 1987
The Lakers held the reeling Sacramento Kings to just four points in the first quarter, marking the fewest points scored in the first quarter of an NBA game since the establishment of the shot clock in 1954. In a balanced effort, Los Angeles went on to rout Sacramento 128-92, as seven Lakers scored in double figures.
February 7, 2001
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning 15-foot jump shot over Shawn Marion with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Phoenix Suns 85-83 at STAPLES Center. With 23 points in the second half, Bryant scored a game-high 32 points, while collecting eight rebounds and notching nine assists in the final game before the All-Star break.
Former Laker Hall-of-Fame coach Phil Jackson sat down with former Laker and current NBA TV Analyst Rick Fox to discuss memories from his 11 NBA championships as a coach, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and also his basketball coaching future.
Jackson made some pretty optimistic comments on whether or not Bryant could come back to become dominant after recovering from his recent injury.
“Kobe’s minutes he’s played, the time he’s been on the court, the duress, the way he’s played, has taken a toll obviously, his injury has been a part of chain of events because of what’s happened to his Achilles tendons,” Jackson said. “I think he’ll be back, and I think he’ll still be a scorer. … Kobe can still post up, be a good screen and roll player, hit shots, and hit some three pointer.”
He also responded to Fox’s question on whether or not he personally would have re-signed Bryant to a 2-year extension.
“Yeah, I would’ve. They paid him more than I would’ve gone for, But what he’s given to the organization, what he gives back, he brings a sense that ‘we are going to win,'” said Jackson. “We have to have a guy on our team doesn’t settle for 2nd. That’s one of the area where the value of Kobe, even at his age, is terrific.”
Former Lakers C Dwight Howard clearly had a dysfunctional stint with current head coach Mike D’Antoni that caused him to leave the Lakers. When Fox asked Jackson whether or not he would have stayed if the Lakers had chosen to hire him over D’Antoni, Jackson responded:
“There’s a true chance that would’ve [stayed]. Dwight gave up a little early on the Lakers, but maybe it wasn’t for him. Maybe he didn’t find the culture exactly what he needed to blossom and benefit from the game, but it cost the Lakers a lot, it cost them a draft pick.”
The Lakers currently sit at a dismal 16-30 record, good for second-to-last place, slightly ahead of the Sacrament Kings. Many fans want D’Antoni fired to let Jackson coach one last time.
When Fox asked Jackson about his coaching future, he was very candid in his response.
“I have no intention of coaching again…physically, I have to reconcile a fact that I’m in a position after 5 operations in 3, 4 years, [and] at my age it takes a little bit more to recover from it,” Jackson stated.
He then left a small room of hope for Lakers fans who want him back.
“But who knows, maybe I will have a regenerative tissue that will get me back at it.”
Since 1949, the Lakers have played on Christmas Day 39 times, with a 21-18 record over that stretch. The Lakers playing on Christmas Day has been a staple within the NBA over the years. This Christmas will mark the 15th straight year that the Lakers have been in action on Christmas Day. With a win against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center, the Lakers would tie the New York Knicks for the most Christmas Day victories (22) in NBA history. Let’s take a look back at some notable Christmas Day moments for the purple and gold over their 66-year history.
December 25, 1949
The Lakers played their first ever Christmas Day game when they hosted and defeated the Ft. Wayne Pistons 72-58 in Minneapolis. This season marked the Lakers’ second season in the NBA, during which they would win the franchise’s first NBA title.
December 25, 1963
The Lakers beat the Knicks 134-126 at Madison Square Garden in their first ever Christmas Day meeting with New York. Los Angeles was led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, who dropped 47 and 27 points, respectively. It would take 49 more years for the Lakers and Knicks to meet again on Christmas Day.
December 25, 1999
Shaquille O’Neal scored 32 points and collected 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a victory in their first Christmas Day game since 1996. Los Angeles defeated the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs 99-93 in the first ever Christmas Day game at the Staples Center. Glen Rice added 25 points for the Lakers, while Kobe Bryant chipped in with 18.
December 25, 2001
In this rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals, the Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 88-82 at the Staples Center. With Kobe Bryant struggling from the field and Shaquille O’Neal out with an injury, Los Angeles was led by an unlikely hero, Samaki Walker, who scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Allen Iverson dropped 31 points in the loss.
December 25, 2007
After five straight Christmas Day losses, the Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-115 at the Staples Center. Andrew Bynum scored a then-career-high 28 points and collected 12 rebounds. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles in scoring with 38 points on the day, while shooting 60% from the field. Bryant surpassed Tom Chambers to move into 30th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 31st point of the game.
December 28, 2008
The Lakers snapped Boston’s 19-game winning streak, while also avenging their NBA Finals loss from six months before, when they defeated the Celtics 92-83 on Christmas Day at the Staples Center. With the victory, Phil Jackson recorded his 1,000th career win as an NBA head coach, a plateau he reached faster than any other coach in NBA history. Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 27 points, while Pau Gasol added 20. This Laker victory sent the then-surging Celtics into a 2-6 slide over their next eight games and helped solidify Los Angeles’ position at the top of the NBA standings.
December 25, 2012
Kobe Bryant set an NBA record when he played in his 15th consecutive Christmas Day game. Bryant broke his own record of 14 straight Christmas Day games, which he set the year before, and further surpassed the previous record of 13 held by Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dolph Schayes. The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 100-94 behind Bryant’s 34 points at the Staples Center. On this day, Bryant also eclipsed Oscar Robertson as the NBA’s all-time leading Christmas Day scorer with 383 points.
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson will appear in an upcoming interview to be aired on CampusInsiders.com on October 28 and November 1 at 10:30 a.m. PT. In the interview with Seth Davis, Jackson reflected on numerous basketball-related topics.
Stemming from last season’s “midnight coaching decision,” Jackson explained that he probably would not have even coached the Lakers last season:
“I probably would’ve made a decision not to coach the team anyway because of my health,” Jackson told Davis.
“I was like, ‘It’s midnight. Let me sleep on this one.'”
Jackson’s hesitance ultimately led to the Lakers choosing Mike D’Antoni to fill the coaching vacancy.
Jackson also addressed whether or not he’s done with coaching in the NBA:
“I’m realistically thinking about the fact that I probably won’t be able to physically coach again,” Jackson explained.
Another hot topic over the past few months has been none other than former Laker Dwight Howard. Host Seth Davis doubts you can with a championship with Howard as your center; Jackson, however, disagrees:
“I think you’re wrong. I’ve had those type of feelings that you’ve had for years, about various players in the league,” Jackson said.
The Lakers have “lost” superstars before, right? Usually it has happened after they have given so much to the Lakers organization. What I mean by that is all-star appearances, rookie of the year awards, a couple of championships here or there, and maybe even a few years of coaching. Never have they “lost” a superstar during free agency the way they did a few nights ago. The franchise is in a state of disarray.
That’s looking at it from one side of the spectrum. The side I choose to look from is very different.
Dwight Howard never fit in as a Los Angeles Laker. Not from the moment he was traded to the organization, to the Adidas “All In for L.A. commercials”, to when he announced on Twitter that he was going to become a Houston Rocket. His interviews seemed forced, his 1,000 watt smile was never as powerful and commanding as it was in Orlando, and it always seemed that he was making light of whatever situation he was in. Very different from what the Lakers have been used to since the Big Aristotle or Cactus, Superman or… you get it, left town.
In late January when the team was in a rut there were reports about how the Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis where everything was aired out so they could all move past their difficulties. That’s not what really happened according to Wojnarowski.
Every time you trash me to teammates, it gets back to me, witnesses said Bryant told Howard in the visiting locker room of the FedEx Forum. Every time you do one of your impersonations when I walk out of the room, I find out. Everything tumbled out of Bryant, one grievance after another, and the Lakers coaches and players sat watching the two biggest personas in the room push closer together, or irreconcilably apart.
Around this time Dwight’s influence was beginning to take over the team and Kobe Bryant was not happy about it. In his mind there was no way that a player who was not dominating like he should csn come into the organization and overtake what he and countless other Lakers legends have built.
“Kobe talked to Dwight in a way that I don’t think anyone one had ever talked to him – not in Orlando, not here, not in his life, I’m betting,” one witness in the room told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s been coddled, and Kobe wasn’t going to coddle him.”
Despite what you may hear, this was not the driving issue as to why Dwight Howard left. He even stated himself that via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times. The reason why he departed is due to the praise he did not receive in Los Angeles. You know, the type of praise that is given when you do good things like win consistently. If Howard is not adored by everyone then he will not perform like he should. It happened towards the end of his tenure with Orlando and it happened all year in Los Angeles.
“If he missed two big free throws in Orlando, it was forgotten in 30 minutes,” one league official with ties to Howard’s past says. “If he missed them in L.A., they talked about it for a week. With Dwight, he has to be the face of the franchise. Anything less than that, and it would be difficult for him to function at his highest level.”
“The conditions need to be lined up perfectly to get the most out of Dwight,” one team official who has history with Howard told Yahoo! Sports. “When he’s engaged, he can carry a team like few else in the league. Houston is suited for him.”
Now I will give Howard the credit he deserves. He came off of a possible career-ending surgery and still led the league in rebounds. My hat is off to him, no doubt whatsoever. But for the Lakers to essentially beg Howard to stay in Los Angeles is what did not sit well. He is a superstar that yes, could have become the future of the Lakers and the face for years to come, but he is not what or who the Lakers need to move forward.
To become the face of the Lakers franchise you must earn it. Point blank period.
George Mikan earned it. Elgin Baylor earned it. West and Chamberlain earned it. Kareem and Magic earned it. Kobe and Shaq earned it. Kobe and Pau earned it. They did not come into the franchise and expect for everyone to love them. They played through injuries, team chemistry issues, and even management problems all while working hard and eventually becoming champions.
The Lakers biggest mistake would have been convincing Howard to stay and he actually did. Do the Lakers need a superstar who needs to be handed everything in order to become great? If he could not take the criticism he was receiving all year long what do you think would have happened after Kobe, Pau, and Nash all retired?
With Dr. Buss’ passing and Jim Buss currently at the helm the Lakers cannot afford too many more mistakes as is. Resigning a superstar who would turn to the culture into a laughing stock would have been a mistake for them.
The Lakers have been through this before. The difference between now and then is that everyone wants results immediately. Give the Lakers time. Yes Kobe is pushing his 18th year in the league, yes Nash is going to be 40, and yes Pau Gasol just had his 33rd birthday but in due time it will be fine. If Baylor, Chamberlain, and West needed time so does this team.
What happened when George Mikan, the franchise’s first legitimate star left the franchise for good? They drafted Elgin Baylor. Two years, and one finals appearance for Elgin, later they drafted Jerry West.
What happened when Elgin was becoming older and the duo could not conquer the Celtics? They traded for Wilt Chamberlain. After Wilt retired in 1973 and Jerry hung up his shoes 19474, who was their savior? At seasons end of 1974 they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Or how about when Kareem could not win a title alone?
In comes Magic. After Kareem retired and Magic states in 1996 that he wants to go out on his own terms, what happened? The Lakers trade for Kobe Bryant on draft day and sign Shaquille O’Neal almost two weeks later. Kobe starts to publicly look elsewhere to finish his career and the Lakers land Pau Gasol.
The Lakers have a clear history of doing whatever needs to be done to improve. Yes it may still sting that Dwight Howard told them no and chose to walk away. Best of luck to him. If he feels Houston is where he will succeed then by all means go. Yes, Jim Buss hired Mike D’Antoni when he could have had Phil Jackson, but don’t forget that he and Mitch pulled the deals to bring in Nash and Howard in the first place.
If there has ever been anything constant within the Lakers organization it has been that they are always a few moves away from being prominent once again. This is just another chapter in the Lakers history book. Rather than become frustrated and spiteful, let us just watch as they plan on making history again.
Since Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s Achilles injury, he has not laid as low as other NBA players with injuries have (a la Derrick Rose). He has become more and more active on Twitter, created an Instagram account, completed numerous interviews with the media, and even went to Brazil to enjoy the FIFA Confederation Cup match between Brazil and Italy. In the past week alone, Bryant has made many headlines with comments about the his injury, his future, and the Lakers future involving Dwight Howard.
When discussing his achilles injury, Bryant spoke about the advice he received from Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham. The two star players have built a great friendship in the time that Beckham has resided within Los Angeles.
“Becks and I have grown to be pretty close since he’s been playing in Los Angeles for [the Galaxy] the last five years,” said Bryant, reported LA Times Writer Eric Pincus. Beckham tore his Achilles in 2010, but was able to make a strong return to the pitch. “He and I talked for quite a bit about his process, and his recovery,” Kobe said. “He hasn’t had any issues with it since. He’s won several championships since the injury, so I’m pretty encouraged by that.” Bryant was injured on April 12 in a win over the Golden State Warriors. He had surgery the following day, with a projected recovery of six to nine months.
Knowing Kobe Bryant the player, he has held onto the notion that he will be ready by opening day of the 2013-2014 NBA season. However, he may not be able to return as soon as he wishes. In order to be sure of a full-strength recovery, Bryant’s opening night may have to be in the months of November or December.
“It’s going well,” he said of his recovery. “I’m pretty much two months out of surgery, and I’m walking” he said. “I can get up on my toes. I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.” Bryant admitted to having some initial doubts about regaining his physical abilities, but now he uses that as fuel for his recovery. “You have to allow yourself to think that, because it keeps you on edge. It keeps you motivated. It keeps you strong,” he said. “I think for me, once I started hearing everybody else say, ‘Well, maybe this is it. Maybe this is too much’ — that’s what really gave me the determination to see if I can prove them wrong.” “You want to be able to go out on your own terms. You don’t want to be forced out of the game because of an injury,” he said. “You want to feel like when you’re leaving the game, you’re leaving because you want to.”
If Bryant sticks to that plan the he could potentially retire at the age of thirty-eight. With his high level of dedication, and skill set, he could make a run at a few more championships and surpass Michael Jordan in all-time scoring. Kobe currently sits at 31,617 points for his career and publicly doubts that he will attempt to break any such record. Yet his former coach, Phil Jackson thinks otherwise. ESPNLA’s Arash Markazi was there to report.
“His goal is another championship,” Jackson said. “He also has a chance to replace Michael Jordan in the all-time scoring list. Those are two goals, with the first one being a championship, that Kobe would like to accomplish.”
Finally, there is the one question that anyone with an association to a certain big man on the Lakers cannot escape. What will become of Dwight Howard and his Lakers future? Reported by LA Times Eric Pincus, Bryant spoke up about how important it is for the Lakers to retain their current version of Superman.
“Those guys are hard to find, they don’t grow on trees,” Bryant said on 710 ESPN Los Angeles. “When you have someone like that with his talent level, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise.”
Bryant is spot on that it’s difficult, in today’s age, to find a big man who can dominate like Howard. Truthfully, when Howard is 100% healthy and focused, there are very few players in the league who can compete with him. Bryant knows this and knows how important Howard is to the Lakers future. He wants Howard to re-sign but he will not court him as much as the media says other players have.
“I’ve spoken to him maybe a couple of weeks ago, just to check in with him,” said Bryant. “I haven’t spoken to him since. I know he’s got a big decision to make and I’m sure he’ll take the visits and talk to the players on the teams he’s considering. We’ll touch base a lot more.” “It’s hard because a lot of times those two things don’t align,” he said. “With the history that this franchise has of having great centers, this would, in my opinion, be the perfect spot for him.”
It is great from a fan perspective to see Kobe become more and more noticeable in the public eye. He has been a relatively quiet person with his personal life, but with him now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel it is great that he is able to bring fans along for the his final chapter.
What do you think of Kobe’s comments? Should he be more open or stay reserved? Do you agree that Howard is vital to the Lakers future? Express yourself below!
Stay tuned for more news and updates here on LakerNation.com
Last week I released a series of poll questions about this off-season for the Los Angeles Lakers. I asked you, the Laker Nation, to answer them and I’d analyze those answers in the coming week. Well you guys all answered and this article will detail all the possible scenarios from the most popular answers to each poll question. So here we go! If you’d like to take a quick look back at all the questions, here’s the link to the article – http://lakernation.com/offseason-poll-questions/
Question 1: Would you like to see the Lakers re-sign Dwight Howard? 843 Total Votes
The majority of you said yes, you would like to see him re-signed with 609 “Yes” votes to 234 “No” votes.
What does this mean? Well unfortunately, it isn’t up to Laker management at this point as the ball is in Dwight’s court (No pun intended). The majority of you would like to see him stay with the purple and gold with a 5 year max contract. The Lakers can offer Dwight that extra year and 30 million dollars more than any other of the teams vying for his signature. However, no one except Dwight knows for sure if that is enough to make him want to stay. Rumors say he can’t stand D’Antoni and that’s a huge factor in making his ultimate decision. Houston is looking like a viable option for him at this point, and recent news is saying he and Chris Paul are attempting to team up together on one team.. Only time will tell whether Dwight will re-sign with LA or another ball club, and July 1st is the date in which the fire storm hits its climax.
Question 2: Should Chris Paul decide to leave the Clippers, would you want him to sign with the Lakers? 848 Total Votes
The majority of you also said yes you would like to see him sign with the opposite locker room this season and leave the Clippers with 787 “Yes” votes against 61 “No” votes. Many of you are probably thinking “Of course, who wouldn’t want to see Chris Paul in a Lakers’ jersey?” Well, there are some issues with him signing
here. First off, Chris would have to “want” to sign with the Lakers, and at this point, I’m not sure why he would. His Clippers finished with the best record in their franchise history and took the Pacific division crown this season while the Lakers barely made the playoffs. He, like any other NBA player, wants to win a championship sooner rather than later, and by first glance the Clippers seem to be in the better position.
Another thing is that by signing Chris Paul the Lakers would not be signing Dwight Howard, basically they are both too expensive and the Lakers are already well over the salary cap. So it’s a choice between a dominant center in Dwight Howard, or one of the most crafty, skilled point guards in Paul. There is also the problem of having Steve Nash still under contract for 2 more seasons; 9 million dollars coming off the bench isn’t the smartest use of money. The Lakers would more than likely have to trade Nash just a year after trading their draft picks for him, and he won’t be necessarily easy to trade given his age and decreased level of effectiveness shown from this previous season. It’d be a great upgrade at the point guard position for the Lakera with a player like Paul, leading the offense and keeping up with the young point guards that dominate the league, but the chances are low and he’ll likely re-sign with the Clippers.
Question 3: Should the Lakers trade up in the draft for a better pick? 796 Total Votes
This was a lot closer in votes than the previous two poll questions coming in with 438 “Yes” votes and 358 “No” votes. Seeing as this goes hand in hand with the following question, I’ll combine the two here.
Question 4: Who would you like to see traded for the pick? 742 Total Votes
The number one person on the roster that you would like to see traded for a pick was Metta World Peace coming in with 220 votes. Jodie Meeks came in second place with 155 votes, and third place was Pau Gasol with 138 . While getting rid of Metta may be a good option as his contract is rather pricey for the player the
Lakers are getting, he’s just not worth that much to trade away for a decent pick.
Meeks is in the same boat as Metta, although he’s younger and a better shooter so he might warrant a slightly better pick. Pau Gasol coming in at third however may be the most viable and prime option for a good pick. Pau has a very expensive price tag though as he totes a 19 million dollar salary. Trading him would likely get the Lakers a decent pick in the first round somewhere, but most teams would have to offer the Lakers at least one other player to accomodate his large salary. Trading one of your players with a first round pick for Pau Gasol isn’t a trade teams are going to want to make, Pau just isn’t worth that much any more as his numbers have been in steady decline the past couple seasons.
However, recent news has surfaced that the Lakers are interested in Peyton Siva, the explosive guard out of the NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals. Siva is projected to go late in the second round, which is completely feasible for the Lakers to trade up for. Trading for a late second round pick isn’t too difficult for Lakers management to pull off, and they wouldn’t necessarily have to give up one of their starting five either. Do you guys like the idea of drafting Peyton Siva? Let me know your thoughts!
Question 5: Of these free agents, who would you like to see the Lakers sign? 810 Total Votes
This one was a flat out victory by J.R. Smith receiving 526 total votes, second place sits Nikola Pekovic, the Minnesota big man, with 132 votes, and in third we have Anthony Morrow with 88 votes. Here’s the thing, as great as it would be for the Lakers to sign a player like J.R. Smith, he’s probably going to be too expensive for them. He’s coming off a $2.8 million dollar salary with New York, and he has a player option in his contract for this upcoming season of which he is likely to opt out of. Smith has earned himself the sixth man of the year award this past season and because of that he can leave New York and ask for
more money elsewhere. Another possibility is that New York signs him to a new bigger contract, but regardless Smith is looking for a bigger contract and with Los Angeles already well over the cap a signing isn’t likely.
Nikola Pekovic would be somone to look at if Dwight Howard chooses to sign elsewhere. He could hold down the paint, and eventually become a strong, dominant center in the NBA as a member of the Lakers organization. We’ll see if Lakers management looks his way should Dwight choose to leave LA.
Then there’s Anthony Morrow, a close friend of Dwight Howard’s and a pretty good shooter. Morrow’s early years were his best shooting wise and if were to return to that form he’d be a great asset for the shooter deprived Lakers. Not that this would necessarily keep Dwight in LA but having a close friend work along side yourself makes you want to stay put more than if Morrow weren’t there.
Question 6: What would you like to see done with Coach Mike D’Antoni? 836 Total Votes
This was the most one sided poll question yet, and expectantly so. Nearly all of you voted that D’Antoni be fired with 736 votes, and here’s why you’re 100% correct. Not that this is anything
new, but D’Antoni has a different agenda for the Lakers then they are currently built for. He wants a quick, run-n-gun style offense, and the Lakers, being the oldest team in the NBA this past season, couldn’t quite keep up as well as he’d hoped. He was adamant about sticking to his guns, and it wasn’t until the end of the season that things began to click and he decided to use Pau Gasol closer to the basket where he thrives.
Should Dwight Howard choose to re-sign, D’Antoni needs to go. He doesn’t know how to fully utilize two big men out on the floor and maximize their potential. He’s not a bad coach by any means, he just doesn’t fit as the missing puzzle piece the Lakers have been searching for since Jackson left. He did well in Phoenix when Steve Nash was there, and that’s why Laker management felt he would thrive with Nash again. It’s unfortunate if he is to be retained because it will only be to the Lakers’ detriment. Dwight may also be basing his decision on whether D’Antoni is retained or not, and right now it doesn’t look like Laker management has any plans of getting rid of him.
Question 7: What coach would you rather see if the Lakers are to fire D’Antoni? 837 Total Votes
Since I put the zen master himself as an answer to this question I expected him to get the most votes, and he did with 531 votes. However in second place came the former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw with 219 votes, currently with the Indiana Pacers. Now since it is unlikely that Lakers management removes D’Antonifrom his head coaching seat these are merely dreams of hope that the Lakers would hire one of these guys. Phil Jackson would obviously be the best choice as he has proven his success with the Lakers before.
Unfortunately he has said he has no plans on ever returning to coaching and the Lakers last chance to ink the 11 time champion was when they flirted with him
after Mike Brown’s firing. Shaw is also in talks with multiple teams regarding their head coaching vacancies, most notably the Clippers. The Lakers are likely to see out Mike D’Antoni’s current contract because they already owe Mike Brown some money from his early termination and they don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re doing (Even though it appears Jim Buss doesn’t). Perhaps D’Antoni has a different game plan for this season, perhaps he wants to use Pau and hopefully Dwight together effectively, and perhaps the Lakers have a great season, perhaps.
Question 8: Who should the Lakers amnesty this season? 823 Total Votes
This was my favorite question based on the answers to it that I really didn’t expect. In first place came Metta World Peace with 342 votes, which isn’t a huge surprise due to his dwindling performance this past season. Amnestying him wouldn’t be a terrible option as Peace is likely going to opt into the final year of his contract and he’s due 7.7 million dollars, more than he could get anywhere else at this point in his career. However I expected you guys to want to amnesty Pau Gasol
because he’s due 19 million, which is a HUGE hindrance to the salary cap room the Lakers have. Pau actually came in last place with just 65 votes.
Second place went to not amnestying anyone this season with 319 votes. This was in first place for quite some time until Metta World Peace came in and swooped it, probably because of the way Metta has been tweeting recently. If you don’t know Metta’s tweets I suggest you follow him, he’s quite the character. I think not using it this season is actually a smart idea because each ball club can only exercise it once between now and the 2015-16 season. So waiting to see if there is a better chance to use it is a safe and careful plan, which is something the Lakers need at this point in time.
Kobe Bryant was next on the list with 97 votes, now before some of you guys start freaking out over such a ridiculous thought, just think about it. Bryant is coming off of
a very serious Achilles tendon tear, one which could alter his playing style for the rest of his career. Here’s what Lakers management can do, they could amnesty Bryant, who could potentially miss a large portion of this current season, and then offer him a contract when he is healthy again, hoping he wouldn’t sign any where else in the meantime. This would alleviate 30 million dollars on the Lakers books and give them a lot of great options going into this upcoming season. The hard part is amnestying the player who has brought the city 5 more championships and has only ever donned a purple and gold uniform, oh and hoping he doesn’t get bitter about it and sign else where. Essentially what the Lakers would be doing is dropping the final year of Bryant’s contract, wait until he is fully healthy, then re-sign him to a much cheaper deal, likely in the 17-19 million range. This option really has a lot of potential to it, but it also is a huge risk that I’m not sure Lakers management would be willing to take. My guess would be that the Lakers choose not to exercise their amnesty clause this season and they’ll wait for a better opportunity.
Question 9: Will Kobe Bryant be the same player when he returns from his Achilles tendon tear? 828 Total Votes
No one can really know the answer to this question unless you’re Kobe Bryant himself. We all have watched Bryant play his heart out every night and know first hand that his work ethic is second to none. That being said, we can all assu
me Bryant will come back sooner rather than later and playing at the same level he’s shown us all these past 17 seasons. 351 of you felt he’ll be the same player when he returns, 239 said he wouldn’t be, and 238 said he’d be even better than before. Again, it really is a toss up, and none of us can truly know how Kobe will bounce back after such a detrimentalinjury, but we can make educated guesses based on his history.
That’s it for the poll questions everyone, thanks so much for participating and here’s to a successful off-season for the Los Angeles Lakers! Any questions, comments, or concerns, contact me on Twitter, @GarrettGarcia
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.