How Lamar really feels about being a sixth man?

Whether he actually does become a sixth man is still way too early to determine, but here’s what Lamar had to say about the idea raised by Lakers coach Phil Jackson last week:

“I don’t think it will be a problem when you’re playing together. It’s too bad it has to be politics and business around the game, especially when you have a team like this. It’s not right for me to be selfish at this time,” Odom said.

“I walk into the locker room and I’m like, ‘Damn, this team is going to win the championship.’ I want to be a part of that. But … It’s definitely conflicted emotions. I might wake up today feeling one way and wake up tomorrow feeling another way. This is the team I want to be on. This is the coach I want to play for. These are the guys I want to be around.”

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Make sure you get there early

Those holding tickets to Lakers exhibition games would be wise to arrive early if they want to see Kobe Bryant.

Phil Jackson was asked whether he planned to limit Kobe and Pau Gasol during training camp, or the exhibition season, considering they barely had a month off after finishing Olympic competition.

“I was told not to say that I wasn’t going to play Kobe in exhibition games. So I’m not going to say that Kobe’s not going to play in this exhibition, but there’s a chance he may not play in exhibition games,” Jackson said with a smirk.

Knowing Bryant though, it’ll be hard convince him to sit out entirely. More likely, Bryant would start, get some run in, then relax.

“We’ve been playing all summer, obviously we had a long season and Phil does a good job of making sure that we stay in condition, but he doesn’t overexert us too much because of the long summer,” Bryant said.

“I feel great, I could run all day. I’m in shape, I’m ready to go.”

So too, is his injured right pinkie. It still hurts when he bangs it on something, Bryant said, but after a summer of doing strengthening exercises, it’s strong enough that Bryant doesn’t even need to tape it anymore.

“Over the summer it’s gotten really strong, I’ve done some exercises to build it up,” he said. “It’s not something I need to watch out for anymore. I can pretty much do everything.”

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One-liner of the day

Luke Walton, like most of the Lakers, was asked what he though of Phil Jackson’s new clean-shaven look. No mustache, no soul-patch, no beard.

The question came in as:

“Do you think he looks less wise now that he’s shaved the soul patch?”

To which Luke quickly quipped:

“I think I would be unwise if I answered that.”

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Kobe interview

Kobe Bryant on winning the gold medal with Team USA in China:
“What I tried to do is absorb the moment as much as I could, so I looked around at Pau (Gasol), and at the Americans singing the national anthem. You get goose bumps. You hear the national anthem every night when you play in the NBA, but on that stage it was complete different. It was just a different feeling. It was way more emotional. For all of us, because it was the end of a journey we started three years ago. We kind of grew up together, focused on our game together and rallied for one common goal and got the job done. So, we’re just so excited to finally accomplish our mission.”
(Bryant later added that he has his medal draped around the MVP trophy he won last spring.)

How worried are you about wear and tear in the upcoming season?
“Not at all. None. None. I feel great. I feel fantastic. In Beijing, we had a layup line and everyone was showing off. I did a windmill dunk and I got drug-tested right after the game. True story. … (Reducing his per-game minutes) is always a goal going into a season. It was a goal last season, and I still played 40 minutes. My body feels great, whether it’s 40 minutes or 43 minutes. The finger is fine.”

On his state of mind heading into camp:
“I am happy. I have a lot to be happy about. I have a lot to be thankful for. We’ve got Andrew back healthy. We’ve got Pau here. We’ve got Lamar. D-Fish. Everybody’s here. Everybody’s ready to go. The key is to keep everybody healthy. If we can do that, then I’ll be really happy.”

On being favored to win the West:
“We’re the favorites for a reason. One of the things I tell the guys, is that we’re the favorites for a season. We’ve got all the tools here. We’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle. It’s up to us to do the work. If we do the work, then we should win it. … I’m excited. I can’t wait to get started.”

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Interviews with Fisher and Walton

Here’s some stuff Ramona picked up from Derek Fisher and Luke Walton.

Derek Fisher:
“We’re more focused on our promise and our potential as opposed to our demise. But both sides of that coin can be dangerous. So now coming into this season, all the talk is about expectations, getting back to having an opportunity to win a championship, and actually winning it. There’s some positives and negatives that come with that also.”

On whether the pressure is a good thing:
“It can be a good thing. It can serve to put the team on notice right away. You’re now in a situation where you’re not just trying to get better or you’re trying to get good, you’re expected to be good. you always expect that from yourself, but sometimes in professional sports, it’s not until everybody else starts to expect it that you think about it.”

On dealing with the Finals loss:
“When it’s first over, it’s so abrupt, you feel like you want to step away for a short period of time. But after a week or two, you start wondering what happened. Why didn’t we win? So you pull out the film and you start seeing what mistakes were made, a lot of the things we didn’t do. Boston deserves to be the champion. They were the best team in the series. But I think when you watch games, you can see things that had nothing to do with your opponent, just concentration, just focus, effort and all the things you can control. If you focus on those things, you’re opponent sometimes doesn’t matter.”

Luke Walton

On what he did this summer:
“I had a fun little ankle surgery, I was on crutches. I had a lot of downtime. It was the first offseason I had to do something like this, so it was a little down, but hopefully it’ll pay off during the season.”

So, what’s your status?
“For the full 5-on-5, probably a couple of weeks. I’ve been stepping it up a little the last couple of weeks on the track, but now we’ve got to get to the cutting and jumping and all that.”

What’s the feeling of the team going into camp?
“It’s way different. Last year was like, even the players were looking around like, ‘Is Kobe coming? Where’s Kobe?’ It’s better this way. Hopefully now we have guys that have worked hard all summer to compete, because we have a very deep team, and I think training camp will be pretty interesting.

“ We know what we have to work on now, and a lot of it is defense. We know we can score points, but the thing we need to do to make sure we achieve our goals is defense.”

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News from media day

Luke Walton said that he needs another “couple of weeks” before his surgically repaired right ankle is ready for full, 5-on-5 games, but that he’ll be working on his conditioning and agility in the meantime. … Sun Yue (mononucleosis) did not attend media day. His fever was still too high, and he did not see the doctor today. An update on his condition will be given Tuesday after he sees Dr. John Moe. …Kobe Bryant addressed the issue of whether he intends to play in Europe, an issue that was sparked by an off-hand comment he made to a reporter at the Olympics in Beijing. Bryant laughed about the situation, saying he was cracking a joke, and downplayed the story. …The Lakers begin training camp Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

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Media Day!

Today is media day. Check back this afternoon for complete coverage of Kobe, Phil, Andrew, D-Fish, L.O. and the rest of the Lakers. Ramona and I will have all the news on the eve of the opening of training camp.

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