Jerry West believes Lakers’ 1971-72 team could compete with Miami Heat

As they continue on their quest to secure a second consecutive NBA championship, the Miami Heat received a vivid reminder that it’s hard to sustain greatness.

They nearly came close to shattering the Lakers’ NBA record 33 game winning streak set by the 1971-72 team that featured the likes of Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Wilt Chamberlain. But not close enough. They won 27 consecutive games in an era that featured chartered plans and more days in between games. Hence, it should be hardly surprising that West recently told NBC broadcaster Bob Costas in a sit-down interview that the 1971-72 Lakers could beat the Heat.

“Obviously I want to say that we would win. I don’t know if that would be a fact or not,” West said. “It would be very interesting because they’re not a very good rebounding team and we were one of the best rebounding teams I’ve ever seen. “They have two magnificent players. We had a bunch of guys that were pretty good. “Selfishly, I’d like to think we could play with those guys.”

West was referring to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But how would the Logo stop the King?

“I’d try to run him left, if you can keep him from getting to the basket, which is a task itself. He will get better because he works at it,” West said. “To try to guard someone like him would be an enormous task. Kobe Bryant would fall in the same category.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Federal judge rejects Kobe Bryant’s request to dismiss lawsuit against him in memorabilia case

A federal judge on Friday rejected Kobe Bryant’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by a New Jersey-based auction house that wants to sell more than 100 pieces of memorabilia from his high school days and early pro career with the Lakers, as initially reported by the Courier-Post.

U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb also maintained Bryant’s pending trial on June 17 will happen in Camden, N.J. and not in California as the Lakers’ star wished. According to court papers, Goldin Auctions gave Bryant’s mother, Pamela, a $450,000 advance to sell Bryant’s various mementos, which has included various jerseys, rings and trophies. Pamela is then reported to have used the advance to purchase a house in Las Vegas.
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Pau Gasol to launch foundation with his brother

It’s possible Pau Gasol will come back to the Lakers next season. It’s also possible he’d return with a freshly shaved face instead of the full-length beard he’s sported during his five years here.

In what will could be his last public appearance here this offseason before traveling to his native Spain, Gasol will host a pep rally Monday at the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Los Angeles to make the beginning of his self-named foundation. As part of his initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle, Gasol and his brother, Marc, of the Memphis Grizzlies will coach two different teams in what’s called a “The Healthy Competition 2013″ running from June 10 through Aug. 2. Using gifted Nike Fuelbands (retailed at $149) to track the teams’ progress, either Pau or Marc will have to shave their beard if their respective team loses.
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Pau Gasol no longer needs crutches after knee procedure

Even with the uncertainty ahead regarding his future with the Lakers, Pau Gasol had one specific reason to appear in high spirits on Thursday.

Gasol underwent the so-called “Fast Technique” procedure on three weeks ago, which entailed having a probe inserted into both of his knees to direct to eliminate scar tissue without damaging the healthy tissue. He also had another procedure two weeks ago in which Dr. Steve Yoon of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Group in Los Angeles provided stem cell injections to help stimulate regeneration in Gasol’s tissue.
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Phil Jackson offers support for both Dwight Howard and Mike D’Antoni

Within a week, Phil Jackson has changed his tune on a few important issues pertaining to the Lakers.

He expressed skepticism last week on “The Dan Patrick Show” that Howard would want to re-sign with the Lakers considering he wasn’t featured heavily in Mike D’Antoni’s system. In a conversation with 710 ESPN’s Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on Thursday, however, Jackson offered specific advice on why he should remain with the Lakers.

“Staying with a franchise and hang in there,” said Jackson, who won five NBA titles with the Lakers in two separate stints (1999-2004, 2005-2011). “I think he likes the life here in L.A. and has hopes for success. The monetary issue is considerable. I have more Laker blood in me than Houston Rockets blood, thats for sure. As part of this extended family that runs this organization, I hope he remains a Laker.”

That’s not the only issue Jackson seemed to shift his sentiments. While promoting his latest memoir titled “Eleven Rings,” Jackson has often revisited the Lakers passing him up following Mike Brown’s firing in favor of D’Antoni. Jackson has said he “laughed” when Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told him in a midnight phone call that he considered D’Antoni the better fit. Jackson has also argued D’Antoni didn’t utilize Howard and Pau Gasol correctly. He’s even suggested he’d advocate for the Lakers to hire one of his former assistants (possibly Brian Shaw) to coach the team.

But on Thursday, Jackson sung D’Antoni’s praises.

“Mike D’Antoni is a good coach,” Jackson said. “People disregard the fact he’s bad success. He knows what he needs to have to put a team together.”
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Kobe Bryant ditches walking boot for ‘medical mamba’ shoe

Seven weeks after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant no longer feels confined with a certain accessory every time he walks.

The recovery still continues enough for the Lakers to expect Bryant to sit out at least another four to seven months. But Bryant has come a long way since suffering the season-ending injury April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. Bryant had his cast removed 11 days after the injury. He had stitches taken out a week later. Just over a week afterwards, Bryant managed enough strength to put his foot on the ground, though he still kept a boot on to minimize the pain.

Should Bryant return by or before the early portion of the Lakers’ expected timetable, he could suit up in time for the team’s season opener in late October. If not, Bryant could miss one or two months of the beginning of the season. Based on Bryant’s progress and well-documented history, it’s safe to assume the former scenario will happen.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Video montage features Kobe Bryant’s difficult shots

When no one is looking, Kobe Bryant practices them. When everyone is watching, Bryant attempts them. And when the odds suggest otherwise, Bryant often makes them.

Bryant’s 17-year NBA career spans plenty of qualities that’s earned him five NBA championshps, two NBA Finals MVPS and a fourth-place stnading on the league’s all-time scoring list, ranging from playing through injuries and obsessing over everything basketball. But nothing defines Bryant’s legacy more than his ability to make seemingly impossible shots.

We’re talking up-and-under reverse layups, jumpers while facing double teams and fadeaways over the backboard. No one has performed an exact breakdown of what percentage of Bryant’s 31,617 career points reflects the difficult shots he made. But it’s safe to say that skillset enabled Bryant to post a career-high 81 points in a game. It helped him convert on countless game winners. It left defenses in fits over wondering if a double or triple team will do enough to stop him.

Sometimes it has. Many times it hasn’t. And the video montage above shows how Bryant converted a seemingly impossible shot into one he’d normally make.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Lakers to make sixth Las Vegas Summer League NBA appearance

If only the Lakers could make sure what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

They will make their sixth NBA Summer League appearance in Sin City from July 12-22 carrying an all-time record of 8-18 dating back to 2004. Then again, the Lakers haven’t exactly touted plenty of prospects in these games.

They haven’t carried a first-round pick in the regular season since Javaris Crittenton in 2007. Barring a trade, the Lakers will only have the 48th pick in this year’s NBA Draft. But it would provide a good stomping guard for promising albeit undeveloped players such as Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Robert Sacre to receive playing time.

All 22 teams will play at least five games before receiving a seed on July 16 for a single-elimination tournament through July 22.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Evaluating Dwight Howard’s current free agent options

Dwight Howard has escaped all the talk surrounding his pending free agency, spending last week at Lake Tahoe where he fished, rode dune buggies and hung out in a cabin. It sure beats laboring through a surgically repaired back and partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. Or hearing scrutiny from Kobe Bryant and the media alike. Or fighting through persisting double teams. Or missing free throws.

But just like it us for all of us when we see a huge inbox of unread emails the day we return from work, Howard will have to tackle one unsettling question. Where he will play next season?

A source familiar with Howard’s thought process told me last week that he’s currently considering the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. But knowing that a more than a month awaits before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, that list could change. Whether Howard narrows the list or keeps adding on potential suitors remains to be seen. But we at least have a general idea on where Howard might end up.

Lakers

Pros: It seems downright offensive the Lakers would need to tick off reasons to convince Howard to stay. After all, they’re the keeper of 16 NBA championships, some of the all-time greatest NBA players (Magic, West, Kobe) and centers (Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq) and they’re in the land of perfect sunny skies, beaches and Hollywood.

So even if Howard’s first season with the Lakers consisted of injuries (back, shoulder), philosophical and personality clashes (Kobe Bryant, Mike D’Antoni) and scrutiny (media and teammates alike), there’s plenty that should appeal to Howard. The Lakers are setting him up to be the franchise’s next cornerstone along with a five-year, $118 million price tag no other team can match. Howard’s hope to tap into the entertainment industry will only help if he wears purple and gold. And even if there’s uncertainty in the post Jerry Buss era and punitive luxury taxes on the rise, the Lakers are maintaining they’ll still spend the necessary goods to ensure championship success.

Cons: Forget about the Lakers’ tradition, the money and the endless scrutiny Howard would receive if he left two teams in two consecutive seasons. There’s very little the Lakers showed this season that should appeal to Howard.

They passed up Phil Jackson for Mike D’Antoni, who both rarely featured Howard enough inside and had the patience to understand Howard’s physical limitations. The Lakers field an aging roster, making it both impossible for the Lakers to keep up with older teams and for giving Howard the necessary defensive support. And with the late Jerry Buss’ passing, the Lakers haven’t showed any clarity whether the partnership between Jim Buss (overseing player personnel) and Jeanie Buss (overseeing business operations) could carry the same success that ensured the Lakers winning 10 of their 16 NBA championships with their father running the show.
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Phil Jackson tabs Kobe Bryant as “very sensitive” to criticism

The defining legacy surrounding Kobe Bryant will likely entail the following qualities that sound all too familiar. His uncompromising competitiveness. His clutch scoring. His ability to play through injuries.

But underneath such alpha male traits lies a player with plenty of insecurities, according to former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Namely, that Bryant doesn’t always take kindly to criticism.

“He’s very sensitive,” Jackson said Wednesday to ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd. “I had to be really careful in criticizing him. I learned immediately as I started to deal with him as a young man how sensitive he was in particular if it was done in a group setting. My criticism was best done if it was in my office or alone.”
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