Their presence loomed large with any gesture Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss made.
Photographers continuously clicked their cameras as they stood on the blue carpet Wednesday at a Time Warner Cable sponsored event at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles that honored the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
Moments later, Jackson and Jeanie sat on a couch conversing with a handful of writers for more than 20 minutes. And in her first comments since her father’s passing at age 80 four months ago from an unspecified form of cancer, Jeanie Buss provided several revealing tidbits on the state of the Lakers’ franchise.
That started with the former coach and fiancée that guided the Lakers to five NBA championships.
“My message to Lakers fans is Phil is a part of the organization because of me,” said Buss, who’s the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations and serves as the team’s governor. “He’s part of my life and part of my family. He’s always in Laker world, no matter if he has an official position or not.” Continue reading →
All those days where he could do nothing but sit in bed and watch “Modern Family” remains a distant memory for Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers star appeared on 710 ESPN on Wednesday, reporting “I’m doing all right” after spending the past month making notable progress on his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon to make this prediction surrounding his recovery.
“I’m shooting for November, December, latest- that’s my goal in my head, that’s what I’m shooting for,” Bryant said. “I’m really, really determined about getting there. You know, I wont have any fear or any worry about the tendon rupturing again, I mean there’s nothing I can do about it, if it goes again, it goes again. But once I’m ready to go, it’s on.”
The only dialogue Kobe Bryant professed to have had with Dwight Howard after their disappointing first season happened a “couple of weeks ago.” Then, Bryant recalled Wednesday in an interview with 710 ESPN that the conversation merely centered on making small talk regarding his summer and how his health feels. It sounds like Bryant hasn’t made the aggressive pitch yet on why he wants Howard to resign with the Lakers.
“I know he has a big decision to make and I’m sure he’ll take the visits and talk to the players with the teams he’s considering,” Bryant said. “We’ll touch base a lot more.” Continue reading →
The Lakers have far more important concerns this summer, including whether Dwight Howard will stay, what they’ll do with Pau Gasol and if they can maintain cap flexibility for the 2014 offseason.
But the Lakers will also spend part of their July in the Las Vegas Summer League in what will make their sixth appearance in Sin City beginning July 12-22.
The NBA announced the scheduled on Thursday for the 22 NBA teams, including the Lakers, which will play against Cleveland (July 12 at Cox Pavilion at 5 p.m.), Portland (July 14 at Thomas & Mack Center at 3:30 p.m.) and the Clippers (July 15 at Cox Pavilion at 5 p.m.). All teams, including the Lakers, will play at least five games. The remaining of the schedule from July 16 to 22 will hinge on the each’s team’s seeding in a single-elimination tournament.
So many compelling story lines helped the Miami Heat’s 103-100 Game 6 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs earn a 14.7 overnight rating, according to Nielson, and becoming the fourth highest-rated NBA Finals game ever on ABC.
The Heat staved off elimination and avoided losing two of their last three NBA Finals appearances, through LeBron James’ will, Ray Allen’s three-point shooting and Chris Bosh’s defense. The Spurs, often praised for the model of consistency, suddenly became a team that unraveled at every turn. Tim Duncan remained scoreless in the fourth quarter. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich kept him off the floor in two late possessions that may have contributed to Miami getting two offensive rebounds. Tony Parker disappeared. Manu Ginobili remained a train wreck.
But all of this pales to the Lakers’ Game 7 win in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, which earned a 18.2 rating and remains the highest viewed Finals game on the ABC network.
In that contest, many of interesting things unfolded. Kobe Bryant overcame a 6 of 24 shooting clip by grabbing 15 rebounds. The former Ron Artest validated his arrival with the Lakers by posting 20 points on seven-of-18 shooting and holding Boston forward Paul Pierce to 18 points on a five-of-15 clip. Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher also made critical shots down the stretch.
That seems like a distant memory for the Lakers, who have lost early in the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and have tried maximizing a talent albeit aging roster.
The Lakers’ Game 5 elimination loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals also drew a 15.5 rating, the second highest mark on the ABC network.
The winning ties them together. The way in which they win don’t.
Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan have combined for nine NBA titles, three MVPS and five Finals MVPS by maximizing their longevity and mastering their fundamentals. Then that’s where the similarities stop. Bryant’s touted his greatness in five NBA titles and a fourth-place standing on the all-time scoring list with dramatic game winners and a scowling personality. Duncan has cemented four NBA rings (and possibly five with a Game 7 win) with a trusty bank shot and a stoic demeanor. Bryant commands the spotlight in leading the team and remaining vocal through the media. Duncan shies away from it by simply becoming a team player and remaining bland to those holding tape recorders and microphones.
So it’s a tad surprising that once in 1999, both Bryant and Duncan filmed a Sprite commercial together. Yet, there were. Bryant was a third-year pro sporting an afro, while Duncan was just a rookie receiving an early taste of the limelight he’s largely ignored.
That moment where both Bryant and Duncan temporarily basked together in celebrity showed what ultimately made both players great. Bryant relied on his explosive athleticism to drive to the basket. Duncan showcased his trusty footwork and post presence to make a few bank shots. And even if the two ultimately displayed different personalities, both of them seemed to enjoy the moment. More importantly, they savored the competition.
They still do. And that’s why they’re both so great even if they’re both different.
Not that it has automatically cemented his future here in Los Angeles, but Dwight Howard has professed he wants to become an actor someday.
He performs goofy practical jokes on teammates, reporters and equipment managers alike. Howard loves imitating voices. And he never met a camera or microphone he didn’t like.
So it should come as no surprise that Howard’s spending this offseason appearing in a video for RelativitySports where he read lines from “Forrest Gump” and “300.” Howard actually did the same thing with the 300 bit, delivering an impromptu speech before the Lakers’ season finale against Houston, a game that could’ve determined whether they’d make the playoffs.
A few camerman playfully cajoled Howard into giving a mock motivational speech to them. Howard immediately broke into character as a warrior from the movie “300″ clenching both his muscles and his lower jaw.
“Listen, they don’t think we can do it,” Howard said as he paced in front of a few cameraman. “It’s 300 of us against all the Persians! We have to come out tonight. We got to look death in the eyes and say we don’t care if we die! We go hard!”
Howard then starting mentioning members of the Lakers, including himself.
“Kobe is watching us at home,” Howard said. “Dr Buss is watching us up high! Let’s let it out tonight! Everything we got! Everything! Leave it on the floor! Pau, put your big boy pants on! Dwight, hit your free throws! Jodie, hit those threes boy! Now let’s get it! Now let’s bring it in! Hoorah!”
Kobe Bryant’s presence looms large wherever he goes.
Los Angeles enthusiastically cheers for him after making a game winner, when he labors through injuries and when he gives his infamous glares. He’s dominating the Twitter game, earning the NBA’s Social Media Award, informing fans and the media about rehabbing through his torn left Achilles tendon and offering his unfiltered analysis on all things NBA. And in the latest example that his influence spans across the globe, Lakers fan Eddie Robles showed a few NBA writers on Twitter that Bryant has a statue Chinese province of Guangzhou as shown in the picture above.
That Bryant would have such a monument built in his honor in China should hardly be surprising.
Bryant has visited China for the past seven summers, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and various stops to promote his Nike brand. His foundation has a program that involves 10 Chinese students going on a five-day cultural exchange program in the U.S. where they visit various L.A. landmarks, interact with students across 37 schools in L.A. county and learn the ancient martial art of Wu Shu, considered the most popular sport in China. The Kobe Bryant China partnered three years ago with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government, to raise money within China earmarked for education and health programs.
Bryant’s filmed a series of commercials, ranging from ones for Smart Car China and a Sprite commercial featuring Asian pop singer Jay Chou. During the 2011 NBA lockout, Bryant even considered hosting a barnstorming tour as a way to stay in shape, promote the game and make a few bucks along the way. Just for kicks, Bryant scored 68 points in 15 minutes in a charity game.
And with that, Bryant has a decent prototype for his inevitable statue outside Staples Center.
Put Metta World Peace in front of a microphone and he’s bound to say something silly.
The latest example: World Peace sounded in rare form when explaining why he’s convinced Dwight Howard won’t leave the Lakers.
“He’s not going to Houston, I tell you that,” World Peace said on Sportsradio 610 in Houston. “You know how those horses have those little things, ties in a bullfight, you tie those things to their balls and they go crazy? I’ve got two of those tied to Dwight Howard’s [private parts], so he can’t move.”
Massive laughter ensued. Sportsradio 610′s Mike Meltser then asked, “So you think Dwight is definitely staying in LA?”
“He can’t move,” World Peace answered. “If he does, it’ll be painful. So he can’t go nowhere.”
Then World Peace turned serious about Howard, who will also consider Houston, Dallas and Atlanta when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I’m not going to try to convince him,” World Peace said. “But definitely, I enjoy him, no question about it. I’ll leave the convincing to the organization and to the fans. But for myself, I’m just working out and things like that, but I definitely enjoy him. He’s a great person. Whoever receives Dwight Howard, they’ll really enjoy their time with him. Hopefully, it’s with the Lakers, but whoever receives him will really enjoy their time.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
When portions of Kobe Bryant’s memorabilia sells at an auction next month, 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of four items will benefit the Bully Project, an campaign that hopes to create more support for anti-bullying causes.
The items will include Bryant’s 2000 NBA All-Star game ring, his 1996 Magic Roundball Classic All-Star medallion and ribbon and two of his game-worn high school uniforms at Lower Merion High, a suburban school outside of Philadelphia.
The Bully Project stems from the award-winning film “Bully,” which sparked national interest in the issue of kids tormenting each other.
“I don’t think we really know the impact this will have, but the dreamer in me thinks it could be a whole heck of a lot,” said Lee Hirsch, the director of Bully.” “Certainly it will be more than we dreamed of when we got this call.”
Bryant sued southern New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions in federal court last month when it revealed in April that his mom. Pamela, agreed to put up nearly 100 items that had been in her home and was given $450,000 up front. Kenneth Goldin, founder Goldin Auctions, announced last week his company and Bryant recently reached a settlement and signed a confidentiality agreement so that details would not be discussed.
Goldin Auctions will sell 16 other Bryant memorabilia during an auction that opened today and runs through July 19. That includes a pair of 2000 NBA championship rings that Bryant had given to his parents, game-worn Lakers jerseys from the 2001-02 and 2006-07 season, a UCLA basketball signed by John Wooden and personalized to Bryant; and various sneakers.