Kobe Bryant sends one more message to Smush Parker

Kobe Bryant posted this on his Facebook page. It appears intended for Smush Parker.

“Leadership is responsibility.

“There comes a point when one must make a decision. Are YOU willing to do what it takes to push the right buttons to elevate those around you? If the answer is YES, are you willing to push the right buttons even if it means being perceived as the villain? Here’s where the true responsibility of being a leader lies. Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. The ability to elevate those around you is more than simply sharing the ball or making teammates feel a certain level of comfort. It’s pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time.

“I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that’s just not reality. I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.

“This is my way. It might not be right for YOU but all I can do is share my thoughts. It’s on YOU to figure out which leadership style suits you best.

“Will check back in with you soon.. Till then

“Mamba out”

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Point guard rumors and more Lakers news and notes

Tomorrow’s extended notebook tonight …

The Lakers were hours away from playing the third of their eight exhibition games this month, and the rumor mill was cranked up to full throttle Saturday. They were said to be interested in upgrading their backup point guard position in a big way.

Whether there was any truth to it was irrelevant.

The chatter was as loud as it was relentless.

Steve Blake and Chris Duhon reportedly were available to any team willing to make the Lakers a respectable offer. The Lakers also were interested in re-signing free agent Derek Fisher, although under league rules they couldn’t do it until March 15.

Then there was a Twitter feeding-frenzy about the Lakers’ rumored pursuit of Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, Pau Gasol’s teammate on the silver medal-winning Spanish Olympic team. It turned out to be bogus.

Lakers coach Mike Brown then announced he would rest Blake for Saturday’s exhibition against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center in order to give more minutes to Morris, who had two points, two rebounds and four assists in 18:47.

Brown laughed off the rumors, saying he didn’t follow Twitter.

Living in the fact-based world does have its benefits, according to Brown.

“I still don’t know who my backup (point guard) is or my backup (shooting guard),” Brown said. “I’m going to try to play Antawn (Jamison) as my backup (small forward) and I’m going to try to play Jordan (Hill) as my backup (power forward).

“I’m still searching for what my second five will be.”

Robert Sacre appeared close to locking up the backup center position, starting for the third consecutive exhibition while Dwight Howard continues his recovery from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in April.

The Lakers solved their starting point guard concerns when they acquired Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns on July 10. Blake appeared to have the backup job won without lifting a finger, based on his service the last two seasons.

The Lakers acquired Duhon in the deal that brought Howard to Los Angeles from Orlando on Aug. 10. They drafted Morris 41st in 2011, but played him in only 19 of 66 games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

–Meanwhile in Charlotte …

Ramon Sessions (remember him?) said last week the reason he opted out of his contract with the Lakers for this season and signed a two-season deal worth $10 million with the Charlotte Bobcats was because he was afraid he would be traded.

“It was one of those situations I looked at like, ‘If I do come back, what if they trade me'” Sessions told Yahoo! Sports. “There were talks about getting Deron (Williams). They always wanted a bigger named guy.

“What if I get traded to a team and it’s my contract year? It was one of those things that I can’t say if I opted in, (Nash) wouldn’t have come (to the Lakers). They still might have tried to get him. You just never know.”

In fact, the Lakers began their pursuit of Nash after Sessions surprised general manager Mitch Kupchak and exercised his option to terminate his contract. The Lakers hoped Sessions would be their point guard of the future despite his playoff struggles.

The Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers and dealt Fisher to the Houston Rockets to clear a starting position for him. Sessions averaged only 9.7 points and 3.6 assists in 12 playoff games last spring, however.

–Jazz dump Lakers

Kobe Bryant scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and added five assists in a very productive 24:54, but the Lakers still fell to 0-3 in exhibition play with a 99-86 loss to the Jazz at Staples Center. Bryant made 12 of 14 free throws.

Metta World Peace added 13 points, four rebounds, one blocked shot and one kiss on the hand of a young woman in the stands after he stuffed a driving Gordon Hayward and went into the crowd to retrieve the ball in the third quarter.

Marvin Williams and Enes Kanter each scored 14 points for Utah (2-1).

The teams play again Tuesday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

“I kind of like where we are right now because there’s lots of room to grow,” Brown said.

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Kobe Bryant vs. Smush Parker, Part II or is it Part III?

Kobe Bryant’s verbal attack Wednesday on former Lakers point guard Smush Parker’s ability, or lack thereof, inspired a shot or two in return from Parker during a 35-minute interview on a New York radio station Thursday.

Bryant said Parker was “the worst (while serving as the Lakers’ starting point guard during the 2005-06 season). He shouldn’t have even been in the NBA. We were too cheap to afford a real point guard. So, we let him walk on.”

Parker, who has played in China and the Dominican Republic in recent seasons, responded by praising Bryant’s ability, but not his humanity. Parker said he became so unhappy while playing with Bryant that he stopped passing him the ball.

“The guy can play basketball,” Parker said. “You’ve seen that throughout his career. What I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don’t like that side of Kobe Bryant.”

Parker also spoke of a player’s-only dinner in which then-coach Phil Jackson gave a credit card to Lamar Odom in order to pay for the meal. Parker said all the players sat at one table except for Bryant, who sat alone at another table.

Bryant laughed when relayed Parker’s comments.

“I gave him his 30 minutes of fame,” Bryant said, trying to contain his laughter. “It’s all good. I wish him the best of luck. He’s playing in China, right? I wish him the best of luck. Maybe he’ll get back to the NBA one day and see what it’s like up close again.”

If he does, and that’s a long shot, you can bet it won’t be with any team Bryant is on.

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Dwight Howard reveals extent of his back injury

Tomorrow’s story today …

Dwight Howard knew something was wrong when he couldn’t feel his left leg. His back hurt him for most of last season, but when his leg went dead and he couldn’t perform a simple calf raise, he decided it was time to seek medical help.

“I had some issues early in the season and I just kept playing through it, some back spasms,” Howard said Thursday in his comments about the extent of his back injury since he was acquired by the Lakers from the Orlando Magic on Aug. 10.

“I really didn’t say anything. With all the stuff that was going on, I just didn’t want anybody thinking that I was trying to quit on my team or anything. Instead of sitting out, I just wanted to keep playing and how everybody I was still with the team.”

Keeping up appearances was important to Howard since everyone in Orlando and around the NBA assumed he would be gone by the time training camp rolled around. He finally underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in April.

Howard was expected to be out for about five months, with the possibility that he wouldn’t be physically ready to start the regular season. He ended up having the surgery in Los Angeles, and simply stayed in town when the Lakers traded for him.

The 6-foot-11 center sat out the first two exhibitions and won’t play Saturday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. The Lakers are in no hurry for him to make his debut in purple and gold.

“The biggest thing is conditioning,” Howard said. “So, that’s what we’ve been working on before practice and after practice. I’ve got to use my legs and work on my core … I’m not trying to build Rome today, I’m just trying to get a foundation going.”

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Kobe Bryant sits out Lakers’ exhibition with Portland with shoulder injury

Kobe Bryant did not play Wednesday against the Trail Blazers because of a strained right shoulder. Bryant injured himself dunking over teammate Antawn Jamison near the end of a scrimmage Tuesday. He didn’t feel any pain at first and went through a lengthy post-practice shooting session that included a dunk over assistant coach Chuck Person.

Only later Tuesday evening did he begin to feel pain in the front of his shoulder.

Bryant said he expects to play in Saturday’s exhibition against Utah at Staples Center.

He went to Lakers coach Mike Brown and told him he might not play Wednesday.

Brown said: “All right, done. I’m not risking anything.”

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Lakers’ Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill prove all herniated discs are not the same

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Apparently, all herniated discs are the same. Jordan Hill said Tuesday he didn’t need surgery to repair a herniated disc on the same day Dwight Howard took another step toward making his Lakers debut after having disc surgery last spring.

Howard won’t play Wednesday in the Lakers’ exhibition game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario, but he was cleared to resume participating in full-contact five-on-five scrimmages for limited minutes.

Exactly when the 6-foot-11 center is cleared to scrimmage without limitations is uncertain, with the Lakers taking a long, slow and cautious approach to readying Howard for the regular-season opener Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks.

Howard underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in April, when he was still with the Orlando Magic. The Lakers acquired him in a blockbuster trade in August, confident he would be sound sooner rather than later.

When reporters were allowed into the gym near the end of the Lakers’ 3 1/2-hour practice Tuesday, they were treated to a vintage display from Howard. He blocked a pair of shots, did a chin-up on the rim and then dunked and made one of two free throws.

Later, he was asked about his back and Hill’s, too.

Howard couldn’t say whether he was 100 percent, relying on his training camp mantra that his goal after coming to the Lakers wasn’t to play in exhibition games in October but to win an NBA championship in June.

Asked if he gave Hill any advice about his back, which flared up during Sunday’s exhibition loss to the Golden State Warriors, Howard said, “The doctor told him his wasn’t as bad as mine. The biggest thing is not to rush anything and just take his time.”

The Lakers’ plan for Hill is to keep him off the court until he is re-evaluated by a back specialist next week. Hill, a backup power forward said he was told to work on strengthening his core muscles to take some pressure off his back.

Hill won’t play or practice for a while.

The team’s plan for Howard hasn’t changed.

He’ll play when he’s good and ready, and not a minute sooner.

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Lakers backup Jordan Hill has a back injury

Jordan Hill, a backup forward, suffered a herniated disc in his back, the Lakers announced Monday afternoon. Back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Jr., diagnosed the problem after Hill scored 10 points in the Lakers’ exhibition loss Sunday to Golden State.

Hill will be re-examined in one week and an update will be provided then.

The Lakers are counting on Hill to give them depth behind starter Pau Gasol. Hill played a team-leading 20 minutes, 13 seconds Sunday, making 5 of 11 shots and adding three rebounds and three assists. He did not play in the fourth quarter, however.

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Kobe on Shaq cracking on Dwight

Kobe Bryant refused to touch a reporter’s question late Sunday night about Shaquille O’Neal’s critical comments about new Lakers center Dwight Howard, but at least he was pleasant about it. A smiling Bryant said simply: “My primary concern is the big fella here (Howard). I think he’s going to do just fine for his legacy with the Lakers.”

Of O’Neal, his former teammate and occasional nemesis, Bryant added, “He gets paid to make opinions. I can’t tell him to shut up. That’s his job. That’s what he does.”

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Dwight Howard is out, but Kobe Bryant is in (probably) for Lakers exhibition opener

Tomorrow’s notebook today …

Some, but not all of the Lakers’ offseason changes will be on display Sunday night in Fresno when they play the first of eight exhibition games. After five days of training camp, the Lakers will reveal something of themselves against the Golden State Warriors.

The results won’t matter all that much while the Lakers make their annual October barnstorming tour of California and Nevada. Coach Mike Brown said the other day he didn’t really care if the Lakers win or lose their exhibitions.

It’s all just a warmup for the regular-season opener Oct. 30 against Dallas.

“It’s always a work in progress,” Brown said of training camp.

Perhaps the biggest work in progress is new center Dwight Howard, who was ruled out of tonight’s game after undergoing back surgery in April. Howard has participated in most of the Lakers’ drills and scrimmages, but he’s not ready to play.

“I couldn’t tell you what he hasn’t done,” Brown said. “Every time I look up he’s in the drills, whether it’s contact or not. … I don’t have a rule where a guy has to play X amount of games before he can play in the opener.

“He can play in one (exhibition) game and still play (in the opener). He may not play at all (in the exhibitions) and still play in the opener. … The biggest thing for me is as long as he’s had a practice beforehand, then he can play.”

–Bryant update

Kobe Bryant’s status for tonight’s game was somewhat in doubt after he skipped two practices Friday after suffering from mild soreness in his right foot, but he joined his teammates for Saturday’s workout. Officially, his status was listed as day to day.

Bryant sat out seven games because of a shin injury and didn’t play in the regular-season finale in order to rest last season. He also didn’t play in nine games in 2009-10 because of various ankle, knee and index finger injuries.

Otherwise, he has had perfect participation over the last five seasons.

–New-look Lakers

Even without Howard and with Brown monitoring Bryant’s right foot, the Lakers will have a new look tonight. Steve Nash will make his debut in purple and gold, as will Chris Duhon, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks.

The Lakers will show off their version of the Princeton offense, a free-flowing scheme that keeps everyone on floor on the move and doesn’t require Bryant or Nash to have the ball in his hands the majority of the time.

“I felt we needed more movement, more options,” Brown said of selecting the Princeton offense. “It’s just hard to guard. Unless you have a good understanding of what you’re trying to do defensively, it can be impossible to guard.

“With this team’s intelligence, with the way this team is capable of passing the ball, I just felt it would fit with the group of guys we have. At times we were stagnant (last season). This should help out a lot, but the bodies still have to move.”

–Sharpshooter sets standard

Steve Blake made 22 consecutive shots from beyond the 3-point arc during an informal workout several days before training camp, a feat noted on a white board in the gym. It’s going to stay up there until someone breaks it, according to the coaching staff.

Nash nodded approvingly when asked about the note on the board. It seemed only a matter of time before one Steve threatened the mark of another. In fact, Brown initially believed it was Nash who made 22 in a row, rather than Blake.

So, let the long-distance competition begin.

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Kobe Bryant sits out two Lakers practices because of a sore right foot

With two practices scheduled for Friday, Bryant opted to skip the morning session because of a sore right foot. He was expected to join his teammates for the evening workout, but missed that one, too, according to a Lakers spokesman.

It’s not considered a serious injury, but given the extended mileage on Bryant’s 34-year-old legs, every bump and bruise could be cause for concern down the road. After all, Bryant has played all but 17 games over the last five seasons.

The Lakers will practice once today and then travel to Fresno for Sunday’s exhibition opener against the Golden State Warriors. Bryant is expected to play, although the Lakers listed him as day to day when they updated his condition Friday evening.

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