The prized momentos plastered through two sets of rooms encapsulated everything that made Elgin Baylor such a great Laker.
The gold, wooden chair that Baylor sat on when the Lakers honored him in on March 22, 1969 dubbed “Elgin Baylor Night” at the Forum now sits in the center of the room. On one corner of the room, Baylor’s jacket commemorating the NBA’s 50 Greatest players (including himself) hangs on a rack. On another rack of the opposite side of the room features Baylor’s Lakers warm-up jacket.
On Friday, Baylor won’t have those possessions. Instead, he will be auctioning those items off at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills with the proceeds benefitting to-be-determined charities.
“It’s been 41 years since I retired, but after a point in time people were constantly asking me,” Baylor said in an interview with this newspaper. “I decided fine. I’ll share some of this stuff and do it.” Continue reading →
A long 42 days remain until free agency hits, but that’s not going to stop the drumbeat regarding Dwight Howard’s future.
The Lakers spent plenty of time in their exit interviews three weeks ago stressing the need that Howard returns, ranging from the front office, coaching staff and teammates alike. That sentiment has also extended toward prominent Laker greats.
“It’s important to have a nice center of his talent,” Elgin Baylor said Monday in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper. “Who knows who’s going to be here and not going to be here. But he’s familiar with his teammates. He seemed like he was getting better later in the season and fitting in with this team. He’s the most gifted center in the league.”
Baylor made those comments at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills where he plans to auction off memorabilia stemming from his 13-year NBA career with the Lakers on Friday to benefit to-be-determined charities. But Baylor also had plenty of things on his mind regarding the Lakers’ future, including his belief that the Lakers need to keep Pau Gasol regardless of whether Howard stays. Continue reading →
In an ongoing effort to fight an issue that he holds dear to his own foundation, Kobe Bryant plans to host a charity event Aug. 15 at Nokia Theatre dubbed “Kobe up Close.”
“I’d like to officially announce that I’m partnering with the Sports Spectacular to help eradicate homelessness,” said Bryant in a pre-recorded video that aired Sunday at the Sports Spectacular 2013 gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. “You can learn about my past, present and future. It’s for an incredible cause.”
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel plans to host the event, one of many initiatives Bryant has taken in recent years to reduce homelessness.
Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, launched their self-named foundation in the summer of 2011 and began sponsoring My Friend’s Place, a nonprofit resource center on Hollywood Boulevard that offers free emergency services to homeless youth. Within the last year, the facility served 1,741 homeless people by providing shelter, food, clothing, showers, transportation and other services. Bryant’s foundation also provided a grant to Step On Second, a mental health organization that provides permanent supportive housing for about 1,800 homeless people. The funds are to help the group build eight additional housing units.
Meanwhile, Bryant spent last summer visiting the L.A. Mission and spending a night on skid row. He also hosted an event this past season in Hollywood where he met with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who heads the Clinton Global Initiative.
If not for injuries, a swift coaching change and overlapping the agendas, the Lakers could be competing in the Western Conference Finals right now.
Instead, the Lakers are three weeks removed from an early first-round exit to the San Antonio Spurs, leaving them plenty of time on their hands. For Metta World Peace, that gave him an opportunity to play meteorologist recently on a Fox 11 telecast. The segment showed World Peace bouncing around, making goofy poses as he read off the temperatures of various cities that represent his teammates’ hometowns. Continue reading →
Phil Jackson rarely liked comparing Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan.
But with his upcoming memoir titled “Eleven Rings” going on sale next Tuesday, well he’s gushing plenty about the two stars he coached in two separate stints with the Chicago Bulls (Jordan) and Laker (Bryant). And when he appeared Thursday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jackson devoted plenty of time in further dissecting the similarities and differences.
“They both have this competitive zeal that’s unmatched,” Jackson said. “You tell them to run through a wall, and they’ll say how deep, how wide and how high and everything else. They’ll go through the wall. However, the competitiveness for Kobe stops at the end of the basketball court. He’s not competitive anymore. Michael wants to race you in the car and beat you in ping pong. He wants to beat you in cards and wants to beat you in golf. All those things. He’s competitive all the way through. Their game. Michael had these incredible hands where he could take the ball, show it to a guy and get him off his feet. That alone was a difference maker for him as a basketball player. A little better shooting percentage. A little more consistent with the type of game he’s going to play. A little more into the team system. Kobe didn’t have all the schooling. Dean Smith, who he had at North Carolina, taught Michael a few things. Both of them championship players, no doubt about it.”
Jordan has six championship rings to Bryant’s fifth, but Jackson’s preference for Jordan goes beyond the trophy count. Jackson considered Jordan a better leader, more disciplined scorer and better defender. But with Bryant fielding endless comparisons to Jordan early in his career, Jackson arranged a one-on-one meeting between the two stars.
“His mannerisms were so like Michael that I would say don’t try to take over this game like Michael Jordan would. Wait. He said I’m not trying to do that. You’re disrespecting me. At some point, Michael comes in and I say, Let’s meet in a chairman’s room after the game at Staples. So we meet. First thing he does, he sits down and says you know I can beat you one on one right. So Michael said, listen you can stay inside the offense. The offense is great. Then in the middle of the fourth quarter, last nine minutes of the fourth quarter, you need something extra, bring out your stuff and do it. Phil always told me score 14.”
To the chagrin of the countless Lakers fans chanting his name at Staples Center, Phil Jackson won’t coach the Lakers again.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear Mike D’Antoni will return to coach next season. Even if the Lakers changed their mind, Jackson said he wouldn’t replace him anyway.
“No I think I’ve had my shot there,” Jackson said in an appearance Thursday on The Tonight Show to promote his upcoming memoir titled “Eleven Rings.” “But I have people in mind who I think can take that job. I’ve got assistant coaches who work for me who’s pretty good at that.” Continue reading →
This is the thirteenth and final part of a series grading the Lakers’ efforts on the 2012-13 season.
Lakers front office
The Good:You can’t fault the Lakers for the offseason moves they made. Despite punitive luxury taxes on the horizon, the Lakers scoffed at the NBA’s new labor deal and devoted a $100 million payroll in hopes to secure another NBA championship (it also helps to have a lucrative deal with Time Warner Cable). But the Lakers have never been just about throwing money at players. They’ve been good at securing top level talent through smart and calculated risks. They somehow flipped the trade exception stemmed from the controversial Lamar Odom deal into acquiring Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns to a three-year, $27 million deal. The Lakers provided a happy ending to the “Dwightmare” saga by acquiring Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in a four-team, 12-player deal that only involved Andrew Bynum going to Philadelphia 76ers and Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga and a flurry of draft picks to the Orlando Magic. And, by the way, they did this while keeping Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.
The Lakers may have been pretty limited in bolstering their bench. Yet, they somehow did that too. They acquired elite secondary scorer Antawn Jamison to the veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million). The Lakers improved their three-point shooting by getting young gunner Jodie Meeks. They re-signed some reserves with promising futures (Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris). Continue reading →
No other man possessed the greater perspective regarding the endless debate on Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Phil Jackson used to go to great lengths at avoiding the topic, out of reverence for both of the stars he coached in separate stints with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls. But he hardly holds back in his upcoming book, “Eleven Rings,” co-written by Hugh Delehanty and available next Tuesday.
“Even Jordan has said that Kobe is the only player who can be compared to him, and I have to agree,” Jackson wrote. “Both men have an extraordinary competitive drive and are virtually impervious to pain. Michael and Kobe have both played some of their best games under crippling conditions – from food poisoning to broken bones – that would sideline lesser mortals for weeks. Their incredible resilience has made the impossible possible, allowing each of them to make game-turning shots with packs of defenders hanging all over them. That said, their styles are different.”
Still, it’s clear through Jackson’s 339-page book who he’s favoring.
“Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around,” Jackson said in the book, which was obtained in advance by this newspaper. “Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn’t developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates. But his inclination to keep to himself shifted as he grew older. Increasingly, Kobe put more energy into getting to know the other players, especially when the team was on the road.”
Early in Bryant’s career, it seemed he felt otherwise.
Jackson recalled Bryant telling teammates he wanted to win 10 NBA championships. Jackson also described Bryant as “hell bent on surpassing Jordan as the greatest player in the game.” So much that Jackson revealed Bryant said in his first meeting with Jordan, “You know I can kick your [butt] one on one.” Continue reading →