Kobe Bryant accepts ALS ice bucket challenge

It turns out Kobe Bryant found another purpose for an ice bath beyond using it to heal his aching body after a grueling workout. The country has become swept in efforts from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association to raise funds for treating what’s known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” And Bryant wasted little time in following through on challenges from former teammate and Knicks coach Derek Fisher, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and ESPN financial reporter Darren Rovell in joining the cause.

Bryant carried the mantle in a unique way. Plenty of participants both famous and anonymous have had ice buckets poured over their head for the sake of helping a campaign that has already generated a reported $13.3 million in donations since July 29. Already taking an ice bath, Bryant ducked his head into the frigid water after nominating soccer player Sydney Leroux, Nike CEO Mark Parker and Element founder Johnny Schillereff.

Either way, the action showed Bryant’s efficient ability both to mix in his workout routine while handing out a nice assist to charity.

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

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Which Lakers’ role player will most flourish under Byron Scott?

Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo.   Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/ 07/24/14"

Lakers introduce newest player Jeremy Lin to the gathered media at the Toyota Sports Center training facility in El Segundo. Photo by Brad Graverson/The Daily Breeze/ 07/24/14″

For once, the Lakers have a coach that won’t cause the fanbase at least initially to yell “We want Phil” chants throughout Staples Center. For once, the Lakers have a coach who could maintain a positive relationship with Kobe Bryant.

But as Byron Scott tackles on this challenge in becoming the next Lakers’ coach, his equity with the Lakers’ fanbase after playing here during the Showtime Era may only go so far. Same thing with Bryant, whom the Lakers believe Scott will maximize the last years of his playing career in the post after serving as a mentor for him during his rookie season nearly 18 years ago.

Scott will also have the difficult task in guiding the Lakers’ rebuilding process a year after the team finished with the worst record in L.A. franchise history. To accelerate that process, one of the key variables will entail which role players flourish under Scott’s leadership.

That marked one of many topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed recently in a show mostly previewing the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season.

Miller argued the biggest beneficiary will be Jeremy Lin, arguing he will become the next point guard to flourish under Scott. Elite point guards, such as Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving all excelled during Scott’s various stops in New Jersey (2000-04), New Orleans (2004-2009) and Cleveland (2010-2013). Lin also arguably would have benefited under D’Antoni after manufacturing “Linsanity” under his watch in New York. Meanwhile, I touted Jordan Hill as a possibility. Though he posted career numnbers last season in points (9.7), rebounds (7.4) and minutes (20.8), Hill occasionally expressed feeling uncomfortable under D’Antoni because his system relied heavily on perimeter players. Meanwhile, the Lakers became frustrated that Hill’s energy waned, especially when he logged heavier minutes. For what it’s worth, Scott places a heavier emphasis on post players and spoke highly of Hill during his time last season as an analyst for Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet.

So what say you? Which Lakers’ role player will benefit the most under Scott and why?

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

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How will Lakers handle Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash on back-to-backs?

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant in street clothes during their game against the Heat at the Staples Center December 25, 2013. Bryant may not return to play this season. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant in street clothes during their game against the Heat at the Staples Center December 25, 2013. Bryant may not return to play this season. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Despite their contrasting personalities and different skillsets, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have a connective thread beginning from entering 1996 NBA draft and eventually retiring with a sure lock for a Hall of Fame nomination.

Amid Bryant’s thirst for scoring and Nash’s enjoyment out of passing, both have maximized their careers by perfecting those particular skills with versatility and creativity. They have done so through sheer work ethic, through mastering fundamentals and through overcoming too many injuries to count. Yet, both Bryant and Nash failed last season in translating their devotion to training, dieting and rehabbing into actually staying healthy.

Nash appeared in only 15 games because of persisting nerve issues in his back that emerged through seemingly any measure of physical contact with an opponent. Bryant played in only six games after a seven-month rehab on his left Achilles tendon coincided with a fractured left knee. The Lakers have labeled Bryant and Nash as fully recovered, but how will they manage the two veterans in the 2014-15 season?

That marked one of many topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed Wednesday to preview the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season. We discussed the possibility that both Bryant and Nash could sit out on the second night of the 16 sets of back-to-back games this season, a slight dropoff from the 19 sets of back-to-back games the Lakers played last season.

It seems likely Nash would continue that formula considering the Lakers immediately adopted that route with him last season. But how about Bryant? Both former coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni talked in recent seasons about needing to limit Bryant’s minutes both to ensure his long-term health and ease the burden on his workload. But overlooking Bryant’s 29.2 minutes he averaged last season in only six games, considering the playing time in previous seasons, including the campaigns in 2011-12 (38..5) and 2012-13 (38.6). Clearly, the ideal for Bryant not to log so much playing time often does not comform to the short-term pressures the Lakers face.

That is why Miller argued how Lakers coach Byron Scott handles Bryant’s workload will mark his biggest challenge in handling a potentially lengthy rebuilding process.

So what should it be? Should the Lakers play Nash and Bryant conservatively, hoping their long-term health would maximize the Lakers’ chances at winning even if their absence creates additional challenges? Or do the Lakers need to establish some comfort level in the standings before taking such measures?

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

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How will Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard season-opening showdown turn out?

Houston's Dwight Howard will square off against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the team's season opener Oct. 28 at Staples Center. Photo credit: ANDY HOLMZMAN — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Houston’s Dwight Howard will square off against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the team’s season opener Oct. 28 at Staples Center. Photo credit: ANDY HOLMZMAN — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The tension rose at times Kobe Bryant shot the ball and Dwight Howard scoffed at his role. The arguments escalated in an infamous mid-season meeting in Memphis in which Bryant confronted Howard both about Howard’s indirectly critical comments about Bryant and his dissatisfaction about how the Lakers featured him. The philosophical differences emerged again when Howard believed the Lakers did not credit him enough for playing through recent back surgery, while Bryant and others believed Howard’s attitude only perpetuated his struggles.

Yes, the Bryant and Howard duo featured plenty of drama, something that paled only to the contentious relationship Bryant had with Shaquille O’Neal. But unlike that pairing, Bryant and Howard never won an NBA title together. Instead, Bryant tore his left Achilles tendon three games before the 2012-13 regular season ended and Howard pulled a disappearing act in the Lakers’ first-round sweep to the San Antonio Spurs. Howard then quickly jetted to the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

Incidentally, the Lakers’ season opener Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center will mark the first time Bryant and Howard took the floor together since Bryant injured his Achilles on April 13, 2013. Considering their acrimonious feelings toward each other, how will the Bryant and Howard showdown materialize?

That became one of several topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed Wednesday to preview the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season. As much as Bryant will stay more focused on the actual game, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant tried to dunk over Howard in the same fashion the Lakers’ star did during Howard’s rookie season in Orlando nearly a decade ago. Miller dismissed my theory, and hilarity ensued as we provided some spirited albeit light-hearted give and take.

But what say you? How will the Bryant-Howard dynamic play out? Will they exchange pleasantries, scowl at each other or just pass up any chance to interact? Will either Bryant and Howard attempt to show up the other? Or will both players remain fixated on just helping their team win? More importantly, which team will come out on top?

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

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Lakers to play in Chicago on Christmas Day

Kobe Bryant has missed nearly the entire 2013-14 season. His return to health is key to the Lakers' immediate future. But it's anyone's guess whether he can overcome the latest injuries and be effictive again. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

Kobe Bryant has missed nearly the entire 2013-14 season. His return to health is key to the Lakers’ immediate future. But it’s anyone’s guess whether he can overcome the latest injuries and be effictive again. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

For once, the Lakers might actually experience a White Christmas. They have played on Christmas Day for 15 consecutive seasons, a testament both to the Lakers’ past success and unmatched brand even amid recently tumultuous years. But instead of playing in the friendly confines of Staples Center, the Lakers will spend their Christmas on the road for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Then, the Lakers will face the Chicago Bulls, facing Pau Gasol for the first time since leaving the Lakers this offseason. Incidentally, the Lakers will then travel to Dallas the following night.

The Lakers will also host Chicago at Staples Center on Jan. 29 at Staples Center, which would likely feature a tribute to Gasol for helping them win NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. That reception will juxtapose the inevitable boos Lakers fans will shower Houston’s Dwight Howard (opening night on Oct. 28) two years after leaving the purple and gold. Or the possible feeling of disappointment when Carmelo Anthony comes to Los Angeles wearing a New York Knicks uniform (March 12) and when LeBron James and Kevin Love don a Cleveland Cavaliers outfit instead of the purple and gold get up (Jan. 15). Speaking of the Cavaliers, Byron Scott will also face the former team he coached for three seasons on Feb. 8, bringing a unpleasant reminder of his 64-166 record there through three seasons following James’ initial departure.
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ESPN predicts Lakers will finish 12th in Western Conference

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, drives against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Friday, March 28, 2014. The Timberwolves won 143-107. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, drives against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Friday, March 28, 2014. The Timberwolves won 143-107. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

So much has changed for the Lakers this offseason, a flurry of activity in the past four months keeping them just as busy during an otherwise tumultuous year.

Mike D’Antoni resigned, and four months later, Byron Scott became the head coach. The Lakers have reported Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to feel healthier. Some players left (Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Chris Kaman). Some players stayed (Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly). Some newcomers arrived (Jeremy Lin, Julius Randle, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer).

But it appears ESPN sees those moves as nothing more than rearranging the chairs of a sinking ship, a panel of media memberss collectively predicting the Lakers will finish 12th in the Western Conference. That marked the same pre-season ranking the Lakers received last season. Despite public outcry from Kobe Bryant and the rest of his supporting cast, it turns out that ranking proved too generous. The Lakers eventually finished with a 27-55 mark, putting them 14th in the Western Conference and earning the unenviable title of a team that holds the worst record in L.A. franchise history.
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Kobe Bryant hands-on with Nike clinic in China

The screaming elation for Kobe Bryant heightened with each highlight-reel jumper and cross over he performed. Bryant’s mere presence also lifted a nation that seeks inspiration from his overflowing talent and work ethic.

But as Bryant recently spent time in Shanghai, China as part of the Nike RISE campaign, it appears his impact at the clinics go beyond his celebrity and skills. He also spends time teaching them critical skills to revamp their game. The videos highlighted in this post show Bryant providing instruction in various facets.

Bryant showed one player how to operate in the post using his footwork and various counter moves. Bryant demonstrated to another player how to master playing with a defensive stance. Of course, Bryant also relished competing one-on-one with several players, both to showcase his superiority and provide a blueprint on how to win.

“I wasn’t the fastest one,” Bryant said in a video interview. “I wasn’t the most athletic one. So I had to learn, deal with and play with what I had. That really helped my skill level. Then eventually I grew. And eventually I became faster. Then I had the skills to go along with that.”

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Byron Scott believes Kobe Bryant will “surprise a lot of people this year”

Kobe Bryant

The accomplishments on Kobe Bryant’s basketball resume provides every indication he can stay on the mountaintop of greatness. His five NBA championships provides various flash points in his career that involved temporarily co-existing with another star (Shaquille O’Neal) and morphing into a more established leader amid a dependable supporting cast (Pau Gasol). Bryant’s fourth-place ranking on the NBA’s all-time scoring list shows his consistent ability to score in too many ways to count. His extensive pain threshold suggests the same.

Yet, Bryant enters the 2014-15 season with fair skepticism on how he will play namely because of the unprecedented challenges that await him. How does he stay healthy after suffering significant injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee that kept him sidelined last season for all but six games? How does Bryant return to an elite level after not playing a competitive basketball game in nearly nine months? How does Bryant find any degree of balance in maximizing his play without putting too much burden on his body?

Lakers coach Byron Scott remains mindful of those concerns. But in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSeJBzJwlwM" interview with Fox Sports Live, Scott conveyed optimism about Bryant’s fortunes after seeing a recent series of his individual workouts.

“It fuels his fire when people are doubting him,” Scott said. Championships fuel his fire. Kobe is going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

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Byron Scott does Q/A session on Lakers Twitter feed; says coaching staff will ‘probably’ be complete in a week

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

On Friday afternoon, the Lakers Twitter account was taken over by new head coach Byron Scott for a Q/A session with fans using the #AskByron hashtag. The new Los Angeles skipper took questions for close to an hour. Here are the ten best responses from Scott:

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NBA Rookies do AMA on Reddit; Lakers rookie Julius Randle does not disappoint

 Kentucky forward Julius Randle dons a Los Angeles Lakers cap after being selected seventh overall by the Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle dons a Los Angeles Lakers cap after being selected seventh overall by the Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The NBA rookie class participated in an AMA on Reddit Sunday (for those non-Redditors, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything) and a couple questions asked were answered by Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who stole the thread.

Randle took questions on Rookie of the Year awards, his NBA 2K rating and playing with Kobe Bryant.

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