Shaquille O’Neal: Andrew Bogut “would have been Australian BBQ chicken” had they matched up

The passionate debate over a matchup that could have never happened crossed into another era.

The argument no longer just involves how the ‘Showtime’ Lakers would fare against the current Golden State Warriors. It also involves how the Lakers teams featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in their prime would fare. O’Neal delivered some honest commentary as powerful as his ferocious dunks.

“We’d kill them,” O’Neal said on Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “Just like you can’t hand-check Steph Curry, you can’t hand-check Kobe either.”

O’Neal then offered a challenge to the Warriors’ starting center.

[Andrew] Bogut would have been Australian BBQ chicken,” O’Neal boasted.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Magic Johnson argued Warriors would have ‘bad matchups’ against Showtime Lakers

Something upset Magic Johnson. For once, it did relate to the Lakers’ current struggles or executive Jim Buss.

Instead, it involved any notion that the Golden State Warriors could ever beat the Showtime Lakers.

“My Lakers, our will to win, our knowledge of the game and how smart we were at the game. We would take something away,” Johnson said Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “We’re not going to give Golden State everything they do now. We were too smart. Pat Riley was a master at putting together a game plan to go up against everybody we went against in the Finals or the playoffs. One thing we were great at was executing that game plan.”

Johnson still complimented the Warriors. He argued they “revolutionized the game with how they play, how much they have and how they execute.” He admitted we’ve never seen two guys that can shoot like Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson]. With the Warriors setting an NBA regular-season record for wins and holding a 2-0 NBA Finals series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Johnson predicted, “they’re going to be great for the NBA for a long time.”

Yet, Johnson dismissively conceded any notion that the Warriors’ lethal 3-point shooting or their depth could ever send the Showtime Lakers home. Instead, Johnson outlined why the “Warriors would have bad matchups against us.”

“There’s no way they’re going to deal with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar],” Johnson said. There’s no way they’re going to deal with James Worthy. The thing that we could do, that would affect them and cause some problems, is that we could set up and we could run on them on the fast break … Whoever is going to guard me, I’m going to be wearing them down. I’m going to be wearing them out. James Worthy will be wearing them out, wearing them down. Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] is going to be wearing them out, wearing them down.”

Johnson made those comments after Thompson said perhaps in jest that the Warriors could beat the Showtime Lakers. But this hardly marks the first time both sides weighed in on the debate. Former Lakers coach Byron Scott argued during the 2015-16 season that the Showtime Lakers would beat the Warriors in a seven-game playoff series because of defensive concerns with Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy.

“Bring any of those guys on,” Johnson said. “We got problems with them. but they have bigger problems with us.”


RELATED:

Byron Scott: Showtime Lakers would “absolutely” beat current Warriors in seven-game series

Draymond Green: ‘I’ll cross any line to win’

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kobe Bryant still struggles to process his 60-point game in career finale

Former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant struggled explaining his 60-point performance in his career finale during an appearance for NBA2K on Wednesday. Photo by Mark Medina, Southern California News Group.

Former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant struggled explaining his 60-point performance in his career finale during an appearance for NBA2K on Wednesday. Photo by Mark Medina, Southern California News Group.

The shots kept dropping into the basket, capturing the same prolific play that Kobe Bryant produced through five NBA championship runs and countless game winners.

So it only seemed fitting that Bryant would end his 20-year NBA career with a 60-point point performance that entailed him taking shots from seemingly everywhere. He became the NBA’s third-time leading scorer by making countless difficult shots through double teams or far away from the basket. He became one of the game’s ultimate closers for showing the same determination to allow the final outcome to rest on his shoulders both for better and for worse. And he became one of the most enduring players through his quest in both innovating his game and playing through endless injuries.

All of those elements went into play when Bryant dropped 60 points in his career-finale, both to lift the Lakers to a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center and tie for his fifth largest scoring performance. As those moments unfolded, it seemed like a dream. Bryant apparently feels the same way nearly two months later.

“I still can’t believe that happened,” Bryant said on Wednesday at an event in downtown Los Angeles to promote NBA2K17. “I don’t know where the hell it came from.”
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Magic Johnson reiterates Kobe Bryant is the “greatest Laker of all time”

The platitudes for Kobe Bryant became non-stop both moments before and after he would cap his 20-year NBA career with a 60-point performance. With all the compliments he heard that night, nothing stood out more than what Magic Johnson said.

As he stood at center court, Johnson called Bryant “the greatest to the wear the purple and gold” before gushing about a few accomplishments. Johnson pointed out Bryant’s five NBA championships. Johnson touted Bryant’s third-place standing on the league’s all-time scoring list. Johnson highlighted Bryant’s endless ability to play through injuries.

It turns out Johnson did not just say those things in the heat of the moment. Johnson reported having the same sentiment during a recent appearance on ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live.’ Johnson maintained that stance even when Kimmel brought up Johnson’s own five NBA rings with the Lakers.

“He did it his way with dominating the scoring and really putting the team on his back,” Johnson said. “I did it my way with my leadership and try to make sure that I put our team in a position to win. At the end of the day, who cares, where it’s him or I? He has represented this city and the Lakers organization as well as anybody could.”

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell voted on NBA’s All-Rookie second team

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell was named on Thursday to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team  (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was named on Thursday to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team
(Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

D’Angelo Russell’s initial arrival sparked Byron Scott to compare him to Magic Johnson. Russell’s potential as the Lakers’ No. 2 draft pick led many to paint him as the candidate Kobe Bryant would pass the torch to in his final NBA season.

Russell soon learned plenty of time awaits before that might happen for reasons involving both circumstances both within and beyond his control. The NBA named Russell as part of its All-Rookie second team along with Miami’s Justise Winslow, Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay, Indiana’s Myles Turner and Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein as determined by select NBA writers and broadcasters.

Russell still ranked fourth among rookies in assists (3.3) and steals (1.16), while also finishing fifth in points (13.2) and three-point field goal percentage (35.1%). Russell also garnered 25 first-team votes, including from this reporter. But that does not match the initial expectations Russell received. He finished with a lower honor than teammate Jordan Clarkson, who was named last year to the NBA’s All-Rookie First team after

Russell experienced unique challenges that made it difficult to truly evaluate his growth. He shared ball-handling duties with Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. Russell appeared uncomfortable at times under Scott’s Princeton-oriented offense. He also lost his starting spot 20 games into the season and did not play in the final moments both in late-game situations and lopsided defeats. That role did not change until shortly after the NBA All-Star break in mid February.

Yet, Scott’s handling of Russell partly reflected team-wide concerns on his attitude, maturity level, work habits and overall consistency. Some of those issues became more pronounced when Russell recorded a video that accidentally became public of teammate Nick Young admitting to infidelities.

Nonetheless, the 20-year-old Russell showed promising signs that could become more pronounced in the 2016-17 season.

He became the youngest player in NBA history to make at least 120 3-pointers in a single season. He posted at least 20 points in 13 games, including two of them that including a 30-point plus performance. The Lakers have also become intrigued with his court vision and passing. All of those skills could improve under newly hired Lakers coach in Luke Walton, a presumably larger role and a year of NBA experience.

RELATED:

NBA Draft: What will Lakers do with No. 2 pick?

NBA Draft lottery: Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak weathers ‘unnecessary’ drama before landing No. 2 pick

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kobe Bryant featured in Copa America Centenario promo

After spending most of the past 20 years becoming the Lakers’ main on-court attraction, Kobe Bryant has not wasted time promoting other sports’ stars.

Bryant’s latest efforts did not involve pitching his recent competitors on the hardwood, though. It involved Bryant pitching those that, well, play on the pitch. The former Lakers’ star appeared in a promo for coverage surrounding the Copa America Centenario telecasts on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and FX.

There, Bryant listed several soccer stars, such as Argetina’s Lionel Messi and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. Bryant dis so with the same enthusiasm and familiarity that both many of Bryant’s peers and fans did for him.

Bryant has remained a longtime soccer fan of the Brazilian national team, FC Barcelona and AC Milan. Hence, it hardly seems surprising that one of many Bryant’s retirement ventures includes promoting the “Beautiful Game.” It will likely include attending the event as well, which begins on June 3 with the U.S. hosting Columbia in Santa Clara.


RELATED:

NBA Draft: What will Lakers do with No. 2 pick?

Metta World Peace to speak at free mental health event in El Monte

NBA Draft lottery: Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak weathers ‘unnecessary’ drama before landing No. 2 pick

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Metta World Peace to speak at free mental health event in El Monte

Metta World Peace will speak at a mental health event on May 21 in El Monte, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Metta World Peace will speak at a mental health event on May 21 in El Monte, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Fans will have a chance to meet and hear Metta World Peace speak, and the issues will prove far more important than his stint with the Lakers that included a significant role in winning the 2010 NBA Finals.

World Peace plans to speak about mental health issues at an event open to the public for free at El Monte airport on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

“I’m very happy to participate in this mental health awareness event, because events like this one help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health,” World Peace said in a statement. “It is vital that we educate our communities and let people know there is nothing wrong with seeking out help when you need it. It is especially important for our youth to understand that it is actually ‘cool’ to take care of yourself, and to direct them to the free resources available within their communities.”

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

NBA draft lottery: Kiki Vandeweghe does not sense any “imminent” changes to lottery system

Kiki Vandeweghe, the the NBA’s senior vice president of basketball operations, does not "see anything imminent" when it comes to NBA draft lottery reform. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Kiki Vandeweghe, the the NBA’s senior vice president of basketball operations, does not “see anything imminent” when it comes to NBA draft lottery reform. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Below is an edited Q&A with Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s senior vice president of basketball operations, on the league’s current NBA draft lottery system and why does not sense any “imminent” changes. This interview was part of a larger story capturing the various sentiments around the league on the NBA’s draft lottery system.

What do you think of the current NBA lottery system?

Vandeweghe: “The first thing is, the lottery is not supposed to incentivize losing. In theory, it’s supposed to help the teams with the worst record. That’s the whole purpose behind it. It’s been constructed in different ways and changed a variety of times over the course and adjusted as needed. But those are the two tenets to keep in mind.”

Have there been any recent league proposals to change it?

Vandeweghe:: “Nothing recently. I don’t think I see anything imminent. A year and a half ago, there was a lot of momentum for change. We brought some thoughts to the Board of Governors. The majority of the owners were in favor of change. But a change really takes a super majority. So we barely missed that. I don’t know what has happened in between that. We’ve focused on different areas. I would assume it hasn’t really changed that much.”

[Editor’s note: A super majority would require 23 out of 30 NBA teams to vote in favor of any rule changes].

What were the concerns against any changes?

Vandeweghe: “I think the people who were really focused on not wanting change were focused on what the upcoming salary cap bump can do. The salary cap is going to go to 90 [million] plus. We’ll have a lot more money in the system. How will that change behavior? How will that change team building? The draft is only one aspect of team building. You have trades and free agency. They all work together. They work together well.

We have an influx of a lot more money. We don’t know how that’s going to change the dynamic. People wanted to pause and wait and see how that affected the system. That makes sense. That’s really what’s going on. We’ll see how this works. I’m not sure anyone expected this much of a bump initially. But it’s going to be a big bump, so we’ll see.”

Were there concerns expressed about any lottery reform hurting small market teams more than large market teams? Some expressed the idea that for small markets, it’s more imperative they’re able to rebuild through the draft.

Vandeweghe: “I think the important thing to keep in mind, no matter what we’re doing with any of our rules, we always want a fair playing field as much as possible. So the cool thing that you’re noticing today, players don’t see a real difference in small markets or big markets as far as free agency goes or winning percentage. Adam [Silver] has really done a tremendous job as far as ensuring equality in the whole league. The talent is spread out. You have great teams from big markets and small markets. If you look at all of our studies, you have some of the best free agents that have chosen to stay in what would be traditionally smaller markets.”
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Lakers to stay local in 2016 preseason

The Lakers will play the 2016 preseason at local venues, including Staples Center. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

The Lakers will play the 2016 preseason at local venues, including Staples Center. Photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

The Lakers may enter training camp in the fall of 2016 with a much more cheerful note than the past two seasons that featured endless. That sunny outlook, however, will not coincide with the Lakers staying at a poolside hotel and saying “Aloha” to fans.

After spending the majority of training camp last season in Hawaii, the Lakers will spend most of their preseason in the comfortable confines of their practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers will also primarily play in the Southern California area.

They will begin and end exhibition play at the Anaheim’s Honda Center, including their preseason opener on Oct. 4 against the Sacramento Kings and their preseason finale against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers will host two games at Staples Center, including the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 7 and against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 11. The Lakers will also visit Ontario’s Citizen Business Bank Arena (vs. Denver on Oct. 9).

The unique quirks to their schedule will include two games in Las Vegas, including against Sacramento on Oct 13 and Golden State on Oct 15 at T-Mobile Arena. Although they play in Las Vegas every year in preseason play, the Lakers have not hosted two exhibition games there since the 2006-07 season. The Lakers will also play in San Diego against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 19 at Valley View Casino Center. That could became a game of intrigue considering Lakers coach Luke Walton’s connections.

Walton served as an assistant coach for Golden State the previous two seasons. Walton grew up in San Diego and starred at the University of San Diego High School. Officials also called the Lakers-Warriors game early last year because of frequent wet spots on the floor.

Tickets for games in Anaheim, Ontario, Las Vegasn and San Diego go on sale at at 10 a.m. PST on May 16. Meanwhile, tickets for the games at Staples Center will go on sale at a later date.

Fans can buy tickets for the games at Honda Center through www.ticketmaster.com and or through phone at 1-800-4-NBA-TIX. Tickets are priced at $27, $44, $79 and $129. Group seats of 15 or more are available for purchase by calling 1-714-940-2859 or visiting www.hondacenter.com.

Tickets for games in Ontario, Las Vegas and San Diego are available through www.axs.com or by phone at 1-888-9-AXS-TIX (1-888-929-7849). Tickets for the games in Las Vegas will also be available at the T-Mobile Arena Box office.

Tickets ordered for the Ontario game are priced at $25, $45, $70, $95 and $136. Tickets ordered for the Las Vegas game have various price ranges at $25, $42.50, $55, $80, $105 and $155. Tickets in San Diego are priced at $30, $45, $75 and $105. Group seats of 15 or more for the San Diego game are available for purchase by calling 1-619-363-5330 or emailing Jen@JDCgroupMarketing.com.

Tickets for the games in Anaheim have cost ranges from $27, $44, $79 and $129. Group seats of 15 or more are available for purchase by calling 1-714-940-2859 or visiting www.hondacenter.com.

RELATED:

Byron Scott wished he played his veteran players more minutes

Lakers’ Julius Randle to train this offseason to become “great”

Lakers believe Luke Walton will relate to young players well

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

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Kobe Bryant to partner with Sports Illustrated on animated film

Kobe Bryant enters Staples Center before he played his final game as a Los Angeles Laker during home game against the Utah Jazz. April 13, 2016. Los Angeles, CA.  (Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group)

Kobe Bryant enters Staples Center before he played his final game as a Los Angeles Laker during home game against the Utah Jazz. April 13, 2016. Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by John McCoy/Southern California News Group)

For a player who devoted countless hours on the hardwood, it did not take long for Kobe Bryant to find his other calling.

After sharing during his 20th and final NBA season that he loves storytelling, Bryant made a significant leap toward tackling that craft. Bryant’s production company, “Kobe Studios,” partnered with Sports Illustrated Group & Believe Entertainment Group to produce various multi-platform video projects.

That will include the premier of “Dear Basketball,” an animated short film on SI.com for a fall release that expands upon Bryant’s retirement poem he published for “The Players Tribune” website on Nov. 29, 2015. SI Films will also release mini documentaries that shows behind-the-scenes footage of the animation process.

Bryant will narrate the short film that Glen Keane will animate and John Williams will compose with a musical score. Keane worked on various Disney films, such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Tangled. Williams has won five Academy Awards for his film scores for Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. and Schindler’s List. Williams is also well know for his music compositions for Superman, the Indiana Jones series, Jurassic Park and the Harry Potter films.

“Dear Basketball is the perfect tribute to something I’ve loved for so long,” Bryant said in a statement released through Sports Illustrated. “Glen and John are two legends in their industries, so to partner with them on the creative process is a dream come true. Working with Sports Illustrated on this special project is an amazing opportunity to hopefully inspire fans all over the world.”
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email