Ready for Phoenix
A spirited practice has the Lakers ready for their trip to Phoenix for Friday night’s game against the Suns. It’ll be a tough early season test for the team with Lamar Odom on the shelf due to shoulder surgery and it being the home opener for the Suns.
“They’re expecting to win a championship… and they’re a team that really gets under our skin in terms of knocking us out of the playoffs the last two years,” Bryant said. “We’re going to go in there ready to play with a chip on our shoulder and see if we can’t do some damage.”
The addition of Grant Hill gives the Suns yet another play maker to go along with guys like Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, and Boris Diaw, who can create for others as well as being able to shoot from range. The Lakers will need to stay in front of the ball and continue the help defense that worked so well against Houston early as the Suns try to open up the floor and exploit mismatches in speed and quickness.
A few days after being involved in a car accident that left one woman injured, Forward Lamar Odom was glad that the incident didn’t end up any worse than it did, “The impact was pretty fierce. Sometimes people don’t get to walk away, but we were both able to walk away and I hope everything will be alright.”
Odom banged his head pretty hard at impact and it left him a little shaken up, but the after effects are minimal and will not delay his return to the lineup. He is still on schedule to re-join the team sometime in the next couple weeks, but was non-committal on pegging an exact date that he’ll be back. He continues to work out twice a day and regain strength in his arms.
We almost made it through an entire five minute media session without hearing Kobe be asked about trade rumors… almost. Bryant said that he has been monitoring the media reports, but more just to see how his teammates have been taking the news because he doesn’t want it to become a distraction.
From the outside perspective it might seem impossible for it not to be a distraction, but Kobe says it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. “We’ve been doing a pretty good job of staying focused here.” When asked if he was surprised that his teammates were staying so focused Bryant replied, “No, I talk to them. From that standpoint I don’t think it’s that difficult. If I didn’t speak to them or didn’t fill them in on what’s going on, then it’d be a little confusing.”
When asked where the Lakers stood now that his former player, now current GM of the Bulls, John Paxson has stated that the Bulls are out of the race for Kobe’s services, Jackson responded, “Maybe having our cake and eating it too.”
Who the cake is is up for debate, but Jackson reiterated owner Dr. Jerry Buss’ statements that the team doesn’t want to trade Kobe, but is willing to listen to whatever offers come their way.
Hide Your Adidas
Don’t read too much in the fact that Bryant removed his Lakers practice jersey before talking to reporters. Kobe is a spokesman for Nike while all the leagues gear is furnished by Adidas. Bryant often throws a towel over his shoulder to hide the triple stripes of the German sports apparel manufacturer.
Fixing the Free Throws
After a night when he missed nine free throws Kobe was back in the gym early working to make sure that doesn’t happen again. “This morning before practice I made 50 straight. You get a gift of 27 free throws you’ve got to knock down at least 26 of those. I mean that’s a Christmas present if I’ve ever seen one.”
As always, catch the full interviews on the Lakers.com Video Page.