Monthly Archive for June, 2009

Wait … Shannon Brown Doesn’t Lift Weights?

Shannon BrownWhen you watch “Forrest Gump,” it takes just a few seconds to realize that Tom Hanks can do a bit of acting.

Observe President Obama give a speech, tune in to see Albert Pujos hit a baseball or listen to Jay-Z perform one of his songs, and your conclusion makes itself in a flash.

That’s about how long it takes to notice that Shannon Brown is some kind of a freakish athlete, and upon further consideration, literally one of the world’s best.

Surely if you observe the raw, explosive nature of Brown’s body movements going up and down the basketball floor, it’s easy to imagine an extensive weight lifting and training program that’s been followed for years and maximized in the NBA. After all, this is the guy you saw raise up to destroy a Mario West layup attempt in February and climb over the outstretched arms of Chris Andersen for a hammer dunk in the Western Conference Finals.

His 44.5-inch vertical – measured prior to his rookie season at the Lakers’ predraft camp – was in part of gift of genetics, but it would be assumed that Brown’s well-muscled arms didn’t just appear from nowhere. We assume he lifts some serious weights. Right?

Not really.

In fact, late in the season, Brown explained to us that while he did do some lifting in high school and at Michigan State, he has basically stayed away from weight training since entering the NBA.

Huh?

“Whatever Shannon accomplishes or doesn’t accomplish in the NBA is not going to be for lack of athleticism, and the risks involved with trying to be too clever with him would be ridiculous,” explained Lakers Director of Athletic Performance, Chip Schaefer. “We’re very open ended and we like to listen to the athletes, so when Shannon came … I had no problem with him sticking to (his program).”

Schaefer, who’s in charge of the team’s strength and conditioning, instead worked to supplement Brown’s routine with some fine tuning. Accordingly, to get a better understanding of why Brown sticks mostly to push ups and does little to nothing with his legs, we sat down with Schaefer for a podcast:

In the (Championship) Locker Room: Brown

Shannon BrownUp next in our run of post-championship locker room series is Shannon Brown, who came to the Lakers midseason from Charlotte before realizing his childhood dream.

I’m really numb, to be honest. My teammates were holding me back telling me not to cry. It’s just something you work so hard for. This is why you play the game, to be a champion on the highest level of basketball, to be considered one of the greatest teams ever to do it … I can’t explain it. I’m numb man. I’m numb.

Sure enough, Brown was particularly emotional while trying to sum up his feelings, leading in part to our calling up his father Chris to really understand Shannon’s journey.

Alas, to watch the locker room interview, CLICK HERE.

In the (Championship) Locker Room: Farmar

Jordan FarmarIt’s already been 15 days since the Lakers used a 99-86 drubbing of the Orlando Magic to win the franchise’s 15th NBA Championship.

A lot’s happened since then, including the NBA Draft, exit interviews, the comical premiere of “Real World Cancun” (year 22?!) and even the melancholy passing away of the King of Pop.

Thus, in case you need a memory refresher, we’ll be posting periodic videos from the immediate postgame locker room, starting with a conversation with Jordan Farmar just minutes after the final buzzer when he said this:

Growing up in L.A. watching the Lakers do this for years before I got here was special, I felt part of it as a fan,” said Farmar. “To go through so much this season, have an injury, fluctuating playing time and all types of adversity makes it all worth it. This is what we all sacrificed for from day one. I can’t even put it into words right now.

To watch the full video, CLICK HERE.

Lakers Conclude Draft with Chinemelu Elonu

The Lakers selected Chinemelu Elonu from Texas A&M (via Nigeria) with the 59th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. A 6-10 junior, Elonu was drafted after the Lakers traded the draft rights to Patrick Beverley – whom they’d selected at No. 42 – to the Miami Heat for a future second round pick.

“Basically it’s keeping in line with our philosophy with the draft,” said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. “We ranked the players in the draft and we ended up getting the guy that we thought would be the 34th best guy in the draft at 59.”

Kupchak said that Elonu would likely play for the Lakers in the summer league and have a chance to make the team depending on if he’s “as good as we think he is.”

“He’s a wonderful person,” Kupchak added. “Great kid. Plays hard. He’s developing, every year he’s getting better and better.”

Mitch Kupchak’s Initial Draft Reactions

A quick transcription of Mitch Kupchak’s initial reactions after L.A. traded its first pick (29) and took Patrick Beverley*** (who played in Ukraine this past season) with its second (42). Kupchak talked about why L.A. traded the pick (for cash and a future second rounder) and addressed the move in relation to L.A.’s unrestricted free agents.
***UPDATE: The Lakers traded Beverley’s rights to the Heat for a future second round pick.

- “We think we did the right thing. As I’ve indicated, there’s a chance if we can keep our team together that we really wouldn’t have roster space for draft picks. This year’s draft we felt was not as strong down in the 29 range. We had made provisions that if a player had dropped … We could have gotten that player. We didn’t feel that would happen, and it didn’t happen. We didn’t want to committ to a player for two years if there was a chance he wouldn’t make the team. The best deal ended up being (with New York).

- On if it helps retain Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown: “I don’t know what the market’s going to be. After tonight, the draft is behind us and we start to focus on July 1. I don’t know what the free agent market is going to hold for us. If a competing team makes an offer that we don’t think is a good basketball decision, we won’t try to match that offer. We’ve done that in the past. The fact that you sell a pick and get a future pick doesn’t mean it’s going to translate into a player on July 1, but it certainly won’t hurt.”

- On Patrick Beverley: “He played overseas last year, it’s something that remains possible (leaving him overseas). At the 42nd pick there may or may not be guaranteed money and we’ll see if he can make the team.”

Ariza Invited to Team USA Mini Camp

Here’s a release from USA Basketball detailing Trevor Ariza’s invitation to Team USA Mini camp in Las Vegas:

Twenty-five top rising NBA players have accepted invitations from USA Basketball to participate in the 2009 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp that will be conducted July 22-25 in Las Vegas, Nev. The selections were announced by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.

The July USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp will feature practice sessions on July 23 and July 24 at Valley High School, and the mini-camp will be capped by the USA Basketball Showcase, a Blue-White intra-squad game, on Saturday, July 25, 8 p.m. (PDT) at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Tickets are now on sale for the 2009 USA Basketball Showcase, with seats priced at $10 to $75. Tickets can be purchased through www.UNLVtickets.com or 702-739-FANS.

Accepting an invitation to attend the July 22-25 mini- camp were: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers / Texas); Trevor Ariza (Los Angeles Lakers / UCLA); D.J. Augustin (Charlotte Bobcats / Texas); Jerryd Bayless (Portland Trail Blazers / Arizona); Ronnie Brewer (Utah Jazz / Arkansas); Glen Davis (Boston Celtics / LSU); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder / Texas); Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies / Connecticut); Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers / New Mexico); Jeff Green (Oklahoma City Thunder / Georgetown); Blake Griffin (University of Oklahoma); Devin Harris (New Jersey Nets / Wisconsin); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers / Arizona); Kyle Korver (Utah Jazz / Creighton); David Lee (New York Knicks / Florida); Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets / Stanford); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves / UCLA); O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies / USC); Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz / Louisiana Tech); Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers / Ohio State); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls / Memphis); Brandon Roy (Portland Trail Blazers / Washington); Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks / Oak Hill Academy, Va.); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder / UCLA); and Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia 76ers / Georgia Tech).

USA Basketball announced on May 21 that Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano, Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin, Detroit Pistons assistant Dave Cowens, former New Orleans Hornets assistant Kenny Gattison, and innesota Timberwolves assistant Jerry Sichting, would serve as the staff for the 2009 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp.

“While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA national team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously. Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program. As was the case in 2005-08, the roster for the national team program will be fluid in 2010-2012 and we will make adjustments to the roster each year to help insure we have the strongest program and the strongest teams possible,” said Colangelo.

Twenty-one of the expected 25 mini-camp participants have prior USA Basketball team experience.

Mitch Kupchak: Draft Presser

blog_090624mitchkupchakCLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO FROM TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak joined assembled media members at L.A.’s practice facility to discuss Thursday’s draft, in which the Lakers currently have the 29th, 42nd and 59th picks.

Here are some highlights of the presser:

- Kupchak quipped that the Lakers might take Hasheem Thabeet and Blake Griffin if they’re available at No. 29.

- As he told us in podcast form yesterday, Kupchak reiterated that the team would like to keep its roster at 13. In other words, L.A. won’t use all three of its picks: “There is a better than even likelihood that we’ll move one of our picks.”

- Kupchak did concede that at the later stages of the draft, it’s usually a “best player available” situation.

- When asked about positions, Kupchak said that point guard is the one spot that isn’t set for the future considering Derek Fisher’s age.

- On drafting an international player: “We’d draft a (first-round) player, retain his rights and tender him an offer, but there’s normally an understanding … of a guaranteed component. Typically with a first round pick, you’d do your homework in advance and see if the player would agree to go to Europe and not sign the tender. That way he plays in Europe and you retain his rights.” Kupchak explained that it’s similar in the second round, without the hindrance of the guaranteed money.

- On what it would take for the Lakers to use their first-round pick to draft a player with expectation to play: “It’d have to be a player that we had ranked in the top 18 or so that we feel like could fit in with our team, he’d have to fall.”

- Kupchak said that it “Doesn’t appear to be a strong international draft,” though the Lakers employ a full-time European scout and a full-time Asian scout, as obviously the team spends more money on scouting than it had to in the past. However, Kupchak said one positive was that they no longer have to go to high schools to watch players due to all the professional leagues, camps and the like that recruit the best players.

- The GM also addressed Phil Jackson’s comments on ESPN radio yesterday that suggested the coach and Kupchak had discussed Jackson’s not traveling as much should he return: “Yes, Phil and I had a long discussion this morning, and the short of it is, what he said he didn’t mean it to sound the way it sounded. If he comes back to coach, he will come back and coach both home and away games. I guess there was a hypothetical approach to the question, and Phil answered the question, but today my discussion with him was that type of scenario doesn’t work, and that’s his opinion as well.”

- Kupchak added that he thinks Jackson “Wants to come back, he’s excited and very energized. It solely rests on his ability medically to come back and coach.”

- I asked Kupchak how crazy things get with the multiple forms of communication these days, and he listed these conversation enablers: Multiple cell phones (between him and his assistants); computer e-mail; five or six hard telephone lines; and texting. Kupchak said that he actually answered a text from another general manager for the first time today. But during the draft, it is complete chaos, where Kupchak said he can take/make at least 15 calls in a 10-minute window.

- He added: “If I yell out, get me Pat Riley, typically it’s still done mouth-to-mouth by phone” to describe what some of his staff is up to in crunch time. Back when he first started drafting with West in the 80′s, Kupchak said there were eight rounds, and only phones were used while a rep was at the draft in New York.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO FROM TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE

Brown’s Basketball Roots

blog_090623chrisbrown1For a perspective that only a father could have, we dialed up Shannon Brown’s dad Chris to talk about his son’s journey from Maywood, Illinois to the NBA Championship, including a nugget about Shannon breaking the glass after a freshman-year-of-high-school dunk.

Lakers on Twitter

With the advent of Twitter, people around the world can communicate through a short messaging service in seconds, and the Los Angeles Lakers are on board. By following the Lakers on Twitter, you can hear directly from players and management, receive real time news updates and Lakers.com content links, view behind-the-scenes photos, enter contests and more.

Here’s our current Lakers Twitter Roster, featuring Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Sasha Vujacic, Jeanie Buss, Mike Trudell and the Lakers master account, all of whom you can follow on your personal Twitter page.

Click here for the full Lakers Twitter Roster

Podcast: Kupchak on Draft, Free Agency

Mitch KupchakWe sat down with Mitch Kupchak – in the middle of his ongoing draft meetings with assembled scouts at L.A.’s practice facility – to touch base on the June 25 draft, the Lakers’ free agency situation and the luxury tax.

While summing up L.A.’s roster situation, Kupchak explained why this year’s draft is unique:

“It’s a little dicey because we have three free agents (Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown), and I don’t anticipate carrying more than 13 players next year. So if we’re lucky enough to resign (those players), we’d have 13 assuming we exercise options for D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell. Right now we’re assuming (Mbenga and Powell) are on our team next year. It would be something unusual where we wouldn’t exercise their options, we think they’re both valued players. If that’s the case, we’re at 13, and I don’t anticipate we’d go above 13.

Essentially, unless one of those free agents isn’t resigned, it’s not likely L.A. will look to fill out its 2009-10 roster through the draft.

“The best solution may be to look for a player that would stay in Europe or in Asia, or maybe exchange picks when you may have more roster space,” said Kupchak.

To listen to the podcast, click below.