Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Pau Gasol Injury Update

According to Pau Gasol’s website, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti met with Gasol in Barcelona to check on the progress of Gasol’s injured finger.

Pau is about to start playing ball, perhaps this Sunday to coincide with last warm-up game of Spain, in Murcia against Israel. He will not play this game, but perhaps he does it in Lithuania, the last before the European Championship.

The index finger on Gasol’s left hand seems to be progressing according to plan, and the Spanish National Team expects him to return to the court shortly.

Vujacic Updates Slovenian Situation

Sasha VujacicEarlier this week, we read reports that Sasha Vujacic was not selected for the final roster of the Slovenian National Team, set to play in EuroBasket 2009 in September. Slovenia’s coach, Jurij Zdovc, cited a minor knee injury.

Vujacic, however, wanted to explain the situation from his perspective, and he did so on his website.

Well, I know there has been a lot of speculation about what has happened with my participation with the Slovenian team and I wanted to set the record straight to discontinue any rumors and falsehoods. So here is the whole story just for you guys: After a long time of consideration, I accepted the Slovenian national team’s invitation to play for them because I had a strong desire to play for my country and was assured that things had changed with respect to how the team was handled and operated. I reported to camp incredibly healthy, feeling great and ready to work hard to attain the national team’s goals. I trusted their methods and I was ready to accept their training program. I arrived to Ljubljana and joined the team. Our preparation began in Rogla (mountain in Slovenia). The very first day, I realized that training was unreasonably excessive and insensible to avoid injury…

TO READ VUJACIC’S FULL ENTRY, CLICK HERE.

Kobe Bryant: 31 Moments

Kobe DunkWith an Amazon River-long list of accomplishments already to his name, it would seem that Kobe Bryant would at least be old enough to run for President, right?

Nope. Not for four more years of moment-building, anyway (by then the list could be closer in length to the Nile).

Bryant turned 31 on Sunday, August 23rd, prompting us to enlist the help of Lakers fans – via our @LakersReporter Twitter account – to amass a list of 31 highlights from the 2009 NBA Finals MVP’s career. At the end of the day, no list can fully encapsulate one of the world’s best athletes, but hopefully we detailed many of Kobe Bean Bryant’s best moments and most impressive accomplishments:

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE

Vujacic To Miss EuroBasket 2009

An update on Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic from Eurobasket.com:

The head coach of the Slovenian Basketball National Team Jurij Zdovc cut down the roster for the 2009 European Championship 16 players to 14. Miha Zupan (205-F/C-82) and NBA champion Sasha Vujacic (200-G-84) of Los Angeles Lakers – who has a minor knee injury – were not among the players selected for the roster by coach Zdovc before the tournament in Maribor. The roster now includes Goran Dragic, Jaka Klobucar, Jaka Lakovic, Domen Lorbek, Beno Udrih, Samo Udrih, Goran Jagodnik, Bostjan Nachbar, Primoz Brezec, Jurica Golemac, Erazem Lorbek, Uros Slokar, Matjaz Smodis and Gasper Vidmar.

Happy B-Day, Kobe. From Lamar.

Bryant - OdomOn his Twitter feed this past Sunday, Lamar Odom offered some off-court words to his on-court leader:

“Happy Birthday to my boy, Kobe Bryant.”

Odom’s words came in honor of Bryant’s 31st birthday, putting a bookend on the year Kobe won his first NBA Finals MVP award in culmination of his fourth championship with the Lakers.

On our end, we’re assembling a list featuring 31 of Kobe’s most memorable NBA moments, set to go out in the next day or two.

Should there be a moment you’d like to make sure isn’t missed, send a tweet to @LakersReporter.

European Round Up

blog_0908paugasol_euro
***UPDATE 2: The Spanish National Team expects Pau Gasol (finger) to play.
***UPDATE: Sasha Vujacic will not play in the tournament.

On September 7 in Poland, up to three L.A. Lakers could be representing their National Teams in EuroBasket 2009, an international tournament intended to designate Europe’s best team.

Pau Gasol of Spain, Sasha Vujacic of Slovenia and D.J. Mbenga of Belgium, are all expected to play, though Gasol is in the process of recovering from a torn volar plate on the index finger of his left hand. Gasol will be re-evaluated in just over two weeks when Lakers Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti travels to Barcelona.

Gasol and Vujacic’s teams have already qualified for the tournament, while Mbenga’s battling for Belgium to join his Lakers teammates in Poland.

Mbenga (who grew up in Congo, Africa, before moving to Belgium) has averaged 20.3 minutes on the way to 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for his country. Belgium needs to win its final game in Group A of the Additional Qualifying Round to finish 3-1 and thus advance to play Group B winner France for the right to play at EuroBasket in Poland. Just as the folks in the “Banging with Mbenga” fan club would have expected, D.J. swatted five shots to open the tournament, then contributed seven points and four boards in a 102-79 victory over previously unbeaten Bosnia and Herzegovina to put the Belgians in place to beat Portugal and move on to join Group B, featuring Russia, Germany and Latvia.

Gasol and Vujacic’s countries are both in Group C, widely considered the tournament’s toughest group, which also features former Laker Vladimir Radmanovic’s Serbia as well as Great Britain.

According to Vujacic’s website, he’s been dealing with a sore knee, but began practicing again on Monday, August 14.

Slovenian Basketball Federation national team director Matej Avanzo confirmed that Sasha will be practicing with the team again on Monday and travel with them to Spain for their next match after the games against Croatia.

Stay tuned for further coverage of Gasol, Vujacic and Mbenga as EuroBasket 2009 approaches.

Lakers in Cabo San Lucas

Josh Powell  Brian ShawNearly two months have passed since L.A.’s 4-1 NBA Finals victory over the Orlando Magic, but the celebrating is far from over.

Just ask Lakers forward Josh Powell, assistant coach Brian Shaw or assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, who were treated to a victory party at the Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort and Spa down in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Casa Dorada’s general manager Victor Gomez happens to be a bigtime Lakers fan, and he hosted the party in the resort’s B Lounge, which was attended by more than 400 people. Entertainment was provided by Cirque-style jugglers on stilts along with a DJ (not Mbenga), while game highlights played on two big screens flanking the pool.

“Being a die-hard Laker fan, it was an honor to host my favorite team at Casa Dorada,” said Gomez. “We are looking forward to helping other Lakers recharge their batteries before next season’s title defense begins.”

Surely Powell, Shaw and Lester had no problem with regenerating in that manner.

While in Cabo, the player and coach dove into the ocean for a round of early-morning deep sea fishing, along with Shaw’s son B.J. (pictured). Clearly, their Pacific trek was productive, as the fish was used by the hotel’s executive chef, Fabian Rios, for that evening’s meal at 12 Tribes Restaurant.

“The food was fantastic!,” said Shaw, who was also joined in Cabo by his wife Nikki and two daughters Brianna and Bianca. “We had such a great time at Casa Dorada, and look forward to coming back soon.”

Pau Q&A Remix: Frosted Flakes & Penelope Cruz

Pau GasolWhen we sat down with Lakers All-Star forward Pau Gasol in early February, he and his teammates were on quite a roll, having won six straight road games including the confidence-cementing victories at Boston and Cleveland.

At the time, Gasol was as good as ever from an offensive perspective, and was demonstrating an impressive zest on the defensive side of the floor as well. Since we had a pretty good sense of the Spaniard on the floor, we thought it prudent to talk about everything else.

So, while Gasol – who’s currently recovering from a minor finger injury – was waiting for his midday meal (pasta with marinara sauce/grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes/coke) in his Utah hotel room, we started asking questions:

MT: Let’s begin with a no-nonsense question. What’s your favorite cereal?
Gasol: Frosted Flakes. That’s easy. Also, Corn Flakes … with sugar. I guess that’s basically Frosted Flakes, but I started eating them when I was very young in Spain.

MT: Tony the Tiger, huh. What about your favorite meal?
Gasol: Sushi. I love toro, I love sea urchin, I love salmon … All kinds really. Seafood is big part of Mediterranean culture, and I grew up eating it in Barcelona.

MT: You probably know Salma Hayek, don’t you…
Gasol: Actually I know Penelope Cruz better. I like her sister Monica (google images link), too.

MT: Your mother is a physician and your father a hospital administrator. Was education emphasized before sports as you grew up?
Gasol: Yes, it was always “Do your work before you play.” They wanted me to keep my options open, to make sure studying was a big priority over basketball because you’re not sure that sports will work out. So I stayed in school as long as I could and should have even though it was hard my first and last years in college to do both medical school and professional basketball.

TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE.

Shot Swatting Champ

With the Lakers coming upon their 50th season in Los Angeles, we’ve been digging into the history books, which always nets a fun fact or two.

Here’s one:

After moving from the Buffalo Braves to the Lakers in 1973-74 as a third-year player, Elmore Smith set a still-standing league record of 17 blocks in one game, which he accomplished against Portland on Oct. 28, 1973 (a 111-98 Lakers win). You have to wonder whom he was guarding … Ouch.

The NBA has pages devoted to stats such as these, where we learned that fellow Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares the NBA record for seasons leading the league in blocks (4), along with Utah’s Mark Eaton.

Of course, the league didn’t start keeping track of blocked shots until 1973-74, and Wilt Chamerlain retired the year before. Who knows how many shots the Stilt might have blocked in a single game? Alas, for Smith, it was his most prolific shot-blocking season, in which 4.9 balls per game were sent a different way.

Not bad at all, but it’s the 17 in one game that we’ll remember most. For a point of reference, Andrew Bynum’s best game in 2008-09 featured six blocks, and Pau Gasol’s only five. Do your thing, Elmore.

Pau Gasol Injury Update

Pau GasolAccording to Lakers spokesman John Black, Pau Gasol had surgery earlier this week in Spain to repair a torn volar plate on the index finger of his left hand. Gasol will wear a splint for three weeks, when the Spanish National Team hopes that he can return to play for his country in the European Championships.

The Lakers expect to have an update on Gasol’s progress and return status in approximately three weeks.

In related news, Gasol spoke to Lakers Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti early Tuesday morning, determining that Vitti will travel to Barcelona at the end of the month to see Gasol.