Monthly Archive for September, 2010

Barnes, Walton Strain Respective Hamstrings

Two Laker forwards coincidentally suffered hamstring strains during Thursday morning’s practice.

Matt Barnes strained his left hammy, and Luke Walton his right.

Both strains were classified as “minor” by team spokesman John Black, and both are listed as “day to day.”

Lakers, Head to Europe

blog_100930london500Later this evening, the Lakers players, coaches and team staff will board a plane destined across the pond to London, and will be there throughout the five days in England and three in Barcelona, Spain, providing video, audio, written and photographic content to document the entire trip.

Below is an overview of events as the Lakers embark on their first journey overseas since a trek to Paris, France in 1991:

- The first exhibition game against the Minnesota Timberwolves of Kurt Rambis takes place on Monday, Oct. 4, at the 02 Arena in London. You can listen to the broadcast live at 12 p.m. Pacific on 710 ESPN and watch a delayed telecast on KCAL/9 at 7 p.m.
The second exhibition game takes place in Barcelona on Oct. 7 against Pau Gasol’s former team, Regal F.C. Barcelona, at 11:30 a.m. on 710 ESPN and will be again shown at 7 p.m. on KCAL/9. You can also follow our @Lakers and @LakersReporter Twitter accounts for live, courtside coverage.
- Phil Jackson will hold seven practices over six days, including a Thursday afternoon session at the team’s practice facility before the plane takes off.
- The team will have its photo taken at London’s Tower Bridge, its first in Europe since an Eiffel Tower shot in France in 1991.
- With many soccer fans on the team, it’s fortunate that the Lakers have been invited to attend an English Premier League soccer showdown between two of the best clubs in the world, Chelsea and Arsenal of London.
- Fan Zone appearances are scheduled for a few players and Lakers Girls in both cities.
- Community service is always a part of trips of this sort, and the Lakers will take part in an NBA Cares event with a local YMCA in London to teach children how to play hoops.
Nike and EA Sports will have a few events for some of its marquee Lakers players as well.
- Phil Jackson quipped that once the team arrives in Barcelona, city native Gasol will have full control of the team’s itinerary.

We’ll be there throughout to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Kobe’s Jersey No. 1 In Europe

61806002The Lakers head to Europe Thursday evening for a preseason in London and Barcelona, in a continent where Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 sits at No. 1 on the list of most popular NBA jerseys for the third straight year.

That information, released by the NBA, comes a week after it was announced that Bryant also retained top selling status in China for the fourth consecutive year, and in the U.S./online for the third time in four years.

Bryant’s teammate Pau Gasol joined him on the European list, coming in at No. 4 behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.

Below is the Top 10 in Europe:

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers*
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
4. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

5. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
6. Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
7. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
8. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
9. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
10. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

NY/NJ Hoops in L.A.

blog_100928artestcaracterThe Lakers have become significantly less of an international team by personnel since the departures of Vladimir Radmanovic (Serbia), DJ Mbenga (Congo) and Sun Yue (China) from the 2008-09 training camp roster, leaving only Pau Gasol (Spain) and Sasha Vujacic (Slovenia) left in 2010-11.

But if you’re looking for a roster full of New York – New Jersey metropolitan area hoopers, it’s not the Knicks or Nets, but the Los Angeles Lakers that carry the day.

In fact, three Lakers – Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Devin Ebanks – are all from the same borough of New York City (Queens), and have known one another for years. Odom and Artest played on the same AAU team as teenagers, while Ebanks grew up so close to Artest’s Queensbridge project that Artest knew of him by the time he was 10 years old.

But that’s just New York.

Over in New Jersey, Derrick Caracter (Fanwood, N.J.) and Andrew Bynum (Metuchen, N.J.) grew up in towns that are both about 30 miles away from NYC, and just nine miles away from one another.

The five East Coasters have now spent four days of training camp together, and after Tuesday morning’s practice, Caracter, Ebanks and Artest stayed after to play a brand of 1-on-1 basketball that might have been confused with Australian Rules Football or a WWF undercard.

“That’s inner city ball, man,” said Caracter. “Coming from the New York, New Jersey metropolitan area street ball, you gotta be physical out there. It’s just that mentality of attack, attack, attack on both ends of the floor.”

Kobe Bryant, a Philadelphia native (about 70 miles south of Metuchen), could be included in the mix as well, though Caracter offered some clarifications, or at least generalizations, about the differences between East Coast city styles.

“In New York you have the tight handle, New Jersey it’s all-around hoops with some handlers and some shooters, and Philly has more drivers,” he explained. “Philly players know how to get to the paint and create even if they don’t have the best handle.”

Add a taste of California (Luke Walton, Matt Barnes), Florida (Steve Blake) and the South (Derek Fisher, Theo Ratliff) with the NY/NJ and international crews, and you have a championship caliber NBA team.

Coaching Cohesion

D073706016.JPGAn immediate advantage enjoyed by the Lakers over several teams in the NBA comes off the actual basketball court, over in the coaches locker room.

With Phil Jackson electing to return for his 11th season, a boost of major proportions in its own right, also comes the return of longtime assistants Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen, both of whom coached under Jackson in Chicago. Furthermore, Brian Shaw returns for his sixth year on Jackson’s staff, while Chuck Person has replaced Kurt Rambis as a full time assistant after spending last season as a special assistant coach.

“We’ve been together for a while,” said Cleamons, with a smile.

How long, exactly? Let’s take a look:

Phil Jackson and Jim Cleamons: 1989-96 with the Chicago Bulls; 1999-present with the Lakers.
Phil Jackson and Frank Hamblen: 1996-98 with Chicago; 1999-present with the Lakers.
Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw: 2005-present* with the Lakers.
*Shaw also served as an assistant to Hamblen during the second half of the 2004-05 season, when Jackson was on “sabbatical,” as he likes to call it.

All of that time together, with the same offense, the triangle, and consistent defensive principals makes for an easy sell in training camp, particularly with all of the championship rings it has produced for Jackson and his staff.

“We have five guys that are familiar with what we do, and we all want to help,” said Cleamons. “The good thing about it is that we do get along. No one wants to step on anyone’s toes, nobody’s fighting for the spotlight.”

Blake Suffers Minor Sprain

Steve Blake suffered a mild sprained ankle at the end of practice today. He’s day to day.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Gasol vs. Gasol

The most important focus of Pau Gasol’s offseason was resting his body after three straight years of split duty between the Lakers and Spanish National Team. As he reported after Sunday’s practice, the 7-footer is certainly noticing the results.

“I feel good about how fresh I am and how my body’s feeling, how my mind’s feeling,” he explained. “I’m coming in with a lot of energy and am just ready to go to work. I feel a lot different than I did last year, (when) I came in a little worn out.”

That because he was busy winning a European title for his Spaniards as MVP of the tournament, and that just weeks after helping the Lakers to the 2008 Finals win over Orlando.

59712774And while he didn’t play any organized basketball throughout the summer, opting to do some work on his own, there was one person that got him to compete on a basketball floor: his brother, Grizzlies center Marc.

“The last three days before I flew here we played 1-on-1,” said Gasol. “That’s all he wants to do … I hadn’t played any all summer, so he was excited.”

And how did big brother do?

“I won,” said Pau, the one All-Star out of the league’s best brother tandem. “I can say that I won without lying.”

The two played in the gym of Gasol’s old team, F.C. Barcelona, which allowed them to use the facilities. Pau said that Marc’s style is to bang him down in the post, and while it gets pretty physical, things never go too far.

“No fights, but he gets frustrated,” said Pau. “We compete hard against each other, and it’s a lot of fun … (some) pushing and shoving. We don’t trash talk much, we just try to kick (each other’s butt).”

Now, however, Marc’s back in Memphis, and Pau’s going up instead against second round pick Derrick Caracter, free agent signing Theo Ratliff and training camp signing Andrew Naymick.

Tough luck for those guys.

Bynum Details His Knee Injury

While the Lakers’ Media Day on Saturday at the team’s practice facility provided a chance to catch up with each player on the team, the most pertinent piece of actual news surrounded Andrew Bynum’s right knee.

As the 7-0 center explained to us on LakersTV, he won’t be returning to the basketball floor as soon as was originally expected.

“I saw the doctor two days ago, he says I have about four weeks of just rehab stuff and then I’ll be able to hit the track running,” said Bynum. “What happened was I went over to South Africa (for the World Cup), had a great time over there, and then when I got back my doctor was on vacation (on July 18). I did the surgery as soon as he got back in town (July 28).”

Bynum explained that he had damaged his meniscus more than was originally suspected, and it required some additional work intended to preserve Bynum’s knee in the long run.

As such, we won’t see the 22-year-old on the floor in the preseason or at the start of the regular season; he’ll instead focus on rehabilitation activities with the Lakers training staff.

“I would like to be back on the court playing in actual games by the end of November,” he explained. “That gives us about two months, so I think we’ll be OK.”

The Lakers, of course, have gone through periods of various length without Bynum throughout the past three seasons, and are quite comfortable playing with Pau Gasol at center and Lamar Odom at the power forward.

Both Gasol and Odom said that they would hold down the proverbial fort until Bynum returns, and that their main concern was Bynum being healthy throughout the season and particularly the postseason.

Kobe Bryant Looks Good to Phil

98244836MW135_Oklahoma_CityWhile Andrew Bynum’s knee has received the most attention of late, Kobe Bryant also had his knee operated upon in the off-season, as detailed in a team press release on July 23:

“In response to recent media inquiries, it has been announced today that Kobe Bryant recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The successful surgery was performed last week. Bryant is currently undergoing rehab and is expected to be fully recovered prior to the start of the Lakers’ training camp on September 25.”

During his press conference on Friday morning at the team’s practice facility, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson offered further commentary on the two-time defending Finals MVP.

“He’s been working really hard the last month,” said Jackson. “Five, six weeks ago, (Lakers Director of Athletic Performance) Chip Schaefer sent me a note that said it looks like it’s going to be just working with Kobe during training camp and preseason games. (But) just recently, Kobe said he’s starting to move and feel the right way, and I anticipate he’s going to play some minutes even over in Europe.”

In other words, Bryant appears ready to go, as the first preseason game in Europe is only 10 days away, on Oct. 4 in London against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

We’ll hear from No. 24 himself on Saturday morning at the team’s media day. Follow along via the @LakersReporter and @Lakers Twitter accounts for live coverage, pictures and more starting at 11 a.m.

Coach’s Comments on Bynum’s Knee

D073839007Earlier this week, we learned that Andrew Bynum was unlikely to play in the preseason, but that the Lakers were “hopeful” the young center would be ready to go for the start of the regular season on Oct. 26 against Houston.

Bynum had surgery on July 28 to repair a small tear of the anterior horn of the lateral meniscus in his right knee, but subsequently found out that a longer recovery period than initially suspected was in order.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson shed some light upon the issue at his preseason press conference on Friday morning:

I don’t see how Andrew is going to be ready, and I really haven’t anticipated Andrew being ready to go at the beginning of the season. Now, that’s an unfortunate thing, but the type of surgery that the doctor did on his knee takes a little extra time. Obviously, we hadn’t prepared and Andrew certainly hadn’t prepared for the fact that it could was going to take an extra month and a half or so to rehab this type of surgery. I know he’s getting battered a little bit, and we could have had the operation a little bit earlier, but the end result is what he’s going to be like in May and June and that’s the important part.

It’s an unusual type of surgery. It’s not done very often. Obviously the area of the tear with Andrew is a very unusual tear, and Andrew has knees that, I think, have shown we have to be careful with them and this is something we hope is going to repair the knee in a way so it can be much more stable in the future.