Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

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Lakers, Gasol Honored at LA Sports Awards

The Lakers were honored at the LA Sports Awards with the top sports moment of 2009 for the team’s defeat of the Orlando Magic, while Pau Gasol was named “Sportsman of the Year” for his terrific individual year including the Lakers title and his MVP performance in leading Spain to the European title.

Furthermore, Lakers owner Jerry Buss was recognized as “Sports Executive of the Year” as the franchise was thoroughly represented.

The Awards took place on Friday night at L.A. Live’s JW Marriott in a celebration of the city’s greatest athletic achievements of the year.

Lakers Among League Leaders

59660853With LA’s unusual four-day break from games, we took a look at how some Lakers rank individually amongst the league leaders.

4th
Kobe Bryant’s rank in scoring, with 28.0 points per game.

6th
Andrew Bynum’s rank in field goal percentage with his solid 56.8 percent average.

7th
Pau Gasol’s rank in rebounding with 11.1 per game, though he has yet to qualify for the official leader board due to his 17 missed games.

10th
Bryant’s rank in minutes per game with a 38.6 average that he thinks will go down a bit leading into the playoffs (citing the 17 games missed by Gasol as increasing his early-season average).

Also, Gasol’s rank in blocked shots with his 1.82 per game, up from just 1.0 last season.

11th
Bryant’s rank in steals with his 1.67 per game.

12th
Lamar Odom’s rank on the glass with his 10.1 corralled per game.

17th
Bynum’s rank in blocked shots with his 1.47 swats per game.

19th
Gasol’s rank in field goal percentage with his 52.0 percent average, more impressive considering the amount of outside shots he takes in addition to his low post moves.

25th
Bryant’s league rank in assists, as his 4.6 dimes per game lead the Lakers, Gasol and Odom tied for second with 3.5 per game.

26th
Bynum’s rank in rebounding with 8.2 per game, an impressive number still considering the boards snatched away by Gasol and Odom.

29th
Artest’s rank in three-point shooting with his 39.2% from distance, tops on the team.

Kobe Bryant Out For Portland

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will miss Saturday evening’s game in Portland due to his sprained left ankle, an injury he originally suffered in Philadelphia on Jan. 29 and that he aggravated against Charlotte on Wednesday.

It will be the first game Bryant has missed due to injury since Dec. 8, 2006, when a sprained ankle kept him out of L.A.’s game against Atlanta.

He will be re-evaluated on Sunday in Los Angeles; the Lakers next game is on Monday, Feb. 8, against San Antonio.

The Lakers Meet President Obama

President Barack ObamaAfter an exciting day at the White House that included a private tour of the residence, President Barack Obama addressed a full house in the building’s East Room with the NBA Champions gathered behind him.

“Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers for winning your 15th NBA title and fourth in the last 10 years,” said Obama. “I still get enormous pleasure from watching great athletes, and nobody exemplifies excellence in basketball better than the Los Angeles Lakers.”

There are only so many people in the world that can command complete control of a room that also features Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, but many of the players could hardly contain beaming smiles as the President praised their accomplishments.

“I think they’re in awe,” said Phil Jackson. “I really do.”

“A lot of us never thought we would see this day,” said Jordan Farmar before even attending the event. “I feel very special to be apart of it and to have the chance to share this with my teammates – we all get along and really care about each other, so it’s really meaningful.”

The team, in unison, could easily agree upon that sentiment after the ceremony.

During a typically terrific nine-minute speech, Obama also managed to engender frequent laughs from both the audience and the team. Perhaps the funniest part of his address came after he conveyed his excitement about meeting Phil Jackson, when he mentioned Lakers legend Magic Johnson (standing next to Kobe Bryant) while acknowledging Jackson’s championships.

“I do want to point out that six of them came with the Bulls,” said Obama, a big time Chicago fan. “You remember that, Magic?”

Magic - ObamaThat one had all in attendance cracking up, particularly after Obama turned towards Magic to pantomime Michael Jordan’s right-hand-to-left-hand layup in the 1991 Finals, when Jackson’s Bulls defeated Johnson’s Lakers 4-1.

“It was really a special moment in time that I’m going to always remember that the President of the United States trash-talked Magic Johnson,” said Johnson. “And me restraining myself not to come back at him. He was the only man on earth that ever trash-talked me and I (didn’t) say anything … it was a great moment.”

Obama, of course, promptly went on to praise Johnson.

“We’re honored to have one of the all-time greats in NBA history, Magic Johnson,” he said. “Magic did pretty well during his time with the Lakers – he wasn’t bad. Part of what makes Magic special wasn’t just how he played on the court but also his infectious enthusiasm about life and what he’s now doing with businesses in black communities, he’s just been an outstanding leader in our country for a long time.”

Next up, Kobe Bryant.

“Of course I have to acknowledge Kobe Bryant, one of the most competitive players I’ve ever seen,” said Obama. “He has MVP’s under his belt, he’s the youngest player to ever reach 25,000 points in his career, and he’s playing with a broken finger.”

Bryant explained that in an exchange between himself and Obama before the speech, they shook hands, but Obama immediately pulled his hand back to make sure he wasn’t squeezing Kobe’s finger too hard. Bryant certainly appreciated that the President was so aware, as did the rest of the players and assistants when Obama called them all by name.

“It was nice that he had done his homework,” said assistant coach Brian Shaw. “He knew a little bit about everybody from Kobe to the coaching staff … I was impressed.”

“Absolutely,” Bryant agreed. “I know that everybody understood the significance and the magnitude of it. It’s great to see that … (President Obama) is someone who I obviously got behind and he’s in charge of the country, so it’s just a special feeling being the first NBA team to come to the White House.”

Yet Bryant, whose smile from the ceremony remained on his face as he addressed the press afterward, was most excited to share the experience with his family.

“To me that’s the coolest part about it,” he said. “To see my wife and my two daughters sitting there. They’re fully aware of who he is, and it’s pretty cool to see. It was perfect.”

Obama went on to describe that while the Lakers clearly never lost their focus on the court last season – even citing the “1-2-3 Ring!” chant led by Odom before each game – they also recognized the impact that can be made off the court.

“This team knows that being a champ is about more than trophies and rings,” he said. “It’s about being a winner off the court, and giving back to those that are less fortunate. The Lakers and the NBA have always been about serving others … and that tradition continued last week when the NBA players association, led by Derek Fisher, pledged to donate one million dollars to support relief efforts in Haiti.”

The President also specifically mentioned the contributions of Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and thanked the team for putting on a Monday morning community event with fifth graders from a local Washington D.C. school.

Shaw noted the irony in that visit at the Verizon Center, when the kids looked up to the Lakers much like the Lakers looked up to the President.

“Just how the kids were kind of starry eyed when we were trying to get them organized so that we could do the clinic, I jokingly said (to the players at the White House) that now we’re the kids at the clinic,” explained Shaw. “Everybody’s looking at him just like they were looking at us.”

And so it was as Obama offered the last words.

“I want to thank the entire Lakers organization for your service, for the great joy that you have given the city of Los Angeles and also the incredible competition that your organization has graced the basketball court with for decades now.

“If this season is anything like the last one, I know you have your sights set on the NBA Finals, so we might see you here before long.”

Lakers Excited to Meet President Obama

Before the results to the 2008 Presidential election became official on Nov. 4 of that year, many of the Lakers players were almost as plugged into the outcome as they were the team scouting reports heading into NBA Finals seven months later.

Then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama won in November, and the Lakers followed suit by defeating Orlando in Game 5 in June to secure not just the NBA title, but a trip to the White House to meet the President seven months later a day before L.A.’s Tuesday night game against Washington.

Among Obama’s numerous supporters within the NBA community is Derek Fisher, who relayed his and his team’s sentiments about Monday’s meet and greet prior to L.A.’s Sunday evening game in Toronto.

“We’re all excited about it,” said Fisher. “It’s one of those rare times in an individual lifetime where there is an election or an event that changes the course of the next 30, 40, 50 years.

“A lot of people, including us, feel like President Obama’s election was one of those moments. So to be the first team that gets to actually go and meet him, see the White House and be apart of the entire event is pretty cool.”

Fisher’s backup, Jordan Farmar, expressed similar feelings.

“I’m really excited,” he noted. “I’ve never been to the White House, and being a guest there will be special.“

Farmar actually had a chance to introduce President Obama before a speech in Newport Beach in the summer of 2008, and said he jumped at the opportunity after his agent set up the details.

“It was really special, and President Obama was really cool,” said Farmar, who spoke to Obama for about 15 minutes before the speech. “We talked basketball right away; we had just lost to Boston in the Finals then, but we’ll have something better to talk about this time.”

Yet in his haste to pack for L.A.’s eight-game road trip (three down, five to go), Farmar forgot to pack a suit to wear to the ceremony.

“I had to go get one made (Sunday in Toronto),” he said. “You can’t just go to the White House in jeans and a t-shirt.”

Fortunately, Farmar’s suit was delivered during the game in Toronto; he certainly couldn’t afford to be less than sharp as the first team in what is a predominantly African American professional league met the country’s first African American President.

“A lot of us never thought we would see this day,” said Farmar, who like Obama comes from a bi-racial background. “I feel very special to be apart of it and to have the chance to share this with my teammates – we all get along and really care about each other, so it’s really meaningful.”

One of those teammates, Lamar Odom, responded immediately to a locker room question about his favorite president.

“President Obama, in a land slide,” he said before offering some perspective. “My grandmother was born in Georgia in 1923 … A lot of people coming up didn’t have hope … I’m looking forward to going tomorrow and meeting him face-to-face.”

While Odom joked that he also loved Obama because he was a fellow lefty, his eyes sparkled a bit as he imagined taking a photo with the President.

“Just having that picture in my house in Queens where I was born and raised … that will be a big deal to my family.”

Morrison & Che Guevara

blog_100121morrisonchephilLast night, we learned that Phil Jackson gifted Adam Morrison the book “Che,” by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, which is a graphic biography (also known as a picture book) of Che Guevara.

“Adam has been sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt, so he got the picture book,” said Jackson. “Most of the books are hand-picked.”

Morrison said that he was quite happy with Jackson’s choice for him, as he read Guevara’s biography in high school and found it fascinating.

Prior to the tipoff in Cleveland, Morrison spent a moment discussing the revolutionary nature of the book … before returning to hit a few three-pointers. No word on if there’s any connection to shooting threes and Guevara’s ideas.

Wearing Gold in Cleveland

blog_100121goldjerseyAs was the case in December against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers will wear their gold uniforms in an opposing city.

On that day, the Jazz exercised their option to wear their alternate green uniforms, forcing the Lakers to bring gold unis that are normally reserved for home use only.

Tonight the Cavs will pay tribute to their earlier years in Cleveland as they break out their wine and gold duds.

The game is set for a 5pm tip on TNT.

Lakers Win 3,000th Game

57643338Time to self-congratulate.

The Lakers became the first franchise in NBA history to reach 3,000 wins after a tough win in Dallas on Wednesday night.

Win number 3,000 snapped a four-game road losing streak for the Lakers and improved the 2009-10 squad to a league-best 30-9 record.

In Minneapolis, the Lakers won 457 times in the 1950′s, leaving 2,542 victories in Los Angeles, where the franchise moved prior to the 1960-61 season.

They’ll go for 3,001 against the Clippers on Friday night.

NBA Podcast: Kevin Pelton on the Lakers

Kevin PeltonAmong the websites devoted to covering the NBA from a statistical perspective, BasketballProspectus.com does some of the most detailed, interesting and well-researched work.

In order to examine how some of the more advanced statistics apply to the 2009-10 Lakers through 34 games, we dialed up the site’s lead NBA analyst, Kevin Pelton.

Pelton broke down the plus/minus metric and how it applies to Ron Artest in particular, Kobe Bryant’s increased scoring this season, L.A.’s improved overall defense and more.

To listen, just click “play” below.

Pigeon Invades Phoenix; Kobe Unconcerned

After L.A.’s Sunday afternoon practice concluded at US Airways Center in Phoenix, Kobe Bryant emerged from the training room to address the Lakers’ beat writers, all of whom were soon to be in for an odd occurrence.

Standing at the floor level in the outer tunnel around the arena floor, Bryant spent a few minutes talking about his elbow (“It’s fine”), Steve Nash and the Suns (“I’m anxious to see how we respond to [the challenge]“) and such.

Suddenly, and out of nowhere, a lone pigeon literally flew towards the cluster before altering its flight pattern about 30 feet away (where’s Manu Ginobili when you need him!!).

As a few of the reporters jumped to the side (the natural reaction of most human beings), Bryant simply stood still … expressionless, unfazed, uninterested.

Naturally.

After all, pigeons are no threat to black mambas.