Archive for the 'On The Road' Category
While winning three straight games has made the road a bit less weary for the Lakers*, the team was nonetheless a bit on the tired side after a morning flight out of Philadelphia to Boston prior to the team’s first full practice since the current trip began on January 20.
*Eleven of 13 days and seven of eight cities: check.
We took some notes during pre-practice interviews with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to make sure you didn’t miss anything important:
- Jackson explained that the Lakers – Celtics rivalry is still alive, even if it’s different from how it was back in the 1960′s and 1980′s. “It’s a more civilized crowd,” he said, after referencing old fighting in the stands, beer throwing and the like.
- To Phil, Ron Artest can certainly continue to play as well as he did in Philadelphia. Jackson quipped that perhaps it was due to the presence of Artest’s father, though we learned last night that Artest is simply feeling healthy, finally.
- Jackson failed to attribute too much to Boston’s two-game losing streak through Orlando and Atlanta. “They’re still a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs,” he said.
- Kevin Garnett missed the first nine games in January with a knee injury and may not be back to 100 percent, but Jackson said that L.A. will still approach him as if he were. “He’s still a rover defensively, and he’s still a guy that’s going to hit those shots from 20 feet – you have to account for that.”
- Bryant said that he’s feeling OK after tweaking his knee and ankle in Friday evening’s win at Philly. He explained that it was his knee that hurt at first, but he simply walked it off until the pain was gone about five minutes later. His ankle began to get sore as the game wore on, but is not an issue for Bryant, who said he’s looking forward to trading blows with the Celtics.
- To Bryant, L.A. simply needs to match Boston’s intensity and energy on Sunday. It’s not so much about playing a specific style (i.e. a physical style), but bringing effort.
- The 2008 Finals loss isn’t something Bryant really thinks about; he focuses more on the fact that Boston simply plays very well at home.
- Bryant said that his finger is feeling about 80 percent better than it was at its worst point, and demonstrated to reporters that he has a bit better range of motion. Of course, it still looked pretty swollen, but to Bryant it had undergone “an improvement.”
- On the affect of losing in the Finals: “Last season we played the way we were supposed to. We played hard, and we carried the frustration from the year before. Hopefully we’ll do the same (on Sunday). It’s a game we look forward to, a game that’s going to be extremely hard.”
- Gasol said that while this is certainly a game L.A. would like to win, it’s not something that’s going to define a season one way or the other. Jackson and Bryant have echoed that sentiment as well.
- On attacking Kevin Garnett: “My understanding is that his leg is not completely healthy. I’ve seen him play, and I don’t know how much he’s struggling and hurting with it, because his injury was never clear to the public. But I’m just going to try and be aggressive with him no matter how his leg is doing. He’s playing, he’s a competitor and he wants to help out his team; I think he’s a good leader, and his team needs him.”
- Since Brown was traded just a few days after the team’s win in Boston last season, he’s yet to face the Celtics while wearing a Lakers jersey. Yet he already realizes that the stakes are different: “I never had the chance to play in this matchup, but I’m definitely excited to be apart of it. You still have to take the approach of respective them as a basketball team while just playing our own game. But maybe a little bit more focused.”
“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”
- Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
On April 19, 1995, the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil prior to Sept. 11, 2001 occurred when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The attack killed 168 people and injured over 800 in a horrible act of cowardice that lingers strongly over the Memorial. Beautifully laid out in the heart of downtown with a long, thin lake, two large rectangular structures and 168 individual chairs symbolizing each passed victim, the Memorial stands today to “Honor the victims, survivors, rescuers and all who were changed forever,” as stated at the site.
Some Lakers staffers ventured to the site on Tuesday afternoon, hours before tipoff at OKC’s Ford Center, where L.A. would take on the Thunder for the first time in their building this season.
“It’s just such a sad thing with no justification or explanation,” said assistant coach Jim Cleamons. “We have to be thankful for what we have.”
If nothing else, visiting the site – a truly sobering experience – lent some perspective on the game of basketball that we’re all quite fortunate to watch and be a part of.
That would be the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, in all of its 1,815.4 feet.
The world’s highest free standing structure – which took three years to build and was completed in 1976 – stands in full glory above downtown Toronto, affording all who go up (Ty Nowell and I in this case) to take in North America’s 5th largest city on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Along the way, we met the Queen of Toronto (tour guide Susan), a random Lakers fan (Dan) from Syracuse, New York in town for the game and kept our mini camera rolling throughout.
Here’s the video:
video player to watch in High Quality)
After Wednesday’s shootaround in Toronto, we brought our mini video camera up to Sasha Vujacic’s room to look on as Lakers assistant trainer Marco Nunez stretched the guard/forward’s hip flexor and other muscles.
It’s actually quite common for trainers to meet with players at various times of the day to ensure that their bodies are operating as effectively as possible come game time. Nunez offered the metaphor of a car, which constantly needs various kinds of maintenance like oil changes, new tires or what have you.
Here’s the video:
How does an NBA assistant coach prepare for a six-game road trip? Which opponents does he focus on, what occurs on “off days” and what are his particular methods and tricks to impart information on his players?
On the road in Minneapolis, we spent a little time with Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons to talk about those topics and more.
Here’s what Clem had to say:
Regular season road trip No. 1 = Denver.
From the sky above Colorado* a few hours after I caught up with Mihm at practice, radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes and I chatted about the plane’s food, how his voice projects at altitude and why we’re not at all sold on the Nuggets.
*Yeah, the above picture isn’t exactly what we saw from the plane, but you get the point.
In other news, my Zach Morris costume idea went down in flames when the “Bayside Tigers” t-shirt I ordered to complement a pair of stone-washed jeans, hightops with the tongue sticking out and a wave in my hair ended up being too small to fit a skinny fourth-grader. But whatever, Happy Halloween and all that. Here’s the convo with Spero:
Before we took off for Denver, I spent a few minutes with Chris Mihm on the practice court to get his take on the transition from practice to the plane.
Here’s what Mihm, who was the last Laker player on the floor as he worked alongside assistant coach Kurt Rambis, had to say:
The local sports teams do a great job of supporting one another in this city.
At today’s Red Sox/Mariners game a whole ribbon board was devoted to “Beat L.A.” and other pro Celtics phrases (as pictured above). Why not feed the beast though right? Half the crowd was wearing green today anyway, so give them what they want.
In turn, the Celtics found some very good seats for members of the Patriots at Game 1 and with a day game today a lot of Red Sox are in the building. Mike Lowell is up in a suite, Sox owner John Henry is in row two and Curt Schilling and David Ortiz are courtside.
(Ortiz is sitting next to former Celtic Antoine Walker, who at one point dubbed himself “Employee #8″, one of the best all-time nicknames)
The Celtics also made a point to honor Red Sox pitcher and cancer survivor Jon Lester as part of their “Heroes Among Us” program.