Changing of the Guard

resizeBefore the Lakers lost to the Pacers, the inevitable announcement finally came: Kobe declared his retirement at the end of this season. I am going to use this blog post to personally thank Kobe for making me the Lakers fan I am today. Kobe has been a Laker for 20 years, so I do not remember a time when he didn’t don the purple and gold. During his reign, many greats have come and gone from the Lakers (Shaq, Pau, Malone, etc.), but he has remained. He is always in the conversation for not only “Greatest Laker of All Time” but also “Greatest Player of All Time.” I can sit here and spew all the stats of why he is so incredible, but those deserve their own blog post.

This blog post is about love and appreciation. Kevin Durant said it best when he called out the media for treating, “One of our legends like shit.” I have been so angry listening to people complain about how Kobe is playing. This man has thrown everything into basketball. He has played through countless injuries and came back from one of the worst injuries imaginable. Many people forget that when he tore his Achilles he actually went to the free throw line to make those two shots. They were necessary to make the playoffs and he did it on one leg. Can you imagine any other player in history who could have the composure to make those shots? I remember watching those free throws and crying. I thought that was the last time I would see Kobe play, but that just shows how naïve I was being.

Charles Barkley loves to say: “Father Time is undefeated,” so now it is time for Kobe to join the ranks of players who eventually succumbed to the losing battle. Can’t we take a moment to praise him for fighting for so long? Instead of criticizing him for playing for 20 years, let’s simply say “thank you” for giving it your all. People love to complain that he is a shell of his former self and not worth watching anymore, but when he finally hangs up that uniform and walks away, we will all miss him.

Michael Jordan came back and had an uneventful run with the Wizards, but we don’t remember that. Instead, we speak fondly about how he was the GOAT. We talk about how he played with the flu, took on the “Bad Boys” of Detroit, and created a dynasty. That is the legend we remember.

This season has been incredibly difficult to watch. The Lakers are a terrible team, and Kobe isn’t the same dominant force he was a few years ago. I will admit that this blogger has not watched many games this year. However, I am making a new vow to rededicate myself to watching because after April, I will no longer get to see #24.

203d1fc1555d8805aacfab9d33eae514

Advertisements

A Week in Review 12/7-12/14

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

My Dad and I at the Lakers v Hornets game 12/7. Thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

Hi LakHer fans! I decided I had too much to talk about this week, so I hope you enjoy this week in review! Here are the important stories that came out of LALA land last week.

Lakers lose to New Orleans

For the last 4 years I would go to NOLA’s arena with Abi to watch these two play each other, but this time I changed things up and watched them at Staples. Unfortunately, the highlight of the game was my halftime cake with my dad. Unlike me, the Lakers didn’t show up for the game. It was a blowout, so I do not have much to say. I only do work on my end when the Lakers will do work on their end. Regardless of the game turns out, I always have a blast, so thank you Mike Alder for the tickets!

“Soft as Charmin”

One of the biggest stories of the week was the media coverage of a Lakers practice. Reporters watched as Kobe verbally bitch slapped his teammates. It is no secret that Kobe is a trash talker, but these comments really took people off guard. Some of his teammates, like Lin, were even visibly upset by them.

Personally, I didn’t really get what the big deal was. This is Kobe being Kobe. If the players were upset by it, then they really are as “soft as Charmin.” Kobe admits his leadership style doesn’t work for everyone and that it can upset players at times, but he was trying to motivate his team. I would like to point out that since he made those comments, the Lakers are 3-0 and one of those games came against the defending champions.

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Charmin responds to the Kobe drama

Kobe did acknowledge that the trash talking was a bit harsher than usual, but that’s what happens when you are losing. He told reporters that the whole conversation actually made him a bit uncomfortable, because he obviously doesn’t want to hurt his teammates, but he grew up trash talking. He even said that it is a lost art. Maybe his words were a little harsh for a fellow teammate, but I have certainly heard worse things come out of Garnet, Miller, and Pierce’s mouths. I mean, Reggie Miller grabbed his crouch during his game and made a chocking sign, I think that is a bit more offensive.

Speaking of chocking…

“I Can’t Breathe”

I try to keep these posts basketball focused. If I am not talking about the game, then I am normally talking about what is happening behind the scenes. But this week something bigger than basketball happened. It all started when Derek Rose came out for warm ups wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. For those of you unaware, this was in reference to Eric Garner’s last words before he died after being put into a choke hold by police.

Police brutality has been a big issue in the country for the last 2 weeks, and the conversation does not seem to be going away. After Rose wore the shirt, LeBron followed suit, and then so did the entire Lakers team (minus Sacre). The shirt made a huge statement, so much so that even our president came out in support.

I Can't Breathe

There is a long history of politics seeping its way into the sports world, so it is not surprising that this issue has taken over the NBA. This league is predominately comprised of black players, so they were going to take a stance since this issue has been trending with #blacklivesmatter.

Personally, I am very happy that the Lakers took this stand. I will fully admit that I have been very upset with all the violence that has been happening and the lack of indictments. Wearing that shirt is a peaceful way for the Lakers to show their disappointment with our system, and get the issue lots of attention. Unfortunately, right now most of that attention is going to the handful of looters and violent protesters. Prominent figures like Kobe, Rose and James can help adjust the conversation.

#3

Last night Kobe hit a very big mile stone. He passed Michael Jordan and took over the #3 spot on the scoring list. It was a great moment and I am so thrilled for him. The Timberwolves showed class by stopping the game to present him with the ball and acknowledge the moment.

I know everyone wanted Kobe to pass Michael with a fade away shot, but honestly it really doesn’t matter. No one will remember the exact shot that passed Michael. Kobe got it on a free throw because like Michael, he knows how to draw fouls.

On the subject of 3’s, I have to talk about our Swaggy P’s game winner against San Antonio. When that shot went up I was convinced we were doomed. Ginobli was all over Nick Young, but good defense was defeated by better offense. I guess he’s right in saying nobody can guard him! Congrats to Swaggy for the amazing shot, and thank you for giving us Lakers fans an exciting game against our longtime rival.

Speaking of San Antonio, I would like to take a quick moment to recognize Tim Duncan. In our match up on Friday, Tim passed our very own Jerry West for 18th on the scoring list. While it is never easy to see someone else take a spot from him, I truly admire Tim Duncan. I would love to just hate him. For years he was our biggest obstacle, but he is an absolute class act. He is a future hall of fame player, and I really can’t find anything negative to say about him. That drives me crazy! So congratulations Tim Duncan, you deserve it.

Buss Kids Interview

This week the dynamic duo were on damage control, since you know, the Lakers are losing and Kobe is busy comparing his teammates to a product people wipe their asses with. Therefore, they decided it would be a good idea to give a joint interview. We all know that I could spend hours talking about the Wonder Twins, but I will save you the time and just give you the highlights:

Tanking is Unforgivable

Jim and Jeannie put the notion to rest that there would be any chance of the Lakers tanking the rest of the season, per Magic’s request. I understand the damage it does to players and a brand. That doesn’t mean that I do not see where Magic is coming from. I do want that draft pick.

Jeannie is still upset about the D’Antoni hiring

Let’s take a look at this Q&A:
Jeanie, you have been on record as saying that the Lakers let Dwight Howard down. What did you mean by that?
Jeanie:
It came down to hiring a coach. [The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in November 2012.] When you have a big man and a guard, you have to decide whom you’re going to build your team around. The choice was to build it around Steve Nash and what suited Steve Nash instead of what suited Dwight Howard.

I have to say that she is right on the money. The Lakers picked a coach and built around a 38 year old point guard instead of the young Super Star Center. If you keep reading the interview, Jim tries to backtrack and blames it on Jerry. Sure, go ahead and blame the dead guy who can’t defend himself, classy move Jimbo. Needless to say it is a fascinating segment.

The Lakers have Virtually No Game Plan

When Jim is asked about his pitch to free agents this summer, he says, “The pitch is we can go for two max players. And we have room to solidify the team with others.” Yes Jim, you have the money to sign them, but why on earth do they want to play for you? Unless players decide to pull a James-Wade-Bosh and all meet up in one place, then it isn’t going to happen. We are a terrible team, and players have no faith in ownership. Kobe is our only real asset and he is on the verge of retirement. Needless to say, if this interview was supposed to give me faith for the future, then it failed miserably.

Jeannie Doesn’t Anticipate the Lakers Missing the Playoffs

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am sorry, I thought that was a joke?

Jim is sticking by his Promise

I brought this up in my last post how Jim said he would step down if the Lakers are not back on top in 3 years. He reinforced that promise in this interview. Jeannie supported him and said the Lakers are on track to be on top in 3 years. (Another joke)?

I have already exhausted this issue, but I am happy to see him not back peddling.

LakHer Blog: Thanksgiving Edition

Happy-ThanksgivingHello LakHer fans! I know that I have been radio silent for a while (sorry Zjelko), but I have a good reason for it. As you all know I try not to post negative blogs. I will give constructive criticism, but I will never just rant. I always try to offer a solution. However, I am not going to lie, things are pretty bad in Lakerland. Honestly, there is not much I can say to lift your spirits or suggestions I can give to improve our team. Our current roster is terrible. I was hopeful that Julius Randle would be a bright spot this year, but since he injured himself in the first game, we need to move on for the time being. Barring some big trade (which seems unlikely since all the owners around the league seem to have made their own agreement not give the Lakers any valuable players and since we have nothing to give in return) we are screwed.

Now, I hate making blanket statements like that, particularly ones that are so negative, so I will offer the one spot in which the Lakers can and must improve: defense. The Lakers have the worst defense in the league. They gave up 140 points to Dallas the other night; that is just pathetic. I can accept the fact that the Lakers have a less talented team. I can accept the fact that besides Kobe Bryant and Nick Young, the Lakers are going to struggle to score. However, I cannot accept poor defense. Defense does not require a lot of skill; it is all about effort. Anderson Varejao is a mediocre player at best, but he has stuck around in the league because he will harass any player he is told to defend. He makes simple plays difficult, and that’s the point of defense.

Byron Scott promised us premiere defense when he became our coach. He knew that fans like me were sick of the D’Antoni-no-defense style. However, we have yet to see him deliver on his promise. I will go easy on him, since the Lakers put together almost an entirely new group of people, and chemistry does take time (just ask the Cavs), but I do expect some major improvements on the defensive end. I am a bit of a stat junkie. I can spend hours on ESPN’s stat page going over every single detail. So I decided to give my loyal readers a little taste of the good stuff. I wanted to analyze this defensive problem that the Lakers are having. First, I want to rule out D’Antoni’s fear that we aren’t scoring enough. The Lakers are doing fine on the offensive end, as they are currently ranked at #12 averaging 101.4 points per game. Turnovers are also not the issue since the Lakers are only giving up 12.2 per game making them 6th best in the league. Now that we have ruled out offense as the issue (see D’Antoni), I will move on to the defense. The Lakers are simply giving up too many easy shots. Teams are averaging 110.8 points per game against us, making us the worst defense in the league. Additionally, the teams are scoring efficiently. Teams are shooting 48.9% from the field and 39.3% from 3-point land. Those numbers are unacceptable.

On a happier note, since we are in the Holiday season, and we are supposed to be saying what we are thankful for, I will point out the few bright spots of the season. This way we can at least get through the dog days without crying (too much).

Kobe Bryant and the ESPN #40 ranking

I have two words for ESPN, “Thank you.” Kobe uses lots of things to motivate him, but people doubting him comes in pretty high on the list. Honestly, it is probably right under winning championships.

He is a little less explosive but his footwork and moves are still there. Right now he is the scoring leader averaging 26.4 points per game. I do not think that is sustainable, but he is making a point. I believe that he will end up averaging about 20 points a game this year. I believe this for a few reasons. First, he will want to show ESPN that they were wrong and he is still relevant. Second, this Lakers team doesn’t have a lot of scoring weapons so he will need to score out of necessity, but with Scott admitting that Kobe’s minutes will go down (because now they are way too high at 35.2 per game making him sixth highest in the league) he will have less time to score. Lastly, and most importantly he will need to average 20 points a game in order to pass Michael Jordan on the All Time Scoring List in December. I think that spot on the list means more to Kobe than any other record. He has always been compared to Jordan and taking that spot from him will help his case. Kobe will probably not be able to acquire that sixth ring, but he can take Jordan’s scoring spot away from him.

Nick Young

Hallelujah! Swaggy P is back and healthy! Upon Nick’s return, the Lakers won their first 2 games in a row. It was a holiday miracle! He is the type of player that we need to get through this really tough season. We are going to lose a lot of games, but he is going to make some crazy shots that end up on ESPN’s top 10 plays. Before he was in the lineup, these games were depressing. The last couple of games have not been his best, but he is getting his swagger back, and I am excited to see him get back to his best form. I always speak highly of Nick because he is everything you want in a sixth man: burst of energy, loves his position, and an instant game changer. Sure, I make fun of his hair, and some the stupid decisions he makes, but overall I think he is wonderful and I am so happy we have him.

Jordan Hill

I remember being very skeptical when the Lakers gave Jordan such a massive contract in the off season, but so far he has proved his worth. He has been our only defensive anchor on a very crappy defensive team. He has had 8 double doubles this year while averaging about 10 rebounds per game. No matter how badly the rest of the team is playing, he is always putting in the effort.

Last night’s first half against Memphis

I was so impressed watching the first half against Memphis. The Lakers were moving the ball, and playing great defense. Ronnie Price made some amazing plays. The whole Lakers team was playing together, and Kobe was able to rest and take very few shots. Everyone stepped up and it was impressive to watch us beating one of the best teams in the Western Conference. If the Lakers could sustain that effort and chemistry through an entire game, then they would actually be a bit dangerous, however we have yet to really see that happen. Since I am saying what I am thankful for, I will not go into what happened in the second half, needless to say there is a reason why I am not thankful for it.

Steve Nash is no longer a distraction (sort of)

Besides angering fans by playing golf, Steve Nash is out of sight and out of mind. It was announced earlier this season that he was officially done for the season. He said he was going to take his $9.7 million, because he would be an idiot not to. While it wasn’t the classiest move, I don’t necessarily disagree with him. It is hard to walk away from that much money, no matter how much you are worth. Additionally, this man has no loyalty to the Lakers, if anything, he has more reason than most to want to screw us over since we thwarted any chance of him ever getting a ring for a decade. When the announcement came that he was officially done, all I wanted to do was yell and scream, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!” Don’t worry fans, I will be adding the announcement to that blog as well.

The other night my parents were complaining that Nash wasn’t sitting on the bench. My mom asked, “Shouldn’t all injured players be in their suits on the bench? Where is he?” to which my dad replied, “Playing golf.” In theory, Nash should be sitting his ass on the bench watching every single home game. In reality, it is better to keep him far away. Fans hate him, and seeing his face only reminds them of the failed “big 3.”  When we are over the hate, we should have him return to the bench where he can assist. Luke Walton did the same thing whenever he had a back injury and it was very helpful. Jeremy Lin could really use some guidance from the future Hall of Fame point guard. Every time I watch Lin handle the ball I can feel him over thinking it. In the first half last night, he was back in Linsanity form, but in the second half (when everything else for the Lakers fell apart) he kept turning the ball over because he kept over thinking. Maybe Nash can help him learn how to read and react as opposed to getting stuck in the plays. If Nash could help resurrect Linsanity then Lakers fans would get over the amount of money we have paid Nash to sit on the bench (or at home).