Earlier today on ESPN’s Mike And Mike In The Morning 11-time championship coach Phil Jackson alluded to his reaction when he was told by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak that he would not be re-hired by the Lakers in favor of ex Suns/Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. It was almost a given that Jackson would return to the head coaching role left open by the recently fired Mike Brown, and no one expected the complete 180 Lakers management did that night. Calling Jackson at midnight to inform him that D’Antoni was the right man for the job over Jackson, considering the current roster including Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Phil had kept quiet about the incident for the duration of the season, with many fans calling for Mike D’Antoni’s head and the ever present chant of “We Want Phil!” echoing around the Staples Center on a nightly basis. Even then he kept quiet. But on the eve of the release of his new book Eleven Rings: The Soul Of Success, Jackson has become more vocal about a number of topics, including that of the choice to hire D’Antoni.
Welcome to another edition of NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable! This week we’ll be tackling more hot topics from around the league including George Karl, the MVP award, the free agent debate in LA, most improved teams, Derrick Rose and Kobe’s mum (only because it’s Mother’s Day). We also welcome back podcaster and blogger Jabari Davis from The OpinioNation (theopnation.com), Brent Veale formerly of That Basketball Show and Tom Read from the #BelieveTheHype podcast!
After yesterday’s embarrassing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and his untimely ejection from the game early in the third quarter, and what appeared to be a confrontation with GM Mitch Kupchak (later dismissed) Lakers center Dwight Howard finally opened up to the world via Twitter in an attempt to rectify what he felt to be one of the most disappointing seasons of his career. Howard, widely regarded as the league’s best center, was ejected from yesterday’s game following his second technical foul for questioning the officials non-call after what he believed to be a hard foul. In the midst of all this, the Lakers were down by 20 points and Dwight being ejected at this point essentially spelled a loss before the game was even over, and the end of the 2012/13 Lakers season.
Kobe Bryant is no stranger to estranged relationships and high pressure situations. His tenure with Shaquille O’Neal at the Lakers from 1996 to 2004 proved difficult but ultimately rewarding for the young Bryant who was blessed with 3 championships with one of history’s most dominant centers. His strained relationship with Shaq has been written to death, talked about in newspapers and television programs and analyzed online to the point where we wondered how Bryant would ever deal with the injection of another superstar into a team he, and the city of Los Angeles, knows belongs to him. Kobe has long said that he and Shaq’s relationship was so discordant that it got to the point where the two couldn’t stand to be in the same room together and while Championships resulted, it would be remiss of Bryant to imagine it happening again. Chemistry is more important in today’s game than it ever has been, and he knows it. While there is not a requirement that teams and players become best friends, there undoubtedly needs to be a high level of trust and personality that can be transferred from training, to the locker rooms and eventually to the court. This is something that has plagued the new-look, super team that is the 2013 Los Angeles Lakers and more to the point, Kobe Bryant and their new superstar center Dwight Howard but now, it seems as though things may be changing for the better.
We don’t really know what to say apart from WOW! Vintage Kobe, with authority sends Staples Centre into a frenzy with this thunderous dunk over Josh Smith down the stretch ofg the Lakers 99-98 win over Atlanta. BOOM!
This week’s tweet of the week comes from new Twitter convert Kobe Bryant, and it’s a doozie. After Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggested earlier this week that the Lakers, if they truly wanted to accommodate Dwight Howard, could potentially amnesty Kobe Bryant to make their future franchise centerpiece happy and save some serious money. Not only is it unrealistic, a move like this would be a PR nightmare for the Lakers, as Kobe has become a symbol for the City of LA throughout his career and fan backlash would be outrageous. This isn’t to say Cuban’s comments are out of line. He mentioned amnestying Dirk in the same sentence, but it’s still not something Laker fans like to hear, and with good reason. He just dumped 38 points 12 rebounds and 7 assists on the Mavs in the Lakers emphatic win earlier today. He’s still got it, and decided to let Mark know exactly how he felt. Not only did Kobe speak with his game, he also gets our Tweet of The Week for his very public response:
It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have built their franchise on risk taking and money spending. From the showtime era to the current…well… not so showtime era, the Lakers have always been happy to spend the extra money, and take the extra risk to ensure that silverware returned to the city. This ethos has paid off for the Lakers time and time again, but now, they face a whole new risk and as of 3PM (US EST) today, they officially handed over the reigns to a man who now has the club, and the people of LA eating out of the palm of his hand and bowing to his every need. The Lakers are now at the beckon call of Dwight Howard and if this team is to succeed in the near future, it is imperative that they do all they can to keep him. I have argued, as have many, that the Lakers, in order to remain top dog should trade Howard as the risk of losing him to free agency for nothing is too great a risk to take. If he leaves, the Lakers are left with nothing but a memory of the year that could have been, but wasn’t. They however, do not feel the same way. The trade deadline has come and gone and as Mitch Kupchak stated would be the case, Dwight Howard is still very much a Laker and he will be until July 1st 2013. Beyond that only he knows but now, he can dictate his way around the Lakers organization just as he did Orlando. He can direct to his taste the offense, the defense, the coach, the players. Everything.
Legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss has passed away this morning aged 80 with family and friends by his side. Dr. Buss had long been dealing with serious illness but last week it was revealed that he was close to death. Throughout the course of history we have seen many great owners across a wide variety of sports, but none more so than Dr. Buss who bought the Lakers, along with the LA Kings and the Forum Arena for $67.5 million in 1979. Under Buss the Lakers organization has been able to acquire a host of legendary players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Shaquille O’Neil, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard with Buss long claiming that no matter the cost, winning was what mattered most. Buss oversaw 16 Lakers finals appearances and 10 Lakers titles in his time forging what is known as one of the most successful sporting franchises in sports history.
Kobe Bryant. 34 years old, and edging ever closer to his last hurrah. Or is he? The Lakers went into Brooklyn Wednesday (Aus) and fought off a third quarter onslaught by the nets to close the game on a 10-0 run and pull off a big 92-83 win at Barclay’s. There were many highlights from this game but none more so than this absolute monster hammer from the Black Mamba. With the game tied at 80, Bryant dribbled the ball into the paint, crashing through Nets’ defenders Gerald Wallace and Chris Humphries, splitting them perfectly and rising to throw down a ridiculous slam that is worthy of a #1 SportsCenter Top 10 moment. Watch the incredible dunk below!