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Quality Slice

I sent out quite possibly the worst hint for this upcoming article and without fail it was easily dismantled and figured out.

Thanks to Nick How for trying to stir the pot and throw in names such as Ian Botham and Glen Davis.

 

About a year ago for a school assignment I wrote an article about how Peyton Manning somehow with age had gone to a whole new level.

Whilst doing the research for this piece it was unfathomable how good this guy got every passing year (pardon the NFL pun there).

Yes it makes sense for athletes to get better, but normally once they have passed their ‘peak’ the numbers are supposed to continue to climb.

With all of that being said, I can’t help but feel that Kobe Bryant may be in for a 2013/14 Peyton Manning-esque season.

Kobe ‘Black Mamba’ Bryant is a very rare creature and similar to the beef he is a slice unlike anything else you may have spotted. He standouts in a game of remarkable characters

 

The stories are remarkably similar, Manning suffered from neck injuries which forced him onto the sidelines for extended periods of time. Bryant since rupturing his Achilles has faced a long arduous road back.

When they were out of the game, talks began about their place in the history of it all but they knew all along that history had not yet been written. They merely laughed at the speculation that they were done, all the while knowing another chapter was waiting to be written.

Now what Manning did in 2013/14 was supernormal, I don’t want to jump the gun and say Bryant will come back and destroy the competition (mostly because I admire the hell out of him and just want him back on the court).

But the drive that this guys lives his everyday life with is enough to make you believe that when he finally takes the court, his game may have evolved, he will still be steps above the rest.

And to be fair, Manning had unequivocally the best tools surrounding him to help get the job done.

Here is where the main issue lies though with Bryant, two types surround him:

  • Brand new unpackaged tools that have yet to taste real action
  • Old rusted and almost broken down tools.

The Lakers cast and crew are a very oddball bunch and you get the feeling not only are we the fans hoping that Bryant returns but his teammates are wishing for him to come back as the Bryant of old.

Having written some time ago now about how the game is becoming more small ball orientated, this could play in the hands of Bryant. Although he may not be too keen on the frenetic pace that some teams play at, he will absolutely lick his lips if he see’s another point guard trying to line up and guard him.

Being a Celtic fan it’s so easy for me to look at the Lakers roster and pokes holes in it (yes there are a few) but I’ve tried my best to remove these green shades for this article.

No player on the roster benefits more from a healthy Bryant than new kid on the block Julius Randle, the guidance that he will give to him will help his career immensely. If he even picks up one fifth of Bryant’s work ethic then the NBA world needs to be put on notice. And it seems the Mamba is excited for his newest addition.

 

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Bryant is a relentless workhorse who won’t let some silly injury keep him from doing what he does better than most people can only dream of.

I for one cannot wait to see the Black Mamba back out on the floor in the NBA and if he can have a similar run to that of Manning then we are all in for a spectacular treat.

As long as the cursed injury bug doesn’t come back to bite him, the game is in a lot better shape than what it is with Bryant sitting eloquently on the sidelines.

I often at times get weird looks from people when I admit my love for Bryant seeing as though I’m a diehard Celtic. But the thing is, no matter whom you are, champions deserve respect and the game is better when Bryant is playing.

It’s funny too look back at the article I wrote about Manning and realize that the ending could easily be about Bryant.

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Seriously, change the wording slightly and that could easily be about Bryant.

 

I’ve heard a lot of athletes lately question the decision of retirement and whether or not it’s best to bow out with a little left in the tank or push it and leave when you have nothing left at all.

All I can say for certain is that when the time comes, we are going to need an army to drag Kobe Bryant away from the game; he has undoubtedly become one of the all time greats at.

@jLmcKern



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Rookie Watch: Julius Randle (LAL)

It’s been a while since we’ve done Rookie Watch here at NBA Nation Australia.

Before the 2012/13 season we focused on Jared Sullinger, Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson throughout their rookie NBA seasons, and the features were always hugely popular. 

I chose young shooting guard Bradley Beal, as I believed firmly he would evolve into someone with the ilk of a truly great NBA player, who would be as fun to watch as he would be exciting. Thankfully, I’ve been proven right with Beal capping off a fantastic season for the Washington Wizards in the 2014 Playoffs. He’s becoming more confident in his role every day, and going forward will be an integral part of the Wizard’s plan. 

This year, with the NBA draft being so deep, we’ve decided to jump back on the rookie watch bandwagon, and cover a couple of the guys who perhaps aren’t getting quite the amount of hype or media attention they deserve. You have your Wiggins’s and your Parker’s, but we’ll be taking time out to check in on a couple of guys who are sure to be big players not only in the rookie of the year stakes, but also for their respective teams throughout the NBA season.

So, I’m choosing someone a little closer to my heart in ex-Kentucky Wildcat and 2014 NCAA runner up, Julius Randle, who was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 7th overall pick in the Draft.

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These will be ongoing pieces throughout the year, so please feel free to forward us anything interesting you find relating to our respective players and we’ll include it in our reports. Be it a tweet, video, Instagram or an article… if you think it’s relevant, send it through! 

Standing a formidable 6 foot 9 inches, Julius Randle was one of the more polarizing figures in the 2014 draft. A Kentucky freshman, he was one of the Wildcats’ best performers throughout the 2013/14 NCAA season, helping his team reach the Championship game in March and while Kentucky lost to the University of Connecticut in a close contest, Randle was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest, he shot 50% across 40 games for the Cats and lead the Nation in double-doubles with 24 on the year. Randle also played alongside Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the 2013 McDonald’s All American game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic that year, one of six Wildcats competing in the event. 

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The Lakers had been enamored with Randle throughout much of their 2013/14 campaign, and with their off-season focus turning towards the draft, he became their number one target. While Lakers management believed Randle would be off the board by the 7th pick, the Lakers were overjoyed when their rival Celtics took Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart at six, leaving the door wide open for them to claim their man. 

Called the draft’s “most NBA ready player” by the experts, the 250lb power forward will be heavily featured in Lakers coach Byron Scott’s rotation, especially now that their two time champ and star big man Pau Gasol has made the move to Chicago. Providing the team with stellar defensive efficiency, and the ability to muscle his way through traffic in the paint will mean big things for a Lakers team without an enforcer type player to throw his weight around down low. Randle can move with the ball, get his own shot, and out-muscle his competition on the glass – A huge advantage for the Lakers who were a lowly 25th in rebounding percentage last season.  

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New team mate and fellow workhorse Kobe Bryant, who has made a career out of demanding the best out of his fellow players, was pleased with the drafting of Randle, given his love for hard work.

“I demand a lot from my teammates as well. Holding each other accountable, putting extra work in was what I had to do at Kentucky. It was what I demanded of my teammates and that’s what we did and that’s why we were successful.” Randle said on draft night. “He [Kobe] may get tired of me because I’m going to be bugging him, trying to learn stuff from him. I’m going to learn a lot from him.”

We believe you, rook. 

Summer League 2014

Randle’s first experience as a member of the Lakers came during July’s NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, NV where alongside fellow draftee Jordan Clarkson and a host of other Laker hopefuls, he impressed officials and sent a wave of excitement around Laker Nation. Whilst the Lakers finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, the two rookies were at the forefront of the team for the duration, impressing both fans and critics alike with a wide range of skills.

Missing the first game due to a contract mishap, Randle averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes across four starts, all the while shooting a respectable 44.8%. Both he and Clarkson are expected to arrive at Lakers HQ in El Segundo, CA this month ahead of training camp in early October.

Check out some of Randle’s highlights from the SL below: 

Social Media Highlights

As is the case with most high profile sports stars these days, social media plays a huge part in their day to day lives, as it does ours, so part of our rookie updates will include the best of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook throughout the season. in case you’re not already following Julius Randle, you can do so via the links below. For now, here are a few highlights so far:

Instagram (@juliusrandle30)

You can't handle Randle! He's already been signed by Nike on a rookie deal.

You can’t handle Randle! He’s already been signed by Nike on a rookie deal.

Meant to be. Randle actually grew up a fan of the purple and gold!

Meant to be. Randle actually grew up a fan of the purple and gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As is tradition in LA, the rookie takes in the sights at Dodger Stadium

As is tradition in LA, the rookie takes in the sights at Dodger Stadium

Randle with his biggest supporter as he is introduced to the LA media

Randle with his biggest supporter as he is introduced to the LA media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter (@J30_RANDLE)

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Specs

Name: Julius Randle

DOB: 29/11/1994 (Age 19)

Height: 6’9″

Position: Power Forward

Pick: Selected with the 7th overall pick by the LA Lakers in the 2014 Draft

College: University of Kentucky Wildcats

 

So there you have it – Julius Randle, the highest Laker draft pick since James Worthy in 1982. The kid has some big shoes to fill but we can’t wait to see how his game evolves during his time with the Lakers. Thanks for reading, and make sure you keep checking back for regular updates. Again, if you want to submit something to be a part of the next update, send it to us and we’ll include it!



NBA: Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Lakers

The Curious Case Of Kobe Bryant

It wasn’t long ago. June 2010, and Los Angeles was in a state of euphoria. The Lakers had just won the NBA Championship on their home floor, in game 7 against a tough Boston Celtics squad, and had ambitions of their second three-peat under the guidance of Phil Jackson. There was hysteria at the Staples Center as Kobe Bryant celebrated his 5th title, and the Lakers were once again sitting atop the NBA pile, victorious for the 16th time in their history.

No one could have predicted what would unfold for this franchise, and its superstar over the next four years. It’s a story that will be written in the annals of basketball history, and studied throughout the years as a piece of Lakers folklore that is just as culturally important, although not as successful, as the Showtime Lakers of the 1980’s or the Shaq and Kobe era during the early 2000’s. As any Lakers fan will tell you, the unwavering love for the ball club is second to none, but this is a story that has tested, and will continue to test even the most hardened fans.

A second round exit to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in 2011 would set in motion a series of events for the Los Angeles Lakers that would render them unable to compete for a title for years, and put the franchise in a state of flux from which they are yet to pull themselves. The lockout, the nixed Chris Paul deal, the Dwight Howard saga, numerous coaching debacles and injury have all been a part of a period in Lakers history which many will be happy to see the end of. Even if it takes years.

Perhaps the most intriguing, and equally tragic element in the Lakers downfall however, is the final phase of their superstar and leader, Kobe Bryant’s career.

An 18-year veteran, Bryant has endured both good times and bad in his years with the Lakers, but none so much as the current challenges he faces in the twilight of his much decorated time at the top. Five Championships, two finals MVP’s and a league MVP, two scoring titles, sixteen All Star selections, 4th highest scorer in NBA history (soon to be third) and countless other accolades have cemented Bryant as one of the top 10 players of all time, but now, in his (presumably) final two years, perhaps his greatest challenge awaits.

His horrific Achilles injury in 2013 had the NBA world questioning whether he’d ever be the player he was again, given the history of the injury he sustained that April night at Staples Center seldom yields positive results. He returned for 6 games in December (averaging a respectable 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game) before a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau (knee) forced the Lakers to sit Bryant for the remainder of a season already lost, and hope their star would be ready come October 2014.

And ready he is. Working himself back into game-ready shape, and by all accounts, looking good. Kobe Bryant will be fit, healthy and ready to go come opening night.

The off season hasn’t panned out quite as the Lakers had hoped. After locking up Kobe for two more years with a much criticized $48 million contract, they aimed at big time free agents Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and missed out on both. Instead the results this summer have been, while solid, relatively underwhelming. Additions have included Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, and 7th overall pick Julius Randle, while also re-signing the likes of Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill. A roster that, while maybe not title-winning in stature, will provide Bryant with some reasonable company until next summer when the team will have numerous free agency targets.

A veritable gold-mine for those who subscribe to the notion that other stars are against playing with Kobe, the Lakers inability to lock down their targets in free agency has become more about the veteran and his stubborn ways than it has about the team, and what playing in Los Angeles can do for a player, even beyond basketball. In that, it is important to remember that the Lakers, while a desirable destination no matter which way you view things, have never used free agency as a means of re-tooling. Throughout the past 18 years, there are few occasions whereby the team has acquired talent via free agency, preferring trades as a means of improvement.

But with 2 picks in 2015, and a top 5 protected lottery opportunity, being awful may not be so bad for the Lakers next season – The issue is, however, Kobe. To assume a guy like Bryant will be happy with losing in his final years to better the team going forward, is naive. Call him selfish, but at this point, he’s earned the right. You can bet the house that with everything he’s faced this past 15 months, there is a fire burning under Kobe Bryant, and despite the burden on his shoulders, he’ll be there on opening night, ready to lead his team out of mediocrity and back into the spotlight. The questions that need to be answered will be in due time, and whether he proves you wrong or right, there must be a level of respect for a man who has given his whole self to the game of basketball.

The debate continues to rage surrounding Kobe, and if he’ll still be able to contribute to the Lakers going forward, but while his Championship window is as good as closed, there is still plenty left in the tank. The fact is, that while many continue to doubt Kobe’s ability, he continues to set the bar in terms of how his competition readies itself – His tenacious, obsessive commitment to self-improvement and unrelenting competitiveness are testament enough to the fact that Kobe Bryant, no matter what, will always make a difference.

He’s got his doubters, and he has his critics, but the interesting thing about Bryant is his willingness to embrace it and use it as a means to compete. Fuel for the fire burning inside him. Yes, he is in his twilight years and the Lakers simply cannot rely on him alone to lead them back to title contention, but surely it’s more admirable for a man who has been the cornerstone of the franchise for near on 20 years to stand up and fight than it is to admit defeat and retreat into the shadows. As much as he would disagree, Kobe’s greatest challenge now is not winning a sixth title, or another MVP award, but ensuring his legacy is solidified, his name immortalized and shrouded in purple and gold with both the lovers and the haters firmly intact. They’ve all made him who he is today, and I’m sure he’d credit each and every one of you equally.

But be that as it may, there is still a task at hand, and in Bryant’s mind, it’s still fair game. Will the Lakers be atop the pile in these, an all time great’s final years at the helm? It’s unlikely, but you’d be a fool to think Kobe won’t die trying.



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Gasol At The Free Agency Crossroads

[Update 3.10PM 07/07/2014] Gasol, while listening to offers from other teams, has indicated that he will re-sign with the Lakers if they can land Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James in free agency. Pau is still hot property on the FA market, but the Lakers appear to be in the box seat to should they be able to improve the roster with a big name player.

Pau Gasol has long been the subject of trade rumors since joining the Lakers late in 2007 and has dealt with his fair share of critics, but now, the 7 foot Laker big man is a free agent and the interest around the NBA has been huge.

Averaging over 17 points a game throughout his career, Gasol helped the Lakers to two successive titles in 2009 and 2010, but has since been a part of a team struggling to regain everything which made them one of the most formidable franchises in all of sports.

What feels like a cast of thousands have walked through the doors of the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo since Pau arrived, with the Spaniard withstanding some harsh judgement on the part of the fans and much of the LA media throughout his time there. Along with the aging Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol has been the true icon of loyalty and dedication to a franchise who badly needed it.

But here we are, summer 2014, and the Lakers and Pau are both trying to get back on the path to resurrection. Gasol, who has been so loyal, looking to get back to playing winning hoops and the Lakers, such a proud organization, desperately trying to find someone to guide them into a new era, of post-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles basketball.

Pau has, unsurprisingly, been hot property so far in free agency, drawing interest from a number of teams including the Thunder, Knicks, Heat, Bulls and Lakers. The 7-footer provides a big offensive presence for these teams, with the Thunder looking the perfect fit so far, followed by the Knicks and the Bulls.

While this is all well and good, Gasol will still command a mighty pay check, somewhere in the $8-10 million a year area, making teams think twice before jumping on him. Most teams that will consider Gasol will already have a contending front line, indicating they may only be willing to use the mini-mid level on Gasol. With that said, it is unclear whether Pau will be interesting in accepting a considerable pay cut to play contending basketball.

Forever the scapegoat of Los Angeles’ cut throat media, and often the fans too, Gasol will surely take the time to consider his options and what situation benefits him most going forward. Carmelo Anthony has expressed a desire to play alongside him (in New York or LA, it’s not yet clear), and the Heat have also come a’knockin’ this morning, while the Thunder stay hot on his heels.

Given his undying loyalty to Kobe and the Lakers, perhaps the NBA’s perennial nice guy is finding it just a little bit harder to say goodbye than once thought.

One thing is for sure however…

There will be a purple and gold jersey with the number 16 hanging in those rafters at Staples Center one day.



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Carmelo Anthony Wraps Up Free Agency Tour

[Update 3.20pm 07/07/2014] Having met with all teams interested in signing him, Melo has spent the weekend largely in hiding mulling over the decision about where he’ll play next season. Yesterday the Lakers emerged as the Knicks’ top threat to sign Anthony, with reports emerging that the team had managed to have a significant impact, and leave him strongly considering their 4 year, $97 million offer. There have been multiple rumors surrounding Anthony, and how he’s spent his weekend in Los Angeles with the likes of Kobe Bryant, but none have been confirmed and most have simply been proven untrue.

Additionally, no team has been informed whether they are out of the Melo race or not at this stage, however Marc Spears at Yahoo! Sports believes there will be a decision within the next few days.

Initial Report:

Carmelo Anthony has today wrapped up his free agency tour in Los Angeles, following lengthy meetings with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavs, Lakers and Knicks throughout the past few days.

One of the NBA’s highest profile stars, Anthony has been entertaining potential suitors throughout the Eastern and Western Conferences, hoping to find the right landing spot for he and wife LaLa Vasquez to call home for the foreseeable future.

Kicking things off in Chicago first thing Tuesday morning, Melo met with Bulls management who took him on a fully guided tour of the team’s training facility and home arena, the United Center. The Bulls’ pitch also included a full workout of point guard Derrick Rose, in the hope it would encourage Anthony to feel comfortable with his fitness level. The Bulls pulled out all the stops, draping the walls of the United Center with images of Anthony wearing his number 7 jersey, and took him out to an exclusive dinner.

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Anthony’s meeting with the Houston Rockets was reportedly similar, with team Moray going the distance to give themselves the best possible chance at landing him. Jeremy Lin’s #7 jersey was Photoshopped onto an image of Melo this time round, which angered the team’s current guard, evidently coming to the realization the possibly incoming Anthony likely means the end of his tenure in Houston.

Meetings with the Mavericks and Lakers have not been as lengthy, or as glamorous, with both teams reportedly going for a much more minimalistic approach. Not much is known about Melo’s meeting with the Mavs, but it’s safe to assume Mark Cuban did everything in his power to persuade Anthony the Big D is the place where he’ll be most likely to win.

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The Lakers were next up this morning, with GM Mitch Kupchak, team President Jeanie Buss and VP of Basketball Ops Jim Buss running the show alongside Laker legend James Worthy, and executives from Time Warner Cable Sportsnet also in attendance. Kobe Bryant, who was expected to be in the meeting, was not present, although he is said to be meeting with Anthony later this afternoon. The meeting lasted two and a half hours, with the Lakers said to be “pleased” with the outcome. Anthony left the Lakers’ El Segundo practice facility smiling, stopping for photos and autographs with fans before giving a thumbs up, and heading off to his meeting with Phil Jackson and the Knicks.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA has reported that the Lakers’ offer to Anthony stands at 4 years, $97 Million. The maximum available to them.

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Chris Broussard, also of ESPN, has said that the Knicks have reiterated to Melo that they will give him the maximum 5 years, $129 Million should he choose to remain in New York next season. Their meeting with Anthony this afternoon reportedly ended with the team confirming that they would not ask their superstar to take less than the amount initially projected to be available to him.

All teams have been informed not to expect a decision from Carmelo Anthony until after the weekend, giving him time to consider his choices, and listen to any additional offers that may arise.

Of course, there is another free agent out there, who’s movements will likely impact Melo’s decision greatly, and the rest of the league for years to come.

The story continues.



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Mike D’Antoni Resigns As Lakers Coach

In the wake of one of the worst 24 months in Los Angeles Lakers history, much maligned head coach Mike D’Antoni has resigned from his position with the team effective immediately.

D’Antoni arrived in LA as a successor to Mike Brown, who was fired by the Lakers after a 1-5 start to the 2012 season. Formerly of the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, he was unpopular with fans from the very start, with many believing Phil Jackson was the right option at the time.

D’Antoni, along with Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant struggled to make an impact on the league throughout his first season, ensuring the bad taste in fans’ mouths only worsened. Marred by injury, and a lack of talent in his second year, the Lakers and Mike never stood a chance in season 2013/14.

Last week it was reported that the Lakers were intent on keeping D’Antoni around until the end of his contract at the culmination of next year, but that he wanted them to pick up his fourth year option. Until today that was where it had been left, but earlier this afternoon ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that D’Antoni had, in fact, resigned. It isn’t clear what will become of the $4 million left on the table by Coach D’Antoni, but it has been said that an undisclosed amount will still be given to him.

Laker fans have been ruthless when it comes to Mike D’Antoni, and while not the best man for the job, he has given his absolute all to a team with no talent, an unfathomable injury toll and who are a shell of their former selves. The D’Antoni reign in LA was strained, but one that Laker fans can now move on from.

The search will now begin for a new coach, with a myriad of options exposing themselves within the last few hours. It is in the best interest to the Lakers to take their time, and make a choice which best suits the team and direction they’re headed in.

There are tough times ahead for the Lakers, so cool heads must prevail, and conscious decisions made when selecting the new man to guide them back to the top.

D’Antoni leaves the Lakers with a 67-87 record in his two seasons with the team



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Is Phil Jackson on The Comeback Trail?

Widely regarded as the greatest coach in NBA history, with 11 titles to his name with MJ’s Bulls in the 90’s and Kobe’s Lakers in the 00’s, Phil Jackson’s NBA status is nothing short of legendary. Throughout his tenure as coach of two of the greatest dynasties in league history, Jackson remained an ever constant subject through both glory and despair, with his teams enjoying shining victories and humiliating defeats. His ever watchful, compassionate presence was to players as a father is to a son. Caring, nurturing and understanding whilst always ensuring lessons were being learned every day. Jackson’s success, as he claims, doesn’t stem simply from talent, but from the ability to connect with the people around him on a level unseen to the outside world. This why his nickname, The Zen Master, is synonymous with who he really is. A believer in accepting and understanding your surrounds, and not just focusing on oneself.

This is Phil’s pursuit of success and happiness, and one he’s been able to pass down to several of the NBA’s greatest ever players throughout the years.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Phil’s journey since leaving the Lakers in 2011 has been a rocky one. Dealing with his own illness, while being by his fiance Jeanie Buss’ side throughout her dear father, Dr Jerry Buss’ sickness and eventual death, and a potential new contract with the Lakers which for reasons largely unknown fell apart at the last minute. After retiring from NBA coaching, it’s hard to imagine Phil would’ve been subjected to the drama he’s seen since being swept by the eventual Champion Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs. Yet here he is. Not only a celebrity in his own right, but still a very much sought after asset for every team in the NBA. A part of Phil must relish the spotlight, and one team has created a new opportunity for him to be a part of it. The team with which he began his NBA journey. The New York Knicks.

It has been written to death for a week now, by a thousand NBA writers, that the Knicks have extended a big offer to Phil Jackson which they are hoping will help propel them into the next era of New York basketball, and provide them with a new lease on life. It’s no secret that the biggest market in the NBA has been one of the great disappointments in the league for many years, with millions of fans being let down year after year because of poor decisions and bad financial management. Now more than ever, with a new team across the river in Brooklyn, it is important for the Knicks to start becoming a regular threat in the playoffs. No one is scared of the Knickerbockers, and they haven’t been for a long time. Can Phil Jackson change that fact? It’s a long shot, but one most Knick fans would agree is a chance they are willing to take. With several bad contracts on the books, no draft picks and a disgruntled superstar’s free agency looming, things are looking grim for the immediate future of this franchise.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

What Jackson will do is encourage stars to sign with the Knicks in the future. It’s a well documented fact that he’s a fan of superstars, as they are him, and as it stands, there is little the Knicks have to garner the attention of players that they want to sign. The Carmelo Anthony factor is a big one for the Knicks, and now that the trade deadline has passed, they are banking on his re-signing come free agency. Should Jackson take the job, it will go a long way in helping ensure his signature stays in Manhattan. Be it the right move or not it is what the Knicks, and their fans, desperately want.

Jackson seemingly is ready to make his move and re-enter the NBA stratosphere. After the failed attempt to get back to coaching during last season’s tumultuous events in Los Angeles, it was expected he would resign to the fact he would never coach in the NBA again, even putting a fork in it himself at one stage. The decision by the Lakers to hire former Suns/Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni angered many involved with the Lakers including fans, players and even a Buss herself. Jeanie has since explained her distaste at her brother Jim’s decision to hire D’Antoni over Phil, but speculation also continues to circle that it was indeed her late father Jerry who decided against re-hiring Jackson. It’s neither here nor there, and the truth will probably never be known. All we do know, is that Phil Jackson was ready to coach the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and was snubbed. One could argue that snub not only upset Phil (he would argue it didn’t), but also motivated him even more.

Since the Knicks first extended an offer, the stories have been running rampant about whether Phil will indeed accept the job, or fall by the wayside once again. It has been said that Jackson wants full control of basketball decisions. It’s also been written that he wants to coach too. All this along with a huge asking price. Speculation of course, but similar terms were said to be in play during negotiations with the Lakers a little over a year ago. Whatever the price, you can be sure the Knicks would be happy to entertain him until he gives them an answer. Would Phil be successful in a front office role? It’s hard to say, but he was influential in the hiring of the now fired Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks last off season, after he extended his hand to the Pistons in the decision making process. Hardly a lynchpin by which to judge his future successes or failures, but an interesting point nonetheless.

Image Courtesy of FoxSports.com

Image Courtesy of FoxSports.com

Phil’s interest in the NBA since retiring is indicative of his everlasting love of the game, and an example of how hard it can be to let go. Wise move or not, Phil Jackson wants back in the NBA, and the Knicks are providing him with that opportunity. Whether he takes it or not, is a whole other story. Can his attitude towards basketball and life in general be an asset to the struggling Knicks, or will it make no difference at all? These questions are worth pondering, and you can be sure Jackson will be doing just that, but the simple fact he is even considering it tells us all we need to know. The Zen Master is ready to make his return. Which team is lucky enough to accommodate it, remains to be seen.

As mentioned earlier, Phil Jackson’s view on life and all it holds is incredibly important to him, and in turn the decision making process. You can be sure that his eventual reconciliation will not only revolve around himself, but also his family, his friends, the players he’ll work with, colleagues and probably even the weather. Being in touch with who he is, and surrounding himself with who and what he needs to be successful is probably the most difficult aspect of any choice he eventually makes.

We’ll keep you updated with any developments.



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Made By Kobe: Check out the Black Mamba’s Brand new commercial (Video)

A new Kobe Bryant commercial had emerged featuring his much anticipated Kobe 9 shoe. Ingeniously entwined with Kobe’s love for the piano, and the elegance with which he approaches his craft, is the brand new shoe which has just hit stores this week.

Kobe 9 – The grandest grand collection, of grand collections.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzXfnHXm8aY]


Stop with the Comparisons!

Jordan, Kobe, Lebron. Lebron, Jordan, Kobe. Kobe, Lebron, Jordan. When will it stop? Why does there need to be such a constant comparison between the three? They are three of the best to ever grace the game. Each has brought something different to the court. You could even say that each has revolutionised how the great game of hoops is played. But do we really need to say who is the best? Personally, I’m over it. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put the whole comparing thing to bed. Finish it once and for all so that we never need to hear about how so and so is the best.

The whole conversation reminds me of my childhood. You’d have your mates over for a party. Mum would make fairy bread. You’d drink so much soft drink you’d be physically ill. Lollies would be found in the dirt but you’d still force them down but as the day turned to night the conversation amongst the friends would become heated. As adults you never talk about sex, religion or politics at the dinner table. The equivalent for children was to decide who had the best dad. “My dad is better than your dad because he made me a sweet cubby house”. “Pfffft! My dad is better than your dad because he built our house”. “Whatever! My dad is better than your dad because he built Sydney. All of it!”. “Well my dad wrestled an elephant!” “My dad punched out Chuck Norris!” and so on and so forth. It was a discussion that could never be won no matter what anybody would say because you already had your mind set on your dad being the best and were determined to one up everyone else even if it meant stretching the truth. Jordan Vs Kobe Vs Lebron is exactly the same. Consider them your basketball fathers. Everyone has a favourite and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says your mind will never change. If anyone badmouths your basketball dad you come out swinging with stats and stories and whatever else you can think of and ignore what anybody else has to say.

All great players. But they cannot be compared. Each plays a different brand of ball. Lebron has size and muscle that the other two don’t, meaning Lebron can rely on his physical strength to get to the rack or back down a defender. Jordan would make every player around him better. Look at what he did for Scottie. Jordan made his weaknesses strengths. Critics said he couldn’t shoot. So he proved them wrong. Critics said he couldn’t play D but MJ worked as hard, if not harder at the defensive end of the floor. Kobe has his self belief as a massive strength. Kobe believes he can win in all situations.

But Lebron had to move to Miami to win his championships. Kobe couldn’t do it without Shaq. MJ couldn’t beat the Bad Boy Pistons. Kobe and Jordan stuck with the one team. Kobe only has one MVP. Lebron only gets awards because Stern loves him. Jordan can’t win without Pippen… Sound familiar?? I’m sure it does. It’s because of conversations like these that there will never be a consensus. Because there cannot be a consensus there’s no point to the conversation. It’ll just be a never ending circle of one upmanship of why your basketball dad is better than someone else’s basketball dad.

Nathan Darby 



Photo Credit: www.thescore.com

Kobe Bryant Expected To Miss 6 Weeks With Fractured Knee

Just like Derrick Rose a few weeks earlier, Kobe Bryant’s much anticipated return to the basketball court has been marred by yet another injury, this time in the form of a fracture in his left knee. The injury occurred during the third quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, with Bryant guarding Tony Allen in the low post, he appeared to hyper-extend his knee on the play. Amazingly, he came back and finished the game, even hitting a clutch three to ensure a victory for the struggling Lakers.

Two days have passed since the game, with training staff misdiagnosing the injury as a hyper-extension. This morning, however, doctor’s confirmed a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in Bryant’s left knee and while it won’t require surgery, he will miss approximately 6 weeks of court time. 

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Kobe, who recently signed a $48 million contract extension will now begin the long, grueling process of healing and getting himself back to full strength, with many asking the question, will this superstar ever be the same again?