Phil Jackson is in mid-season mind games form.
People have started asking if the 8-0 Lakers could win 72 games — they’ve looked pretty dominant and they don’t even have Andrew Bynum in the fold yet.
It’s not going to happen, we all know it and Phil Jackson has said so before. But when asked again today, he took the chance to put a little more heat on the Heat, as Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles reports.
“It’s not going to happen [for us],” Jackson said about the 70-win talk surrounding his team after the Lakers’ shootaround Thursday morning in preparation for their game against the Denver Nuggets. “The schedule’s too tough. The travel is extenuating in the Western Conference, there’s very difficult time zone changes that you go through and all the stuff that happens. And that’s disregarding the idea that you can play with all your players for the rest of the season.
“Everything has to just break perfect for that to happen, plus the team has to be very, very resilient and very, very capable of filling in for one another at multiple positions….”
“I think this Miami team could.”
“They’re talented enough to do that,” he continued. “They may not be deep enough quite yet or have all their persons in place and teamwork just down, but if they stay together, they have a good chance. They have a very talented team.”
If you think that wasn’t thrown in there to just add a little more pressure to the Heat, you haven’t been watching Jackson the last couple decades. He lives for little digs like that, little things to try and plant in the Heat’s mind. Although, in this case, we’re all kind of thinking it. Not this year, but maybe if they get better role players….
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.