It was during the Colonel Kurtz-like decent into darkness that was the Lakers play around Christmas that Kobe Bryant decided to do something very Kobe — fight through his knee pain and swelling because he needed to practice with the team again. That knee had kept him from practicing all season but it was no longer going to be an issue, he decided. As if one can just decide that.
The Lakers were lacking energy and cohesion, and practice is where those things are earned, so Kobe returned to push his teammates in practice.
Well, that time is over.
Kobe went back to not practicing with the Lakers Monday, according to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register. Kobe shot and did some work on the side but was not part of the Lakers intensive practice. Phil Jackson was good with this.
…“it’s time for him to be back” to individual strength training and avoid extra “wearing, tearing on the court.”
“It’s not an issue,” Jackson said. “He has to work with what sustains the effort he can put on the court (in games).”
The Lakers have won four in a row and six out of seven. Sure, those wins primarily have not been against the most stellar competition the league has to offer, but considering the Lakers have lost at home to the Bucks and Pacers and Grizzlies, Lakers fans should just gladly accept the wins with a smile.
The energy is up, so it seems Kobe’s practice return did the job. For now. Next week and through the end of the month Los Angeles will get tested against better teams, then in February there comes the seven game Grammy road trip, which will be the midterm for the Lakers and Kobe’s knee.
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.