We can all agree that the Clippers looked good against the Lakers the other night. But the other half of that is the Lakers picked up their defense from right where they left off in Game 4 against Dallas last playoffs. The Lakers were slow and soft, particularly on the perimeter.
After the game, new coach Mike Brown called them out on it. Everyone. Including Kobe Bryant, saying he “was as guilty as everyone else” in not contesting Clippers shots on the perimeter.
Cue the ominous music.
How did Kobe react to the new coach naming him to the media? He’s good. Here are his quotes, via the Daily News.
“We’re here to be coached. I’m here to be coached just like everybody else, you know what I mean? It’s important for everybody to understand that. If I make a mistake, it’s the coach’s job to correct that. You can’t be sensitive or a baby. You’re here to win. That’s his job. I would upset if he was just letting me skate through things. You make mistakes, it’s the coach’s job to point that out. If he can’t point that out to me, he has no chance of pointing it out to anybody else….
“What I heard about him was he was a pushover, doesn’t say what he’s thinking,” Bryant said. “I haven’t seen that at all. He’s been the complete opposite. He’s been detail oriented. He’s been up front and open and honest. He praises guys when they do well. He jumps on them when they’re messing up right away. He does that me. He does that with Pau (Gasol). He does that with (Devin) Ebanks. There’s no difference. I’ve been extremely, extremely surprised and very, very pleased about that.”
Mike Brown’s reputation for not being willing to criticize stars is more a Dan Gilbert phenomenon than Brown. The orders in Cleveland came from the top down not to antagonize LeBron James, not to do anything that might have him leaving the team. So from letting his friends hang around to not criticizing him in film sessions, LeBron got to skate. That wasn’t Brown, that was the owner.
Brown is not bound by such restraints in Los Angeles. And he’s going to need to be honest and up front with everyone if the Lakers are to have any chance this year (and even that may well not be enough).
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.