Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol of Spain walk towards the bench for a time out after losing possession of the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

What does Kobe Bryant expect from Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum?


Kobe Bryant has just about had it with his teammates not showing up, and that’s pretty evident. When he refused to quit and played well with gastroenteritis in Game 6 and his teammates no-showed, you knew there would be consequences. Bryant has come too far and done too much to get that kind of performance from the supporting cast.

And talking to the L.A. Times about Metta World Peace, Bryant let it be known his feelings right now for the rest of the team.

“I expect him to come out and play with the tenacity that he’s known for,” Bryant told reporters after Game 6, a troubling 113-96 loss. “He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with that sense of urgency and play with no fear. So, I’m looking forward to having that by my side again.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.


For his part, Pau Gasol did not take on the responsibility or accept fault. He pretty much just said “Whatever.”

“It’s a comment. It’s an opinion,” Gasol said. “A lot of times opinions are determined by the timing of things. Obviously we’re all happy to get Metta back tomorrow. Hopefully he’ll be a big contrbibutor. I’m glad Kobe relies on him that much.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.

Oh, dear.

That’s just awkward.

Look, Gasol’s going to have to live with this. He sulked in Memphis when he wasn’t winning, got gifted to L.A. in a lopsided trade (it working out for Memphis is inconsequential in relation to where the trade stood at the time) and won two titles. He won two titles because of Bryant’s fire and indomitable will, so he’s going to have to live with some vitriol when he fails as spectacularly as he has in this series. It’s a veteran team, you’re supposed to be able to rely on Gasol’s experience in a series like this, and instead, for a second straight year, he’s no-showed.

But what’s maybe most interesting from Bryant is the following quote:

“My type of competitiveness and energy level is not something I expect every guy to have,” Bryant said. “That’s not to say that they don’t have it; it’s just that Metta’s intensity is similar to my own. It’s a simple as that.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.

This is pretty amazing revisionist history from Bryant, who has questioned MWP’s performance and commitment throughout his time in L.A. as well, but more important is the first part. The question of whether Bryant really expects everyone to be at his level. For his part, I think he’s being honest. I think if players were to match his intensity, he’d simply become more intense. For Bryant it’s never been about being the best, it’s about beating other people. And there’s a difference there. He’s not just competing against every other team in the league, against his critics, against Michael Jordan, he’s competing against his teammates for who is the most driven on his own team. He wants them to be committed, just maybe not equally so.

But what he doesn’t want is for them to be lazy.

And yeah, Gasol is a target here, but a question has to be asked. Why is Bryant not dragging Andrew Bynum by his earlobe into huddles? Why is he not screaming and glaring at Bynum like he did for so many years to Lamar Odom? Why is he not demanding the same of Bynum he demands of so many? He doesn’t take shots at Bynum, he just says he plans on talking to him. I understand that not every player responds the same way, but Bryant’s never cared about that before. Why is Andrew Bynum different? It’s bizarre to see Bryant giving Bynum the same kid gloves treatment the Lakers organization does. And if he wants to channel his anger somewhere, that’s the first place it needs to go.




Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.