New center Dwight Howard greets Kobe Bryant during NBA media day for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in Los Angeles

Kobe says this is most talented Lakers team he has been on


Kobe Bryant has been on Lakers teams with amazing talent — Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, Glen Rice, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum.

But he said he has never been on a more talented team than this one, which has a likely starting five of Steve Nash, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (once everyone is healthy).

That’s an impressive (and expensive) superteam. One that could contend for a title. Kobe talked about it with Marc Spears of Yahoo.

“On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around,” Bryant said. “Whether that translates into winning a championship remains to be seen. But just on paper you’re talking Defensive Player of the Years, MVPs, All-Stars. You’re talking about a myriad of things. Guys who are at the top of their position at one point or another. It’s pretty dope.”

He’s right.

This is more talented than the 2004 team (with Payton and Malone, a team that fell short in the finals to a hot Pistons squad), because this team has more guys near their peak. Nash is not young but he is still as good as anyone alive running the pick-and-roll. Howard can score and is a defensive monster — and defense is the key for the Lakers. Gasol will make it work because he’s versatile and besides, that’s his personality. He fits in. And Kobe will do what it takes to win.

The team needs to come together, no doubt. There are a lot of “on paper” questions about the Lakers that still need to be answered. (And probably will in the affirmative — these are veteran players whose skills don’t overlap. They likely figure it out.)

It’s going to be fun to watch because they will be one of the best teams in the league, but if it goes south it could be a firey train wreck. Howard knows all about being in one of those.

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.