Kurt Helin

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

D’Angelo Russell on Tracy McGrady tweet: “Some Lakers fans are spoiled”

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You probably remember the “controversy.”

Lakers No. 2 pick and hope for the future face of the franchise (they hope) D’Angelo Russell tweeted out this:

https://twitter.com/Dloading/status/631961606285590528

To which Kobe Bryant responded:

That tweet plus less kind ones from a lot of Lakers fans had Russell back peddling quickly.

Russell spoke to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News recently about some things — including his Summer League struggles — and one of the topics was that tweet. Russell took a pretty rational approach to it.

“There’s a lot of spoiled Lakers fans. I wasn’t downgrading Kobe at all,” Russell said Saturday in an interview with the Los Angeles News Group. “I was just watching a highlight tape of Tracy McGrady and I got excited. I tweeted and the whole state of California went crazy.”

He’s right. There are plenty of spoiled Lakers fans. Take it from someone who used to run a Lakers’ blog, there is a segment of that fan base that isn’t happy unless the Lakers win two NBA titles a year.

That said, those people don’t like to be called out. Russell will hear from them soon.

More than that, what happened to Russell with this tweet speaks to a mindset online, particularly on Twitter — people have their favorites and see any attempt to raise anyone else up as a direct challenge to their established order. You can’t say LeBron James will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats without some fool bringing how he’s no Michael Jordan. As if saying LeBron is amazing is somehow an insult to MJ. Same thing here. Vintage Tracy McGrady was a joy to watch and a fantastic player, it’s fair to wonder how we view him if not for injuries at the end of his career, and if you want to say maybe he should be considered in the GOAT conversation that is not a direct insult to Kobe or MJ or Wilt or whoever.

But reasonable discussions on twitter are too often hard to find.

Usain Bolt pays homage to LeBron James with victory celebration

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source:

Usain Bolt anchored the 4×100 relay and won another gold for Jamaica at the World Championships this weekend — but this time he celebrated using LeBron James’ signature move — the high knee, hand pump move.

Bolt had a pretty good meet in Japan, winning the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the 4×100 — three golds.

Bolt joins Cam Newton in paying homage to LeBron with his celebration. I have a feeling these two will not be the last to do this.

Hornets’ coach says rookie Frank Kaminsky needs to add strength

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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In the college game, guys can get away with bulk instead of strength, and just being smart and a little quick can get a guy space. Then they get to the NBA, and it takes strength not bulk, and everybody is quick

So when you ask Hornets’ coach Steve Clifford about rookie Frank Kaminsky and what he needs to do to earn a steady stream of minutes, the leap in conditioning and strength is what comes up. And the Charlotte Observer did ask him.

Just strength. And obviously him adjusting to the NBA game. But he’s a quick learner and a good worker. He’ll pick things up quickly. That applies to both ends of the floor. He’s so good off the dribble that he would beat guys but be pushed off (his lane to the rim) a little bit. So a lot of times, where in college he got to the basket, he was instead taking 8-to-10 footers. As he gets stronger, he’ll be at the basket again.

There’s an adjustment for every rookie coming into the NBA — suddenly everyone is long and strong — but at Summer League Kaminsky showed the skills that should have him fit quickly into the NBA. He looked like a player who may start at the four as a rookie and be able to run the pick-and-pop with Kemba Walker (leaving the post open for Al Jefferson to do his thing). There was plenty to like, but some questions to answer (specifically on defense).

Kaminsky should turn into a solid pick for the Hornets at the four.

 

You can own Michael Jordan’s original uniform from Space Jam

space jam
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What else were you going to do with $15,000 or so?

We’ve all seen Space Jam, we’ve all tried to love it — but now you can own part of it. Michael Jordan’s actual uniform from the movie is up for auction. From online auction site invaluable.com (hat tip Eye on Basketball):

Michael Jordan uniform from Space Jam. (Warner Bros., 1996) Screen worn complete basketball uniform including (1) XL AIS brand mesh, red, white and blue-trimmed sports jersey with “Tunesquad” logo on the front and signature number “23” emblazoned on the back and (1) matching pair of size 38 shorts. Worn in the climactic showdown between Michael Jordan’s “Tunesquad” and the “Monstars”. With signs of wear and minor staining. In production used fine condition.

Bidding opens on Oct. 1, so you’ve gut until then to come up with at least the $10,000 opening bid.

Owning this may be better than seeing Space Jam 2 with Lebron James, if that project comes together.

Jim Buss defends Byron Scott as Lakers coach, “He has the Laker blood in him”

Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings
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Byron Scott has been questioned as the Lakers’ coach for a lot of reasons. For using Kobe Bryant heavy minutes early last season, leading to health problems for the star. For using an old-school, dinosaur of an offense. For not using advanced metrics and analytics. For not developing players. The list goes on.

But he’s not being questioned — or at least doubted — by the one guy whose vote matters, co-owner Jim Buss.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in a couple different articles, Buss defended Scott and his job as coach.

“He has the Laker blood in him,” Buss said. “[Mike] D’Antoni and Mike Brown, they weren’t Lakers. They loved the Lakers and they tried their best and I think they’re both great coaches.”

“Having that history of the Lakers from the very beginning of when [the Buss family] bought the team, gives you such a family sense. He’s a coach, a brother,” said Buss. “He gets it. He’s a strong personality. He believes in himself and the Lakers.”

Laker blood? This sounds like the lines the late Al Davis used as the Raiders struggled — trumpeting some mystical bond in the organization over smart decision making.

Buss also said the Lakers are using analytics more than people realize.

“We’ve been using them for quite a long time. That’s basically [on] what I make all my decisions, is my own analytics.” Buss said the team has relied on an analytics staff for “six [or] seven years, but before that we were breaking down shot charts, everything we could get our hands on.”

What made the Lakers great for extended periods was not just that they had the resources of a big market (something the new CBA stripped from them to a degree), but also that they spent those resources wisely. They had the best coaches, they thought outside the box, they had a team identity then got players that fit it, they identified and went after talent before others caught on (trading for a young Kobe Bryant on draft day may be the best example).

The Lakers are rebuilding now and we’ll see over the coming years how their decision making works out with young players such as D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. What they Lakers have to show now — something that organizations such as Golden State, San Antonio and other elite teams have — is that the Lakers can develop those players. Do the Lakers have that infrastructure? Is Byron Scott the guy to do it? And what kind of team are they building, what is their identity?

The answers to those questions determine whether or not there is success. Not “Laker blood.”