Tag: Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

Kobe Bryant, can this Laker team make the playoffs? “Of course it can. Absolutely.”


Kobe Bryant’s confidence is legendary.

So when Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears asked this question, he had to know the answer.

With Kobe back, a few solid veterans such as Brandon Bass and Lou Williams, plus young stars like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, can this Lakers team make the playoffs in a brutal Western Conference?

“Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know. We are going to [training] camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”

What did you expect him to say?

He’s wrong, but what did you expect him to say? It’s what GM Mitch Kupchak said as well.

I can hear the comments from the blind faith in Kobe/Lakers fans now, “everyone has doubted Kobe his entire career, he has proved everybody wrong. He will do it again.” That nobody believed in Kobe is a myth in the first place, but even he can’t overcome these hurdles.

Lakers won 21 games last season, and last season it took 45 wins to make the playoffs in the West — and that number likely goes up next season. The Lakers will be improved, but 24 games improved? Have you seen the West?

There are a lot of questions to answer and a lot of development that has to happen for these Lakers. Russell may develop into a quality point guard one day, but he’s a rookie with a steep learning curve (and he showed how steep at Summer League). Randle needs to diversify his offensive game. Clarkson is still growing and will have to work more off the ball. There are new players to fit in the mix with Bass, Williams and Roy Hibbert.

The real question is defense, the Lakers were terrible last season and likely not much improved this year. Hibbert was a rock-solid defensive anchor a couple of years ago in Indiana, but on a team with quality perimeter defenders (Paul George, Goerge Hill) who funneled drives right to him and allowed him to use his size. The Lakers lack those kinds of perimeter defenders, plus Hibbert has to show he can recognize plays and move in the same way he used to.

The bottom line is you look at the playoffs in the West and see the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder (with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back), Grizzlies and Pelicans are locks. That’s seven of the eight seeds. Which leaves the Lakers trying to beat out an improved Jazz team, the Mavericks, Suns, Trail Blazers, and potentially the Kings for that one final playoff spot.

Sorry Kobe, but the 36 wins the Lakers will rack up next season will not be enough.

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle says team will err on side of caution with Wesley Matthews return

New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers

Players have bounced back from a torn Achilles, as Wesley Matthews is trying to do in Dallas this season. That said, history is not kind to them. Those players often are never quite as explosive, their efficiency tends to take a big dip.

And the worst case scenario is what happened to Kobe Bryant — another injury.

Which is why Dallas is going to take it slow and easy with Matthews, something coach Rick Carlisle told the official Dallas Website.

“You know, we’ve done research on it,” Carlisle said while speaking on Matthews’ injury. “We’ve talked to his people, and we talked to the doctor that did the surgery. Casey has all that information. He’s definitely on track for a full recovery, but we’re going to be erring on the side of being conservative and cautioned. I think the most important thing is that he makes a full recovery, because we’re signing him to a four-year deal. The first year is more about making sure that he’s right and getting him out there on the right terms, and from there we want him to make a full recovery and continue to get better.”

Thinking long-term is the smart approach, the only one the Mavericks should consider. The only fair one to Matthews.

Consider this a reminder that this next season in Dallas is not about a quick rebuild to contention, but hopefully taking some steps in that direction. Like getting Matthews healthy, seeing what Deron Williams has left, and seeing if guys like Maurice Ndour can develop into useful players.

Just making the playoffs should be the goal in Dallas. And that may be too lofty a goal. But what really matters is sticking with the path.

Kobe Bryant’s popularity in China knows no bounds


Thank you Guangzhou #rise #muse

A photo posted by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Kobe Bryant is Beatles during the British Invasion level popular in China.

The Associated Press

A decade ago, before other stars had recognized the market, Kobe was putting in the time there. Sure, he won titles and that helped, but he started going over to the country every year before it was fashionable. He set up a personal charity just in China. He showed a commitment to the country; he was not just some guy flying in to hawk shoes.

The result is his popularity is enormous. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing LeBron James and other Team USA members — men used to being treated like rock stars — were taken aback by Kobe’s popularity in the country.

In the end, that means Kobe can hawk a lot of shoes in China. And other products as well.

An excellent Kobe Bryant impersonation (video)

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

This is really great, but I have one question: Why does he show Kobe Bryant making such a high percentage of his shots?

If you liked this and haven’t seen the prequels (or even if you already have):

Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

Wesley Matthews brings his “3&D” game — and his ruptured Achilles still on the mend — to Dallas next season.

Matthews had been a vital part of Portland’s success the past few seasons. So much so that when he injured his Achilles last season the team went from everybody’s favorite dark horse contender in the West to the team that still got the four seed and made Adam Silver and the NBA rethink rewarding division winners. It wasn’t just his on the court play, his leadership in the locker room was huge in Portland.

Which is why he thought they would try to keep him, but they didn’t Matthews told Jason Quick and the Oregonian. And that ticked him off.

He had hoped he could return to the city that had embraced him, to the team with players he considered brothers, to the franchise where he grew into one of the NBA’s most well-rounded and respected shooting guards. But in the end, after five seasons, the feeling was not mutual. He was greeted with silence. No phone call. No text messages. The Blazers never made an offer.

“I was pissed off,” Matthews said. “I felt disrespected….”

The only chance the Blazers would pursue Matthews, top executive Neil Olshey later explained, was if free agent LaMarcus Aldridge chose to return, maintaining Portland as a playoff-caliber team. When Aldridge chose San Antonio, the Blazers decided to rebuild. Paying big money to a 29-year-old shooting guard coming off major surgery didn’t make long-term sense.

For Portland, this makes total sense. Once Aldridge chose to go home to Texas they needed to strip the entire thing down and make Damian Lillard the focus of a rebuild. And if Blazers owner Paul Allen is hesitant about paying big money to injured players, it’s hard to blame him (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy).

That Portland never made a phone call means by July 1 Olshey knew Aldridge was long gone.

Matthews makes sense for Dallas, a team that when it first contacted Matthews thought it might get the pieces this summer to give Dirk Nowitzki one more run at a ring. While that didn’t work out (in dramatic fashion), Cuban pitched Matthews as being a cornerstone of the future in Dallas. That sold Matthews, he told the Oregonian in this fantastic story detailing his summer recruitment.

History of players coming back from an Achilles injury suggests this is going to be a challenging season for Matthews. Even if he can stay healthy — which is not always easy, see Kobe Bryant for example — it’s an adjustment learning what your body can and can’t do the same way. His game will need to adapt.

Where Matthews really may start to pay off for Dallas is next summer — he’s the kind of person and player other guys want on their team. Having him in house is a good recruiting tool when Mark Cuban and the Mavericks knock on the doors of the next big free agents.