When Phil Jackson left the Lakers, Jim Buss (son of owner Jerry Buss and the guy running the show now) used the chance to clean house. A lot of teams are laying guys off during the lockout, but the Lakers canned 20 people — video guys, long-time front office people, scouts, trainers and more. Some may be rehired after the lockout but some people around the team thought it was an effort to remove any imprint of Jackson from the franchise.
It rubbed some of the Lakers players the wrong way.
So much so that Kobe Bryant led an effort to give some of the players’ playoff money to two of the video staff guys let go, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Kobe Bryant insisted on giving some of the team’s playoff bonus to two members of the Lakers’ video department whose contracts were not renewed after the season. Chris Bodaken and Patrick O’Keefe split about $65,000 of the Lakers’ playoff bonus…
Said Bodaken: “At the end of the day, he told us he was going to take care of us and he did, and that’s not how most people in the world operate. He not only talks the talk. He walks it….”
Lakers reserve forward Luke Walton took an extra step after the season by providing individual financial gifts to members of the training staff.
Certainly that kind of money is huge for the video guys and pocket change for Kobe, but the gesture is what matters. For all his “cold hearted assassin” image, Kobe cares about the people around him on the team. Kobe was loyal to the guys around the team in a way the franchise wasn’t.
Way more than the Buss family was. Which should be a little troubling to Lakers fans.
The Houston Rockets have been supportive of the Texas community after a gunman killed 10 people and injured 10 others at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.
Rockets point guard Chris Paul called NBA basketball “minor” compared to what those in Santa Fe are having to endure, and on Thursday the team took things a step further and donned special jerseys for their playoff matchup against the Golden State Warriors.
As Houston prepared to take on the reigning champs in Game 5 back in Texas, the team tweeted out a photo of the jerseys — complete with a special patch on the left shoulder — to honor the victims of the shooting.
The NBA has a lot of advocates for social and political change, not just individually but organizationally. How the Rockets responded is good to see in the face of yet another school shooting.
The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.
Now they are without him for Game 5, too.
Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.
The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.
NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.
After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:
“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”
I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.
That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.
David Fizdale learned a lot of lessons in his first go around as a head coach, spending 101 games with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the top of the list: Build a strong bond with your star player. Or else.
Fizdale is trying to do that, saying he would fly to Latvia this summer to spend time with Kristaps Porzingis. But first came a phone call, and that seemed to go very well.
It’s not just Porzingis. Fizdale was bonding with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson on Wednesday night in Boston. A little “this is where we want to be” motivation.
Good on Fizdale for all of this.
The Knicks got the best coach for them on the board in Fizdale, and so far the new front office — general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills — are making smart decisions. Knicks fans should be optimistic. Knicks ownership just needs to be patient (not James Dolan’s strong suit), because with no Porzingis for a large portion if not all of next season the team will struggle. Wins will be hard to come by. Fizdale needs a season to develop players and lay the foundation for what he wants to build, while the new front office needs time to clean up the salary cap mess that is New York right now.
With some patience, the Knicks could have something special in a few years. And Fizdale may have found the right home for his talents because he’s already got players buying in.