The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors.
Los Angeles’ newest star, LeBron James, isn’t there yet.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.
“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”
How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?
“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”
LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.
But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.
Kobe Bryant has become acclaimed for his filmmaking, even winning an Oscar.
But his sustained prominence in basketball retirement, especially considering his new industry, has sparked questions about why he hasn’t been swept up by #MeToo. After all, Bryant admitted in 2004 to having sex with a woman who didn’t view the encounter as consensual the year prior. (That statement part of Bryant moving on and readily accepted by the public, which shows why a reckoning in our handling of sexual misconduct was so necessary.)
Bryant was selected to judge a film festival, but a petition emerged to prevent his participation. Apparently, 159 signatures were enough for the festival to change course.
Evan Real of The Hollywood Reporter:
Kobe Bryant has been removed from the Animation Is Film Festival jury following backlash stemming from a 2003 rape allegation. Though the former L.A. Lakers star was set to serve as a juror at the annual event this weekend in Hollywood, organizers announced on Wednesday that he will no longer participate.
On one hand, it’s not surprising the petition received just 159 signatures. Bryant remains highly popular and is beloved by many.
But this also shows the power of a relatively small number of voices speaking up.
Pistons star Blake Griffin learned his lesson after getting his dunk blocked by Nets center Jarrett Allen in the preseason. In the regular-season opener, Griffin went up even harder.
And Allen still stopped him!
Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.
Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.
In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.
Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”
Rob Perez of The Action Network:
My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.
Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.
Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.
The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.
Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.
If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.
Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.
After sitting out while
awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.
Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.
Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.
If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.
The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.
How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.
But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?
It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.