Los Angeles Lakers: Lakers Interview

World Peace looks back on life as a Laker

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
11:33
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Metta World Peace is rarely at a loss for words. His rap sessions with the media are known for being frank, wide-ranging and, of course, entertaining. He shoots from the hip and channels his stream of consciousness as he speaks, allowing his thoughts to flow out of him and into the voice recorders and notebooks of the reporters who surround him.

So, when World Peace took his time to collect his thoughts Friday, a day after his four-year run with the Los Angeles Lakers came to an end when the team waived him via the NBA amnesty provision, it was striking.

"When you think back on being a Laker the last four years, what comes to your mind?" this reporter asked.

World Peace thought in silence for three seconds.

[+] EnlargeMetta World Peace
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesFor Metta World Peace, an NBA Finals speech and his work in the Los Angeles community have been highlights of his Lakers career.
"Hmph."

Two more seconds of silence.

"Umm."

Four seconds, and then he repeated the question to himself.

"What comes to my mind?"

Fourteen seconds more. And then, jackpot.

"Probably Derek Fisher's Game 7 speech," World Peace said, referring to the do-or-die, winner-take-all game against the Boston Celtics to finish off the 2010 NBA Finals. "Game 7 speech in the fourth quarter, that was the most craziest thing I've ever heard in my life."

The Lakers trailed the longtime rival Celtics by as many as 13 in the second half until the tide started to turn on the Staples Center court, and Fisher's words helped bring the team home to victory.

"It was the craziest experience of my life," World Peace said. "It was like Martin Luther King, man. I'm telling you. That was like the craziest thing ever.

"Basketball is just a game. That's all it is, but at that time, you're playing something since you were 8 years old, and then you want this prize -- which is only a materialistic item, but it doesn't feel that way at all. It feels way more real. And for this guy to give a speech at a time where if you was to lose, you would probably be heartbroken and it will haunt you for the rest of your life. And for this guy to give a speech, it was crazy. It was the craziest thing I ever experienced in my life. It was the craziest thing ever. Derek is just amazing."

Fisher's diatribe might have been inspiring, but World Peace's performance was impactful. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five steals, and his 3-pointer with one minute remaining doubled L.A.'s lead from three to six and helped propel the Lakers to the 83-79 win.

"It's really hard to get a ring," World Peace said. "It's really hard to get a championship ring. So, the positive is we got one [in his time in L.A.]. Not enough. We should have had more, but, we got one, and I think that's something to be proud about."

Here are some more memories from World Peace:

On being teammates with Kobe Bryant: "He was very competitive. Taught me a lot, and just too, too competitive because he tried a lot to do it himself. And too tough, because he played through too many injuries. Played through way too many injuries. Sometimes he should have just took a break, I thought, and just [said], 'All right, get it back the next day.' But that's the nature. That's what we are. I came back off [knee] surgery [after 12 days]. We can't help it."

On what went wrong this past season: "Wow. I just think that Dr. [Jerry] Buss was a chemist. So, the molecules didn't quite fit up."

On whether he ever got a replacement championship ring for the one he auctioned off to raise money for mental health awareness: "Never."

On his charity efforts: "I did a lot of things in the community -- like major, major impact. I didn't do small things. I'm going to continue to work with the community out here in L.A. I'm going to continue. I'm not going to just go somewhere else and then forget the stuff I was doing in L.A. to springboard the things I wanted to do in other communities. But, the impact that we made in the community in four years, that was huge.

"We attempted to raise $250 million with [the help] of a congresswoman. [We worked] to get psychologists in schools. Big things that are necessary. That's way more important than anything that I've done here [in L.A. on the court]. That's why I'm most grateful to have been a Laker, because without the Lakers, I would have never had that platform to go into Congress and speak about all that stuff, about what's necessary and all the stuff that's happening in the world today."

On his experience in L.A.: "I still got a chance to be myself. I made a couple errors being suspended, but other than that, I was able to be myself. And it's hard to be myself, because I'm very edgy. It's hard. Even I'll be like, 'OK, [calm down].' But I was happy because I was able to be myself and not cross the line, and that's hard because I just have no filter. I have no filter."

On whether he feels like a changed man from his days as a Laker: "I don’t know if I’ve changed. I just make better decisions. I make way better decisions now in my life. Definitely."

Q&A: Lakers coach Mike Brown

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
8:02
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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It has been an outstanding summer for Lakers head coach Mike Brown, and not only because he was able to take his first real family vacation since taking the gig last year. With the lockout in the rearview mirror, Brown now can prepare for the season as a detail-oriented man like himself prefers, dotting i's, crossing t's and creating a season's blueprint for his roster.

And a fine roster it is, having added Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, with Jordan Hill re-signed.


Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Despite additional pressure, Mike Brown is excited to start the 2012-13 season.


“You’ve got to give [vice president of player personnel] Dr. Buss, Jim Buss, and [general manager] Mitch Kupchak credit,” Brown said in a phone conversation last week. “They always will, as you’ve seen in the past and as we see currently, they always will try to put a product on the floor that they think can compete for an NBA championship. The guys that they brought in, they’re all professionals, they’re all very good players, and they give us a chance.”

Even pain has been wrapped in joy this offseason, evidenced by his reaction when Kupchak told him the Lakers had acquired Howard while keeping Pau Gasol.

“I got a little excited. I tried to jump up and down, but my mind was telling me to do something that my body wouldn’t allow me to do. I almost pulled my hamstring sitting down. I don’t know if that’s ever happened to anybody, but I was so excited that my leg tensed up. I almost tore my hamstring. So I got up slowly and gave him and Jim Buss a hug,” Brown said.

“That might be the first hug they’ve gotten from their coach, ever, when it comes to a trade happening.”

Given the incredibly rapid and odds-bucking reversal of fortune for the Lakers this offseason, I’m sure Lakers fans would react the same way to seeing either Kupchak or Buss. Many of those fans will hold their hug for Brown until the end of the year. Brown understands the pressure facing him this year, one of the many things we covered in our phone interview. Below is a transcript of highlights from our conversation.

LO’L: In London [for the Olympics], Kobe Bryant spoke about the team installing the Princeton offense this year. Is that more or less the plan?

MB: “I like some of the things that we did last year, and we’re going to keep some of those things in place. But in the same breath, I’ve always been infatuated with what Eddie [Jordan] did when he was in Washington. I think if you take away the individual players and how talented they are -- obviously if you have certain players it doesn’t matter what you run as long as you run something to their strengths, you’re going to have success offensively.

“So if you take away the individual players and their strengths and all that and just look at the purity of different offenses and how to defend them on a night in, night out basis, I always felt that the stuff [Jordan] did in Washington was difficult to defend. It was difficult to come up with a game plan because of the spacing and ball movement and stuff like that. It’s a stress-free offense because of the counters that are built in and so on and so forth. So I started looking into that at the beginning of the summer a little bit and talked with a couple of guys that have done it on the collegiate level and on the professional level, and then I brought Eddie in for a while.

“I spent about a week or so with him, talking about it. So there’s a good chance we’re going to go down that road to incorporate some of that, or a lot of that, into what we did last year.”

Note: Multiple outlets have reported Jordan's expected addition to the staff, something confirmed to me as well by a source familiar with the situation.

LO’L: Is the installation at least in part because you have guys who have been system players? Kobe, Pau et al? You know system basketball is something they’re comfortable with?

MB: “Yes, that is part of it. This team is built that way, and because they’re built that way, because they’re used to it, I think it will help them out at the end of the day.”

LO’L: How does the Princeton work with having someone like Nash? As is my understanding, it’s not as much a heavy pick-and-roll offense, but more motion and ball movement.

MB: “The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity -- he’s going to quarterback the team -- and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to. It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense.

“So again, with him quarterbacking, or making that decision, he’ll still have a chance to get the ball back after he moves or after bodies move. I don’t want to completely give away what we’re trying to do, but in a nutshell, he will have an opportunity to play pick-and-roll at the beginning of almost every play set coming down the floor in early offense. And if not, he can also choose to get to some of the looks out of the Princeton by making a pass or doing an action or doing a call or whatever.”

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Mitch Kupchak: Quotes from Friday's press conference

August, 11, 2012
8/11/12
2:50
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After months (and months and months and months) of speculation, the trade finally bringing Dwight Howard to Los Angeles came together quickly. So, too, did the press conference. Howard and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak met the media Friday afternoon, and to say the least there was a buzz at the team facility in El Segundo.

For what it's worth, Howard seemed genuinely excited not just about the end of the Dwightmare, but more specifically to be in Los Angeles. And seated next to him, Kupchak looked equally satisfied. Given the challenges facing them heading into the offseason -- zero cap space, no draft picks of value, only a mini-mid level and veteran's minimum contracts to offer, trade chips difficult to turn into superior talent since they're already very good (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol) -- this becomes one of the most impressive offseasons in modern league history.

After the big Howard show ended, Kupchak answered more questions for the assembled writerly hordes and delivered some interesting comments on the evolution of the deal, Bynum, Mike Brown's reaction to getting Howard while keeping Gasol, and the willingness of the Buss family to spend what's required to win.

The transcript is below...

Going forward, having Dwight, your payroll is huge. Any concern about that?
“Absolutely. Sure, it’s a concern, and if you’re familiar with the collective bargaining agreement, there have been some significant changes made for teams that exceed certain thresholds.

"But once again, over the last year there has been some criticism. When we traded Lamar, that it was just a way to save money, and I think this proves when it comes down to it, and I’ve always said it, certainly nobody who owns a family owned business doesn’t want to make a profit so their business can survive and prosper. But when it comes down to it, Dr. Buss is a very competitive owner, and his family is also very competitive. And when it comes down to making a decision about a couple dollars or a million dollars or 10 million dollars or putting another banner up? He can’t help himself. He chooses to go for the banner."

LOL: If ever there was a quote summarizing why Lakers fans should raise a monument to Dr. Buss, that's it. "He can't help himself. He chooses to go for the banner."

Based on your conversations with team Dwight, how much of a risk is it he’ll walk?

“You know something, we’ve had no discussions? The press conference started at four o’clock. They came into my office at about a quarter to four, and I had a little private chat with Dwight that maybe lasted four or five minutes, and that was it.”

So no point, you never had anything in there to measure his interest in staying here?
“No, in fact our decision was independent of anything you may have read about what maybe his desires were or weren’t. Our feeling was, no matter what anyone says, let’s just get him to Los Angeles and we’ll take our chances.”

Is the thought process that winning takes care of it?
“It’s the organization, ownership, the city of Los Angeles, our ability to win games, surrounding Dwight with players that will make it easier for him to play the game and not have to burden a load that’s maybe not fair."

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Steve Nash on Kobe Bryant, Mike Brown, winning titles and much more

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
4:02
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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New Lakers point guard Steve Nash -- it's still very much fun to write that -- spoke at length with Max Kellerman and Mychal Thompson on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles this morning. They covered a lot of ground, including the process leading him to Los Angeles from Phoenix and Kobe Bryant's involvement in it, how he thinks he'll mesh with Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, what it would mean to win a title, Dwight Howard, Grant Hill, and more.

Click here to listen to the interview in its entirety, click here to read the story I wrote off the interview, or read below for the full transcript of their conversation.

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Steve Nash reached out to Kobe Bryant before agreeing to join the Lakers.



Q: Were you surprised at how this developed?

“It was a surprise, for sure. I think it was about 10 days ago I said it would be hard for me to put on a Lakers uniform, so I think for everyone including myself it’s a surprise. Things happen. First and foremost, when the Suns decided to go in a new direction I was obviously looking for new home. Then the opportunity to be close to my kids was so exciting to me and I think you guys would agree basketball-wise it makes a lot of sense.”

Q: How did it happen?

Mitch [Kupchak] called my agent shortly after midnight on the first, and I’m guessing, but I think the first thing he said was, “I know we’ve had some battles in the playoffs and I hear Steve wouldn’t want to play for the Lakers.” My agent, being an agent, said, “No, that’s not true. That’s all media speculation.” Frankly, the idea to be close to my son and my daughters who will be in Phoenix was the No. 1 priority. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that I think I’m a good fit for the team, and they have a great team and we’re a contender -- that’s all incredible, too. But as far as getting over the hump and being able to be a Laker after being a Sun and trying to beat the Lakers in the playoffs all those years, the reality was it was too good an opportunity to pass up as far as my children were concerned. Fortunate for me, it’s a great basketball situation.”

Q: It has been widely reported Kobe called to recruit you -- what happened?

“He did. We spoke, I think he was at his basketball camp in Santa Barbara, and gave me a call. For me, it was important to speak to him and make sure he was completely on board, and that he could kind of visualize this as being a good fit, and being excited about it. So I spoke to him, I spoke to coach Brown. They were excited. Kobe, he was great. He was excited, and explained to me how he thought it would help, and why he thought it would be great, and I think a lot of the reasons he had were ones I could already envision before speaking to him.”

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Mitch Kupchak exit interview: Lakers won't stand still

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
1:03
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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I don't envy Mitch Kupchak's job in the slightest. The Lakers have slipped a notch below the league's most elite teams, and don't have many assets -- whether in draft picks, young trade prospects, or salary flexibility -- with which to improve the team, and are working against a very punitive CBA.

Meanwhile, the Kobe Klock is ticking.

No offseason in L.A. is an easy one, but an argument can easily be made this one provides Kupchak his stiffest test as Lakers general manager. I don't know how he gets it done, but fortunately he's better at his job than I am, so there's hope for fans.

Wednesday in El Segundo, Kupchak met with the media and relative to his normal "You'll never get the launch codes from me, reporter! Never!" standards, was frank about the need for improvements, and that the Lakers would explore just about every option available in order to facilitate them.

Here are a few choice quotes. Click below the jump for full video coverage of his press conference.

On Pau Gasol: "I don’t suspect that he’ll ever be the same based on what took place this year. I thought personally that he did the best anybody can do, being professional and saying the right things, being a good teammate and having a really good season up until I met with him a couple hours ago. He’s the consummate teammate, consummate professional. But what took place is hard for a player to deal with and I’m sure there’s a little bit of trust that’s not quite the same. But, like you said, he understands and our exit meeting with him was really good. I think he and I are on the same page. I have not met with ownership. I do not know what direction the team is going to go, what the parameters are going to be going forward so there wasn’t really anything additional to share with Pau or to share with you people about what may take place between now and the draft, or now and July 1st or post July 1st."

(Note: Asked what he meant by "I don't suspect he'll ever be the same," Kupchak said he was talking only about the trust issue between Gasol and the organization, not his on court performance.)

On whether the Lakers would be active in the trade market: "Why not? Sure. When you lose, and we went through it last year and we didn’t make really, other than at the trade deadline, we didn’t do anything last year, but when you lose before you think you should have lost, you have to open up all opportunities."

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Q&A with Jim Buss, Part 1

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
8:15
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LakersAndrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesThe Lakers lined up for their 2012 postseason team photo with Jim Buss right in the middle.
It was team photo day at the Los Angeles Lakers' practice facility this week. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the front row of smiling participants was Jim Buss, wearing a black baseball-style Lakers cap with a line of players wearing yellow jerseys to either side of him.

Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel, was occupying the spot his father, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, usually takes when it’s time for the team to annually say, “Cheese.” It was a fitting scene, illustrating just how much the younger Buss has been thrust into the forefront of the Lakers’ franchise decisions as his father has watched him assume greater control over the family business.

Jerry Buss is still “the boss,” as Jim Buss says, and his absence from the team photo wasn’t an orchestrated move to pass the baton to his son or anything -- he was simply feeling under the weather the day of the photo shoot, according to a Lakers staffer -- but there will come a time when the Lakers are truly Jim Buss’ team.

Following the photo session, the normally reticent Jim Buss sat down with ESPNLosAngeles.com for a wide-ranging interview. As Buss sipped on a black coffee with three Sweet 'N Lows and scratched his beard that he decided to keep after growing out his facial hair for the first time in his life during the NBA’s 161-day lockout, the conversation spanned his increased role with the Lakers, the team’s championship aspirations, how the new collective bargaining agreement and revenue sharing arrangement will affect business, his relationship with Phil Jackson, and much more. (See Part 2 here.)

Q: What are your thoughts on this season?

“Well, I think it’s coming along just as we anticipated with the changing of the guard of coaches [and] new players. I felt that the second half of the season would be better than the first half. As far as up and down, every season has its ups and downs. To me, this is a normal up and down, so it’s OK. But I like how we’re hitting our stride going into the playoffs, so I’m happy.”

Q: Start with Andrew Bynum. He could be the best player on this team in the second half of the season, all due respect to Kobe.

“I’m not a guy that judges players in different positions against different players. It doesn’t make sense to me to compare a center to a guard. It doesn’t make sense at all. So, to say Andrew Bynum was the best player in the second half, I wouldn’t be comparing him to anybody. You got Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Ramon Sessions, Kobe [Bryant]. ... I think they all are the best player on the team in their position.”

Q: You would agree, though, that his performance on the court in terms of production has been the best it’s ever been.

“Yes, of course. If you wanted me to compare him to himself, he’s having his best year.”

Q: Has his attitude or any of his actions on and off the court taken away from some of that production?

“I don’t think so. I like what Phil Jackson said the other day [to the Los Angeles Times]. I thought that was the best way to look at it. The kid is coming into his own and there’s going to be some growing pains and just let him grow. So, I’m good with it.”

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Matt Barnes on the bench, Mike Brown's rotation, the Clips, and more

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
11:02
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Lakers forward Matt Barnes joined 710 ESPN's Mason and Ireland Show -- click here or the full interview -- touching on a wide range of subjects including the strongest team they've played this season (not surprisingly, Barnes chooses Oklahoma City) and questions about Mike Brown's rotation (often frustrating, particularly for him, but evening out with time).


Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Matt Barnes has been solid off the bench this season for L.A., but hasn't had much company.

One of the more interesting moments came when Barnes was asked about the bench, and whether he takes personally the near nightly outscoring of L.A.'s bench by the opposition's:
"It's a little different, here. I think our production is not necessarily measured by points. It's more the small things. We have such a talented and offensive oriented team that guys off the bench -- last night I played 27 minutes and got four shots. Normally guys like James Harden will play 27 minutes and get 18 shots off the bench. So it's kind of hard to gauge our production point-wise, because we have Kobe (Bryant), we have Andrew (Bynum), we have Pau (Gasol), and now we have Ramon (Sessions) who is also a proven scorer. So it's a little frustrating to hear [the criticism of the bench] sometimes, but this game comes with a lot of criticism and we'll definitely shoulder that."

While it might sound like an excuse, Barnes is right. The bulk of the offensive opportunities still go to the starters remaining on the floor with the reserves, making points an imperfect way to measure a good game from a bad one. Josh McRoberts had one field goal against the Warriors Tuesday night -- albeit with the ultimate FG-to-SportsCenter highlight ratio -- but had eight rebounds and worked hard. Troy Murphy's eight points were nice, but the 11 boards might have been more important. Barnes scores more than anyone off the bench, but is best measured by activity, not PPG. It's in this spirit the reserves should be judged: In one form or another, from rebounding to assists to defense to hustle plays to whatever, did they have a positive impact on the game?

Of course, the reason is equal parts simple and unflattering: The Lakers don't have the personnel capable of providing points on a nightly basis. They don't have a Harden, or a Lou Williams, or a Jason Terry whose living is built on getting off the bench and lighting up the opposition. L.A. made multiple plays for Michael Beasley, maybe not quite at the level of those three but still a potentially explosive scorer, but wasn't successful.

So while it's important to have a realistic understanding of what defines good play from the Lakers' bench, it's equally important to understand this recalibration isn't a function of design but necessity, is hardly ideal, and contributes greatly to the team's extremely thin margin for error.

Talking With: Joey Buss, Los Angeles D-Fenders President/CEO

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
10:58
PM PT
By The Kamenetzky brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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While Jim Buss draws most of the attention -- and the ire -- when fans consider the next generation of Buss children taking over the family business from their father, there are two other sons learning the business. Most prominent is Joey, once that random Buss you'd never heard of who accepted the '09 championship trophy from David Stern after Game 5 in Orlando, now the President/CEO of the organization's D-League team, the D-Fenders.

The 27-year old USC grad is in his fourth year running the minor league squad. Where Jim worked his way up through the Lakers organizational structure as part of the player personnel division, Joey is getting a more holistic education with the D-Fenders. A few weeks back, we sat down with him for an extended interview.


Elsa/Getty Images
Dr. Buss let his son sink or swim in Orlando.


Q: How did you get into your role with the D-Fenders?

Joey Buss: When I graduated college, the first year I spent with the Lakers and Phil Jackson, shadowing him for the year. Traveled to all the away games, went to all the coach’s meetings. That was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, just getting in there. We also invested in the D-League as the first NBA team to buy its own affiliate at around the same time. I was trying to learn different roles, and different parts of the organization to see where a good fit would be.

As I talked with my sister Jeanie and my dad it seemed that the minor league sport was an open opportunity to take on, and invest my time into fully to try and build it as an asset for the Lakers. From the business part, from the basketball part, just managing the whole deal. Go out there and do it. This is your team, go do it.

Q: What did you learn in that year shadowing Phil?

Joey Buss: Candidly, I learned it’s very hard work. I learned all about the triangle offense, and the inner workings of how Phil likes to manage games. Coming from college you’re kind of outside looking in. This was an inside, behind the scenes look. Growing up with the team, it was more just about the players, meeting guys. That’s all I really cared about. What this really taught me was the strategy of the game. Getting that coaching insight was very valuable basketball knowledge.

You really quickly start realizing that it’s not as easy to say it as it is to do it. Their point guard scored a lot, why couldn’t we do something about? But then the coaches, you [see they] tried everything you possibly could. You did this substitution, you did the zone, you tried this different on the pick and roll, you tried different avenues. You really get to see that they try everything. They don’t not think of anything. And really having a realization of how difficult it is for these guys to maintain an energy level through a whole season.

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Shannon Brown relishes being Kobe's "little brother" and his time as a Laker

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
3:40
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Monday, I shared how, despite being competitively wired in a way that flirts with insanity, Kobe Bryant isn't looking forward to a potential mano y' mano with former teammate and current Phoenix Sun Shannon Brown. Kobe took Shannon under his wing from the moment he was traded to the Lakers, and the two developed a tight bond, as mentor and protege, plus good old fashioned friends. Thus, derailing Brown's success, even for just one game, isn't an enticing prospect.

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Obi Wan Kenobi on the left, Luke Skywalker on the right.



"I don't like playing against my little brothers," said Bryant after Sunday's win against Memphis. "I don't like it. I watched him develop. I watched him grow. Taught him a lot of things. Those are always tough games for me."

I wondered, however, if Brown might view the situation differently. He is, after all, the student in this relationship, as well as the player with considerably more to prove. What better way to demonstrate just how far you've grown than holding your own -- or even besting -- your future Hall of Fame "big bro?" But as Shannon admitted during Tuesday's shootaround, those same conflicted emotions exist for him as well.

"It's almost kind of the same way," acknowledged Brown. "I don't want to have to steal the ball from him. I know he doesn't wanna have to steal it from me. The competitive part is still there, but you never want to see a person that you built a close, close relationship to fail in any type of way. Even though, if we win, we win, but [as far as] our personal relationship, it's kind of tough."

This situation lends Brown insight towards what goes through Pau Gasol's mind while matched up against Marc. "They've probably got scars and war wounds from they was young going at each other. But I can definitely understand the vibe and the feelings that nobody really wins, even though somebody wins."

This being "probably the first" relationship Shannon's ever had with a veteran superstar, those feelings get mixed even further.

"It's special for me, because him being the type of person he is, he didn't have to embrace me the way he did. He could have just helped me a little bit and then kept it an on-court relationship. But it went off the court and we built it into a friendship. I'm grateful for that, also."

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Fun stuff on the newest edition of the show.

We entered the studio determined to avoid harping on this week's edition of the Kobe Bryant Shooting Controversy, but it's a tough thing to avoid. Want to talk about Andrew Bynum, where he's going, and whether he deserves a bigger role? Impossible without getting into Kobe. Pau Gasol's place in the pecking order? Certainly related to Kobe. How has Mike Brown done as Lakers head coach? Gonna have to talk Kobe.

So if you can't talk about the Lakers, what about non-basketball related topics? We test it by playing Six Degrees of Kobe's Shot Selection, i.e. The Kevin Bacon Game. (8:30)

After that bit of silliness, and a little actual analysis (13:30), we welcome ESPN.com's J.A. Adande (17:45). This week, he wrote a great feature addressing an issue fans have been talking about since the first time this year's Lakers squad took the floor-- namely the high number of American born white players on the roster. Five in all, as many as the team has had in over three decades.

With that starting point, we discuss not only what it means regarding the Lakers, but the interesting role of race and stereotypes in basketball, and how it compares to other sports.

Click here for the full show.
Andrew Bynum looks good. The eye test says he's thinner, but Sunday Bynum said he might actually weigh a little more. "I just turned a lot of fat into muscle."

By all accounts, Bynum worked his tail off through the lockout, and appears to be reaping the benefits.

"My knees feel really good," he said.

Whether it'll be the Lakers who potentially benefit remains to be seen, but as of now the news is all positive. Then, as only Bynum can, he managed to temper the enthusiasm of fans before they even had a chance to have any.

"Basketball is the hardest thing for [my knees], he said. "A lot of training, boxing, is great for footwork. It’s a lot of running. I do a lot of running, a lot of lifting, but there’s nothing quite like the hardwood when you have to run up and down. You’re always banging into people, defensive sliding, and jumping and things like that. Right now my knees feel great, and hopefully that will be the case for the long haul.”

So aside from all the stuff he's paid to do, he's totally set, right? Some of this is pure Bynum. By now, fans know Drew's unique ability to frame a situation with unusual candor, but it speaks to the elephant with whom he'll always share a room. No matter how well he plays -- and he's had moments of domination -- it's hard to feel comfortable going all in thanks to Bynum's physical history.

PodKast: On Dwight Howard, Shannon Brown's future, and a Darius Morris interview

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
5:24
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Friday afternoon's press conference with Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown produced many bits of buttery basketball nuggetry. Kupchak emphasized L.A.'s limitations in the upcoming free agent market, and made it pretty clear he expects Shannon Brown to sign elsewhere (if the goal is a substantial payday, at least). Mike Brown, among other things, dropped clues about how he'll use Kobe Bryant, discussed Derek Fisher's status as a starting point guard, and said the compressed training camp and regular season schedule means he won't be able to implement his system as thoroughly as he'd like.


Daniel Gluskoter/Icon SMI
Fans and media can't stop asking if Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant will be teammates in L.A.. We don't buck the trend.


Oh, and Matt Barnes said he's spoken to Dwight Howard, and he wants to come to Los Angeles. Can't imagine that'll fuel speculation.

In an effort to sort it all out, after it was over Andy and I hit the studio and recorded a fresh podcast, WHICH YOU CAN LISTEN TO BY CLICKING HERE.

We start by welcoming rookie point guard Darius Morris, selected with the 41st pick in last summer's draft, to the show. After establishing his proper height (listed three ways on draft day), he tells us how he spent his lockout lengthened offseason. Like all rookies, Morris was caught in limbo. No official support from his team, no income to rely on, no professional experience to reference. (6:52) Morris then answers questions about potential playing time, and what he missed this summer because of the labor problems. Losing access to coaches was disappointing, but Morris believes he gained a great deal by working out with other pros.

Finally, while Morris knows he has a great deal of work left in the interim (making the team, for example), he admits allowing his mind to wander towards Christmas.

After saying goodbye, we break down Kupchak's comments about free agency, and how he addressed questions about Howard (17:00). No surprise, Kupchak said nothing was on the front burner-- he wouldn't have told us, even if there was -- but how likely is it Howard moves somewhere before the start of the season, whether to the Lakers or another team? Andy thinks the odds are higher than I do, and explains why.

From there, it's on to Brown (23:47). After playing sound from Kupchak on the subject, we get into what it means. If he goes, who replaces him? What does losing Brown mean for the rest of L.A.'s roster bolstering mission? Who could they land? (27:00, give or take)

We wrap with Brown's comments on Kobe in the offense and ideas for the Mike Brown Suggestion Box. All of this, plus Karl Malone impressions and Duran Duran jokes!

To subscribe to the K-Bros podcast via iTunes, click here. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for full video coverage of the Lakers.
Love him or hate him, few athletes have loomed larger on the L.A. sports scene than Shaquille O'Neal. (See what I did there?) He was a centerpiece (again!) of the Threepeat Lakers, but with success came plenty of drama, most notably thanks to a partnership atop the roster with Kobe Bryant rarely lacking tension.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Some Lakers fans still love and appreciate Shaquille O'Neal. Others just appreciate. And some like him as much as Shaq liked free throws.



In his new book "Shaq Uncut: My Story," written with esteemed basketball writer Jackie MacMullan, O'Neal details his life in L.A., from his relationships with Kobe and Phil Jackson to how Jerry West jumped on an opportunity to import him from Orlando, and his lingering bitterness towards Mitch Kupchak.

MacMullan joined us this week to discuss the book and O'Neal's career and, no surprise, we focused a great deal on O'Neal's tenure in purple and gold.

Click here to listen to the whole show, or jump to a specific topic by clicking the links below...

2:00- How Shaq's childhood impacted his personality.

A great deal of attention has been paid to those sections of the book about conflicts with high profile figures like Kobe or Pat Riley, but arguably the most interesting stories come at the beginning. Shaq's youth was a rugged one in which he was mocked because of his size, and teased because of a stutter. Then there was the harsh physical discipline meted out by Phillip Harrison, in every way but biologically his father. Shaq fiercely defends Harrison ("Sarge," as he's commonly known), and MacMullan notes O'Neal was a tough kid to control. "Shaq was a juvenile delinquent, let's be honest here. Stealing cars, he was throwing spitballs at teachers, he was bullying kids at school. He wasn't really what we would call a model citizen when he was a kid. So when he messed up, his father answered with his fists, and sometimes his belt," she says.

There was an upshot to all the misbehavior, notes MacMullen. The amount of time Shaq spent "in punishment" (sent to his room) helped form the imagination and creativity eventually becoming O'Neal's trademarks. She explains how Shaq's behavior as a pro reflects those formative years.

8:10- Shaq and Phil Jackson.

Shaq writes in glowing terms about Jackson, who came to the Lakers when O'Neal desperately needed help overcoming the perception he couldn't win in crunch time. "He thought, "You know what, this guy [Jackson is] a winner. He's a proven winner. I need a ring, and I think this is the guy who's going to get me one." He had to make a decision to jump in with both feet and totally buy what Phil was selling, and that's what he did," MacMullan says.

9:20- On Shaq's sensitivity.

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PodKast: D-Fenders coach Eric Musselman

October, 29, 2011
10/29/11
10:44
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
I'll be honest, I've never really paid the D-League much attention save those moments where players on the Lakers roster were sent down for more seasoning. Even then, I wasn't exactly setting the NBDL's website as my home page. But with labor strife screwing everything up at the NBA level, if your game is professional hoops, for the time being at least the Los Angeles D-Fenders -- back after a year-long hiatus-- are the only game in town.


Win McNamee/Getty Images
Unlike most NBDL coaches, Eric Musselman has extensive experience as the head man on an NBA sideline.


The most interesting thing about this year's team will almost certainly be the coach. In Eric Musselman, they have a head man with an unusual level of NBA experience, having patrolled the sidelines both for Golden State and Sacramento. In his first season with the Warriors, Musselman squeezed a 17-win improvement from the previous season, and he finished second behind Gregg Popovich in the 2003 Coach of the Year balloting. But after failing to build on that success the following year, he was let go. Hired by the Kings in 2006, Musselman had the unenviable task of replacing Rick Adelman.

One 33 win season later, Sacramento fired him.

In many ways, then, Musselman resembles the guys he's coaching: Actively trying to make it back to the next level. When we made the comparison in our conversation, Musselman deflected, but I suspect he (understandably) wasn't being completely candid. It's just one of the subjects we touched on, from the difficulty creating a workable team ethic when ultimately everyone on the roster is motivated by personal goals to the challenges Mike Brown faces this season with the Lakers.

Click here for the whole show, or below if you'd rather steer to a specific topic...

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Q & A: Pau Gasol on his confidence, team chemistry, positivity, and more

October, 28, 2011
10/28/11
11:37
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
As a group, the Lakers have taken plenty of criticism following their rather unceremonious dumping from the 2011 NBA playoffs. Individually, no single player has absorbed more heat than Pau Gasol. While nobody, Pau included, would defend the quality of his play, the big questions around El Spaniard now point to the 2011-12 season, assuming for the time being we actually get one.


Matthew Eammons/US Presswire
When last we saw Pau Gasol, he was struggling mightily against Dallas in the postseason. He says he's ready to bounce back.


Personally, I find the hand-wringing over Gasol's future kind of silly. He's a four-time All-Star, a two-time champion, and arguably the most skilled post player the NBA has to offer. These things don't disappear after one bad spring. It's worth noting, too, how well he responded to the public flogging following L.A.'s loss to Boston in the '08 Finals. Then as well, no Laker took more criticism individually. A few months later, though, Gasol outplayed Dwight Howard in the Finals and helped lead the Lakers to a title.

I expect Gasol will return to form, but others believe he's damaged goods. This is just one of the many subjects we covered in a phone conversation Friday afternoon.

Q: What was your reaction to Friday's labor news?

Gasol: "Obviously it's not good news for anyone. We want the lockout to come to an end, and want to get to a [solution] that's fair and positive to all of us. So it's not a great day. Not happy.”

Q: How are you following the talks? Are you someone taking a hard line, or are you leaving the leadership to do what they do? Some guys are more aggressive than others.

Gasol: "The guys that are already in the meetings, they’re obviously a lot more aware of the negotiations, and do the talking. Obviously I have faith in the guys that are representing us. If I was at the meetings, I'd have all the information and might be a little more vocal, but I think that players are supporting [them] being involved. It just tells people and our fans how committed they are to make this work, and that we want to play and have a season as bad as anybody. But aside from that, I don't think it's a good idea to talk too much about it if you don't know all the details."

Q: Looking at your summer, and reflecting on the end of last season, what did playing for the national team do for you?

Gasol: "It's always positive for me to play with my national team, as far as that atmosphere, competing, defending my country and trying to get championships and medals for Spain, and ourselves, too. It's always positive to be part of that. The downside of it is obviously you add up a little more load on your body, But this year worked out because of the lockout, and how we've been able to get rest, and a break for us to recover from the championships. So we have a great team, and it's always exciting and encouraging for us, and that we continue to make history for [Spanish] basketball."

Q: Physically, were you healthy going in, were you healthy coming out?

Gasol: "Yeah. I twisted my ankle during the championship, and had to miss a game because of it. But I was totally healthy going into it, not as healthy coming out of it. That's the price you sometimes pay to compete. Obviously you're exposed to risks when you're out there."

Q: Are you healthy now?

Gasol: “Yeah, absolutely. After a month and a week, more or less now, I think our bodies have had the chance to heal and recover."

Q: How important was it to get on the floor and play well, given how the season ended for you personally? Was that important to you?

Gasol: "That's kind of my need regardless. I love to play. I love to play well, and obviously last year didn't finish well for me personally, and for us as a team. I have a great desire to get on the floor and perform at my highest level."

Q: Have you reflected at all on the Dallas series?

Gasol: "I didn't dwell into it too much, but obviously I analyzed. It wasn't so much about the Dallas series. They played a great playoffs, not just against us. They won a championship, and became champions for a reason. Unfortunately, we weren’t at our best at our particular time. We self-analyzed things, but that’s about it. Hopefully it was a needed experience for us in order for us to continue to work, and continue to try and be the best [team] again."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0