Lakers: Lakers News
Well, ever since the Miami Heat threatened his 1971-72 Lakers' record 33-game winning streak, Sharman became relevant on a national scale again.
Apparently Sharman is using all that attention for good.
Sharman is raffling off his 2010 Lakers championship ring to raise money to be spread across eight charities of his choosing.
Metta World Peace engaged in a similar endeavor, raffling off his 2010 ring and raising more than $650,000 for mental health charities. While World Peace's ring was special because he earned it by scoring 20 points in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston, Sharman's NBA credentials are even more impressive. Sharman is one of just three people to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
More details about the raffle will become available after a news conference Wednesday. The fundraiser is being put on thanks to NetRaffle.org by Celebrities For Charity.
Gasol will continue to increase his work load and return to the lineup when he is ready and pain free.
The Lakers, who don't return to game action until Friday night at home when they host the Washington Wizards, have gone 13-7 with Gasol out of the lineup.
HOUSTON -- Different All-Star city, same mixed messages from Dwight Howard regarding his future.
Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty ImagesDwight Howard was a popular subject at All-Star media availability Friday with most reporters wanting to know what his future plans are.
Howard confirmed Friday he has received assurances from Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that he wouldn't be dealt by next week's trade deadline despite his unwillingness to commit to an extension or a new contract after the season.
Asked during Friday's All-Star media session if he'd be shocked if the Lakers traded him in the coming days, Howard said: "Well, they told me they weren't going to trade me. So, yeah, I would be surprised."
Howard spent much of his 30-minute session with reporters trying to deflect questions about his future. But ultimately, he said he wouldn't be pressured by anyone into making a decision about his future before the end of the season.
"The only thing that matters is the present, and right now," Howard said. "There's no need to talk about what's going to happen at the end of the season. No reason to go back and forth about it. I just feel like at the end of the year, I should have my opportunity to make my own decision. I shouldn't be criticized for waiting for the end of the year."
Without some kind of indication from Howard, the Lakers could risk losing the league's best center in free agency this summer without getting key assets in return. Orlando faced the same dilemma this time last season, but ultimately got Howard to waive an early termination contract clause that would have allowed him to enter free agency last summer.
He has had to adjust those expectations, obviously.
The Lakers have won six out of their last seven games and have cracked 110 points just twice in that stretch, proving they can grind games out to get the victory even if it goes against the style D'Antoni is known for.
Things could get even slower for the Lakers offense with Pau Gasol out indefinitely and Dwight Howard still sidelined because of a sore right shoulder. L.A. will likely turn to the less-mobile Robert Sacre, whose game is suited for a plodding type of play, to plug up the middle in their absence.
D'Antoni claims he has already adapted to fit the Lakers this season and is ready to continue to do so in light of the injury news.
"We had a system that we ran in Phoenix that was different and it was really successful and I liked it obviously," D'Antoni told the Mason & Ireland Show on ESPNLA 710 radio on Wednesday. "It was fun to play that way, but I don't have a system. I just think we try to play what's best for our personnel and what's best for the game of basketball that's kind of evolving in the last few years. A lot of teams are going a lot smaller, they're spreading the floor more, they're using the 3-point shot a lot more. Basketball has changed and it's changed how you can't guard with your hands on the perimeter and the players have changed -- much more skilled, better shooters, better passers. So, that's where it is today."
D'Antoni's point about the direction the league is heading was evidenced by last year's NBA Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder that was dominated by wing players on both teams and marginalized the use of back-to-the-basket big men in their approach to the game.
"I can play any way," D'Antoni said. "I don't care if we run, if we slow it down, we want to win and we want to try to get the best out of every player and I do believe that opening the floor up and playing at a faster pace is a lot better for a lot of players.
"Now, we've struggled with that and we weren't built to be the Phoenix team. We weren't built to be real fast. I would like to get there some day, but we're trying to play at the speed that is more conducive to how we are. But, I do believe in a certain way and I do believe certain things in basketball do not change -- that's sharing the ball, spreading the floor, playing great defense, everybody playing for everybody else and not being selfish. I think every coach is more or less the same. I don't think coaches are that much different. It's just how you get your message across and can you get it across."
The Lakers are sixth in the league in points per game this season at 102.12 points per game and eighth in offensive efficiency, averaging 105.3 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers are the only team in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive efficiency with a sub-.500 record, suggesting that while D'Antoni's offense gets most of the attention when figuring out what's wrong with the Lakers, their defense is probably the real culprit.
Buss, 78, wants the Lakers and all of the purple-and-gold tradition to stay his family’s business long after he’s gone -- despite speculation to the contrary.
The Buss family and Lakers organization issued a joint statement to ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday before the team played the Utah Jazz, in response to a recent story in the Orange County Register that floated the idea the team could be up for sale.
"We unanimously agree that we have no intention of ever selling the Lakers and intend to keep ownership of the team in our family for generations to come,” said the statement.
Dr. Buss has six children, including two who currently hold influential roles within the organization. His son, Jim Buss, is the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and his daughter, Jeanie Buss, is the team's executive vice president of business operations.
The Lakers were recently listed by Forbes Magazine as the second-most-valuable team in the NBA at $1 billion, trailing only the New York Knicks.
Jackson, who helped Lakers center Dwight Howard set an all-time single game NBA record for free-throw attempts last season when he paraded him to the foul line and Howard went 21-for-39 en route to 43 points in an Orlando Magic win over the Warriors, said he'll gladly do it all over again.
"If there's anybody in this league that does not shoot free throws at a high level, if they’re on the floor, I, as a coach, will every single time entertain fouling," Jackson told ESPNLA's 710 Radio's "L.A. Now" show with Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on Friday. "That's just the right move to make as a coach. Whether it's Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, it doesn't matter whoever it is. If that opportunity presents itself, I'm going to entertain it and more than likely do it. Now, if you make the shots, it will make me adjust, but I'm going with what the data says in front of me."
The data would actually suggest that the move backfired on Jackson.
According to SB Nation's Tom Ziller, Howard actually scored at a higher rate per possession that game when he was being intentionally fouled than when he was simply defended and allowed to operate offensively without being granted an automatic whistle.
Howard, who saw two late Lakers leads slip away in the fourth quarter this season when Orlando and Houston employed the Hack-a-Howard strategy, welcomed the challenge again.
"That's fine with me, that's fine," Howard said. "I've been really working on my free throws so if it happens, I'll be ready and make him pay."
Lakers forward Pau Gasol's foul-line jumper with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter of the Lakers' game against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night gave him 15,000 career points. Gasol is only the 10th foreign-born player in NBA history to reach the mark and the first player from Spain to do so.
"It feels good," Gasol said after the game. "I think it's something to be proud of and I'm happy that I've been able to reach this milestone and I want to continue. I want to continue to be as productive as I've been throughout my career and it feels good. It's a good milestone to reach."
The nine other foreign-born players in the 15,000-point club are Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (France), Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands), Rolando Blackman (Panama), Steve Nash (South Africa), Kiki Vandeweghe (Germany) and Detlef Schrempf (West Germany).
Gasol pumped both of his fist in celebration as he back pedaled down the court following his made shot. After the ensuing timeout, Lakers public address announcer Lawrence Tanter pointed out Gasol's accomplishment to the crowd and Gasol received a partial standing ovation from the fans.
"I just wanted to be successful," Gasol said. "I just wanted to make it and earn respect and succeed and hopefully make people proud of what I was doing and make myself proud of myself. That's what I've always tried to do on a daily basis and so far I've gotten to this point and it's been, I think, pretty good."
Said Kobe Bryant, who had the assist on Gasol's milestone basket: "Hopefully people will talk about it a little bit and sing his praises a little bit. He's not the type to toot his own horn, so, I think it's important for Los Angeles to kind of pay their respects for what he's done for this franchise. He kind of goes under the radar, slips under the mat for whatever reason. He's a fantastic player."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Mike Brown was fired a week ago today. Phil Jackson was on his way back, until he wasn't. Gentry's old friend, Mike D'Antoni was hired late Sunday night, then introduced as the Los Angeles Lakers coach on Thursday and there was a chance he would make his coaching debut Friday against his old team, the Phoenix Suns.
D'Antoni, who is still worn out and heavily medicated after knee replacement surgery at the beginning of the month, thought better of coaching Friday. Another ex-Sun, Steve Nash, is still working his way back from a fracture in his left leg. So at least some of the weirdness was gone from Friday's game against Phoenix.
"It's still pretty weird," Gentry said before the game. "I just talked to Steve for a while and obviously I saw Mike and talked to him. This is kind of something that's a little different than we ever anticipated."
Gentry shared his thoughts on this awkward reunion, as well as how he thinks D'Antoni's uptempo offense will work with the Lakers roster:
Q: What was your reaction to the news the Lakers had chosen Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson?
A: I think everybody was (stunned). It looked like Phil was going to be returning. It didn't work out that way, but I think that was the general consensus of everyone is that he was coming back.
Q: Will the seven-seconds-or-less offense work with the Lakers?
A: First of all, it was never seven seconds or less. Most of our shots came with less than 12 seconds on the shot clock. We played at a fast pace, but it wasn't like we came down and fired away. We weren't Loyola Marymount. It's more of a rhythm offense than this breakneck pace that everybody thinks that it is. It's a rhythm offense that I think for sure everyone's going to be able to play. Dwight Howard, why would he not be great at it, rolling to the basket? And you've got the best open court player in the game, in my opinion, in Kobe Bryant. And Steve Nash is a great pick-and-roll player. And Pau Gasol, I think he'll thrive in this system, contrary to what anybody is saying. I think he'll be a great fit. He's a 7-foot jump shooting big guy that can post and run and is a great passer. I don't know why it wouldn't work.
Bryant said he hasn't spoken to Jackson since the Lakers chose to hire D'Antoni instead of the 11-time championship-winning coach, but he was outspoken about how Jackson and his assistant coaches have been underappreciated for their success.
"It seems like all our assistant coaches when they left here, to even mention the word 'Triangle' was like taboo," Bryant said after the Lakers' 84-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. "I don't understand it. I really don't know the answer to that question. It's very strange, very bizarre. You would think that organizations and other coaches should try to learn from Phil. That's what you should try to do, right? If you have a coach that's won more than anybody in our profession, you would think you'd want to study them and analyze them, but they haven't done it."
Bryant played under Jackson for 11 of Bryant's 17 seasons in the league and the pair won five championship rings together. When asked what parts of Jackson's coaching Bryant has carried with him since Jackson retired in 2011, Bryant replied, "Everything. I'm basically the Baby Zen Master."
D'Antoni will be the eighth head coach other than Jackson whom Bryant has played for in his career, joining the likes of Del Harris, Bill Bertka, Kurt Rambis, Rudy Tomjanovich, Frank Hamblen, Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff.
"I probably wouldn't have learned the game to the depths that I know now," Bryant said when asked if he has ever thought what his career would be like without having been coached by Jackson.
And would he have won all those titles?
The two coaching lions have battled each other for decades, winning some battles, losing others, trading barbs along the way that only men of their stature could dare say.
So when Popovich heard, like the rest of us, that Jackson might be on his way back to the Lakers sideline he had to smile.
"I did have kind of a strange thought," Popovich said. "I just had this thought that it was like putting the Soviet Union back together again. Let's go get Putin and put it all back together. Because I'm a strange person, that all went through my head."
So if the Lakers are the Soviet Union and Jackson is Putin, what does that make the Spurs?
"We're Ammerrrica," Popovich joked with a funny accent.
Jackson, of course, was passed over by the Lakers for Mike D'Antoni in a stunning move late Sunday night and not in position to fire a barb back across the aisle.
But knowing him, he would've enjoyed the opportunity to do so. Whenever he and Popovich get into it -- whether it be on if the Spurs' title in the lockout-shortened season deserved an asterisk or something lighter, like Jackson's feelings on the charm of San Antonio's River Walk -- it's always entertaining.
Whether there's actual ill-will behind the verbal sparring, one can only guess, but there is definitely a mutual respect.
"We never really knew each other that well at all. We waved to each other before the game, that's all," Popovich said, when asked if his relationship with Jackson extended off the court. "But Phil's Phil. He's the all-time best. What else can you say? He's somebody that commanded a lot of attention and deservedly so."
Friday they fired Mike Brown just five games into his second season after one infamous "death stare" from Kobe Bryant during a game in Utah. Two exceptionally quick hooks that are so eerily similar it's hard to believe they are simply coincidental.
As it turns out, they aren't. According to multiple Lakers sources, Lakers owner Jerry Buss learned a lesson from his experience with Westhead that he, his son Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak remembered this week when they made the decision to to fire Brown.
"When you're ready to fire someone, don't wait," one source said.
The Lakers had actually decided to fire Westhead two games earlier, sources said, before they played the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 15, 1981, but they didn't do it right away. When the team beat both the Pacers and the Utah Jazz three nights later, things got awkward. The team's issues hadn't changed -- Johnson was unhappy with the way he was being used in Westhead's offense -- but now after losing four of their first six games, the Lakers had rattled off four straight wins. When Johnson asked to be traded following the Jazz game, it created the perception he forced Jerry Buss' hand when in actuality the decision to fire Westhead had been made several days earlier.
That experience was brought up several times in the Lakers' decision-making process this week. Kupchak was a player on that Lakers team and remembered it well. As ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported early Friday morning, Lakers management had initially decided to evaluate team and Brown during this six-game homestand. But the more they thought about it, sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com Friday night, the more they realized there was a lesson to be learned from their own history.
Nope, there was no celebration when Bernie Bickerstaff was introduced as the 23rd head coach in Lakers' team history.
The 68-year-old basketball lifer has seen it all in his long and winding coaching career that has included head coaching gigs in Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte.
Or at least he thought he had seen it all until he came to work on Friday morning and found out that he would be replacing Mike Brown on the sidelines some 20 years after he gave Brown his first job in the NBA as an intern with the Nuggets.
Just how surprised was Bickerstaff?
"You're being kind with the word 'surprise,' " Bickerstaff told a packed room of reporters before Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors. "I was shocked. You know the history with Mike Brown and myself, in terms of the genesis of history there as an intern, as an assistant with me in Washington. So, I'm very fond of him and it's a tough situation."
Bickerstaff's fifth head-coaching gig is sure to be a short one. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters Friday that the team was already putting together a list of candidates, from which will come a permanent head coach replacement.
Here's an assortment of quotes from Bickerstaff's Irish Wake of a news conference that was nothing if not entertaining.
On his role in the interim:
"I have no control over anything. Whatever Mitch asks me to do, that’s what I’ll do."
On his first task as coach:
"We want to try to win the game. Yesterday we had a great practice. It was intense. The guys got after it. It was a good practice and Mike prepared us well for today."
(Note: Bickerstaff was doing a Herm Edwards impression during the first part of that quote.)
On his message to the team:
"We talked, but I think less is best. Basically, since I've been coaching, you keep things simple. That's what you need to do. We need the guys to go out and play. Not look over at the bench. Just go out and play. Have some fun. Play some basketball. Do what you're capable of doing. We understand, Mike understood the expectations that you all had and we all have to live up to that, and we understand that that hasn't happened. So, we got to try to live up to it."
Last Friday's game, a 10-point win for the red, white, and blue, delivered a 5.9 local rating, making it ESPN's highest-rated regular season game ever televised in the L.A. market. In the Lakers stronghold of Las Vegas, the opening installment of this year's Battle of L.A. drew a 4.8 rating, again the highest ESPN has ever had in that market.
Nationally, the game drew a 2.4 rating, translating to about three million viewers.
There's no reason to believe games coming later in the year will be any less anticipated, given the likelihood of both teams jockeying for control of the Pacific Division and playoff positioning, generally. As long as both teams are competitive and maintain their current cores, each matchup will bring serious buzz, on the floor and off.
Now if we can just figure out a way to get a Hallway Series this spring...
Per Dave McMenamin...
The Lakers announced the results of the point guard's MRI exam Saturday. Nash suffered a small fracture to his fibula in a collision with Portland rookie Damian Lillard on Wednesday night. He missed the Lakers' 105-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, when the Lakers dropped to 0-3 for the first time in 34 years.
Obviously, this ain't the news folks hoped to hear when the two-time MVP originally received a day-to-day diagnosis. How soon Nash returns remains to be seen, but given his age and importance, the Lakers must err on the side of caution. Pushing Nash back too early could lead to an even longer absence down the road, a situation this team can't afford to experience. They'll have to make due with Steve Blake holding down the fort for as long as necessary, and everyone must pick up Nash's slack in some fashion. In the meantime, the goal of merging Nash's style with the Princeton offense -- a mission thus far yielding mostly tentative awkwardness -- will fall that much further behind the 8-ball.
The only bright side from this news comes for either Darius Morris or those in possession of a Darius Morris Fathead. The youngster was given a surprise nod ahead of Chris Duhon for minutes behind Blake, and turned in a credible performance. At the very least, I'm guessing he did enough to make this spot this to lose while Nash recovers. It's an opportunity he likely didn't expect, and can hopefully capitalize upon.
Kobe Bryant participated fully in shootaround Tuesday morning, and unless his strained right foot acts up in the interim he'll suit up for tonight's season opener against Dallas.
Very good news for the Lakers, both in terms of the game itself and as an indication of how his strained right foot is healing after a week on the shelf.