Los Angeles Lakers: Dancing with the Stars

I eagerly look forward to the day when PodKasts aren't focused on the lockout or lockout-related developments. Sadly, that day remains on the distant horizon. Still, a conversation with ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard is always enjoyable, and we fired up the "Sasha Vujacic in the South Bay" clip, which never gets old. Never accuse the K Brothers of not trying to make NBA limbo as much fun as possible.

Click this tab to hear the show, and below is the rundown:

-- Kobe Bryant reportedly has an offer from Virtus Bologna in Italy to join their squad. Is this good idea? For all the reasons Brian listed and more, I agree it's an opportunity (of sorts) Bryant should decline. Granted, I think the odds of him actually taking the offer are slim to begin with.

-- Speaking of Lakers with outside-the-box athletic opportunities, Metta World Peace stunk up the joint on "Dancing With The Stars." In our conversation before a recent practice, he seemed much more confident and, quite frankly, competent in his dancing skills. But just like Vujacic was an "11 a.m. shooter," MWP is apparently an "11 a.m. dancer."

-- With those matters chopped up, we got an update from Broussard on the labor negotiations. As he shares, aside from the basketball related income percentages, the question of a hard or soft cap, and revenue sharing among owners, all the loose ends have been tied up. In other words, the scheduled Nov. 1 start to the regular season is in serious jeopardy.

-- On a positive note, Broussard thinks decertification remains a decided last option for the players' union, despite a handful of powerful agents pushing hard.

-- It's important to remember the recently canceled preseason games and delayed training camps were expected developments on both sides. And in terms of the bigger picture, willingly accepted. Not that either situation is ideal, but as Broussard confirms, neither points to the entire season potentially lost. (For those keeping score, Chris thinks we'll eventually end up with a 50-ish game season.)

-- In discussing Bryant and Italy, Broussard raises an excellent point. Virtus Bologna makes a big splash just by having their team associated with Kobe, much less signing him. Similar to the Besiktas hoopla, this is as much about publicity as earnest hope to land The Mamba. The offer may be legitimately on the table, but we're a long way from Kobe donning a Virtus jersey.

-- Like me, Broussard took issue with the question examined in a recent Triangle (whether the NBA now "belongs to" Kevin Durant). From Chris' perspective, the league has never in its entire history belonged to any one player other than during Michael Jordan's prime.

The Triangle: How long will the lockout last?

September, 24, 2011
9/24/11
8:19
AM PT
By The Kamenetzky brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
NBA Training camps are officially delayed and a slate of preseason games officially canceled. Is there any chance whatsoever the regular season will start on time? If not, will basketball fans at least be treated to a partial season? And what the heck happened with Metta World Peace on DWTS?

Along with 710 ESPN basketball analyst Dave Miller, we debate these questions.

Wednesday Chat Transcript

September, 21, 2011
9/21/11
8:14
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Wednesday provided yet another rousing edition of Lakers Chat here at the Land O'Lakers Blog. There was CBA talk, questions about Andrew Bynum's long term future in L.A., Steve Blake, and how Mike Brown might view players on the current roster.

All that, and more. So much more!

Click here to read the transcript.

Metta World Peace eliminated from Dancing With the Stars

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
10:33
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Well, that was quick.

In the wake of his, um... "uneven" performance on Monday's season premiere of Dancing With the Stars leaving him with the lowest score of the night (14 of 30), Metta World Peace found himself at the mercy of America's great democratic masses (reality show edition) ahead of Tuesday's elimination episode.

They have spoken -- dialed, texted, and clicked, technically-- with judgment swift and harsh. MWP got the boot.

I got the news from my mom, who from her home in St. Louis saw the broadcast ahead of us on the West Coast. "It's sad," she said. "But he wasn't very good." As usual, mom sums things up succinctly. At least nobody has to worry about any scheduling conflicts should the NBA season manage to start on time, we'll all have fun busting out "Danceatron" references throughout the season, and a cancer charity will get a nice donation courtesy of World Peace.

All's well that ends well.

Artest/World Peace Cha-Cha's on DTWS: At the buzzer

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
10:58
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Metta World Peace, apparently still called Ron Artest for the purposes of reality television, made his Dancing With the Stars debut Monday night, busting out a cha-cha with partner Peta Murgatroyd. Click here for the video. And since we don't have actual games to break down -- and may not for a while -- we're going to give his performance the standard Land O'Lakers postgame treatment. (In other news, I'm ready for the lockout to end.)

Here's how it broke down...

The Good:
  1. Huevos. The man danced a cha-cha on national television. Let's give him some credit. Did MWP and Peta remind me of internationally renowned ballroom titans Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj? No, they did not. But then again, let's see Bryan Watson do this. While I'm not exactly an expert in this arena, it looked like MWP was having a good time. You wouldn't expect otherwise, but the man didn't shrink from the spotlight, bringing what would be called a "fun factor."
  2. Potentially Useful Phrases and Nicknames. Bruno the Italian Judge referred to MWP as "Danceatron," before complimenting his "length of bone" (which I understood to be a synonym for "tall") and "performance value." This is all stuff we can put to good use once the season starts, and likely will. Even the negative stuff, like Len the British Guy's belief MWP's performance was "all sizzle, no sausage" will absolutely come in handy.
  3. Lamar Odom's Commercial for Pistachio Nuts. In which L.O. appears to have Artest-esque stars shaved into his head. Good to know he's staying busy, and allowing me to multi-task by keeping track of two Lakers during one broadcast ...
The Bad:
  1. Scores. They were pretty low. Two 5's and a 4, for a total of 14. Len just shredded him, calling his footwork "atrocious," saying the dance "lacked cha-cha content," and that it was "not my cup of tea." As a British guy, the man knows tea. Carrie the Nice Judge, even while trying to be just that, basically compared his actual dancing, on a technical level, to a puddle. That's not good. She did call him sexy, though, which MWP appreciated.

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You want your lockout update? We got your lockout update! SI.com scribe Sam Amick has provided some of the best CBA coverage around this offseason, and was kind enough to spare us some time. Among the talking points:

PODCAST
Andy and Brian talk with SI.com's Sam Amick for the latest on the NBA labor situation. Plus, a very bizarre tale involving Nicolas Cage, an intruder and a Fudgesicle.

Podcast Listen
- Despite the recent rhetoric painting a picture of sides moving further apart, Amick is reasonably confident progress has continued. Not that we're anywhere close to being out of the woods, but as long as backward steps are avoided, that's a positive. At the very least, Amick remains hopeful a 2012 season will take place.

- Amick explains why, as a general rule of thumb, the less forthcoming either side is with specifics from meetings, the better talks are likely going.

- Is the impetus among owners for a hard cap a desire for more parity, a monetarily-driven sticking point, or a little bit of both?

- Amick isn't entirely sure why some powerful agents are pushing for decertification, but if he had to guess, it's a power play. The agents feel more confident in their negotiating skills than Billy Hunter's, and are looking to usurp his power. What Amick does know, however, is decertificaton basically guarantees a large chunk of the season lost, if not the whole kit and kaboodle. It's a nuclear option guaranteeing paperwork, court rooms and tons of red tape, none of which fares well for basketball fans.

- The importance of Derek Fisher as president of the Players Association, in terms of his relationship with players and stature around the league. Amick lays out the praise and criticism commonly lobbed at Fish. For that matter, where does Dr. Jerry Buss fit in as the league's future is being decided?

- Is it problematic role players have been the most prominent faces at the meetings, rather than stars?

- Regular podkast listeners are aware of the K Bros' penchant for anything weird involving Nicolas Cage. Thus, it would be impossible for Brian and I not to explore this recent revelation: Cage once woke up to the startling visual of an intruder wearing nothing but one of his leather jackets and eating a Fudgesicle. The tale is every bit as bizarre as it sounds.

The Triangle: Metta World Peace's odds on DWTS

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
3:35
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
With no NBA season on the immediate horizon, televised dance-offs may soon provide the only formal athletic competition involving a Laker. Similar to the post-apocalyptic worlds in science fiction movies, the future doesn't appear pretty. Still, Dancing With The Stars is a juggernaut in its own right, and as Metta World Peace explained in our recent conversation, he's taking this contest very seriously.

Can The Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest win the whole enchilada? Brian, 710 ESPN basketball analyst Dave Miller and I mull it over.

Ron Artest on DWTS, distractions, LO, the playoffs and Mike Brown

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
5:16
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Wednesday, I caught up with Ron Artest at a Hollywood dance studio before his practice with "Dancing with the Stars" partner Peta Murgatroyd. (For DWTS fans, here is a clip of them rehearsing.) We talked for about 10 minutes about topics ranging from the show to the perception of being distracted by entertainment industry pursuits to his expectations under new/old coach Mike Brown. The conversation is below, plus I've added a few thoughts at the end.

Andy Kamenetzky: What have these workouts been like and how physically challenging are they compared to basketball?

Ron Artest: It's different because in basketball, you're running and you're getting hit. You gotta perform under a lot of stress and you gotta make baskets when you're fatigued. But with dancing, it's real routine, so it's not like you're getting hit. But it's different because it's all feet and it's all hips, and the dances change. So it's definitely good preparation for when you wanna play ball. I've been playing basketball and I sense a difference in how my feet is moving.

AK: Does it work different muscles than you normally work during an offseason?

RA: Yeah, a lot of hips. When you play basketball, if you don't feel like moving a certain way, you don't have to. But in dancing, if you don't move how you're supposed to, you're gonna look bad. So you actually gotta work your hips and you gotta work your ankles in the right direction. It's excellent.

AK: What's your approach of trying to win "Dancing with the Stars" vs. trying to win an NBA title?

RA: I mean, you're just competitive. The first day you see yourself, if you don't have no idea what you're getting into, you'll come, you'll rehearse, you'll practice, whatever, the next couple days, you practice, you'll look at yourself on tape. If you're having fun, and you see yourself and you see how bad you look, then you get competitive. And now you want to do everything the right way.

AK: You joked with Stephen A. Smith a little while back about your slim odds of winning. Some time has passed. Are you actually now in it to win it?

RA: I'm in it to win it now, because it's fun, first off. That's the best thing about basketball. It's fun. And you get a chance to compete, you know?

AK: Is this more fun than you expected?

RA: Definitely. When I first envisioned myself ever doing "Dancing With The Stars," even before this opportunity, I'm like, "No. Impossible. I'm not doing that. I could never ever move like that because it looks like a female." But now that you're actually doing it, it's not that bad, you know? So I don't know how I look right now. I'm so much into it, I just don't know. I'm sure when my friends see it, they're just gonna kill me.

AK: Can you talk about the importance of the money you're raising through "Dancing With The Stars"?

RA: Yes, yes. It's awesome, because any time you get a chance to do something and have fun, and then be inspirational, that's the perfect combination. Some people just entertain. Some people are inspirational and charitable, but they don't have the name for their mission to get out there. I'm fortunate to have both and to do both. That's the best.

AK: I know you're aware some media have wondered if "Dancing with the Stars" signals you being distracted. I'll admit, I've wondered the same thing, between this and the comedy tour and talk about British soap operas. A) where is your focus right now, and B) even if those people are wrong, do you understand why they might think that?

RA: Well, it's like, back in the days, people was able to tell you what to do with your life. But [now] people can’t tell you what do with your own life. That’s why it’s called your life and not their life. If it was their life, I would do exactly what they want me to do. But Ron Artest is a different breed.

I’ve been playing in the NBA 13 years. I’ve got a Defensive Player of the Year. Game 7 [of the 2010 NBA Finals]. "Mr. Game 7," that’s what people call me sometimes. Lockdown defender. One of the best defenders ever. Not of a decade. Not this year. But ever. [Dennis] Rodman. [Michael] Jordan. Hakeem Olajuwan. One of the best ever. So can’t nobody question who this man in front of you is.

AK: But even you admitted, back when you were with the Pacers, that trying to do music while playing basketball was distracting. Are you in a place now where you can handle it better?

RA: I won [2004] Defensive Player of the Year when I was [doing music]. I was doing music for the last 12 years. I had an album come out in 2005, still averaged 20 points. Every team still wanted me. Went to the Houston Rockets. Dropped singles. I recorded “Champion" a year before we won the championship, you know? And I wanted to do that to build my celebrity up. To entertain.

AK: So you can do both at the same time?

RA: I entertain on the court. You see me on the court. I’m never thinking about basketball. I don’t know when’s the last time I thought about basketball. Even Game 7, I was thinking about my single.

AK: Really?

RA: Damn Skippy.

AK: How do you manage to think about something completely different and play basketball?

RA: Basketball is easy. It’s easy. See, for people that don’t play, it’s hard. Because they go to the gym, old white guys and over the hill black guys that go to the gym, and they suck. Right? They suck. I go to these gyms. I see them play. For me, it’s easy.

They gotta concentrate on basketball. Basketball is the least of my worries because I work too hard. I don’t have to worry about basketball. It’s easy.

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Wednesday Chat Transcript

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
9:21
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
As you might suspect, Tuesday's less-than-rosy reviews for the latest round of CBA talks had folks in a sour mood in today's chat. But we soldiered on, talking lockout, Kobe's window, "implosion," and more.

Here's the link to the room.

Wednesday Chat Transcript

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
8:13
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Let me tell you, people, the conversation today was crackling. Crackling!

Did I mention it was crackling?

Among the topics of conversation: Can Kobe catch the Cap for the all-time points lead? Where do the Lakers stack up among favorites for next season? Should Derek Fisher find his number in the rafters one day? With Eurobasket upon us, does a good tourney for Pau mean he's back? Does a bad one mean he's sunk?

All that, some Andrew Bynum talk, and more. Here's the link to the transcript.

Ron Artest to join Dancing With the Stars

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
8:22
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
He wouldn't cop to it Monday morning talking with Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on 710 ESPN -- I suspect he was under orders not to let the cat out of the bag -- but by Monday evening it was official: Ron Artest will be part of this season's cast of Dancing With the Stars. While I'm sure there are fans rolling their eyes at yet another venture for Artest, as Mark Medina of the LAT reports, Artest says he'll donate his earnings from the show (not an insignificant amount) to cancer research in honor of his daughter, who battled kidney tumors as a small child. Certainly hard to argue with that sort of motivation.

A few more thoughts:
  • Laugh if you want about the idea of him appearing on the show, but at least there could be practical benefits. Dancing involves a ton of footwork, and is all about being light on your feet. Watch this and this and tell me a little of that wouldn't do Ron some good.
  • His presence still isn't going to be enough for me to watch the show. I have no interest in sitting through Nancy Grace doing the samba just to watch Ron dance. This is why the TV gods invented highlight clips.
  • Ron committed to something that, should he keep advancing, will continue into the first month of the 2011-12 season (last year's finale was in late November). ABC wanted him despite what I can only assume is some sort of out clause should his real job come calling. DTWS is a huge part of the ABC fall schedule, and if they didn't believe there's good shot of Artest seeing the whole season through I wonder if they'd want him participating at all. Not that I was optimistic before, but in regards to an on-time start for the season, this is another canary in the lockout coal mine. A top-hatted, spats-wearing, rumba-loving canary.

One more serious point...

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Ron Artest and "Dancing with the Stars"?

July, 28, 2011
7/28/11
4:16
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
David Stern and Billy Hunter will once again hit the negotiating table next week, but fans are still looking for indications on how long this whole lockout thing might last. One sign of a potentially protracted labor battle would be Kobe Bryant actually deciding to play in Turkey, or anywhere else for that matter.

Another? Ron Artest busting a pasodoble on Dancing with the Stars.

TMZ reports Artest-- Metta World Peace by then if I remember the name change time line correctly-- is in negotiations to join the next cast of the show, taping this fall. I've never watched, but fully admit I'd tune in for that. Unfortunately, if given the opportunity it means the basketball season is truly in peril. Typically, the show starts in October and runs through November, meaning an end to the work stoppage ends Artest's apparent dreams of learning to dance, then bringing said dance (along with rock music) back to a small western town where it has been banned by the local, ultra-conservative preacher*.

Stay tuned.

*Might be Artest's dream, might be the plot of "Footloose."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3