Los Angeles Lakers: Danny Ainge

Shaq: Kobe can play at a high level until he's 40

July, 10, 2013
7/10/13
9:58
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Kobe Bryant might still be months away from being able to run and jump following Achilles surgery in April, but there is an ardent supporter in Bryant's corner who swears that he'll come all the way back and then some.

Dwight Howard chose to go far, far away from Bryant, but Shaquille O'Neal has come back around to offer his full support to his former teammate.

"Kobe's a tough competitor," O'Neal said on a conference call Wednesday to promote his involvement in Adam Sandler's new movie, "Grown Ups 2," which opens in theaters Friday. "He loves when everyone doubts him. Of course at (almost) 35, they're saying he's done, but Kobe will show the world that he can play at a high level until he's 40. I know with the rehab, he's probably only supposed to do it once a day. I know for a fact he's doing it twice, if not three times a day. He tells everybody he's coming back in December, but if he could, he would like to be ready at the start of the season. That's how much he's going to push this thing to try to get to 100 percent."

O'Neal's praise of Bryant carries even more weight when you consider that it was a torn Achilles that ended O'Neal's career in 2011, when he was a 39-year-old playing in his 19th season as a member of the Boston Celtics.

"It was a career-ending injury," O'Neal said. "There should have been one more year left on the deal, but I was like, 'Nah, I'm older.' I was always used to dominating and playing at a high level. When I was with the Celtics, it was more of like a reserve role and I really wasn't comfortable with that. I didn't want to be in anybody's way and I just wanted to give somebody else a chance -- like a young guy, if they wanted to sign anybody else."

Why didn't O'Neal persevere through the injury and try to give it one last try to extend his career, the way that Bryant is dubbing his comeback "The Last Chapter"?

"Basically, I was just tired," O'Neal said. "I didn’t want to do rehab. I didn't want to fight to come back and all that."

(Read full post)

Lakers at Celtics: What to watch, with ESPN Boston

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
6:50
AM PT
By The Kamenetzky brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


Just two seasons ago, the Lakers and Celtics battled for the NBA championship in a seven-game series for the ages. They meet Thursday as squads good enough to be taken seriously, but because both are old and flawed, they are widely regarded as outsiders looking into the 2012 title chase. However, neither team seems ready to pack up the tents. And even if they were, there's enough bad blood remaining from a split pair of Finals ('08 and '10) to guarantee a spirited battle.

Along with ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg, we pondered three questions heading into this game.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
It's always interesting when these chums meet up.




1. What matchup are you most looking forward to seeing?


Chris Forsberg: Kobe Bryant vs. Mickael Pietrus: We sorta know how the starters match up, so I'm interested to see if Pietrus can be a Tony Allen-like Kobe stopper off the bench. Pietrus has been spectacular since being picked up on Christmas Eve after the Suns released him. And Pietrus supposedly said this summer that Bryant wanted him on the Lakers. (Runner-up: Troy Murphy vs. Anybody. Really, he's one of the Lakers' top reserves this season?!)

Andy Kamenetzky: Paul Pierce vs. Metta World Peace. There have been signs that MWP is rediscovering his defensive mojo. Most recently in Denver, he did the lion's share of the work in limiting Danilo Gallinari to just six points. Of course, there are still games where his defense is as ineffective as his offense, which renders MWP a total nonfactor. The Lakers need Paul Pierce kept in check, and much of that responsibility falls on MWP. We'll see if he's up for the task against a potential All-Star.

Brian Kamenetzky: Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Garnett. Pau’s output against what will surely be an extra yappy, extra chest-puffy KG will get the attention, and Gasol needs to produce more efficiently (eight of last 12 games with FG% at 45 or below). If he doesn’t, L.A. will have to find alternative options against a top-end defensive squad. Meanwhile, Garnett’s scoring has picked up, but Gasol has held opposing PFs to a respectable PER (14). If one goes off at the expense of the other, a victory for his team is highly likely.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

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