Each week, ESPN.com Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with ESPN.com NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.
1. Is Michael Jordan really OK with Kobe Bryant passing him on the all-time scoring list?
Holmes: Remember Jordan's Hall of Fame speech? The one where he torched anyone who he believed possibly slighted him at any point in his life, even if that person really didn't? I'm sure Jordan doesn't like that Kobe passed him, and MJ's statement would've said as much if he were allowed to really speak his mind. But at the end of the day, Jordan has more rings. And to many people, but especially MJ and Kobe, rings are what matter most.
Shelburne: No. And that's why he's Michael Jordan. He and Kobe are two of the most competitive people on the planet. They are never going to be OK when anyone beats them or passes them for a milestone like that. I do think that Michael respects Kobe more than any other current player in the league, though. Their relationship is real. But I can almost guarantee you that a part of MJ is thinking how many more points he'd have than Kobe if he hadn't gone off to play baseball.
Markazi: Yes. Of all the accomplishments or records in Jordan's career that he might be protective of, I don't think being third on the all-time scoring list was one. As long as Jordan has more championships and MVPs than Kobe, I think he's just fine.
2. Was it fine the way Kobe called out his teammates at practice recently?
Holmes: It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Kobe has been doing that for years -- and he's done it more than once this year. But his approach reminds me that there are different ways to skin a cat. He believes in his approach, whereas someone like Tim Duncan believes in a much different approach. Both have had great success. A key point: Which method is going to make others want to play with you? And which method is more likely to turn others off? The answer is pretty clear.
Shelburne: Yes. That's how he has been his entire career. The only thing different was that he did that in front of the media so the whole world found out about it. But this is how Kobe pushes people. This is how he leads. You may not like it or understand it. Not every player will respond well to that style. But he has five rings that say his way works. He ain't changing now.
Markazi: I think that was actually a regular occurrence that got more attention because Kobe did it in front of the media. I actually think the Lakers needed some tough love and the fact that they beat the Spurs in San Antonio afterward and won three straight shows it was probably more helpful than divisive.
3. Do you believe Jeanie and Jim Buss are on the same page with how to run the Lakers?
Holmes: Great question. I'm still pretty new here, so I'm really not too sure just yet, but it's perhaps the biggest question surrounding the future of the Lakers. Ramona's excellent Q&A with those two shed light on their relationship, and it appears that while both obviously want to win, I'm not for sure if they're completely on the same page. Their comments sure felt that way to me.
Shelburne: Not yet. I believe they both want to be. They wouldn't have sat for a joint interview for the first time if they weren't committed to trying to run the Lakers together. But it seems as if they still need to improve their communication on certain things. And Jeanie seems to be skeptical of the plan Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and her brother have to rebuild the current team.
Markazi: For the most part, yes. I mean ideally Phil Jackson would be in the fold, but they are both committed to getting the Lakers back to championship contention and not tanking. I think they're both also committed to going in a different direction if the Lakers aren't in the Finals within three years.