Iggy Azalea, Nick Young get engaged

June, 2, 2015
Jun 2
9:08
AM PT
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NEW YORK -- Iggy Azalea recently canceled her fall tour, so she has time to plan for a big moment in her life: her wedding.

Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers proposed to the rapper late Monday as they celebrated Young's 30th birthday. A short video of Azalea saying yes as Young proposed on bended knee was posted on the blog site Karen Civil. The site confirmed its authenticity via email.

Azalea posted a photo on Instagram of her hand, complete with diamond ring. Young wrote, "She said yes. It's over man. I'm getting married!" when he posted a photo of the couple kissing.

A representative for Azalea didn't respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.

Azalea will be 25 on Sunday. She announced last week that she was canceling her U.S. tour for a second time.


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On this day, Abdul-Jabbar passes West for playoff scoring record

June, 2, 2015
Jun 2
9:46
AM PT
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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On June 2, 1985, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers became the all-time leading scorer in NBA playoffs history, surpassing Jerry West’s total of 4,457 points, as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 136-111 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The Lakers won the series in six games.

Michael Jordan passed Abdul-Jabbar for total playoff points during the 1998 Eastern Conference finals.

How does James compare with other NBA greats?

June, 1, 2015
Jun 1
1:59
PM PT
By Jason McCallum, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPNLosAngeles.com

Michael Jordan, LeBron JamesGetty Images

Usually around this time of the NBA season, the topic of “LeBron James vs. (insert the name of another great)” as best all-time player comes up for debate. No doubt, someone somewhere is considering that question now.

One of the angles debaters often take is, “Player X had to beat so many better players than Player Y en route to his titles.”

We asked the Elias Sports Bureau to look at the postseason careers of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and determine how many Hall of Famers each of them eliminated from the playoffs. They used the guideline that the Hall of Famer in question must have played at least one postseason game that season.

Also, players could count multiple times. For example, Jordan eliminated Karl Malone and John Stockton in both the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, so that counts as four Hall of Famers eliminated, not two.

Magic Johnson Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesOn a per-series-win basis, Magic Johnson eliminated more Hall of Famers than Larry Bird did.

Here’s how Bird, Magic and Jordan compare with one another:



Some takeaways:

• Bird played an average of almost exactly one Hall of Fame player per series, and every time he eliminated an opponent, that opponent averaged almost 1.5 Hall of Famers.

• Johnson won more series than Bird or Jordan and eliminated more Hall of Famers than either of them, and for every series he won, he eliminated a little more than one Hall of Famer on average.

• Jordan won more titles than either Bird or Johnson, but he faced far fewer Hall of Famers en route to these wins. His 30 series wins eliminated 27 Hall of Famers, an average of less than one per series win.

How does LeBron stack up?

Now let’s bring James into the discussion. It is obviously murkier because the opponents he is playing against aren’t eligible for the Hall of Fame, much less in it. Here’s where he stands:



For the purposes of this debate, how do we figure out how many Hall of Famers James has eliminated?

We conducted a highly nonscientific poll within ESPN’s Production Research department on whether the players James has eliminated are bound for the Hall of Fame based on their current career track.

Understandably, a lot of liberties were taken. For instance, we assigned Kawhi Leonard as a Hall of Famer based on his current career track. We were liberal with these assessments rather than strict, just to give benefit of the doubt to James.

We in Production Research came up with 26 Hall of Famers eliminated by James, a number that obviously can grow (and that can differ from what you come up with).

So, based on the voting by Production Research, here’s what an updated list comparing these NBA greats could look like:



Happy debating.

Steph Curry joins Iverson, others as MVP playing in first Finals

June, 1, 2015
Jun 1
10:50
AM PT
By Matt Walks, ESPN.com
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Allen Iverson, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl MaloneGetty Images

Among the slew of historical and statistical firsts that will accompany this week's Cavaliers-Warriors series comes this interesting tidbit from the league's stats Twitter feed:

Allen Iverson and the 76ers met Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers, eventually losing in five games. The season prior, O'Neal accomplished the same feat -- winning MVP and playing in his first championship series, as the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers.

Before Shaq and A.I., Karl Malone did it in 1996-'97, helping the Utah Jazz reach the Finals while breaking out with a tremendous individual season. Like Iverson, Malone also ended up losing -- to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Lakers complete $80M deal for new headquarters

May, 29, 2015
May 29
3:17
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers have completed a deal to buy a five-acre El Segundo, Calif., property worth $80 million that, among other things, will house a new, independently-owned practice facility, the team announced Friday. Construction is expected to be finished by the spring of 2017.

Currently, the Lakers practice at the Toyota Sports Center, which they share with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, but their new facility, located at the northwest corner of Mariposa Avenue and Douglas Street, will also be the home of the team’s new corporate headquarters, featuring a 750-seat exhibition court and offices on the property, as part of the Elevon at Campus El Segundo development.

“With its proximity to the airport and beaches, clean air, diverse businesses, and wonderful community, El Segundo is the perfect place for us to be,” said Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss. “We’ve been here for the past 15 years with great success, and we’re thrilled to secure the perfect spot to expand on that success and remain for many years as a part of this vibrant and growing area.”

The new facility will also be home to the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA’s Development League, where the team will play their home games on the exhibition court.

'83 Sixers were the last champs with no connection to Shaq

May, 29, 2015
May 29
4:20
PM PT
By David Sabino
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Shaquille O'NealBarry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

From ESPN Stats & Info comes this gem:

Every championship team for the last three decades has featured a player who has spent time on a roster with Shaquille O'Neal.

The Diesel played for six different teams over his long career, and to find the last title-winning team that didn't have a player who was at some point a teammate with Shaq, you would have to go back to the 1982-1983 Philadelphia Sixers, led by Dr. J.

For instance, Danny Green -- a member of last year's champion Spurs -- was Shaq's teammate in Cleveland during his rookie season. The furthest connection is Greg Kite, a backup center for the champion 1983-84 Celtics.

In addition to the titles he himself helped the Lakers win, he also shares a link to three of the Lakers' 1980s championships by virtue of sharing a roster with Byron Scott for a brief time after he left Orlando for Los Angeles.

More from S&I:

"The only playoffs outlier between this season’s Cavaliers or Warriors and the last non-Shaq-related champs was the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks. Sasha Pavlovic started 6 games for those Mavericks during 2010-11 but was let go during the season. After a brief stop in New Orleans, he joined Shaq in Boston. (The guard was also one of three players on Mark Cuban’s title team -- with Caron Butler and Shawn Marion -- who were part of the three trades that involved O’Neal throughout his career.)"

And yes, the streak will continue into 2016. Shaq played with the Cavs' LeBron James, Kendrick Perkins and Anderson Varejao, as well as the Warriors' Leandro Barbosa.

Pallacanestro Cantu Basketballnull

The basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest got an unceremonious exit from the Italian league's playoffs.

While our historically unlikely Finals showdown begins its massive buildup, the Los Angeles Lakers' braintrust, led by longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, is plotting for a crucial offseason. Los Angeles is reeling from an unprecendented level of futility for the franchise.

The 61 losses last season set a franchise mark that was but one season old. The two-year total of 116 defeats is 22 more than any other two-season stretch of Lakers basketball. In missing the playoffs in back-to-back years, the current Lakers accomplished something never before seen in the franchise's 67-year history.

You get the point: The Lakers have never been this bad. However, rather than wallowing in the type of gloom and uncertainty that marked our offseason plan of the New York Knicks last week, the Lakers can revel in the prospect of brighter days ahead.

Let's take a peek at turns the Lakers' offseason might take as the NBA's glamour franchise tries to climb back to the peak of a league it's owned for so long.

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Bucks swingman Jared Dudley said Kobe Bryant's shoot-first ways are keeping stars away from the Lakers, and this is hurting L.A.'s rebuilding efforts.

Dudley: 'Most guys don't want to play with Kobe'

May, 27, 2015
May 27
3:33
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Jared Dudley said Kobe Bryant’s refusal to defer to his Los Angeles Lakers teammates at this late stage in his career is why “most guys don’t want to play with Kobe.”

As a comparison, Dudley referenced the final years of Michael Jordan’s career with the Washington Wizards.

“If you saw Jordan when he played with the Wizards, he started toning it down a little bit,” Dudley said in a radio appearance with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd. “He knew he didn’t have it. Kobe is the opposite. He wants to show everyone so much. I remember seeing Kobe, I think it was 70 games in [this past season] and he had out-shot the whole Lakers team by like 100 shots. C’mon now. We love you, Kobe, but c’mon. It’s, like, it’s now time to start giving up. Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe."

Bryant in fact led the Lakers by 10 shots with 70 games to play, though Carlos Boozer, who had attempted the second-most on the team at that point, had played in 31 more games than Bryant. Bryant finished the season third on the Lakers in total shots attempts (713) in 2014-15 despite playing in only 35 games; Jordan Hill led the team with 777.

Jordan had a 36.0 usage rate in his first season in Washington, the second-highest mark of his career, but that number dropped the next season, his final one in the NBA, to a career-low 28.7. Bryant had a 34.9 usage rate in 35 games with the Lakers last season, the fourth-highest mark of his 19-year career.

Cowherd mentioned that Bryant lacks the ability to tone down his style of play.

“Right,” Dudley said. “And that’s tough for guys and for him, obviously, being one of the greats. Also, the worst thing about it is, he can. Remember, Kobe gets in this thing where he doesn't pass and then he over-passes and he's trying to get triple-doubles every night.

“So we know you have [the ability to defer], it's just not something he wants to do, and that's why I think it'll be a while before the Lakers can get good, because no stars -- I mean, [Kevin] Love -- I'll be surprised if Love wanted to go there."

Love can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

Dudley’s assertion that Bryant’s presence is a potential obstacle for the Lakers in acquiring certain free agents isn’t exactly new. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak recently addressed that notion on the radio.

"If there is a player out there like that, that won't come here for that reason, then we don't want them,” Kupchak told Sirius XM NBA Radio. “Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don't want to play for a guy like him that's driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn't be here. You should go someplace else."

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Thirty years ago today, the Celtics crushed the Lakers in Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals, it was dubbed 'The Memorial Day Massacre'.

Lakers begin pre-draft workout process

May, 26, 2015
May 26
2:06
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Lakers invited their first group of potential draftees to their practice facility for pre-draft workouts Tuesday, beginning a weekslong evaluation process involving dozens of prospects leading up to the June 25 draft.

Six prospects went through a battery of drills, interviews and more with Lakers staffers and coaches, though none of the prospects were big-name players whom the Lakers were considering taking with the No. 2 overall pick.

Those players -- expected to include Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns -- are expected to work out with the team in the coming weeks.

For now, the Lakers are taking a look at players they might consider drafting with the No. 27 pick in the first round or their 34th overall pick in the second round.

Tuesday's crop included Arizona guard T.J. McConnell, Iowa State guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos, Maryland swingman Dez Wells, Northern Iowa forward Seth Tuttle and Minnesota forward Maurice Walker.

[+] EnlargeKupchak
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsMitch Kupchak and the Lakers have begun working out draft prospects at the team's practice facility.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team would like to bring in at least four and potentially as many as eight players it would consider drafting at No. 2.

"We’ll probably bring in as many as the [players'] representatives will allow us to bring in," Kupchak said. "If the representative feels that we’re not genuine in considering that player at No. 2, they probably wouldn’t send them in. So we’d like to bring in as many as possible. There’s a conception that there are four players there [as top-two candidates]. I think there may be more. There are European players that might not be done playing and get time to come over here and work out."

The pre-draft workout process simply provides more information -- some of which is more useful if the Lakers haven't seen much of a young talent who's only been in college for a year before going pro.

"For kids that have been [in college] for three or four years, we know them," Kupchak said. "We know their coaches. We talk to their coaches. There’s a lot about them on the Internet. We talk to players who played with them. You get various levels of information, but the interview is one more piece to the puzzle."

Is there a chance the Lakers could trade the No. 2 pick?

"Nothing’s really taking place in that regard," Kupchak said. "It would have to be a heck of an opportunity for us to consider doing something like that.

"You have to weigh it against who you think you’ll get with the second pick. We’re a little bit impatient, so if you came across something that would make your team better quicker -- it would probably be a veteran -- that’s something you would consider.

"But there’s something to be said about having the No. 2 pick in terms of building going forward. You know you’re going to get a really good player. You know you’re going to get a player under a contract that you can control for at least five years for a reasonable amount before you have to consider an extension. So those are pluses in addition to getting a heck of a talent."

The Lakers have many needs, Kupchak said, and it appears that after a franchise-worst 21-61 season, the roster will be completely rebuilt.

"We have a lot of players that were on one-year deals this year," he said. "We have players that have options, whether it’s a team option or a player option. So those questions remain unanswered. We have a lot of roster spots.

"Assuming we pick three players and keep them on the roster for next year, that takes up three roster spots, and that gives less opportunity to somebody else. But we don’t know if we’re going to draft three players. We don’t know if we’re going to have three picks. We may draft a player that you might have to wait a year or two for in Europe. We don’t know yet. But our roster looks better, clearly, after getting the pick in the lottery last Tuesday."

Los Angeles Lakers’ Salary: By the Numbers

May, 26, 2015
May 26
1:54
PM PT
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Los Angeles Lakers rank 31st of 333 international teams surveyed in an ESPN/SportingIntelligence report revealing the sports franchises that spend the most on their players. That ranks 13th among NBA teams.

The Lakers’ average player salary is $4.8 million. The total payroll of $72 million ranks 101st.

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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 7.9
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.2