Posted on: March 11, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 12:54 am
The Heat win a big one as the entire team steps up, while Kobe Bryant shows what makes him great, and frustrating, after the game.
Posted by Matt Moore
Let's get this out the way.
While this game was one that the Lakers genuinely cared about (as evidenced by the kind of effort given by both the players and Phil Jackson, who not only actively coached, but yelled at officials standing up, and called timeouts), it does not "matter." The Heat is still unlikely to face the Lakers again this season with both Chicago (0-2) and Boston (0-2) somewhere in their spring future. Had the Lakers won, it would not be a death knell on the Heat's future. This is not a conviction of the Lakers' season.
But it was a great game, and it was one in which there were things that made zero sense, and some that made all the sense in the entire world.
What we'll remember from this game:
The Heat gave everything: We'd waited all season for them to rise to a moment, and they finally did. Wade diving on the floor for a loose ball, chucking it to James for a dunk so hard he wound up in the second row of photographers. It was effort from start to finish, and it was impressive, despite some terrible shooting performances.
Dwyane Wade rose to the moment: I couldn't get over how terrible Dwyane Wade looked for the first 36 minutes of the game. He was losing balls unforced out of bounds off the dribble. He was missing wide-open spot-up threes. He was playing as he had in every big game for the Heat this year. Then suddenly, it all fell into place and Dwyane Wade, the Dwyane Wade who's an NBA champion, an MVP candidate, one of the best shooting guards in the history of the game stepped up and made the plays he needed to make to win the game. It was a definite redemption after the last three weeks of struggle, and something the Heat badly needed. James did his job, Wade did his job, capitalized on the opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, didn't settle from the outside. He attacked, and the result was shots at the rim. Wade's final eight-minute stretch? Eight points on 4-7 shooting, 2 offensive rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 turnover.
Chris Bosh shutting everyone up: Chris Bosh was supposed to struggle in the post. He was supposed to be the weak link. And he has for most of the year. But against the Lakers, he was everything he said he would be. He hit the post-turnaround over bigger defenders, he grabbed 9 boards, he worked hard at both ends, played aggressive, smart, and led the Heat in scoring. Chris Bosh was the best player for the Heat the whole night through. Who saw that coming?
Wasted Advantage Down Low: Andrew Bynum was 4-5 from the field, and 5-6 from the stripe for 13 points. That's some pretty incredible efficiency. Pau Gasol was 8-16 and 4-5 from the line. Not as stunning, but pretty good. Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, and Ron Artest were 14-37. You'd think that at some point, with the Heat trotting out Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, that someone with the Lakers would say "Hey, maybe we should throw it to one of the really tall guys." It's not that their success is guaranteed, it's that it just seems like something that may have helped. The rebounding, though, that's all on the bigs. Outrebounded 46-37, with the Heat enjoying five more offensive boards. The Lakers did not bring their best efforts on the glass, worried too much about shutting down the Triad.
Support players stepping up and down: The Heat bench outscored the Lakers' 22-16, something few saw coming. Mike Miller was in effect. The Heat badly needed a role player to step up in the first quarter, and it was Mario Chalmers, with three big 3-pointers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas wound up a +16 on the night. That's just an impressive overall performance for a squad that's been mocked, derided, and questioned all seasons. Against one of the stronger units, they stepped up and were a huge part of the Heat win.
Kobe Bryant after-hours: Is there a more iconic image of Bryant? In a game that featured a terrible shooting performance from him, where he turned the ball over late, where he hoisted 35-foot 3-pointers into the air, ignoring any semblance of an offensive system, he returns an hour after the game to work on his jumper. This is Kobe Bryant, the most feared player in the NBA, determined to work on the very shots that should never have been taken, confident that if he works hard enough, they'll fall, because they've fallen before. Maybe they fell because he was younger, stronger, but he'll never approach the game that way and his fans will never want him to. They'll want him doing exactly what he did Thursday night, work on his game until his blood's run dry, even if that game isn't what Phil Jackson wants, the Lakers need, or his body requires. As for why he says he did it? "This is (his) job." He'll focus on those shots he missed, never considering that maybe he should have created, should have worked in the flow of the offense, should have been a part of the engine as opposed to the sole operator. He's won five championships because of this, he may win his sixth because of this, and he'll be simultaneously revered and reviled because of it. Some will say it's what sets him apart from LeBron James even as James got the win. Others will say it's an attention-grabbing stunt, even as he never informed media he'd be there or paid any attention to them. Kobe Bryant will always be the player we can never agree on, can never let go of. He's too determined, too stubborn, too brilliant, too frustrating. But at the end of the day, he's got his rings, and a great chance at another. For one night, however, he's got that gym, and his thoughts.
The Heat have the win.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 7:57 pm
Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson says he is "not a fan" of the Miami Heat's offensive style of play. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson mocked the Miami Heat for crying after a recent loss. Just prior to the two teams facing off on Thursday night during a nationally-televised game, Jackson made sure to get another dig in.
Speaking shortly before tip, Jackson belittled Miami's isolation offense by comparing it to a video game in quotes reported by the Associated Press.
"I'm not a big fan of the style that Miami plays," Jackson said. "I like to see everybody involved in the game."
"I think that's really important to basketball," Jackson said. "That's what I'm trying to preach as a basketball coach, even though we have a guy that dominates the ball in Kobe [Bryant]. Their basketball is very much standing with Xbox games or whatever those games are. Basketball's not a 1-on-1 game. It's a team game."Without a doubt, the Heat would be much better in a video game than in real life.
With no media, no crunch time pressure, no distractions, no expectations and no rigid coach that nobody seems to listen to, the Heat would arguably be the best team in the NBA. If it was all numerical ratings and complicated button-pushing combinations, the Heat would be the gold standard. In a video game, you could spend a few minutes tinkering with the player ratings to make guys like Mike Bibby and Mike Miller better at shooting and you would be able to have Chris Bosh get by on his past reputation rather than his production this season. Getting Bosh down on the block would be as simple as pushing a button rather than rejiggering an entire offense. In that context, the combined raw talent of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would be unstoppable. Just hold down turbo and watch everyone get out of the way.
But Miami's video game prowess isn't likely to translate to real life post-season success this season. Time is running out and there are simply too many unpluggable holes: point guard, center, depth, experience on the sidelines.
The next question: Will Heat president Pat Riley hit the reset button this offseason?
Posted on: March 8, 2011 5:07 pm
Phil Jackson discusses the future of the Lakers' head coaching situation.
Posted by Matt Moore
One way or another, next season will be one of considerable change for the Los Angeles Lakers. Phil Jackson is retiring, win or lose, and the organization will have to sort through the drastically different world under the next CBA for exactly where they want to go with their franchise and who will lead it. On Tuesday, Jackson spoke to reporters about the process of selecting a new head coach for the Lakers and what his role will be in that. For starters, he makes it clear that it's the gents upstairs that will have to make that decision once and for all:
Jackson said he expected to be consulted by the Lakers' front office for his opinion on who the next coach should be when the opportunity presents itself, but said the decision will ultimately be general manager Mitch Kupchak's and owner Dr. Jerry Buss' to make.via Phil Jackson: GM, owner will pick next Los Angeles Lakers coach - ESPN Los Angeles.
It's surprising that Brian Shaw, who was a candidate for the Cavaliers job this summer (talk about dodging a bullet) isn't the assumed heir to the chair, as it were, with Kurt Rambis in Minnesota. Shaw has long thought to be the guy going forward, but it does go to show how things could dramtically change for the Lakers in a new CBA. If their ability to keep all their high-priced-but-discounted-for-L.A.
stars is impacted, or if the core proves to be unable to sustain their success in the playoffs at their age, it's possible, though unlikely, that the Lakers could opt for a full-scale blow-up in preparation for the summer of 2012.
The most likely scenario, however, is a 12th coaching title for Jackson, who walks away on top, and the Lakers pushing forward under Brian Shaw, who has the respect of the veterans on the team and who would continue the use of Jackson's triangle. It may not be a seamless transition, but it's as close as they're going to get. You can bet that Jackson will have a signficant influence on the decision, however, not only as the former coach but as the partner of Buss' daughter. Jackson's fingerprints will be on the Lakers for years to come, which is in no way a bad thing.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 1:28 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Kobe Bryant joined ESPN 710 LA to talk about the Lakers blowing out the Spurs, what's changed since the All-Star break... ah who am I kidding. He talked a lot about the Heat crying.
Not that it matters, but I'm with Kobe on it. I don't think it's a big deal. If guys were teary in the locker room after a tough game where they spent two and a half hours battling for something they really, really wanted only to come up short, it's not a big deal to me if they get a little emotional. They cared. They wanted to win. Again, isn't that we all want from our professional athletes?
Now they didn't ask Kobe the real question here: Would you have been entirely peeved at Phil Jackson if he let the cat of the bag and told reporters some guys were crying? Because to me, that's more of the issue than the actual crying. The fact Erik Spoelstra dropped that out there is the story, not that the actual guys were crying.
Then again, if Jackson did it we'd all just recognized it as some kind of clever mind game to get Andrew Bynum's attention and praise the Zen Master.
Oh, and by the way, Kobe talked a little about how the Lakers are the hottest team in the league having won seven straight. But who really cares about that when the Heat are crying.
Via Sports Radio Interviews
Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 1:20 pm
Kobe Bryant often completely breaks off of the Lakers' triangle offense. But is that a bad thing?
Posted by Matt Moore
So which is it? Is Phil Jackson so successful because of his ability to run the triangle offense, a complicated but brilliant system which facilitates ball movement and spacing like few systems when executed successfully? Or is it simply having the best offensive player in the game that makes things click? Or is it having that player in that system?
The answer probably lies in a murky "yes" to all those questions. Jackson has coached the two greatest shooting guards of all time, and he's also watched them self-destruct his offense time and time again, even when that offense is almost always the best option for the team considering the talent on the floor. But hey, at least he's honest about it. From NBA.com:
"He's probably a little better at it than Kobe is, because Kobe ignores the offense."
-- Lakers coach Phil Jackson, on Artest's grasp of the triangle offense via NBA.com - The Game Happens Here.
Just a joke, an off-handed remark, but not the first time Jackson's said such a thing. He's made it very clear in the past that there are times when Bryant simply goes off-script. Of course, this was a lot easier to forgive when Bryant was three years younger and the Lakers weren't stacked to the brim with talented players who, in the context of the triangle, can utterly destroy an opponent. Bryant still goes maverick on the offense, sometimes clearing out in ISO (ISO, with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom on the floor!) for 35-foot pull-up threes. And for many years that was okay, because he was hitting those shots. But nowadays, even with his field goal percentage up, it's on account of his hard work in the post or veteran savvy, not the wild, amazing shots he used to drain all over the floor. And he's still threatening to shoot his team out of games.
That said, Jackson is a very "trust what works" guy, and Bryant works. Always has. He's hitting at a higher clip than last season and is the most confident player in the game when it comes to what to do on offense. Bryant's not changing anytime soon, nor does Phil Jackson want him to. It's just the cost of having one of the best players in the game at the heart of your team. Plus, Bryant's ability to improvise creates instantaneous and improvisation defensive issues. If you've gameplanned to stop Bryant in the triangle all week and then he goes into his own device, you're suddenly trying to adjust to a new set of protocols, which often means you're one-on-one with no help. And it's at that point, you're toast.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 5:51 pm
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is known for his wittiness, and he didn't disappoint during Friday's media availability for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Nobody delivers a barb and drops knowledge quite like San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and he was in fine form on Friday during his All-Star media availability. Popovich is coaching the Western Conference All-Star team and took questions on a variety of subjects. Here's a quick collection of the Top Pop quotes.
On his team's 46-10 start, the best record in the league:
"You’d have to ask Manu [Ginobili]. It’s his fault. He came to training camp and said we’ve got to have a quicker start. And I said, 'OK, how?' Different drills? What does that mean? I said, 'If you want a quicker start: shoot better, go rebound more, that kind of thing. I guess he took me seriously."
On his team's recent "Rodeo Roadtrip":
"We were lost in space for nine games. Hopefully none of the players have a feeling of accomplishment. There are a lot of good basketball teams, a lot of games to be played."
On Kevin Garnett's antics:
"I think Kevin is really unique in that regard. He really focuses on pumping himself up. It’s important to his game to talk to himself, to make sure that when he steps on the court it’s the most important thing in his life for those 48 minutes.
"Maybe it’s a function of age, but it’s … amusing would be the wrong word because that would be too flippant. But it’s intriguing and interesting and any coach would love a player to be as focused as Kevin is."
On his team's excellent health so far this season:
"We realize full well that one of the biggest contributing factors to our record is that we’ve been healthy. You look at the top 3 or 4 teams in the East and the top 3 or 4 teams in the West they’ve all had injuries. Honest to God, you look over your shoulder thinking something’s got to happen."
On Phil Jackson's expected retirement:
"Phil would be missed if he decided not to coach again. I don’t pretend to understand what people are going to do or not do, I think it’s good for the league when guys like that are there. It’s good for all of us for all of the obvious reasons."
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:53 pm
Could coaches and excecutives be facing limits to their salaries as the NBA labor restructuring process unfolds?
Posted by Matt Moore
Sports Illustrated reports today the CBA talks and financial restructuring of the NBA and its business policies will not only impact the relationship between ownership and players. It may influence the creation of an informal cap structure for both coaches and executives. From SI:
The players aren't alone in worrying about the values of their future paychecks. Several coaches and team executives have told me they believe they'll be threatened with a major cut in salary next season as part of a new cost-savings approach that will affect all areas of NBA business.
"The players are going to require it," said a team executive with knowledge of the owners' agenda. "The players aren't going to accept a rollback of 35 percent, and then allow some team to pay Phil Jackson $15 million."
Two team executives predict that each team will be given a standardized budget (not yet determined, but let's say it's $4 million per team) from which to pay the entire coaching staff, and another budget to cover the salaries of the entire front office. Because there is no collective bargaining agreement between owners and coaches or front-office employees, the owners won't be able to cap their salaries. However, the league could attempt to punish teams that "overpay" coaches by refusing to share certain revenues with them, in much the same way that high-spending is prohibited from receiving their share of revenues from the luxury-tax pool.via Salary cuts, coaches' pay to come into play at NBA labor talks - Ian Thomsen - SI.com.
This escalates things significantly.
SI also reports that coaches are concerned for their pensions. And those pensions are the line in the sand for the coaches. One coach tells SI there will be a coaches walkout, which should surprise no one.
A significant key here is that this is a feeling among coaches and executives, not coming from the league. While a league representative has shown significant interest in coaching contracts, this isn't a league-leaked initiative. Which means it could be a phantom concern. But if it's real, this isn't just a fear for coaches and execs, this is a legal apocalypse waiting to happen. You're talking about an unmandated policy being enforced by arbitrary revenue dispersal. Trying to shove that through would be like rolling out a welcome mat to the mongol lawyer hordes waiting behind every coach's representative agency.
It make sense within the context of the NBA's rather significant initiative to completely revamp the costs of doing business in a league that sees little to no profit for a significant portion of its representative owners, but the same issues will arise here as they do in the player talks. At what point is the balance struck for owners between curbing salaries within their industry and maintaining the ability of their more fortunate representatives to commit whatever resources they choose to winning? Or, to put it another way, are the Jerry Busses of the NBA going to be comfortable with a situation which decreases their advantage in inking coaches like Phil Jackson? But even that isn't the largest quarrel that will be raised here. It's the same one at the heart of the labor talks.
At what point is ownership responsible for the decisions it makes?
That's the central point in this. If a coach elicits $5 million per year, and an owner is willing to pay him that, why should there be a ceiling to what that coach can be paid? Isn't it up to the owners to show discretion in spending, and won't that be the most effective way to curb salaries? The NBA and its owners are seeking to set up guidelines, fences, controls to keep the spending beasts penned in. But in a situation like this, coaches, who often have the most stress of anyone in the league, will be faced with the question of why their money is being trimmed while player salaries are guaranteed? Finally, again, those pensions are the lifeblood of the coaching fraternity. If the coaches have any ability to organize themselves, they'll put everything they have in front of those pensions to protect their futures.
The next six months look bloodier and bloodier by the minute.
Posted on: February 15, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 10:29 pm
The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly agreed to a 20-year, $3 billion television rights deal with Time Warner. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Showtime just got paid in a major, major way.
The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly agreed to a 20-year television rights deal with Time Warner Cable, an agreement that will provide English and Spanish language broadcasts. Sports Business Journal has the details.
Time Warner Cable signed a 20-year rights deal with the Lakers that will lead to the creation of two new regional sports networks in the L.A. market next year. Time Warner Cable will fully own the two new RSNs -- one in English and one in Spanish. The RSNs will have the rights to pre-, regular- and postseason Lakers games starting with the '12-13 season. Fox, which already operates FS West and Prime Ticket in L.A., had been negotiating to keep the Lakers’ rights on FS West, and sources familiar with the Lakers' proposal to Fox indicated that the team was looking for a $3B, 20-year deal, which averages out to $150M per year.
It doesn't take a trained media business analyst to realize that this is as an exceptional deal for the Lakers.
What they sacrifice in future negotiating flexibility by locking themselves up for the next two decades they more than make up for in financial security and pure cash. Sports Business Journal notes that the reported $150 million dollars per year figure is roughly five times more than the $30 million per year the team generates in its current deal.
I think that's called "selling high" in just about any industry. With a potential run at a three-peat this season, Kobe Bryant entering the last 1/3 of his career and a new coach likely taking over next season, now was the ideal time to sell, while LA remains at the top of its fame and game.
By comparison, the small-market Portland Trail Blazers signed a 10-year, $120 million contract with Comcast in 2007. The Lakers are set to make more money in one season from their new agreement than they Blazers will have netted in a decade.
As Sports By Brooks noted this morning, this deal also ensures the Buss family can continue to operate the Lakers profitably throughout the duration of the dail, even if current owner Jerry Buss should pass away. A little peace of mind on top of a giant pile of cash is worth its weight in gold.
Update (9:47 PM): In an email Tuesday night, Time Warner Cable disputed the reported $3 billion figure, a number referenced by the Los Angeles Times, Sports By Brooks, and the Sports Business Journal, but said they would not discuss the terms of the agreement.