Is There A Tinge Of Doubt At The Moment ….. ?
I don’t know that the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans should have some doubt at the moment as to the legitimacy of the team’s effort in making it to the Western Conference Finals . But I for one believe that their coach Phil Jackson is very much concerned but he’s not intent on showing it. This much I do believe, ‘this team’ is nowhere as good as the one, that won the 2009 NBA Finals in defeating the Orlando Magic with relative ease !
One of the reasons why I state the team isn’t as good as last year’s victorious roster. Well the addition of Ron Artest to my mind has led to subtraction by addition ! There isn’t as much cohesiveness about the unit as last year’s ensemble. The loss of Trevor Ariza is far more than anyone within the Lakers’ front office , coaching staff or players would care to admit. They in essence sold their ‘soul to the Devil’ in obtaining Artest. And in return, there’s been little to show tangibly from the player in terms of his efforts. OK, so some will say that it takes time to acclimatize to new surroundings and a new cast of teammates. But given the fact that Artest is a seasoned veteran, rather than a rookie. What we’re now seeing from the player is a great deal of inconsistency and the mere fact that he’s become more of a liability to the team, rather than the asset that they’d hoped for. Ariza who signed with Artest’s former team the Houston Rocket , is having a rather solid season playing alongside Luis Scola , Aaron Brooks and a solid core of players that make up this Rocket’s team . And at the same time this Rick Adelman coached roster has played themselves into contention for a playoff berth .
Now there’s a great reason to show some cause for concern if you’re undoubted Lakers’ fan. Guard Kobe Bryant is playing injured (broken index finger-on his right hand and dislocated finger on the right) and once again it looks like the team’s center Andrew Bynum just can’t seem to stay fit long enough, to contribute with any great consistency to the team. And though they lead the conference and their division by a fairly wide margin. You get the feeling that another serious injury to any of the other front line players on the roster and the Lakers’ season could completely spiral out of control. The team’s bench has become their Achilles’ heel and anyone who believes that they have “the best bench” in the entire NBA is in need of treatment from Dr Drew Pinsky . Rehab anyone ?
Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports
El Segundo , California (AP)—Kobe Bryant(notes) is staying with the Los Angeles Lakers for another three years.
The deal announced Friday will begin after next season. Bryant is making $23 million this season and is due to earn $24.8 million next season.
“It’s very rare to have a player play his entire career in one city, so I’m very excited,” he said after the Lakers beat Utah 106-92.
Bryant would earn $27.4 million in 2011-12, $30.2 million the following season and more than $32 million in his final year, when he would be 35.
“Good news,” coach Phil Jackson said. “I expected that Kobe would sign. It’s a good choice for him and the organization.”
The deal means the Lakers achieved two main objectives going into the season — signing Bryant and Pau Gasol(notes) to extensions.
“We were able to accomplish those goals, helping to keep the core of this team intact for the foreseeable future and in turn help to ensure the franchise’s continued success over the years to come,” General manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday on the team’s Web site.
Gasol signed earlier in the season.
The 31-year Bryant could have terminated the last two years of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent last July. He could have secured a new, longer deal if he had opted out, but he wouldn’t have necessarily made more money.
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Now we can all attest to the fact this Lakers’ team has been the best within their conference by a convincingly wide margin. But at the same time as with any team they will have their struggles when faced with a certain amount of adversity. And that is to be expected because that is what delineates and separates the good teams from the bad. The bad teams don’t know how to adapt and overcome adversity. The good teams always tend to find a way and that all comes down the experience of the players and that of the coaching staff in place. And in Phil Jackson and his staff where’s ably abetted by Frank Hamblen , Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons as his chief subordinates. Jackson could not have found anyone better to have assisted him in the task. The game of basketball isn’t merely about what goes on , on the court but it’s also about what the coaches instill into the heads of the players in terms of their competitiveness and playing abilities. This is where the advantage lies with the Lakers ahead of the rest of NBA. Phil Jackson is as astute a coach as there is , involved in any team sport. He ranks up there alongside the likes of Lombardi , Auerbach , Bowman and John Wooden . But today where one’s every move is judged and singled out by every tv analyst , pundit , columnist and fan out there. There’s got to be a time where the coach himself has to be wondering whether or not it’s all worth it. And for Jackson , that answer is probably yes. He’s the flag bearer by which every NBA coach is now judged whether they like it or not. Jackson’s success proves that point .
As it now stands I do expect the Lakers to make it to the Western Conference Finals. But in all honesty their recent form (5-5) has me rethinking whether not they’ll be the conference representatives in the upcoming NBA Finals. This is much is true , without a completely healthy Bynum and Bryant this team’s chances of repeating as NBA champions is greatly diminished. And without Bryant as its figure head and vocal leader on and off the court they become nothing more than an average team, at best ! And average teams simply no longer win NBA championships in this day and age. If that were the case then it’d show mediocre the brand and product had become in the NBA. And that’s not something that either David Stern or the NBA hierarchy would like to see at this particular moment in time. Especially not with several teams around the league struggling financially , simply to stay afloat.
When the Lakers or Boston Celtics are riding high then it makes for a better NBA brand and product out there for the consumer to part-take of and enjoy. And though we’ve seen the rise of the LeBron James’ led Cleveland Cavaliers . Until James and his teammates are winning championships on a regular basise or are perennial contenders. Then he’ll just be seen as another ‘prodigy’ and not much else. I think that’s pretty fair to say about LeBron at this juncture don’t you think ?
Alan Parkins aka tophatal
Simply Red feat’g on lead vocals Mick Hucknall …….. ‘Holding Back The Years’
Reasons why Phil Jackson is thankful . He gets to ‘nail’
the boss’ daughter Jeanie Buss .