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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kobe Takes Command in the Fourth, Lakers Beat Nuggets, 114-107

Allen Iverson scored 51 points but he had just two in the fourth quarter as Kobe Bryant took over at both ends of the court to lead the Lakers to a 111-107 win in Denver. Iverson shot 18-27 from the field and also had eight assists as he racked up the NBA's highest single-game scoring total this season. The effort was his 11th career 50 point game but his first as a Nugget. Denver dropped to 2-1 in games in which Iverson has topped 40 points; Iverson's teams have gone 54-25 during his career in his 40 point games. Bryant finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and one blocked shot but those numbers hardly tell the complete story of this game. Bryant played less than 31 minutes due to injury and foul trouble but he had a major impact on the final outcome. In the fourth quarter, he scored 12 of the Lakers' 21 points, including six straight in a 1:07 stretch during the final two minutes; in addition to that, he very effectively guarded Carmelo Anthony for the first half of the period and then he shut down Iverson in the last six minutes of the period, chasing him all over the court and holding him to two points. Bryant, who obviously has had more than his share of high-scoring games, explained his mindset when he covered Iverson in the fourth quarter: "I'm not one of these players that believes if a guy gets hot there's nothing you can do about it. I just don't believe that." While Bryant did yeoman's work, he also received help from his supporting cast, notably Vladimir Radmanovic (21 points, 6-9 three point shooting), Derek Fisher (20 points, five assists, five rebounds) and Lamar Odom (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists). Anthony finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Marcus Camby failed to score but tallied a game-high 20 rebounds.

There were many interesting storylines and subplots in this game. The Nuggets came in averaging 106.6 ppg (fourth in the NBA) and the Lakers were right behind them (106.1 ppg, fifth in the NBA), so the resulting shootout is hardly a surprise. However, as ESPN's Jon Barry noted, Denver should clearly be the superior team: "I don't think there's a more talented roster in the NBA." The Nuggets have a former MVP (Iverson), a perennial All-Star (Anthony), the reigning Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby), a former number one overall draft pick (Kenyon Martin) and several other talented role players, yet something is clearly missing with this group. Even granting that Bryant is the best player in the league, the Nuggets have the deeper and more talented team on paper--it's not even close--yet the Lakers have beaten the Nuggets twice in the past week; last Thursday, the Lakers overcame a 17 point deficit to post a 127-99 blowout win. Prior to the game, Barry identified two problems for the Nuggets: (1) They do not make a nightly commitment to play good defense; (2) the players do not sufficiently trust each other and trust the system. Nuggets players openly talked before the season about winning 60 games but after this loss they have the same 11-8 record that the Lakers do.

Another issue for Denver is who should start in the backcourt. Coach George Karl went with Anthony Carter and Iverson against the Lakers, bringing J.R. Smith off of the bench; the two-fold problem with that is (1) neither Carter nor Iverson is big enough to defend most NBA shooting guards and (2) Smith (seven points on 1-10 shooting) is a young, immature player who does not relish being a reserve. Carter drew the early assignment of guarding Bryant, who simply backed him down and shot right over him, scoring seven points in the first 5:37 as the Lakers jumped out to a 17-8 lead. The only good thing for Denver is that the cross-matching meant that Bryant often ended up guarding Carter instead of Iverson, who abused Derek Fisher for 15 first quarter points as Denver closed the gap to 29-24 by the end of the quarter.

Near the end of the quarter, play by play man Mark Jones said, "There are nights when if you are Phil Jackson you just can't figure out why Lamar Odom seems a little bit cursed at the offensive end." Barry responded by praising Odom's versatility but suggested that the Bryant-Odom pairing simply has not worked but that neither player is really at fault. The answer to Jones' question and the explanation for why the Bryant-Odom duo has not clicked is something that I touched upon in my recap (see above link) to last week's Lakers win over the Nuggets. Most people, like Barry, salivate at Odom's size and considerable talent but the problem is that Odom does not really understand how to play--and considering that he is in his ninth season but has not even sniffed an All-Star Game appearance, it is safe to assume that he is not going to suddenly figure things out. Consider a couple plays from the closing stages of the first quarter: on the first one, Odom catches the ball on the wing and has a wide open jumper but he instead hesitates (allowing the defense to get set) and then he barrels into the lane, committing a charge; on the second one, Bryant feeds Odom at the top of the key while Anthony has fallen down and is tying his shoe, leaving Denver's defense in disarray. Odom again has a chance to shoot an open jumper but he instead drives to the hoop and commits another charge. As Doug Collins put it last week when Odom made a similar miscue, Odom turned an easy play into a difficult one. Odom sometimes displays great court vision but he has a perplexing knack for making poor decisions, particularly at the end of games, and that is a big reason that he is not as good as many people seem to believe or as a cursory look at his statistics may suggest.

On Tuesday night, Bryant overcame a bout of the stomach flu and set the tone early by scoring 13 of his 20 points in the first quarter as the Lakers routed the Timberwolves, 116-95; the same ailment sent center Andrew Bynum to the hospital and removed him from the starting lineup versus Denver, though he did eventually see action versus the Nuggets. Bryant told Barry that playing through illness or pain is a learned skill but that rather than talk to Bynum or his teammates about this he provides leadership by example. Lakers' fans probably had stomach trouble of their own late in the first quarter when Eduardo Najera accidentally tripped Bryant, who landed hard on his left shoulder, forcing him to leave the game and to briefly receive treatment in the locker room.

Late in the first quarter, Denver started playing a zone defense. Initially, the Lakers had poor spacing and made some bad passes but they soon figured out how to expose the gaping holes in what Barry called a "Swiss cheese" zone; mainly, Radmanovic camped out behind the three point line on the right baseline and no Nugget ever came near him as he made five straight three pointers. Radmanovic's three point barrage helped the Lakers maintain their lead until Bryant returned at the 6:45 mark of the second quarter. I'm sure that it will not be long before some stats guru and/or fan blogger who did not watch this game looks at the boxscore, notes the positional designations and mocks Bryant's defense by saying that Iverson "torched" him for 51 points. As I already noted, due to cross-matching Bryant was rarely guarding Iverson in the first quarter (Iverson did make a nice fadeaway jumper after a pick and roll play when Bryant was on him). Iverson scored 12 of his points early in the second quarter when Bryant was not even in the game; after Bryant returned from the locker room, trainer Gary Vitti wrapped his shoulder in ice for a few minutes while Bryant sat on the bench. So, when Bryant checked back in, the Lakers led 45-40 and Iverson had 27 points, of which Bryant was "responsible" for a only a handful at most (depending on how one assigns "blame" for pick and roll plays). Bryant guarded Iverson and held him scoreless for the next 5:25. Then, at the 1:20 mark Odom's questionable decision making reappeared, this time at the defensive end of the court. On the previous possession, Bryant drove to the hoop but--unlike Odom--he pulled up to avoid the charge, drew the defense to him and made a left handed shovel pass to Odom, who converted a dunk to put the Lakers up 60-49. The Nuggets responded by running a dribble hand off play beyond the three point line above the top of the key. Bryant overplayed Iverson to deny him the ball, but then Iverson cut back and Eduardo Najera screened Bryant. Odom, who was guarding Najera, had planted himself several feet away from the play. As a Sports Illustrated caption once wryly said of a ground-bound Darryl Dawkins as several players around him jumped for a rebound, he was "awaiting future developments." What developed was a wide open jumper for Iverson. Not surprisingly, a couple possessions later the Nuggets again ran a screen and roll with Najera and Iverson, this time on the left wing. Odom was once again out of position and Bryant committed his third foul as he tried to recover and block Iverson's shot; he got a lot of ball but he also clipped Iverson on his shooting hand. Iverson made the free throws to finish with 33 first half points, his career-best.

Bryant picked up his fourth foul less than a minute into the third period. Iverson was guarding him and Bryant faked toward midcourt and then did a "swim" move (like a defensive lineman) to cut into the lane; when Bryant's hand touched Iverson, Iverson dropped to the court like he'd been shot, a very smart veteran move: he knew that he was beaten anyway, so he exaggerated the contact and hoped to draw the foul. The ploy worked and Bryant had to sit out the rest of the period. Without Bryant guarding him, Iverson "suddenly" became hot again, scoring 16 points in the quarter. His jumper at the 5:06 mark gave the Nuggets their first lead of the game. The Nuggets soon built a four point lead but, as Bryant told ESPN's Lisa Salters after the game, the Lakers kept their cool and tied the score at 88 by the end of the period. Bryant also said to Salters that he felt he had gotten a couple questionable calls but that he knew that if he complained about them that it would destroy his team's morale; instead, he encouraged his teammates to keep the score close so that they could have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.

Bryant played all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter. Jackson put newly acquired Trevor Ariza on Iverson in the early going but he was hardly hiding Bryant, who did a great job on the dangerous Anthony. Bryant broke the tie with a driving layup but Denver answered with a Camby lob to Anthony. Barry commented, "You might say that's Kobe Bryant's fault but Andrew Bynum, who is guarding Marcus Camby, has got to step up and pressure that basketball. Don't let him survey the floor and make that pass." For you economists out there who believe that you can evaluate basketball players without actually watching the games and have decided that Bynum is more valuable to the Lakers than Bryant, what Barry is talking about is that Bryant was fronting Anthony in the post; when the post defender fronts his man, it is essential that the player guarding the ballhandler pressures him and makes it difficult for him to feed the post. Also, usually there is supposed to be backside help if the passer successfully gets the ball to the post player. After that play, Anthony did not score again with Bryant guarding him until Anthony stole the ball from Luke Walton in the open court and converted a fast break dunk at the 5:55 mark to put Denver up, 96-94. The Lakers had just been up 94-90 two minutes prior to that, so Jackson called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Ariza had done a good job on Iverson but when Fisher and Odom returned to the game to replace Jordan Farmar and Ariza respectively then Bryant shifted to Iverson for the rest of the game.

Smith's four free throws sandwiched around a Fisher jumper made the score 100-96 Denver with 4:24 left in the game; prior to Fisher's shot, Bryant had scored all six of the Lakers' fourth quarter points in addition to his defensive work on Anthony and Iverson. After Smith's second pair of free throws, for some reason Odom decided to go one on one in the post against Defensive Player of the Year Camby, shooting a jump hook that had no chance. This gave the Nuggets an opportunity to go up by six but the Lakers dodged that bullet when Bynum stole an Iverson pass. Then, Bryant drove to the hoop and passed to Radmanovic for a three pointer. Iverson answered with his first (and last) points in the quarter, making a strong drive, scoring a layup over Bryant and drawing a foul from Radmanovic. After that play, the Lakers once again tried the "Lamar Odom experience," this time resulting in a shot clock violation; as Barry said after that play, it would have been better if Odom had forced a shot because it might have gone in and would have at least given the Lakers an offensive rebounding opportunity (please remember this play the next time you criticize Bryant for "forcing" a shot or the next time some talking head says that the problem with the Lakers is that Odom does not get the ball enough). The Lakers dodged this second bullet that Odom attempted to shoot in their collective feet when Bryant stuck to Iverson like flypaper and blocked his three point shot. Bryant apparently had seen enough of Odom running the offense; he dribbled into the right corner, was trapped by two defenders but reversed himself and dribbled back out to the right wing when he glimpsed Bynum cutting to the hoop. Bryant made a perfect lob pass from just inside the three point line and Bynum, who has a long reach and excellent hands, dunked the ball to pull the Lakers to within 102-101. Radmanovic then stole the ball and split a pair of free throws to tie the score.

Odom and Smith dove on the floor for a loose ball during Denver's next possession. The officials called a jump ball and both players were jawing at each other as they stood up. Bryant walked right up to Odom, said something to calm him down and tapped Odom's chest for emphasis. Odom won the tip, Bryant caught the ball and drove all the way down court to score a layup. Kenyon Martin fouled Bryant on the play but Bryant missed the free throw, his only miss in six attempts (I just saw some stat about Bryant's free throw percentage in the last two minutes of games, so I'm sure that miss will be more ammunition to "prove" that he is not the league's best clutch player, notwithstanding how he completely took over the fourth quarter of this game at both ends of the court). Bynum made a great block to nullify an Anthony drive and Bryant scored on another layup to put the Lakers up, 106-102. Anthony's finger roll kept Denver in contention but Bryant all but closed the door by nailing a jumper from the left baseline. The game ended with Martin splitting a pair of free throws, Fisher making three out of four free throws and Anthony scoring a layup.

After the game, Barry summed everything up thusly: "If this L.A. Lakers team can keep it close and you have the best player in the NBA, you have a chance to win."

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:20 AM

15 comments

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15 Comments:

At Thursday, December 06, 2007 11:15:00 AM, Anonymous jn said...

I often suspect Lamar Odom got lost in the jungle as a kid and was raised by a nomadic tribe of charging fouls. The man just loves his charging fouls, I've never really understood why he has been compared to Pippen so often with such poor floor vision and decision making.

Despite his above-average ball handling abilities for a player his size and his shooting touch, I think Odom's ideal position is the power forward, because he struggles so much in the open court. By limiting his options he becomes a more effective player, although that would require Bynum to become a dominant center or else the Lakers' frontcourt would just not have the necessary size and strength.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 5:40:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Odom's game is paradoxical in that he obviously has some court vision because he is capable of making some very nice passes. However, on the whole his decision making is not good and this is evidence not only by the charging fouls that I mentioned but also by something that Tex Winter has mentioned: Odom has never mastered the various cuts that are involved in the Triangle Offense. If you watch Kobe closely, he always knows which way to cut to get open no matter how the defense is playing against the Triangle; he doesn't just score by monopolizing the ball. With Odom's size and skills, if he made sharper and better cuts then there would be a ton of opportunities for him to score. That is why I have never bought the idea that Kobe is somehow holding Odom's game back. Odom is doing the same things now that he has done his whole career: putting up decent looking numbers without having a major impact and making more than a few very questionable decisions.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 9:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

kobe barely guarded iverson in the game at all and definetely not in the fourth where you get he alone shut ai down? haha if kobe didnt score for six minutes and was guarded a couple times by a player. you wouild be quick to say that the other guy had no bearing on kobe game and it was a team effort the lakers doubled and triple iverson in the fourth quarter thats why they stopped him if iverson going he could score on anybody. kobe did close and play great in the fourth quarter but as usual your praise for him is way over the top.

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 9:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Obviously, you did not watch the game very carefully, nor did you pay attention to what I wrote. I listed in the post exactly when Kobe did and did not guard Iverson. Iverson scored the vast majority of his points when Kobe was not guarding him, including nearly a fourth of them (12 points) when Kobe was not even in the game at all during the second quarter.

Kobe defended Iverson so well in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter that Iverson had trouble even getting the ball, let alone scoring. It was simply a fantastic defensive performance by Kobe against one of the greatest scorers of all-time on a night when Iverson really had it going. How many times have you seen a guy who was that hot get completely shut down?

 
At Thursday, December 06, 2007 10:35:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

" a former number one overall draft pick (Kenyon Martin) "

yeah, so was Kwame

you say Kobe shut down AI, but a lot of it was Ariza

prior post: I cited SI that Kobe's tantrum kept KG from LA

your answer: Magic & Bird got coaches fired.

huh? getting coach fired doesnt hurt team unless it was great coach

criticizing mgmt & demanding trade in offseason -- to drive away one of best other players hurts team

Kobe's sole motive is $. He wants a trade to get the trade kicker in his contract -- an increase triggered by trade.

Also, I think Kobe gets a share of jersey sales -- last year he realized that he could increase that by changign # to 24. now he cant change #, so he wants to change team, to increase sales again

he played a fine game against Denver, but so did Vlad, farmer, bynum (defense) & others... & you have a great coach on LA

your praise for Kobe is really weird... (a) we all know he is a great player, so it's pretty much Captain Obvious ... why dont you tell us who the underappreciated role players are (we know you wouldnt list Smush there b/c it's easy to beat up on lesser lights, who make 1/100 of Kobe salary), (b) you overstate Kobe's quality, as almost everyone on this website has commented -- it makes for controversy, but it is also troubling, b/c it turns your commentary into a fictional act and I assume you realize this

put another way: I am a Laker fan, and I can tell that you are not, because Kobe's intersts diverge from teh Lakers.

maybe that's the problem: the media likes a star, even one who is not good for his team -- and by this I refer to KG matter

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 1:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Alternaviews:

Kwame is generally considered to be a bust, while K-Mart was a contributor on two teams that made it to the Finals. That said, Kwame has been solid defensively for the Lakers and K-Mart is not the player he used to be. Of course, in the context of the post I was talking about players who actually played; Kwame is out with an injury, so I did not mention him, just like I did not mention Nene, who helps to give Denver one of the deepest frontlines in the NBA (when everyone is healthy of course).

Did you miss the part where I mentioned that Ariza guarded Iverson for the first part of the fourth quarter and did a great job?

You did not just "cite Kobe's tantrum"; you wrote that KG did not want to play with Kobe, which is not true. You have made such misleading assertions on several occasions, which makes me think that it is deliberate obfuscation on your part. There is a big difference between what KG said and what you wrote. Your response is probably that the bottom line is the same because KG did not end up in L.A. but you are trying to mislead people to believe that KG and other players do not want to play with Kobe. KG did not want to go to a mismanaged team. KG, Kidd and Jermaine O'Neal have all expressed interest in playing alongside Kobe.

Magic was killed in the press after Westhead was fired. It turned out OK in the end but Westhead had led the team to a title in 1980 so it's not like he was a terrible coach. I don't recall Bird getting much flak for the Fitch firing (which is interesting considering how much heat Magic took for the Westhead firing) even though it was well known that the two did not see eye to eye at the time. My point in bringing up those two examples is that Kobe is not the first star player who disagreed with management/the coaching staff and it is not uncommon for stars to air such complaints publicly and/or try to force changes behind the scenes. If the press likes the star, then he either gets a free pass immediately (like Bird) or the matter is soon forgotten (Magic). If the press does not like the star, then this type of thing becomes part of his "resume," which is what seems to have happened to Kobe since his statements this past summer.

Kobe will be receiving huge sums of guaranteed money no matter where he plays. Look at how he prepares and how he plays and it is obvious that winning is his primary motivation.

Jersey sales don't factor into my player evaluations but as far as I know you are mistaken; the NBA controls all of the licensing revenue. That revenue is distributed to the teams and the players according to the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement--and a player does not get more money if his jersey is the top seller, so Kobe does not make more money if more Kobe jerseys are sold (players make money from their shoe deals and other endorsements but not from NBA licensed items like jerseys, basketballs and so forth).

I am not trying to "praise" Kobe, or criticize somebody else; I watch the games and explain what I see (or, some cases, what some of the participants saw/experienced).

Vlad Rad, who Jackson rightly called a "space cadet" last year, is one example of how the Lakers have squandered money/cap space. If he puts together a string of great games and really impacts the team's record then I will consider breaking down his impact. That was probably one of his best games as a Laker.

What makes you think that I am praising/critiquing players based on their salaries? Smush can't even get on the court for a bad team that desperately needs youth and athleticism--which is exactly what I predicted would happen. My evaluation of his game is correct, whether or not it fits into your world view. I also said that Daequan Cook would do well in the NBA when his own local paper knocked him and I was right about that as well. Slowly, some of the "experts" are seeing that my early critiques of Durant during the summer had merit as well. I watch and then I write what I see with no agenda, which is why this site is different from so many other outlets that offer NBA coverage. That does not mean that I am always right, of course, but I'm not consciously trying to promote certain players or teams because of personal bias or to boost TV ratings.

My observations about Kobe's game are supported by a number of NBA players, coaches and talent evaluators with whom I have spoken. I am trying to explain to fans that the way that the game is presented and portrayed is not always accurate. Trust me, it would be easier and more popular to just jump on the mainstream media bandwagon and parrot its opinions. What do you suppose I am gaining by saying what I say, other than the satisfaction of knowing that I am providing correct analysis of these games that people cannot get elsewhere?

You are correct that I am not writing as a Lakers fan; I am writing as an analyst/commentator. This site is not devoted to the Lakers or any other single team but Kobe is the best player in the league and the Lakers are on television a lot so it is only natural that I discuss Kobe and the Lakers here.

The media likes certain stars (Shaq, Favre) and dislikes others (Kobe, Owens). What's different about what I do here is that I am actually breaking down what happens on the court and why it happens, without regard to conventional wisdom or popular opinion.

Look at Philly after Barkley's departure (or Iverson's departure). Look at Minn now. That is the future for the Lakers if they deal Kobe, which is why they are so reluctant to do so.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 2:43:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

Bynum has been coming along nicely, and I really like him as a player. However, after reading the article (from the website I can't recall) about why Bynum is more valuable to the Lakers than Kobe, I couldn't help but laugh. It honestly was one of the dumbest things I've read. Not only is trying to evaluate the game using stats alone an extremely flawed approach, but most of these "stat gurus" do a horrible job of making inferences with the data available. It boggles my mind how someone like John Hollinger can have a nice, cushy job with ESPN based off of sitting around crunching numbers in a meaningless way. Are there actually people out there who are fooled into believing that Hollinger's analysis takes any real intellect? I doubt that he has any real statistical training, and he's able to do a little aritmetic, slap a fancy name on his results (like "versatility index" or something) and pass it off as some high-level analysis. (Yeah, I know Hollinger didn't write the Bynum article, but I thought I'd rant against stat guys in general.)

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 4:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

You may have noticed that I alluded to that article indirectly in this post; it is another product of the Wages of Wins school of thought that overvalues rebounding (Rodman > Jordan, Bynum > Bryant) but what is even more galling to me than the absurd conclusions is the premise behind them: it is possible--indeed preferable--to analyze basketball teams and players by crunching numbers without ever watching a game. These guys try to hide their ignorance and bias behind a fog of numbers but analyzing basketball without watching a game makes no sense. That is why I didn't even bother to write a full refutation of the Bynum article. It is completely ridiculous and anyone who knows anything about basketball realizes that; since these guys do their business without watching basketball all basketball lovers should do themselves a favor and watch games without bothering to read such nonsense. ESPN's in house blog loves to give WoW publicity; it probably won't be long before ESPN buys WoW like it purchased its in house blog, Hollinger's work and so many other products.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 8:29:00 AM, Anonymous I Love This Game Guy said...

David, you are absolutely correct in your evaluation of the Lakers. I wonder why you respond to comments from folks who OBVIOUSLY did not watch the game. Kobe bias is really big, it surprises me. To deny that KB is clearly the best all around player in the league is insulting to NBA fans like myself. I say to folks, you cannot honestly watch the game and say that, you may not like him (or how he's portrayed), but to deny his game is childish.
Not sure if you have touched on this topic yet, but from my view, the decision to trade Shaq is looking clearer and clearer to me, they had to do it.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 8:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Yeah, I've touched on the Shaq trade a few times here :)

My take at the time was that the Lakers were not willing to pay the luxury tax, so if you are only going to keep one max level player then it makes more sense to keep Kobe, who is younger and more dedicated to conditioning and then build a team around him. On the other hand, paying Shaq tons of money was a good short term deal for Miami--whose owner has deeper pockets than Jerry Buss--provided that Shaq helped the Heat to win at least one title. Obviously, the Heat did win a title with Shaq--they may have been a few decent minutes by Dallas away from being swept but they pulled it out; since then, the team's decline has been rapid and almost unprecedented, but Miami's idea was to spend whatever it took to win.

Given the Lakers' financial restrictions, the team made the right decision to trade Shaq but they probably should have gotten more in return and they definitely have made some bad moves since then (trading Butler, signing Vlad Rad to a big deal). The bottom line is that they said that they would build a team around Kobe and they have yet to do so. They have yet to acquire or develop even one All-Star, so every night Kobe has to carry a large load.

The other thing that I have brought up here that most people don't realize is that the Lakers started to go downhill in 2002 when Shaq decided that since he got hurt "on company time" that he would have his surgery "on company time." That messed up the 2002-03 season and brought the Shaq-Kobe problems very much out in the open when an out of shape Shaq complained that he was not getting the ball enough and Kobe retorted that if Shaq got in good enough shape to get up and down the court then Shaq would get the ball more often. Shaq's response was that if the dog was not fed (the ball) then he would not guard the house (play defense in the paint). The Lakers got off to a slow start thanks to Shaq, did not get home court advantage and then lost to the Spurs. Shaq's attitude influenced Buss' opinion of him and made Buss even less inclined to go into luxury tax territory to keep both Shaq and Kobe when the time came to make that decision. People don't want to believe that this is the truth even though it has all been publicly documented and confirmed by the involved parties.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 11:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Friedman, you bring a fresh air to the now lowly sports journalism. Keep doing your good job, don't ever be influenced by the main stream media hacks who have worked hard to vilify Kobe. Can't believe the haters who said the media love Kobe.

Odom is called Odumb by some Laker fans for a good reason.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Tucker said...

David,

Great analysis, as always. I find you to be one of the most objective sports writers I can find, anywhere, and also one of the most insightful. Either one is a true accomplishment, but that you consistently achieve and set the standard for both is a tribute to your passion for the game (as opposed to those whose primary motivation is fan obsession and/or ratings/hits-driven sensationalism), as well as your journalistic integrity. Bravo.

That said, and in fact with that in mind, I have a different kind of question for you: What's the deal with your blog design? I have to confess that when I first discovered your site, I almost dismissed you as a common Joe Schmo with a blog, just like everyone else. Fortunately, I stuck around long enough to read your writing and realize that this was not the case.

Your site doesn't look very professional. Well... truthfully?... it doesn't look very good. For one, your bio takes up 75% of the page, while your article is crammed on the left side of the screen.

Anyhow. I'm not trying to slam you, I obviously love your work. I just want to see it presented in a way that attracts readers -- because honestly, more people should be reading this than ESPN or any number of other "sports journalists". And partially, I'm just curious: Why doesn't the presentation of your site match its content in terms of quality?

Is it because you're more focused on writing and don't want to be bothered by designing? Is it that you don't really have the technical know-how needed to achieve the desired re-design?

Just curious, really. Your writing is great, and I think you should have a site that, at first glance, says, "This is great, professional writing, and you should stick around and read it."

So... What gives?

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 4:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tucker:

Thank you for your compliments about my writing.

I think that the simple, obvious answer to your question is that I have focused more of my attention on generating story ideas, doing interviews and then writing articles then actually tweaking elements of the original 20 Second Timeout template. That said, I am open to suggestions to help make the site more visually appealing. If you have some specific ideas, feel free to email me directly so that we can discuss them. I welcome your input.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 5:47:00 PM, Anonymous Tucker said...

David,

I thought as much. And priority you place on content shows in your work.

I'll think on it some, and probably email you with some ideas.

Props for your effort and perseverance, and I wish you tons of success for all that right reasons.

 
At Friday, December 07, 2007 7:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, great analysis. The LA media could use a guy like you.

 

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