Archive for LA Lakers

Shaq needs Kobe Now!

Posted in NBA, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2009 by Rick

Let me just state for the record that I am a Lakers fan, I am a Kobe fan and self-appointed apologist. I am a Shaq fan and apologist but less so since he abandoned the tantalizing-tinge of Tinsel Town for the sun-soaked sands of South Beach in unceremonious fashion. Much of the NBA Finals build up will include numerous thoughts and theories on Kobe’s need to exorcise the demon of LA hitching their proverbial wagon to him instead of the former most dominant player in the league. There will, no doubt, be pontification over Kobe’s need to match O’Neal title-for-title and prove that he can win it all without the Diesel Daddy. What will be swept under the rug, is the fact that Shaq’s legacy hangs in the balance in a series he can do nothing more than stand helplessly by and  hope that Kobe & Co. bail him out…AGAIN (2002 playoffs: Kobe (vs. SAN) and Horry (vs. SAC)) . This may be blasphemy to some, but consider these facts.

howardshaq

Shaquille O’Neal is no fan of Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy. He has publicly acknowledged as much. Stan, O’Neal’s former Miami Heat head coach, has found new life in the NBA elite, coaching one of the best young rosters in recent history which boasts the games most powerful and entertaining athlete in Dwight Howard. Freshen up on the Van Gundy O’Neal story here. The sports world has been enamored with a tall, hulking, fleet-of-foot big-man with a toothy grin and playful spirit for nearly 18 years. They are even used to seeing that guy play on the NBA’s finest stage wearing Magic Kingdom blue, white and silver. He used to wear number 32, now it’s a sleeker number 12 and, man, does he make it look good!?

'93 Dream Teamer stepping out of a London phone booth.

'93 Dream Teamer stepping out of a London phone booth.

Shaq dreams about being this chistled.

Shaq dreams about being this chiseled.

Dwight Howard didn’t enter the NBA with the same brash bravado that O’Neal did in 1992 but his last three years in the league have seen him steadily emerge as a lost post headache offensively and, most prominently, a defensive nightmare. Howard’s rise has coincided with the setting of Shaquille’s 12-year reign of dominance (he’s played 17 seasons and “dominated” for about 12 of them). To add insult to injury, Dwight’s antics during the 2008 Sprite Slam Dunk competition earned him the nickname Superman, a moniker O’Neal wielded without challenge to that point. Howard stole more than a name from O’Neal with that performance, he also swiped the affections of NBA fans everywhere. Fan-voters were so entertained by Dwight’s flying feats that he received the highest number of All-Star votes of any individual player…ever (3.1 million)! Shaq has refused to acknowledge Dwight’s dominance and even his presence at times, but that was when his trademark smile and “Shaq-attack” dunk were the only things at stake. Now, Howard threatens the very legacy O’Neal worked so hard to build and that sends chills up the very long spine of the giant formerly known as Superman.

How does Dwight threaten Shaq’s legacy and what, if anything, does this have to do with Kobe saving Shaq? It’s coming! Shaq has won four championship titles now age and attrition indicate he may not win another ring. If Dwight wins this year…

-Dwight gives Orlando the ring that Shaq couldn’t deliver. Shaq took Orlando to the Finals in 1995 to get swept by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

-Dwight wins a title without another future Hall of Famer playing a significant role. Shaq’s rings included major contributions from Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade. and Robert Horry, all likely Hall of Fame candidates.

-Dwight wins his first title at age 23, 5 years earlier than Shaq. Shaq won 4 rings in a 7 year span.

Dwight is a fitness freak! Barring injury, it’s likely that he will play for another 15 seasons or more and win more rings. Plenty of time to eclipse Shaq’s four rings. O’Neal’s conditioning and commitment to staying in top condition has always haunted him and likely cost him a ring or two.

With these things in mind, Shaq has tweeted “thats right i am saying it today and today only, i want kobe bryant to get number 4, spread da word” I believe Shaq needs Kobe to beat this young upstart so his legacy’s only contemporary will remain Tim Duncan with his 4 titles and nothing more. At this point, O’Neal and Duncan are arguably tied as the most decorated NBA post players behind George Mikan (5), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), and Bill Russell (11). It’s early, but if Howard secures this one, he inaugurates a journey to be listted among the leagues greatest. The question is will he finish his career looking up at O’Neal or down?

Can Kobe borrow Nate Robinson’s green Krypto-nikes?

"Kobe! You might need deez!"

"Kobe! You might need deez!"

Pau!!! Right In Da Kisser!

Posted in NBA, Sports with tags , , , , , on March 29, 2008 by Rick

This story got lost in the back pages of Memphis’ local paper so I figured I’d send it further into the abyss by blogging it here. In a recent interview with Commercial Appeal’s Grizzlies beat writer Ron Tillery, former Grizzlies All-Star and current Laker forward Pau Gasol minced no words when expressing what he felt about the prospects of the Memphis team before and after his controversial departure.

Pau Gasol, the hopeless leader“No matter what, the Grizzlies aren’t going to be able to put themselves in position to win a championship. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. I think it’s just the way it is. We just couldn’t do it. We had Jerry West as a GM. If you can’t do it with Jerry West, I don’t think there’s many ways you can. We had Hubie (Brown) and Mike Fratello — good coaches. It wasn’t enough. I don’t think the Grizzlies will ever have enough to be at that highest level. There’s a lot needed.”

Spoken like a true winner. People question the decision to dump this guy and clear his salary from the books but if this were your company would you continue to pay a guy top dollar to give 100% and lead your workers with this type of pessimism rattling around in his bushy dome?

Here are current owner Michael Heisley’s hindsight thoughts on the deal:

“Honestly we were not going anywhere with Pau, and there was a tremendous sentiment against him in Memphis,” Heisley said. “I traded Mike Bibby to Sacramento. I traded Jason Williams to Miami. When it works out I’m very happy for them. But we made the trade because we had to take on a new direction and start rebuilding this team.”

I agree with Pau on one thing, there is a lot needed (save for the PA Announcer. He’s awesome!). But if the best player on the team believes winning a championship is impossible then it probably is…with him. I’m of the belief that anything is possible in today’s NBA. Just ask the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat. A trade here, a draft pick there and you can find yourself sittin’ very pretty.

*That photo was taken the moment Gasol realized he was not a franchise player.