USC guard DeAnthony Melton recently appeared on ESPN Radio 1700’s Ballerz World Live studio to discuss the 2017-18 basketball season.
USC Women of Troy guard Minyon Moore kept it 100 as a freshman by averaging 11 points, and a team high 4 assists with 1 steal.
She stayed TRUE to the game by playing in all 30, including four as a starter. On February 21, 2017, she etched herself in the pantheon of Trojan history, becoming the preeminent recipient of the USBWA National Freshman of the Week award.
Minyon Moore has a tough act to follow: HERSELF.
She enters her sophomore campaign already having scored the most of any Trojan since 2014 (32) and having dished out the second most assists since 1982 (15).
Ask the average 90’s Hip-Hop purist and they will tell you Jay-Z’s Magnus-Opus is his 1996 rookie debut Reasonable Doubt.
His follow-up album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 featured industry heavyweights Babayface, Sean Puff Dadddy Combs, Black Street, and Foxy Brown, yet received lackluster reviews and support, thus being known as Hova’s “Sophomore Slump.”
Greatness comes natural and therefore can’t be manufactured. Greatness can also be misunderstood due to perception, most often, serving as reality.
Because many basketball intangibles that create team success are not reflected in the box-score, Moore’s progress can be overlooked if she only improves her help-defense, increased her hockey assists (the pass before the pass leading to a score), and became a greater veteran presence in the lockeroom.
Minyon can avoid the dreaded Sophomore Slump by doing Moore.
She needs to stay true to the battle-tested, the dedicated, and the history makers: HERSELF.
The plot to avoid a despicable sequel?
There simply needs to be more Minyon.
NBA veteran Dahntay Jones is known for pushing the boundaries between playing tough physical defense and being a cheap-shot artist.
Jones was assigned to the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Developmental League during the 2016 NBA D-League Showcase in Santa Cruz. Watch him send the Lakers’ Los Angeles D-Fenders assignee Ryan Kelly to the floor after pulling the chair.
Kobe Bryant can get hot still. He scored 31 points in a vintage performance to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 108-104 victory over the Washington Wizards.
The rumors of his demise have been greatly circulated. The declaration that he his playing in his final season lit social-media on fire, and before it ends he’ll probably start another trend.
After shooting 1-14 against the Golden State Warriors from the field, there were lamentations for Bryant to immediately call it quits. He was embarrassing himself. It was over.
But dead men don’t make go-ahead buckets to get road wins on the second night of a back-to-back. For one night Bryant was resurrected.
If it were as bad as the experts claimed, then his 31 point outburst is right up there with the game in which he scored 50 more than that against the Toronto Raptors. Five years before that he scored 61 in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Everyone knew that Kobe was capable of the unbelievable. But this Kobe, the wounded warrior with nothing left to give basketball, nobody is expecting the spectacular.
Like Wilt Chaimberlin’s 100, Kobe should have drawn 31 on sheet of paper and taken a photograph. No player at 37-years old has returned from achilles surgery to score 31 and make a game-winning shot. Bryant’s heroics are that of legend, I guess you can say a new one just begun.
The Los Angeles Lakers have set precedent when it comes to paying top-dollar. Kobe Bryant received a lucrative $48 million contract making him the NBA’s highest paid player after suffering a torn achilles.
Current Lakers owner Jim Buss continues to draw criticism for paying Bryant so richly during the twilight of his career. The reason why Buss took such a gamble on Bryant may have more to do with genetics than loyalty.
It was his late father and former Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, who made headlines in 1979 by lavishing rookie Earvin Magic Johnson with a 25-year, $25-million contract. It seemed ridiculous in the moment, most notably the the length of the agreement . But the NBA’s increased revenue and television ratings that followed confirmed Buss’s foresight.
The latter Buss has has proven he’s a gambler like his father. Selecting little known Andrew Bynum in the 2005 NBA Draft, and passing on Jahlil Okafor for D’Angelo Russell in the 2015 installment proved he’s more than willing to risk his chips.
Despite missing the playoffs the past two seasons, and being eliminated in the first-round twice before that, the Lakers continue to rake in the dough. Forbes estimates the Lakers are worth over $2.6 billion, most in the NBA. This is in large part due to their rich local TV deal with Time Warner ($4 billion over the next 20-years.)
Needless to say the team is striving monetarily. What’s forgotten in the midst of the newfound losing ways of the purple-and-gold is that the franchise ultimately exists to make money. Although hanging banners while entertaining the fans with a quality basketball product is a top priority, what really matters is the bottom line.
By that measure, Jim Buss has become more successful than his father.
His ability to generate capital has not freed him from being viewed by a large assortment as the chief culprit behind the demise of Lakers exceptionalism.
Their belief is that Dr. Buss would have convinced both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to remain Lakers, and been able to lure Carmelo Anthony or LaMarcus Aldridge as he did with Shaquille O’Neal.
So as the Lakes go on to miss the playoffs for a third straight year during Bryant’s farewell tour, Magic Johnson believes it’s time for Buss to seek assistance.
“I love Jim Buss. He should just be the owner, like his dad was just the owner,” the Dodgers owner said. “Let’s go back with facts, so I can back this up with facts: 27 wins a couple years ago, 21 wins last year.”
ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith asserted that Johnson himself assume full control of the Lakers’ affairs. This season James Worthy joined the staff as a consultant. Others believe the Lakers have made a mistake by not having more of their hall-of-farmers in the mix. But then again, some of those same people are calling for the ousting of Byron Scott.
It was the Magic-Buss connection that sparked the beginning of the Showtime era. It remains to be seen what next Jim Buss will conjure up for Lakers fans.
The ordinarily comical Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young was sharply critical and disappointed with his Los Angeles Lakers team following a 103-91 loss to the (then) winless Philadelphia 76ers.
“All I know is the circus came to town today and we did what we normally do,” said Young, referring to the increased media attention and arena demonstrations to honor Kobe Bryant following his retirement announcement.
The irony of Young, who is in a high-profile relationship with pop music artist Iggy Azalea, being concerned with distractions is that it was he who last season interrupted a post-game interview following a victory which ended up on Kobe Bryant’s Summer Jam screen on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
But after a season of being publicly scolded by Byron Scott for lackadaisical play, it is now Young going on the offensive in the media.
“It can’t be like a video game & you’re playing with your favorite player, you know,” said Young after a Lakers’ 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors. “We’ve all got to share the ball.”
It is no secret that the Lakers attempted to trade Young this offseason and had no takers. Their relationship became rocky with Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol after seasons of failed trade attempts.
Time will tell if Young is developing into a veteran who is more of a vocal leader, or has grown weary playing under the lights of the greatest show on earth.
We’re a circus,” chided Young. “We’re playing terrible. We lost to Philly. Philly! What does that make us?”
It was an SAT word we learned but never used. That is until the 1996 release of Tupac Shakur’s album The Don Killuminati under the pseudonym ‘Makaveli’ following his unsolved murder.
A few months before, Magic Johnson had officially called it a career. His retirement in the summer of ’96 coincided with the beginning of the new Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant arrived in Los Angeles during a tumultuous period of transformation. The city was going through a major police scandal, and homicides spiked amid gang violence. The infamous Death Row record label began to crumble, losing foundation members Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. The Los Angeles music and sports entertainment industry would forever be changed.
Shaq and Kobe became intertwined with hip-hop. They would both drop records before winning their first championship.
In the fall of ’96 a rapper named Jay-Z released his debut album titled Reasonable Doubt. Although sales were mediocre, Bryant says the album is his favorite. Despite both rookies having slow starts, Kobe and Jay-Z would ultimately go in the pantheon of greats in their respective professions. It was O’Neal and Bryant’s hug after winning the 2000 NBA Finals which inspired the line “Jigga man is diesel, when I lift the eight up,” in his song Breathe Easy off his 2001 album, The Blueprint.
In October of ’96, Shaq released You Can’t Stop The Reign with rapper Notorious B.I.G. only a few months before the Brooklyn native was slain. After entering training camp out of shape, critics began accusing Shaq with being more concerned about being an emcee than a basketball player.
Meanwhile Bill Clinton was re-elected in the 1996 Presidential Election, the first Democrat to win a second-term since Franklin Rosevelt.
1996 brought the retirement of Magic Johnson, the arrival of Shaq & Kobe, the exit of Tupac (rather Makaveli), and the entrance of Jay-Z. All are still very much relevant 20 years later, but only one still holds the same job with the same company.
Bill Clinton’s wife is now running for president, Jay-Z ditched the Roc and became a mogul who raps part-time, while Shaq is still watching Kobe play as a TNT commentator.
Now Bryant announced he is walking away from something he has done for more than half of his life. To put it in perspective, Kobe has been a Laker longer than he has been an adult.
All eyes or on him now that he’s decided it’s check out time.
After the Lakers 111-77 shellacking by the Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant had a PHILosophical take on his abysmal 1-14 shooting performance.
“I feel okay. Just pissed. Just frustrated with what were doing,” Bryant said after the game. “It bothered me. So I got out of my Zen.”
There is a bit of irony in Bryant embracing Phil Jackson’s philosophy, which at one time he found boring and restrictive to his game.
As Bryant struggles through the 20th season of his career averaging 15 points shooting 31% from the field, he no longer has the comfort of the Triangle Offense at his disposal. Bryant thrived in that system which got him to his sweet spots on the court. It also helped him get open shots without having to beat defenders one-on-one, a daunting task now at his age.
The Lakers passed on re-rehiring Jackson in 2012 in leu of Mike D’Antoni.
This current Lakers team still hasn’t grasped their offensive philosophy, making it difficult on the 37-year old Tex Winter disciple.
“The way I played, the way I shot, blowing coverages defensively, coming down offensively and not having concept of what we’re trying to do,” Bryant exclaimed.
It is difficult enough for Bryant to be effective on offense with his age and mileage. What has made it worst is the Lakers inability to establish balance, something Jackson routinely preached.
DeAndre Jordan made it clear at Los Angeles Clippers Media Day that he would not be distracted by the spectacle of playing the Dallas Mavericks.
“They’re just another Western Conference team we have to beat,” said the 7’1 defensive stalwart. “My only motivation is to win a championship, anything else I’m not concerned about.”
The Clippers played their home opener at Staples Center against the spurned Mavericks team and their owner Mark Cuban, who apparently still has hurt feelings after Jordan rejected his offer to join him in Dallas.
“Look, the Clippers are the Clippers,” said Cuban prior to the game. “You can change the players, you can change the owner, but the Clippers are who they’ve been for the last 30 years.”
One can understand Cuban’s incessant aggravation. The very fact that he scheduled a meeting with Jordan caused Tyson Chandler to bolt for the Phoenix Suns. Chandler was the final piece that solidified the 2011 Dallas Mavericks’ championship defense. Cuban gambled on bringing in Jordan, promising that he’d be the franchise player, but in the end lost out on both big men.
Cuban has had bad luck in getting his man in the past. He similarly failed in snagging Marcin Gortat in 2009 after the Orlando Magic matched the five-year, $34-million offer sheet, despite having All-Star center Dwight Howard. The Shark Tank star couldn’t convince an aging Steve Nash to come in, instead choosing to take less money to play with the L.A. Lakers.
The Clippers drew first blood in the new rivalry, easily disposing of the Mavericks 104-88. Jordan had 15 points and 4 blocked shots in less than 30 minutes. He acknowledged the emotion surrounding the game. But not because the Mavericks were in the house.
“It’s definitely an emotional game,” he explained. “The emotions were high obviously because it was our home opener. We wanted to give the fans what they missed.”
He also gave Mark Cuban and the Mavericks plenty of what they missed.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett set an NBA record on the opening night of the 2015-16 season. They became the first players to face each other having both played 20 or more seasons. It was a fitting beginning to the possible end of their legendary careers which have mirrored each other in many ways.
Garnett originally made headlines when he was selected 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves directly out of high school in 1995.
Bryant followed Garnett’s lead after graduating from Lower Merion High in 1996 and was sereptitiosuly drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, then gifted to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade.
Both were immediately recognized as throwback players. Hard workers in practice, trash talkers who got under the skin of their older NBA counterparts.
They both were part of dynamic tandems that were disbanded.
In 1996 Garnett was paired with electric point guard Stephon Marbury. They were supposed to be the updated version of Stockton and Malone. But as with Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 with Bryant, the two seemingly parted ways prematurely, although the latter hoisted three trophies together. Bryant’s Lakers twice eliminated K.G.’s Wolves in the 2003 and 2004 Western Conference playoffs.
Garnett and Bryant’s talents were showcased together as teammates at the 1998 NBA All-Star game in Madison Square Garden. The two kids out of high school were both in the starting lineups, Bryant having received more votes than Mitch Richmond in the final weeks leading up to the exhibition game. They lit up the crowd, throwing alley-oops to one another and waiving off veteran screens. Their symmetry and fluidity on the court led some to wonder: What if Kobe and K.G. were on the same team?
The summer of 2007 finally brought Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles during free-agency. Unfortunately it was to meet with Paul Pierce about his eventual trade to the Boston Celtics soon afterwards. Garnett was spotted shopping on Rodeo Drive and fans were sure this was an indication of him joining the Lakers. But although Garnett owned a home in nearby Malibu, he still chose Boston and won his first title in 2008 against Bryant and the Lakers.
Garnett not going to Los Angeles led to the acquisition of Pau Gasol. Bryant would get his revenge in the 2010 NBA Finals, a 7-game heavyweight bout. The two classic series have embedded Bryant and Garnett into Lakers/Celtics lore.
And some 20 years after their arrival they met in battle yet again. Both in their starting lineups, both still proudly representing their era, both mentoring upstart players drafted nearly 20-years after them. Bryant recently spoke about the longevity he and Garnett are displaying.
“It’s fantastic. It’s amazing. It brings a smile to my face, man,” said Bryant via ESPN’s J.A. Adande. “Because I remember thinking about making my decision and speaking on the phone with him, him going through his first season. Now fast forward, his 21st season, my 20th. It’s pretty amazing.”
K.G. actually advised Kobe to go to college in that phone conversation. Advice Bryantly appreciatively ignored.