Tag Archives: Boston Celtics

Paul Pierce Interview: 2016 Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

Paul Pierce represents the last of the hoopers who came from the under-appreciated 90’s era of Los Angeles County basketball.

Many stars emerged during that period, and Schea Cotton was one of the brightest. He was LeBron before LeBron, having the physicality to match his high baseball I.Q., and projected to make the NBA while still in junior high. Fans watched him dominate his contemporaries, and corporations gifted him products in hopes he’d one day endorse them as an NBA player.

Since his dream of making it to the NBA fell short, some of his peers in the basketball fraternity do not treat him with the respect of an originator.

RunTheTriangle.com spoke exclusively with Schea Cotton in the series Higher about his riveting story, and the one person that is too busy being Inglewood to be Hollywood, Cotton’s former K-Swiss Pacers teammate, Paul Pierce.

“That’s my dude, P-Squared,” said Cotton.
“They try to floss on me and be Hollywood when they see me in the city, I have a lot of respect and adoration for Paul because he’s kept it 100 all the way through with me.”

Similar to the hip-hop genre, the New York boroughs and parks are considered somewhat of a blacktop Mecca. But Los Angeles and its suburbs like Inglewood and Compton have birthed perennial all-stars, leading to the Venice Beach and Drew League’s tournaments increasing in notoriety and media attention. Nobody wants to miss the next big thing out of So-Cal.

Pierce and Cotton represent the legacies of the championship basketball pedigree in Los Angeles. Cotton ran pickup games with Magic Johnson at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. He and Paul Pierce met along the basketball circuit, and they would go on to battle each other for years in amateur tournaments.

What few know is that the assembling
2007-2008 Boston Celtics by current Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers was not the first time Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were teammates. They joined forces in the 90’s during a Las Vegas tournament to successfully dethrone Cotton.

The 2016 Los Angels Clippers Media Day was the last of Pierce’s storied career. Watch as he uses the moment to reveal the truth about Schea Cotton and his appearance in the biographic documentary “Manchild” The Schea Cotton Story: A Dream Deferred.

Kobe & K.G. Have 20/20 Vision

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.

RunTheTriangle.com

Bryant & Garnett on NBA Live 97 on Sega Genisis

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.

Versus: Kobe v LeBron – Who Had More Help?

As LeBron James enters his sixth NBA Finals competition, the comparisons and contrasts with his superstar peers are made. Kobe Bryant has 5 rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, but many analysts do not credit his first three (2000-2002) as being a part of his individual accomplishments. Still, LeBron clearly joined Dwyane Wade and Chirs Bosh in Miami because he grew weary of trying to win it on his own, and collected back-to-back titles with the Heat.

Here is a statistical breakdown of Kobe’s three trips to the NBA Finals (without Shaq) and LeBron’s first three trips to the Finals along with their supporting casts numbers.

 

Celtics 2008 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (CELTICS 4-2)

Kobe 25.7 4.7reb 5.0asst

Gasol 14.7 10.2reb 3.3asst

Odom 13.5 9.0reb 3.0asst

(Bynum Didn’t participate in series)

 

Lakers 2009 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (4-1)

Kobe 32.4 5.6reb 7.4asst

Gasol avg 18.6 9.2reb 2.2ast

Odom 13.4, 7.4 reb 0.8ast

Bynum  6pts 4reb 0.6 asst

 

LAKERS 2010 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (4-3)

Kobe 28.6 8.0reb 3.9asst

Gasol 18.6 11.6reb 3.7asst

Metta World Peace 10.6 4.3reb 1.3 asst

Bynum 7.4 5.1reb


SPURS 2007 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (4-0)

Bron 22.0 7.0reb 6.8asst
MAVERICKS 2011 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (4-2)

WADE 26.5 7.0reb 5.2 asst

Bron 17.8 7.2reb 6.8asst

BOSH 18.5 7.3 reb 1.0asst

Chalmers avg 11.8 2.7reb 3.5 asst

HEAT 2012 NBA FINALS CHAMPIONS (4-2)

Bron 28.6 10.2reb 7.4asst

Wade 22.6 6.0reb 5.2asst

Bosh 14.6 9.4reb

Battier 11.4

Chalmers 10.4 2.6reb 4.0asst

 

Jordan Clarkson should make NBA All-Rookie Team

Most coups occur in the middle of the night when regime change by force is unexpected. The Los Angeles Lakers executed one in plain sight during the 2014 NBA Draft with their selection of Jordan Clarkson.

Clarkson was the 46th pick in the second-round.  His 10 ppg average is more than the point-guards selected ahead of him, most notably lottery picks Dante Exum (4), and Marcus Smart (7), and LeBron James recruit, Miami’s Shabazz Napier (5). Milwaukee’s Tyler Ennis is averaging 3 ppg after being selected 18th, Detroit Piston Spencer Dinwiddie (4), and Houston Rocket Nick Johnson (2) were both selected ahead of Clarkson.  

Despite the Lakers’ forgettable season, Jordan Clarkson has taken it upon himself to remind everyone why teams had him as a first-round selection on many draft boards.

Clarkson recently scored a career-high 30 points against MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, drawing faint comparisons by Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott to the athletic scoring OKC Thunder point-guard.

Clarkson’s steal and furious slam dunk on Exum in a 100-97 Lakers win over the Jazz was evidence that he is further along in his game than the 19-year-old Aussie. Some may still believe Exum has a higher ceiling, but Clarkson’s college experience at Missouri is evident in his polished game.

After beginning the season in the shadows of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash,  and  Jeremy Lin, Clarkson is poised to finish at the controls. His dynamic play has earned trust from his coaches and teammates.

His statistical averages of 10 points 2 rebounds and 2 assists alone garner All-Rookie recognition. But Jordan Clarkson is providing Lakers’ fans with realistic hope for next year.  For that seemingly insurmountable task alone, he should be rewarded.

Nick Van Exel goes X’s and O’s

Former NBA All-Star Nick Van Exel went from crafty point guard on the court to calling plays from the sidelines. The man who coined the term ‘Lakeshow’ is currently an assistant coach for the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.

Van Exel was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1993, representing them in the 1998 NBA All-Star game in New York. His career spanned 13-years and included stints with the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trailblazers, and San Antonio Spurs. He was known for being a gritty left-handed point guard with nice handles and a three-point shot that complimented his ability to get to the basket.

Van Exel began his transition from player to personnel in 2009 as an assistant coach for Texas Southern. He worked in player development for the Atlanta Hawks from 2010-2012, and again as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks from 2013-2014. He now coordinates the offense for the Legends under Head Coach Eduardo Najera.

It has been said in football that former quarterbacks make the best head coaches. The same is true for point guards in basketball.

Derek Fisher earned a 5-year, $25 million dollar contract to become head coach of the New York Knicks. Although he had no prior experience, the leadership he displayed as a player served as his qualification. Other former point guards have seen success as head coaches like Scott Brooks of the OKC Thunder, ABC Commentator Mark Jackson, and Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Van Exel, who played under Bob Huggins at the University of Cincinnati, has the pedigree of a professional basketball player who experienced triumph and dealt with adversity. He has the talent, background, attitude to one day become a head coach in the NBA.

A Van Excellent Ending

Before Derek Fisher’s heroic .4 game-winner in 2004 against the Spurs, Nick Van Exel performed magic of his own in the playoffs at the Alamodome. He hit a running three-pointer to beat the Spurs in overtime of Game 5 of the 1995 Western Conference Semi-Finals. The underdog Lakers were later eliminated by MVP David Robinson’s team after upsetting Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp’s Seattle SuperSonics in four games.

Closing Out The Garden

Although he never had a chance to face them in the NBA Finals, Van Exel does have a page in Lakers vs. Celtics history. He made an improbable game-winning  corner three-point shot in the final Lakers game played in Boston Garden on January 20th, 1995.

 

This Generation Got Next

NFL great Jim Brown excoriated Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers in a 2013 interview where he said Bryant was “confused about African-American culture,” and explicitly stated he would not be a part of a current roundtable discussion with Black athletes:

“In the days when we had a summit and we called the top black athletes together to talk to Muhammad Ali about his status with the armed forces, there were some athletes we didn’t call. If I had to call that summit all over, there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”

Ten years earlier, Kobe Bryant accepted a Teen Choice Award for Favorite Male Sports Figure. During the speech, Bryant said “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Fox television network omitted Bryant’s speech from its broadcast.

Kobe Bryant’s statement about injustice went ignored. Instead of earning credibility with the elders, his gleaning from Dr. King was viewed as an act of disrespect.

Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Kobe Bryant spoke at a peace walk in his honor at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California. The move caught the media off-guard because Bryant’s people did not inform them that he’d be in attendance.

“Players such as myself and others who have the platform, our responsibility is more than putting the ball in the basket but helping them have the platform to tell their story,” said Bryant, referring to Trayvon Martin’s parents.

When former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks were exposed, Bryant was one of the first NBA superstars to call for his ousting.

After a grand jury acquitted Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teenager Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant swiftly took to Twitter:

Bryant didn’t call for peace. He used his pulpit to shed much needed light on the current state of systematic lynching.

NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving have worn “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts over their uniforms before recent games in response to a grand jury not indicting officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death. Los Angeles Dodger owner Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson praised James taking a stand while risking business relationships with corporate sponsorships.

To Mr. Brown: Have Kobe Bryant’s actions earned him a seat at the summit? What makes his words about injustice any less valid than Muhammad Ali’s? Will the elders finally accept that the younger generation gets it?

Whether it be blacking out profile pictures on social-media, or voicing opinions that others may find controversial , today’s athletes are showing that they posses the consciousness and courage to bring about change.

Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo have Breakfast of Champions

NBA All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo met for breakfast  as the Los Angeles Lakers were in town to face the Boston Celtics. The two had apparently planned for months to get together.

But what type of ‘get together’ have they been coordinating? Were the two discussing a possible trade scenario that would align them in the back-court? Bryant would welcome such a merger.

“What guard have you seen at his size that will get you 18 assists, 17 boards and 20 points all in one game? That’s unheard of. I love that kid. I always make a point of talking to him during All-Star Weekend. He’s one of my favorites,” said Bryant to ESPN.

The Lakers could conceivably trade for Rondo. They own Houston’s first-round pick and could include Steve Nash and his $9.7 million expiring contract. The Lakers are reluctant to relinquish another first-round pick which ultimately makes the deal unlikely.

The Lakers current point guard Jeremy Lin is coming off a 0 point, 0-10 shooting game. An upgrade in production at that position is needed if the Lakers want to become competitive in the guard dominant Western Conference.

It’s not uncommon for Lakers and Celtics to fellowship during the season. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell would stay at each others homes at the peak of their rivalry.

Bryant also had a private dinner in Beverly Hills this past summer with Michael Jordan. Not only is his game in a class of its own but so is his hobnobbing.

 

 

 

Kobe Bryant still building legacy brick-by-brick

The case against Kobe Bryant officially began with a set of missed field-goal attempts.

The Lakers were eliminated in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals when Bryant shot an air-ball at the end of regulation, followed by another that would have tied the game in the extra period. He was comforted by his  teammate Shaquille O’Neal who encouraged him to keep shooting the ball. It was advice that would ironically contribute to their division years later.

Kobe Bryant hasn’t stopped shooting. He became the NBA’s all-time leader in missed field-goals during the Lakers 102-107 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. As infamous as it sounds, being known as the player who has missed the most shots means you have been around long enough to take them.
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion that Kobe Bryant would miss the most shots in NBA history. He had a mere 176 attempts during the regular season of his rookie year. To put it in perspective, fellow 96 draft class rookie Antoine Walker hoisted away 1,354 attempts for the Boston Celtics. It took Bryant two seasons and change to become the starting shooting-guard for the Lakers after Eddie Jones was traded to the Charlotte Hornets during the 1999 lockout season.

Kobe has been consistently good for so long that the evolution of his game is taken for granted. Unlike LeBron James, Bryant wasn’t given the green-light as a rookie. He even endured DNP’s under coach Del Harris when he was known as “Showtime” because of his flashy play in practice. But Bryant still had to earn minutes behind Eddie Jones and current Head Coach Byron Scott.

And he kept shooting.

He quickly earned the reputation as an introvert by choosing not to be a part of the Hollywood club scene with known playboys like Shaq and Rick Fox. His competitive nature and aggressiveness got around the league quickly, and the elder statesman started laying the wood as a right of passage. It all culminated with a fight with Chris Childs against the New York Knicks during the Lakers 2000 championship run. The nationally televised game between the two most popular teams in the NBA was the graduation of Kobe Bryant into superstar status.

His longevity has masked the fact that he’s played in seven seasons of 70 games or less. It took him five years before he completed an 80 game NBA season.

Bryant hasn’t ceased firing away, continuing to add bricks to the foundation he’s set. He has the chance to join Michael Jordan as the only players to lead the league in scoring at 36-years old. He has displayed that athleticism is still very much a part of his game, and although they won’t admit it, many analyst privately expressed that Bryant would no longer be an all-star after the layoff.

Kobe said he would rather go 0-30 instead of 0-9. He’s missed the most shots because he’s had the drive to make the most.

 

Clippers have team meeting, but Doc Rivers isn’t impressed

The Clippers held a players-only meeting after suffering a 121-104 defeat to the Golden State Warriors. Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said in practice today that the meeting of the minds was beneficial.

“It helped guys clear the air,” said Crawford. “I think the main point was just to get on the same page, everybody needs to be playing on the same page. The important thing is we understand that you have to go through the process.”

But Head Coach Doc Rivers doesn’t believe in such group sessions.

“I’m not fan of team meetings,” admitted Rivers. “When I hear about some team having a team meeting I’m like I want to play those guys.”

The Way They Were

The Clippers may have many of the same players that got them to the Western Conference semifinals, but Rivers contends this isn’t the same team.

“We deal with people, not X’s and O’s,” he explained. “The names might be the same, but this isn’t the same team I had last year.”

No Rest Down The Stretch

When asked if he would mirror San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s style of resting his star players during certain parts of the season, Doc Rivers said he’d been there and done that.

“If you remember we did that in Boston in 2012,” recalled Rivers. “I used the last month of the season to have a second training-camp. We had two and a half hour practices, and we sacrificed a lot games down the stretch because of it.”

The Celtics had home-court advantage on the line in the final game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks who they were to face in the first-round. Rivers rested his starters and ceded home-court to the Hawks. The move proved to be brilliant in the end with the rested aging Celtics winning the series 4-2.

“We played Atlanta the last game of the season and could have had home-court advantage, but we rested our starters and said just let them have it,” added Rivers. It was a gamble but it paid off in the end. I obviously won’t be able to do that with this team.”

 

Former Laker Says Kobe Put The Smack Down And Racks Up

Tony Gaffney may have only spent the 2009-2010 pre-season with the Lakers, but his short time there included some epic rookie hazing.

“There was no difference with the Lakers except no matter how early I showed up for practice, it wasn’t early enough: Kobe was on the court with three trainers doused in sweat,” Gaffney said.

He played at the University of Massachusetts prior to stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics before heading overseas. But it was his time spent with Kobe Bryant that will ultimately be the defining moment of his career.

The Lakers had just come off winning an NBA title and the first guy Kobe sees in the gym is myself,” Gaffney said. “He said, ‘Who the hell is this?’” Former Lakers teammate Lamar Odom followed up by telling Gaffney, “Kobe doesn’t like mother****ers like you.”

Bryant learned about Gaffney’s reputation coming out of college as a defensive stopper, leading him to seek on-court confirmation.

“We’re gonna start playing one-on-one,” Bryant told Gaffney. “I heard you’re a defensive lockdown player. So, lock me down.”

“Obviously easier said than done,” claimed Gaffney . “But for about three weeks in a row, I was forced to show up hours before practice to play one-on-one against Kobe. “Oh, and I never got to play offense,” Gaffney said.”

Much to the chagrin of many, Bryant received a lucrative two-year, $48.5-million contract extension this past season. But his actions at a rookie initiation party at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas may indicate he’s receiving a return for paying it forward.

L.A. made it clear that I made the team. I was the last player cut at morning shootaround on opening night against the Clippers,” said Gaffney . “I walked into the high-stakes room, but I didn’t have any money. I then saw Kobe, he was watching some guys throw some money around before he turns to me and says, ‘What are you doing here, rook?

“Next thing I know, Kobe throws his black card on the table and hands me 10 stacks ($10,000). What I really wanted to do at the time was just put it in my pocket and run. Sure enough, an hour later it was all gone.”