Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

Can Kobe Bryant get born again?

The Los Angeles Lakers need deliverance. They must exorcise the demons of the past three seasons in order to receive restoration. Much of that depends on the return of Kobe Bryant for his 20th NBA season.

Bryant set down with Ahmad Rashad for an exclusive interview and discussed his killer instinct, and the desire to return to glory. He cited the San Antonio Spurs success, and said he wants his career to mimic their rebirth to championship form.

So can Kobe get born again? We discuss this in the latest chapter of P.A.G.E. 24.

 

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.

 

Kobe Bryant, Lakers Sell Magic Beans

When he isn’t dishing out punishment in practice, Kobe Bryant is handing out assists for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Having grown weary of the spotty play of point guard Jeremy Lin, Head Coach Byron Scott has used Bryant as the primary ball handler in the back-court along with Nick Young. It has been an early success with the Lakers picking up consecutive victories against the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

Bryant has played facilitator before in his career in Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. The Triangle didn’t require a traditional point guard, but an “initiator” who could start the offense. After the conclusion of the Shaquille O’Neal era, Bryant became the Apex of the offense where plays would go through him that setup shots for others.

Nick Young scored 29 points in the Lakers’ 112-110 overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Kobe Bryant finished with nine assists and is only nine points away from replacing Michale Jordan for number three on the NBA’s All-Time Scorers list.

Continuing A Historic Season

He became the all-time leader in missed field-goals, the only player to score over 30,000 points with 6,000 assists, and is eight points away from tying Michael Jordan in career points. Now Kobe Bryant is about to add a defensive accomplishment to the list.

Bryant is tied with James Worthy for sixth on the Lakers’ career blocks list with 624, and needs five blocks to pass Andrew Bynum for fifth all-time.  Ahead of Bynum is Vlade Divac (834), Elden Campbell (1022) Shaquille O’Neal (1278), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2694).

 

 

 

Pau Gasol Off And Running With The Bulls

Pau Gasol did o.k. in his debut with the Chicago Bulls. He tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds in a victory over the New York Knicks.

No wonder Carmelo Anthony tried to get him to join the Bockers. Melo went 5-13 in his Triangle Offense debut, but his team suffered a 104-80 shellacking.

Contenders like the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs made desperate attempts to convince Gasol to sign for less money as the final piece of their championship puzzles. The Bulls were ultimately the team that impressed Gasol enough to accept a less lucrative contract than the Los Angeles Lakers offered.

With the return of Derrick Rose, along with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson in the front-court, Pau Gasol may have again landed in the right place at the right time.





Bowen Says Kobe Didn’t Settle For Less Like Vince, T-Mac

In a recent interview with Slam Magazine, 5x NBA All-Defensive Team member Bruce Bowen discussed who he enjoyed battling the most on the defensive end. He revealed that at times Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady were top competitors, but believed they lacked the desire of Kobe Bryant.

The “Who is better, Biggie, Jay-Z, or Nas” discussions are popular in hip-hop culture, and equivalent to “Kobe, Vince, or T-Mac” in the post Michael Jordan era of basketball.

Many have deemed the San Antonio Spurs as the class of the NBA. If this is true, then one must take seriously the words and opinions of their defensive stalwart.

Championships, wins, personal accolades, and statistics are most often used to determine separation between players. But what could be more credible than a report from the players themselves?

Maybe it’s his 1-3 playoff record against him, but Bruce Bowen obviously believes the desire of Kobe Bryant is something that separates him from his contemporaries.

“Tracy might have been one of the most talented but he’d settle. He wouldn’t necessarily bring it the whole time. Vince, if he was more competitive, if he had the desire of Kobe, he could have been one of the all-time greats. But…he settled to a point where you accomplish a few things and that’s that. – Bruce Bowen

 

Rodman Clarifies Rumor About ISIL Visit

NBA Hall of Fame Power Forward Dennis Rodman denied a story that claimed he was headed to the Middle East to visit with ISIL leaders.