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Old 09-30-2009, 10:18 AM   #1
SoCalMike
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Default Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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The Lakers arrived at their annual media day in much better shape than a year ago, when a humbling NBA Finals loss to Boston left them unsure of themselves, much less their future.

There were no such issues Tuesday, with smiles in plentiful supply and the word "excited" used as often as it could in a two-hour session.

The Lakers hadn't congregated since their championship parade snaked its way from Staples Center to the Coliseum, where their season-long efforts were rewarded with an ear-splitting ovation at a packed stadium.

To a man, they seemed happy to be back, which wasn't surprising: They're favored to win another championship, despite what Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio and Orlando did during the off-season.

The one minor glitch Tuesday -- Kobe Bryant still hasn't signed a contract extension -- wasn't a central issue, even though Bryant declined to answer questions about it.

Informal negotiations have already begun, and the Lakers are secure in their belief that a new deal will be signed. For now, Bryant is under contract this season for $23 million and next season for $24.8 million. He can become a free agent by opting out next July, an unlikely possibility because of the expected success of the Lakers and the unpredictable NBA economic climate, where there might not be enough palatable offers for a player scheduled to earn as much as Bryant in the 2010-11 season.

At any rate, Bryant was beaming as he moved from station to station Tuesday at the team training facility, giving radio interviews, posing for photos and looking into TV cameras as he read public-service announcements. He even donned a giant blue foam finger at one point and exclaimed, "Let's go Dodgers."

The Finals MVP also smiled as he shared a private word with Ron Artest in a photo op where they were supposed to look tough.

It will be interesting to see how they co-exist on the court after a couple of in-your-face encounters in last season's playoffs, though Artest wore a Bryant jersey at a recent promotional event and Tuesday seemed to revel in the concept of being part of the Lakers.

"None of them know how hungry I am," Artest said. "It's about time to get to business."

As usual, there were revelations on media day, starting with the fact that center Andrew Bynum probably would wear knee braces the rest of his career, mainly as a precaution. He sustained a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee last season and a briefly dislocated left knee in January 2008.

The right knee cost him 32 games last season, though Bynum said he was 100% healthy, that the ligament had healed after a summer of rest and rehabilitation. "I've got to wear a brace, though, for the rest of the time I play. That's the only bad news," he said. "The good news is it's all fine, no pain. It's just protection."

Bynum, who will be 22 next month, spent part of his off-season traveling through Japan, China, Italy and Spain.

He also spent about six weeks in Atlanta, working out with a personal trainer. He added strength to his legs during a regimen that concentrated on his quadriceps, hamstrings and "glutes," as he put it.

Bryant, for his part, took a solid two-month break from basketball, his first summer in years without Team USA obligations. He made several appearances throughout China and Asia as part of a Nike commitment, and he went to France with his family.

"All I did was get healthier," he said.

Bryant turned 31 last month and will soon begin his 14th NBA season with what he said were "rejuvenated" legs.

While Bryant rested, Pau Gasol, a third-team All-NBA selection last season, took part in a victorious but time-consuming tour with Spain's national team, which won the European championship.

Gasol suffered a broken index finger on his left hand while playing overseas but went on to be the most valuable player of the European tournament and will not miss any time with the Lakers.

"I'm excited, I'm really motivated. I'm not too tired," he said. "It's a lot of basketball, absolutely, but I think that my passion for the game and also me working on my body and trying to get my breaks here and there. . . . I hope that my body continues to hold up and continues to perform the way it's been performing."

Sasha Vujacic, who sustained a minor knee injury while playing an exhibition game with the Slovenian national team, also was expected to take part in training camp. Practice began Tuesday night and two-a-days were scheduled to begin today.

Among the other story lines at media day was the mildly impatient Lamar Odom, who married reality-TV star Khloe Kardashian on Sunday, had a publicist tell reporters he wouldn't talk about it Tuesday and then walked away after realizing reporters only wanted to talk about it. He later met up with a smaller group of media to answer basketball-related questions.

Above all, there was talk of a repeat championship feat.

"We're going to be ready to go," Bryant said. "We understand the challenge of winning another [championship]. I'm just going to do what I did last year. I just feel like I'm healthier and stronger."





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Old 09-30-2009, 12:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

tough tough road to repeat... ask the spurs..lol

we have been spolied because the lakers seem to pull it off once they get rolling but when you look at the number of teams that repeat titles you see it's not a bet with high odds in our teams favor
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

I'm concerned about Pau. "I'm not too tired." So he is tired, at least a little. Hmm...
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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I'm concerned about Pau. "I'm not too tired." So he is tired, at least a little. Hmm...

that's exactly my reaction when I read it. Im not expert, I just wish Phil and his assistants would find ways to rest him, allow him to heal etc.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by gts
tough tough road to repeat... ask the spurs..lol

we have been spolied because the lakers seem to pull it off once they get rolling but when you look at the number of teams that repeat titles you see it's not a bet with high odds in our teams favor

I always felt the Spurs didn't repeat bec. of Duncan's nagging injuries. I would not be surprised if Phil allows his team to coast to make sure they are as healthy as can be by April.
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by gts
tough tough road to repeat... ask the spurs..lol

we have been spolied because the lakers seem to pull it off once they get rolling but when you look at the number of teams that repeat titles you see it's not a bet with high odds in our teams favor

If anybody knows how to get a team ready to repeat It's Phil.
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by gts
tough tough road to repeat... ask the spurs..lol

we have been spolied because the lakers seem to pull it off once they get rolling but when you look at the number of teams that repeat titles you see it's not a bet with high odds in our teams favor

Well, I don't think it is too far fetched to predict a Laker repeat. It doesn't happen too often where a team improves after winning a championship. With the acquisition of Artest, Lakers may be a better team than they were before.. assuming that Artest does not break the chemistry. We may have one of the most stacked teams this decade. Perhaps could be up there with other stacked teams from the past - Lakers 80's, Celtics 80's, Bulls 90's, etc (not saying at all that we are better than those teams, but I do believe that our Lakers of today can hold their own against any of those past teams). I know that does not say much, but at least we know for sure that we do not lack skill at all and we definitely do not lack experience. We also know from last year that when the Lakers are at their best, they are as good (if not better) as any NBA team out there.

It will all come down to 2 things: the want/desire and health. Health is always a given, but desire is up there too alongside health. If the Lakers care enough and work their asses off like they did after the Celtics finals loss, there is little that stands in the way of a repeat.
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

repeating isn't unfamiliar territory to the 2 most important veterans on the team, Kobe and Derek.

Those guys as well as the greatest coach ever to coach the game will know how to keep this team focused.
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Old 10-01-2009, 12:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by bladefd
Well, I don't think it is too far fetched to predict a Laker repeat. It doesn't happen too often where a team improves after winning a championship. With the acquisition of Artest, Lakers may be a better team than they were before.. assuming that Artest does not break the chemistry. We may have one of the most stacked teams this decade. Perhaps could be up there with other stacked teams from the past - Lakers 80's, Celtics 80's, Bulls 90's, etc (not saying at all that we are better than those teams, but I do believe that our Lakers of today can hold their own against any of those past teams). I know that does not say much, but at least we know for sure that we do not lack skill at all and we definitely do not lack experience. We also know from last year that when the Lakers are at their best, they are as good (if not better) as any NBA team out there.

It will all come down to 2 things: the want/desire and health. Health is always a given, but desire is up there too alongside health. If the Lakers care enough and work their asses off like they did after the Celtics finals loss, there is little that stands in the way of a repeat.


it's a tough thing to do... want and desire are great to have but they don't win titles alone... otherwise everyone would get a ring sooner or later. like you said health is a given, that's always a caveat on a winning season

socal says it all the time teamwork wins titles...
teamwork team-work and more team work..i'll add it also takes a big dose of luck, some inner grit to get through the dog days of the season

with those things in mind i'll say the lakers are not a better team then last year, they got talent in artest but lost team chemistry with ariza going to the rockets, we lost a really great team player.

in fact in ariza's place they knowingly introduced a player that has a long history of being a problem child. of being anything but a team player, we watched him single handily take the rockets out of the playoffs and possibly one of the biggest playoff upsets in years when we faced them...

people say phil will keep him in line, that's not what phil does, its not his thing, if he kept players in line the whole shaq kobe probelm would have never got where it did. phil plays minds games he pits player against player, it's up to the players to respond, sometimes they do sometime they don't... the problem is not finding someone that will keep artest in line, (there's enough egos on this team to hold a summit...lol)

the problem is that somebody will have to keep him in line, that alone is a distraction. can artest keep his nose clean, i hope so and i think so for awhile but i'm not going to be surprised or sad should the wheels come off his wagon again, lakers are taking a huge gamble, just like they did when they brought in peyton and malone, sometimes a team has to do that (gamble), i don't think they had to this time but they did and we'll have to live with it...lol

add they did nothing to bolster a so-so at best bench (other than odom, who people are already questioning his commitment to the season due to his oddly timed wedding)

then lost a top level asst coach that the players loved

this season will be entertaining but it's not a gimme, it's going to be harder than last year to even win the conference title, there's alot of good teams in the west each of them will be gunning for the lakers
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Old 10-01-2009, 02:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by gts
it's a tough thing to do... want and desire are great to have but they don't win titles alone... otherwise everyone would get a ring sooner or later. like you said health is a given, that's always a caveat on a winning season

socal says it all the time teamwork wins titles...
teamwork team-work and more team work..i'll add it also takes a big dose of luck, some inner grit to get through the dog days of the season

with those things in mind i'll say the lakers are not a better team then last year, they got talent in artest but lost team chemistry with ariza going to the rockets, we lost a really great team player.

in fact in ariza's place they knowingly introduced a player that has a long history of being a problem child. of being anything but a team player, we watched him single handily take the rockets out of the playoffs and possibly one of the biggest playoff upsets in years when we faced them...

people say phil will keep him in line, that's not what phil does, its not his thing, if he kept players in line the whole shaq kobe probelm would have never got where it did. phil plays minds games he pits player against player, it's up to the players to respond, sometimes they do sometime they don't... the problem is not finding someone that will keep artest in line, (there's enough egos on this team to hold a summit...lol)

the problem is that somebody will have to keep him in line, that alone is a distraction. can artest keep his nose clean, i hope so and i think so for awhile but i'm not going to be surprised or sad should the wheels come off his wagon again, lakers are taking a huge gamble, just like they did when they brought in peyton and malone, sometimes a team has to do that (gamble), i don't think they had to this time but they did and we'll have to live with it...lol

add they did nothing to bolster a so-so at best bench (other than odom, who people are already questioning his commitment to the season due to his oddly timed wedding)

then lost a top level asst coach that the players loved

this season will be entertaining but it's not a gimme, it's going to be harder than last year to even win the conference title, there's alot of good teams in the west each of them will be gunning for the lakers

All great points esp the underlined sentence. I think I mentioned this in your expectations vs reality thread. I really think losing "Kurt will Hurt" too. Im very intrigued if they will stick to those "overload" defensive formations now that he's gone esp with Fisher being back. On the positive side, the lineup is pretty much intact, so there should be less learning curve=less mistakes.
We are also counting on the growth and development of Shannon Brown and ofcourse Bynum. That should negate somewhat the negatives IMO.
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:52 PM   #11
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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All great points esp the underlined sentence. I think I mentioned this in your expectations vs reality thread. I really think losing "Kurt will Hurt" too. Im very intrigued if they will stick to those "overload" defensive formations now that he's gone esp with Fisher being back. On the positive side, the lineup is pretty much intact, so there should be less learning curve=less mistakes.
We are also counting on the growth and development of Shannon Brown and ofcourse Bynum. That should negate somewhat the negatives IMO.
brown yes, i'm excited to see how he responds with a full training camp under his belt.. bynum, anything he can contribute is a bonus, it's more than clear after last year they don't need him to contribute alot... i'd like to see him just learn to stay out of foul trouble..lol
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:12 PM   #12
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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Originally Posted by bladefd
Well, I don't think it is too far fetched to predict a Laker repeat. It doesn't happen too often where a team improves after winning a championship. With the acquisition of Artest, Lakers may be a better team than they were before.. assuming that Artest does not break the chemistry. We may have one of the most stacked teams this decade. Perhaps could be up there with other stacked teams from the past - Lakers 80's, Celtics 80's, Bulls 90's, etc (not saying at all that we are better than those teams, but I do believe that our Lakers of today can hold their own against any of those past teams). I know that does not say much, but at least we know for sure that we do not lack skill at all and we definitely do not lack experience. We also know from last year that when the Lakers are at their best, they are as good (if not better) as any NBA team out there.

It will all come down to 2 things: the want/desire and health. Health is always a given, but desire is up there too alongside health. If the Lakers care enough and work their asses off like they did after the Celtics finals loss, there is little that stands in the way of a repeat.

^^^^^ Thank You!!!! Too many people on here are worriers.....our Lakers are WARRIORS!!!!!
We easily have the best team...., Pau is now even stronger, Bynum is healthier, Kobe is more rested, Brown is here early and we upgraded with Artest....add to that Sasha and Farmar couldn't play any worse than they did last year. Health & Desire = Back to Back!!!!!!

It DOES say alot that we are so stacked that we could match up with the great teams of other decades.....those teams were truly amazing!!!!
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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with those things in mind i'll say the lakers are not a better team then last year, they got talent in artest but lost team chemistry with ariza going to the rockets, we lost a really great team player.

We don't know if the team lost chemistry until we see the team play. All signs point to Artest fitting in nicely thus far but we won't really know until we see them start the season. As of right now L.A are a better team on paper...it remains to be seen how much better this team will be.

Quote:
in fact in ariza's place they knowingly introduced a player that has a long history of being a problem child. of being anything but a team player, we watched him single handily take the rockets out of the playoffs and possibly one of the biggest playoff upsets in years when we faced them...

Very harsh

Artest had his faults in the series last year but he also had a few big performances...game 1 for example that saw Rockets steal homecourt. Artest was in a position where he had to be the go to guy with Yao out...he was the best scorer on the permeter for them to go to. Artest is certainly not suited to that role but he had to play it.

Artest made a big difference to that Houston team in helping them finally get to the 2nd round in the T-mac era. Say what you want about Ron but he is a GREAT team-mate ask everybody he has played with. Abit crazy yes? but he is always been a great team-mate. I honestly don't see any chemistry problems in that sense.
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

i've always thought that a champion hoping to repeat needs to get better. had we kept ariza, i dont think we would have took the next step... unless bynum had exploded, which would have put a lot of pressure on the big guy. with artest, we instantly get tougher. we're not necessarily better, but i don't see how we're worse. we don't have to rely on artest, walton odom or even sliding kobe to the three will be just fine if artest loses his mind.

am i the only one who thinks we got the luck of the draw when we played orlando last year? two finesse teams, with the lakers holding the upper hand. i have no idea what would have happened had we played the celtics (healthy) or cavaliers.
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: Article: LA Times - Lakers excited about title defense

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i've always thought that a champion hoping to repeat needs to get better. had we kept ariza, i dont think we would have took the next step... unless bynum had exploded, which would have put a lot of pressure on the big guy. with artest, we instantly get tougher. we're not necessarily better, but i don't see how we're worse. we don't have to rely on artest, walton odom or even sliding kobe to the three will be just fine if artest loses his mind.

am i the only one who thinks we got the luck of the draw when we played orlando last year? two finesse teams, with the lakers holding the upper hand. i have no idea what would have happened had we played the celtics (healthy) or cavaliers.

We would of destroyed the Cavs worse than the Magic. L.A were a nightmare match-up for the Cavs.

Boston would of been tougher no doubt if KG was healthy but they still lacked the depth and big bodies to give L.A the problems they did in 08. However you can't look back and say what if...L.A won the title and beat the best in the east to do it. Which Orlando were.
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