Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Lakers’

kobe bryant 2016

Yes, the world knows at this point that Kobe Bean Bryant is only a shell of the player that he once was, but before you scoff at the headline that I’ve created, let it marinate for a moment. You’ll then understand where I’m coming from. Allow me to briefly hit you with a little NBA history before you totally write me off.

What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1989, Magic Johnson in 1992, & Michael Jordan in 2003 all have in common? They were all named NBA All-Stars despite the fact that they were either: a) nowhere near the players they were previously, or b) were on their way to retiring (like Kareem and MJ). In Magic’s case, he had already announced his retirement in November of ’91, but was named an All-Star that same season regardless.

If the NBA lives up to its word of honoring its legends, then Kobe should be a lock for the 2016 All-Star Game. Imagine a starting Western Conference backcourt of Steph Curry and Bryant, and you can be sure that the players on that West squad will do their due diligence to see to it that Kobe is in prime position to secure what would be his fifth and final All-Star Game MVP. What a way to leave the game in an honorable way.

Until we get a chance to see Kobe participate in his final All-Star Weekend as a player in 2016, enjoy these memorable Kobe Bryant All-Star highlights throughout his career.

Mitch Richmond is one of the greatest shooting guards--and overall scorers--who ever graced the hardwood.

Mitch Richmond is one of the greatest shooting guards–and overall scorers–who ever graced the hardwood.

One of my first memories of Mitch Richmond was during my middle school years. Like many young American teenagers, I was a video game fanatic who also happened to fall in love with the game of basketball in 1995 as a 12-year-old. Fast forward a year later, and “NBA Live ’97” was released on all of those classic 16-bit gaming consoles that many of us grew to love back in the ’90s. At the time, I was very aware of the Shaqs, Jordans, and Barkleys of the basketball world, but I had no clue who this guy wearing the number 2 with a Sacramento Kings jersey on the cover of “Live ’97” was. To be totally honest, as a young kid growing up in Georgia, I didn’t even know who the Sacramento Kings were, for that matter. To make things even worse for Mr. Richmond’s case, his Kings teams of the 90s weren’t exactly making weekly appearances on NBC to bask in the warmth of the national television spotlight either.

Despite everything that you’ve just read, there’s glory to Mitch Richmond’s story. Drafted 5th overall in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, he was nicknamed “The Rock” because of his overwhelming strength as a guard. He also represented one-third of the Warriors’ famed trio nicknamed “Run-TMC”, which comprised of Tim Hardaway (father of the Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr., for all of you youngsters), Mitch, and Chris Mullin. Although he could resort to a more physically aggressive style of play, he would cement his legacy as a player with his deadly accuracy from the perimeter, shooting nearly 40% from beyond the 3-point arc.

To me, Mitch Richmond was one of the greatest shooting guards in the 90’s not named Jordan. Since we’re going to take it there, most people are quick to reference Reggie Miller, Clyde Drexler, or Joe Dumars as the premier two-guards during that era, and they’d have a very legitimate argument, mostly because of their respective teams’ success….but Richmond gave the same output that his NBA contemporaries would, but received far less accolades, perhaps due to his time in Sacramento. One of my favorite Mitch Richmond moments would have to be him winning his first and only NBA championship in 2002 as a Laker, which was in my eyes, the crowning achievement to a brilliant career for him.

Fast forward to August 2014, and Richmond gets inducted into the Basketball Hall 0f Fame. After years of flying under the radar despite his basketball brilliance, his induction gives his career the validation that was needed to secure his place in the company of basketball greats.

 

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers' 25th head coach on Monday.

Head Coach Byron Scott was named the Lakers’ 25th head coach on Monday.

I have something to admit.   I’m a die hard Laker fan, and I have been ever since 2001 when I witnessed Kobe Bryant’s Hall-of Fame caliber performance against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals that year. You’re probably thinking that my journalistic integrity will be in question after confessing my basketball allegiance, but as the theme of this blog goes, I vow to deliver consistent and quality posts on all things basketball to eventually make many of you forget what my favorite NBA franchise (unless you’re a faithful reader/follower of All Things Hoops, or…you’re just stalking my page) happens to be. So, you can imagine how I felt whenever I received the news that Byron Scott–one of the high flying tough-as-nails guards of the “Showtime Lakers” championship run throughout the 1980s–will return to the franchise in a slightly different capacity, this time as a head coach of the Lake Show. The 2008 NBA Coach of the Year and L.A. native son will bring his no-nonsense approach to the game of basketball and look to infuse this ideology into his players. All nostalgic references to the side, Coach Scott has inherited his old team as a coach during an interesting time for the Lakers franchise. This Laker team has none of the legendary luster that his Showtime Lakers exuded. Hell, with the exception of Kobe Bryant, this Laker team doesn’t even remotely resemble the post-Shaq Laker squads that won back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 & 2010. However, with the addition of veteran power forward Carlos Boozer and scrappy point guard Jeremy Lin along with the Lakers’ #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (#7 overall) Julius Randle Byron Scott has a nucleus of players that he can work with to make this team a playoff contender at the very least. The addition of Byron Scott as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers gives the franchise a much-need shot in the arm. If you root for this team as I do, then you will too, especially after witnessing the past several seasons that don’t measure up to the standards of this franchise. Since my fellow members of Laker Nation can’t quite see Byron Scott in action as a coach yet, let’s kick back and witness highlights of his heyday as a player for the Lakers.

The very concept of free agency in the NBA would not have been possible if it weren't for Oscar Robertson.

The very concept of free agency in the NBA would not have been possible if it weren’t for Oscar Robertson.

LeBron. Carmelo. Pau. These are some of the names of this year’s current crop of free agents who have decided to test the markets and use their marketability as legit stars to leverage their futures with a new team, or the team that they’re currently with. However, while we as fans debate and ponder on what team that our favorite free agents will sign with, this entire process wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for NBA hall-of-famer Oscar “The Big O” Robertson.

Robertson, a player whom LeBron James is often compared to for his ability to be both a game changing playmaker and a dominant, yet efficient scorer, filed a lawsuit against the NBA in 1970 that expressed the right for a player to not be bound to any team for the remainder of their career. Although Robertson retired as a player in 1974, he remained the president of the NBA Players Association when the settlement was reached that allowed players to become free agents.

Although we take such a thing for granted today, Robertson’s decision to take a bold stand in the face of the NBA was a groundbreaking one, and numerous players have benefited from the 1976 settlement. Just imagine, if it weren’t for Robertson, we wouldn’t have seen Shaq leave the Orlando Magic to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of ’96. We wouldn’t have been able to sit back and watch then up-and-coming young star Tracy McGrady leave the Toronto Raptors to sign with the Magic in the summer of 2000. We certainly wouldn’t have witnessed “The Decision” (no explanation needed there) in 2010.

No matter what team that high profile free agents such as Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, and the Big Three in Miami decide to sign with, just remember there was a time when it wouldn’t have been possible for them to have the OPTION to leave. If another player hasn’t given you their respect by paying tribute to your brave efforts to buck the system as it was established back in the ’70s, then I, on behalf of the fans and other non-NBA players want to say thanks. You’re a legend in more ways than one.