Currently, the Lakers are in possession of the Western Conference's eighth seed by one game over the Utah Jazz.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: If the Lakers don't make it, they have at least five legitimate reasons why they failed.
Firing of Mike Brown, Hiring of Mike D'Antoni, Not Hiring Phil Jackson
After five games, the Lakers brass fired Mike Brown. But before he got fired, they forced him to employ the "Princeton Offense," an offense that never got properly instituted because of injuries to nearly every key player in the preseason. Brown was out, but who would replace him? For several days, Phil Jackson was going to be re-hired, it looked like a foregone conclusion. But under the cover of night, late on a Sunday evening, the Lakers announced they would hire D'Antoni instead. As the season has now almost completely played itself out, they couldn't have been any worse if they would've just retained Bernie Bickerstaff for the entire season, who won four of his five games as head coach.
Every significant player on the team was injured at some point this season. Steve Nash, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol- and those are just the starters. The bench was equally ravaged. Robert Sacre, Devin Ebanks, Jordan Hill, Steve Blake; and that's the short list. No wonder they haven't had any chemistry all year.
Lack Of Pau Gasol
Gasol's head wasn't right all season. And yours wouldn't have been either if your name was Pau Gasol. No one has taken more of a beating for being "soft". But if he was soft, Gasol wouldn't have two rings and a slew of all-star appearances. So what does he get for his trouble? He gets benched for Earl Clark by D'Antoni, who was trying to assert his power to "motivate" Gasol. That was a "bass-akward" thing to do. To make it worse, D'Antoni did it when the Lakers rotation was being held together with duct tape. If he was healthy, the Lakers should've squeezed every last second out of him.
Where Was "Ron Ron" All Year?
I get that "Ron Ron" has decided to completely give up on scoring. I get that he fancies himself a lockdown one on one defender. But for a guy who has scored over 20+ ppg in his career, for him to not be more involved offensively (and I don't mean hoisting up three's from the corner, which has become his signature offensive move), I mean getting involved and productive when the team needed him. He didn't, so Kobe had to carry the squad, and still is, like always.
Dwight Howard Saga
I don't care what Howard's numbers are, or if Andrew Bynum missed the entire season- Howard killed the Lakers with his endless, me first drama. It started before he got traded to LA, then continued once he arrived because of "injuries" and a bunch of other excuses. Dwight Howard is a drama queen and softer than Pau Gasol- FACT.
Cavs star Kyrie Irving will be sidelined for a month; while Pau Gasol's return could be right around the corner.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: The Lakers are in good position to make a playoff run; the Cavs probably wouldn't have made the postseason with Irving; they are definitely out now.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Phil Jackson opened up about everything from the game of basketball, his favorite tv shows, his future, and the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: When the Zenmaster speaks, people listen.
Jackson has been relatively quiet with the media since Jim Buss and the organization made the decision to pass on him and hire Mike D'Antoni as their new head coach. But he had a lot to say to SI's Jack McCallum earlier this week, including; addressing what the Lakers have been doing wrong with superstar big man Dwight Howard.
"They don't put the ball in the post," Jackson said. "They'll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there's no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight just doesn't get any touches. They've basically eliminated his assets."
But as much as Jackson admitted that the Lakers have been under-utilizing Howard, he also mentioned that Dwight hasn't fully recovered from his back injury and needs to improve in certain areas on his own.
"He is not where he needs to be physically because of the back surgery," the Zenmaster said of Howard. "He needs a year to recover from something like that ... He's a terrific athlete ... but his problem right now is turnovers. He's got to have a little better recognition, and that will help him gain the confidence of his teammates and coach, which he does not have now."
I'm sure Mike D'Antoni shook his head a little bit reading those words.
Jackson, who has 11 championship rings as a coach and two as a player, wasn't just critical of the purple and gold in the interview. When asked whether the Lakers have been improving, Jackson sounded hopeful saying, "Yes, I think they are finding a way to play. And that's nice to see."
McCallum's interview with Jackson was very well done as he asked the Hall of Famer a lot of things many of us have been waiting to hear. Jackson told SI that he enjoys watching sports on TV, even rugby (which he watched last weekend), and that Homeland is something he watches with fiance Jeannie Buss, daughter of the late Lakers owner Jim Buss, who passed away on Monday. (Due to the fact that the interview was conducted before Buss' death, McCallum and Jackson didn't speak about the legendary owner.)
As far as returning to the game of basketball, which is a question on many of our minds, Jackson said "I'm not coaching" but did say that he was open to a different role, such as Vice President of basketball operations.
When McCallum commented that Vice President "doesn't sound like a boss" Phil replied, ... "No, that guy would be the boss."
But what did Jackson say he misses the most about coaching? It's what he calls, in true Zenmaster form, the "spiritual quest."
"Forming a brotherhood and trying to move it forward. That's the part I miss."
In a league full of physical specimens, these are the best.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: You won't find Kris Humphries on this list, or Big Baby.
10. Amare Stoudemire
Shirtless pics of Stoudemire are the rule, not the exception. And why not, he's earned it. Now working his way back to regular minutes after injury, Stoudemire will be back to full strength soon, with more pool photo shoots to follow.
9. Carlos Boozer
Boozer is great at staying under the radar for the most part. But in a year where the Bulls have needed him to step up and solidify the front court, the veteran has done that.
8. Kobe Bryant
Kobe's inclusion on this list may elicit a few boos, but the way he has transformed his body during his career warrants some respect. From entering the league as a skinny 18 year old, Kobe has put on a little more muscle every year and you can tell it has paid off by the way his game has become more physical, and less about put jumping defenders, over that time.
7. Ray Allen
Ray Allen has been ripped for years but doesn't really get the credit as such because he is a perimeter player who makes a living draining threes- a specialty which isn't often seen as being based on strength or physicality. I don't know about you, but I would be shirtless all the time if I was Ray Allen. Especially at his advancing age.
6. Blake Griffin
Griffin's leaping ability and athleticism grab most of the attention and highlights, but he is as strong as any front court player in the league. He gets criticized for "only being able to dunk" but the fact that he puts himself in that position time and time again even though every one knows it's coming show how strong he is.
5. Serge Ibaka
Pound for pound, maybe the strongest player in the league. Ibaka is built like a comic book hero, straight up. Anybody with an 8-pack and leads the league in blocks qualifies for this list.
4. Andre Iguodala
Speaking of comic book hero type bodies, Iguodala definitely fits into that category. The balance and symmetry of his physique lends itself to his game; balanced in all aspects, equally productive across the board. In addition, he always seems incredibly smooth and relaxed, just like his build.
3. Metta World Peace
"Ron Ron" is a beast. Just when you think he's mellowed out and forgotten how much of an intimidating force he can be, he deftly punches Detroit's Brandon Knight in the clinch. At 6-7, a jacked 240 pounds and with the potential to go off at any moment, it makes him seem even more ripped in my mind. But him being mental shouldn't detract from how much a physical specimen Ron Ron is is.
2. Dwight Howard
Love him or hate him, D Howard has arguably the most impressive physique in a league full of players with impressive physiques. While toughness is something Howard definitely lacks (especially of the mental variety), the width of his shoulders cannot be questioned; has there ever been a wider NBA player? And I don't mean "wide" like Oliver Miller.
1. LeBron James
Even if you don't think he is the most jacked player in the league, you have to acknowledge that he uses the strength of his body on the court better than any player in the league, maybe even ever. How many times do you see Bron Bron take a player attempting to guard him straight up from the top of the key right to the rim, with ease? It isn't that easy, he just makes it look like it is because he is so strong.
Image Credit: Creative Commons
Lakers filed an official complaint with the league for excessive hard fouls on Dwight Howard.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Is this going to turn into quarterbacks in football where no one is allowed to touch star players? This is ridiculous.
It's just amazing how poorly this has worked out.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: The Lakers are a trainwreck that keeps having new accidents.
Trade Rumor: Brooklyn Nets are making a play to get Howard using T-Wolves and Kevin Love.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: This rumor sounds ridiculous, but with the Lakers playing horrible and continuing to make haphazard moves who knows.
Magic Johnson just made it clear (on National TV) that if he was Lakers CEO Jim Buss, he would trade Dwight Howard.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: It's very obvious that Magic isn't the biggest fan of this Lakers team. And rightfully so.
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is getting fed up with his team because he's now publicly expressing his discontent with the organization.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Dirk has a point. The Mavericks' management has failed to make any good moves in the past few years.
The early returns from all-star balloting are in and "Sir Charles" is not pleased.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Fan voting may not be flawless but what is a better solution?
On the Lakers' 9th win of the season, Kobe Bryant surpassed 30,000 points in his career.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Kobe hitting 30,000 is an amazing milestone, but I bet the entire organization is just happy to get a win.
The Lakers lost again last night, and their performance has been so sub-par lately that hearing them lose is no longer coming as a surprise.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: They are going to have to step up their game in a lot of areas if they want to be a competitive team in the Western Conference this season.
The Lakers lost to the Grizzlies Friday night, falling to 0-4 on the road.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Kobe can't do everything; Gasol and Howard will need to be consistent on offense if the Lakers want to win games.