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Thursday , Nov , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: ‘ready to defend’ Olympic gold in 2012

Kobe Bryant has told United States basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski that he'll play in the 2012 Olympics in London if the program wants him there.

Bryant was a guest on Krzyzewski's SIRIUS XM radio show Tuesday when the Duke coach asked the Lakers' star about London. "You guys want me there, I am there and I'm ready to defend," Bryant said. "And then when you guys need me to put some points on the board, I'll do that, too."


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Unlike his superstar peers, Kobe Bryant gets it.

The greatest basketball player in the world gets the importance of representing his country on the world’s greatest stage.

There’s no half-hearted excuse. There’s no phantom injury. And, most importantly, there’s no BS.

He's 'there' and ready to defend.

With Bryant donning the stars-and-stripes, Team USA will be favoured to repeat as Olympic Champions in London.

After all, they have the scheme. Coach Mike Krzyewski, through preaching discipline and teamwork, led an undermanned American squad to first place at this summer’s FIBA World Championship.

Of course, Bryant was injured. If healthy, he’d have played.

So expect Coach K and the powers that be at Team USA to accept Bryant’s offer.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Nov , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Are ‘The Renegades’ key to Kobe and Lakers Three-peating?

Just one week into the season, Lakers coach Phil Jackson has already coined a nickname for his team's energetic bench: The Renegades.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Never argue with a Zen-Master, especially one with 11 championship rings.

Phil Jackson is right: the Los Angeles Lakers made three subtle moves this summer to solidify their bench, and counter the national headlines made by their eastern rivals.

First, they signed Steve Blake. He’s a feisty, intelligent table-setter, who’ll fill-in and eventually replace veteran Derek Fisher.

Second, they inked giant Theo Ratliff. He’s 7-2. And has a massive wingspan. When the tin-man, Andrew Bynum, is hurt, Ratliff can clog the middle against bigger posts.

Finally, Matt Barnes was brought-in. The former Mohawk can guard and play multiple positions; stretch opposing defenses with his range; and, most importantly, brings grit and toughness.

Blake, Ratliff, and Barnes fit perfectly next to Shannon Brown, a dynamic open-court player, and Sasha ‘The Machine’ Vujacic.

Of course, the piece de resistance is Lamar Odom, a versatile forward who is always a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

Odom has taken his game to another level after spending his summer leading Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

So renegades is an interesting moniker for this group. Whatever the nickname, they'll be a big part of the Lakers' quest to three-peat.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Oct , 24 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: Brandon Roy toughest opponent to guard

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was asked on the John Thompson Show who he feels is the toughest opponent to guard in the NBA. Instead of picking Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Bryant went with Portland's Brandon Roy.

"Roy 365 days, seven days a week. Roy has no weaknesses in his game," Bryant said.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No surprise here.

NBA fans shouldn’t be shocked Kobe Bryant picked perennial All-Star Brandon Roy as his toughest cover over Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade.

There’s no agenda here. There’s no subtle slight against the game’s more marketable superstars, either. 

Bryant was simply speaking his mind. Here’s why he was making sense:

1) Roy’s a fundamentally-sound, Tim Duncan-type in a two-man’s body.  He does everything well and uses his mind, not athleticism, to succeed.

2) Bryant is a student of the game. He spends hours in the video room, analyzing where to attack opponents like Durant, James, and Wade.

Bryant has probably spent a day or two watching Roy and has clearly concluded he has no weakness. There’s no Achilles heal to expose.

3) Roy’s Portland Trail Blazers have had some success against the Los Angeles Lakers, especially at home in The Rose Garden.

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Oct , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Video: The NBA’s 50 Worst Tattoos

Some of you will remember that earlier this year we put together a feature on the NBA's 50 worst tattoos that showcased the worst body art from across the league. Well, due to popular demand we've thrown the images into a short video. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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Tuesday , Oct , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant isn’t mad at Michael Jordan

Bryant didn't take Jordan's comments as an insult. "It's an accurate statement," Bryant said. "I'm definitely one of the top 10 guards. It could mean two, it could mean one, it could mean four or five. I'm definitely one of the top thousand. Look, I know how he feels about me.

"There have been a lot of great guards to play the game. For me to sit here and say, 'He should have said top five,' that's disrespectful to the other guards that I've watched."


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: With age comes wisdom.

No doubt about it, Kobe Bryant took exception to Michael Jordan saying he was a top ten guard of all time.

After all, Bryant is the best and most successful player of his generation. And when he retires, the Black Mamba may be The Greatest of All Time.

Think Jay-Z. Think Wayne Gretzky. Think Mohammed Ali. And yes, think Michael Jordan.

Years ago, during Bryant’s more volatile days, he may have responded publicly to Jordan undervaluing his career and talent. The Lakers superstar is that competitive.

Not today.

With all the criticism Bryant has endured, Jordan`s take was like water off a duck’s back. So Bryant downplayed Jordan’s comment.

There’s no sense trading barbs through the media with an icon like MJ. This is a battle he can’t win.

Better to use his comments as motivation. Better to win a third consecutive and sixth championship. Better to let his play do the talking.

Such wisdom comes with being on the other side of thirty. And it’s something Bryant learned the hard way.

--Oly Sandor.

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Saturday , Oct , 16 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Michael Jordan: I could score 100 points in NBA game today

"It's less physical and the rules have changed, obviously," said Jordan. "Based on these rules, if I had to play with my style of play, I'm pretty sure I would have fouled out or I would have been at the free throw line pretty often and I could have scored 100 points."
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He’s still Michael Jordan.

It doesn’t matter if he’s middle-aged. It doesn’t matter if he rocks a beer gut. And it doesn’t matter if his career in the executive suite and owner’s booth is full of mistakes.

He’s still Mike; The Greatest of All-Time. I still want to be like him. You still want to be like him. Heck, we all still ‘want to be like Mike’. Or, how Mike was when he played.

When Jordan says he could drop 100 points in a present day NBA game, people believe. Six championships, playoff MVPs, and embarrassing Byron Russell will do that.

People believe because Jordan is still their hero. He’s that masked man in a Chicago Bulls uniform who can do no wrong. 

Jordan was the biggest superstar of an era.  He was bigger than any movie star, musician, and politician. The late eighties and nineties were his time.

So we overlook facts. The facts are simple: today’s players have evolved. They’re bigger. They’re faster. And – on the whole – they’re more committed to their craft.

Almost every team has a shut down guy. Almost every team will use a zone to slow an opposing player who is feeling it.

Kobe Bryant, the closest thing to Jordan, notched 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant was in a zone. He took every shot and got every call. That Raptors team was awful.
It was a perfect storm for Black Mamba to notch 100. And he still ended up 19 points short.

Still believe in Mike?

Jordan can say what he likes. That’s why we love him. However, he’d struggle to score 100 points in today’s NBA.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , Oct , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant on Ricky Rubio: he’s NBA ready

Ricky Rubio has yet to make his NBA debut, but that may not mean he isn't ready, at least according to Kobe Bryant. Bryant isn't among Rubio's critics. "This my third time playing against him, and he is definitely ready to play in the NBA," the Lakers' star said. "The kid can play. I felt like in the Olympics he played very well and showed a lot of poise and he reads a lot of things that average players don't."


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Can you say co-sign?

Kobe Bryant, the game’s greatest player, is confirming what we know. Euro Ricky Rubio is NBA ready.

Right now, the point guard could cross the Atlantic and run an NBA team. His game and star power would make him an instant sensation on-and-off court.

What’s the delay? Why is the Spaniard plying his trade with FC Barcelona?

Well, Rubio has no interest in suiting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the club that drafted him fifth overall in 2009.

Minnesota is cold, a small market, and has a permanent seat at the draft lottery in Secaucus, New Jersey.

So Rubio may be ready for the NBA. Unless the Wolves trade his rights, he’s staying in Europe.
-Oly Sandor.

--Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 
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Friday , Oct , 08 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: FC Barcelona could play in NBA

"In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?"
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He’s the NBA’s best player. He’s a student of the game. And he knows international ball since his father was a European professional.

But what does Kobe Bryant know?

Jokes aside, FC Barcelona – or any ‘Euro’ club playing 82 games in the NBA - would struggle with style.

The NBA is an isolation heavy league. One-on-one; man on man. Coaches and players look to exploit individual mismatches because players are so physically gifted.

Europe is a system-heavy league. Instead of individual play, the emphasis is on five man units outplaying other five man units.

Of course, this is why American players, who rely on individual skill, often struggle in Europe.

Still, because of their collective play and work ethic, the best European club could probably get through an NBA season.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Sep , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe’s advice for Carmelo: be 100% happy with choice

"We’ll see if he signs a reasonable extension and if he’s 100 percent happy that it’s where he wants to go," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday. "If not, don’t make a move just to get out of the situation. ... Make sure it’s a move that you’re very happy in and you’re comfortable with."


HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The Black Mamba has spoken.

Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s greatest player and resident OG, recently advised Carmelo Anthony on his situation with the Denver Nuggets.

Bryant's opinion makes sense: too often, players hastily swap one bad situation for another. Instead of weighing their options, they force trades, and aren't better off.

Wherever Anthony lands, it must be right. He has to win. Big time.

While this situation isn’t The Decision Part Deux, it has cast the superstar forward in an unsavoury light. Many fans are sick of the hourly updates, constant speculation, and comments from Mrs. Anthony.

So Bryant’s point is a good one: whether Anthony ends up with the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets, he has to be sure.

If he’s unsure, why bother?

Anthony would soon find himself in the same predicament a few years from now. He’d be losing, He'd be miserable. And he'd be searching for an exit strategy.

Perhaps Anthony is spending the weekend reflecting on Bryant’s words. And perhaps this explains his reservations about joining the Nets.

--Oly Sandor.

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Wednesday , Sep , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Adam Morrison gets tryout with Washington Wizards?

Adam Morrison, whom Jordan selected with the third pick in 2006, has accepted a training camp invitation on a make-good contract with the Wizards, according to two league sources.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Forget the ‘Three Kings’ joining forces with the Miami Heat. Forget the Boston Celtics inking Shaquille O’Neal. And forget Amar’e Stoudemire signing with the New York Knicks.

Here’s the real news: Brian Cardinal and Adam Morrison have received training camp invites from the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards.

Cardinal may or may not make the Mavericks; however, Morrison – while he will never live up to the hype of being the third overall pick in the 2006 Draft - can still salvage his career. He's hoping to start over with the Washington Wizards.

The Moustache was a pure scorer in college. He also went against Kobe Bryant in practice. Anything is possible. 

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Sep , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Can Durant and Thunder stop Kobe and Lakers from three-peating?

Coupled with the stiff resistance that the Thunder offered the Lakers last spring, the coming of age of both of these players bodes well for the immediate and long-range success of the Oklahoma City Thunder ... That leaves Dallas and Oklahoma City as the Lakers' only viable competition.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No doubt about it, the Oklahoma City Thunder is on the rise.

The upstart franchise pushed the world champion Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s best players, have represented USA well at the FIBA World Championships.   

So the student, the Thunder, is learning. However, they aren’t ready to challenge the master in 2011, the Lakers. After all, the purple and gold has improved, too.
For instance, Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol have spent this summer getting healthy; a leaner, meaner Ron Artest will have another year in the triple-post; and Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Theo Ratliff will bring consistency to the second-unit.

The Lakers are primed for a three-peat. In 2011, the Thunder won’t be ready to stop them.

--Oly Sandor.

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Saturday , Sep , 04 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Amar’e Stoudemire wanted Steve Nash not ‘selfish’ Kobe

“The question ownership asked to me was, ‘Who do I want – Jason Kidd, Steve Nash or Kobe Bryant?’ I said Steve. Over Kobe. At the time, Kobe had a reputation for being selfish and Steve was the ultimate point guard. I felt like that’s what we needed. We had Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion. We just didn’t have a PG to control tempo. Kidd was banged up after microfracture (knee surgery).”


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Point guards are important, but damn.

In a recent interview, Amar’e Stoudemire claimed he told the Phoenix Suns to sign pass-first table-setter Steve Nash instead of the world’s best player in Kobe Bryant.

Yes, Nash not Kobe. After all, Kobe had a ‘reputation for being selfish’.

Let me disclose my bias: I’m a huge Kid Canada fan. He’s a two-time MVP, a Hall of Fame playmaker (yeah, I went there), and a terrific person. Oh, and those vitamin spots are pretty funny, too

He has limitations, though. While willing to mix it up in his own end, Nash’s size hinders his ability to defend. And his offensive numbers are inflated by the Suns’ run-and-gun system.

Whatever your view on Nash, he isn’t Kobe Bryant. It’s not close. It’s not debateable. Black Mamba is the premier player in the NBA, winning consecutive championships for a career total of five Larry O’Brien trophies.

Sure, Nash’s passing makes those around him better; however, Bryant’s competitiveness and work ethic forces teammates to ratchet up their production. Call it peer pressure for the millionaire baller.

For instance, Luke Walton recently mentioned he was rehabbing his many injuries at the Lakers’ practice facility. Guess what player is first to show every morning at 7am? That’s right: Kobe.        

Now Bryant could have scaled things back this summer or simply hung a ‘gone fishing sign’ until training camp. No coach, executive, journalist, or fan would have said a word.

Of course, he didn’t go on vacation. Instead of slacking, Bryant is punching the clock and working harder than, perhaps, any player in the league. Such single-mindedness is Bryant’s trademark.

To be fair, Bryant probably wouldn’t have turned his back on the Lakers and signed with the Suns. It doesn’t change that Stoudemire’s analysis was, and still is, wrong.    

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Aug , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Team USA remains undefeated after thrashing Slovenia

The United States beat Slovenia 99-77 for its second lopsided victory in two games and Lithuania also went 2-0, while Angola and China bounced back from opening-day losses to win their first games at the basketball World Championship on Sunday.


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: There’s some surprise at how Team USA has fared in international play so far.

After all, Stars and Stripes’ biggest names –Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and others- all said thanks, but no thanks to the FIBA World Championship.

However, this group of youngsters defend, play together, and work hard. They also have budding superstar Kevin Durant, who could soon emerge as the world’s premier player.

On Sunday morning, USA’s air-tight defense got them through a few rough moments, as they cruised to an easy victory over Slovenia. Durant had 22 points before sitting the entire fourth quarter.

--Oly Sandor.

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Saturday , Aug , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant:I`m ‘99.99 percent sure I’m finishing with Lakers‘

And KB24 finally said he’s “definitely” not playing for another team, or “99.99 percent sure I’m finishing my career with the Los Angeles Lakers.”


HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: Not long ago, it seemed 99.9% sure that Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers would part ways.

Remember, he requested a trade. Twice. The first time he bared his soul to Stephen A, Smith on radio. The second time he met soccer star Ronaldinho in Europe, and then told vacationing Lakers owner Jerry Buss he wanted out.   

Along the way, he badmouthed Andrew Bynum to a pair of random dudes outside an Orange County strip mall, who happened to record the entire incident on cell phone.

Of course, this led to the organization getting extorted in a salacious story that belonged on TMZ. And Bryant was even booed by the Staples Center faithful during the 2008 home opener.

However, winning solves everything. The Lakers, through shrewd trades and astute free agent signings, have established a potential dynasty. They’ve won consecutive championships. A three-peat third could happen.

So Bryant is happy and will end his career a Laker. This is the way it should be. The best player of this generation embodies the purple-and-gold.

--Oly Sandor.

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Thursday , Aug , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant measured by championships, not scoring

The odometer keeps rolling. Now that Kobe Bryant's turned 32, how much of a decline can we expect in his game over the next few seasons? [When Michael] Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls late in the 94-95 season -- at 32 -- he'd played only 778 NBA regular season and playoff games. By comparison, Kobe Bryant has already played a whopping 1,219 games, 57% more than Jordan at the same age. Kobe is clearly the NBA version of a Ferrari with high mileage. ... Bryant's stats have also dipped in several categories in the last five seasons: --Scoring per game: 35.4, 31.6, 28.3, 26.8, to 27.0 last season. --Free throw attempts per game: 10.2, 10.0, 9.0, 6.9, 7.4. --Minutes per game: 41.0, 40.8, 38.9, 36.1, 38.8.


HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: His numbers don't matter. Their numbers do.

The days of measuring Kobe Bryant's greatness by individual statistics are done. Instead, Black Mamba should be measured by championships he wins with the L.A. Lakers.

Nothing more.

The great ones, the creme de la creme of NBA talent, worry about one thing: the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Like it or not, Bryant's five championships put him on par with Magic Johnson. Another championship means he's in the conversation with Michael Jordan.

And when it's all said and done, total championships - not scoring, free throw attempts, and/or minutes - will be the real indicator of Bryant's greatness.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.


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Sunday , Aug , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant: beating Celtics in Finals was ‘enjoyable’

"It's more special because it was the hardest one to get," he said. "The Celtics are a great, great team. They gave us a challenge. I think that's what makes it so enjoyable."


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No doubt about it, it had to be sweet.

After all, Kobe Bryant didn`t just win the NBA Title -he beat the arch rival Boston Celtics in a seventh game thriller to capture consecutive championships and the fifth Larry O’Brien trophy of his career.

This was necessary for Bryant to be an all-time great Laker. He had to beat the storied Celtics. And he had to redeem himself and the Lakers’ for their 2008 NBA Finals loss to those same Celtics.

Bryant responded, preserving through bouts of poor shooting, numerous injuries, and the green-and-white’s air-tight defense.

All that’s left is for Bryant to enter MJ territory with a three-peat next summer.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at us in the comment box below.

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Sunday , Aug , 01 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Shaq about to become The Big Euro?

Sources have indicated he's even tested the market in Europe trying to land one last $10 million payday. But all of that is unlikely. Indeed, the Cavs may consider re-signing Shaq to a short deal that would pay him $5 million-$7 million and wait for a contender to get desperate to match up with the Lakers or Magic.


HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Shaquille O'Neal probably won't cross the Atlantic Ocean, sign in Greece, Italy, or Spain, and become 'The Big Euro'.

Yes, O'Neal is going through a messy divorce. Yes, O'Neal's sponsorship money has probably dried up due to the economy and his decreased production on-court. And yes, O'Neal could use another massive pay day.

But legacy is more important to O'Neal than money. Like Kobe Bryant, he wants a fifth championship. Like the Three Kings in Miami, he craves and loves the American spotlight.

Neither of these goals can be achieved abroad. Winning in Greece, Italy, or Spain wouldn't compare to winning an NBA Title; the press and attention would be different, too.

Of course, this could all be a ploy. Perhaps Shaq is flirting with Europe to improve offers stateside with NBA teams.

Whatever decision O'Neal makes, one thing is clear: the end is near. His next move could be his last, so he should pick wisely.

--Oly Sandor.

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Friday , Jul , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Matt Barnes the Lakers` new Ron Artest?

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Matt Barnes, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy terms of the contract were not released.

Barnes, a seven-year NBA veteran, appeared in 81 games (58 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.9 minutes while posting five double-doubles and leading the Magic in scoring six times, in rebounds on four occasions and in assists twice.


HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: If you want to join the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, challenge them.

Two years ago, Ron Artest - then the star of the Houston Rockets – sparred with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a classic Western Conference Semi-Final.

The Lakers prevailed in the series; however, Artest was the real winner, catching the eye of his foe and becoming a friend the following off-season when he inked a free agent pact with the purple-and-gold.

This year, Ron-Ron played a major role in the Lakers capturing their second consecutive NBA Title, and became a star with shout-outs to Queensbridge and his psychiatrist.

Flashback to the 2010 regular season, and Matt Barnes was a thorn in the Lakers` side. He battled. He defended. He talked smacked -declaring viral jihad against Lamar Odom, telling the forward on twitter he was going to put his child’s diaper in his mouth.

Naturally, Barnes signed with the Lakers this summer. Frankly, he’s perfect. The tough guy defends, hits the three, and, because he took a reduced salary, will keep the Lakers motivated in their quest for a third consecutive championship.

So Barnes got what he wanted. The defending champions got better. Sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship, which could end with a championship in June of 2011.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below. 

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Wednesday , Jul , 21 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kevin Durant to lead undermanned Americans at World Championship

For the NBA's youngest scoring champion, Kevin Durant has displayed some kind of maturity. With Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the rest of the Beijing Olympic team taking the summer off, USA Basketball's roster is wide open for next month's world championships in Turkey. championships.


HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He will be the leader for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Three years into his NBA career, Kevin Durant has impressed. He has helped the Oklahoma City Thunder become the team to watch. He has become an elite player. And he has handled himself with class.

However, the global spotlight will be unlike anything he has ever faced.

The international game is different than the NBA. Other national teams have played together for years, establishing chemistry, while the Americans are making do with a summer training camp.

And stars and stripes are undermanned, with every player on the gold medal winning squad from China passing on Turkey. That's right: No Kobe, LeBron, 'D-Wade', 'Melo, Chris Bosh, or even twelfth man Carlos Boozer.

The entire Redeem Team is out. They all said thanks, but no thanks. 

Whether by default or not, Durant is The Man. He and his teammates will face a significant challenge.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.   

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Tuesday , Jul , 13 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Fisher on re-signing with Lakers: ‘let the hunt for six begin’

The Lakers agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the veteran guard, bringing back a steadying locker-room influence and one of their top clutch shooters of the last decade. The contract was believed to be worth about $10.5 million, including a player option in the third year.

"I have decided to continue with Kobe, continue with our teammates and the fans of Los Angeles," Fisher said in a statement. "While this may not be the most lucrative contract I've been offered this off-season, it is the most valuable. I am confident I will continue to lead this team on and off the court. Let the hunt for six begin. . . ."


HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Listen closely and you’ll hear Laker-nation – led by the great Kobe Bryant - letting out a massive sigh of relief.

After all, the purple-and-gold had to have Derek Fisher. The emphasis is on ‘had to’. It wasn’t optional. 

The veteran is 36 years old, flops like he`s on the Italian national soccer team, has limits on both ends of the floor, and was surprisingly given the security of a three-year deal.

However, Fisher oozes leadership, has Robert Horry style skills down the stretch, and mediates like the UN when resident superstar Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson have a ‘tiff’.

Best of all, he can groom his replacement Steve Blake. Like Fisher, Blake is an assassin disguised as a nice guy.

Sure, the former University of Maryland star looks like he should be leading the Dungeons and Dragons club at the local comic shop instead of Jackson’s triple-post set or playing internet chess on Friday evenings instead of the cross-town Clippers.

Don’t get it twisted: Blake is a good guy off-court, but feisty as hell on it. In December of 2007, he sparked the Blazers’ turnaround by breaking chairs and fighting teammates at a now infamous practice. And he’s also known to dabble in mixed martial arts –for fun.

Look for Fisher to take to Blake. Look for Fisher to groom Blake. And this will cement Fisher’s legacy long after he’s gone.

This will be a great relief for Laker-nation.

--Oly Sandor.

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