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Wednesday , Jun , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Video: Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Phil Jackson talk NBA Finals

HoopsVibe's Quick Call: With several days lag time between the conference finals and championship series, it's understandable if fans are restless.

After all, you've watched numerous panel hits on TNT and NBATV; you've listened to analysts on satellite radio; you've read about match-ups on-line and in newspapers; and you've been tormented by the know-it-all at the office water cooler.

Well, the NBA Finals isn't quite here. However, HoopsVibe News has the next best thing: video of the Los Angeles Lakers talking about their upcoming series with the Boston Celtics.

As usual, watch the clip and get us with thoughts in the comment box below.  

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Monday , May , 31 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Michael Jordan the hero; Kobe Bryant the anti-hero

Kobe Byrant may be better than Michael Jordan, but the public may not ever let him believe it. The unfortunate truth for Kobe is he can never be Michael because he isn't thought of as likable as Jordan, also the greatest commercial pitchman ever for an athlete. ... "Let's say he does get two more rings," Tim Legler, the former player and now an ESPN analyst, said recently in a telephone interview. "Even if he doesn't win any more MVP awards, he will probably approach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record. You absolutely can make a valid argument for Kobe being the greatest ever when that happens. "But he will never be revered like Michael Jordan will be revered," Legler added.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Michael Jordan was a hero. Kobe Bryant is the anti-hero.

Jordan was one of a kind; an athlete who appealed to men and women, and transcended the NBA. He parlayed that appeal and likeability into a multi-million dollar fortune from sponsors.

Bryant is also unique. Fair or not, he's the villian. He's the 'bad guy' at the end of the movie, a select few cheer for, but most cheer against.

It's always been this way with Bryant. His fate was sealed at seventeen when he declared himself NBA ready at a press conference, where he donned Bono-esque shades on top of his dome. Months later, he made headlines by ditching his longtime girlfriend to take Moesha/Brandy to the prom. 

Of course, we've all made mistakes and exercised poor judgement. Problem is, Bryant being in the public eye made himself a target. And by developing into the game's greatest player, he's become its greatest villain, too.

Is Bryant the NBA's anti-hero or villain? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below. 

 

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Video: Why Kobe Bryant ‘will Kill’ Sasha Vujacic

HoopsVibe's Call: It was The Slovenian Elbow.

With the Los Angeles Lakers up 91-76 and on their way to a fourth and decisive victory in the Western Conference Finals, Sasha Vujacic got personal, throwing an elbow at countryman and mortal enemy Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic.

Vujacic and Dragic - both hailing from Slovenia, a tiny republic on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - often resemble Hollywood socialites with their beef both on-and-off court.

Anyway, the refs caught Vujacic's elbow, assessed a flagrant foul and, suddenly, the Suns had enough energy for a fourth-quarter charge. In a post-game interview with Craig Sager, Kobe Bryant said he would 'kill' The Machine (Vujacic) for such a lapse in judgement.

Check out our grainy video and get at us with thoughts on Vujacic and Dragic's feud.

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe and Lakers oust Suns, face Celtics in NBA Finals

Get ready, Boston, for a rematch with Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant wrapped up a magnificent series with 37 points, Ron Artest added 25 and the Lakers held off the Phoenix Suns 111-103 on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers and Celtics, the NBA's premier teams for much of the league's history, will meet in the finals for the 12th time with Game 1 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"We'll see how much we matured," Bryant said. "They challenged us extremely well in the finals a couple years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: The Phoenix Suns' zone, fast tempo, and affinity for the three-point shot wasn't enough because the Los Angeles Lakers were simply better and deserved to advance to the NBA Finals.

For instance, the Suns' fourth quarter charge was put out by Kobe Bryant, who nailed two clutch jumpers, even though Grant Hill was playing air tight defense. After sinking the second jumper, Bryant even gave Suns coach Alvin Gentry a friendly tap and stretched his arms in celebration.   

The Lakers will now face the Boston Celtics in a classic finals match-up.

These two teams met in the 2008 NBA Finals, with the Celtics prevailing in six games because of their superior toughness down-low.

The 2010 championship will also be decided in the paint. Expect Boston to try and impose their will with bigs like Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, and Rasheed Wallace, while L.A. will be anxious to show they can mix it up in the middle.

Got thoughts on a Boston-Los Angeles NBA Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe for more Finals coverage.   

The Boston Celtics are still the Beast of the East. Vol. Laker Nation
Saturday , May , 29 , 2010 J.N.

The Boston Celtics are still the Beast of the East. Vol. Laker Nation

The Orlando Magic has been eliminated at the hands of the Big Green Monster, The Boston Celtics. The one thing that is shown during this series is Superman is really Clark Kent. The Green Machine is definitely his Kryptonite. Many experts didn’t count out the Celtics against the Heat in the first round, but the majority counted them out against LeBron and The Cavs. I did not. I was in the minority. They trashed Cleveland and gave some false hope for Orlando before eviscerating them. Give them their due; there is room for old middle aged men.      

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Friday , May , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Goat to hero: Ron Artest wins game five for L.A. Lakers

Ron Artest beat the buzzer with a wild bank shot after rebounding Kobe Bryant's miss, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 103-101 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Bryant had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, but Artest was the improbable hero with just his second basket of the night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Only in Los Angeles can Ron Artest go from goat to hero in mere moments.

With a minute left and the Lakers up three, Artest could have run time off the clock, but took and missed a deep jump shot.

Phoenix rebounded his miss and Jason Richardson tied the game with three seconds remaining on a desperation, bank shot three-pointer. The lockdown swing, however, redeemed himself by grabbing Bryant's miss, sinking a basket as time expired, and winning game five for the Lakers.

Artest's heroics position the purple-and-gold to advance to the NBA Finals, as they hold home court advantage.

Meanwhile, the Suns return to Phoenix knowing they missed a chance to steal a road game and close out the Western Conference Finals by winning game six at home. 

During a post game interview, Artest had TNT broadcaster Craig Sager shout out his home of Queensbridge.Goats can't get away with such antics, but heroes, like Artest, can.   

Got thoughts on Artest, the Lakers, and the Western Conference Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe News on Friday for more on L.A. and Phoenix.

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Thursday , May , 27 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

L.A. Lakers must defend against Phoenix Suns

The Lakers' swagger is more of a stagger after consecutive losses in the Western Conference finals.

After leaving town last week to chants of ``We want Boston,'' Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol realize they won't even get the chance to defend their NBA title unless Los Angeles starts defending the Phoenix Suns.

Although Gasol says Game 5 on Thursday night is ``a must-win for us,'' the champions' California cool shows few signs of cracking, beyond Bryant's grumbling about missed defensive assignments.

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HoopsVibe's Call:  The Los Angeles Lakers have to get back to defending.

Look for the world champions to focus on getting stops, especially since they've struggled with their shooting against the Phoenix Suns' zone.

However, the Lakers hold the advantage. They're more talented. And two of the next three games will be played in the friendly confines of Staples Centre.

Still, as the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon pointed out last night during TNT's halftime show, these Suns aren't afraid; they can score in the halfcourt and play defense, too (even if it's a zone).

One thing is certain: expect a classic finish between L.A. and Phoenix.

Got thoughts on game five, six, and possibly seven? Let us know in the comment box below.  

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Wednesday , May , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Why the Lakers can’t handle the Suns’ zone

The Los Angeles Lakers were outnumbered and outplayed in the desert.

The Phoenix Suns got a decisive performance from their hustling bench to overcome Kobe Bryant's 38-point, 10-assist performance and beat the Lakers 115-106 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.

A series that looked like a Lakers' breeze a week ago is all even at two apiece heading to Game 5 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Suns reserves, considered an advantage entering the series but largely ineffective through three games, outscored their Lakers counterparts 54-20.

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HoopsVibe's Call: The Phoenix Suns are in 'The Zone'. Literally.

The surprising Suns have tied the Western Conference Finals by using a zone defense against the Los Angeles Lakers. There are several reasons the defending world champions have struggled against this unorthodox defense:

-Zone is rarely used in the NBA, especially come playoff time. In fact, for decades zone was banned because it was believed to limit the players' ability to showcase individual talent. The purple-and-gold is out of sync against a defense they've rarely seen.

-The Lakers lack a true point guard. A classic, pass-first table setter can direct the offense and find the holes against a zone. Too often, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Derek Fisher settled for outside shots and allowed teammates to become perimeter players.

-Bryant had a strong game, hitting 15-of-22 shots for 38 points and adding 10 assists and 7 rebounds. However, he couldn't get clean looks against the zone for most of the fourth quarter and Pau Gasol struggled.

-The zone forced the Lakers to play at the Suns' breakneck pace. No team - not even the great Lakers - beats Seven Seconds Or Less when the game becomes a track meet. 

The Suns' zone has made the Western Conference Finals a best-of-three affair. The Lakers must adjust to the zone or another team will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in June.  

What do you think of Phoenix's zone? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.

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Sunday , May , 23 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Why Bosh, James, or Wade shouldn’t get to pick Clippers’ next coach?

Usually in professional sports, the coach is selling the free agent player on his team as a potential destination. The Los Angeles Clippers are prepared to take a different approach. As the only team without a coach that doesn't appear to be looking, reports say that the Clippers are prepared to offer big-name free agents something in addition to the maximum contract: pick your own coach. That's right, the plan in Los Angeles might be to use the coaching vacancy as an additional draw to free agents like Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and even Lebron James. They all know they will get the maximum salary, but where else can they pick their coach?

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HoopsVibe Call: It's why the Clippers are the Clippers. And it's why they'll remain a league laughingstock.

Despite having talented players, coaches, and executives, Los Angeles' other team can't get their act together. Allowing star free agents like Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and even Dwyane Wade to pick their next coach is another example of their lunacy.

Good organizations don't let the inmates - regardless of how talented Bosh, James, and Wade are - run the asylum. For instance, in San Antonio, Tim Duncan has always deferred to coach Gregg Popovich, which forces his teammates to listen to the veteran sideline boss.

Across town, Kobe Bryant, like it or not, follows Laker coach Phil Jackson -even though he oftens seems more like the duplicitous Machiavelli than the peaceful Zen-Master. And Michael Jordan also followed Jackson when they won six NBA Titles with the Chicago Bulls.

Having a player - regardless of how great he is - select their next coach makes that coach a subordinate. And this is a recipe for disaster. Of course, leave it to the Clippers, one of the worst organizations in pro sport, to make this blunder.

Should Bosh, James, or Wade get to pick the Clippers' next coach? Should any player get to pick his coach? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.     

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Thursday , May , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Should LeBron James have a say in trades?

LeBron James has had a lot of power in Cleveland, according to ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.

Sources told Bucher that James vetoed trades he didn't like for the Cavaliers, while pushing other deals through that he thought would help the team.

Any team that signs LeBron will likely have to set a basis for how much power he'll have in the front office.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf never gave that type of power to Michael Jordan, so it's doubtful he'd give it to James.

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After all, this creates an uncomfortable dynamic in the locker room. There's a fine line between the two-time MVP having a say in personnel matters and ushering out teammates he doesn't jive with -like former Cleveland Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden.
 
It's also a distraction. James, who again collapsed in the playoffs, should focus on basketball. Nothing else. The sooner this happens, the better off the two-time MVP and his team will be.
 
Finally, there's a reason Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and even Michael Jordan have/had little say in front office matters. Why should James, who hasn't yet won an NBA Title, be different?
 
Should James have a say in trades? Why? Why not?
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Monday , May , 17 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Robin Lopez anger Kobe Bryant and L.A. Lakers?

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HoopsVibe's Thoughts: Seven Seconds Or Less is getting defensive.

Literally.

Word is the Phoenix Suns are planning to start physical post Robin Lopez against the Los Angeles Lakers and finesse-four Pau Gasol in the Western Conference Finals.

Lopez, who is on the mend from injury, provides the Suns with their most physical presence since Raja Bell. Of course, a few years back, Bell made his bones against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs. 

Will Lopez, an equally spirited player, get under the skin of the purple-and-gold like Bell?

Get at HoopsVibe News with thoughts in the comment box below.

   

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Saturday , May , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Grant Hill to Guard Kobe Bryant in WCF

Bryant averaged 27.5 points against Phoenix this season on 54.4 percent shooting and is coming off a Utah sweep in which he scored at least 30 in each game. This is the point last year when he turned dominant, averaging 34.0 points against Denver in the conference finals and 32.4 in the NBA Finals vs. Orlando.

Step right up, Grant Hill. The Suns are expected to again turn to their best defensive player, although guard Jason Richardson defended Bryant the most this season. The decision to put Richardson on Portland's Andre Miller for Game 1 of the first round backfired when Miller dominated and Richardson struggled offensively. Freed of a defensive load, Richardson thrived the remainder of that series and the San Antonio series with Hill taking primary defensive targets Miller and Manu Ginobili.

"You just try to make a guy like that work," Hill, 37, said of Bryant, 31. "You've got to go in ready to compete and not be discouraged. He'll make shots even when there's defense.
 
Steve Nash’s Last Shot
Thursday , May , 13 , 2010 J.N.

Steve Nash’s Last Shot

A young kid entered war full of determination, grit, and gung ho. He doesn’t know much about anything since he sports the usual traits of youth – ignorance, naïveté, and innocence. Once this kid endures battle after battle, the fighting spirit gets worn down somewhere. The kid loses yet gets wiser with each step. He makes many mistakes. Some soldiers leave and disappear. The squadron is rebuilt with new warriors who mirror the kid before war. Some of them might be better and some will not.

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The Utah Jazz Just Can’t Beat Kobe’s Lakers
Wednesday , May , 12 , 2010 J.N.

The Utah Jazz Just Can’t Beat Kobe’s Lakers

The Lakers outmuscled Deron Williams’ Jazz into submission by bringing out the brooms for a complete sweep. Laker fans are sitting pretty entering the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns, which the Lakers should not have any problems against. The Jazz, however, are looking down a well that leads to an abyss. What’s next?

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Tuesday , May , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Wants Revenge on the Suns

It doesn’t matter to Kobe Bryant that three years have passed and he’s won a championship since then. He has a long memory. And just the mere mention of the Phoenix Suns brings a spark to his eyes.

The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their third straight Western Conference finals by sweeping the Utah Jazz with a 111-96 victory on Monday night. Next up are the Phoenix Suns, whom the Lakers have beaten seven times in nine games since acquiring Pau Gasol. But that doesn’t matter to Bryant. When asked if he recalled that the Suns knocked the Lakers out of the postseason during their last two meetings in 2006 and ’07, Bryant’s eyes filled with disdain.

“What do you think? You already know,” Bryant said, staring through his questioner.
 
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Tuesday , May , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Bryant Cracks Jokes about Cleveland, LeBron’s Lefty FT

He was amused by one line of questioning revolving around why LeBron James' sore right elbow was receiving so much attention when Bryant's whole body was banged up.

"[Because] it's Cleveland," Bryant cracked. "We have a couple more things to talk about in L.A."

Bryant elaborated his thoughts on the NBA's current back-to-back MVP.

"I've been injured pretty much the entire season, so I think everybody just kind of got used to me playing that way," Bryant said. "He hasn't really had any injury all year long, so this was really like his first injury of the year and it comes at the moment of the playoffs when it's crucial for them so I think there's a lot of attention around it."

It's known around the team that Bryant has been engaged in a left-handed shooting competition with Pau Gasol all season long, so he was asked about the southpaw free-throw attempt that James took in the first round against Chicago.

"It looked nasty," Bryant said. "My form's more like Chris Mullin ... I would have called a timeout [if my shooting elbow was hurting me]." 

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Monday , May , 10 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest and Phil Jackson Make up after Twitter Incident

After the game, Kobe Bryant was questioned about the "situation" between Artest and Jackson and responded, "What situation? Is that a joke? Seriously?"

"We all found it kind of funny," Bryant said. "It's not a big deal at all. Not even a whisper. It's entertaining."

The minor incident has not affected the relationship between Jackson and Artest.

"I can't describe him in words, that's for sure," Jackson said with a smile. "I've often said he's very naïve. He's a babe in the woods so to speak in a lot of terms as far as taking things literally, understanding the situation. But we hold him dear to our hearts."

On Friday after the story was reported, Artest wrote on his Twitter feed @RONARTESTCOM again, however.

The first Tweet read: "So many media tried to blow up the comments. Lol Me and Phil are it's just healthier being direct to me rather than media first." He posted several other times before wrapping up his thoughts on the subject with a two-part Tweet.

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Friday , May , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe, Lamar: Ron Should Have Been in All-Defensive Team

Artest's teammates came to the support of the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2003-04.

Bryant said he was "extremely" surprised when Artest's name wasn't announced, and there was "no question" the Lakers starting small forward in his first season with L.A. should have received the defensive honor.

"Total bull----, plain and simple," Bryant said.

Lamar Odom, who has seen Artest lock up opponents since they played AAU basketball as children in Queens, New York, said Artest should be an automatic honoree when it comes to defense.

"I'm always surprised when he's not on it," Odom said. "He should be put on it every year. He's one guy you should kind of stamp down for that. I don't know who plays better defense, especially at the forward position. ... I wish the players picked." 

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Wednesday , May , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

NBA All-Defensive Team Announced

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, winner of the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, and guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced Wednesday.

By totaling 57 points overall, including 28 First Team votes, Howard edged Rondo (50 points overall and 23 First Team votes) as the leading vote-getter.

Also selected to the All-Defensive First Team are forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (45 points), Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (34 points) and Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace (30 points).
 
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Thursday , Apr , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Asked to Guard Russell Westbrook

It was Kobe Bryant's idea to swap defensive assignments for Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bryant guarded Russell Westbrook instead of Thabo Sefolosha. Derek Fisher checked Sefolosha. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant approached him and said, "I'd like to guard Westbrook." Jackson added: "It takes a much higher activity level (to guard Westbrook). It's every play. There's no time off on defense. It told me what his determination was, whether his knee was better or not (I don't know)." Bryant has been troubled for months by injuries to his right index finger, left ankle and right knee.

Westbrook scored 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting in Game 5.

"I enjoy the challenge," Bryant said of checking Westbrook. "He's been playing sensational, and if we're going to be eliminated I don't want to go into the summer thinking I could've done something about it, so i accepted the challenge." 

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