Thursday, September 30, 2010


Why he took that shot.


Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest celebrates with fans after he made the game winning basket in Game 5 of their Western Conference Final series against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 27, 2010. The Lakers defeated the Suns 103-101. UPI Photo/Lori Shepler Photo via Newscom

Here's the tip.

Let me ask you a question? What was the most important shot of last season? That beautiful, buzzer beater that will prove timeless on both ESPN and YouTube? A cute crossover that turned into a terrific turnaround? Maybe it was a swish? A fade away? A Kobe? Perhaps one of those half a dozen or so game icers where the hottest shots of the year, but most important?


The most important shot of last season was an awful, flat footed, Fred Flintstone clanger in the fading minutes of the 2010 Western Conference finals. The only way the most important shot of last season read on the stat sheet is when it rattled off the rim, planted a smacker on the glass and then was hugged by a rebounder.

One of the most pivotal scenes in last years NBA story came from one of its biggest characters. Now it may have looked like nothing, but it was one of those back against the wall, against the world moments were our hero has to dig for something deeper before they fall harder than Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock in 'The Other Guys'. Our guy in this picture however, our hero was Ron Artest.

May 27, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02176400 Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic (R) of Slovenia celebrates forward Ron Artest's (L) winning shot at the end of game five of the NBA Western Conference Final against the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles, California, USA, 27 May 2010. The Lakers win 103-101 to take the lead three games to two in the best of seven series.

It's the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns and the sand in the hour glass is falling fast in this game before the series heads back to the Arizona desert. The Lakers are in play and Ron finds space to shoot a two, but he doesn't split that deuce. Instead the ball careens off the rim and is offensively snatched by the grasshopper grasp of Pau Gasol. With everyone focused on the Spaniard and that player with Italian roots, Artest shadows to his left and is open behind the three point line. It seems that nobody cares except for Gasol who serves Ron the butter. As Ron spots up a little awkwardly there's almost a collective gasp between players, fans, coaches and commentators. It seems that Ron spent a little too long in the freezer as the shot already looks cold. Now the game's yet to be iced as Ron's feet barely leave the ground while his shot barely makes the rim. With no goose neck for this lame duck attempt Ron backpedals a little awkwardly like a mummy. This time he won't be the daddy...yet.


Everyone’s wondering what Ron was thinking. Ron was probably remembering at the start of the season when he said that if the Lakers don't win the championship everyone could blame it on him. Right then they were. Marv Albert can't believe it. There's exclamations made but no trademark 'Yes'! The Zen master is not calm. Everyone in the huddle is a little upset. Ron admits with an 'I know, I know' nod that the shot was ill-advised as Phil Jackson asks him why. Then when he looks away Artest pulls one of them awkward faces to himself. One of those 'aaaaakwaaaard' looks. As Ron looks a more than a little embarrassed Lamar Odom nudges Ron and reassures him that everything’s alright. That's that QB love right there. Still everyone's left wondering why the HELL Ron took that shot. Well I'm going to tell you. (Don't worry Ron I got you).

May 27, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02176313 Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom (R) and Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest (L) look on during a break in action during the first half against the Phoenix Suns in game five of the NBA Western Conference Final in Los Angeles, California, USA, 27 May 2010. The Lakers and Suns are tide in a best of seven series two games all.

Former Laker come New Jersey Net Jordan Farmar puts it best, "Still, I like that Ron Artest shot". That shot was crucial and counted. It made its mark despite being an X instead of an O. Sometimes things do happen for a reason and I'm not talking about no patronizing, clichéd end of relationship excuse. Just like Jordan, Artest was never scared to take a crucial shot, make or miss and just like MJ said before to succeed he had to fail first.

Sometimes one ugly shot deserves another and so came the waning tenths of seconds of the same game. Now Kobe's rocking the pill (someone who should have the ball in his hands in these moments) but even his shot doesn't find rhyme or reason as the Mamba's out of rhythm. So off the iron and back into play the ball goes. Now it seems every player on the court and on the bench plus everyone in the arena and their momma ran for the loose ball like kids in the park chasing a soccer ball. It's Ron who times it right however in a hare and tortoise situation where Phoenix's Jason Richardson ends up resting under the tree, or this case the hoop. As Ron's Flintstone fast legs seem to escape him he hoists another awkward shot off balance that banks of the glass. This time however it's wet like victory champagne.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest jumps into the arms of team-mate Kobe Bryant after scoring the game-winning basket against the Phoenix Suns with less than 1 second on the clock during Game 5 of their NBA Western Conference final playoffs in Los Angeles May 27, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

As Gold arms rise and purple, Phoenix hearts sink, red illuminates the backboard. The games a rap like 'My World' and Marv Albert can give his verbal thumbs up. Chick Hearn can look down with pride as the games finally in the fridge, with the series soon to be in the freezer. Now isn't redemption the realest story in the NBA? Ron redeemed himself in less than a few minutes and confirmed that he was the right show stopper for the show time. As the game came to a close Ron and Kobe ended up in each others face in a much different way to that time the year before, LA was back in control and someone great named Ariza was an afterthought.

May 27, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02176395 The Lakers celebrate forward Ron Artest winning shot at the end of game five of the NBA Western Conference Final in Los Angeles, California, USA, 27 May 2010. The Lakers win 103-101 to take the lead three games to two in the best of seven series.

Ron and LA both needed that shot. Not just for that game but the even bigger games that followed. You see even Kobe had to hit air balls before he hit the big time. You sometimes have to hit rock bottom in order to reach the top. The Lakers themselves had that after losing to Boston two years back. Now when it came to the closer of this years Boston/LA Finals, in Game 7, the time was Ron's. They say adversity builds character. Well Artest has been through his fair share of adversity and has a lot of character to boot. Ron, Ron ensured that LA saw double and was by far the MVP of the deciding game. His defense and complete play kept LA's throne guarded and made them the all round champs for another season. Artest even hit a similar crucial three pointer to the one that bricked against Phoenix to cement the win.

Phil Jackson may not have told Artest to shoot it (in his mind and Ron's) but his therapist probably did. It may have been ill-advised but in the press conference following the game to Ron it was "whatever". WAP! Obama would be proud. Change had come for a guy who was throwing punches at people the last time he sent the crowd in a frenzy. Number 37 really made game 7 a thriller, Michael would have been proud too, anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson. Since then the champions and Artest have finally come together in perfect harmony like that autotune on the T-Pain remix Of Artest's track and now LA and Ron, Ron are looking for the same song this year. So the next time Gasol grabs a board and sees his frontcourt mate open like the Venice Beach courts on a playoff night he won't think twice about passing.

Game Over!

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208505 Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest kisses the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th NBA Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California, USA, 17 June 2010.


Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant chews on his jersey in the final minutes of the fourth quarter during Game 4 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Massachusetts June 10, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Phil Jackson may not be very happy that the Lakers are leaving training camp in El Segundo for London right now but Kobe Bryant has to be pleased with his European fan base. While Kobe looks for his third ring in a row this season he can bank on one three-peat. His number 24 jersey has been reported as the top seller in Europe for the third consecutive year. Taking a look at the sales from last year LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came in second and third respectively (maybe this will change this season). With all this love for Kobe surely he has to play in London and Barcelona. It seems that he'll get more than his 15 minutes of fame however...16 to be exact in limited action in front of his legion of European fans. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant jersey from the 1999-2000 NBA Championships on display at the NBA All-Star Jam Session at the Los Angeles Convention Center Photo via Newscom

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


May 27, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02176325 Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (L) and guard Kobe Bryant (R) celebrate during the first half against the Phoenix Suns in game five of the NBA Western Conference Final in Los Angeles, California, USA, 27 May 2010. The Lakers and Suns are tide in a best of seven series two games all.

Kobe Bryant's never one to like taking a back seat but right now he has to take to the sidelines while his teamates practice. Kobe's knee rehabilitation means that he's practicing as much as Allen Iverson...and were talking about Kobe Bryant. It is still uncertain to whether Kobe will play in the upcoming NBA Europe live preseason games where the Lakers face Minnesota in London on Monday and then travel to Barcelona to play Regal FC Barcelona on the 7th of October. Phil Jackson understands that many fans have paid the cost to see the boss (there's been a lot of ebay action too) but the Zen masters mind has been on ensuring his team is healthy. Jackson told the press, "Yes, you want the fans that have paid -- I was going to say dollars, but it's not dollars -- to have an opportunity to see remarkable players, but if he's not well enough to do so, obviously we won't do that."

Kobe does have some company on the injured list however with centre Andrew Bynum who will definitly not see action in Europe and right now is limited to flat foot shooting. The lack of Bynum's post presence opens up the floor for versatile forward Lamar Odom to take the four while Pau Gasol will lead at centre in London and his home country. With Ron joining them in the frontcourt this is still a stellar frontline that will be reassuring to the European fans. Bynums absence will also mean veteran, 37 year old, defensive dynamo Theo Ratliff and 58th pick, Rookie, big man Derrick Caracter will have more time on court. A testament to the Lakers depth in the middle. TIM DAVID HARVEY

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Which of big daddy’s homes will retire his jersey?

By Tim David Harvey

Celebs enjoy the festivities during the gala opening of the Casino Club At The Greenbrier in West Sulfur Springs, West Virginia on July 2, 2010. Restriction applies: NO NEW YORK NEWSPAPERS  Fame Pictures, Inc

On Tuesday the Boston Celtics introduced Shaquille O’Neal to the press. Shaq, complete with a bow tie and trademark smile told of how he’d like to play his last two years looking for a couple more rings with the Celtics. Two years seems a while away but it will be a sad day in the NBA when one of the associations most unique and charismatic players ever says his goodbye. There truly is no one like Shaquille O’Neal. No one can question his heart, his talent or his sheer dominance of the game that he has re-defined along the way. The one question that does arise about this mans 17 plus year career is which team is most deserving of retiring his jersey.

Although any of his teams could claim reason to retire one of his multiple jersey numbers in the 30’s, which team is Shaq most identifiable with? Which team most represents Shaq at his very best? Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland? Or will his latest run as ‘The Big Shamrock’ in the quest for a ring or two prove to be his most defining? Let’s take a look.

ORLANDO MAGIC: (Number 32, 1992-1996): Best Season: 29.3ppg, 13.2rpg, 59.9 FG%.

Athlete of the Year award winner Shaquille O'Neal  on 'The Source Hip Hop Music Awards' at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The show will air on the UPN Network on Friday, August 20, 1999 at 8:00pm. (Photo:Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)

Fresh out of LSU with the number one pick in the 1992 Draft (complete with smile and disbelief (“Me?”)) the most dynamic NBA player ever entered the league. From his Rookie of the Year season Shaq proved to be a legit, dominant 20 and 10 guy and this was just the tip of this very big iceberg. At certain points at his time with the Magic ‘Shaq Daddy’ was almost a 30 and 15 guy. The league had not seen dominance like this since a certain tall man named Wilt was doing his thing.

It only became better for Orlando when O’Neal was joined by Penny Hardaway in his sophomore season. This was the first of many partnerships formed with shooting guards/small forwards that have defined Shaq’s career. With the most exciting guard/forward not named Michael Jordan and Shaq throwing bodies around in the paint the future looked as bright as the Florida weather. Sometimes in life however things take a turn for a worse, sometimes thing stop you from achieving what you want. Things like injury. Things like Hakeem Olajuwon.

Shaq may have not claimed his first championship with the Magic but his time in Orlando was great and he did obtain a Olympic Gold Medal and a platinum rap album in the process. This may have only been the beginning of better things to come but Orlando is where it all started for Shaquille. It represents arguably his most exciting time in the league. He was playing like a man possessed and the hype was immense, he was outstanding. Orlando would never garner as much interest until a young heir to the superman throne named Dwight Howard was drafted. Notice the similarities.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: (Number 34, 1996-2004): Best Season: 29.7ppg, 13.6rpg, 57.4 FG%.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (R) and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Shaquille O'Neal talk during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on December 25, 2009. Cavaliers win 102-87. UPI Photo/ Phil McCarten Photo via Newscom

The diesels longest, most successful and most turbulent time came with the Los Angeles Lakers. Winning three back to back rings with the most exciting guard/forward the league has seen since Michael Jordan. The Lakers could easily be anybodies clear choice for the team most likely to retire his jersey if it wasn’t for the way things were left. The Lakers represent both Shaquille in his prime and the time were O’Neal garnered the most newspaper headlines for all the right reasons… and all the wrong reasons.

When the basketball/movie/rap star moved to LA he showcased some award winning performances. Shaq won titles and MVP’s with the Lakers. This felt like home for the biggest personality in the NBA. Just like it did for Wilt and just like it did for Magic. I tell you Jack, Hollywood was watching.

Just as things couldn’t get any better…they didn’t. Shaq and Kobe may have been the most dominant partnership in the league, ruling the paint and the perimeter but they had a beef as high-profile as Jay-Z and Nas. When they got it together they were arguably the greatest one-two punch in NBA history but when they fell apart they contributed to the death of a dynasty.

Things are better nowadays for Shaq and Kobe. A couple of seasons back they shared MVP honours at the All-Star game and they played together like it was old times. Some Laker fans even hoped that maybe LA could bring back Shaq for one last title run. It seems that you can’t think of one of these guys without thinking about the other. Shaq may be more identifiable with Kobe then he is with the Lakers but if this franchise doesn’t retire his jersey after everything he’s done for them it’ll be an injustice.

MIAMI HEAT: (Number 32, 2004-2008): Best Season: 22.9ppg, 10.4rpg, 60.1 FG%.

SANTA MONICA, CA - AUGUST 05:  NBA player Shaquille O'Neal answers questions at a press conference for ABC's new reality show 'Shaq Vs.' held at the Lowes Hotel on August 5, 2009 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal’s first years in Miami were his redemption. Soured by the way things ended up in Los Angeles, Shaq was excited from day one down in South Beach armed with his super soaker. It was fun for the Miami Heat too. Sophomore sensation Dwyane Wade was poised to be one of the most exciting talents in the league and all he needed was a partner in crime. In came Shaquille O’Neal and there was the 3rd partnership. The partnership between Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade was the most compatible and friendly, the pair was exactly what each other needed. When they won their championship together they were dominant. If Kobe wasn’t as talented as he is he would have probably looked like the bitter ex because this new partnership was getting all the headlines for all the right reasons.

So Shaquille’s time in Miami could have been personally his best time. He made his way out of a bad breakup and helped form an exciting and successful team. This team however did not last too long either, but it could of. There was no dynasty in Miami, key guys got injured and other significant pieces left or retired. Times were good in Miami, but they were short.

Shaq may have reached milestones in his time with Miami but in his last season injuries and fouls became the better of him. He was still a force but when he was traded to Phoenix that was it. Shaq didn’t leave things on the best note with Miami. Some words were exchanged about Pat Riley through the press but that being said it was nothing like the fallout in Los Angeles. The ‘Big Aristotle’s’ time in Miami will always be looked at as a happy and successful one.

PHOENIX SUNS: (Number 32, 2008-2009): Best Season: 17.8ppg, 8.4rpg, 60.9 FG%.

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Ok so clearly Shaquille’s season and a bit in Phoenix wasn’t as career defining as his time in Orlando, Los Angeles or Miami but it was nothing to be ignored. When Shaquille came in critics wrote him off as finished and fans were scared the fast-breaking Suns would be slowed down. Only one of these things happened but to Shaq’s credit, the Mike D’Antoni era Suns had come to an end long before ‘the Diesel’ came to re-fuel Arizona. The Suns may have been slower but they had a force in the middle with ‘The Big Cactus’.

Shaquille has always faced criticism about his weight and conditioning but during his time in Phoenix he stepped in the rejuvenating machine. O’Neal proved again that the one who would have the last word (or in his case words) would be him. Shaq was drop stepping, slam dunking and baby hooking his way through the west like he was in LA again. He even had a 45 and 11 night against Toronto. The Shaq of old was back and his famous one liner's had the goods to back them up.

Although in his full season with the Suns Shaq didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in his career, his time in Phoenix was clearly a success. His tenure may not go down in history or measure up to the feats he has achieved with his other teams but it still holds something special. Shaquille’s time with Phoenix showed his detractors that he could still play like an All-Star and give a half decent team a legitimate shot. Shaq proved that as a veteran he could still play like a young buck. Shaquille proved everybody wrong in the biggest way he has done in his whole career.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: (Number 33, 2009-2010): Best (Only) Season: 12.0ppg, 6.7rpg, 56.6 FG%.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal leave the floor during the fourth quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Cleveland, May 11, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

After playing with Penny, Kobe and Dwyane, Superman’s next rescue mission was to ‘Win a Ring for the King’. Although he was unsuccessful in turning this motto into a declaration he still had a solid year. Solid players however don’t get their jerseys retired but then again Shaq isn’t just any other ‘solid’ player. It’s safe to say though after only logging one season as a Cavalier the number 32 will still be available for Cleveland players in the future.

If O’Neal had turned the Cleveland ‘Wine and Gold’ into champagne and gold then maybe Shaq’s status and jersey in LeBron’s former home would have ‘risen’. With that being said however reputation doesn’t always count for everything, especially in LeBron’s case. It’s not like Cleveland fans will be happy to plan a retirement ceremony for anybody’s jersey number at the moment anyway.

BOSTON CELTICS: (Number 36, 2010-?).

Newly signed Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal sits under Celtics championship banners at a news conference in Waltham, Massachusetts August 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

At the press conference in New England Shaq looked as dapper as an old English gentleman, decked out in a suit and bow tie. The reason for his attire? He feels like he is joining an executive club. He sure is. So many legends have played for the Celtics that one of the only jersey numbers available in the 30’s for O’Neal was the number 36. Whether this jersey number will join the other Celtic greats amongst the banners remains to be seen however. Shaquille may be a larger than life legend but his stats are smaller than his reputation.

We don’t know how the next two years will play out however and if Shaq plays a big role in the Celtics quest for a championship then you never know. Look at it this way, Robert Horry may not have been an All-Star player but don’t you think someone should retire his jersey for all the big games he’s won? Even in limited minutes if Shaquille plays like he did in Phoenix then ‘The Big Shamrock’ may just collect more than a few more nicknames in Beantown.

Years after Shaquille retires his time at Boston may be remembered like Karl Malone’s time at the Lakers or Hakeem Olajuwon’s time at Toronto but he could still show us a side of him we haven’t seen yet. As good as Boston is a little bit of ‘Diesel’ may be exactly what the Celtics needs to taste champagne again. If Shaq wins another ring what could be said about him then? How fitting would it be? Shaquille may just have a few more career performances in him before his times up. How defining would that be?

Shaquille may not have the luxury that the John Stockton’s, Larry Bird’s and the Magic Johnson’s of the league had. Shaquille may not have had one franchise to call his home for his career but at the same time he is no journeyman. Shaquille is larger than life and greater than any one portion of his career. He has had defining moments with each of the five teams he has played for and more moments await him in Boston. The Magic, the Lakers and the Heat can all claim that Shaquille had his best times while with them and if all the teams Shaq has played for threw him a retirement ceremony then what would be so wrong with that? After all Shaquille has given the league more years on top, dominance, entertainment and laughs then anybody else has….and he isn’t done yet. Oh no!


Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Blake poses for photos during the basketball team's media day at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, California on September 25, 2010. The Lakers will try to three-peat this season after winning back-to-back NBA championship titles. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

Things are looking real hot in Los Angeles right now and not just with the 113 degree heat wave. As the Lakers are looking to reach three digits in consecutive championships their re-tooled team looks hotter than ever. Still however as good as the forecast for this team looks that doesn't mean that now and again there will be some colder fronts. With a welcome to Los Angeles competitive shrug during a training camp practice guard Sasha Vujacic accidentally injured free agent signing Steve Blake. The point guard got up with a mildly sprained left ankle. The injury however won't keep Blake on any lists although Sasha's probably on Steve's payback one. Those two guys will have the chance to become even more familiar with each other as the Lakers head out for a real big road trip as they fly out for preseason games in London and Barcelona this week.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Notes From Camp Laker


Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher (L-R), pose for photos during the basketball team's media day at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California on Sept. 25, 2010. The Lakers will try to three-peat this season after winning back-to-back NBA championship titles. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

King James aint got nothing on the Lakers.

It's September 25th and were at the Toyota Sports Centre. There's cameras and recorders aplenty as champions in gold sport for photos in front of green screens. Yes once again media day has rolled round and the Lakers look as fresh as ever entering training camp, even if two of their stars aren't ready for a knees up and their coach is taking his shadow past 5 o'clock.

These Lakers look ready. Maybe it's because the target on the Lakers back has now shifted to the back of LeBron James and his Miami Heat or maybe it's because the Lakers are in that three-peat confidence, comfort zone. In the eyes of some critics the sun may now shine brighter in Miami than Los Angeles but these Lakers are out to prove that showtime is about to have it's run in Hollywood once again.

It starts with Kobe as always. Bryant looks confident coming off his knee surgery, smiling for he cameras with that Killer Jordan-esque grin whilst coolly flipping the Spalding behind his back.

Then we have Andrew Bynum, like Kobe and like himself last year and the year before Drew is recovering from knee surgery. Now although it seems like Bynum may as well go fishing with Greg Oden and Yao Ming for the time being Andrew is pivotal in the post for Los Angeles. The teams success may rest on those strong shoulders and weak knees but one things for sure no matter how much time number 17 spends on the chilling list, when he's on the court he's nothing but hot.

Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom (R) and former Laker James Worthy share a moment during the basketball team's media day at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, California on September 25, 2010. The Lakers will try to three-peat this season after winning back-to-back NBA championship titles. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

Also back in purple and gold are the usual suspects ready to do criminal damage to the rest of the league. Guilty as charged are Spanish bullfighter Pau Gasol ready to do even more damage in the paint. There's also Hollywood smooth, Lamar Odom fresh off winning Gold for his country and marrying one of the flyest girls in the city. Let's not forget Ron Artest who's now in his sophomore year with the Lakeshow after making good on his promise to be responsible for the teams Championship glory in his rookie Laker season. Also in the building are two guys who after long negotiations re-upped and kept California in bay. One Laker legend and saviour for the ages in Derek Fisher and one dunking, spark plugging, tenacious dynamo in Shannon Brown.

Los Angeles Lakers' Matt Barnes speaks with reporters during the basketball team's media day at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, California on September 25, 2010. The Lakers will try to three-peat this season after winning back-to-back NBA championship titles. UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

There's some new guys as well motoring in to the Toyota Sports centre. Defensive specialist Matt Barnes will look to put his domestic abuse allegations aside to give the Lakers homecourt advantage on defence. With Ron, Ron and the 'doberman' the Lakers now have a trio of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Now it's going to be hard for anyone to get through the door. The championship adorned Staples Centre is the Lakers house and they live in it. Also trying on his new Laker jersey is tough guard Steve Blake who may not look like a Basketball player, but with his skills, defence and sharp eye is a definite good look for LA.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and head coach Phil Jackson, pose for photos during the basketball team's media day at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California on Sept. 25, 2010.  UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

As all the players answer questions and catch up one man looks at this group on this day, maybe for the last time. This could really be 'The Last Season' for Phil Jackson but believe this his team has found it's soul. The zen master is looking to believe in the quest for three one more time. He's already seen Red and raised him. Phil's got his game face on. He's even wearing the same beard he wore in those glorious Chicago Bulls days. Phil Jackson aint concerned with this media day stuff. He sarcastically told reporters that he'd missed them. Phil's not concerned about the preseason, he's already labelled it 'a bust'. What P-Jax is concerned about its what matters, the season ahead and when it unfolds he's not going to miss a thing.

Jordan Farmar and Adam Morrison may be gone and Trey Johnson, Anthony Roberson, Andrew Naymick and Russell Hicks may follow them soon but for the Lakers that will remain under contract it's all business. The Lakers may not have poached any of the top free agents this summer, swung any blockbuster deals or been involved in Carmelo Anthony talks but one thing is for certain. When it comes to the peak of the biggest stage, the Lakers will be the word.

This is chess, not checkers.


Three reasons why the Lakers WILL three-peat.

By Tim David Harvey

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (L) has words with teammate Ron Artest in the first half during Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Defence wins championships. Sure it's a boring notion but it's an accurate one as well. That's why the Boston Celtics have so many banners. That's why Ron Artest won Game 7 in this years NBA Finals and that's why Bill Russell is the real lord of the rings.

The Lakers are currently back to back champions. Historically they are known for their 'Showtime' offence and Kobe Bryant is one of the associations greatest ever players and offensive threats, but the Lakers are much more than prolific scorers. In defending their repeat championships LA will need to step up their defensive play once again.

You can't spell 'dominance' without a 'd' first and foremost. The Lakers have become a great defensive team and have learned from their 2008 Finals loss to Boston and their 2004 heartbreak in Detroit. They have learned that you can score on someone all you like, but if you can't stop them, it's over.

Now the Lake Show is stocked full of great stoppers. Gasol, Bynum and Odom are all good defenders in the post and as for the backcourts ability you can charge that to their warrior Derek Fisher. The Lakers bench may often be overlooked in favour for the Hollywood elite that sits behind them but these players certainly can take offence too.

Mar. 02, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, United States - epa02062958 Indiana Pacers Danny Granger (C) almost has the ball stolen by Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (L) as Ron Artest (R) defends during the first period of their NBA basketball match in Los Angeles, California, USA, 02 March 2010.

To win big games though you need difference makers. The Lakers have that on both ends of the floor but when it comes to defence the Lakers now have a three pronged attack that can lock down even the best in the league. Why do they have this? They have this because they've got three of the best perimeter defenders in the league, one of the first lines of defence in Basketball. They've got newly acquired free agent Matt Barnes. They got former Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest and they've got Kobe Byant, a Basketball legend on both ends of the floor.

So when you've got three of your best defenders in the L guarding your best player (or best two players for that matter), you've got trouble. The Lakers could play two of these guys at a time, with one guy tagging in off the bench or all three at once. Either way it's about to become real hard for any team to match up with the Lakers. No matter who you are. Even if you think you've got the luck of the Boston Irish. Even if your names LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Any dream team will suffer a nightmare playing this three headed monster. No player wants to screw with this ménage a trois.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant points to teammate Ron Artest in the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns during Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference final playoff series in Los Angeles, May 19, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It all begins with Kobe. The franchise player, the' go to guy'. He makes all the big plays, not every time (We see you Pau, Lamar, Derek and Ron) but 9 times out of ten. The clutch shots may be remembered and rotated on youtube for decades but his key steals and blocks ice games just as well. See Kobe suffers from the same thing all star players do. People focus on all the exciting things too much that the intangibles get overlooked. Lets take Basketball back to the basics. Kobe is a 'guard' after all, even if he is a 'shooting guard'.

Kobe may have made the NBA All-Defensive team year after year but his work on the 'other' end of the floor is still very much underrated. Put it this way, who do people talk about more, the Defensive Player of the year or the league MVP? Sure highlights are highlights but the 'little' things that are done and that don't show up on the stat sheet are just as important. As a matter of fact these aren't 'little' things anyway. Everything in Basketball is a big thing and the difference between achieving the 'W' or being left games behind.

Kobe doesn't just go at the opposing teams best player, he guards them too. Bryant has good wingspan, he's strong, he holds his own and most importantly, he's fearless. Kobe is so competitive and has a killer instinct that is matched by nobody in this league...nobody. Number 24 doesn't just want to beat you...he want's to stop you too.

A Black Mamba can kill you in more ways than one and the self dubbed 'Doberman' of the Beijing Olympics doesn't bark, he bites. Just like when he won a gold medal Bryant showed that he is just as dedicated to hounding someone on defence as he is at being chased on offence. Not only do the Lakers have one of the best all-round players guarding their house, they've also let two more hungry dogs off the leash.

May 19, 2010 - Los Angeles County, California, U.S. - Los Angeles Lakers' Ron Artest points to Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant after making a 3 point shot to finish the 1st quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19th, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

The Lakers may have lost some 'Showtime', when they gave up Trevor Ariza in the free agent period of 2009 but they picked up a real 'show stopper' when they acquired Ron Artest back off Houston. Ariza was a big reason the Lakers won in 2009 but Artest was an even bigger reason why the Lakers repeated in 2010. Sure when the Lakers lost Ariza's athleticism they lost a lot of speed but having Ron Artest slow things down on defence isn't exactly a bad thing. See a player who can see the game developing in a much slower way can master the court and therefore the game itself. A player like this see's plays before they happen. A player like this wins championships and becomes legendary. A player like this see's the game like Magic Johnson. This is no trick, great minds think alike and great players move in time.

Now Ron, Ron may not move with the quickness but what Artest doesn't have in speed he makes up for 100 times over in strength. He may not look like he could run track but he's built like he could play football. Imagine trying to get round a pick set by this guy. Or imagine exhaustedly managing to elude Kobe after being chased around the court only to be hit and bounced by Artest. Now even the strong body of LeBron James couldn't put up with much of this punishment. Any team in this league can throw anything they want at the Lakers because they have the players to counter. When the Lakers picked up Pau Gasol in 2008 Kobe remarked that he wasn't going to war with 'butter knives' anymore, well now he and his Lakers aren't lying in trenches either. Their standing in a fort.

Jan. 18, 2010 - LOS ANGELES, California, United States - Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) shakes hands with Ron Artest,right, before a basketball game against the Orlando Magic at the Staples Center on Monday, January 18, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Surely one controversial but tenacious defensive player is enough for the Lakers though right? Well Mitch Kupchak didn't seem to think so this Summer adding Matt Barnes to this emphatic mix. Sure these guys are volatile but the difference is their controlled by the Zen of Phil Jackson. There's nothing more potent or powerful than controlled aggression. These guys are much more than assistant coach slapping, hair dying eccentric brawlers. Their true competitors.

Barnes is quick like Kobe and wild like Ron. His passion, heart and dedication matches his two new team-mates to a tee and he is not only one of the most underrated defenders in the league, he's also one of the most undervalued players. As a matter of fact the acquisition of Matt Barnes may have been one of the most important free agent signings this summer. Sure this signing didn't come after a one hour television spot or with a rock star like entrance on stage but remember it's the little things.

Jul 27, 2010 - El Segundo, CA, USA - Los Angeles Lakers General Manager MITCH KUPCHAK (R) introduces the latest addition to the team MATT BARNES  at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.

Let's take nothing away from this brilliant new Miami team but with the pick up of Barnes, the Lakers can match them, outlast them and even challenge and defeat them. Think about it they match up piece for piece. Chris Bosh has Bynum, Gasol and Odom to deal with in the post while Kobe and LeBron will face off. This leaves Dwyane Wade, not open but closed off by both Barnes and Artest. Checkmate.

With all three defenders on the court at the same time the Lakers become the most powerful offensive and the most powerful defensive team in the league. Then, even when Kobe takes five (or more like two) on the bench, the Lakers still have two of the best players in the league disarming the opposing teams primary weapon. When Kobe is back on the court during crunch time he can focus more on the offence when he knows his first and second line of defence has his back.

The reason these guys excel in the lost art of defence is attributed to much more than 'just' their strength, their positioning or their undeniable, proven talent. The reason these guys are three of the top ten defenders in the league is because they share the same three attributes that every player needs to become a premier defender in this league. These attributes are courage, passion and competitiveness. Bryant, Artest and Barnes have the die hard bravery to risk anything and everything to win and they have the passion that goes beyond the 'I Love This Game' slogan. This is because they want to win and rule this game that they love. It's one thing loving something, it's another thing to actually 'want' the thing you love. Now as far as competitiveness is concerned we needn’t get into it...but we will.

Houston Rocket Ron Artest swings Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant's arm during Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 17, 2009. The Lakers defeated the Rockets 89-70 to win the best-of-seven series 3-2. (UPI Photo/Jon SooHoo) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

How competitive are these guys? Well look at it this way these guys may be team-mates now but before as opponents, there was no love lost. These guys where far from friends. We remember Ron in Kobe's face all series long as Houston and LA sparred in the 2009 Playoffs. Also how can we forget Barnes and Bryant getting into it last season during a Magic, Lakers game? Things got so heated that Barnes even faked throwing an inbounds pass right at Kobe's face! Bryant even one-upped Barnes however by not even flinching at this. Kobe just stared right through the ball and right through Matt owning the moment. Chris Rock knows this kind of humiliation.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (R) drives by Phoenix Suns' Matt Barnes during second half action at Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 10, 2008. The Lakers defeated the Suns 115-110. (UPI Photo/Jon SooHoo) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Kobe is without a doubt the most competitive player in this league. When Barnes and Artest showed they weren't fazed by this legend they earned more than just Kobe's frustration and attention. They earned his respect. It's almost like it was all written, just like KB was testing these two guys, but the fact is Kobe plays like this against everyone. The thing that separates Artest and Barnes from the rest was their willingness to see Kobe's competitiveness and up the ante. Now as team-mates what separates these two from the rest is their willingness to put this old rivalry aside in order to come together with the same passion for the same goal. That's what separates a Ron Artest and a Matt Barnes from a Raja Bell. This is what separates ordinary players from champions.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208459 Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (R) hugs teammate Ron Artest after defeating the Boston Celtics during game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th championships.

With three of the most competitive, passionate and aggressive players on the same page defensively the Lakers become as strong as any defensive minded team they've tried to overcome over the last ten years. Adding this element to an already championship calibre team gives the Lakers that extra dimension, that Championship x-factor. Los Angeles now on both ends of the floor has a team like no other. A team that is both dominant in the paint and on the perimeter. They may not have a 'Dream' team like in Miami but what they do have is a dynasty. Now that's real.



Los Angeles Lakers' Kareem Abdul Jabbar waves to fans as the Lakers celebrates their 15th NBA championship with a parade from Staples Center to a rally at the Los Angeles Coliseum on June 17, 2009. (UPI Photo/Lori Shepler) Photo via Newscom

What measures a legend? In the sport of Basketball it’s a man’s skills, his talent, and his achievements. What measures a hero? In the sport world or outside a hero is someone who is there for others and stands up against all adversity. A hero looks out for others, not just himself. A legend is cemented through time; a hero is found in moments that define. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a legend in the 70’s and 80’s in the NBA winning championships and re-defining the game. Last year the quiet centre became another hero who used his spotlight to speak out and raise the awareness of cancer, so others wouldn’t have to go through the same things as he has.

“I think that someone like me, who has a public presence, because people pay attention to what’s going on in my life, can help save some lives,”

Nobody wants to hear the word cancer. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, if it occurs in your life it’s a tragic and desperate situation. In the long and hard battle, hope and fighting are two ways to combat this dreaded disease. Last November when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed he has leukemia, he showed positivity and endurance in the face of this terrible news.

Everyone knows the player, the legend the champion. Everyone knows about the infamous goggles, the infamous hook and the most points scored in league history. The man however has and still remains somewhat of an enigma. A guy who’s personal life was kept exactly that, personal.

So when Kareem decided to make public his condition it spoke volumes not only for Cap himself but for his commitment to not only fighting but raising awareness of this disease. I’m sure everyone would have respected Kareem’s wishes if he wanted his personal space on this one but instead now Kareem is changing his normal demeanour to help others.

Yes, there are people everyday who raise awareness about detecting cancer professional or otherwise, famous or not. That being said however everyone who contributes to raising awareness helps. He may not be the only one but Kareem is still helping, period.

Awareness is especially helpful when distinguishing between different types of cancer and paying attention to those that are rare as well as common. Kareem has Chronic myelogenous leukemia. A rare form of cancer. It starts inside an individual’s bone marrow. The cancer then grows from the cells in the bone marrow that produce white blood cells. The cancerous white blood cells that are produced can take years to grow so detection of this disease is usually discovered early. Early detection helps sufferers cope better, all whilst maintaining their lifestyles as best they can.

As Kareem told us its important for sufferers to seek help from a specialist and make taking medication, receiving checkups and monitoring a regular, scheduled thing. Jabbar may have been terrified upon hearing this news but in managing and enduring the problem of having leukemia he told himself and other sufferers one vital important thing,

“It does not have to be a death sentence”.

In speaking out about this disease Kareem has helped raise understanding but also offered hope to fellow sufferers. He has done this by showing confidence and a strong will and mindset in the face of severe adversity. Seeing someone in the public eye going through what they are with such resolve may ease sufferer’s fears. If people look up to a role model like Kareem at the very least it can help make things a little easier. That’s a duty that Kareem not only feels he wants to do but knows he need to do. This is a true leader back at work.

LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 1:  Former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar arrives at a special performance of A.R. Gurney's 'Love Letters', with Dame Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones, to benefit The Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation at the Paramount Studios Theater on December 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Yes we do live in a world where regular people who do great work are often unfortunately ignored whereas sportsmen and celebrities are placed on an often time undeserved, over the top pedestal. It is also evident that any cancer sufferers helping and aiding not only themselves but others are heroes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular person or your name is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You’re a help to other sufferers no matter who you are. That being said though with this world we live in being celebrity driven it is vitally important for those who aren’t overlooked to reach and speak out for those who need their help.

This is where Cap has been using his star power for good. A lesson a lot of celebrities could do with swatting up on. This isn’t another one of those cringe worthy moments where a celebrity presents a large cheque to a charity (which obviously is still a great help) on the eve of their album or film release. Kareem has made his battle with cancer public so people in his predicament can be aware of early detection and can also help feel a sense of optimism and faith.

This is where abusing your celebrity is actually beneficial and of great service. This big man’s step out the shadows and into the public eye is done for the help of others alone and not his own personal gain. Kareem is expecting nothing in return, just the hope that this big gesture could be even at the very least the smallest bit of aid for others.

Magic Johnson turned his devastating news of testing positive for HIV into a mission of raising awareness, prevention and coping with the disease. Magic did just as much good to this cause as he did on the basketball court. Jabbar has followed his old running mate’s suit. Kareem has achieved so many milestones on the hardwood that are worthy of all the articles that have come before this one. Just like his former teammate with his latest move however he sought to achieve as much good as he can here in the face of this disease.

Kareem has watched a close friend an uncle and a grandfather lose the battle to cancer. He has seen his father fight through it. With this tragically unfortunate history in mind to still show determination when diagnosed himself, coupled with his dedication to helping others afflicted shows a great strength. A strength that is attributed to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the man, not the basketball player.

This is what its all about. This situation Kareem had made public was not done in order to just make the news, instead it was done so Kareem could serve as a spokesman for a leukemia condition that is rare and can often be overlooked. Now almost a year later if Kareem can continue to accomplish some good in his current devastating situation then it is worth him coming out of his private world and sharing a little bit about himself. Kareem understands that and therefore was and is prepared to sacrifice his long cultivated publicity shy life in order to do this. He really has given us himself. That is something we can all tip our caps to.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10:  (L-R) Former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; NBA players Baron Davis and Trevor Ariza attend the grand opening of the Conga Room at LA Live on December 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Conga Room)

“You can’t just sit back. If I can affect that condition, I’m a very happy guy.”


(Originally Published By Slamonline (06/19/10)


June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208180 Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (Top) and Boston Celtics' Rasheed Wallace (Bottom) struggle for a loose ball during the first half of game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010.
Let's take a look back at this years NBA Finals. OK, so Game 7 was ugly — Sam Cassell ugly — but there was still some beauty in it. Kind of like the old flame who wasn’t the prettiest of them all, but, looking back, there was just something about her.

After all the hype and build-up for the final game of the Playoffs some fans felt let down like the infamous Forum balloons of 1969. Game 7 may have not kept itself classy like San Diego but the scrappy nature gave us a finale that suited these storied franchises down to the ground.

Game 6 was a different story. A good, old fashioned blowout. A great statement game in the sense that the Lakers reaffirmed their position in a series that for the last two games where Celtic-dominated. It was also one of those useful game finishes where fans could leave early to avoid the gridlock. This is all well and good for a mid-season game but who really wants to see that in a Game 7? In the end of this series, just like with Joaquin Phoenix, a close shave was the only thing that was going to look good.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208201 Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant watches a loose ball go out against the Boston Celtics during the first half of game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010.

So after both opponents had traded blows, decade after decade, game after game for almost 60 years and six games, it all came down to the last quarter of a real drawn-out game. The competitive nature had been nurtured through the times and moments these two teams had been through and shared over the course of their historic rivalry. This rivalry heated up and intensified so much over an evenly matched series that it all boiled down to player’s nerves spilling over from what looked like a classic case of over-enthusiasm. Someone needed to find where Larry David was sitting.

This over-eagerness in some superstar players revealed their more human side. Mistakes where made and Shawn Bradley shots where thrown up. Statically speaking this looked like a Clippers/Nets exhibition. Fans looking for a reputable spread across the offensive box score would be disappointed, but those looking for true grit, determination and a clinic in defense wouldn’t be. With so much riding on the defining game some of the more confident players looked vulnerable. A player’s skill was almost a non issue to be thrown out the window. The winner on this night would be the team with more resolve.

LOS ANGELES, June 18, 2010 Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo (C) controls the ball during Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals against Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, the United States, June 17, 2010. Los Angeles Lakers defeated Boston Celtics 83-79 and won NBA's Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy for the 16th time.

This made for compelling viewing; it was almost like watching a ‘next basket wins’ game on the streets or as one commentator said a wrestling match. The two teams where going at it minute after minute, quarter after quarter, round after round. The gloves where off and just like Ali’s ‘Rumble In The Jungle’ with Joe Frazier L.A. took everything the Celtics had on the chin until they wore Boston down and delivered the final knockout. The Lakers may not have been making the grades through the first three quarters but they finished strong like Mister Cee, and that’s what mattered. Sure the game wasn’t played extremely well but it was fought brilliantly.

There’s nothing glamorous about hustle but there is everything to be admired in the hard work that gets the job done. Maybe the Hollywood brethren in Staples weren’t excited by the basketball they were seeing, but it was necessary. Just like the Zen Master said, “it got the job done.” For the Lakers to finally overcome their nemesis they had to play like them. Another installment of ‘Showtime’ wouldn’t of worked, the Lakers had to put in more work than that and grind it out against Boston’s blue…excuse me, green collared approach. In doing this they finally got the monkey off their back. They finally beat the Celtics at their own game and even with all its bumps and bruises it was a beautiful game to.

Even amongst the grit and grime pretty plays could be found. For the Lakers, Fisher added some color to the game from his first open look to his last rainbow jumper. Whereas as far as the Celtics were concerned Garnett added his trademark ferocity from his opening ‘in control’ two hander (off a Rondo alley oop) to his ‘we’re still in this’ statement dunk late on.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208229 Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (L) Ray Allen (2L) Boston Celtics' Glen Davis (C) Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo 2R and Boston Celtics' Rasheed Wallace (R) regroup during the second quarter of the NBA Finals Game Seven at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California, USA 17 June 2010. The best of seven series is tied at 3 all.

When the ‘Big Three’ were tiring Rondo was throwing passes, scoring beautiful layups and draining threes in the clutch that breathed life in to the game. ‘The Truth’ and ‘Jesus’ still came up big, adding refreshingly wet jumpers in the middle of dry spells. Now that sounds like some good Basketball.

Pau Gasol’s 19 points and 18 boards came from hard work and determination. There were times where he made a mess around the cup but how he cleared the table more than wetted the fans appetite for more. The strength and the tenacity he displayed on the boards, the blocks and on second chance efforts showed that he’s come a long way since he last met the Celtics imposing frontcourt in the 2008 finals.

In the last Celtics/Lakers Finals, Pau may have appeared a little out his depth, but his passion this year for the Lakers was far from shallow. The Gasol glare, which after last year seems like a new, Laker tradition may be more scary than appealing but this is the type of love for the game that is sometimes lost on other players with that type of talent. That, however, is what separates good and great basketball players and winners and losers. In 2008 Gasol was weaker and it wasn’t so pretty to watch. Today, he’s much stronger and he’s never looked better.

The other difference maker for the Lakers brought immeasurable heart and charm to a so-called lackluster affair. Remember when Ron Artest was first signed by the Lakers, and he said the blame was on him if they didn’t win? Well, he was playing like a man of his word, responsible for his team’s success and how sweet it was to see and hear him go on about making that three off a Kobe pass? Now that’s entertainment.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208491 Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (C) shoots over Boston Celtics' Ray Allen (R) as Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett look on during the second half of game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th championships.

Kobe himself may not have played in this game like a series MVP but he still went hard. Those 23 points may look like that of a second or third option player but those last 10 came through strong drives and his ability to stay with his game. Kobe’s 6-24 may have been numbers John Starks guys are made of but once ‘The Mamba’ composed himself and slithered in to a rhythm the fourth quarter became a classical piece.

How often in the NBA Finals does the outcome come down to a Game 7? Well this is only the third time since 1990 and to those ‘80s babies who are edging that little bit closer to 30, you may not like to admit it but that was a long, long time ago. Even if some fans found the game hard to watch there was no denying this was a more definite ending to a normal NBA Finals. Now that’s the type of ending everyone wants to see. Years from now which Lakers series will be talked about more? This one, or their 4-0 sweep of the Nets?

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant hugs his father Joe Bryant as he holds the MVP trophy after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Los Angeles, California June 17, 2010.   REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

A Game 7 was exactly what this chapter of the Celtics, Lakers needed especially after all the statement games that came beforehand, whether on a Christmas Day or mid-season Western Conference road trip. Would anyone really be satisfied if this clash didn’t come down to the last minutes of the last game? That was real drama that no build up commercial could truly evoke. This was where amazing was happening for real. Lil’ Wayne can attest to that, ‘Sorry LeBron. Get ‘em next year.’

It was clear toward the end of the third quarter that whoever won this game would really, truly deserve the title. After all the blood, sweat, tears (we see you Ron, Ron) and years the true victor was the team who stuck it out to the end and prevailed. Game 7 gave everyone a real competition and a true final game. The play on the court may have needed as much dolling up as Christina Aguilera received before she delivered the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ but the way the passion of the game was played out was more than just a good look.


(Originaly Published By BasketballBuzz:

Jun. 09, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02194204 Los Angeles Lakers player Derek Fisher during press conference the day after game three of the NBA Finals at TD Gardens in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 09 June 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the series at 2-1 for the best of seven games.

True sportsmen are hard to find in today’s game of basketball. This is especially true when coverage is dominated by heavily rotated highlight reels. Ok, there’s not much that beats alley-oops and baseline reverse slams but what about the fundamentals of the true warriors of the game? Those who don't make the top ten plays of the week but instead possess something deeper. Derek Fisher shows us how much he embodies all the aspects of being true to the definition of sportsmanship.

n : fairness in following the rules of the game

You can't call yourself a basketball fan if the figure '0.4' doesn't register in your mental encyclopaedia of historic NBA Playoff moments. There's not a lot of things you can do in 0.4 seconds (you can barely even bounce a basketball) but that was all Lakers guard Derek Fisher needed in the postseason of 2004. Just four-tenths of a second to break the playoff run and hearts of the San Antonio Spurs. Less than half a second to lift his written off Los Angeles team to the NBA finals. He did all this with a beautiful turnaround, fade away J off an inbounds pass from Hall of Fame candidate Gary Payton. This was Derek's hall of fame moment though. Catch, turn, shoot, BANG! With that Swish Derek went from respected role player to among other things, "The Fish that saved L.A.". I bet he's glad that name didn't stick. From now on just call him 'Mr. 0.4'.

Just one heroic moment for a seldom known role player right? Wrong! This is the same guy who's been a playoff hero year after year. The same guy who averaged double digits in points in three consecutive seasons whilst having to share the ball with two guys who had enough trouble sharing the limelight. The same guy taken with the 24th pick out of Little Rock, Arkansas. The same guy who's practice coupled with his workout regime keeps him as fresh and strong as he was when he first entered the L with Kobe almost 14 unbelievable years back. The same guy who maintains this high level even after suffering two stress fractures to his foot. The same guy who in playoff runs was a killer in the clutch like the Lakers Horry. Keeping his teams hopes alive shot after shot, charge after charge, big play after big play. The same guy looking these finals to do what countless other star NBA players haven’t, fill an entire hand full of rings. Spurs purists will also be heartbroken every time they remember Derek taking over quarters, wetting so many three pointers with marksman like precision. Shooting the lights out to an NBA record 15 three pointers in the 4 game 2001 Western Conference semi-finals sweep. Philadelphia 76er fans wish they could forget the Finals, Game 5, deep dagger three from D-Fish which sank along with their hearts and hopes of championship glory back in 2001. The normally reserved Derek with an assassins look on his face put his finger on his lips signalling the home crowd to be silent after that shot. The city of brotherly love had nothing more to say. Respect paid.

Fast forward a couple of 365's and Derek was still that reliable point guard but like November 4th change can happen and Derek Fisher was part of the death of a dynasty in LA. Kobe remained but his reported on off relationship with Shaquille O’Neal ran its course when the diesel fuelled up and took a trip back down to Florida. This was the biggest news story but all good Hollywood stories have sub-plots and Shaq wasn't the only one who said goodbye to Hollywood. The Zen was gone, Karl Malone retired along with Rick Fox and Gary Payton was traded. In all this mess as per usual things were said and stories emerged. Shaq and others were quick to let their feelings about Kobe and the management be known. Even the mailman delivered some barbs Bryant’s way. However amongst all these dramatic exits and gossip column worthy quotes, one guy who's loss would effect the Lakers just as much as many of the others remained quiet. Derek Fisher just went on his way. Fisher showed something the other players didn't…

May 25, 2010 - Phoenix, ARIZONA, UNITED STATES - epa02173301 Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher (R) looses the ball as Phoenix Suns' Channing Frye defends during the second half of game four of the NBA Western Conference basketball finals at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 25 May 2010. The western conference champions will face the eastern conference champions in the NBA finals. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-106 to even the series 2-2.


Fisher went north to Golden State. The Oakland team put $22 million on the table so they could pride themselves on having a real Golden State Warrior. Although he struggled at first he improved when Baron Davis took the reigns of the Warriors. This freed Fish up to be the player he is, always having his star man’s back. This resulted in Derek's best offensive season averaging 13ppg. He was still making those trademark spot up jumpers, he was still drawing fouls. Those huge plays that win ball games.

Then it was off to Salt Lake City were like with any good Jazz piece, Fish knew his role well, and with perfect harmony bought his own unique style to an already established ensemble. Again Derek the consummate professional gave 100% to his duty in Utah every night. A man who does this deserves to be recognized and when Derek was elected president of the NBA Players Association in 2007 you know it was because of his embodiment of sportsmanship. A man who should be a shining example for the rest of the league. There’s not much that keeps this man from the court, but even true sportsmen know that as important their responsibility to their team is, some responsibilities are simply just more important. Like Family.

Derek Fishers 10 month old daughter Tatum suffered something nobody, let alone no child should have to endure. Retinoblastoma, a rare, degenerative cancer of the eye. Emergency surgery was required. Like any true father Derek was right by his daughters side every step of the way at the New York's Presbyterian Hospital. These are times when conference semi-finals don't matter and duty can be put aside.

So Derek was with his family. But then he did something nobody expected even a renowned true sportsmen like him to do. With the doctors blessing he flew back to Utah. The Jazz were almost three quarters deep in trouble against Fishers former team Golden State. They needed a hero. Derek answered the call. Fans will remember him walking into the arena surrounded by personnel. Instead of warming up, he suited up and was on court late in the 3rd. For all the all stars that were on the floor for Utah (Deron Williams, Andrei Kirlienko), Derek knew it was time to show this ball club how a seasoned playoff hero plays this type of game. He high-fived his Jazz bench, entered the game to a standing ovation and embraces from current and former team-mates, he held his hands up high and looked to the heavens and then it was down to business. To win games first you have to take care on the defensive end . Derek did just that with a critical stop against Baron Davis taking his team to overtime. Then up 120-117 the Jazz were finally in control but the W wasn't sealed yet. They needed a sharp-shooter to put these Warriors down for good. Utah's go to guy Deron Williams found Fisher open in the corner, catch, shoot, swish, W.

That was deeper than just simple sportsmanship. This is the magic of players like Derek Fisher. This is the magic of the NBA. ‘Where Amazing Happens’, right? This moment arguably just as brilliant as his 0.4 second shot and definitely more heroic. Coming in for his team in their time of need, when it was his time of need displayed courage and something real special. Something that was although deeper than, still true to the definition of sportsmanship...

May 02, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher (2) called for the offensive foul against Utah Jazz forward C.J. Miles (34) in the second half of game one of a Western Conference semifinal Round Playoff basketball game as the Lakers beat the Jazz 104-98 at the Staples Center on Sunday, May 2, 2010 in Los Angeles.


But even when your truly dedicated to your work, when times get real hard sometimes you just got to walk away. Derek Fisher told the Jazz he had to go to a city that had the medical means to take care of his daughter. He at that point had walked away from the game he loved to devote all his time to his daughters care. If this man’s career was called at this point on July 2nd 2007 nobody could have fronted on this man’s dedication, selflessness and level of sportsmanship. However Derek’s basketball diaries are now in the process of having a storybook ending.
A city that had the medical needs to look after Tatum and a team to take care of Derek’s career came calling. As if it was meant to be, the familiar city of angels beckoned the Fisher family back home. Kobe was putting Los Angeles back together but Batman needs Robin. So Number 2 of the Lakers belonged to Derek Fisher once again and its like he never left. The headband may have gone but the hard work and dedication still remained. As did the clutch 3 pointers, the Orlando Magic can attest to that. Derek still gets his and gives his team the energy and the heart they need. Even in these finals Fish is still there shooting rainbow jumpers and taking charges, making big plays at 35. The Lakers may have been a mess when Fisher left after his first tenure, but if you look at this team now its a different story. It’s a championships story. The Zen master Phil Jackson came back and he may arguably have as much talent at his disposal as he's ever coached. This includes a strong, deep bench mob, star players Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and defensive master Ron Artest the ever developing Andrew Bynum and of course the leagues best Kobe Bryant. With this great unit its easy to forget the hard workers who don't always get their shine. Believe me though if you don't think Derek Fishers just as important as any of these pieces then you don't know basketball. This man’s great legacy may yet include a few more championship rings to join the four his cabinet already contains. If this happens do not think this of it as mere coincidence.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208455 Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher (L) and Lakers' head coach Phil Jackson celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics during game seven of the NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010. The Lakers defeated the Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th championships.

Still how do you honour a man who gives his all to not just his cities team but its community too. How do you honour a man who's heart and spirit is immeasurable. Well the city of Los Angeles made a big start a few years back declaring March 5th 'Derek Fisher Day'. City Councilman Bernard Parks words speak volumes of Derek’s heroic moments, "He made sports history when he missed the first championship game (For the Utah Jazz in 2007) due to the illness of his daughter, but then he arrived in the fourth quarter of the second game and just in time to score the winning three-point basket, which proves not only his commitment to his family but also the commitment to his team". Bottom Line we need to recognize this man as a lot of times the wrong sportsman are being idolized. The city of Los Angeles showed Derek Fisher the same thing he in his career has shown every city, team, coach and player he's ever played for or against and the league of the NBA as a whole…