Thursday, December 29, 2011
What else can we say about Jerry West? A Los Angeles Laker champion and legend as a player and a general manager, immortalised in bronze for an overdue statue this year. Olympic champion and one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. The man is the image of the logo of the NBA for heaven's sake...he is a basketball God. What more can you say than that? Or what more can be said about this man than Roland Lazenby's incredible read 'Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon'? Well how about some words from the man himself? A shy, at times troubled man who isn't one for interviews, press conferences or even events honoring him. What more do we need now than some words from the horses mouth?
So one of the Lakers greatest knight's finally opens up with Jonathan Coleman for the magnificent, moving memoir 'West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life'. A book that covers everything from the highest of Mr. West's highs to the lowest of his lows on and off the basketball court. Recounts of a classic career that saw Gold on the national and international stage, a bevvy of legendary teammates and associates and a reputation for being one of the best closers in the game are detailed here.
Relationships with Laker legends like Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry Buss, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the lack of one with Phil Jackson are detailed here. As our his relationship with Bill Russell and the Lakers bitter, storied rival the Boston Celtics who ignited the competitive fire by beating them six time in one decade. Extended testimony's from his closest friends and players, plus his dream team, dream game are also thrown in for different and interesting measures.
Still it's when Jerry details the facts about his personal life that things become more open and revealing. A private and sensitive side that should truly be explored if your read this book and not this review. Jerry tells his story best with humble honesty and touching tenderness. The guy said to have a regular Joe name could almost change it to Frank Forthright. The silhouette of the NBA comes out from the shadows to shed some light on his troubles and in a way helps illuminate the darkness of fellow depression sufferers. Jerry shows fellow sufferers that you can live with the mental affliction...and live happily too. It's an important lesson learnt throughout Jerry's life and this book. It's a bold and brave move which Jerry executes as precisely and perfectly as one of his buzzer-beating shots.
The Big Shot player doesn't clutch for sympathy or fish for compliments, instead he inspires with his profound, poignant look at the fragility of life and the strength of one's character. Mr. Clutch will have you in his grasp in a one-sitting, page-turning read. This is a influential portrait and as this pro confesses over some pros he remains even in retirement the consummate professional. One of the greatest finishes of all-time yet again sends a shiver down our spine with a big play that leaves everyone better off for it. Once again Mr. West finds his range and strikes the right chord. The man that won a championship, a gold medal and brought 'Showtime' and Shaq and Kobe to L.A. scores one of his biggest and most significant hits yet. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
By Tim David Harvey
So the Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to cool off the Miami Heat with their own big-three this offseason.
So they were supposed to acquire both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for a few pieces in order to lasso the Dallas Mavericks and take revenge for the champion’s knockout sweep of them this past playoffs, while taking back Larry O'Brien.
Then David Stern happened.
Then a nixed CP3 trade happened as the commissioner wanted to keep the New Orleans Hornets together. Still Chris Paul ended up heading to Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre anyway...for the Los Angeles Clippers?
Then the rumour mill was whirling with news that Dwight Howard was still going to be traded...but to the New Jersey Nets!?
If that wasn't bad enough, the Lakers/New Orleans trade may have been blocked but you can't take back hurt feelings and an offended Lamar Odom demanded a move. So the Lakers sent their most versatile player and threat to the team that swept them and their biggest new rival the Dallas Mavericks!? For practically nothing?!
Now the Lakers are left with a depleted, disgruntled frontline featuring trade bait Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (who are still incredible players, but probably can't help but feel little loyalty), some out of shape World Peace, no real Point Guard, and according to some critics no real chance.
If that wasn't enough remember that Phil Jackson and his Zen are somewhere between Montana and some rumours of New York.
Still, I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant!
I wouldn't bet against the greatest player in the league and the greatest player ever not named Michael. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant can still wait like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, for Kobe is still the player to beat. Until he unlaces them Kobe will run this basketball game from a player perspective. You can't retire that. He is still that good. Sure he's older but he's nowhere near done. He's nowhere near M.J.'s level yes, but he's also nowhere near Floor Jordan's level when he was at the Washington Wizards...and Mike was still schooling cats then. Kobe's got his hops back; his killer-instinct is still intact and as for that Maverick sweep? Number 24 is out for revenge.
Kobe's walked off opposing team’s floors before, head-down, looking purple, with opposing team coloured ticker-tape falling down in someone else's celebration. They said he was done back then in Boston, but then he made twice as nice on some championship rings 'sans' Shaq. No wonder O'Neal calls him the greatest Laker ever. Back when they played together Shaq called Kobe his 'idol'. Hate it or love it, Bryant is still the poster boy of the NBA. He hasn't just built walls...he's knocked them down. Only Jordan in his prime has Kobe's skill, will, or killer instinct. At the end of the game, two down with two on the clock, who else do you want to have the ball (apart from Derek Fisher behind the arc of course). It's no contest. If there's a way to win, Kobe will find it.
This season is going to be one of the hardest for the Black Mamba but he's still got venom. This is personal. Its got nothing to do with the sad news of his divorce (that's his private life...respect that). Its got nothing to do with the endorsements, hyperdunks, critics, lockout, all the talk, blogs and bull$£* that comes with the great hype and build up of the world’s greatest league. Its to do with how the game has played out and by the end who has put the ball in the basket more times. At the end of it all, after it's all said and done who else do we need to talk about? That's Kobe's bread and butter. That's Kobe's job. That's Kobe's forte. That's Kobe. That's all you need to know.
I wouldn't bet against Kobe Bryant...would you?
Sunday, December 11, 2011
A Seventh Sin.
By Tim David Harvey
In what seems like an NBA minute, Lamar Odom has gone from throwing elbows at the Dallas Mavericks to possibly throwing champagne, championship party with them next season. After almost joining Pau Gasol in a 'Sternly' nixed package deal that would have brought Chris Paul to Lakerland, Lamar Odom is now taking his understandably hurt feelings and his Kardashian down to Texas. Sure the former Laker champion will have to watch the team that swept him receive their championship rings that could have been his to begin his Christmas Day and new season but still, the Lakers loss looks like Dallas and their new Mavericks gain.
After a horrible end to a disappointing season the bright lights of L.A. didn’t have many bright spots in their 2010/2011 defending champion year. Except for the consistency of Lamar Odom and his own victorious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award however. It has been clear for many years that this microwave, bench warmer deserves more credit and it's almost a given that he'll be an all-star in no time. It's the next logical step. The Hollywood smooth, reality star, big-game, big-name sharer already has star power to go with some Magic fundamentals. We're talking about THE Magic, as in Earvin Johnson. This is no illusion.
Sure calling Lamar Odom one of the greatest players in the league is a bit of a hater-ready overstatement, but he sure is one of the greatest talents this league has to offer and a one of a kind great. Put it this way coming off the bench he was the Lakers ace in the hole. They should have never dealt one of their best hands. Put it another way, you don't deal the leagues most versatile player to its most versatile team. Especially when that team is one that swept and knocked you out of championship contention. Now not only do the new NBA champions have Larry O'Brien on their side, they also have a motivated, angry Lamar Odom on their side. You can call this a rivalry now and guess who has the advantage?
This is more potent a power move then when the Lakers looked to keep their enemies closer by signing Dallas' bench hot-rod J.J. Barea. The Lamar Odom move actually happened and is more of a big-name, big-game changer. Like James Worthy, Jaamal Wilkes and other smooth, versatile big-forwards before him Lamar Odom will always go down as a Laker champion and great, but what an awful shame his legacy was cut short. Now as L.O. looks to continue his champagne campaign via American Airlines, the Lakers nation can't help but feel grounded by losing one of their brightest and best personalities and players.
Sure if Lamar Odom was shipped away to gain Chris Paul and championship leverage than maybe this could be easier for the Lakers fans to swallow, but even that trade with Pau Gasol seemed to leave the Lakers depleted. David Stern was right it was unfair. It almost seemed like the Lakers were giving up too much and two players too many. Then with the commissioners collapse of the trade the Lakers were left with some collateral damage to their cohesiveness. Because of hurt feelings the baited trade left in Lamar Odom a new trade was demanded at his request to be cast-out. Now the Lakers have lost him for practically nothing but a draft pick. OK, this opens up the cap space and doors for Dwight Howard but surely the Lakers could have amnestied someone else to help keep their roster in shape.
Losing Odom not only loses the Lakers versatility, it also narrows their playing field...or their floor to be more specific. Lamar's all-round game opened up the Lakers, offence, playbook and court in a way like no other. Now he's gone the Lakers are a Bynum or a Gasol away from losing a formidable frontline. Sure Dwight Howard may bring the perfect smiles back to Hollywood, but Odom's loss clearly reveals that this team needs more work done. It's not just about one guy and this sixth man really backed his team up to the core. There's no 'I' in 'team' or 'championship' and now there's no 'L.O.' in 'Los Angeles'. Gone are his career close 14.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds from last year to go with his career highs in three-point (.382) and field goal (.530) percentages. Also gone, beyond statistics are his above average all-round game, his scoring, passing, range and long limbs that reach all sort off off-ball fundamentals and facets. Also his class, charisma and great locker room presence will be sorely missed.
As he enters the halls that Mark Cuban built however Odom brings more dimensions to a team that has more than a geometry class. Odom's numbers may go down in the talent pool lassoed by the Mavericks, but his productivity and intangible output. His championship experience, both on the winning and losing end will be as valuable a commodity as his inspiring character and positivity now mixed with a new tonic of motivational revenge. Odom was exactly the player that the Lakers needed to take their squad from a Kobe show to an ensemble piece back when he was traded for Shaq. He even went from easing the Lakers post-Shaq hurt to proving that in the long run it was the more worthwhile move, but is it now? Now that those 2006 school adverts mocking him getting traded again have come true, Odom may be exactly the player this new winning Dallas team needs to help them towards their own dynasty.
Sure the Lakers are far from out of contention, just like Lamar they have a new motivation to win. Add a D12 or a CP3 and the numbers may add up to initialing some new success for these new Lakers. It’s just a real shame that a man that stuck by them and helped them along the way will not continue down the road with the purple and gold. Yes the Lakers can go on without Lamar Odom, but you can be sure they'll never be able to replace him.