Tags Posts tagged with "Kobe Bryant"

Kobe Bryant

0 2089
Jerry Buss
Dr. Jerry Buss was the ultimate NBA owner and brought numerous championships to the city of Los Angeles. Photo By: S. Bukley / Shutterstock.com

I was sitting here in the Stanford Mens basketball office preparing for a coaches meeting when our Video Coordinator shared with me the news:  Dr. Jerry Buss had just died of cancer in Los Angeles.

Dr. Buss, Shaq, LA
Dr. Buss brought an exciting style of basketball and professionalism to the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles.

I had the great privilege of playing for Dr. Buss’ Lakers team from 2001-2003 and cannot say enough about the first class nature of the organization or of the loyalty of Dr. Buss.  I will never forget after I had a major wrist surgery after my first year in Los Angeles Jerry Buss called me the next day on the phone. Jerry had a great way with people.  He called to wish me a speedy recovery and then said, “At first I thought you had the surgery in June so you could get out of playing in the summer league.”  We both laughed.  I could barely catch or pass the ball with my left hand that first season.  And in the triangle offense Phil Jackson literally had us practice left handed passes throughout the year in order to run the offense properly.  But Dr. Buss’ comment did two things.  It made me laugh (which I needed the day after surgery) and it made me also realize that he did care very much about role players competing in the summer league at Long Beach State. (Which I did the next year).  He built his teams around superstars, but he cared about every single person on the team all the way down to the last man.

Another memory of Dr. Buss happened during the playoffs of my first year in LA.  Rick Fox always planned a dinner together with the team at a happening location in the greater Los Angeles area which nearly almost had perfect attendance of the team.  One time Rick planned a get together and an evening out in the Hollywood Area.  I think I arrived at about 9pm and walked in and one of the first people I saw was Dr. Buss.  He was there with a group of his friends enjoying the evening and I felt nervous because typically the dinners/evening were more of a players only event.  I didn’t really know what to say to our owner.  He just broke the ice and called me over, introduced me to his friends and made me feel 100% comfortable despite him being the owner of the World championship team.

The thing that sticks out to me most is the loyalty of Dr. Buss.  Of all the organizations I’ve ever been part of whether a professional team, or any other entity, I have never seen more loyalty than with the Lakers.  While Dr. Buss was owner, there were countless people who had been with the team for 25 years or more.  From Bill Bertka (longtime coach), to Gary Vitti (Head Trainer), to our equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas, Jerry Buss had the philosophy, “If someone is doing a good job I am going to stick with them.”  In an era when consultants (often rightfully so), need to come in and “clean house,” Jerry Buss showed us that there are other ways to do business that can also yield amazing results.

I just read the LA Times article talking about how Jerry Buss built the Lakers, his family life, and his career.  I am grateful for the opportunity that he gave me and for the 3 great years with the Lakers.  I wish all the best to the entire Buss Family during this difficult time.

(For more information here is the official statement released by the Lakers).

 

0 1805
Kobe Bean Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bean Bryant professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He entered the NBA directly from high school. Photo: Shutterstock
Earlier this week, I went back to downtown Los Angeles and the Staples Center for the first time since I began coaching. We played our NBDL game on Tuesday night and ended up winning at the buzzer on a shot by Dontell Jefferson. After our game, I went and visited Phil and Kobe in the Lakers locker room a few doors down in the tunnel as they played the same night against the Hornets right after our game. It was great to see Phil Jackson again. It was the first time I talked to Phil since I began coaching and he gave me some really good advice for coaching and explained how as a coach you absolutely have to be mentally keyed up and ready all the time. Frank Hamblen was in the coaches office as well and I had seen Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons earlier. The only one who was missing was Kurt Rambis and I know that he’s wearing a nice winter coat up in Minneapolis right now!

It was great to see Kobe again. On that Tuesday night, I happened to be wearing one of the suits that he gave me for Christmas in 2002. (Phil always did a Christmas gift exchange within all of the players and coaches). It was funny that year because I had drawn Kobe’s name and he drew mine. I gave he and Vanessa a box of chocolates and book (101 Famous Poems), and he gave me two Italian tailored suits. I guess I probably still owe him a better Christmas gift one of these years!

When I finally caught up with Derek Fisher, (my only other remaining teammate from my time w/ the Lakers), he was already in the chapel session with the Lakers Chaplain and so I wasn’t able to go in there to disturb him to say hello. But I did see one of his close friends Durand and told him to pass along my best. It’s funny the way things work out. On that Tuesday of last week I was running around back there trying to catch up with people and then last night (Friday night), I was watching the Lakers vs. Heat game on ESPN. First it was Derek’s three pointer with a few seconds left, and then it was Kobe’s one legged, three pointer over Dwayne Wade’s hand with time expiring to win the game.

I’ve hit one game winner in my entire basketball life and that was back in High School against Monte Vista High. Earlier that year, our power forward, a great shooter named Ryan Luther, had hit a game winner against the same team. I remember those days well, and to think that players like Kobe and LeBron can hit game winners each season against some of the best athletes in the world is incredible.

Coaching in the NBDL is going great so far. It’s a dream come true to be working with great young players and to try to help them take their game to the next level whether that means the NBA or some other professional league overseas. Right now I’m in Bakersfield, California and we have a game later tonight. A couple nights ago, our head coach Brad Jones and I had dinner at Macaroni Grill in Bakersfield. I accidentally left my credit card there and when I picked it up today, the manager said, “I found your card and tried to find a way to contact you! I went to your blog but you hadn’t posted for a while….so I figured you would realize it at some point and come back to grab it.” Thank you Macaroni Grill, Bakersfield!!

0 614
Best Defenders, Bulls, Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Los Angeles, NBA
Talking about game and Players (Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest) Photo: shutterstock.com
This years NBA playoffs has been amazing. First we had the Bulls vs. Celtics series with who knows how many overtimes and now we get to watch one of the best players in the history of the NBA in Kobe Bryant go against one of the best defenders this league has ever seen: Ron Artest. And of course there are times when emotions are going to flare like they did last night.

Here is the Youtube video.

The one thing about both of these players is that neither one is going to back down. Having played with Kobe Bryant for three years in Los Angeles, I have to say that Kobe just does not back down or withdraw from challenges. And Kobe has to deal with the best defender on every team he faces. Not only that, but if you’re that “best defender” on a team getting ready to guard kobe, you’re going to be getting extra rest, extra conditioning and watching all kinds of videotape on Kobe Bryant in preparation–Kobe will probably still get 30-40 points. But when it comes to toughness not too many guys surpass Kobe.

I’ve never played on the same team as Ron Artest, but I’ve played against him dating all the way back to college. Of all the guys I’ve played with or against, there were always two people who stood out as aggressive defenders who guys around the league don’t want to mess with. Both Latrell Sprewell and Ron Artest are guys who you absolutely want to go to battle with. They are known as great players around the league, but everybody also knows not to cross the line with either one.

This is just a great matchup. Ron Artest is 6’8″ and 250 and Kobe is 6’7″ and maybe 220 or 230, and they can each play finesse basketball or scrappy basketball. If you can’t watch the next game live, be sure to get out your TIVO!

0 583
Brian Shaw, Kobe bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Orlando, Mark Blount
Mark Blount has been having a monster season for us and tonight he did it again. Before the game tonight against the Lakers, I caught up with one of my favorite all-time teammates: Brian Shaw. Photo: shutterstock.com
Mark Blount has been having a monster season for us and tonight he did it again. There are very few seven footers play in this league who can MAKE three consecutive three pointers in the last two minutes of regulation….how many seven footers even want to take three pointers in the clutch? Not many. Mark Blount did that tonight in our game against the Lakers and he basically saved our hide by getting us to the first overtime and eventually the second.

Before the game tonight against the Lakers, I caught up with one of my favorite all-time teammates: Brian Shaw. Brian is an assistant coach now with the Lakers and is on his way to a very successful post basketball career. When we both played for the Lakers, Brian was the one guy on the team who could pick up his cellphone and call every single teammate at any time. From Shaq, to Kobe to Slava Medvedenko, to Horry to Rick Fox. Forget about his basketball I.Q. for a moment (which is off the charts). His ability to communicate with today’s athlete is a rare gift and something that would serve him well as a GM or as a head coach in this league.

Yeas ago, Brian Shaw played with Kobe Bryant’s dad professionally in Italy (I think the name of the team was Kinder Bologna). Brian told me once that he remembered playing HORSE with a young Kobe Bryant in Italy and being impressed with his skills. After a few years in Italy Brian Shaw came back to the NBA and played alongside Shaq in Orlando during the heyday of Orlando Magic basketball. Finally, he was reunited in LA with Shaq and the next generation of the Bryant basketball legacy–Kobe–from 2000 until 2003.

Needless to say Brian Shaw was that veteran type of player that Shaq would listen to, he had a great relationship with Kobe, and then he could go to Phil with suggestions. One time Brian thought we were practicing too much during training camp and breaking the collective bargaining agreement rules. He brought it up in a team meeting and Phil Jackson just smiled and laughed and said, “Brian you should really go to law school when you are done playing in the NBA.” Given that Shaw played for Phil Jackson and now is an assistant with Phil shows the respect that Phil has for him. There are a lot of teams in this league that would benefit from the skill set that Shaw brings to the table.

It was fun to play against my former team and to beat them tonight. I look back on the three years I played in L.A. under Phil Jackson and I have great memories. In a lot of ways, Phil was the one who really helped me to gain confidence to be able to compete at this level. Today, I saw in the media that Phil and Smush Parker were having some kind of public feud going on. It happened a few times when Phil would go at it with Shaq and Kobe or someone else on the team while I was there–either right there in practice or through the newspapers. The interesting thing is that once Phil got his point across to the player and the player responded, the relationship with that player would quietly simmer down and sometimes even seemed stronger in the days that followed.

I had a few friends at the game tonight. Some of them thought they saw Jack Nicholson at the Target Center. I guess my other buddy Enrique told them that they were mistaken and the man was really just impersonating Nicholson. Can anyone out there confirm or refute this? I guess that is just a random point of interest.

Well, I’m going to enjoy this victory tonight and the great performances of KG, Ricky Davis and Mark Blount especially. We have the Lakers again in Los Angeles in a few weeks and I know they’ll be trying to make a statement so we have to be ready.

0 468
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakes, Phoenix Suns, NBA
Kobe Bryant is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
I watched the Lakers vs. Suns first round playoff series faithfully and thought it was one of the best first round matchups in recent history. I was extra interested given that I used to play for the Lakers and since two of my high school teammates played college basketball with Steve Nash at Santa Clara University. Kevin Dunne and Randy Winn were seniors when I was a sophomore at San Ramon Valley High School. The next year I watched them a lot at Santa Clara where along with Steve Nash they all helped Santa Clara’s team to several years of greatness and some amazing upsets. I would have never thought at that time that I was watching one of the greatest point guards who would ever play in the NBA. It is amazing what hard work and perserverance can do and how Steve Nash’s passing and shooting ability has changed the fortunes of an entire NBA franchise.

It was also great to see a couple of old friends play for the Lakers. Notably, it was a lot of fun to watch Kobe Bryant, Devean George, and Luke Walton make big plays for the Lakers and almost pull off a huge first round upset. Kobe Bryant never ceases to amaze me. Amost everywhere I go, people ask me what it was like to play with Kobe Bryant. Random people I have never met ask me the question. I thought that now would be a good time to talk about my interactions with Kobe on and off the court. When I first got to LA, I remember meeting Kobe in the training room. Kobe was there with his personal trainer and the first thing I thought in my mind is “Wow, Kobe must really be 6’7″!” You never really know how tall people are until you’re next to them. Shaq is definitely 7’1″ and Kevin Garnett is definitely taller than 6’11”. Kobe is easily 6’7″ and it’s crazy because I play center in the NBA sometimes and I’m about 6’8″ and Kobe can play point guard and he’s basically the same height. The first year I was there, I can’t tell you how many times I came into the game and Kobe tried to get me a dunk or a wide open layup to help me build some confidence. One time after a tough game at Memphis he invited me to meet up with him and his high school buddy for a steak dinner. Another time he stayed around after a game to meet up with the ten year old daughter of a buddy of mine for an autograph and a photo. Still another time when I was upset about a certain on-court team issue, Kobe took the time to listen to everything I was going through and tried to help the situation. Kobe Bryant went out of his way a lot when I was just figuring out what it was like to play in the NBA.

I felt badly after the game 7 loss that some members of the media tried to criticize Kobe for not shooting enough in the loss to the Suns. It’s extra interesting to me, because I watched that game very closely and analyzed the Suns’ defensive schemes against Kobe. In the first half it seemed like Suns threw a “soft double team” at Kobe whereas in the second half they trapped Kobe aggresively with two men and forced him to throw the ball out of the double team. I actually thought that Kobe was doing a good job of trying to hit his open teammates but their shots weren’t falling. I guess if you are Kobe Bryant and you get 81 points you get criticized for shooting too much and if you only score 20-25 points then people say you are not shooting enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and watching my old teammate Kobe play so well. I think that the Lakers are back on the map. I hope I get to see Deaven George this summer in Minnesota and maybe I’ll see Luke Walton at some Pac-10 reunion. (We never really had the Answer for Arizona basketball when I was at Stanford). At any rate, I still hope we go 4-0 against the Lakers next season and 4-0 against the Suns.

0 632
Summer Vacation, Physical, Champlin, Arn Tellem, NBA Athletes, Basketball Trip
Our team member will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over.

This coming Thursday, every member of our team will report to a local medical facility for our “exit physicals” and then the season will officially be over. We will be left with a long summer vacation to mull over what we could have done better and how we will prepare for next season. My summers normally constitute working out with weights, running and improving on my basketball skills, as well as a few other activities that I’m looking forward to.

Last summer I did my first ever youth basketball camp in Champlin, Minn. There were about 40 kids who came to the camp, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Because I do want to become a coach when I am done playing, it’s a great opportunity for me to learn about coaching and how to work with kids. One of the reasons I did the camp last summer for the first time is because of a story that my mom told me. When my mom was growing up in Long Beach, Calif., she was involved in the orchestra group at her school and she loved to play the violin. There were many devoted leaders and mentors in the area involved in music, and they sponsored summer camps, one of which was called Arrowbear. My mom says that the orchestra programs throughout Southern California were all huge and very strong, because there was so much support locally from teachers and retired musicians, who simply wanted to share their gifts and experiences. I really hope that through involvement in this camp, I can in some way help promote the game of basketball and create positive memories for the kids that attend.

Another summer activity that I hope occurs involves my basketball agent, Arn Tellem. Arn represents around 100 NBA athletes, including Kobe Bryant, Antawn Jamison, Tracy McGrady and others. Mr. Tellem is Jewish and last summer he planned a basketball trip to the Middle East where for about a week, a group of players would go to cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other areas to hold clinics for Palestinian and Jewish basketball players. His vision is that there would be several camps/clinics

where he would bring together Muslims, Christians and Jews through basketball and try to build bridges between the groups. Arn invited many of the players that he represents to fly over with him. The response was overwhelming and many players committed immediately. At the last minute the trip had to be cancelled due to an escalating security issue, but there is talk of trying to make the trip this summer. I think that would be a fantastic experience.

Even though it’s been a tough season, we’ve still tried to keep it loose. A few days ago in Indianapolis, Trenton Hassell was counting out loud the number of tickets he needed to leave for family members. “Eight plus three is 11, plus three is 14, plus…” Marko Jaric thought he heard an addition mistake during the process, so he smiled and called out, “The high schools in Europe are as good as the colleges here.” Trenton laughed and reminded the whole locker room that “Marko didn’t even go to high school. He went to ‘basketball school’ instead,” which is common for young professional athletes in Europe. Then Trenton took it one step further and said, “Marko if you’re so smart, then what’s the square root of 169?” “What does that mean?” Marko said. Finally, a teammate went up to the dry-erase board and wrote it up in math lingo and Marko got it right and laughed out loud and said, “Your terminology in the states is different!”

I wanted to thank all of you for taking the time to read this diary and I especially want to thank this newspaper for publishing it. I hope it’s given you an insider’s view of the NBA. I’ll keep on writing this summer on my blog at markmadsen.com. Have a great summer!

– Mark