Sunday, 28 July 2013
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Let's take it back...in more ways then one. Over a decade ago back in college this 28 year old (yep) writer-who has now clocked 4 years of writing experience from SLAM to Bleacher Report (thanks guys...this isn't a plug)-wrote about his favourite sport basketball for the very first time. At 16 years old and for an I.T. Key Skills project I planted the seeds for my writing dream by writing about my beloved Lakers in some pretty exciting times. So in celebration here is an unedited look (notice how I like to start each sentence with the word 'however') at how I wrote back then (maybe you can see some of the early styles). However please forgive the mistakes (I'm talking about all my articles here)...you should have seen the layout of the pre-iPad, blog and Facebook days newsletter. It looked worse than the Lakers offseason roster. Yeesh!
Here it is folks...maybe I'll bring it back one day.
Extra...extra! Read all about it...
Without a shadow of a doubt the most dominant Centre in the NBA and maybe the most dominant Centre that the world of Basketball has ever seen. Shaq holds the key to any championship success. With his strength and passion for the game LA look certain to win the NBA title again this season. Shaq is 7,0 and 300 pounds however despite his bulky frame he is very agile. His only weakness is his free throw shooting but its improving.
He may primarily start on the bench but LA’s secret weapon Robert Horry is a key player to the Lakers title triumphs. His secret was revealed when he scored 15 points against Philadelphia in Game 4 of the NBA championship to win the game for LA. He is an offensive threat both in the paint and beyond the arc, he recorded .346 from three point range and he averaged 5.2 points per game. He normally is LA’s sixth man and the super sub however with Horace Grants departure he may have a starting place. His only weakness is that he is said to be lazy, he is simply ineffective in first and third quarters.
Rick Fox may well be a player who epitomizes the role player figure of LA he is an unsung hero among all the stars who works 100% every game at both ends of the court. If LA need him then he can score lots of points he is effective in the paint and from three point range. He was the Lakers only player to play in all 82 games he started in 77 of them. He recorded .393 from beyond the arc and averaged 9.6 points per game. Rick Fox is the complete small forward for LA and only really has one backup in Deaven George however Fox is so consistent that that doesn’t matter.
Kobe Bryant is the second major player in the Lakers high octane offence behind Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe at 23 years old is one of the NBA’s hottest young stars. He has been issued a Jordan tag but came into his own at the start of last season and has never looked back. Bryant is great on offence and defence and boasts a range of skills that no one in the league can match. Last season he averaged 28.5 points per game he recorded .305 in three point shooting. Weaknesses? Can you actually pick out one? Kobe is a player on the rise and after reaching and winning two NBA players he has more experience then some veterans in the league.
Derek Fisher could be one of LA’s biggest surprises last season. After returning from a stress fracture in his foot Derek finally evolved from a young, talented substitute into a star performer and the final addition to the triangle offence. Fish drained three pointers at opponents mercy, and was .397 from beyond the arc. Fisher also averaged 11.5 points per game very impressive for someone who only played 20 games last season. Fisher will miss the first month of the season with yet another fracture to the foot. However when he comes back he could improve even more and possibly one day become one of the best point guards in the league especially with good company like Bryant and O’Neal. Fisher led the Lakers in steals with 1.95, he also averaged 4.4 assists per game and 3 rebounds per game.
The Lakers have added great depth to their bench new signing Mitch Richmond takes over Robert Horry as sixth man last season he averaged 16.9 points and was .338 from three point territory. Also Lindsey Hunters (pictured) arrival gives the Lakers possibly the strongest three point shooting in the league along with sharp shooting reserves Brian Shaw, Mike Penberthy, Deaven George and rookie Joe Crispin. Samaki Walker brings his developing skills to the frontcourt and Jelani McCoy arrives as backup to Shaq. McCoy is among a new breed of ‘Marcus Camby’ centres who are said to be ‘undersized’ and ‘Underweight’ but with excellent scoring prowess. Also among the reserves are talented forwards Stanislav Medvedenko and last year rookie Mark Madsen.
FORGET ABOUT JORDAN KOBE’S ON FIRE!
All the news in the NBA at the moment is focusing on the return of former Chicago Bull star Michael Jordan and as much as I welcome his return I cant help but think that his comeback will be tarnished by the continuing rise of the current cream of the NBA crop I’m talking about players like Vince Carter, Tracy Mcgrady, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. Players who have all been given Jordan tags but have come of age and made names for themselves. The list continues Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell, etc. All these players are the stars that today’s fans love.
Kobe Bryant for one has really become a huge talent, fed up of playing in the shadow of Dominant team-mate Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe has become a key player in the Lakers back to back championship campaigns. With Shaq’s dominance comes Kobe’s flair, With Shaq’s strength comes Kobe’s agility and with Shaq’s interior play comes Kobe’s perimeter play.
Following mid-season feuds Shaq and Kobe made up and won LA their second straight NBA title with a little help from role players like Robert Horry and Derek Fisher. Now LA boasts the best offence with two unpredictable players leading the way. Players reminiscent of past dynamic duos that the Lakers had, Kareem Abdul-Jabber and Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West.
Make no mistake, Kobe Bryant is not the next Michael Jordan he is Kobe Bryant.
Years from now critics will be trying to find the new Kobe Bryant. At just 22 years of age Kobe has become one of the most exciting players in the league he has also won two NBA titles and rings.
The 30th October will mark the start of the new NBA season and amidst all the Jordan comeback hype a certain double act will be hotly tipped to take their third successive title.
RICHMOND FINALLY IN L.A!
With Rider gone Phil Jackson finally has a suitable backup for Kobe Bryant. Former All Star and Sacramento King star Mitch Richmond.
The prolific scorer who averaged 16.9 points last season was involved in a trade for Lakers point guard Tyronn Lue. Last season he played for the Washington Wizards and came 5th in the league for free throws. Mitch Richmond improves the Lakers bench and with O’Neal, Bryant and Fisher acting as the first team triangle offence, Mitch should complete the benches triangle offence which features sixth man Robert Horry and new signing Lindsey Hunter.
Kobe now has too solid backups with Mitch and the Lakers three point leader Mike Penberthy, fans wont miss the presence of wayward Isaiah Rider or retired Ron Harper.
If Mitch gets his chance to play in the first team (and he will while Fishers injured) then he will join Shaq and Kobe to form the leagues most dominant three pronged attack. He will become the Lakers best third scoring option since Glen Rice who left at the start of last season.
ISAIAH’S RIDE IS OVER!
Forget about Rider's last chance to justify his place in the NBA, it's over.
J.R Rider a former Minnesota Timberwolve, Portland Trail Blazer and Atlanta Hawk, was given a last shot at the big time with the best team in the league the Los Angeles Lakers. But after turning up for training late like Cedric Ceballos used to do, being regarded as untrustworthy by his teamates and after violating the NBA’s anti-drug problem Isaiah was cut from the Lakers playoff roster in favour of Tyronn Lue. Rider has recently signed for playoff shy Denver Nuggets (he was late for training the first day). Rider could have been one of the best players in the league in his prime, However he broke the law too many times and became such a problem to the NBA that Dennis Rodman looked like an angel.
MORE NEW SIGNINGS FOR LA!
If the arrival of Mitch Richmond wasn’t enough to enough to guarantee a third successive title for the Lakers then the signing of more talented players sure was.
The Lakers traded backup centre Greg Foster to the Milwaukee Bucks for three point specialist two guard Lindsey Hunter, they also signed talented but unproven San Antonio Power Forward Samaki Walker who acted as all star Tim Duncan’s backup last season for the Spurs, he has the skills but will have to fight with Russian Stanislav Medvedenko and last year rookie Mark Madsen for a roster spot as backup to Robert Horry. He can also play backup centre. Walker has great rebounding potential but is he a good enough replacement for departed veteran Horace Grant. If he does choose to play backup centre then he will have to compete for the job with new signing Jelani McCoy who is young and has scoring potential.
The Lakers rookie this year is Point Guard Joe Crispin who is a very good shooter. All these signings strengthen L.A’s bench.
Shaquille O’Neal celebrated the Los Angeles Lakers back to back championship success by rapping in front of a crowd of thousand of Lakers fans at the teams celebration festival. He performed his own rendition of ‘It takes two’ Shaq (pictured) entertained the large crowd, but the show was somewhat oddly stolen by rookie Mark Madsen and his dodgy dancing.
GUESS WHOS BACK?
The Lakers have plenty of competition for this years NBA championship however no one expects the Washington Wizards to do well this year. However the team have a trick up the sleeve their owner and possibly the greatest basketball player that ever lived Michael Jordan has come out of retirement for two seasons to play for the team. He is donating all his salary to the relief fund in New York after the Trade centre disaster on September 11.
CAN THE LAKERS MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW!
The Los Angeles Lakers won their second straight NBA title by beating last seasons success story the Philadelphia 76ers 4 games to 1. The Lakers also gained the record for the most successful postseason run in the leagues history by sweeping every team apart from the 76ers, the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings. These teams were considered the best in the Western conference. The Lakers won despite being written off by critics because of feuds between star performers Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (pictured left). The Lakers won and became a much better team then the squad that won their first championship by beating the Indiana Pacers in the 1999-2000 season.
The question is can they now make it three in a row. The team is certainly strong enough the team is still fairly intact despite the loss of popular veteran players Horace Grant ( pictured right) and Ron Harper and the loss of Isaiah Rider who was an excellent player at his best however his troubles with the law and his disloyalty to the club were too much for another team to suffer Rider was shown the door.
The Lakers made up for these losses by signing some top players. Topping the list is All Star Mitch Richmond who should partner O’Neal and Bryant in the teams triangle offence despite his age and injury problems. The Lakers also signed guard Lindsey Hunter who came 5th in the league for three-pointers last year. Questions were raised by the signing of Samaki Walker as starting power forward. Walker has always been a backup and the Lakers could of signed top forwards Anthony Mason or Brian Grant. However Samaki has proved every one wrong by excelling in the preseason, however he still has to fight for a starting place with skilled but lazy forwards like Robert Horry and Russian Stanislav Medvedenko.
However some problems face the Lakers rookie Mark Madsen and third scoring option Derek Fisher are both injured how ever they are predicted to be back soon. There are also rumours of a rows between O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson however knowing the Lakers it should blow over and the Lakers should be lifting the NBA trophy for a third consecutive year come next June.
PLAYER PROFILE : WILT CHAMBERLAIN.
Wilt Chamberlain nicknamed ‘Wilt the Stilt’ and the ‘Big Dipper’ was arguably the greatest basketball player the NBA had ever seen until a certain Michael Jordan came along and arguably the greatest centre that ever lived until Shaquille O’Neal came along and rivalled him for that accolade. However Wilt (despite Jordan and Shaq) still has high prestige in the history of Basketball. He was the man who scored 100 points in a single game “I realize that people will always remember me for my 100 point performance whether I like it or not” Wilt said.
However it was one mean feat some teams don’t even score 100 points in a game regularly combining all 12 roster players. Chamberlains century performance wasn’t his only high. In his first game in the NBA he scored 43 points and pulled down 28 rebounds against the New York Knicks. In his rookie season he gained NBA honours of Rookie of the Year, All-Star Game MVP and NBA MVP. He also averaged 37.6 points and 27.2 rebounds an amazing set of figures especially for a rookie, you could say Wilt dominated the league from day one. In his third year of Pro Basketball ‘The Stilt’ recorded an astonishing 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game.
However March 2, 1962 marked Wilt’s achievement of the virtually impossible, “Give it to Wilt!” the crowd chanted and “We want 100” the crowd cheered as ‘The Big Dipper’ came awfully close to a three digit record that no one had ever done before or would do for the remainder of the century, with 44 seconds remaining Wilt beat a double team and changed the world of basketball. “It was like holding up a tree that had been cut down and was about to fall down” Darral Imhoff Wilt’s guard for that historic night said. Wilt did not boast about his record “It was not even that amazing, had I not gone on a date last night and got some sleep I might have scored 140” he said.
Wilt remained amazing throughout his 14 year career, he won two championships and led his teams to the playoffs 13 times. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers and of course the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 31,419 points in his career a record broken by only two players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. Wilt holds the record for total rebounds with 23,924. Wilt wore the number 13 throughout his career but it was far from unlucky. Sadly in 1999 at the age of 63 Wilt died. “We’ve lost a giant man in every sense of the word NBA commissioner David Stern said.
PLAYER PROFILE : EARVIN ‘MAGIC’ JOHNSON
Julius Erving said it best when he described Magic as “The only player ever who can absolutely dominate a game while only taking three shots”. Earvin and Boston Celtic legend Larry Bird turned the game of Basketball around from a sport almost bankrupt to a sport on the worlds centre stage. Johnson helped the Los Angeles Lakers become one of the most dominating Basketball teams in the 1980’s. he is considered to be one of the best point guards and playmakers ever to enter the league. The nickname ‘Magic’ came in a high school game in which Earvin scored 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists. Johnson defied the usual physical attributes a Point Guard has, he was 6, 9 tall and sometimes played at Centre because of his height.
Magic led the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) he formed a formidable partnership with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Earvin was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) on three occasions (1987, 1989, 1990). He was NBA finals MVP in 1982, 1987 and as a rookie in 1980.
Sadly in 1991 he shocked the Basketball world by announcing that he had tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS, he retired from the Lakers. However he still had hope and fought the disease with his 10,000 watt smile still shining bright.
After his initial retirement from the NBA on November 7th 1991. Magic’s immense popularity saw him still being voted as a starting player into the 1992 All Star game. He played in the game and he earned the MVP honours for that game. Following this Earvin took part in the 1992 USA gold winning Olympic basketball team in Barcelona. The original team to be dubbed the ‘Dream Team’ arguably the greatest team ever assembled. With his second and final retirement Magic entered the NBA Hall of Fame, the elite 50 greatest players.
Magic ranked among the Lakers all-time leaders in nearly all statistical categories, averaging 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds in 906 season matches. Magic became a TV sports commentator staying in the world of Basketball. In the fall of the 1993-1994 season Earvin became head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. At the end of the season he resigned his position blaming personal reasons and frustration over player attitudes.
Michael Jordan may be the greatest player that ever played the sport of Basketball, but Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson is one of my favourite players in the league. He could comfortably play two very different positions and he could score lots of points if needed, however the great thing was his unselfishness, he could dominate the game of basketball without taking a single shot and when he took a shot it was a huge, important one. I also admire the way Earvin rose from his problem (AIDS) and continued to dominate the sport until Jordan’s arrival. No matter what Magic came out of everything smiling…unless it was losing.