Mike D’Antoni resigns: Lakers fans rejoice

The Lakers will have a new coach in 2014-15. Mike D’Antoni resigned from the Lakers last Wednesday. D’Antoni coached the Lakers for the past two seasons. In those two years, D’Antoni went a subpar 62-82. This season the Lakers had their worst season in Franchise History under MDA at 27-55 and will have a top pick in the NBA Lottery draft. Every Lakers fan called for management to fire D’Antoni, however Mike made it easy on the franchise and fans by resigning from the team. D’Antoni signed a three year contract with the Lakers, but the Lakers had a team option for his fourth season. The coach wanted Lakers management to give him assurance that he would be back for his fourth season as Lakers head coach, but the Lakers would not cave in to his demands. Since the Lakers decided not to pick up his fourth year, D’Antoni decided to walk. The Lakers are now off the hook for the four million dollars that would have been owed to MDA next season under his three year 12 million dollar deal.

The Lakers are very fortunate that Mike D’Antoni resigned after this season and before the NBA draft and summer free agency period. Now that D’Antoni or “Pringles” (called by fans) is gone the Lakers will have great leverage in pursuing free agents to attract them to come play in LA for the Lakers. The Lakers will also be able to draft a possible future franchise player in the lottery whom they can groom to be the next heir apparent after Kobe Bryant retires. Most players and free agents did not want to play for MDA so the resigning of the former Lakers head coach comes as a blessing in disguise. Players like Carmelo Anthony had no intent to play for D’Antoni, now that MDA is gone, LA seems like a paradise destination. Dwight Howard left the Lakers after the 2012-13 season because he didn’t want to play for D’Antoni.

Pau Gasol also displayed his displeasure with D’Antoni this year as said that D’Antoni does not use him correctly in the offense. Gasol was leaning to leave the Lakers in free agency this summer, but now that MDA is gone, Gasol might return to the Lakers with Kobe and the gang. Gasol wants to win championships and he wants to play for a coach that he respects.

The Lakers will have the chance to draft highly touted NBA prospects such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Julius Randle, and more. With the departure of D’Antoni they can rest assured that the Lakers are headed back into a winning culture once again.

Free Agents available this summer include Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Zach Randolph etc. In 2015 Kevin Love will be available if the Lakers are to pursue him, and 2016 Kevin Durant.

Coaching candidates for the Lakers include both college and NBA coaches. The Lakers are planning to make runs at the big and small names such as George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson (recently fired by GSW), Kevin Ollie, Tom Thibedeau, Byron Scott, and Derek Fisher.

After a very bleak 2013-14 season the Lakers are hoping to turn the ship around and once again be in contention for another title before Kobe retires. The Lakers mantra has always been to win championships and they plan to do that once again through the draft and free-agency.

FARMAR TO THE RESCUE

 

The Lakers turned a meaningless game on Friday into a riveting win. A home game at Staples Center vs the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers at one point trailed by 15 points to the Kings in the second half. The win snapped a 3 game losing streak for the Lakers who now sit at 20-39 for the season and are among the worst teams in the NBA. If the NBA Lottery draft were today the Lakers would have a high probability of having a top 5 pick in the first round. The Kings are not looking good either as they share the same record at 20-39. Both teams are last in the Western Conference.

The Lakers who haven’t played defense all season certainly did not on Friday versus the Kings. The Lakers gave up 122 points but still won the ball game. The Lakers beat the Kings 126-122. The win was fueled by the sharpshooting of Jordan Farmar who scored a career high 30 points and went 8-10 from the 3 point arc. The Lakers also set a team record with 19 three point field goals made as they were 19-27 and shot 70% from beyond the arc. The Lakers as a team shot 60% from the field. Not only did Farmar have the magic touch but so did Jodie Meeks who was perfect from the field at 8-8. Marshon Brooks also had a stellar game as he scored 23 points which was more than the Kings bench. Brooks provided late crucial baskets to put the Kings away with the waning minutes in the fourth quarter. Kent Bazemore called Brooks a young Kobe after his performance on Friday. Bazemore added 12 points on 5-11 shooting. Wesley Johnson had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Pau Gasol also had a strong game as he scored 22 points 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. This comes after he criticized Mike D’Antoni’s system. D’Antoni fired back saying that Lakers players should keep things in house. The irony is that D’Antoni went to the media earlier in the season and threw Pau under the bus.

The Lakers were so much on fire that there lack of defense and turnovers did not keep them from pulling off the comeback win. The Lakers pulled off a miraculous comeback on the shoulders of Farmar, and the late plays of Brooks. In a meaningless game this game was pure up and down back and forth barn burner until the end. The Lakers hope to continue their inspired play as they head out on the road. In a trying and difficult season, these types of wins are memorable and special for the fans. Real Lakers fans stick with their team no matter what. Lakers fans bleed purple and gold.

 

Playoff Push (Kobe Time)

                The Lakers have finally started to click and chemistry has developed. These are not the same roll over and kick me dead, diva, drama filled Lakers that started the season. The new and improved Lakers are all about just playing basketball and winning games. No more distractions and finger pointing. After the Memphis loss on January 23rd the team called a players only meeting, and since that point there has been a 180 degree turnaround. These were the same Lakers who were 7 games under .500 at 17-24 and looked like a beaten down dead horse. Well something sparked after that meeting, and everybody turned the focus and intensity up.

Since January 23rd the Lakers have gone 17-8 and currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot over the Utah Jazz by ½ a game. At the moment the Lakers are standing at 34-32 and they have reached above .500 for the first time since November 20th when they were 6-4. The Lakers now control their own destiny simply by winning games. It also has been a tremendous help to the Lakers that the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Utah Jazz have all been struggling mightily and have been dropping games as well. If the Lakers keep winning and the Jazz, Warriors, and Rockets keep free falling then the Lakers could possibly earn a 6th spot in the Western Conference seeding.

            What is the reason that this ship we know as the Lakeshow has changed its course? Well I will spell it out for you with four letters, K-O-B-E. Kobe Bryant has singlehandedly sparked and led the Lakers to successive wins since the All-star game. Since the All-star break, Kobe has been scoring 30.8ppg, 7.3 apg, and 6.6 rpg while shooting near 50%. Kobe will do literally anything it takes to win. Whether that be the role of facilitating and dishing assists to teammates or taking the ball to the rack himself, Kobe taken it upon himself to will this Lakers squad to victory and has determined that this Lakers team will make the playoffs by any means necessary (insert Malcolm X quote here). The resiliency of Kobe has been imprinted onto his teammates and this Lakers team will not give up. The Lakers have had 2 back to back comeback wins in March vs. the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors. In both of those games the Lakers were down by 20 points or more and rallied back to win the game in the fourth quarter. Kobe scored 42 points 12 assists and 7 rebounds against the Hornets to overcome a 25 point deficit and win the game. The very next night Kobe put up almost identical numbers with 41, 12, and 6. In the Toronto game Kobe hit a game-tying fade-away three to send the game into overtime. From there Kobe displayed his dominance as the Lakers won 118-116 in overtime. Not only is scoring at such a high rate and efficiency but he is also guarding the elite opposing guards in the game, did I mention that Kobe is doing all this at age 34 in his 17th year. Hence the name Kobe has adopted is Vino because his game is like a fine wine that gets only better with age.

            The next reason the Lakers have been playing better basketball is that everyone has accepted their roles. Steve Nash has become a spot up and perimeter shooter, Dwight Howard has become a defensive anchor and rebounder, and Antwan Jamison and Jodie Meeks have been playing much better coming off the bench. Dwight Howard has been playing much better as of late and it looks like he is getting healthier as he is more active in the paint and on the glass. Since the allstar game Dwight Howard has flipped a switch. Not only does he look healthier and stronger but his play has undoubtedly improved. Post All-star break Dwight is averaging 17ppg, 15rpg, and 2.5 bpg. In his return to Orlando, Howard had a monster game with 39 points, and shot 25-39 from the free throw line, he also had 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. The only other player to put 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks against the Magic is the Diesel Shaquille O’neal. The biggest improvement for Howard is that he is now contesting and altering shots as well as grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds more aggressively. Howard has stopped complaining like a whiny baby and he is now just focused on playing ball and winning. He says that his mindset shifted during the All-star break. Dwight realized that he was fortunate to play with one of the all-time greats in Kobe Bryant and this is his chance to compete for a championship. Howard also said that he has changed his diet and cut out all unnecessary sugars such as skittles and candy bars as well as getting better conditioning in the weight room to help with his improving back.

            With the team much improving and chemistry starting to flow it looks like the Lakers are making a nice run for a playoff push in the Western Conference. Injuries have really slowed this Lakers team down with all their stars missing time from Nash’s lengthy period of time out, to a recovering Dwight Howard playing with a surgically repaired back and torn labrum, and Pau Gasol who is expected to return after missing 6-8 weeks with Plantar Fascia. When everything seems to be going right, some sort of adversity happens again. Kobe last night in a close loss to the Atlanta Hawks, was undercut and suffered a sprained ankle by Dantay Jones which was a clear foul and a chance for the Lakers to tie the game at 94 and to send it into overtime. The X-rays were negative and Kobe is listed out as indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain. The Lakers are estimating that he will most likely not play at least the next 2 games. However we are taking about the Black Mamba who is the ultimate warrior and plays through every sort of pain and injury imaginable, so you never know. One thing that is for certain is that the Lakers must continue to control their own destiny from here on out by winning as many games as possible. These Lakers cannot afford to play under .500 ball. Every game matters from here. All Lakers fans everywhere are praying for a speedy and healthy recovery for Kobe Bryant so that the Lakers will make the playoffs and have at least a chance to compete for a title.

Magic Mamba

People often say that Kobe Bryant does not share the ball enough. Well in the last six games Kobe is averaging Magic Johnson type numbers in terms of assists with 10apg. The Lakers have won five of their last six games as the Black Mamba has turned into the Magic Mamba. This new look Lakers team has looked very exiting these last 6 games with excellent ball movement spearheaded by #24 himself. Kobe came up one short (with 14assists) in back to back games versus Utah and OKC both constituting wins. His career high in assists was set back on February 12, 2002 with 15.

The fact however is that Kobe now is instilling trust and confidence in his teammates. This whole season Kobe Bryant has had to bail out the Lakers and will the team to victories because nobody else was stepping up. Kobe’s “Magic” Johnson type numbers have soared recently because his teammates are now actually making their shots and converting on their field goal opportunities. Kobe has consistently been sharing the ball even prior to this last assist heavy stretch. For this season Kobe is already above his career assist average of 4.7apg with 5.4apg. So to say that Kobe Bryant has just started passing the ball is wildly inaccurate and off kilter.

Kobe has been sharing the basketball and is actively trying to get other teammates involved. The difference these last 6 games have been his teammates actually making shots when Kobe has passed it to them hence the hike in the assists per game. Yes Kobe is shooting less shots but that is because his teammates are starting to make more of their own. Over the last six games Kobe is averaging 14 field goal attempts per game and is scoring 17ppg with 7.6rpg. In this stretch Kobe has averaged numbers rivaling the Big O Oscar Robertson and Earvin Magic Johnson. These stats are point guard like numbers not shooting guard numbers. Not only has Kobe been actively finding his teammates for open shots but he has sacrificed his own game for the sake of his team. Kobe lead the league in scoring with almost 30ppg going into this six game stretch and now has fell to 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 ppg.

The most unselfish act I have ever seen from any player in any sport came from the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant on Friday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe had a wide open fastbreak dunk with nobody even remotely in sight, but Kobe flipped the ball to his pal Pau Gasol and unselfishly gave the big man a two handed slam to boost his confidence. What Kobe did for Gasol was beyond just a regular assist, it was an act of belief. He showed Gasol with his actions that he believes that #16 is still one of the best big men of the NBA and that even in this tough patch D’Antoni making Pau “ride the pine,” that Kobe Bryant still has his back. Another example of instilling confidence in his team was in the same game, Kobe drove into the lane then kicked the ball out to the artist formerly known as Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace for three, then Metta missed it and Kobe had the audacity to pass it to him again. This time Metta drained the trey and was smiling ear to ear. This is the sort of leadership and trust that Kobe has taken upon himself to elevate his team to start winning games and become actively involved in all aspects of the game. Since guys feel confidence offensively they have became more engaged defensively.

After the Lakers had a players meeting in Memphis, they have come together as a collective group to play team basketball. The team went from a get mine mentality to an all for one mentality. These Lakers now play for each other and it stems from the top down with the alpha dog Kobe Bryant leading the charge. Kobe has showed a willingness and trust in his teammates believing in them even when they might not have belief in themselves. When asked if the Lakers talked about Kobe becoming more of a play-maker and facilitator, Kobe said it just happened. He didn’t discuss it with anyone; he just took it upon himself to do what he thought would help the team win games. Will Kobe remain as the great play-maker and facilitator? Well as long as the Lakers keep winning games he will. All that matters to KB24 is wins. At this stage of his career Kobe Bryant could care less about his personal numbers and more about the team winning and hopefully making the playoffs with championship aspirations. As for now the Lakers are taking it one game at a time.

One down 81 to go

The hype for the new look revamped Lakers was more anticipated than Godzilla hitting the streets of Japan. The Lakers have tons of pressure to not only make the 2013 NBA Finals but to win it. That is what happens when you sign Steve Nash and trade for Dwight Howard. Not only did the Lakers make a splash in the off-season with its new superstar acquisitions but they emptied out the whole Pacific Ocean. The Lakers now have the highest payroll in the NBA with 100 million and expectations are through the roof for this team.

Last night however the Lakers that we thought we would see did not show up. For the first 2 quarters we saw glimpses of the at times dominant high flying OOP universe Lakers, but that was merely a shadow. Am I saying that Lakers fans should already hit the panic button and jump ship? Hell no! I still believe that the Lakers are the most talented team and even the deepest team in the NBA. However there are many things that did concern me about the Lakers opening day lost to the Dirkless Mavs, led by the ancient Vince Carter, Elton Brand, and Shawn Marion (aka the 2006 allstar team).

The areas the Lakers need to tighten up and real quick are free throw shooting, defense, offensive tempo, Princeton offense, and running in transition. The Lakers were abysmal from the free throw line last night at 12-31 for 38%. 12 of 31 is completely unacceptable, it is called a free throw because that’s exactly what it is a FREE throw. This mostly has to do with Dwight Howard who was 3-14 from the line or 21%. The last Laker to shoot a lower free throw percentage (with a minimum of 10 attempts) was Shaq who in 2004 who went 2-13 for 15%. Jordan Hill was also horrendous from the free throw line at 1-6 for 16%. If Dwight Howard alone makes at least 75% of his free throws or better the Lakers win their home opener. I think that with proper coaching Dwight Howard’s free throw percentage will go up but we just have to be patient as fans. The focus for Dwight in practice should be 2-3 hours of repetitive free throw shooting. Once you practice something so long eventually you master it and it will become second nature to him. The reason why Dwight will improve his free throw shooting and not be the next Shaq all comes down to his release. Shaq had no follow through on his shot, he essentially pushed the ball like he was shot-putting a peach into the basket. I don’t think that was Dr Naismith’s original intent for the game of basketball by the way. If Dwight can improve his free throw percent to a mere 75% the Lakers will have a much easier time holding leads and closing out games because than you can’t hack a Dwight. So far it looks like Superman has found his kryptonite and that is Free throw shooting.

What is Mike Brown thinking with this so called Princeton Offense? I could coach this team to a perfect season with all that talent he has been given. Forget the Princeton offense and reacting to what the defense gives you and making your offensive reads off that. Instead keep it simple and run the pick and roll with Nash to Gasol and Howard. The Lakers have the best passing point guard in the game but yet he is limited to coming off ball screens and not handling the ball. I am baffled how Mike Brown thinks that Pau Gasol should run point forward and not Steve Nash. The Lakers should not be running a read and react offense but they should be running an attack pick and roll offense. When the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant is on your team you must know that you always need to attack. Attack the front of the rim and get easy oops and run on the fastbreak with Nash to Howard. I hope by June I am apologizing vehemently to Mike Brown regarding this Princeton offense but for now I think the Lakers should push the offensive tempo and get out on the run and use pick and roll often. For gosh sake even resurrect the Triangle at least Kobe, Metta, and Gasol know how to run that!

The biggest knock I have from last night’s game was the defense or lack of it. There was no ball pressure, no defensive tenacity at all. The Lakers seemed disinterested on that side of the ball and more concerned with trying to know where to be in the new Princeton offense. Defense leads to turnovers and fastbreaks. Mike Brown is acclaimed for being a defensive guru but he clearly hasn’t lived up to his acclaimed title. Last night the Lakers gave up 99 points to a Dirkless Mavs team who had 3 vintage stars in the Protozoa era. It is on the coach to mentally prepare the players to play and sustain defensive pressure and intensity for 48 minutes. Last year the Lakers gave up 95.9 ppg. That definitely does not sound like a defensive genius to me. The Lakers need to honker down on Defense and make sure they are protecting the rim, causing turnovers, and contesting jump shots. There was way too many easy layups and dunks that were just from a lack of defensive effort. Also the pick and roll defense was nonexistent as the Lakers need to do a better job of switching and covering the open man after the screen.

Do I still believe in my Lakers? Yes of course. This new Lakers squad has just been assembled and it will take awhile to gel. They are working out there kinks and it might take a while before there is complete chemistry happening. As Metta said “chemistry is a bad word because it blows things up, I like to use love or togetherness.” The only thing that matters is that the Lakers are clicking and firing on all cylinders in June. The postseason is when the real season begins, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try to perfect your craft in the regular season. Dwight also chimed in “just because we have a talented team it’s just not gonna click. It takes time. Just gotta continue to stay focused.”

The biggest focus for the Lakers is to improve on free throw shooting, make that a priority for Dwight and the bigs; also pick and roll frequently with Nash and the Towers, and to play with defensive intensity and create turnovers forcing bad shots, blocks and getting steals in the open court.

“We have 81 more games to play and Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s what somebody told me.” –Superman

Superman Returns! (D12 in LA)

The biggest anticipation of the whole 2012 season and summer offseason was where would Dwight Howard end up. Would D12 stay in Orlando, go to the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, or the Los Angeles Lakers. Anticipation soon turned to frustration as the Dwightmare saga continued for over a year span. One day he would say he wants to stay in Orlando then the next day he would demand a trade. It was like Brett Favre’s retirement all over again. After months of trade rumors and the Lakers even considering offering Andrew Bynum an extension, I truly had given up on the prospects of gaining Dwight and believed that Bynum would be the future Center for the Lakers. Then splash the waters of the Red Sea had finally parted. On August 11th it was announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had acquired the Man of Steel Superman Dwight Howard in a 4 team trade with the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers received Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from Orlando, Philadelphia got Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from Orlando, Denver received Andre Iguodola, and the Magic received Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver along with Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga from the Lakers, and from the Sixers Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. Orlando has received future picks in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. Many have said that Orlando got the short stick on this trade but I definitely disagree they were able to shed salary while get draft picks and young players to build for the future. The Magic are using the Sam Presti model in OKC by building for the future in the draft. In fact if Dwight Howard didn’t opt into his contract last season with Orlando they would have received nothing in return and lost him in free agency. I feel every team won in this trade and it is a fair trade on all sides. Everybody got what they wanted. The Lakers got that big man and defensive presence, the Sixers got a big scoring center, Denver got an All-star athletic wing, and Orlando got young, relieved salary cap and future draft picks. We are just fortunate that David Stern kept his nose out of vetoing this trade (CP3 hiding in the corner).

It is sad to see Andrew Bynum leave the Lakers. He was just coming off his first Allstar season and was the number 2 option in the Lakers offense.  He posted 18pg and 11pg with almost 2 bpg. He was a force in the paint, when he WANTED to be. That is the key phrase that Andrew Bynum has the Randy Moss syndrome “He plays when he wants to play.” I have always been a huge fan of Andrew Bynum and believe he has great potential but the fact that he would literally take himself out of the play if he didn’t receive his first touch was just upsetting to watch. I know that he is a young 24 year old kid and has much to learn and grow because I am a month older than he is, and let me tell you immaturity and learning how to control emotions is something that is a process that everyone even myself goes through. Dwight Howard as well is not mature as we have seen his flip flopping trade demands and removals this season so they both even out in that category. But when the Lakers were able to land Dwight Howard I was ecstatic.

Here is why Superman has entered the building ala Staples Center. Dwight Howard is an absolute force on the defensive side as well as catching the ball under the rim. He is literally the reincarnation of Shaquille Oneal. The reason why I like the Dwight Howard trade is because Superman brings it on D every night. Dwight Howard has already been 3 time Defensive Player of the Year and he is only 26. Howard has also been to 6 All-Star games and reached the Finals in 2009 losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. So Howard knows what it is like to reach the big stage. Howard needs LA just as much as the Lakers need him. LA will repair Howard’s image and make him an even bigger star and Howard in return will help Kobe along with Nash and Gasol bring home a title to Hollywood. Another giant reason why Dwight fits the Lakers is because of the acquisition of Steve Nash on July 4th. Nash now has a set of keys to his new toys. Nash will be able to run the pick in roll to perfection with Gasol and Dwight and there will now be a new “lob city” in LA and the Lakers own the rights to the airspace. D12 will see a lot of alley oops; lob passes, tip-ins and offensive rebounds. Dwight is a player who plays off the ball more than Bynum would. Howard is one of the best offensive rebounders in the game and he will have many opportunities to get easy baskets from boarding the glass and tip-ins. In Los Angeles Dwight will no longer be option 1 like he was in Orlando so there is a lot of ease and no pressure on him now. All Dwight has to do is play Defense, rebound the basketball and get easy dunks. It is the perfect scenario for Dwight he will be on a championship caliber team and the pressure is off him to score 25 and get 20 rebounds. Also adding Dwight Howard he has the chance to follow in the line of great Hall of Fame Centers from George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Shaq.

Shaq like Dwight was the first pick in the draft from Orlando and then moved to the Lakers. Shaq and Dwight both reached the Finals in Orlando and lost, both nicknamed Superman, both Dominant bigs, both gregarious personalities, and both wanting the chance to win rings. Well Shaq was able to win 3 titles in LA, and Dwight is looking to do the same.

Superman returns to LA and this time he has all the necessary pieces to ensure that the Larry Obrien Trophy returns to Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is still one of the greatest players and scorers the NBA has ever seen, along with adding Nash who is the best passing point guard in the NBA, and Pau Gasol who is an athletic skilled 7 foot big man who can extend the floor. To add Dwight Howard arguably the best center in the NBA who is a force in the middle and a defensive block shot beast is almost incredulous to think about and literally makes the Lakers an unstoppable force and favorites to win the NBA Finals. Not to mention the Lakers still have Metta Ron Artest Peace who is still one of the best lock down defenders in the league with an improved bench of sharpshooter Jodie Meeks, backup point guard Chris Duhon, and resigning Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks. The Lakers look to be very lethal and deadly just like the Black Mamba himself Kobe Bryant. If there was ever a statement that Kobe wanted to dethrone the Miami Heat and reclaim his glory as NBA champion it was acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Lakers have just taken the king out and said Checkmate game over. “Yall playing checkers, while we playing chess” –Kobe Bryant. That is why Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are the best front office in all of sports, it’s because they are not afraid to make the big-time moves.

Kobe Bryant welcomes the return of Superman as he goes for his last hurrah as a world champion. This is the most talented team that has been assembled. I don’t believe that chemistry will be an issue because Nash, Kobe, and Gasol are all veterans and know how to win. Nash is hungry for his first title and Kobe is hungry to get his 6th. There could not be a better scenario for the Lakers than the upcoming 2013 season. Landing D12 to LA has made me giddy and brings the most anticipation for any season since the 2010 Lakers championship. Lakers fans are now rejuvenated and like Dwight said about his coming to the Lakers “excited.” Dwight is excited to put on the purple and gold and so are the fans. Not to knock Bynum but when you are not excited to be a Laker any longer and tell the world you could play anywhere well that means your time in LA is up buddy. Unfortunately we had to say good bye to a big-time presence but fortunately we get to say Hello to a larger than life Superman. The Lakers now have another chance to build a dynasty. They could possibly win not 1, not 2, not 3, well you know how the rest goes. Dwight has the keys to the franchise after Kobe retires and now can compete to win many championships here in LA. The Lakers don’t rebuild they reload.

Let’s Get Nashty (Why Steve Nash will make the Lakers Smash)

Usually during the Fourth of July Americans get excited to celebrate the country’s independence with fireworks. Well this year didn’t disappoint. The Fireworks went off and in surprising fashion. Hollywood landed one of the biggest NBA Free Agents of 2012 in 2 time MVP, 8 time Allstar, and 3 time All-NBA first team point guard Steve Nash. As a Lakers fan I was happier with the sign and trade deal that brought Nash to Los Angeles more than I was with lighting off mortar bombs in the sky.

Steve Nash is everything the Lakers have been missing in the point guard position and more. Not only does Steve Nash fill the much needed true point guard role which the Lakers really have never had going back to the days of Magic Johnson, but he also brings that alpha dog leadership role similar to Kobe Bryant. Kobe has always been the proven leader and champion in the locker room but with the departure of Derek Fisher this regular season to the OKC Thunder, (in return for PF Jordan Hill) he has been lacking that backup co-captain veteran leader to help inspire his teammates. Pau Gasol was named co-captain after Fisher left and I don’t need to tell you how that worked out. With the addition of Steve Nash, the Lakers add the BEST yes I said Best passing point guard in the NBA and possibly who has ever played the game. Steve Nash will energize this lethargic Lakers offense where everything is about each individual creating his own shot. Now Pau Gasol doesn’t have to play the role of facilitator but can go back to his original spot as Power Forward and I’m hoping he adds the POWER back to his 7 foot skilled repertoire. Not only will Steve Nash improve Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum’s game with the pick and roll and alley oops (sorry Clippers there is a new Lob City in town) but he also will free up Kobe and give him a ton of open looks without defenders crowding him. Because of this new found open space there will be no more double and triple teams that Kobe has been accustomed to seeing. Also Nash takes away from doubling the Bigs down low in Bynum and Gasol and decongests the lane for them to work in and get easy open looks, dunks, and tip-ins increasing the Towers FG percentage. Steve Nash brings the FUN back to LA and SHOWTIME will be in full effect! Signing Steve Nash all of a sudden makes the LA LAKERS a Championship contender once again. Not only is he the best facilitator in the game, making his teammates better but he also is a sharpshooting 3 point shooter as well as a deadly mid range jumpshooter. Nash brings a spark to LA that not even a young Russell Westbrook could do for his OKC Thunder. Gasol and Bynum will be completely re-energized with many easy baskets under the hoop created by Steve Nash. Today the Lakers officially signed Steve Nash and he chose the jersey number #10. Why? “10 is the number of playmakers in the game of soccer,” Nash replied. Steve Nash is a playmaker and everyone on the Lakers will benefit.

Let’s look at Steve Nash by the numbers. Nash career average is 14.5 ppg, 8.6 apg, and 3rpg. Not too shabby for the 2 time MVP (Both stolen from Kobe btw). Those are great stats for any player but especially your point guard. It says two things. 1: that Nash can score and get his own shot, and 2: Nash can create for others and throw out dimes like he was trying to collect a dollar. Nash career FG% is 49.1 so he makes about half the shots he takes and that is real encouraging because it is such a high number for a guard, and his 3 point FG% for his career is 42.8%. Both of these numbers indicate that Nash is an extremely deadly shooter and can kill you with his jumper or beating you with his dribble penetration. Also Steve is one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA at 90% which means teams won’t want to be fouling him at the end of the game. Nash’s outside shooting is key because last season the Lakers were one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the league at 32%. Steve Nash alone had a better 3 point FG shooting percentage last season at 39% than the whole Lakers squad. Now the Lakers have a pure shooting true point guard who can create shots for others as well as himself. Steve Nash is a Christmas gift unwrapped in July. Just like when the Lakers traded Kwame Brown and received Pau Gasol, or in 96 traded Vlade Divac for the 13th pick by the Hornets in Kobe Bryant, so Steve Nash is another gift Lakerland has received.

Everybody wants to talk about the age of Steve Nash and how he is 38 years old. Well I think they should ask him where he found the fountain of youth and have him lead them there. Steve Nash at 38 years young is better than Ramon Sessions at 26 years old. Last season Steve Nash averaged 12.8 ppg, 10.7 apg (league leading), 3 rpg, and shot 53% from the field and 39% from 3 point range. Like I said Steve Nash will make the Lakers smash. He brings formidability to this Lakers team who all they really needed was a true facilitator and three point shooter, and it happens that Steve Nash is both. Lakers are in a win now mode and trying to utilize the remaining portion of Kobe’s prime era, so adding Steve Nash pushes the Lakers into that Championship caliber team once again. With all of Andrew Bynum’s immaturity and Pau Gasol’s ineptness Steve Nash instills confidence and aggressiveness into the Lakers Bigs. When asked what it would be like to play with the Lakers twin tower 7 footers, Nash said “I have not only thought but dreamed about it.” The Lakers will Nash will cause matchup nightmares offensively for opponents. With Nash running point he can slash to the lane, pick and roll with Gasol and Bynum, or dribble drive and hit Kobe on the wing.

If the Lakers haven’t struck Gold with the Steve Nash than I don’t think there is such think as luck of the Irish. Nash competitive fierceness will drive the Lakers to further greatness. The Lakers are a franchise built on dynasty and heart of a champion mentality and Steve Nash exemplifies both. Only a few players have the hard working intensity that determines a champion and the Lakers happen to now have both (Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant). Steve Nash might have to throw a celebration party when he is in LA saying not 1 not 2 but at least 3 championships the Lakers will win. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but what I do now is that the Lakers are real NASHTY now and enter in the Championship discussion. Kobe is hungrier than ever to tie Michael Jordan and receive his 6th ring, while Steve Nash is hungry to get his first ring in Los Angeles on what appears to be the first time he has ever been on a championship caliber team.

Nash and Kobe have gone at it for years, Kobe and the Lakers beat the Suns in the Western Conference Finals in 2010 to go on and win their second straight NBA Finals. The Suns also knocked the Lakers out in the first round in 2006 and 2007. However Kobe and Nash say they hold a bond that goes back to the 1996 draft class and the respect they have for one another. So as the old saying goes if you can’t beat them than join them; and that is what Nash has done. Truly two of the All-time greats have now combined to play together to compete for a championship for at least the next three years. Thank you Steve Nash for coming to Los Angeles, Lakers fans could not be more appreciative.