What’s wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers?
Even this Lakers fan can’t blame the nixing of that infamous Chris Paul trade back in 2011 anymore (I still got it in there again though, didn’t I?), but I’ve got issues.
If you thought the last couple of years free agency were bad-were the Lakers lost both big-men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol and failed to attain either superstar LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony-then until yesterdays first July day in free agency you hadn’t seen anything yet.
After all the months and days of speculation that started last season, most of the big deals in free agency-in a league that is the business when it comes to this second season in Summer-were wrapped up in the first 24 hours with the majority of big-names sticking with the teams they opted out of in a days trade (or lack of) that speaks volumes for squad solidarity and loyalty if not for the modern-day legacy of history’s legendary Los Angeles Lakers.
With one of the biggest names in basketball all-time on the last season or two of his All-Star career, Kobe Bryant had to get his recruiting on for the future without him. Sitting next to fellow legend James Worthy and the Laker brass of Mitch Kupchak and Jeanie Buss who he’ll join in purple and gold royalty want his sneakers meet the hook and his jersey meets the rafters. After passing up on elite Duke big-man Jahil Okafor with the second pick in this years draft the Lakers selected small-ball changing of the guard D’Angelo Russell (to form a new big-three of the future with sophomore studs Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle (at least that’s one would-be prolific big-man)), the Lakers where confident they could pick up one…hell even two in free agency, as well as some other big players and positions. The only problem looked to be where everyone would fit in in this new contention ready roster. But what a difference a day makes. It was all good a week ago and all that. After winning the lottery it seems like the Lake Show have now run out of luck.
First there was Pau’s big brother Marc Gasol (originally a Laker draft pick back in the day that was shipped to Memphis in a package for Pau) refusing to sign. Then after whispers of the Chicago Bulls ‘Most Improved Player’ Jimmy Butler wanting to serve a year in Lakerland, he ended up re-upping in the Windy City. Just like amazingly and somewhat unbelievably Kevin Love in Cleveland for a multi-million and year deal after years of the Lakers courting the Beach Boy kid. What a difference a pool-side conversation with the King and a open first-person article to The Players Tribune makes. Love and Butler join other big-names who have signed epic extensions with their franchises, including, Damian Lillard, Goran Dragic, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Lenoard and Paul Millsap and Brook of the Lopez twins (another Portland big Robin is still on the table). So you can cross all those guys off the list too.
Then to make matters worse yesterday we learnt from the L.A. Times that LaMarcus Aldridge wrote the Lakers off his after reportedly not “gelling” with Kobe and being unimpressed following his meeting with the Lakers. A team that had first dibs for the many franchises forming presentations for the leaving Portland Trail Blazers star. Now you can stop that ‘L.A. to L.A.’ hash-tag trend twitters. It’s for the birds. The only L.A. King in STAPLES looks to be hockey players as this move is put on ice. We wonder what Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine is going to do with that jersey now. It’s not so sugar sweet now, this love has taken it’s toll and got old. To make matters worse the Los Angeles Times have also reported the Los Angeles CLippers’ DeAndre Jordan was left “unimpressed” with his cross-locker meeting with the Lakers, even though Kobe called him up on the phone personally. Have the Lakers not learnt how to put a Power Point together after failing to entice Carmelo Anthony from New York of all places last year? With a highlights package narrated by Tobey Maguire of all Hollywood stars you could choose from. ‘Jerry Maguire’ would have been better. Are the Lakers getting as dated as the old ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy? There’s been two reboots since then. But no Lakers one.
Do they need a lesson in how to treat a player? Have they not learned from losing Pau? A guy that they dangled as trade bait for years even after all the championships he brought in with his own big arrival. Without the power of Pau the Lakers would have been like they are now for all those victorious years in the post-Shaq age (oh, yeah remember how they treated arguably the greatest big-men of all time too back in the day?). Still they only realized this when it was too late and Gasol signed with the Bulls last year for less money (maybe he had a quiet word with Jimmy). Now because of how the Lakers treated Pau, younger brother Marc will never sign with the Lakers. They call that karma.! Were we not just talking about loyalty? The Lakers need to learn what makes each player tick, not just the lashing tongue of their Mamba man. Sure “friends come and go but banners hang forever”! But what happens when there’s no one to look at those banners? Aldridge didn’t like the Lakers lack of basketball focus on their pitch to him as the Hollywood team where talking too much about outside opportunities for LaMarcus. Do they not know this player is a no-nonsense, all-ball sort of guy? Kind of like Tim Duncan. The guy he’ll end up joining and replacing for his own legendary legacy in San Antonio. He’s 30. Not Dwight Howard. Now there’s more chance of him joining the other number 12 in Houston.
Now the Lakers must turn their attention to promising, young Detroit Piston Greg Monroe, but after a meeting that was a non-report will this guy even consider a team were he was their fifth choice for just one position?
We can relate to that Cousins trade now! But still not for all our chips. We may not have any hands left to deal or cards to play!
Don’t even think about LeBron James decision either. Oh well, there’s always Kevin Durant next year…but come on!
At least Washington Wizard Paul Pierce has returned home to Los Angeles. But that too is for the Clippers. You didn’t think the Cali’ born, Boston basketball raised Celtic legend would really come to the Lakers did you? Now the Clippers look to continue to clean out their STAPLES neighbors locker rooms like they have for years, as they are attempting to lure young, versatile big-wing Wesley Johnson. He could follow the Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry likes of young talent the Lakers have wasted and lost as they tried to focus on bigger ones and not the bigger picture. The Lakers look to even lose Lin as the Linsanity of what has been Jeremy’s up and down career looks to return to the New York minute of worldwide wonder and superstar success he had with the Knicks. And we thought Madison Square Garden was where the rotten apple was at. The Lakers now don’t have much of a ticket for right now after the lottery. Their future may be bright, but as of right now it’s all bet on the bruised and beaten body of Bean and the wild card of Nick Young…if they can still deal for Mr. Iggy.
At least they kept Robert Sacre for all the Canadians out there.
Still, it’s sure looking cold in California right now too!
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is The Real MVP
Santa Monica, California was on an award tour like A Tribe Called Quest for the NBA’s end of season grand prize spectacle last night. Hanging out in the coolest performing arts theatre in all of Los Angeles (my apologies to the Hollywood Bowl), the converted airplane Barker Hangar played host to the 2019 NBA Awards. The Emmy’s, Oscar’s and Grammy’s of hoops Tony.
The best of the Basketball best and the cream of the future hops crop descended on this hangar, suited and booted like they were flossing injured courtside.
Shaq sized in the perfect setting in a place that houses feats of brilliance that take flight like Mike, this event could only be hosted by the one and only, Big Aristotle of the Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal (sorry Drake. Although you troll NBA players better than Kevin Hart telling Kenny Smith he’s so ashy if he smiles his lips will bleed as he goes to take a sip of his water). And the most entertaining NBA player ever (give him his award) laughed, joked, sang, rapped and danced his way to an enjoyable evening in the place he racked up three rings on repeat.
But how about the prize giving? Well your real Most Valuable Player this year is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Say what you will about last year’s MVP and this year’s runner up in the closest of recent races as tight as the Rookie of the Year voting, James Harden racking up triple-doubles like Charles Barkley says Lonzo Ball does triple-singles, but it’s the Alphabet’s time now after slaughtering this season gone. Sure he didn’t come away with the ‘chip like worthy candidate Kawhi Leonard and his (we still hope) Toronto Raptors, but that is his next challenge for the Mamba Mentality tweeted in congratulation by Kobe Bryant who predicted this MVP years back. And in a beautiful and emotional speech, Giannis dedicated all this to his dearly departed dad and his brothers and mom in attendance as every eye not dry in the house got out their seats in unanimous ovation.
And in a truly global game flying the flag outside the United States for each category winner, Antetokounmpo almost doubled up, finishing in second place for Defensive Player Of The Year, under the stifling Eiffel of French fly swatter, Rudy Gobert. As Paul George after an incredible season-no lucky shot-came in third place like he did for the MVP voting. Toronto not only got the ‘chip in the Six however as their X-factor Pascal Siakam came up with the Most Improved Player award ahead of Sacramento sophomore De’Aaron Fox and Brooklyn’s own (if they play their free agent cards right), D’Angelo Russell.
Coach of the Year was bucked by Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer dry-erasing for the MVP. And Bradley Beal was passed the Community Assist Award for all the good this All Star has done. Give him a hand for all the ones he has. Whilst the Sportsmanship award went to new Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr., who also racked up the Teammate Of The Year award for his grit n grind time with the Memphis Grizzlies. But who else for the Sixth Man of the Year award then the ‘6 Man’ of all-time, Lou Williams?
And the House Of Highlights Moment of the Year of course went to Derrick Rose. Can you guess for what game?
We have a ball rattling around the rim forever in Toronto that shoots for even more stars though.
But how about that Rookie of the Year award? Who you got? Because in narrowly beating out Atlanta Hawk Trae Young it’s clear the award belongs to superstar right now Luka Dončić after a Maverick season in Dallas. Where the Texan gunslinger from Slovenia is about to draw on them all next season. Look out for the kid like Pat Garrett.
Sager Strong, broadcaster Robin Roberts took home that award named in honour after the suited courtside with a microphone presenter. And her “make your mess your message” speech was the most inspiring of the night after her fight against breast cancer and bone marrow disease, raising awareness. Executive of the Year went to Jon Horst of the Milwaukee Bucks (sorry Rob Pelinka…jokes) but the Lifetime Achievement? Well that went to a former President who has just left office. No not Obama (although POTUS does have game…WAP!). But the Magic man, Earvin Johnson. The Laker legend honoured in California for all he’s done since starting the fast-break of Showtime, to changing the game behind the back without taking a single shot. All the way to walking away from it bravely when he was diagnosed with HIV and then making a comeback so beautifully for the man who will always be purple and gold with all this entrepreneur pulls out the empire of his top hat. Say what you will about his presidency residency but as we look to free agency this crazy offseason, remember who started all this off by bringing the King to Hollywood last Summer, waiting outside his house in his car at one in the morning.
Now that can’t be tampered with.
But all in all last nights NBA Awards show of All-Stars showed us one thing like the NBA Finals. No matter who took home the gold, we all came away winners.
Philadelphia 76ers’ make Marial Shayok Ottawa’s first-ever NBA draft pick
Ottawa’s Marial Shayok has achieved his ultimate dream — becoming the city’s first-ever NBA draft pick. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Shayok with the 54th-pick overall in the second-round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
The former St.Patrick’s Irish high school standout celebrated his special and emotional moment at home with family and friends.
“You did it bro, you did bro…”
“Let’s go baby! You going to Philly…”
For Shayok and his family the historic moment is a culmination of life-long sacrifices that started in South Sudan with his 6’9″ father Makor Shayok moving his wife and three-daughters to America. The elder Makor set post at Alvin Texas Community College and earned a scholarship to the Dayton Flyers, playing from 1990-1992.
Makor’s eldest, Shayok Shayok (born in Miami) and his sister Yar Shayok also followed dad’s footsteps and played NCAA basketball – Shayok going to Bradley and transferring to UMKC and Yar playing with Detroit Mercy Titans women’s program.
The family migrated to Ottawa, Canada in the mid-90’s and on July 26th, 1995 the youngest Shayok was born.
Marial left Ottawa for New Jersey’s Blair Academy after three-years with the St.Pats Irish — he originally committed to the Marquette Golden Eagles but transferred to the Virginia Cavaliers after the coach (Buzz Williams) that originally recruited him bailed on the program in 2015.
Shayok had busy NBA draft process – showcasing his versatile skill-set to 14 NBA front offices. Here is footage of his 76ers’ work-out.