Now I live in Canada, so I don’t get to take either day off, but if you’re like me, only American, you could be forgiven for missing yesterday’s Sixth Man rankings.
Kobe Bryant signed his two-year, $48.5 million extension Monday morning, so by the time my plane touched down late Tuesday, the irrational debate and cheap analysis was kicking into a higher gear among Lakers Nation.
This group is one of my favorites because its members live in a self-contained universe where there are only two types of humans – those who are Lakers and those who want to be Lakers.
In the first 24 hours here, I read or heard about scenarios that had LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coming to the Lakers, although one written report quoted an anonymous Lakers source saying speculation on James migrating to the West Coast was “a pipe dream.”
BROOKLYN – How many NBA teams could survive the loss of their starting backcourt for nearly a quarter of the season? How many NBA teams could survive that loss when those two players are future Hall of Famers like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash?
Through 17 games, you can count the upstart Los Angeles Lakers among those teams. Thanks to an unlikely effective backcourt rotation quartet of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar and Nick Young, the Lakers are 9-8 and hanging around a ruthlessly tough Western Conference.
Would Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni have taken this start knowing Bryant wouldn’t have played a single minute?
“I would have taken it,” he said. “I love this group of guys, they’re playing as hard as they can play and they play well.”
The Lakers didn’t have it easy Wednesday night in Brooklyn but held on for a 99-94 win after blowing a 27-point lead.
And I’ll say this: Bryant doesn’t deserve to be criticized as selfish for the amount of money he will make, and any subsequent cap space the Lakers lose as a result.
Two of Bryant’s teammates, Chris Kaman and Xavier Henry, strongly agree.
“I personally think he deserved more,” Kaman told SheridanHoops. “I know the only exception with that comment is that it can be hard for teams to get other guys and to fit pieces in when a guy makes that much money. But other than that, I think with the television deal the Lakers got and with the long-term sponsors they’ve gotten off of the back of Kobe and some other players, I think he deserves it. I think he could have been underpaid for what the owners are making compared to what he’s making.”
“He’s earned everything he’s got,” Henry told Sheridan Hoops. “He literally has earned every single thing he’s gotten, so for people to think he should take more of a pay cut is really not the right idea and it’s unappreciative of what he’s done.”
A day that many people assess their lives and give thanks for whatever — whether it is to the god of their faith or to other people in their lives — they may be grateful for.
Studies have actually shown that expression of gratitude can lead to a longer and happier life.
There is a lot to be grateful for in life, regardless of what is going on in yours. Simply having life is something to be grateful for.
NBA athletes have plenty to be grateful for and often express their gratitude. Here is what some of them are grateful for this year.