SH Blog: Kobe Reflects on Lakers-Celtics, Rondo Set For Return Friday; Magic Takes Heat; LeBron Speaks of Uncertain Future

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kobeKobe Reminiscences on Celtics-Lakers Rivalry

You and I weren’t the only ones that were disappointed when the Boston Celtics shipped off Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this past summer.

Kobe Bryant was right there with us.

Their departure not only had a domino effect on the competitive landscape of the Eastern Conference, but the entire NBA. The Celtics would no longer be a threat, and that would mean the revived Celtics-Lakers rivalry that this generation finally got to experience to the fullest would also die. 

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SH Blog: Warriors are scary good with a full squad, Anderson could miss remainder of season

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Stephen CurryIf you follow the Golden State Warriors at all, the words “hashtag full squad” should sound familiar to you by now. If it doesn’t, click here to find out how it all began, and here for the full explanation on how it now has a life of its own.

To make a long story short, David Lee believed the Warriors were a darned good team when everyone in the starting lineup is healthy and playing together. He brought it up some weeks ago because the team was performing questionably at best through the first 20 games or so – particularly when Andre Iguodala was out of the lineup due to an injured hamstring – and some began to wonder whether all the hype about Golden State prior to the beginning of the season was justified.

As it turns out, Lee was more than right about his “full squad”. With the starting five intact, the Warriors’ record is an impressive 20-4. They are, in fact, one of the most dominating starting fives in the entire league on both ends of the court, according to Warriors.com:

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Tweet of the Day: NBA Athletes Talk About FIFA’s Top Footballer

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Monday brought with it the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013 Award Ceremony, where the world’s greatest football (soccer) player is honored.

No different than the rest of the world, many NBA players are avid soccer fans. Prior to the award being announced a couple took to Twitter to express their anticipation for the award’s announcement. Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol seemed exuberant about the closeness of the competition for FIFA’s top honor.

New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca gave some pre-award analysis (in French, of course).

CR7 à fais une vrai saison à surpasser tt le monde niveau but et le ballon d’or n’est pas scandaleux mais Ribery as accompli des titres — Alexis Ajinça (@AjincaAlexis42) January 13, 2014

Ajinca seems to have been hoping his native French footballer, Franck Ribery, would win the award. He compared Ribery and Ronaldo’s seasons, suggesting that while Ronaldo had a great individual season, it wasn’t as accomplished as Ribery’s—as he won three titles last year [the 2013 UEFA Champions League, the 2013 UEFA Super Cup and the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup].

In addition to those three championships, Ribery also won numerous individual awards among which included the UEFA Champions League Best Player, UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, UEFA Super Cup Man of the Match, the Bundesliga Player Of The Year, FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball and the FIFA Club World Cup Most Valuable Player.

The Ballon d’Or was then announced. Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo received the award (commonly referred to as the Golden Ball) for the second time in his illustrious career.

After the announcement, a couple players expressed their surprise (and, perhaps, displeasure) with the choice.

The Portland Trail Blazers guard essentially said that Ribery—second runner-up to Ronaldo and first runner-up Lionel Messi—had a big season even though he missed considerable time due to a rib injury. He did, however, congratulate Ronaldo.

Miami Heat star shooting guard Dwyane Wade also congratulated Ronaldo on the accomplishment.

 

Previous Tweet Posts:

Tweet of the Night: Kings Win Third Straight, Rout Cavs In Sacramento

Tweet of the Day: LeBron Does a Q&A

PODCAST: Autopsy of the Bynum-Deng Trade; Who is Best Healthy PG in West?

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Mitch Kupchak

Mitch Kupchak

I have already made my thoughts known on the Luog Deng-Andrew Bynum trade in a column, the gist of whih is that the big loser in this deal was the Lakers. Go ahead and click through and give it a read as you listen to this audio from the NBA’s Sirius-XM radio channel, in which I go into further detail about why Mitch Kupchak blew a golden opportunity to set the Lakers up for having a spectacular team — and not having to pay the repeated luxury tax — in the 2015-16 season, when Kobe Bryant will be in the final season of his contract.

But that is not all we touched on in this wide-ranging interview with hosts Frank Isola and Mateen Cleaves.

With Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook out for the next several weeks with injuries, who is the best point guard currently playing in the West? The choices are Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, and I not only answered the question, I made the hosts answer it, too. (Can’t help myself; I am still a reporter at heart, and reporters ask questions).

Andre Miller of the Nuggets also gets discussed, as do Stephon Marbury, Delonte West and Bobby Brown — of of whom are currently playing in China.

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Bernucca: Memo to Mitch Kupchak: Stop Haggling and Start Tanking

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Mitch Kupchak shouldn’t be playing hardball. kupchak

In his desire to trade Pau Gasol, the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers should not have insisted on receiving Dion Waiters or a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody has overpaid for a rental since Ernie Grunfeld sent Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton — and that was a long time ago.

Kupchak should have lowered his demands to match the team’s expectations. The Lakers are done for this season and should be singularly committed to one agenda: Making sure this rare down period for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises doesn’t last more than one season.

Kupchak should be tanking.

Some of the telltale signs already are in place. The Lakers have a bloated payroll of aging, overpaid players, almost all of them on expiring contracts. Injuries to their stars have hampered their ability to compete on their customary high level. They already are fading fast in the Western Conference playoff race.

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