Bynum Will Miss Start of Training Camp Because He Couldn’t Miss World Cup

Surprise, surprise.  Lakers center Andrew Bynum has made a poor decision regarding an injury.  The same Bynum who was partying at the Playboy Mansion with Playmates on his shoulders while rehabbing his knee last year is going to miss the start of Lakers training camp.  Why?  Because he didn’t want to be uncomfortable watching the World Cup in South Africa and vacationing in Europe, of course.

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports, via Pro Basketball Talk, that Bynum opted to push back the date of his off-season knee surgery after the Lakers won the NBA Finals.  Just like he pushed it back so he could play in the playoffs, he pushed it back again so he could play on vacation.

Bynum put off having off-season surgery on his right knee so he could play – and we’re not talking about playing basketball. He could’ve repaired the knee immediately after last season, but he postponed it to travel – to see the soccer World Cup in South Africa and then vacation in Europe, as he had the previous summer.

Bynum didn’t want to be on crutches, which would’ve diminished all that fun stuff or required rescheduling. He even had the knee drained, just as he did repeatedly with much ado in the playoffs to keep playing, so he could keep pivoting around reasonably well as a sightseer.

Sounds like a player who finally has his priorities in line, doesn’t it?  The fact that this is a recurring theme for the big man has to be a concern for the Lakers.  You would think that a player with an elaborate injury history like Bynum’s — at such a young age — would take surgeries and rehab a bit more seriously.  Maybe that’s just the effect two championship rings can have on a 22-year-old.

If Health Is Issue, Phil Should Retire

Last week the LA Lakers won their second consecutive NBA Championship. The win gave Phil Jackson his 11th title as a head coach and already had Kobe Bryant thinking Jackson would retire. Jackson, who is 64, said that his mind might be made up about whether or not he will return to coach the Lakers next season, which is something he’s been hinting at since last January. Jackson said on Wednesday, “I’m leaning towards retiring but I have not made up my mind.”

So should Jackson retire or try for the three-peat? Honestly, it all comes down to his health. I think if Jackson is healthy enough he will come back and give it a shot at ending his career with his third three-peat of championships. Then again, there’s no guarantee that the Lakers will win again next year, so maybe ending on a high note is the best move.

There’s really no point for Jackson to come back if he isn’t healthy. Coaching isn’t an easy job, even if you are Phil Jackson, and it would just cause unneeded stress for him. Plus, he could get sick during the season and thus be unable to coach anyways.

I say it’s time for him to retire. He’s had an amazing career and why not end it on the high note of a Lakers championship? 11 titles is no easy feat and I don’t think that anyone in the league could blame him if he decided that this was his last year.

Jackson ‘leaning towards retiring’ [ESPN]

Best Shooters May Win Game 7

The Boston Celtics were able to steal Game 2 of the NBA Finals from the LA Lakers at Staples Center for one reason — Ray Allen had an incredible shooting night. They could certainly use another if they want to win Game 7 and bring home their 18th NBA title. With news surfacing that Kendrick Perkins likely will not play in Game 7 with a sprained knee, the Celtics have to come to the realization that they are losing their best low-post defender. On the defensive end, they’ll have to make adjustments. However, with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom also nursing themselves back to full health, there’s no need for the Celtics to hit the panic button.

Before the Finals began, Boston had to have prepared for a situation in which they’d be without their starting center. Perkins’ six technical fouls were a huge story to watch heading into the series. No one can predict an injury, but fortunately for Doc Rivers he was forced to prepare his team to lose a player that they indeed have likely lost, albeit for a different reason.

With three combined players from the two teams ailing — all of which happen to be around 7-feet tall — Game 7 of the NBA Finals could turn into a situation in which the best jump shooters win. Without Perkins, the Celtics will have a lot of shooters on the floor for the better part of the game. Rasheed Wallace, while not nearly as good as Perkins on defense, is a much more capable offensive player. His range extends to the three-point line and he adds an element on offense that the Celtics lack when Perkins is on the floor — an effective turn around jump shot. Kevin Garnett can provide a baseline turn-around jumper at times, but he’s a much better catch-and-shoot player.

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Wall Street Journal Analyzes Lakers and Celtics Whining Tendencies

The Wall Street Journal has conducted an interesting little study that examines the amount of belly-aching the players have done in the 2010 NBA Finals.  Some of the numbers are actually pretty surprising.  Maybe it’s just because Celtics-Lakers is such a heated rivalry, but there seems to be more complaining about officiating in these NBA Finals than there has been in the past.  I know, NBA officials take a ton of heat now — especially in the post-Donaghy era — but this year it has been noticeably bad.

The fact that Boston has two players (Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace) that are one technical away from a suspension has to say something.  What it probably says is that the Celtics cry to the officials more than your usual team, and that is indeed what the Wall Street Journal found.  Check out “The Whining Index” that they came up with by studying the first five games of the NBA Finals:

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If The Finals Ended Today, Would Kobe Be MVP in Defeat?

In 1969, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA Finals series that went seven games.  Lakers guard and 14-time All-Star Jerry West was named the NBA Finals MVP — in defeat.  It was the first time the league issued an award for a Finals MVP, and the only time a player on the losing squad has ever be given the honor.  Ironically enough, as the same two rivals face-off once again for an NBA title, we could find ourselves in a similar situation for the first time in over 40 years.

I’m not saying the NBA Finals are over and Boston should start celebrating; the Celtics have pushed LA to the brink of elimination, but the series now returns to the Staples Center for Games 6 and 7 (if necessary).  What I am saying is that if the Finals were to end after Game 5, Kobe Bryant would have to be named the MVP of the series.  Let’s have a look at the average stats of the MVP candidates through the first five games, not including Shrek and Donkey:

Kobe Bryant               30.2 (PPG)           6.0 (RPG)                4.4 (APG)                    2.0 (SPG)
Paul Pierce                 19.0                        4.6                             3.4                                0.6
Pau Gasol                   18.8                        10.0                            2.6                                0.8
Rajon Rondo              14.2                         6.2                             7.4                                1.6
Kevin Garnett            15.6                         6.0                             3.2                                1.8
Ray Allen                    14.0                         3.0                             1.4                                0.4

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NBA Finals Preview: Seven Things To Keep An Eye On

The NBA Finals are almost upon us.  While very few people (myself included) expected to see a Boston Celtics-LA Lakers Final for the second time in three years, I haven’t heard many people groaning about it.  The rivalry between these two teams is unquestionably one of the most exciting in professional sports.  The players don’t seem to like each other.  The fans certainly don’t like each other.  Celtic fans see Jack Nicholson sitting court-side and view him not as an incredible actor, but an obnoxious Laker fan.  Laker fans see Donnie Wahlberg court-side and still don’t know who he is.  LA wants revenge and the Big Three are facing their last real shot at a title.  It should be fun to watch. 

With all the buzz surrounding the series, there are plenty of story lines and themes to keep tabs on going forward.  I’ve come up with a little list of what I think are the most important.  Feel free to chime in if you think I missed something.

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LA Times Goes Too Far, Pokes Fun at Paul Pierce for Being Stabbed

There’s nothing wrong with hating a team or a team’s players.  Laker fans have grown to despise Celtic fans over the years and vice-versa.  That will happen when two teams face each other in the NBA Finals 12 times in 40 years.  For the most part, the hatred that accompanies a rivalry like this one brings fun and excitement to the game.  However, an LA Times blog post that was published briefly on Monday morning represented an example of how even writers can get caught up in a heated rivalry and forget that at the end of the day it’s just a game.

LA Times columnist Ted Green got completely carried away in a blog post he wrote on Monday morning.  In his thorough compilation of reasons to hate the Celtics, Green slipped in a comment that poked fun at Paul Pierce for having been stabbed at a night club back in 2000.  Here is what Green said about Pierce, courtesy of The Big Lead:

“By the way, Pierce’s idea of a fun night is going clubbing and getting stabbed. Good times!”

I don’t know if Ted Green forgot his morning coffee or what, but I can’t figure out how he would think that publishing a comment like that is appropriate or funny in any way.  Even if he thinks it’s funny — and that would be pretty disturbing — you’d think he’d have enough common sense to realize that he’s taking things too far by saying something like that. The LA Times certainly realized it was out of line; they edited that line out of the article.  There are plenty of things to make fun of the Celtics’ captain for, and Green hit on a couple when he criticized Pierce for taking flops and being a drama queen.  He could have even taken a shot at his arrogance, which was on display two years ago when he claimed to be the best player in the world.

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