Court Vision: Dwight Howard wants Kobe Bryant, Lakers to calm down
By Ben Golliver
• Kobe Bryant is doing his best to keep the negative thoughts bottled up after the Lakers’ 1-4 start, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Bryant was still seething as he sat in front of his locker, acknowledging he played with an anger and fire he hadn’t displayed in a while.
“Just a little bit,” he said, practically spitting out the words.
“Nothin’ I care to share,” he said.
• ESPNLA.com reports that Dwight Howard said that Bryant should just take it easy.
“I think sometimes as a team we got to be able to not really show our frustrations that much,” Howard said after L.A. fell to 1-12 with their preseason record included. “A lot of the guys look at me and Kobe and they feed off us, so we have to do a better job of keeping our frustrations on the inside and just playing through it so our teammates won’t get down on themselves. So, we just got to do a better job at that.
“I know [Kobe] was a little frustrated tonight. He wants to win just as bad as all of us do, but we just got to stay together, remember it’s a process, and stay focused.”
• The New York Times Magazine’s Sam Anderson is great at writing. Kevin Durant is great at scoring. Here’s what happens when you marry scribe and subject.
N.B.A. scoring champions are, as a rule, weirdos and reprobates and in some cases diagnosable sociopaths. Something about dominating your opponent, publicly, more or less every day of your life, in the most visible aspect of your sport, tends to either warp your spirit or to be possible only to those whose spirits are already warped. Michael Jordan, when he wasn’t busy scoring, was busy punching a teammate in the face and gambling away small fortunes. Allen Iverson, in his spare time, recorded an aesthetically and morally terrible rap album and gave an iconic speech denigrating the very notion of practice. Kobe Bryant is and shall forever be Kobe Bryant. Wilt, Shaq, Pistol Pete, Dominique, McGrady, McAdoo, Rick Barry — it’s a near-solid roster of dysfunction: sadists, narcissists, malcontents, knuckleheads, misanthropes, womanizers, addicts and villains. While it’s true that plain old N.B.A. superstars do occasionally manage to be model citizens (cf. Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Steve Nash), there is something irredeemable about a scoring champion.
Kevin Durant, the star of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the youngest scoring champion in N.B.A. history. At 24, he has led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons, and all signs point to him keeping that up for the foreseeable future. It follows, then, that Durant should also be a prodigy of a head case. He should have been arrested for reckless driving at around age 9, broken his hand in a strip-club brawl at age 12 and accidentally shot his chauffeur no later than age 15.
• Ken Berger takes a look at LeBron James’ political activity before Tuesday’s re-election of President Obama.
• Jonathan Abrams with his latest must-read NBA oral history: the 1980s Houston Rockets. One subject: John Lucas’ drug problem.
Blinebury: With Lucas, there was no question [of him relapsing]. Lucas was completely out of control.
Reid: Coach Fitch called a meeting. He said, “We can do two things. We can keep John and make sure he stays clean and finishes the season. Or we can let John go and let him go into the clinic, get helped.” Me and [Allen] Leavell, by this time, we’re the two senior players. We put our hands up and say he’s got to get help. These young kids are saying, “Man, you are only saying that because you want his spot.” I said, “No, I don’t want to see him dead.”
Fitch: John, God bless him, we caught him early enough. I caught enough heat for knocking him out, but I still think John would have been worse off if I hadn’t cut him when I did cut him from playing.
John Lucas (guard, Rockets): Bill Fitch saved my life. He was the one coach that told me that enough was enough.
• The Mavericks dancers are barely wearing clothes these days. What does it mean?
• ESPN.com’s Beckley Mason, debuting on the New York Times’ Off The Dribble blog, on Kyrie Irving.
As a rookie, Irving had a better season than LeBron James did in his first campaign. And in 2011-12, only James and Chris Paul, both sure to go down as historically great players, had better fourth quarter Player Efficiency Ratings than Irving did. Irving was especially unstoppable in the clutch, when teams supposedly batten down the defensive hatches and buckets become harder to come by.
More evidence that Irving is an outlier: the only other rookie to ever put up points and assists with similar shooting accuracy was Michael Jordan.
• Shane Battier is convinced he could beat the rest of the NBA at Jeopardy! The rest of the NBA has announced it wants no part of him.
But ya know what?
This loss in Atlanta was the most encouraging sign yet that the Pacers aren’t totally cooked without Danny Granger for the next few months. Because, really, in order to collapse, you do actually have to be in total control for the game. And Indiana was. For a few hot seconds, anyway.
• Mehmet Okur is retiring.