By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
CITY OF ANGLES
Well, Click and Roll just returned from Los Angeles a little bleary-eyed (not from partying, but work).
-- NBA.com's 2004 All-Star Blog
Now that the All-Star break is over, it's time to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
This guy has the right idea. We're looking forward to the NBA's second half as well.
And to keep you amused, here are some of the second-half story lines. Guess which team is at the top of the list?
While we were in L.A., we noticed the papers were obsessed about Kobe and Shaq like US Magazine and People obsess about reality TV weddings. (Not that we read them ... much). NBA PR smartly set up the two next to each other at Friday's media day so reporters wouldn't need to race across the room to listen to either one.
After all, two days earlier, Kobe talked about the Lakers cutting off contract talks with Phil Jackson.
How did Kobe feel about Jackson's contract talks?
Ooooooooh-kay! But at media day, Kobe said he'd like to be "a Laker for the rest of his life."
But wait, says Bill Plaschke. Kobe should prove it by not testing the free agent market.
Then, a day later, it sounded like he didn't like being a Laker now. To wit: "I don't like Phil as a person, but I love him as a coach," Bryant told T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times. "Would I go to lunch with him? No, but I like playing for him.
Check, please! Or: "I'd be lying if I said the challenge of playing on a team [without Shaq] doesn't interest me," Bryant said. "Everybody who knows me, knows how much I love a challenge, but that doesn't mean I'm leaving."
No, of course not. But with their three mainsails -- Kobe, Shaq, who hasn't received a contract extension and Jackson, whose contract ends this season -- flapping to the press and flapping in the wind, this Lakers team is adrift.
One writer wonders: Is it all downhill for the Lakers from here on out?
All of which led another L.A. Times writer to jot this down in Monday's edition: "Can't wait to see what happens when the Lakers reconvene [Monday]," wrote J.A. Adande.
Apparently, Shaq could wait. He called in sick.
Maybe A.I. caught the Shaq-flu. Iverson missed practice on Monday as well. New coach Chris Ford was less than pleased.
Though, the Lakers did receive some good news. Karl Malone can start exercising again.
Malone not exercising? That's like a fish that can't swim. Or Isiah Thomas not making at least one trade per week.
GMs WHO LUNCH
Thank you, thank you for applauding that last joke. I'll be here all the week.
Which is more than I can say for some of the Knicks. Who knows who will be the next to be exiled by Isiah from the Garden, which has once again become an Eden for New York hoops fans, who had tasted the forbidden fruit of unmet expectations.
(OK, I'll stop with the Eden metaphors.)
While the rest of the league "rested" over All-Star Weekend, Isiah made another trade.
This time, the trade involved the Bucks and the Hawks as the Knicks sent Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas. They were traded for each other on draft night in 1997 as well. And why not, they're almost the same player. The Knicks also sent Michael Doleac to Atlanta for Nazr Mohammed, while Milwaukee shipped Joel Przybilla to Atlanta.
Now, some have reported that the Knicks are interested in the just-waived Vin Baker.
And could Isiah still be interested in Rasheed Wallace, as has been reported? Whoops. He was traded last week (and after the last Click and Roll went to press).
Still, that doesn't mean Isiah is done. He has his cornerstone at point guard, but who knows what he'll do next?
All of which may be leading to this: A Knicks-Nets showdown in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Yeah, that wouldn't cause too much excitement around here.
INTERNATIONAL HOOPS -- CHINA
In case you hadn't heard, the NBA is taking the game we love to China later this year.
Commissioner David Stern made the announcement during All-Star Weekend.
"Yao Ming grew up watching Hakeem Olajuwon, and now kids are going to grow up watching Yao Ming and we think it's terrific," Stern said.
Whether the NBA will expand overseas, well, that's to be determined.
"I think we'll have a pretty good interim idea in the next six-to-nine months whether it is something that we should move full speed ahead on," Stern said.
Meanwhile, could Shaq be contemplating a return to Olympic hoops?
To this article, I say: Whoa, whoa, whoa! The got milk? Rookie Game was an exhibition. All-Star Weekend is supposed to be fun. We get enough defense during the season.
-- Houston Chronicle
Bad Boys behaving badly get punished.
Also, Chris Webber received an eight-game suspension on Tuesday.