Welcome to the Lakers.com Mailbag, your chance to write in any questions, suggestions or random (but kind of applicable) pop culture references that have to do with Kobe and Co. Got a question you'd like to ask? Click here and ask it.
MAILBAG NO. 4 Ė Sunday, April 12
Q: Do you think that there is any way that Kobe Bryant will ever get traded?
- Hamlet, Glendale, CA
MT: Here are three things that to me are more likely than Bryant getting traded:
1) I start fighting in the WWE, and pin The Undertaker after executing my signature move, ďTru Death,Ē by throwing the black-clad pain machine (link) 20 feet into the air from the middle of the ring so that he lands with his face on the corner buckle.
2) They'll stop using Shakespeare (Hamlet) in college curriculum.
3) "Real World" CT becomes an exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.
Q: When do you think A. Bynum will recover? Ciao.
Q: With Andrewís return, do you think the teamís perimeter defense will improve because they shouldn't have to worry so much about helping in the paint? Thanks for improving the fans knowledge with excellent interviews.
Q: I know you watch MTVís ďThe Duel 2Ē based on your Running Diary comments, but ohhhhh myyyyyy goooooooddddddd how amazing was the first episode? CT!! CT!!
Q: I've always wondered if on the road the players share hotel rooms or do they get their own? Do they all have like a certain person they always share a room with? And last but not least, GO LAKERS!!.
Q: If Kobe and LeBron switched teams what would be different?
Q: The Lakers have enough talent without Bynum. Why does the team count on Kobe and Pau too much? The bench has not have been producing a lot and Odom plays when he feels like it. To me it seems like only Phil, KB and Pau are hungry for a ring, why isn't the rest of the team progressing well; in other teams for example the Cavs, when LeBron is under pressure other player off the bench come and help the team lift up the confidence level. I just don't see that in the Lakers bench, when KB in under pressure the only one that seems to help is Pau and sometimes Odom. Why is this team struggling to even get a win?
Q: Iím a basketball player and I am not Debrouille Wrong, I'm the best player in my team and I'd like to one day join the team. What should I do?
Q: Do you think you guys are better than Boston?
Q: Now that we are near the playoffs, what are the key things to do in order to get us that party on Figueroa this year?
Q: Did Sasha allow himself to wear green on St Patrick's Day?
Q: I've noticed that a lot of the Lakers are wearing Kobe's new shoes, what's up with that?
Q: Why do the Lakers retain Luke Walton? After that many years as a Laker, one would think that he should be playing at a higher level. He looks reluctant on the court and has never really blossomed like players usually do. He has many turnovers, and overall...sucks! Thank you.
ďHow good was Luke Walton on Tuesday? He finished the game at an absurd +/- of 32. The next highest Laker was Josh Powell at 17, while Trevor Ariza, the starting small forward, was -10. The fast tempo of the game certainly played to the strength of L.A.'s bench, but give Walton credit for playing QB1 like Peyton Manning.Ē
Now, that was just one game, but let me add a few more notes: Other than not shooting the ball particularly well from the perimeter, Walton has been very good in nearly every other aspect of the game since he began getting regular minutes in December. Heís been L.A.ís best per-minute passer and facilitator (20 assists in his last three games), heís been solid on the glass, staunch defensively, actually doesnít turn the ball over much (only one a game), and, perhaps most importantly, has the complete support and trust of his teammates. Thereís no question that every player and coach on the Lakers loves having him on the team, which should serve as the best answer to your inquiry.
Q: With Mbenga playing at the level he has of late (especially on the defensive end), what is the likelyhood of him actually getting some decent playing time? I know PJ likes to play matchup games and J-Peezy has stepped up as well when getting adequate time (i.e. Lakers vs Rockets 17 & 9). It just seems that despite his enormous passion on D, he just canít seem to get any love. The other day he was on a rebounding frenzy (4 rebounds in 5 minutes) and was only rewarded 5 minutes of court time despite his stellar play in short minutes?! I love what PJ has done as far as winning is concerned, but basketball is a game of ebb and flow. There has to come a time when you ride the hot hand (and play) and rest your starters or regulars so others can shine as well. However, the question rises... does he get any substantial time when Bynum is back?
Q: Do you think the Lakers organization is going to get a TRUE back-up center next season who can play behind the basket like Bynum?
Q: First of all, I want to say thanks to lakers.com for all the videos, audio pieces and interviews. Theyíre great. My question is, what do you think about the inconsistent, and horrible officiating, plaguing the NBA right now?
Q: You want a piece of me on the low block, Andrew? Bring me that pain.
Q: Why arenít there any stories of concern for Kobeís status with the team and Phil Jacksonís with both their contracts coming to an end?
Q: Hi Mike Trudell! Iím a big big lakers fan I skip my classes just to watch Kobe's show ... My question is this, "Do you agree that Kobe Bryant is the best scorer in the history of the NBA? Why and why not?
Q: Iím huge Kobe and Lakers fan, and thanks for the insights you make on whatís going on with the team! I got 2 questions: When is Kobe coming to Brazil? Iím sure he will be surprised with the fans and the country! Second, how high is his vertical jump?
Q: Mike, why won't Phil let the starting five and Kobe bury the opponents when they have such a big lead. The starters have to work harder once they return to the game. Last night was a good example. He should have put the game out of reach by allowing Kobe and the gang to pour it on heavy. Just put the game totally out of reach for pop to surrender and pull his starting five.
Q: Contadino... Have you improved your sock skills? I sure hope so. ;) hahaha Did Sasha ever tell you what that word meant? That would be pretty mean & super hilarious if he hasn't.
Q: What is going on with Lamar Odom? I think his nickname should be Rollercoaster! He was on a hot streak for almost three weeks, but right now his level of play has decreased? I truly believe in order for our Lakers to be successful he needs to play like his live is depending on it. Do you think that he will ever get out of his slump? P.S. I will be back home in time for the Lakers to be in the Finals!
Q: Who do you think would be the Lakers' toughest opponent in the playoffs? San Antonio might be the only significant opponent.
Every contending team has had an important player (or two) miss significant time. Look: Manu Ginobili (still out), Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady (done for the season) Amare Stoudemire (ditto), Jason Terry, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and even Greg Oden (Iím probably missing a couple). Meanwhile, the Eastís top teams had stayed almost oddly healthy until Kevin Garnett (another week?) and Jameer Nelson (season) went down.
Now that Utah, Denver and New Orleans are basically healthy, the Spurs are still very good (but not great) without Manu, the Suns are still good (but not really good) without Amare and Portlandís fine without Oden, weíre seeing that the West is basically as good as it was last year. The East probably has but two serious contenders (unless you buy Orlando without Nelson, Detroitís sans-AI resurgence, the Heat with Wade by himself or Atlanta without a bench. This has started to even out in the standings of late, and mostly stopped reporters from asking Phil Jackson what he thinks is wrong with the West (um, injuries). The major point here, Mark? Donít even think about giving the Lakers a pass to the Finals, not with having to likely get past at least two of the teams in tier two:
Tier 1 Ė The Tiger Woods Team: L.A. Lakers
Federer may not win every tournament anymore, but you know youíre going to have to drag him off the pedestal to get to the title, kicking and screaming. Each of these teams has enough talent to challenge the Lakers, as all three have already done in the regular season. Tim Duncanís still the best player in this group, Iíd argue (is he the most underrated player ever??), but notice the other commonality between the three squads: a fantastic point guard. Deron Williams, Tony Parker and Chris Paul can all create havoc in the paint, and as such, Bynumís return is a major key to squashing a Western rebellion. When the big centerís timing is on, opposing point guards all of a sudden canít do much in L.A.ís paint (what a coincidence). The question is, can he get his cadence back in time? The good news for Lakers fans is that even if he canít completely, ĎDrew should at least be on the floor as a threat, which coinciding with home court advantage still makes L.A. the favorite. Oh, by the way, L.A. won the West last season without Bynum and Ariza. But if the Lakers canít get it clicking, the Artful Rogerís sitting there waiting to pounceÖ Tier 3 Ė Phil Mickelsonís Squad: Houston
Youíre probably a few key shots short of beating the best without a healthy Tracy McGrady in the backcourt, a key club in your bag, particularly with Tiger Woods lurking. But thatís not to say that in a given tournament, you canít find some way to make tough chip shots and long putts while driving the ball consistently, using the Ron Artest-Shane Battier defensive combo alongside Yao Ming to get the job done. You have a lot of decent clubs in your bag, some really solid role players, but thereís no way weíre picking you to close it out on Sunday against the red jersey. Tier 4 Ė The Andy Roddick Club: Denver, Portland, Dallas, Phoenix
Youíve had talent for a while now (OK, except for Portland) like Lacosteís favorite spokesman, have terrific specific assets like a huge serve and Brooklyn Decker (Meloís scoring/Billupsí leadership; Dirkís shooting/Kiddís floor game; Nashís passing/Shaqís dominance; Royís all-around game/young athletes) and are capable of advancing to the semifinals of Wimbledon (finding a way out of round one). But youíre not beating Rafa or Roger in the semis. Itís just not happening Ė too many flaws, and one special asset short.
Q: Whenís the next J-Peezyís Playlist coming out? Iím needing that.
Q: The Lakers suck.
Q: It appears that coming off the bench makes putting up big numbers very difficult almost regardless of how many minutes played. Agree? Why is that?
Q: Would Sasha Vujacic consider agreeing to a "Date with Sasha Vujacic" contest, perhaps as part of the new "Supper with Sasha" video series? His female fans would love it!
Q: Hey Mike. I was thinking what is your most favorite animal?
Q: Hey Mike, did you read Michael Lewisí New York Magazine article about Shane Battier that mentioned Kobe? Did you think it was a little one-sided?
First of all, Battier doesnít have to score, rebound or assist much because heís focused almost solely on defense and hitting the odd open three Ė a la Bruce Bowen for the last several years on the Spurs. Furthermore, Batter now has the collective respect of the referees (just like Bowen did) and seems to be afforded more leeway in playing physical defense (grabbing, holding, etc.), which Lewis mentioned resulted in some strong protest from Kobe in L.A.'s 105-100 win on Jan. 13. This relates to Kobe Bryant because he was used in the article to, in some ways, exemplify Battierís defensive capabilities. Battierís whole bit with Kobe is to try and force him into taking contested jumpers Ė pretty simple, but effective within the context of good overall team defense, just like Boston was able to do in the Finals last year often with Paul Pierce in a central role. But on an island, neither Battier nor Pierce could really guard Kobe, so should they be called ďKobe Stoppers?Ē Ruben Patterson, anyone?
The articleís conclusion suggests that Battier did everything right on a ridiculous three-pointer that gave Bryant 33 points and sealed L.A.'s win in the final seconds. The shot went in, but the argument was that since Battier defended the play how he'd wanted, he wouldn't dwell on the outcome. Well, not only is Bryant one of the five or six players in the league who can make that shot, but what about the several times that Battierís attempted defense simply failed as Bryant succeeded in getting good looks at the basket, or beat Battier down the floor in transition? All in all, itís simple: Battier does as good a job on Kobe within the context of the teamís defensive plan as most players in the NBA, and heís certainly a very smart player with a greater ability than most players to understand if not orchestrate that plan (again, like Bowen) ... But he still needs the teamís three stars to even give him a chance to play his role. Alas, I donít think the article was unfair or inaccurate, and I found it interesting, even if I do think it stuck with one perspective.
Q: Do you think that Derek Fisher is the best clutch shooter with .4 seconds on the clock? One more thing, just want to make sure that I am saying the right thing, Kobe is the best in the NBA presently, right?
Q: Da Lkers R # 1 do ya thng.
Q: Kobe made the top 20 in points tonightís above Elgin Baylor, where is Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on the list?
Q: Will the Lakers trade any of the stars like Lamar, Kobe, Pau or Bynum?
Q: If Andrew Bynum is injured why donít the Lakers get another center instead of putting all the weight on Pau's shoulders get another center like Hamed Haddadi from Memphis.
Q: Did you watch the ridiculous finale of ďThe Bachelor?Ē Amazing stuff. My question is, which Lakers player would be the best Bachelor?
Q: This is my first question on the Lakers mailbag, so please stick with me. The 23-year-old who just hit the halfcourt shot, does he need to pay taxes on the money? Also, I was wondering when the Lakers reset the amount and how much does it start at when the season begins.
Q: How does it feel to work for the best team in the NBA?
Q: Do you know any workouts to increase my vertical jump. I am 6' 1", and I need about three more inches to dunk.
Q: Shawn Marion will be a FA next season. How could the Lakers obtain cap room to sign him? They also have three draft choices plus present players adjustment.
Q: I have a couple of questions to ask you. My first question is if you could trade Kobe Bryant who would you trade him for? My 2nd question is who do you think is the person that talks most in the team and my last question is in your opinion who is the biggest trash talker in the league.
Q: I have a question with one person in mind, Vince Carter. Do you think that Vince Carter would compliment Kobe. Say like a Scottie Pippen, was to Jordan. If so, why don't they make an effort to get him or someone just as talented. Personally, that's the only way, that they'll beat Boston in the championship.
Q: Since Derek Fisher is 33 (which is 97 in NBA years) do you think the Lakers will try to get a big time point guard in the next two years?
Q: What is Kobe's favorite music genre?? And who are his favorite artists?
Q: Would you please update on Bynumís progress? Thanks.
Q: When will Adam Morrison get a chance to play? Do you think he has a chance to start?
Q: Hello Lakers, first of all I would like to thanks to all players for moments in NBA. I am a really big fan of Lakers, especially Mamba. I love him. Iíve got his poster in front of my bed and every night I look up and pray to him ( joke ). My question is how many times does players have training per day ??? I appreciate your answer. go lakers to tittle.
Q: Do you think the current Laker team is fit for a dynasty run? You know like maybe 8 years of Western Supremacy? An example would be the San Antonio Spurs.
Q: I am a huge Laker Fan since the late 60's. Think about this classic match up. Jerry West(in his prime) versus Kobe Bryant(now) 1 on 1.......who would win?
Q: Who is more athletic, Kobe or Trevor?
Q: On the road what is the typical routine for the players and how many practices do they have. Do they have time to sight see in any of the cities.
Practice time also depends on the schedule; if the team were to land in a city at 2:00 a.m. (like in Denver last week), Phil Jackson will sometimes cancel shootaround and let the team sleep in. Shootaround, in case youíre unaware, is simply a get together/run through on game day with the dual purpose of getting the players out of bed and the bodies activated while preparing for the opponent. On off days, there is almost always practice Ė rarely will guys be completely free on the road; Jackson seems more likely to save those rare and exceptional days for Los Angeles, when players can be with their families.MAILBAG NO. 2 Ė Monday, February 9
Q: Was Kobe Bryant happy about the new trade that involved Vladimir Radmanovic going to Charlotte for Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown?
ďI donít really have any thoughts (on the trade),Ē said Bryant. ďItís always tough to see one of your brothers leave, but weíll always be here for him and wish him the best of luck. The two new guys we have coming into the group, weíll just embrace them and welcome them in. You come in this system with the group of guys we have here, and we tend to bring out the best in guys. (Morrison) and (Brown) will be fine.Ē
I think Kobe genuinely meant what he said. The team will miss Vladi as a person, but at the same time will welcome new blood into the group. What Bryant didnít and wouldnít say is that the trade certainly helps L.A. in terms of the payroll and salary cap, and gives the team more flexibility to resign players like Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom. So youíd assume a savvy guy like Bryant would be pleased with the basketball implications Ė and not just because those two lanky forwards wear his shoes.
Q: Hey Mike, love your videos Ö You ever have a moment where you felt like Brian Collins at Ball State?
Now to answer your question: Definitely. There was one specific time when our half hour college sports show for Northwestern News Network (NNN) saw the teleprompter go down, the highlights differ greatly from my shot sheets and the producer freaked out like Sly Stallone without free weights. I was doing the show with a good buddy, and we just completely punted the prepared material and started bantering about how NU might never make the NCAA tourney in hoops (I think Ö fortunately thereís no video of this). Eventually, everything started working again, though I did have a sweat shower inside my first suit and one of my two dress shirts.
Q: How come Bynum and the Lakers donít search for another second opinion on Bynumís injury, such as the head surgeon for the Alabama tide, I donít recall the physicians name but he is highly accredited and he has done knee surgery on the likes of "sir charles barkley and also juwan howard and many others "if Im not mistaken.
Q: A lot of people compare Kobe with Michael Jordan. What two players in the league would you put with Kobe to match the fantastic three of Jordanís (Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman)?
But letís continue going another way: For Rodmanís dirty work role, Iíd take Ron Artest with a bullet. Not only is Artest arguably the NBAís best on-ball defender at both forward positions, but heís fine in a switch situation with a guard or a center, which is extremely rare and similar to Rodman. Artestís not the elite rebounder that Rodman was (well, nobody really isÖ), but heís a much better shooter and ball-handler. Finally, you have the whole mentally unique (is that a nice way to put it?) aspect of Rodman and Artest that only a few players Ė like MJ and Kobe Ė could reign in. Works for me.
Q: Is there any trade now that Andrew Bynum is out for 8-12 weeks? I think we need another big man to help our inside rotation. Someone who can defend and rebound well, a rugged enforcer.
Q: When you were a kid who was your favorite players for the NBA, NFL AND MLB?
NBA: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls. Complete no-brainer. I first understood basketball in 1990 as an 11-year old, and WGN came on in Minnesota. Heís MJ. ĎNuff said.
NFL: Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills. I was born in Buffalo, where my momís whole family still lives, and I suffered through the four straight Super Bowl losses that directly influenced my first serious sports arguments when I had to defend my squad in front of the trash-talking venom of my middle school friends (upon moving to Minneapolis as a little kid). Plus Jim was cool.
MLB: Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins. Like almost every kid in Minnesota, Kirby was my first sports hero, not just for his amazing performance in leading the Twins to my first team championships (World Series titles in 1987 and 1991) but for his gregarious, loving personality. It was incredibly sad for all my friends growing up and I to see his decline first from baseball (fastball to the eye) and then in his personal life.
A few others: NHL Ė Mike Modano, Minnesota North Stars; WWF Ė The Ultimate Warrior; Tennis: Andre Agassi; All-Around Ė Bo Jackson; Golf Ė didnít care; Track and Field Ė Carl Lewis; Soccer: Roberto Baggio (Italy), Romario (Brazil), Cobi Jones/John Harkes (USA).
Q: Do the Lakers have a rebound drill? Why is so difficult for these players to box out? I have played in High School games where boxing out is executed better!
Q: CAN KOBE COME TO MY HOUSE?
Q: Now that Andrew is down and we don't know how effective he'll be if and when he comes back, do we pull the trigger (Mihm and Odom) and get Brad Miller? Would the Kings ownership even consider dealing with the Lakers, i.e. early 2000's spank down?
Q: Who can jump the highest? Including the new comers Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison.
Q: I'm a big Lakers fan even though I'm from the Southeast Asia part of the globe. So, my friend & I are big KOBE BRYANT FANS, and we just wanna ask what can we expect from Kobe this season.
Q: I've heard that Sasha talks the most smack on the team. Is he that way in practice too? Does he ever stop?
MAILBAG NO. 1 Ė Wednesday, January 21
Q: Who on the Lakers has the most tattoos?
Q: Do any of the players ever talk about other sports (NFL, MLB, etc)? Iíd be interested to know what some of their favorite teams are, especially with NFL playoffs off and running.
Q: I play on a rec-league squad called ďFriends Oí ClydeĒ in the Valley of the Sun, and Iím pretty sure we could beat the Lakers. You guys arenít that good, we could wax you.
Q: If you were Mike Tomlin, which Lakers player would you most like to have on your squad heading into the Super Bowl?
Q: Whatís been the best atmosphere for a road arena this season?
Q: Will Pau Gasol make his second All-Star game?
Q: I played Division II hoops at a small school. Is there anybody on the team that a pretty good college player could beat in anything?