8:30 PM The new minor league baseball team to begin play in Biloxi, Mississippi next season will be known as the Biloxi Shuckers.
8:15 PM Former Soviet Union hockey coach Viktor Tikhonovdied Monday at the age of 84. Tikhonov won three Olympic gold medals & eight world championships and was also the USSR's coach in the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" loss to the United States.
7:45 PM Kean University in New Jersey recently spent $219,000 on a conference table built by a company in China. New Jersey law requires competitive bidding for state college & university projects, but the table was purchased without any bidding.
In the past few weeks, the main media has erroneously reported a supposed rift between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant that allegedly began when Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke up Gasol’s relationship with girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro.
While that break between Gasol and Bryant never existed, now ex-Lakers Coach Phil Jackson confirmed yesterday a disconnect between himself and a key member of the Lakers basketball operation and ownership.
Wednesday, as Jackson conducted his final press conference as Lakers coach, he was asked by FOX Sports Radio reporter David Vassegh:
“Do feel you have a stronger sense of attachment (to the Lakers) other than Jeanie (Buss, Jackson girlfriend and daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) than you did with the Bulls?”
“There are people in the organization, yes, that I have an attachment to. You know I haven’t spoken to (Lakers Exec. VP, Player Personnel and son of owner Jerry) Jimmy Buss this year.
“Jerry I see occasionally and we confer. (Lakers General Manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and I have our chances to be together and we have a good relationship. Those are people in that department that I have a relationship with.
“As far as management, if you want to call it that, there’s really not a relationship with that.”
Jackson couldn’t have slighted Jim Buss any more in his comments than he did with that remark.
Longtime Lakers owner Jerry Busshas made clear on numerous occasions that Jim Buss will formally take over the basketball operation of the team when he relinquishes all control of the franchise. (Jeanie will continue to run the business operation.)
While Mitch Kupchak technically runs the Lakers basketball operation, eventually he will report solely to Jim Buss, though from Jerry’s comments last August, it sounds as if that is already the case.
During a press conference on August 17, 2010, Jerry Buss said of his role with the team’s basketball operation:
“I still talk to my son Jimmy at least twice a day. Some of those phone calls are as long as an hour. The large portion of the content of those phone calls is basketball. What we should do, what we’re doing.
“In terms of (Lakers basketball) decisions, 80% of it goes with Jim and I throw in my two cents worth here and there.”
That Jim Buss did not speak to Jackson this season is very telling when it comes to the coach’s relationship to the future, formal overseer of the Lakers basketball fortunes.
If you’re wondering why Jackson is leaving L.A., there’s your ‘Exhibit A.’
Out of nowhere one afternoon, Michael Jackson made a call to the irrepressible and isolated (then-18-year-old) Kobe Bryant, and so much changed for him.
… They would talk for hours and hours, visiting at Neverland Ranch, and Bryant has long been fortified by the lessons Jackson instilled about the burden of honoring true talent, about the ways to open your mind to be smarter, sharper and insatiable in the chase
“It sounds weird, I guess, but it’s true: I was really mentored by the preparation of Michael Jackson,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports.
More from Wojnarowski:
“We would always talk about how he prepared to make his music, how he prepared for concerts,” Bryant said. “He would teach me what he did: How to make a ‘Thriller’ album, a ‘Bad’ album, all the details that went into it.
“It was all the validation that I needed – to know that I had to focus on my craft and never waver. Because what he did – and how he did it – was psychotic. He helped me get to a level where I was able to win three titles playing with Shaq because of my preparation, my study. And it’s only all grown.
“That’s the mentality that I have – it’s not an athletic one. It’s not from [Michael] Jordan. It’s not from other athletes.
“It’s from Michael Jackson.”
After reading Wojnarowski’s lengthy piece on the inner workings of Bryant, I think I may finally have a clue why we all know so little about #24’s personal life. Read more…
Remember the notorious 6-for-24 shooting disaster suffered by Kobe Bryant in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals? With the constant reminders from the media and the ever-present legions of Laker haters, how could you not?
While that disastrous inaccuracy nearly cost the Lakers the NBA title, many forget a major detail that may have led to Bryant’s shooting futility. Seven months earlier, on Dec. 11, Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in two places near the tip of the right middle finger on his shooting hand.
Rather than sit out six weeks to allow the finger to properly heal, Bryant played through the injury - reconfiguring his shooting stroke in the process.
Last year I reported that when Los Angeles Mayor and consumate opportunist Antonio Villaraigosa tried to board the same Lakers championship parade bus as Kobe Bryant, Bryant said at the time, “I don’t like the —hole, I’m not going to let him pimp my popularity!”
During the abbreviated Lakers parade yesterday, a single bus was charged with carrying all the players. Thanks to Villaraigosa somehow also being allowed on the same bus, all hell broke loose on Twitter in reaction to L.A.’s stowamayor.
Below are a series of consecutive Tweets posted at the moment the mayor was first seen via local TV coverage on the Lakers bus:
Of all the Tweets about the mayor’s appearance in the parade, there wasn’t a single positive - or neutral - entry. In other words, Kobe has plenty of company.
Though I’m pleased to report that we did get some good news in L.A. today about our stowamayor.
Brilliant marketing move by Nike this morning in Los Angeles as Beaverton’s brightest lights install an enormous banner of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on the front, highest-profile facade of Staples Center:
As noted by L.A. sports reporter Arash Markazi, the banner shows cartoon caricatures of Bryant and James “dunking on that reindeer.”
Michael Jordan’s son Marcus, a freshman basketball player at the Univ. of Central Florida, became rather opinionated last night when the NBA Finals Game 7 telecast featuring the Lakers and Celtics aired a graphic showing a statistical comparison between his dad and Kobe Bryant in NBA Finals series.