Lakers News: Kurt Rambis Talks Defense At Lakers Media Day

Lakers News: Kurt Rambis Talks Defense At Lakers Media Day

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Among the criticisms that face Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni on a daily basis, defense seems to be the top choice of what draws the ire of Laker fans the most.

Known more for his offense than his defensive scheme, the Lakers ranked 21st in the league as they allowed 101 points per game and gave up way too many easy shots possession after possession. The solution: Kurt Rambis.

Rambis was a Lakers assistant during most of the Phil Jackson era and will try to help an aging roster that was frustrating to watch on the defensive end for the entire year last season.

In his first Lakers media day since 2009, Rambis was the first to stress the importance of defense this season:

When you look at our team, clearly we’re going to have to be a team that functions at a high level in terms of our team defense; we don’t have guys that are going to just shut somebody down, said Rambis. That means we have to put a lot of pressure on strong side action, the weak side has to to a great job with being supportive and helping guys with a strong side action.

We’ve gone over the defense all summer long that we’re going to put them in a situation and position to where they can be functioning at a high level. But it’s going to be up to our job in training camp and preseason to make sure that they’re able to do what we want them to do.

With a defensive perimeter that features aging veterans Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, coupled together with a less than defensive front line, the Lakers might be in some trouble again this season.

However, perimeter players Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and whomever makes the team out of camp, will be counted upon to provide some defensive relief. Under Rambis, the Lakers were a very competitive defensive team and with a full training camp under D’Antoni, his system should be easily installed.

When Rambis was hired, many suggested this was an olive branch to former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, but D’Antoni and general manager Mitch Kupchak maintain he was hired because he was the best man for the job.

This year more than ever, the Lakers are going to need to play as a team and without Kobe for a possibly long stretch at the beginning of the year, a strong defense could go a long way in the standings.


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  • Daryl Peek

    According to Nash, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is considering adopting a model similar to how San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich coaches Tim Duncan by giving him games off to rest throughout the season even when he is healthy.

    “Mike mentioned it to me,” Nash told ESPNLosAngelescom on Friday during a sit-down interview on the eve of the first day of Lakers training camp. “I’m open to it. Obviously I’m not the type of guy that’s going to look at the schedule and see which games I can miss — that’s never occurred to me — but if there’s a way that we can make the season better by missing a game here and there, I’m open to it.”

    HM? That sounds familiar. LOL Kobe will be in the rest cycle also, IMO.

    The STEP UP cliche is a good motivating calling card but the STEP BACK theme I spoke was confirmed on media day when Kobe sat face to face with Worthy and agreed with him. Stepping up is the goal for all every season. This is nothing new. The difference maker this year will be COLLECTIVE COHESION. STEP UP tends to focus on the individual, as it singles out the one who’s coming up short. Everyone falls short at times. EVERYONE.

    Again, STEP UP needs to be a team theme, when your teammate doesn’t have it on a given night, others pick up the slack. D’Antoni doesn’t get credit for trying to do this last season. Pau was sat, Earl Clark stepped up in his place at times. Howard fell off at times, Pau stepped up in his place. Kobe had stretches of massive turnovers, poor three point shooting and bad defense. Meeks stepped up at times both defensively and shooting, Blake did also. Starting to get the point?

    I hope all of the die hard Lakers fans are watching or get a chance to watch media day commentary. All of us are passionate about the Lakers. We all make good points about the team, hoping for the best. My cliche theme for the Lakers is just that, LAKERS/TEAM.

    I’ll never change on that. GO LAKERS is more than just an individual mantra. LAKERS4LIFE spans from top to bottom for me. Jimmy, Jeanie, Mitch, D’Antoni, Kobe, Pau, Blake, Vitti, Worthy, ETC… all have my support long as they are a part of the purple and gold.

    • LAL918

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Daryl.

  • 3339

    thankfully someone on that staff cares about defense.

    • Daryl Peek

      “Everyone knows you can’t win without playing defense” –MDA

      Paul Westhead was not a defensive guru, he was an offensive run and gun type like D’Antoni. Do you remember his time with Loyola Marymount University after leaving the Lakers? They were the highest scoring team in the NCAA. Westhead won a championship in 1980 with the Lakers.

      Pat Riley was a gritty knuckle up type of HC. Showtime was run an gun. The Showtime Lakers gave up 109 points a game. They never held teams lower than that. Rambis was on those teams. Rambis was horrible in Minny coaching up defense. Rambis was also on the 2007-08 Lakers finals coaching staff that gave up 101.3 points a game ranking 19th in the NBA. Last year, the D’Antoni led Lakers gave up 101.0 points a game ranking 22nd.

      Again, you sit on the sideline of personal bias in oversimplification of team performances assessment.

      I know you don’t care and have the right to your opinion. Just know I will always combat you with historical facts VS. opinion.

      • 3339

        “Again, you sit on the sideline of personal bias in oversimplification of team performances assessment.” dude seriously enough of that. quit acting like your the smartest one here by saying that sh*t. Since you love historical facts so damn much, why don’t you look up where dantoni’s teams have ranked in defense.
        A former player, I think Eddie House, said that dantoni told the team to let the opponent score to keep the pace going. Explain that to me. I say things based on what I see/hear and it comes from credible sources.
        “Everyone knows you can’t win without playing defense”
        That doesn’t mean he cares about defense.

        • Daryl Peek

          I’m not acting like I’m smarter than everyone else! I just choose to inject facts over opinion when it comes to judging MDA and the Lakers FO. Perceive how you may, a simple fact check confirms what I say. Anyone can take a side and be biased. Objectivity is a difficult stance. Especially when you feel vested.

          I could care less about what Eddie House felt about MDA. Again, one persons opinion. Raja Bell would give you a completely different take on MDA and defense. Bell was considered a very good defender. Shawn Marion would be on the same boat as Bell and he was a great defender!

          Objectivity requires the elimination of personal bias, period!

          • 3339

            Only bias I have is wanting the Lakers to win and I believe dantoni is standing in the way of that.
            people of other fan bases love seeing dantoni coach us.

          • Daryl Peek

            That’s opinion mayne. People said the same thing about Spoelstra in Miami. They said the same thing about Rick Carlise til he won in Dallas. Doc Rivers was a bust as a HC til he finally got one with the Celtics. Larry Brown was a huge bust as a pro NBA HC. He shed that label when the Pistons murdered our Lakers.

            Many haters say Kobe is a selfish ball hog, and no other superstar will join the Lakers because of him. Again, non objective bias. They don’t take into consideration that Kobe averages 5 assist for his career as a SG and has taken less shots a game than LeBron, per career average. If you told those haters that their heads would explode! They can’t comprehend LeBron, the perceived ultimate pass first teammate, having a higher shots attempted per game than Kobe the ball hog. LOL

            We all want the Lakers to win. D’Antoni is the choice of the FO. We should support that as fans. Anything else is a bias looking for his and the teams failure. Objectivity allows one to believe MDA can break through like Larry Brown. That’s how I view it.

          • 3339

            Larry Brown, now thats someone that I would love to see coach the Lakers.
            He wasn’t a huge bust before 2004. Far from it.

          • Daryl Peek

            I like Larry Brown as a HC. He was a bust as a NBA HC simply because he couldn’t win the big one. I remember plenty of pundits labeling him that. The ongoing theme was, great college coach but can’t get the job done in the pros.

            Brown was so vindicated in those 2004 finals! It was Steve Young like when the Niners beat the breaks off my Chargers in the Superbowl. (sigh) Kobe felt the same way in 2009 when the Lakers beat Orlando. He got the Shaq monkey off his back. Kobe also rubbed 2010 in Shaq’s face by saying “I got one more than Shaq”

            Getting over the hump matters. Big picture, it’s shallow to call someone a bust based off championship success but the elite are judged by that. D’Antoni is a really good HC, the same way those others were before they got a ring.

            Now as for Larry Brown coaching the Lakers? You think the Kobe death stare was beaming on Mike Brown? Think back to the Larry Brown, Iverson beef? lol
            Larry Brown is done as a HC in this league, IMO.

          • cj

            my friend i did not know lebron has shot more wow that surprises me… im stuned.

        • cj

          his suns teams were right at average to slightly above average defensively. they were just had a ton of positions and that leads to more scoring.

  • The Rock

    Screw defense lets just outscore teams.Run & gun wild west basketball 4-life baby.#Showtime

    • Daryl Peek

      LMAO! Outscoring your opponent is the only way to win the game, bottom line. *looking*

      • The Rock

        Exactly man Miami had some fucked up defensive sequences and major let ups but they still won the championship back 2 back.

        Dude i am from the Showtime era and my Lakers back then were freaking fast break run and gun the Lakers were a team that used to go on major spurts during games and they would win 111-107 or some shit like that.the point being lets just play the way the coach asks the players to play and all is good.

        MDA is a offensive guru and he knows that is a winning strategy in the NBA.Kurt Rambis knows that run and gun Showtime is also a winning style to play.

        Rambo was a member of Showtime Lakers and he knows some of those dudes were not good on defense but they locked down when it mattered as a team and got the win more times than not.So yeah lets just accept reality we are a fastbreak offense that wants to outscore the opponents and win the games.Just my 2 cents man.

        • Daryl Peek

          Only thing, IDK how much run and gun Kobe and Pau will be open to? I see more of a happy medium, a free flowing offense that ‘s opportunistic in its fast-break chances. I see D’Antoni understanding that given Nash, Kobe and Gasol are not the 7 seconds or less type of players at this stage of their careers.

          • The Rock

            True.I kinda think Jordan Farmar,Nick Young,Wesley Johnson,Shawne Williams,Jordan Hill can execute 7 seconds or less.Xavier Henry,Elias Harris,Marcus Landry can also be tossed into fast run and gun lineups to run the fastbreak and fill the lane.

            But yeah Kobe and Pau might be opposed to that style this upcoming season.But is still remember old ass Kareem being very effective in the Showtime fastbreak style in the 1980’s.

            But yeah Gasol would be best used in a happy medium situation as you mentioned.Kobe is pretty fast when healthy but his injury might be something that will hinder his speed IDK.

          • Daryl Peek

            Very true on the Captain. There were also others like McAdoo and Jim Chones who were older slower types. The thing I hope D’Antoni learned from last season is adjusting/being more flexible. He showed it in letting go down the stretch. I’m sure he knows Kobe’s will is too big for him to try and flex too hard. LOL Kobe will try and fit into any style of basketball, he loves a challenge. But when the game is on the line and he feels others are not getting it done, the Mamba strikes. D’Antoni knows he will benefit from that on many nights.

            He never had that before. This is why I say Kobe should come back as the gravy, not the glue.

          • The Rock

            LOL also Mychal Thompson was not fast nor was a couple other players you mentioned already.Vlade Divac was not fast at all but he only hooked up with Magic Johnson for about 3 years.

            So it can happen especially with Kobe loving any and every challenge tossed his way.Lakers got tons of speed this season off the bench.MDA will need to use Nick Young in his lineups also i still think Steve Nash will be effective running the MDA offense.

            Wesley Johnson is the sleeper of the group this kid is called soft since he doesn’t mix it up,well Kevin Ding sorta dissed his ass on his new bullshit column he said Wesley has a chink in his armor basically since he soft well fuck that shit i want my small forward to be soft fuck it Kevin Durant is soft as tissue but he makes his shots and is a bad ass player since he can score all day and night long.There are a lot of soft ass players in the NBA as long as they can score it is all good in the hood.Mark Price was soft lets see Pau Gasol is not exactly Hulk Hogan on the court oh ya Dirk Nowitzki is a big puss according to his haters since he shoots jumpers all day long oh okay or Dale Ellis was never exactly tough neither was Alex English or Lake Havasu City Cedric but they all had pretty damn good careers in the NBA.Give me a break Kevin Ding about Wesley Johnson Damn it.Wesley Johnson will be great in the MDA system.Oh well Daryl it good to be a Lakers always.

          • Daryl Peek

            I dig it mayne! We shocking the world this season! LAKERS YA BISHES!!

          • The Rock

            LOL Mos Def.Go Lakers Go!

  • Eddie Lazaro

    Barring another injury setbacks and having a good training camp, there is no telling how good this team can be. We can all admire the enthusiasm of everyone, from players to coaches, staffers (FO). Everyone is so fired up ready to prove something and we can all feel the electricity is building up at the Lakers house again.

    MDA stating how he will be working on his rosters fitness & strength, in applying his system is the starting point of bringing in trust & respect to the ones who’s been here before him.

    Setting a tone and an example to the younger group of ambitious athletic additions that team chemistry must start from the top of the organization, to the coaches down to each player is a must in a necessary cohesion, not just during games, but also in evaluating each player valuable contribution and strength he can provide to the table.
    We have a lot of confident and motivated players and if they keep that intensity, we will be seeing the Lakers of the new era, possibly the grooming of the next generation of Lakers stars. Can’t wait to see all the PnRoll, PnPop, Alley hoops, Shooting daylights from downtown. I like our chances. Lakers All the Way!

  • Sti1lmatic

    Lets just keep our fingers crossed. Hopefully Kobe doesn’t get injured again in the opener because then all of these articles/predictions mean squat. I’d love to see our Lakers hit the finals and let the young and old fight it out in a game 7!