This is probably the toughest time of the year for NBA bloggers. With free agency now far behind us and training camps still a few weeks away, it’s tough to come up with stuff to write about. There are only so many top-10 lists one can come up with that readers have any interest in. If it weren’t for guys like Shaq and Mark Cuban being unable to keep their mouths shut with a microphone in front of them, I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be.
Just last week I wrote something about whether Kobe would be justified if he declined to participate in Shaq’s jersey retirement. Even though I stated that I fully expected Kobe to be there, the point of the story was that Kobe would have ample excuses if decided not to. That didn’t stop the commenters from basically calling my story a waste of time. One commenter even accused me of trying to reignite problems between the two. I’m flattered that anyone would think I’d possess that much power.
But then Shaq had to go on and open his mouth yesterday and talk more smack about Dwight Howard and now Lakers fans hate him again. Funny how that works. Shaq wasn’t the only one to open up his pie-hole with thoughts on the Lakers or their players. Mark Cuban used the press conference to introduce the Dallas Mavericks new players as an opportunity to spout off on the Lakers new additions.
Here’s what Cuban said:
“The Lakers have done this before. Gary Payton and Karl Malone and Kobe and Shaq were all together, and it didn’t work. It takes great chemistry. … It takes guys wanting to be there. I don’t know if all their guys want to be there. It’s going to be interesting. Look, they’re going to have a great team, but I remember when we made our run, we weren’t supposed to win any series. Remember the Lakers were the defending champs, and we swept them and they had everybody back. A lot of teams do a great job of winning the summer, but I never get so antsy about what happens over the summer. I just want to know what happens during the season. As long as we keep on getting better and we’re healthy going into the playoffs, then anything can happen.”
The first thing I thought of when I read his quote was what Cuban told a Dallas radio station before the start of the 2009-10 season when he was asked about the Lakers replacing Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest after winning the championship:
“I tell you what, now that they’ve got Ron Artest, I couldn’t think of anything better. If you would have said, what one player — and I’ll get killed over this — what one player would you like to see on the Lakers? Ron Artest. Could you imagine? Ron Artest has got the ball, and Kobe’s standing there, ‘Throw me the ball.’ Thank you, Ron Artest. I think he’ll add some character to that team. Whether it will be positive or negative will be interesting to see.”
Not only did the Lakers win the championship in Artest’s first season but you could make the case that nobody hit a bigger shot in the NBA Finals than Artest. And it came on an assist from guess who? That’s right. Kobe Bryant.
I get that Cuban was just trying to save face. The Mavericks managed to salvage what looked like was going to be a disastrous off-season after they struck out on Deron Williams. Perhaps Cuban was trying to send a subliminal message to Dwight Howard since he can’t speak directly to him.
Whatever the reason, I just wanted to thank Mark Cuban. Not only for giving me something to write about but for being the first of what I hope will be plenty of bulletin board material the 2012-13 Lakers can use as motivation.
Let’s hope history repeats itself.