Los Angeles Lakers

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Missed phone call reason Shaquille O’Neal left Magic for Lakers?

Shaquille O''Neal

This title probably made you laugh. You probably contemplated whether or not this article was even worth clicking, right? Because, surely, that headline alone is enough to make me sound crazy for even writing this. Believe me when I say that even I believe that it sounds nuts, but former Magic forward, Horace Grant feels as if it’s God’s honest truth.

Grant was recently on The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, and told Bill that back when he was member of the Orlando Magic, Shaq called him (just before signing with the Lakers), and Grant didn’t answer. Grant believes that something as simple as a missed call may have changed the landscape surrounding the Magic’s future.

“He called me, and I didn’t return his call, before he signed with the Lakers.” Grant said. “And to this day, I wish I had just answered that call, and maybe he still would have been in Orlando. I heard about it and saw it on the news, and it was like Mike Tyson hit me. You cannot recover from a guy that size, in his prime, that dominant to think you are going to win a championship. Absolutely not.”

If you don’t believe me, then you can listen for yourself.

So, is there any possible way that something that sounds so insane could actually be true? I honestly don’t have the answer to that question. As a Magic’ fan, I recall (even though I was only 12) the moment Shaq ditched the Sunshine State for the red carpets in Hollywood. Shaq made what had to have been a tough decision, based on the Magic’s excellent roster. A decision that eventually panned out, as Shaq and Kobe Bryant won three championships in a row in LA.

Horace also blames egos for the hostility between Shaq and Penny Hardaway. It’s a shame that two young, talented superstars like Shaq and Penny couldn’t work it out in Orlando. The possibilities were almost endless for that bunch.

Kobe bet Kevin Ware on who would recover from injury faster

Remember Kevin Ware, the Louisville basketball player who suffered that horrific leg injury during March Madness last year? Well, apparently Kobe Bryant approached him with a good-natured wager. At the time, Kobe was also dealing with his own serious injury (torn Achilles tendon), and so he bet Ware on who would get back onto the basketball court first.

Kobe’s still out for the Lakers, but Ware made it onto the court for Louisville’s game against the University of Pikeville last Thursday- making him the winner of his bet with the Lakers’ star shooting guard.

Check out an interview of Ware, where he talks about Kobe, the injury, and the bet:

Top Athletes That Would Succeed In Other Sports

 

 

 

There is little doubt that the USA is host to some of the top athletes on the planet. Players from all over the world flock to the NBA, NFL, and MLB to test their mettle against the likes of Lebron James, Adrian Peterson, and Miguel Cabrera, thus making these leagues the grand stage of sports today. Though everyone on an NBA, NFL, and MLB  roster is physically gifted in ways we can’t even imagine, there are a select few from these prestigious ranks who’s athleticism makes even their peers look like mere mortals. We currently don’t have a Bo Jackson or a Deion Sanders among us, but there are quite a number of athletes that could fit the bill if they decided to pursue a professional career in multiple sports. Here is a list of those guys.

Photo credit: minnpost.com

Honorable mention:

Adrian Peterson: Running back, Minnesota Vikings

Though Peterson is in my mind the best athlete in the world and would have been a success no matter what he decided to play, he has stuck with football and playing the running back position throughout his college and professional career. Ultimately I think he made the right choice punishing defenders between the tackles full-time, but his commitment to excellence at the running back position cost him a spot on this list.

 

Photo credit: USA Today

5. Steve Nash: Point guard, Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Nash may be pushing 40, but the man can still ball. Not just on an NBA court either, as he has showcased a real talent in the game of soccer as well. Just this past summer he had a  ‘tryout’ with Inter Milan, an Italian soccer team that is known as a real powerhouse back in Italy. His younger brother Martin Nash was also a regular participant in the Canadian National Soccer Team, and the elder Nash  can reportedly keep up with Martin on the soccer field. It’s probably too late for Steve to carve out a career in soccer, but the fact that he can still hang with the pros in practices is still an impressive feat.

 

Photo credit: ESPN

4. Patrick Peterson: Cornerback, Arizona Cardinals

Cornerback. Punt returner. Wide receiver. Wildcat quarterback. Running back. Is there anything that Patrick Peterson can’t do on the football field? The answer to that question is cover Michael Crabtree, but other than that Peterson is an all-around dominant force. Any time he steps onto the field you have to worry about everything he can do, from blitzing your quarter to shutting down your top receiver not named Michael Crabtree to taking back a punt return to catching a 50 yard bomb on offense.

He is heavily involved in all three facets of his football team, which is a rare feat in today’s NFL. Include that with the fact that Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim said he is the closest thing sports has to a Bo Jackson or a Deion Sanders, and you have to believe that Peterson would succeed in any sport he set his mind to. As long as Michael Crabtree didn’t decide to join him, of course.

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

3. Carl Crawford: Outfield, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Perfect Storm may also be the perfect athlete. Not only was he heavily recruited by UCLA to be their point guard coming out of high school, he was also recruited by football powerhouses such as USC, Nebraska, Florida, and Tulsa as an option quarterback. He even went as far as to sign a letter of intent to play football for Nebraska, though he ultimately decided that a career in baseball was his best choice. It’s hard to argue with the results of his choice, but I still would have loved to see Crawford in the shotgun or throwing up an alley-oop.

 

Photo credit: ESPN

 

2. Colin Kaepernick: Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

Somebody pick up the phone, because I called it. When the 49ers drafted Colin Kaepernick I said he was going to take them to a Super Bowl, and he did not disappoint. From putting the 49ers (and carrying various Packers defenders) on his back by breaking an NFL quarterback rushing record to beat the Packers in the playoffs to spanking Tom Brady and the Pats in front of the world in week 14, Kaepernick became a true NFL superstar on his way to leading the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance in almost 20 years.

Coming out of high school, however, the sport he was heavily recruited in as baseball. Him and his 170 pound frame was mostly scoffed at when he said he was committed to football, and he ended up turning down multiple baseball scholarships at prestigious NCAA schools to  accept his lone football scholarship at Nevada. It seems he made the right call, though his 87-mile bullet of a first pitch at a Giants game in June leaves me wondering just how good he would have been if he stuck it out with baseball.

 

Photo credit: SI

1. Lebron James: Small forward, Miami Heat

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Lebron James is the most polarizing athlete in sports today. His impact on the game of basketball has drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan, and he is known as one of the most physically gifted players of all time. His talents aren’t just on the court though, as he was just as dominant on a football field in high school and was routinely linked to the Cleveland Browns back in his Cavalier days.

Videos of him catching passes and throwing footballs leave us saying “what if” every time he decides to tease us with one, and though I doubt we will ever truly see him on an NFL field it would be a sight to behold. King James, if you’re reading this, the world of sports is begging you to follow in the footsteps of Deion and Bo and show us what you’re made of on an NFL field.

Daniel Artest says Metta can be Knicks’ goon

metta

Shortly after being amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers, and clearing waivers, Metta World Peace signed on with the New York Knicks, a playoff team with loads of offensive talent, who seemingly lacked strong defensive presence, and that tough, gritty mentality, who teams like the Indiana Pacers are bursting at the seams with. Metta, now a member of the Knicks, will ultimately bring his sometimes questionable attitude to the Big Apple, where the Knickerbockers will look to him for him to lead their defensive charge.

World Peace’s brother, Daniel Artest, believes that his brother will provide the Knicks with exactly what they’re looking for. A hired goon, so to speak. Not only does Metta’s brother believe that World Peace makes the Knicks tougher, but he also believes that they would have beaten the Pacers last season in the playoffs if Metta was on their roster.

“They’ve got a good team but they never had that goon — that defensive goon last season,’’ Daniel said on Monday. “Someone that’s not afraid. If Ron was on the team, they would have gotten past the Pacers.’’

Perhaps Metta World Peace IS exactly what the New York Knicks lack. He brings in that toughness that players like Carmelo Anthony just don’t have. He’s also the type of player who can knock down the open look, which should mesh well with the high-octane offensive approach the Knicks used last season. Metta will have his work cut out for him, most likely getting looks at opposing team’s best scorers at the two, three and four positions. Daniel Artest believes his brother is ready for any challenges.

“I’m not worried [he’s washed up],’’ Daniel said. “It’s all about heart. The way Ron plays, he will help the Knicks out the way he plays defense and take pressure off Carmelo [Anthony], [who] won’t have to guard the best forward guy anymore. [World Peace] can guard the power forward. He held a lot of power forwards like Zach Randolph, David West and LaMarcus [Aldridge] last season way below their scoring average. He’s still very strong and has a lot of game left.’’

We do know one thing about Metta World Peace, he’ll bring excitement to Gotham. Hopefully he stays away from the negativity that has surrounded his NBA career thus far. MWP could truly provide the Knicks would something they lacked last season. It’s up to him to get the job done.

 

Pau Gasol jokes about Lakers using billboards to recruit him next season

pau

Pau Gasol has a contract that’s up at the end of next season, and the 7-footer from Spain hopes that the Lakers’ courtship of perennial superstar center, Dwight Howard, is a sign of the future when it comes to what measures the Lakers will take next season to keep him in place in Los Angeles.

Pau Gasol must have taken the blue pill, because he’s clearly still trapped in the Matrix, believing the Lakers will pull out all the stops to keep him hanging around past this upcoming season. Not to say the Lakers won’t strive to keep Pau in town, but to believe they will put on the display they have for Dwight Howard seems naive.

The chance that Pau exits LA before his contract expires seem exceptionally high, if recent history counts at all. Gasol has been involved in trade rumors for roughly two seasons now, and I wouldn’t expect that to stop if Howard does indeed re-up in Los Angeles for the long haul. There has also been chatter of Pau being amnestied.

Gasol discussed the possibilities on Catalunya Radio.

“I don’t think that Howard re-signing with the Lakers puts me out of the team for sure, but I guess the chances would grow. Gasol said. I know the Lakers are pushing hard trying to keep Howard with a spectacular campaign in Los Angeles, putting banners in key spots.”

Pau also cracked what I assume is a joke when asked about his approaching free agency.

“I hope they (The Lakers) do the same for me next season when I become a free agent…I doubt it.”

The fact remains that Pau is still a pretty great NBA talent, and has plenty of time left to showcase his skill and help a contender win it all. The reality that the Lakers don’t make a move if Howard does commit long term seems low. The Lakers have put themselves in a situation, financially, where they can not afford to bring in much help to put around their core guys. Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard couldn’t get the job done last season, and I doubt the Lakers’ brass has the confidence that they can in 2013-14 without a bit of a shake-up. Pau’s head could be on the chopping block if Howard re-signs.

Report: Andrew Bynum to be ready for training camp

bynum

Andrew Bynum’s agent,  David Lee, said on Monday that the often-injured big man will be ready for the start of training camp. Now there’s just the matter of which team’s camp will Bynum participate in? Bynum will hit the NBA’s free agent market in July, and despite not playing a single game for the Philadelphia 76ers since coming to the east coast in a four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, speculation has been running wild on whether or not the Sixers will look to retain Bynum’s services past his current deal. Furthermore, nobody seems to have any idea of whether or not Bynum even wants to remain in Philadelphia.

“Philly will do what Philly does. I can’t control it,” Lee said. “Next week, I have a feeling I’ll be meeting with a couple of teams.”

Focusing on Bynum’s return appears to be what he and his agent have in mind right now. Bynum has the green light and is expected to resume workouts next week. The seven-footer suffered a knee injury that saw him sidelined all season. The Sixers’ relationship with Andrew seems rocky at best, and whether or not he returns is completely up in the air at this moment.

Many were asking the question of whether or not Bynum had what it takes to become the NBA’s premiere center, but in a “what have you done for me lately” world, Bynum’s stock has plummeted in little time. Even the 76ers general manager, Sam Hinkie, has had some less than encouraging things to say about the big man.

“I think of Andrew like the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball,” Hinkie said. “He is one of those. I’m duty bound to consider them and look at them. All of them.”

This Summer (free agency beginning July 1st) should be an interesting one in terms of centers. Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum will both be available, and despite Bynum’s latest slew of injuries, my bet would be that at least a half dozen team will be knocking at the door come July 1st.

 

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