Brian Kamenetzky of the LA Times Blog wrote:Like most things involving the Lakers, Media Day always operates on a different level for the purple and gold than it does for other NBA franchises. This year was no different. The typically massive Katamari ball of humanity, microphones, cameras, and notepads (the technical term starts with "cluster" and ends with a word I can't use in this space...) was only enhanced by the presence of entertainment media hoping for a piece of post-wedding analysis from Lamar Odom. It is, in short, an eventful way to kick off the season, but not exactly an environment conducive to gaining deep insight into the state of the squad.
Still, a few observations:
* Entertainment media operates in a different way than sports media. Those dudes are sharp elbowed and aggressive with the camera in the big scrums. Generally speaking, I really hope today's events put us on the downhill side of the Odom/Khloe Kardashian story.
* Andrew Bynum looked strong, fit, and eager to start the season, for what it's worth. He said he'd be wearing a brace on his right knee (the one he hurt last year) for the rest of his career, and may experiment with wearing one on each leg, protection on the left being precautionary. Whatever works.
* For the first time since I started covering the team, Kobe Bryant wasn't the center of attention. Not that he was standing awkwardly on the fringes David Monds, Michael Fay, and other camp longshots, but LO and Ron Artest drew bigger crowds. "I miss you guys," joked 24 when asked about the new (and temporary, I'm sure) media pecking order.
* Cutting his hair may be the smartest thing Sasha Vujacic has ever done as a pro. Silly as it sounds- and it does sound silly- his mane had started to overtake his game, adding a persona that was doing nothing for his on-court performance. The haircut represents a fresh start. As an interesting and laudable side note, he had hoped to donate his shorn locks to charity, but was told his hair was about two inches too short. Good for him for thinking in that direction, though.
* Watching guys handle the circus today, I'm even less concerned than I was before that external issues and distractions will be a problem. In context, the addition of Artest or LO's big summer aren't out of line from other Incredibly Big Lakers Stories from days gone by.
Click below for some of the video fun. LO, Derek Fisher, Sasha, and Bynum. Plenty more to come over the course of the day, as well.
First, a quick bit with LO talking about his wedding, one of the most uncomfortable minutes of video I've ever shot. Not because of the subject matter, but rather the pushing and shoving going on as people jostled for the best angle. My favorite line: When asked if the presence of Khloe (and the cameras that follow her) would be a distraction at Staples, LO smiled. "That's a Laker game, with or without her there. It's still an event."
Fisher talks about distractions, and while he notes that the Hollywood media is a different animal, it's not something that playing in LA doesn't prepare guys for. He expects to, along with Kobe, keep an active eye on things and help the team maintain focus, just as he would in any season.
Vujacic, on everything from cutting his hair to his first post-title summer to his hope for a bounce back season. He was very candid in speaking about his performance last season. "I'm not proud of it," he said. And apparently, once Sasha went back and watched the tape, even he was annoyed with how much he played with his hair.
Bynum, on his knee, and his hope to make the All Star team.
Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times wrote:The Finals MVP also smiled as he shared a private word with Ron Artest in a photo op where they were supposed to look tough.
It will be interesting to see how they co-exist on the court after a couple of in-your-face encounters in last season's playoffs, though Artest wore a Bryant jersey at a recent promotional event and Tuesday seemed to revel in the concept of being part of the Lakers.
"None of them know how hungry I am," Artest said. "It's about time to get to business."
Bynum, who will be 22 next month, spent part of his off-season traveling through Japan, China, Italy and Spain. He also spent about six weeks in Atlanta, working out with a personal trainer. He added strength to his legs during a regimen that concentrated on his quadriceps, hamstrings and "glutes," as he put it.
Bryant, for his part, took a solid two-month break from basketball, his first summer in years without Team USA obligations. He made several appearances throughout China and Asia as part of a Nike commitment, and he went to France with his family.
"All I did was get healthier," he said.
Bryant turned 31 last month and will soon begin his 14th NBA season with what he said were "rejuvenated" legs.
While Bryant rested, Pau Gasol, a third-team All-NBA selection last season, took part in a victorious but time-consuming tour with Spain's national team, which won the European championship.
"I'm excited, I'm really motivated. I'm not too tired," he said. "It's a lot of basketball, absolutely, but I think that my passion for the game and also me working on my body and trying to get my breaks here and there. . . . I hope that my body continues to hold up and continues to perform the way it's been performing."
Sasha Vujacic, who sustained a minor knee injury while playing an exhibition with the Slovenian national team, also was expected to take part in training camp. Practice began Tuesday night and two-a-days were scheduled to begin today.
Along the other story lines at media day was the mildly impatient Lamar Odom, who married reality-TV star Khloe Kardashian on Sunday, had a publicist tell reporters he wouldn't talk about it Tuesday and then walked away after realizing reporters only wanted to talk about it. He later met up with a smaller group of media to answer basketball-related questions.
Above all, there was talk of a repeat championship feat.
"We're going to be ready to go," Bryant said. "We understand the challenge of winning another [championship]. I'm just going to do what I did last year. I just feel like I'm healthier and stronger."
Ramona Shelburne of the LA Daily News wrote:As reporters, camera crews, radio producers and assorted other random people with handheld cameras positioned themselves to speak with the newest Laker - Ron Artest - and the newest Kardashian - Lamar Odom - the reigning Finals MVP walked onto the court with hardly anybody noticing.
That would be Kobe Bryant, in case you've been too distracted watching the live feed of Odom's Sunday nuptials on TMZ's Web site.
Two years ago, his entrance to the Lakers' practice facility meant the End of Days had been averted, with reporters stationed in the parking lot jotting down his exact arrival time after he spent the summer asking to play on Pluto.
Last season, his was the only voice that carried much weight after the franchise recovered from a humiliating loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
But this time around, Bryant looked like an extra on the set just trying to earn his SAG card.
"I love it," he joked. "It's cool and smooth."
Bryant, asked if he was grateful to Odom and Artest for taking the spotlight off of him, smiled and said, "I'll be thanking them all season long."
He meant it as a joke, but no one will be laughing if any of the new, let's call it "exposure," becomes a distraction for the Lakers on the court.
For now it seems, the team is treating the situation with a bit of levity, with players answering questions from entertainment reporters wanting to know if they chose chicken or steak for dinner at Odom's wedding to Khloe Kardashian on Sunday.
"I'm sure it's pleasant for you guys too, having something different to talk about," a jovial Pau Gasol said. "Mix it up a little. It's fine with me, too, as long as it doesn't distract us from our goals or what we need to do here as a team.
"Once we cross these doors and the doors at Staples Center, everybody else should be left out. Everything else that could be a distraction or a detriment to the team should be left out.
"I think we have a veteran team here, veteran enough to be able to do that. And our coaching staff has enough experience to be able to handle that. So I'm pretty confident to feel like that's not going to be a problem."
With that settled, at least as much as legally possible, the attention in the room turned to Artest, who seemed like he'd been waiting his whole life for it.
The past couple of weeks, he has been getting around Los Angeles like a political candidate. He's walked dogs at an animal shelter, gone to Sparks playoff games, invited fans to come bowling with him and given away tickets to the Vitali Klitschko-Chris Arreola heavyweight title fight via one of his three Twitter feeds.
His hard-working publicist somehow keeps up with him by sending out press releases to secret locations and generally marveling at the uniqueness of a professional athlete who genuinely seems to enjoy interacting with fans at quite possibly the most eclectic set of public events you've ever seen.
Said one veteran scribe, who covered a recent event, "And he's on time, too."
"If I had more time here I could've took my time in getting out to the community," Artest said. "But I knew it (training camp) was coming up fast so I had to get out fast and make as much time for the fans as possible.
"Now that training camp is here, I'll be doing things like once a month."
Was that what he was talking about last week when he told reporters in San Diego it would be his fault if the Lakers didn't repeat as NBA champions?
"Yeah," Artest said. "You gotta take responsibility. You can't put it all on Kobe. You got to take some responsibility of your own."
Over in the corner, one of Odom's wedding guests posed for photos and did some radio interviews.
His troublesome ankle appeared to be in good shape after a vacation to Maui, but of course nobody asked forward Luke Walton specifically about that.
As one of the only Lakers who was around for the end of the Shaquille O'Neal-Bryant era and as one of the more thoughtful guys on the team, Walton often has a pretty decent take on the historical context of the latest Lakers' (soap) operatic event.
So how did Tuesday's episode compare with the tense and terse seasons from years past?
"This is nothing," he said. "This is like par for course for the Lakers.
"Two years ago (when no one knew if Bryant would show up) was a little crazy. That was wild. None of us had heard from him. Then he walked in, did his thing and now we're NBA champions.
"That was probably stranger, because it actually really affected the team."
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