Mike Trudell of Lakers.com wrote:
After much of the Los Angeles press made the trek to El Segundo for Tuesday’s media day, Wednesday’s practice featured a far smaller contingent, content to speak with Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Phil Jackson primarily about basketball.
Bryant talked about his trip to Houston to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon, Artest offered his initial reflections on his new team, Jackson addressed his approach to the team following a championship season and Odom indulged some talk of football, baseball and boxing.
Here’s a closer look:
Kobe Bryant: “I’m a post player.”
Throughout his career, Michael Jordan was known for coming back from the offseason boasting a new trick - turn-around jumper, a new set of post moves, 10 pounds of muscle … whatever. So, in turn, has Kobe Bryant, who this season opted to work on his low post game culminating with a trip to visit Hall of Fame pivot Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, whom Kobe considers the creator of the best post moves in league history (regards, Kevin McHale).
Olajuwon told Mark Berman of myfoxhouston.com that his moves were actually better suited for guards and small forwards with agility, adding this comment regarding his two hour workout with Bryant on Monday in Houston: "It was so much fun because how he picks it up. I worked with him for two hours, step by step … Adding those moves to his game, watch out for him this year.”
Bryant explained that he’s certainly a post player, regardless of if it says “guard” next to his name on the roster (again, like Jordan), and that his trip was extremely valuable. While we’ll have to wait and see how many games it takes Kobe to whip out the “Dream Shake” move that terrorized so many Olajuwon opponents, he did post up Ron Artest successfully (see video) when reporters were allowed into practice.
Ron Artest: Two Practices Deep
Though he’d participated in just two practices with his new teammates and coaches, Ron Artest didn’t seem to have any trouble getting into the mix. Of course, that’s easier when everything else from a championship season retained its (albeit high level) status quo, but nonetheless, Phil Jackson’s mission to integrate Artest seemingly got off to a solid start.
When addressing the media after practice, pausing on occasion to wipe a sweaty brow, Artest described how he had in the past played against other players that had the kind of intensity Kobe Bryant exhibits in practice, but never a player that brought it so hard AND had Bryant’s level of talent. It wasn’t just Bryant that impressed him, however; Artest singled out Pau Gasol, mentioning how quickly the Spaniard’s talents were apparent, and also mentioned being impressed with the high skill level of Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. While that’s nothing new, the fact remains that L.A. had four other players capable of performing at an All-Star level before Artest came into the building.
Finally, when asked who talked the most trash on the Lakers, Artest threw a bit of a curveball. It wasn’t him, nor Kobe Bryant, but … Josh Powell. Artest ranked Bryant second, and said that he’s trying to get into the third spot. Afterwards, we asked Powell if that were true, and the 6-9, 240+ pound workout hound said he talks “Just to call out the plays and communicate.” Uh huh.
Phil Jackson: All’s Right and Well
After two practices with his squad, Phil Jackson explained that he was fairly pleased with the Lakers from a general standpoint. This is now the seventh time in which Jackson has been charged with defending the NBA title, and a plan is again in place.
Jackson explained that while Ron Artest is new, the team for the most part knows what it wants to do, and has the kind of attitude he likes to see. He said that they’ve yet to begin working on the triangle, but feels that Artest will be able to pick things up quickly.
The 10-time coaching champion also answered a question regarding his team’s potential for being the league’s best on defense, responding that while that was a goal, the numbers wouldn’t necessarily be there since the Lakers prefer to play up-tempo at times.
The team will return for an evening practice later tonight, though media access is not allowed.
Lamar Odom: Back to the Bread and Butter
After a day in which Lamar Odom spent the majority of his time dealing with questions surrounding his over-the-weekend marriage, the lanky lefty was more than happy to spend five minutes talking about his favorite football team (the NY Giants) and baseball squad (the NY Yankees). Odom, of course, is of the belief that the Yankees will win the World Series, and explained exactly why to anyone who was interested (all of us).
Aside from the Giants, Odom also had quite a bit of love for the Minnesota Vikings, citing their monster defensive and offensive lines, the league’s best running back (Adrian Peterson) and the addition of Brett Favre, which of course paid off most obviously with his last-second touchdown heave that beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Odom concluded the chit chat session by showing off some newfound leg muscles, accredited to his summer of boxing training that he described to the reporters while bobbing and weaving all six feet 10 inches in an imaginary ring. We first learned of Odom’s boxing interest when we called LO back on September 1, and he stuck to his story. Apparently, it worked, because Phil Jackson said that Odom was in the best shape at this stage of training camp that the coach has ever seen. Jackson qualified his comments by suggesting that Odom wasn’t necessarily known for coming into camp in the best shape of anyone on the team in past years, but conceded that Lamar did need two of the offseasons to recover from varying injuries.