HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Proving once again that he is willing to go where other would not dare, TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal graced the stage on Live with Kelly (Ripa) and Michael (Strahan) to battle with the hosts in a karaoke sing-off.
Shaq was on the road, so the home crowd wasn’t completely behind him. But it’s hard to argue that Rip or Strahan topped Shaq’s version of the Prince classic, When Doves Cry:
If Lakers coach Mike Brown can get his players to mesh the way some insiders hope he can (and the way Nash and Howard have in the video, above) then the rest of the Western Conference and the entire league could be in serious trouble this season.
But it’s that chemistry that will most certainly make the difference between the Lakers winning big and just winning the way they have the past two seasons, reasonably successful regular season campaigns that ended rather abruptly in the playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.
It should be noted that both the Mavericks (2011 champs) and Thunder (lost to the Heat in The Finals) went on to represent the Western Conference in the final round of the Larry O’Brien chase.
It should also be noted that the questions about the Lakers’ chemistry aren’t just coming from us.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This day, this moment, belongs to Reggie Miller.
This is his night in the Hall of Fame spotlight. But in addition to family, friends and former teammates, coaches and fans who will all share in his special moment.
That group includes his colleagues at TNT, who shared some of their own thoughts about Miller …
“Reggie will go down as one of the greatest shooters of all time. But you can’t mention Reggie’s name and not think of the legendary comeback against the Knicks.”
“Reggie is a friend of mine and I’m very happy for him. It’s an awesome accomplishment and it’s going to be a wonderful night for him and his sister.”
“I loved watching Reggie play because for 48 minutes he gave you everything he had, and he possessed all those qualities that encompass being a superstar in this league: worth ethic, court sense, will to win, loyalty, charisma, killer instinct, ability to perform in the clutch … the list goes on and on. Like all the greats, Reggie wanted the ball in his hands with the game hanging in the balance and time and again he would deliver. His night in Springfield is richly deserved, and we’re all richer for having watched such a talent for all those years in the Pacers uniform.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finally gets his statue and now Shaquille O’Neal and Jamaal Wilkes will get their jerseys, No. 34 and No. 52 respectively, retired to the rafters at Staples Center.
It’s been a pretty good week for former big men toiled for the Los Angeles Lakers at some point during their NBA careers. And it’s going to be a busy season for the Lakers, who are legitimately back in the title hunt (with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to their Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol nucleus) after a two-year hiatus.
There haven’t been many sweet moments between Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers since his trade in 2004, but the big one will come April 2 at halftime of the game against Dallas.
O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey will be retired, as Lakers owner Jerry Buss promised it would be, and go up on the Staples Center wall along with the Lakers’ other greats. In eight Lakers seasons, O’Neal posted averages of 27.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.49 blocked shots while winning three NBA championships (2000, 2001 and 2002).
On the wall already by then will be Jamaal Wilkes’ No. 52, scheduled to be retired by the Lakers in an earlier ceremony in the coming season. Wilkes’ honor will be at halftime on Dec. 28 against Portland.
The first reflective moment of the season will be the unveiling of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s statue at Star Plaza outside Staples Center on Nov. 16.
Plans for the statue of Abdul-Jabbar and the jersey retirements for O’Neal and Wilkes were already confirmed last season by the Lakers. Wilkes was selected last season for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Lakers’ policy has been to retire the jerseys of all who are enshrined.
With O’Neal and Abdul-Jabbar taken care of, we started thinking about others in the Lakers’ family tree and how they might be honored. Does Derek Fisher get a small plaque somewhere, a luxury suite named in his honor, anything?
And what about Phil Jackson?
We should probably leave it alone right now and just applaud the Lakers for doing all that they have done for the likes of Magic Johnson and Jerry West and now Kareem, Shaq and Wilkes.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – So this is what “hardball” looks like?
For months — before he changed course at the March trade deadline when he signed away his leverage — Dwight Howard was holding the ultimate card in his game of free-agent chicken with the Orlando Magic.
Now, with his latest trade request to the Brooklyn Nets ignored yet again, Howard’s 4th of July will include few fireworks outside of the ones he lights off in his backyard tonight.
The Magic don’t appear to be in any great rush to acquiesce and provide an escape route for their disgruntled superstar center. In fact, the Magic are reportedly exhausting every possible option to do anything but send him to the Nets, where he can join Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the Brooklyn Big 3.
If starting a bidding war for Howard is what Magic general manager Rob Hennigan is trying to do, we’ll know by the weekend if he’s been successful. The guess here is that there will be no shortage of fantasy packages cooked up by teams hoping to land Howard. (After all the drama he’s put the Magic through since December, he remains the most dominant low-post force in basketball and no one vying for his services has forgotten that.)
HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – We can see it now: Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” blaring from the sound system and a suited and booted Shaquille O’Neal walking to the podium as he’s introduced as the Orlando Magic’s new general manager.
Don’t laugh. It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
Dan asked Barkley if Shaquille O’Neal has told him he’s is interested in the Orlando GM job. “Yes,” Barkley said. “I do know he’s interested in the job and he’s going to interview for it.”
Barkley said O’Neal and Dwight Howard have had issues in the past, but that doesn’t mean Shaq can’t go to Orlando.
Barkley thinks Howard needs to make a decision and stay or go in Orlando. He’s sick of talking about it.
“They’re trying to do anything they can to keep Dwight there and get a buzz,” Barkley said. “They have to do something whether Dwight stays there or not. Bringing in Shaquille is an attention getter.”
This gives folks a license to let their imaginations run wild with images of O’Neal back in the city where his Hall of Fame playing career began, the same city he calls home. If Shaq is on the short list of people the Magic want to talk to about replacing Otis Smith, it is noteworthy. Especially considering the nature of his departure from the Magic in 1996 for the Los Angeles Lakers.
O’Neal hasn’t even finished his first year of retirement and already his name is popping up in a GM search. That’s impressive, no matter how it all transpired.
“It’s somewhat amusing to me, because in some ways the edginess and the chippiness of him make it easy for me to relate to him – because I had some of that when I was young,” Bryant, 33, said about Bynum, 24. “So, it’s easy for me to see where he’s coming from.
“I understand where he’s coming from. And the first thing you want to do if you want to get the best out of somebody or the best out of your players is you have to understand what they’re feeling; you have to understand where they’re coming from and what they want to accomplish. That’s why it’s not that big a deal to me. You don’t see me sitting here trippin’ or sweatin’ or anything like that. I’ve been there.”
Bryant’s support for Bynum in this situation is proof of the evolution of a relationship that at one time seemed destined for a nasty breakup (long before last month’s trade deadline, there were rumors of Bynum being replaced by the likes of Dwight Howard.)
Shaq is back from Orlando with some more foolishness to uncover. This week, special call-outs for an OKC superfan, JaVale “Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP” McGee, John Wall, the Sixers’ rookies, and Dwight Howard. Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We usually have to wait until Thursday night’s announcement of the All-Star reserves for all “snubbed” talk to kick up.
But with this afternoon’s unveiling of the names in the draft pool for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend, the furor is here a day early. There were a few names people expected to see on the list that were missing in action, namely Heat rookie Norris Cole, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette and Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert.
Now with Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin, and rookie Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio headlining, the list of players TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will choose from to comprise the rosters, there isn’t a ton of room to complain. And in defense of the committee, there were only nine slots available for rookies and nine for sophomores. Click here to peruse the roster for yourself.
But the omissions are sure to draw the ire of fans in certain places. And this will serve as good practice for tomorrow night. So let the venting begin …