Outside of previously reported news about Kobe Bryant making his return tomorrow night in BBQ country, today's practice didn't feature any real "news," so to speak. Most of the players hustled out to hop a flight to Memphis, and the ones made available talked primarily about 24's return or the Memphis Grizzlies, neither topic prompting much in the way of mind boggling insight. Mostly, folks just wanted to hit the road.
There were, however, a few good lines sprinkled about. So in lieu of a formal "report," I'm presenting clips, along with my personal nomination for best quote of the segment. Should another piece of verbiage strike your fancy more, feel free to use the comments section to voice your personal preference. This is the democratic way we operate in Land O' Lakers' "America."
First, Ron Artest's take on Kobe "fitting back in," as another reporter put it, after his five-game absence:
- "It's how we're gonna fit back in with Kobe. Don't get it twisted, man. This is the Mamba show."
And since we're talking about Ron Ron, his clip naturally offers a co-winner. You gotta love this response when asked if he watched Sunday night's "instant classic" USA-Canada Olympic hockey match, the buzz of sports talk radio and SportsCenter:
- "No, what happened?"
Phil Jackson made the Venice Beach body builders proud -- the ones with the big vocab, at any rate -- when talking about Marc Gasol's evolution since originally drafted as a Laker:
- "When we drafted him, he was kind of a pudgy, big guy. His body type has changed significantly. He's still a little bit big bigger and brawnier than his brother. He's more of a mesomorph than an ectomorph."
(PJ didn't specifically designate Pau Gasol the ecto-sib, but I'm willing to risk reading between the lines. Either way, I can honestly say in my ten-ish years spent working in the sports media, it's the first time "mesomorph" or "ectomorph" was busted out by a coach, much less in the same sentence. So kudos to Phil.)
This 4-1 Mamba-less stretch has featured a lot of balanced offense and roster-wide contributions. Obviously Kobe's return will -- and to a certain degree, should -- change the Lakers' dynamic a bit, but all things being equal, it would be ideal if everyone remained involved as possible even with their superstar in the fold. I asked Phil if he discussed the matter with the team:
- "No, I didn't talk about that. We'll assume that'll happen that way. Minutes create that, obviously. We'll see how the minutes go."
Pau knows firsthand what it's like for teams struggling with attendance (like the Grizzlies) when the Lake Show comes to town:
- "Players get excited and pumped to beat us because it's upsetting that when you play every single night in your home court, it's half empty. The Lakers come in town, you've got all these Lakers fans supporting against you. That's tough. I've experienced that as a player. They're excited about it and ready to send those fans away and hopefully get a Grizzlies jersey on the next time."
Pau later admitted to some "mixed feelings" about battling against the brother he "loves to death."
- "I want him to do well, but at the same time, I don't want him to do better than me."