Many fans in the Kezar Pavilion crowd groaned as Matt Barnes(notes) was pummeled from behind when he drove to the basket Thursday night. Los Angeles Lakers officials should be glad they weren’t among those watching. By the time the evening was over, Barnes had taken four hard fouls, reason enough for the Lakers to be concerned about the health of their oft-injured swingman.
Barnes, however, wasn’t worried. He used the San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am League – which boasts a distinguished group of alumni including Gary Payton, Jason Kidd(notes), Tim Hardaway, Steve Nash(notes) and Kevin Johnson – to test his surgically repaired right knee for the first time in an organized game since the end of the Lakers’ season. Barnes scored 28 points while playing most of the game, a 123-120 overtime loss for his Dream Team.
Afterward, Barnes said his knee was fine.
“My legs feel it the most,” Barnes told Yahoo! Sports. “Some shots at the end of the game I felt flat. Overall, after taking [nearly three months] off, and it’s my first time playing, it’s not too bad.
“I wasn’t really told anything. Unfortunately, I found out about not getting the job and who was getting the job on ESPN. I didn’t really talk to anyone for about three weeks after that. At that point, just from all the speculation and what I’d heard, it felt like the powers that were making the decisions felt like the team needed a change of culture and a new voice, and to head a new direction. That’s what I was told. I thought that was kind of peculiar, because in the 12 years that I had been there, and I know the 11 years that coach Jackson had coached, all we had done was go to the championship seven times, and won five championships. I just felt like there were 29 other teams in the league that would love to have that kind of culture and that kind of direction.
But there’s been a change in power, I guess to say, in terms of who’s calling the shots from this point on and that’s the direction they wanted to head in. I can accept that … I didn’t expect anything to be handed to me.”—Brian Shaw
It’s a shame the way the Lakers have treated their long time personnel and it doesn’t sit right with me. People like Brian Shaw, Frank Hamblen, Ronnie Lester, etc. who have been a part of the Lakers franchise for 10+ years I feel deserve an explanation. For Jim Buss to hire Mike Brown and not contact Brian Shaw on WHY he didn’t get the job or even contact him telling him that he didn’t get the job really doesn’t sit right with me. These people have culminated a winning culture for the Lakers and have been an integral part of why the Lakers have been able to be so successful as a basketball team. You’re supposed to treat those people with the utmost respect. If you let them go you’re supposed to inform them and give them explanations. These people bleed purple and gold. You’re supposed to go above and beyond in order to say thank you for doing all that you’ve done for the team, unfortunately that didn’t happen, and that just isn’t right. It’s not right at all. They deserve more than what the organizations given them. They’re supposed to be let go with a solid understanding of why they weren’t brought back and also lauded for their commitment to the franchise after all these years, and the Lakers failed to do that. That’s the biggest shame of all.
Barring a last-minute change of heart, Lester’s 24-year run with the Lakers will end when his contract expires this month.
“I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about the other people on our staff that are really good and have young families and mortgages,” Lester said. “I’ll land on my feet, but those guys who aren’t as established, I think they’re in a little trouble.”
Lester has worked with these men for the past three decades. He’s trusted them. Before the NBA draft, he had to say goodbye.
“I feel bad because they’re great guys, they love the Lakers, they love working for the Lakers,” Lester said. “They work really hard and they’re really good at their jobs and now they’re being thrown out in the cold with mortgages and kids to support, so it’s not a comforting thought. Read the rest of the article here.
I’ll sum it up that talent wins. When you have the talent to coach, it makes all the difference in the world. I’ve coached some of the greatest talent to ever play the game. That’s the real fact of the matter. To be able to generate a momentum, so it wasn’t just a one trick and it was over in one championship, has a lot to do with the staff that joined me. Tex Winter. Johnny Bach. Jim Cleamons. Jimmy Rodgers. Frank Hamblen. Brian Shaw. Kurt Rambis. Chuck Person. Bill Cartwright was there for a year, [John] Paxson in Chicago. So there was a combination of people that came into the staff that were dedicated to what we were doing and were interested in the execution. Tex Winter was a stalwart, a companion of mine as a coach for 15 years of these 20, so that was real good teamwork that we had together. It was a lot of fun and the players caught on and got with it.
The strengths that I have are probably about community and about groups, about chemistry on a team. The first time I interviewed for a job as an NBA coach, I was rejected. It was because I didn’t know X’s and O’s. I didn’t take Basketball 101 in college, I took other things. But that wasn’t always my strength, figuring out how to make the last second play work, or whatever. I felt execution was important. A lot of times, I probably failed at some the strategy things as a coach. There were people that were good at it that were on my staff.
“Overseas is not something I’m looking at right now. I’m one of the few players who doesn’t mind the lockout at this point. It’s given me time for my knee to heal. I’m just going to make sure my knee is 100% and be ready for next season.”—Matt Barnes on the lockout
“I feel like, as a unit, we didn’t do what it takes to keep Brian Shaw, and that’s real disappointing. You can’t forget where you’re from. You can’t forget what you’ve been through. You can’t forget who helped you win a ring, who was there for you when you were frustrated or stressed out, and I’ve got to give credit to Brian Shaw for all of that. This doesn’t mean I won’t love Mike Brown. But for the next couple of months, I’m going to be disappointed about Brian Shaw.”—Ron Artest bummed out about Shaw not being brought back to coach the Lakers next season