By Craig Kwasniewski
The Lakers held an open practice for season ticket holders last Friday. So after coming down with a vicious case of the flu, I drove on down to their practice facility in El Segundo (and did not lose my wallet... hey-o!). Here's some photos and observations.
Smaller Gym: They held a similar event last season at Staples Center. Holding this event at the practice facility was a far better idea. The gym is just large enough for one full court, some stretching/workout gear and bleachers. The intimate surroundings definitely gave you that "behind the scenes" feel to the session.
Typical Practice: This seemed to be a typical practice session, starting with the team stretching out, running warm-up drills and ending with full court 5-on-5 drills. The Lakers spent a lot of time working on their fastbreak game with 3-on-2 and 3-on-3 (with the 3rd defender trailing) drills. Phil Jackson (with his annual hip replacement cane) is pushing for an uptempo game this season and he kept urging the team to hit on more than 50% of their fastbreak shots, repeating a few drills as emphasis.
Kobe in Always Challenging his Teammates: This is one thing the team will miss once Kobe's traded this February, his constant competitive nature. You'll never see him loaf in any drills and he's always challenging his teammates. During a 5-on-5 drill, the Lakers were split into three teams with the winning/scoring squad staying on the floor. Kobe's team was repeatedly scorching the red team. After scoring on the red team a few times in a row Kobe started barking out loud, "Looks like red doesn't wanna play! Red don't wanna play today! Red team ain't showing up!" This kept going on until the red team finally scored. It was all in fun, but you can see Kobe's desire to challenge everyone there.
Phil Jackson's Sense of Humor: When it was time for the red team to enter the game. Phil joking said, "Pink team on the floor!" A few of the guys tried to correct Jackson's mistake, obviously not getting the joke.
Javaris Crittenton Gets the Triangle, Vujacic Does Not: Javaris Crittenton was running with Kobe on the 5-on-5 drills. Usually it takes at least 2 seasons to fully comprehend the Triangle Offense. This is one of the main reasons why rookies never play under Phil Jackson. Crittenton fit right in because he ran the Triangle in high school. Whereas Laker resident Douchebag, Sasha Vujacic still has trouble in the Triangle... AFTER 3 SEASONS!!! During one drill, Derek Fisher was seen giving Vujacic directions in the halfcourt wearing a definitive "Aw Mannnn!!!" face. Remember, Kupchak extend this a-hole for three more years last fall.... good times.
Here's a few photos of the session:
Kobe took a long time to stretch/prepare for practice. While the rest of the team was on the floor, Kobe's in the background doing his own more intense stretching.
There's an office window with all the Laker trophies overlooking the gym. That shadowy figure is Jeanie Buss watching practice.
And then there were two...
A sign that Kobe's near the end of his prime... ice packs on the knees with 10 minutes left in practice. One can understand his urgency to play for a contender (unless you absolutely hate the guy and hope his knees fall off).
At the end of practice.... 1, 2, 3, LAKERS!!!!