11 January 2010
The poor kid didn’t know what to say. There really wasn’t anything he could do anyway.
As the media horde patiently – and I use that word very loosely – waited for Kobe Bryant to emerge from the Los Angeles Lakers trainer’s room to field postgame questions after Portland beat them on Friday night, Phil Jackson moseyed out of his office and tried to make his way to the other side of the locker room.
“You know, you guys should bring a smaller table in here,” Jackson told a young clubhouse attendant, pointing to a long table in the middle of the room holding some team gear and postgame snacks.
“That way people can actually walk around in here. It wouldn’t be so claustrophobic.”
A couple minutes later, Jackson – with his wobbly walk after having hip-replacement surgery back in 2006 – made his way back across the locker room, this time throwing out another jab jammed between sarcastic and serious to the group of writers and T.V. folks still waiting for Bryant.
“Can’t you guys do a song or dance instead of just standing there?. Come on.”
With laughs and his signature saunter, Jackson was gone. It was close to the end of a night that could easily be labeled the “other All-Star” weekend with both the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers coming to Portland on Friday and Sunday.
Aside from what went down on the hardwood in Portland – a win against the Lakers thanks to Brandon Roy’s 32 points, a loss to the Cavs in awe of LeBron James’ 41 points – you’re bound to see and hear it all:
- Andrew Bynum sitting at his locker reading Mitch Albom’s, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, before the game.
- A somewhat perturbed Nate McMillan having his final say on his verbal exchange with Andre Miller.
- Phil Jackson blaming the Lakers’ lengthy losing woes in Portland on his players making their usual sojourn out to the Nike Employee store.
- Adam Morrison saying, despite his rocky NBA road career wise, that’s he’s actually in the right place in Los Angeles.
- Andre Miller getting little to no media attention while Brandon Roy’s locker overflowed into Patty Mills’ space as writers tried to get a mic in the mix (Read more about how the "Blazers Move Forward Again", my feature running this morning over at SLAMonline).
- Hearing Ron Artest, when asked what he would do if he was in Gilbert Arenas’ shoes, saying “go back to school” and “try to get involved in the community.”
- Watching Paul Allen, who is still undergoing chemotherapy for his cancer treatment; walk oh so slowly and gingerly into the Rose Garden and down the hall an hour before tip-off against Cleveland.
- Having to tell J.J. Hickson he’s headed the wrong direction as the Cavs’ forward starting running into the Blazers’ locker room fresh out of pregame chapel.
- Seeing Rudy Fernandez rolling his eyes at the notion of having to actually “run stairs” with Nicolas Batum and Patty Mills as a trainer timed the wounded trio.
- Trying to convince both ESPN.com’s John Hollinger and CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger that wasn’t just any fan Shaq crawled over to and kissed. That was Daniel Baldwin.
- Watching as Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey reminisced outside Cleveland’s locker room.
- Being scared of the big brown and white fur coat Shaq – who slipped out the side door without dishing with a classic quote - was wearing as he headed for the team bus.
- Applauding LeBron James for not pulling a Kobe and actually talking to the media without keeping anyone waiting.
You wonder what kind of memory would be left had Portland been able to hold on to beat Cleveland after that big rally thanks to Brandon Roy.
Something tells me Roy is thinking the same thing. In the end, while Kobe and LeBron remain the benchmarks of greatness in this league, they also elevate Roy’s game to another level whenever their respective teams faceoff.
Those two will help Roy go from good to great.
That’s what all-star’s do.
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