Kobe went ham at Lakers practice, calls everyone ‘soft like Charmin’

Kobe Bryant went on a tirade at Lakers practice Thursday. He called his team ‘soft like Charmin’ and cussed at the GM. Oh, and Nick Young’s still unguaradable 1-on-1.
The post Kobe Bryant Went Ham On Everyone At Lakers Practice, Calls Everyone ‘Soft Like Charmin’ appeared first on The Sports Fan Journal.

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Kobe Bryant Calls Los Angeles Lakers ‘Soft Like Charmin’

Pat yourself on the back if you had Dec. 11 as the day Kobe Bryant‘s frustration with the Los Angeles Lakers would reach its boiling point.

Bryant, fed up with a 6-16 record, his team’s league-worst defense and, apparently, a rotten day of practice, lashed out, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

Now, to be fair, Kobe may not have been completely serious in his comments.

But the tone of their delivery hardly matters. The message came from the heart.

Bryant’s outburst is equal parts futile, understandable and predictable.

It’s futile because the Lakers don’t have the talent to compete on either end, and no amount of prodding from Kobe or head coach Byron Scott can change that.

It’s understandable because Bryant has been pushing himself far past the point any 36-year-old NBA player should. While there’s no denying Kobe’s efforts as a one-man wrecking crew have marginalized his teammates and may even be the reason they’ve been so punchless, it’s also true that he’s killing himself on a nightly basis trying to keep his team afloat.

He’s not getting help, and even if that’s partly his own fault, Bryant is allowed to voice frustration that his 35.4 minutes per game have yielded so few wins.

It’s predictable because this is who Kobe is—a maniacally competitive force of nature that breaks down his teammates and then rages at the fact that they’ve fallen apart.

There was a time when Bryant’s wrath would have motivated teammates to play better. A time when his own productivity and efficiency were undeniably good enough to give his criticism credence. Now, though, he’s hogging the ball, shooting 39 percent from the field and hurting the Lakers on both ends—as indicated by his team-worst on- and off-court splits, per NBA.com.

Ian Levy broke it down like this in a piece for The Cauldron:

To be clear, none of this is meant to (or can) settle any of the long-standing debates over Kobe’s historic value and the prism through which statistics view him. This is simply a player coming to the end of his career, and playing — while not poorly, per se — in a way that’s neither good nor particularly helpful to his team.

The Lakers are in a heap of trouble, and while Bryant may be right about their effort level and overall fortitude, he’s overlooking the fact that his demeanor and playing style contribute to those problems. Until that changes, the Lakers will continue to struggle.

And Bryant will continue to be frustrated.

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Michigan Basketball: Soft Interior Defense Will Be Wolverines’ Achilles’ Heel

While a narrow loss at the Legends Classic can be overlooked in most circumstances, looking deeper into the problems could be cause for panic at Michigan.

The Wolverines had a solid showing on paper, defeating Oregon 70-63 in the semifinals before losing to Villanova in a highly entertaining 60-55 game.

The Wildcats have the potential to be one of the top teams in the nation after earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, meaning there is little reason to cry about a loss to them in November.

The problem is that Villanova beat Michigan down low, something that will be a bigger problem throughout the season. 

Jay Wright’s squad is known for its guard play, which it hopes to use to overcome issues in the frontcourt. This is the same strategy that the Wolverines have coming into the year.

Even head coach John Beilein noted the similarities in the game plan after the loss per USA Today:

Watching them play VCU (on Monday), they were playing, like, Michigan basketball. They’re hitting the open man, they’ve got the extra pass that leads to the basket. Really good experienced players, with great balance. They play the way we want to play. … Very unselfish, have a post game, have a great point guard and good wings.

This was a perfect matchup for Michigan with strength against strength, but it still could not pull out a win playing its own game. Things are going to get a lot worse when opponents can match up their strength against the Wolverines’ weakness.

It was no secret coming into the year that the Wolverines had lost a lot of talent in the frontcourt. Sure, the team would miss Nik Stauskas‘ scoring, but losing Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan left the program barren in the low post.

Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle and possibly D.J. Wilson are really the best options down low this season. They’re all freshmen, and none of them is taller than 6’9″. Junior Max Bielfeldt is only 6’7″. This should make it no surprise KenPom.com (subscription required) lists the squad at 204th in the nation in effective height, accounting for position and usage.

Although none of the first few opponents exposed this problem, Oregon was able to keep things interesting Monday night by outrebounding Michigan 41-29. This included an impressive 18 offensive rebounds for the Ducks out of a possible 40 chances. 

The rebounding numbers as a whole have not been as good as they should be against opponents that do not have much frontcourt skill:

While Oregon didn’t really have quality scorers in the low post (or much of anything outside of Joseph Young), the poor interior defense still helped the game remain closer than it should’ve been.

During the game, Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports noted this as a major storyline going forward:

The problem was not solved against Villanova, with Jim Jackson of the Big Ten Network calling it one of the top issues:

Once again, it was not exposed as much since the Wildcats love to shoot from the outside (and they struggled, going 6-of-20 thanks to solid perimeter defense).

However, little-used forward Daniel Ochefu was still able to get off some easy shots, as he went 5-of-7 from the field. Only twice in his career has the 6’11″ junior tallied more field goals in a game.

Meanwhile, the real problems came from JayVaughn Pinkston, who was quiet for most of the game before making his presence felt late. He and Caris LeVert traded baskets twice in the final two minutes, although Pinkston‘s were way too easy since there was no rim protector trying to stop him.

The star forward then came through defensively with one of the biggest blocks you will ever see:

Sorry everybody—that was a clean block. No foul.

Pinkston doesn’t usually play in the low post, but he showed what can happen when Michigan matches up against someone with size and strength.

The Wolverines have talented wings with height like LeVert, Kameron Chatman and Zak Irvin. These skilled performers will be great on the offensive end all year, and they’ll be able to guard the perimeter against similar players.

However, none of them has the strength to stop anyone in the post, which puts more pressure on the thin frontcourt.

While the young players might improve over the course of the year, they will not grow, and they will still struggle in non-conference games against Syracuse and Arizona, both of which know how to get points in the post.

The Big Ten will be even tougher, as the players try to defend against players like Frank Kaminsky and Branden Dawson.

Offensively, the Wolverines should be just fine with LeVert and Irvin making big plays while the backcourt consistently makes shots from deep. Beilein has never really relied on low-post scoring, and this year will not be much different.

Still, the lack of an interior defense will haunt them throughout the season. When Michigan wants to make a big stop late in games, an opponent can easily go inside and either score or come through with an offensive rebound and points on the second opportunity.

Michigan is still a very good team with a young roster that will only get better. However, this glaring weakness will prevent greatness as well as contention in the Big Ten this season.


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Michigan State Basketball: How MSU Should Capitalize on Soft Upcoming Schedule

A soft upcoming schedule has Michigan State primed to climb the national rankings and move closer to securing Tom Izzo‘s eighth Big Ten championship. However, in order to capitalize, State must approach these contests with the same value that they would against the more prominent conference foes.

Its upcoming games feature home contests against Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska. Michigan State will also travel to face a plummeting Wisconsin squad on Feb. 9 and then visit Purdue on Feb. 20.

With the exception of their showdown in Madison against the Badgers, the Spartans will be heavily favored to prevail in all of the aforementioned contests.

In addition to this manageable stretch of games, All-Big Ten forward Adreian Payne should return from a foot injury. State has dreadfully needed his scoring abilities, as the team hasn’t eclipsed 80 points in its last six contests. But he must err on the side of caution upon his return.

Payne and Michigan State will look to improve to 20-3 overall and 9-1 in the conference in Thursday’s home contest against Penn State. Here is how the Spartans must approach their upcoming five-game stretch.

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Clippers Swingman Matt Barnes Calls the NBA ‘So Soft Now’ on Twitter

Please don’t ever change, Matt Barnes

The Los Angeles Clippers swingman spent his Monday night watching an old-school, 1985-style battle between the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, and it didn’t make him look too favorably upon the current style of play in the NBA.

Hand checks are indeed disallowed now, but there are quite a few people who might disagree with Barnes’ assessment.

Kobe Bryant, for example.

There’s nothing “soft” about the failure to flinch when a ball is thrust into your face. Soft human beings would recoil in fear or at least blink rapidly. Hell, normal human beings are supposed to reflexively do that.

If anything, Barnes should be thankful the league isn’t allowed to stick a hand out and slow down offensive players anymore. It has allowed him to become a more valuable player, as he’s able to play elite defense and stand out against the crowd.

The 33-year-old just had the best season of his career, helping the Clippers with his glue-guy mentality and great defensive skills. In fact, according to Basketball-Reference, L.A. allowed 4.7 fewer points per 100 possessions when Barnes was on the court.

Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Larry Bird and Robert Parish probably provided a nice contrast in style. I have no doubt that what Barnes watched during his free time stood out in stark contrast to modern-day NBA play.

After all, Barnes would know better than most.

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Griffin eager to prove he’s not soft

Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin told ESPN that he’s not “soft” and is willing to prove it – off the court. “I’ve never really worried about being called soft or people thinking I’m soft,” said Griffin. “If anybody wants to step and take that challenge I’m more than happy — off the court — 

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Hawks coach Drew calls out team for playing soft (Yahoo! Sports)

Atlanta Hawks head coach Larry Drew shouts instructions during the first half of Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, Sunday, April 21, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

ATLANTA (AP) — On the flight back to Atlanta, Hawks coach Larry Drew watched tape of his team getting pushed around in Game 1 of the playoffs.

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A ‘soft’ Kentucky team steps closer to the edge with loss at Arkansas

The Wildcats don’t have any bad losses, but they might not have the wins to make the NCAAs.

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Report: Kobe called teammates soft

Throughout his career, Kobe Bryant has earned a reputation for being one of the most mentally tough and competitive players in the NBA. He will play in conditions that other players wouldn’t dream of. Bryant’s will to win and to be the best are his defining characteristics as a player. Mike Bresnahan reports that on [...]

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Thunder can’t afford to play soft in paint

Coach Scott Brooks must get the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, to play tough vs. LeBron James and the Miami H …

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