Preseason update: Taking a quick trip inside Lakerland
By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City remains the defending Western Conference Champs.
But if we’re measuring the upcoming season by media hype and national attention, the Los Angeles Lakers have firmly snatched the Thunder’s crown.
I guess that’s what happens when you gather five potential Hall of Famers (Ron Artest remains debatable) into one starting lineup and showcase it on the NBA’s biggest marketable stage.
And even before these aging stars have played a minute of game action together, the growing circus has already provided us with some great preseason blotter.
So let’s take a trip to Lakerland and check in with the team many believe is the biggest on-court threat to Oklahoma City’s shot at a Western Conference repeat.
Mike Brown talks Thunder
Almost immediately after Dwight Howard’s trade to the Lakers, expected questions were lofted toward Thunder players and coaches at any potential chance.
How good could the Lakers be? Are you afraid of their potential? Should they already be considered favorites in the West?
Players shook it off, basically avoiding the questions all together. Scott Brooks was a little more candid, but wouldn’t label anyone as favorites in the West, saying ”We respect them, but aren’t fearful of them.”
That cordial respect was also present in Los Angeles, where Mike Brown shook off the notion of the Lakers as immediate title favorites.
“The Western Conference champs, that’s the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA champs, that’s the Miami Heat,” Brown said. “So nothing is given to us and we have to respect that.”
Whose team is it?
Every star-driven team, with multiple franchise faces, is commonly hit with the media’s favorite talking point and question.
Oklahoma City, whose team is it? Durant or Westbrook? Miami, who’s taking the last shot? LeBron or Wade?
But regardless of similar circumstances in Los Angeles, with Dwight Howard’s massive arrival, that question was shot down quickly. Kobe Bryant is making sure he doesn’t have another Shaq experience.
“I don’t want to get into the, ‘Well, we share …’ ” Bryant said at Lakers media day. ”No, it’s my team. But I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know so that when I step away, this organization will ride on as if I never left.”
Artest on Nash
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Ron Artest have never played with a facilitator like Steve Nash. And Nash has never had a batch of surrounding weapons like this feared foursome (despite their ascending age).
And already, during preseason practices and games, Nash’s passing wizardry has caught the eye of his new teammates. Especially Artest.
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