Friday, February 25, 2011

A word with former LA Laker Mike Penberthy

Through an interesting sequence of events, I had the opportunity to talk to former LA Laker Mike Penburthey, one of coolest guys I have ever met. He played on the Lakers' 2000-2001 championship team, and averaged 16 minutes and 5 points per game. Phil Jackson brought him in because of his amazing 3-point jumpshot and his knowledge of Jackson’s triangle offense. He's very good friends with Shaquille O'Neal, and currently helps guys like Isaiah Thomas and BYU's Jimmer Fredette with their shooting form and footwork in the offseason. Here's what he had to say on a couple subjects...

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(What are your thoughts on the Sonics and them moving?) Well it's too bad. Seattle's a great city, and they love basketball. Obviously Clay Bennett was looking at ways to benefit his investment, so from a business standpoint, I can understand. But, from a fan's standpoint, it's a huge disappointment for sure.

(Being on the Lakers, you probably guarded Gary Payton, what was he like on the court?) Well Gary is a tough competitor. He wanted to compete, wanted to win more than anybody, the guy was ferocious, aggressive, just like what he appears to be. Very brash, very arrogant, but very successful, so that's to be expected from a great player like Gary.

(There was a clear dislike between Shaquille O'Neil and Kobe Bryant, where could you see that from a players' standpoint?) Well they don't talk so if you don't talk as teammates, who you're with more than your family, that's enough. I mean, if you ignore somebody, it's kind of the biggest disrespect. It wasn't like they go in fights or poisoned each other’s food or something; it was more they didn't talk to each other. To me that’s the symbol of disrespect. I'm not sure if it was hatred like many people say it was, but it was definitely a severe dislike, so much so Shaq was traded.

(Would you say Kobe was immature?) For sure. I think anybody is when you’re 19 or 20 with millions of dollars. But, Kobe’s a great player, no question about it.

(What’s it like being a possible no. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft?) It’s an exciting one. Obviously it felt good to be wanted and to be called and checked in on… Y’now when people want you, it always feels good. It felt great to have them call you, see what’s going on, we might take you we might not… it was unnerving, but it was a great experience.

In case you are wondering, Mike WAS the projected number 2 overall pick behind Allen Iverson at one point in the 1996 NBA draft, but blew out his knee in a tryout with the Indiana Pacers. Mike played in Europe after his brief Laker career, and retired in 2008.

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