Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

All I want for Christmas is…NBA – five teams and players to watch

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The new NBA season took a while to come around after a five-month lockout spent negotiating an improved labor agreement. What better day to start than Dec. 25. Merry Christmas!

Read the season preview here courtesy of Larry Fine, and our American sports editor Julian Linden weighs in with five players to watch as well as five teams sure to set pulses racing over the shortened 66-game programme.

All in all, we can’t wait for the games to begin. So whether you’re in an office scrunching up receipts and taking aim at the waste paper basket or on a basketball court shooting hoops, bring on the action. NBA, we’ve missed you.

Picture: Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol of Spain slam dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers during their NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, California December 19, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Tiger still tops … in pay

tiger1 Tiger Woods not only remains the highest-paid athlete according to Forbes magazine for the eighth straight year, his total compensation is more than double the next highest total. Talk about lapping the field!

Despite eight months on the shelf due to knee surgery and the end of his sponsor deal with General Motors, Woods still made $110 million over the past 12 months, Forbes said.

Is Phil Jackson the best coach in NBA history or just lucky?

jacksonThe man who’s become known as the “Zen Master” for tapping Buddhist teachings has been fortunate enough to coach the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as they grew into dominant superstars, but rounding their games into championship form was a never-ending battle of wills.

In his 2006 memoir, Jackson refers to Kobe as “uncoachable” for his tendency to try to win games as a solo artist. After breaking the late Red Auerbach’s record to stand alone as the first coach to win 10 NBA championships, Jackson paid tribute to Bryant for his maturity as he accepted his very first MVP award.

King Kobe leads Lakers to 15th NBA title

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant celebrates their NBA Championship win after defeating the Orlando Magic in Game 5 in Orlando

Kobe Bryant had 30 points to lead the LA Lakers to a 99-86 Game Five win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday and a 15th NBA title.

Kobe relinquished the league’s Most Valuable Player award to Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers this year. Does his fourth championship ring prove he has in fact been a more valuable player this season or just that he has better players around him?

Master Woods beats Bryant in swagger stakes

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An exciting NCAA Tournament final gave us a glimpse of a cast of future NBA players but for now no one can match Kobe Bryant….except maybe Tiger Woods.

According to the always-engaging Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Lakers player is second only to Woods in terms of ‘swagger’ in U.S. sports.

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