Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seven Years

Seven years.

The time it takes to develop an itch according to Marilyn Monroe.

The time Brad Pitt claims to have spent in Tibet.

The time it took for England to beat France in the war of the same name from 1756-1763.

Hard to believe but 9/11 is already EIGHT years ago later this year.

The Lakers worked their way back from a 3-peat in those same seven years. When Shaquille O’Neal was granted his request and traded from Los Angeles to Miami not many thought the Lakers would ever see the promised land again. Shaq went on to almost instant glory in teaming up with Dwayne Wade for his fourth ring and Kobe watched. The Lakers missed the playoffs for the for the first time in his career, Karl Malone retired, Gary Payton followed Shaq and Phil Jackson went off to meditate in a cave somewhere between book signings and free agent Kobe signed to stay. Then came Kwame Brown and Smush Parker a seven game first round loss to the Phoenix Suns followed by a second round exit at the hands of those same Phoenix Suns after putting a 3-1 series scare into the Nasty ones and Kobe bristled in parking lots. Steve Nash won back to back MVP awards those two years with an All-Star loaded squad while Kobe carried the not ready for prime time purple and gold to back to back playoff appearances with no other All-Stars on the roster, won back to back scoring titles and still Bryant practiced.

The following year Derek Fisher came home but The Big Ticket of the off season, Kevin Garnett went to until then 26 year dormant rival Boston after flirting with Los Angeles for months. Despite that blow, the title talk started in the Southland anyway because Andrew Bynum looked to be the answer to the Lakers prayers by having a breakout first half of the season before disaster struck in the form of a torn ACL and those hoop dreams went out the window. The keen eye of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak saw something in little used L.A. local Trevor Ariza, whom he had been watching since Ariza’s UCLA days and duped the Orlando Magic into trading him for a cup of sugar and a tip of the hat though it seemed like only lateral movement at the time. Just when all seemed bleak, the Lakers, still needing the missing link pulled a PAUer move and the problem was GASOLved when lay-up challenged Kwame was shipped off to Memphis for a Neanderthal from Spain. What can Brown do for you? How about score Batman a Robin?

The fit was like a glove and brought Kobe his first NBA MVP award but as luck would have it, as has so often happened in Laker history, those pesky Boston Celtics were there to thwart them once again…And it happened in ugly fashion. A 39 point loss in the Final game is like being kicked in the face, having your woman leave you for your best friend, take the dog and let you know by text message. Then you come home to a messy bed and no beers in your fridge to cap it off.
The off season brought no big roster changes, no panic, just let it resonate and hope for pride to kick in. Let it Burn. Just when the acceptance came The Big Old Pal Shaq’s rap asking him how his ass tasted and saying he couldn’t win without him. But he already had, he won an Olympic gold medal without him. Still Kobe said nothing and practiced some more.

This year they roared through the regular season, stumbled at the end coughing up the leagues best record to the Cavaliers and the new MVP late in the year. Then the post-season saw Kobe win his first college title by beating Duke Blue Devils at record pace.
1st round: The Utah Jazz and Blue Devil Carlos Boozer.
2nd round: The Houston Rockets and Blue Devil Shane Battier.
Western Conference Championship: The Denver Nuggets and Blue Devil Dahntay Jones.
NBA Finals: The Orlando Magic and the latest and greatest scoring Blue Devil in Duke history J.J. Redick.

Oh and in the process, won the NBA title, Finals MVP and more importantly REDEMPTION.
So there you have it.

It takes three licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop and Seven Years to climb out of basketball purgatory and back to the mountaintop that is NBA glory.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Revisionist History

The Los Angeles Lakers controlled their own destiny in this defining game 5, just as they have all year. The Lakers have been their own worst enemy in practically every loss this season. Their 2009 postseason consisted of numerous ups and downs, extreme peaks and valleys, a virtual rollercoaster of highs and lows that had this diehard agreeing with Kobe in referring to his beloved team as bi-polar.

They showed all the signs of it. Where there’s that much smoke there is usually fire.
The Houston Rockets took them to the full seven games allowed with the Lakers pulling two disappearing acts that rank right up there with Houdini and D.B. Cooper. Failing to compete whatsoever in games 4 and 6. The Lakers were so unpredictable that the lowly Denver Nuggets even had the pundits claiming the Lakers were going to get bounced in the Western Conference Championship round by a franchise that hadn’t smelled that air since Michael Jackson was considered normal.

Even with a strong showing in the Finals the Lakers still had us all guessing coming into game five. Game one was the only game in this series that didn’t go down to the wire. This series could have easily been 3-1 in favor of the team from Florida…or so they said. Would they respond with a strong effort and crush the will of the Orlando Magic or would the Jekyll and Hyde Lakers rear their ugly head once again by mailing it in and fuel the fire of the non-believers. The doubters were out in force all over the internet these past few days and with their 6th consecutive all out effort in as many games, Showtime has returned to Los Angeles. The title now resides in LaLaLand for the fourth time this decade. It took 6 tries to get it, but much like the Olympic “Redeem Team”, the Lakers now have their much sought after day of redemption…sing it Bob, sing it.

Had they lost this game, especially in the manner in which they lost games to Houston and Denver, they would have perpetuated the cycle of doubt, pouring gas on the fire of those who say they aren’t a team capable of such things. Instead, they made a statement and left no doubt that the best team in the NBA is the Los Angeles Lakers…The argument is in the refrigerator –The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butters getting hard and the jello’s jiggling.

In this one game, the past is forgotten and the path to the championship looks much different than it did yesterday. Yesterday they were capable of failing, but as of right now they are defending champions who dispatched a team that toppled the reigning champion Celtics, brought down a King yet couldn’t “Beat L.A.” as so many arenas around the league seem to want to do so badly. The chant did surface tonight, but the Lakers have heard that song countless times before and were not going to be denied.

No letdown, no lackadaisical half-ass effort from the purple and gold clad visitors this time, just pure unadulterated power of will. In a concerted effort to shed the doubt and slay the demon of doubt that they created themselves, the Los Angeles Lakers seized the moment and did not let up one iota all when all the marbles were at stake, they played like champions should play and TOOK what they felt was theirs.

Revisionist history sees the Lakers we all watched with baited breath, with the back of the brain questioning, the corner of your eye uneasiness that they may let you down or forget to take out the garbage that a child might bring out of you and instead looked every bit the dominant lion of the pride…Roaring back at the challenging young male, putting him in his place and claiming the throne for his own. They were the Lakers that beat the Celtics on Christmas Day, the Lakers that came back and beat them again to break double digit winning streaks by the Cavaliers and Celtics that some called fluke victories. Hard to say such things now. In retrospect, the things that stand out aren’t the voids in the heart department or soft labels attached to our big men, but a 4-1 Finals domination of a worthy opponent a team that followed each and every post-season loss with a victory and changed perceptions about them that they brought on themselves.
More importantly, they did it as a TEAM with much maligned players like Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom playing important roles along the way. Kobe deservedly wins the MVP for being the leader, but make no mistake, this is a TEAM victory. The individual accolades like Phil’s 10th title or Kobe’s first ring without Shaq pale in comparison to the culmination of the reversal of perception the Lakers pulled off by winning in such convincing fashion.
They have come full circle and can now by unequivocally called “Champions”, without any doubts, contradiction or asterisks.

The 2008-2009 Los Angeles Lakers:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Orlando runs out of Magic

The resilient Orlando Magic bounced back in their must win game 3 as they have all playoffs long. They held home court with the greatest shooting display in NBA Finals history, a blistering .625% on 40-64 from the field with only five of those being this squads bread and butter - 3 pointers, of which they attempted 14. A very uncharacteristic stat for a team that jacks up treys like rabbits breed. The home team had five players score 18 points or more, yet was outscored in the painted area by L.A. by four 40-36. Pau Gasol was an efficient 9-11 from the field, just imagine what might have happened if the Lakers actually made a concerted effort to get him the rock close to the rim. I am as adamant a Kobe fan as anyone, but when you have a post player with a proven track record like the gangly Spaniard, you would think a coach as astute as Phil Jackson would deliberately run more plays for him…I would.

The Lakers are a resilient bunch as well, following every loss this post season with a win. Should they find a way to pull that off here in game four the Magic trick of the greatest shooting show on earth that we witnessed on Tuesday will mean little. Phil can usurp Red, Kobe can gain continue his quest to be like Mike and the Los Angeles Lakers will shed the 800 pound gorilla that has haunted their playoff fortunes since before the OTHER 800 pound gorilla demanded a one way ticket to Miami.

Should the Lakers lose in these Finals, we’ll never hear the end of “Kobe can’t win without Shaq”
Whatever, on with the game…

The first half of this hotly contested game 4 belonged to Dwight Howard’s defensive prowess and ability to leap over Laker big men in a single bound and a dash of help from the zebras. The swamp was bubbling, the crowd loud and loving it, the Lakers on the receiving end of a 49-37 twelve point deficit. I know Orlando’s All Star point guard Jameer Nelson was reactivated for the Finals from what was deemed season ending shoulder surgery and is hungry to prove he’s good to go but why is he incessantly chewing his mouth guard. If my Mother saw me chewing my gum like that she’d crack me in the yap quicker that those pesky wabbits I mentioned earlier get busy.

The third quarter saw Mr. Mamba get some of the help he so desperately needs when Trevor Ariza recalled that the team he’s facing, the Orlando Magic was the very same team that had the audacity to trade him for an Evans and a Cook…it was his duty as a purple and gold soldier to make them realize it was a huge mistake to insult him in such a manner. He got his revenge by disrupting plays on defense and raining threes to the tune of 16 second half points and the Lakers snatched the lead back before the end of the third quarter.

The final quarter of regulation saw a spirited burst by both teams…one fighting for their playoff lives and home court pride the other fighting to steal one in the swamp and crush the others ring dreams. The Black Mamba had no problem getting Rikki Tiki Tavi with his Olympic teammate Howard when he took exception to Dwight wrapping him up. The two exchanged some pleasantries while trotting back down to the other end after Superman was assessed a foul on the play. Several tense moments and dramatic Kobe shots later, the see-food flasher Jameer Nelson forgot that mercury heavy food can kill you and let a Fish gut him at the end of regulation. Mr. 0.4, Mr. Warrior, The Little ROCK from Little Rock, Mr. Big Shot Droppin Derek FISHAAA made him pay for not getting a hand up and buried clutch a three with moments left regulation to force overtime.

Kobe can‘t do it alone, everyone needs a sidekick –
“I ain’t gonna shoot you Frank…Manolo, choot that piece of chit”

The five minute overtime was only exciting if you’re a Laker fan. It was four and a half minutes of grind it out playoff basketball, a Bryant elbow to 4 foot whatever Jameer Half-Nelson’s jawbone that dropped him like Quittick Bowe and once again there was Fisher doing his best Robert Horry impersonation by swishing his second back breaking three pointer from the top of the key to break a 91-91 tie. Poor Rashard Lewis will now end up on posters a la Chris Webber, hand extended to contest but everyone knowing it’s in vain. A Hedo Turkoglu clang off the rim and Pau Gasol finds himself alone for a breakaway slam dunk and a five point lead with 21.6 remaining. Another Hedon’t Tukeyloo brick finds Pau cherry picking and slamming it home again when the flying Frenchman Mickael Pietrus, who had been gaining my respect with his play in this series shows, some of that French military might and take a two fisted cheap shot into the lanky Gasol’s spine. The Spaniard got into Pepe Le Pew’s grill to let him know that the Tour De France leader always wears a yellow jersey and if Mickeal Mouse wanted to dance, he was ready to go Michael Jackson on his croissant and spit in his café latte for him.

No need though.

The 3-1 series lead makes another loss inevitable for yet another Frenchman.

On the next episode of the Magic’s Greatest Secrets Revealed…Even blind zebras can’t stop a Clydesdale‘s championship run, Purple Reign clouds have hovered over Los Angeles for the last week for a reason, Orlando’s Superman has fallen victim to Kob-tonite and the evil Lamar Luthor and the real truth is…

The rich get richer, schedule the parade, order the 15th banner, size the rings, close tha shop maing.

I tried to tell you…But no ju wouldn’t listen…Well, you stupid f**k. Look at you now.

They called me a homer,
Thet called me a loon,

But they can’t say I wavered on


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Missed free throws cost Lakers

The series moves to the Florida swamp, and the crowd is hostile from the outset…Still grumpy from the non-calls I suppose. It’s understandable, they weren’t without their chances though, the Lakers left the door wide open with a sub-par showing in game two but behind the post duo of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, the grit of Derek Fisher and the relentlessness of Kobe Bryant the home team held home court. A 2-0 Lakers lead makes this a must win game for the upstart Magic. 27 of 30 teams up 2-0 have gone on to win a seven game series only THREE teams have comeback from an 0-2 hole in NBA playoff history, the 69 Celts over the Lakers (damn those little green trolls), the 77 Blazers and Big Bill Walton over the 76ers and D-Wade and the Heat vs. the soft serve Mavs in 06, but the Magic have been underdogs all year. They gutted out wins over a depleted but still tough Celtics squad. They ended LeMVPuppet and the Cavs dream season in quick fashion but have yet to scratch against the determined Lakeshow. It’s now or next year for Orlando.

Let’s hope the refs let them play a little more than was allowed in game 2. Gasol’s first foul of the game is a vicious chin shot to Dwight Howard’s elbow. D-Fish drills a couple of nice jumpers in traffic but Rafer Alston, fresh off extended pine time last game (though I don’t know why) matches Derek’s effort and knocks down two of his own. Kobe then joins the party and makes his first two shots in Courtney Lee’s plastic covered grill…5 points and three assists already for Bryant…Orlando can’t afford to let him get off to a fast start, he’s not the type that cools off later in the game. 19-14 Lakers at the first break.

Andrew Bynum shows no fear early and rings up Dwight with a nice inside move off glass but misses the free throw. Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston thinks he’s at the Rucker...he’s feeling spry and rings up another trey, but again Kobe answers with an sweet Dr. J finger roll at the hole over the Frenchman Pietrus. So far Rashard Lewis isn’t as hot as last game…he’s bricked a couple open looks…I hope that continues. What looks to be continuing is the snake bite that Kobe is dishing out so far…he has already gone 6 of 7 with several highlight shots…the Magic can’t let him continue to do this….WAIT!…Tony Battie just blocked him and there was a snake charmer courtside with a head wrap and all…maybe …just maybe they can….SCRATCH THAT….The Mamba just beat the clock with a last second three after getting the Frenchie in the popcorn machine and free throw to complete the four point play…Sorry Hadji, Johnny is on a Quest for another ring. A big 17 point 1st quarter for Bryant, a 31-27 Lakers lead has me believing like Steve Perry…The Journey continues.

Nervous time when Kobe sits down to start the second….But Luke’s fake jumper/dish to a cutting Lamar for an easy bucket and one helps to keep Kobe resting. Walton, Farmar and the bench hold the lead for the Lakers until Kobe returns, but the Magic keep coming fast and furious. Yet somehow L.A. is still ahead with Howard dunking and Turk playing string music. The Frenchman ties it up at 41 but there’s Kobe to put in a trey to reclaim the lead. Pietrus carries the ball for a breakaway bucket, Gasol hit’s a rainbow J in the lane and the Turk strikes yet again…Great game so far. Eldrick and Coach K sit courtside to enjoy the show. No letdown by Los Angeles yet…bad news for Orlando. Every time they get close, the Lakers answer. Both teams are playing like it means something…after last game I was starting to wonder. Yes, that WAS a pass to Gasol by Kobe…Someone spiked Frenchy’s latte with an energy shot because Mickael looks like a different man tonight putting the Magic up by one on his 8th point before Trevor Ariza tried to crack the glass on his first free throw attempt but he hit’s the second to tie it at 51. Back to back 3’s by Lewis jack the crowd up and Dwight slapping Kobe’s shot into the stands pumps them up a little more before a home court call puts the man-child on the line. A 75% first half shooting percentage helps the Magic to a halftime lead of 59-54 and Skip to my Lou spouts some gibberish during thinterview that even after replaying I still can’t comprehend. Was he speaking English? Whatever, great game so far.

The third quarter sees Kobe let the rookie Courtney Cox and friends get into his head a bit, Dwight Howard throw bows like Luda and the refs call the game like it’s the Superman show…Oh yeah, then there’s that Rafer situation…He’s having a Fish dinner and skipping all over the Laker D…Phil should put Shannon Brown on him and start force feeding the ball into the paint to Pau, Bynum and Lamar before the refs get into their heads too much…it’s till close despite the favortism by the zebras 74-69 Orlando. Make that 77 on Lewis’ open three. The Magic’s sweet shooting continues, but as long as the Lakers stay within single digits I feel pretty good about their chances. Lamar Odom sparks the Lakers with a nice block and some lay-ups but the Magic pull one trick after another from their hat and keep the pressure on LA on Turkoglu’s back as he hits one tough shot after another…89-81 Orlando. A steal and teardrop lay in by Peitrus makes me think it’s Orlando’s night, but Trevor Ariza follows immediately with a three and the Magic just can’t shake the Lakes, 93-88. An Ariza 3 and Pau’s lefty hook closes the gap to three and the Magic must be wondering what they have to do to shake these guys. Dwight Howard’s free throws fall but Fish’s clutch 3 answers the bell for LA, he then stops Mickael’s dunk attempt with a hack. LO dumps one in the paint to cut it to 2 and the whistles start again. A missed dunk by Ariza, a steal by Odom, a Kobe jumper, more ticky tacks and still the Magic can’t break away 99-97 Orlando and the ride is getting fun….Kobepuppet thinks so too so he jumps into a car. Two Pau charity stripe points tie it up at 99 but the flying Frenchman soars in for a put back jam to reclaim the lead for the boys in blue and I press pause to catch my breath. Gasol bangs one home in traffic, but no whistles tonight for LA, anything they get they earn. The 118 million dollar man Rashard Lewis earns some scratch with a crunch time shot to push it back to 3...104-101...whew.

Kobe’s 5th missed free throw will be the difference…nba is the worst pointed out on the Laker thread that Bryant’s bricks were the difference around halftime…great observation as usual worst. It’ll most likely mean the game and Kobe will be in the gym for hours shooting one after another thinking about this one.

…But the Lakers catch a break when Lewis doesn’t take it hard to the rim and get the ball back, but on the other side Howard gets a hand on Kobe’s crossover and Frenchy gets it….but Gasol gets it back…then Frenchy nabs it on Pau’s pass to Kobe forcing a foul. Kobe shows his frustration on the court and Frenchy hit’s the two gimmes making it a four point lead….I need a drink. On the inbounds play Bryant clangs an open look off the front of the rim, Lamar saves it falling out of bounds and the Lakers call time out still down by four…16.4 About three bricks and three Lakers long rebounds later, Kobe gets a lay-up with 0.whatever on the clock. The game is effectively over, the confetti is already falling even though the game hasn’t been called yet…someone blew it. Despite the loss I now KNOW the Lakers can win here in Orlando. It’ll happen in one of the next two games…write it down.

Credit the Magic for responding to a must win game with a win, but I think we’ll see a Lakers victory in the swamp and an even more determined Lakers squad next game knowing they dropped a winnable game in game 3.

Ladies and gentlemen…we now have a series.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One down, three to go

The 2009 USA Olympic team was dubbed The Redeem Team but that same moniker could just as easily be used to describe the Los Angeles Lakers squad of this season.
Despite the inconsistencies, lack of focus and rollercoaster ups and downs we’ve witnessed from these Lakers this season, heir ultimate goal of redemption in losing last years Finals to the rival Celtics began tonight with an emphatic 25 point victory over the still winless in the NBA Finals Orlando Magic. Orlando’s only other appearance was when the original NBA Superman Shaquille O’Neal was patrolling the paint in Disney World along with the original puppet, Lil Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott and the rest of the bunch that got swept by Hakeem Olajuwon‘s Houston Rockets. Dwight Howard is the modern day Shaq in that he’s the most dominant big man currently out there, but he’s not on Shaq’s Most Dominant level just yet. He struggled matching his uniform #12 in points in his first Finals game proves that. This series is far from over, but I’m confident the Lakers are on a mission and will not be denied.

The pre-game pep talk by the enthusiastic, Tommy Lasordaesque Magic coach Stan Van Gundy focused on the fact that the media was again making the game about the bigger superstar, Kobe Bryant. The same thing was the case in Orlando’s previous match-up against the LeBron’s.
Prince James may have left the court without the proper congratulations to the Magic team that ended the ring dream so abruptly, but he left it all on the floor and ultimately, that’s what he’s paid for. As so eloquently stated by Charles Barkley over a decade ago, athletes are not role models. That fact is on display nightly with guys like Barriod Bonds, Roger Clemens, T.O., Michael Vick and Pac-Man Jones getting so much attention. Then again, Paris Hilton, Spencer and Heidi and Brittany Spears are what the public seems to want to pay attention to rather than the socialization of this great nation, but that’s for another blog. My point is, Van Gundy was right, this series IS about Kobe Bryant. His indomitable will to win and dedication to the goal of winning will be the difference between the two teams.

Andrew Bynum came out swinging, scoring the Lakers first four points and si of the first ten accepting the challenge of stopping the man-child Howard. For all the criticism young Drew has endured by many, at times even myself, is a testament to his potential. At the ripe age of 21, he is expected to be the stopper of Superman redux and looks to be capable of the task at hand. Some have called him over-rated, soft, selfish, timid, useless and much worse. Most don’t realize this kid is only in his sixth year of organized basketball…but in the era of microwaves, 3g speed internet and instant gratification, some things take time to develop…give it some time and you may find this protégé of the greatest center of all time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, hopefully will get angry at some point and transform into a monster.

Until that time comes, the deadly venom, the head of the snake, the most driven athlete I’ve witnessed since MJ will continue to carry the young Lakers to the mountaintop. It surely doesn’t hurt that Phil Jackson, veteran Derek Fisher, and a team with a monstrous chip on its shoulder is who he goes into battle with. It was nice to see Orlando guard Jameer Nelson get out there after spending the better part of the season on the injured list with a bum shoulder, welcome back kid. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, KG in Boston is a prime example. Had he not gone down with a knee problem I whole-heartedly think the Celtics would have been the East’s representative in these games. I would have preferred that scenario for payback reasons, but when the rings are handed out it doesn’t say who they beat to get em….just World Champions.

The road to redemption continues:

One down, three to go.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My mantra has come to pass for a second straight season
Wedding time is here and the Lakers again teasin

I say it high, I say it low, I say it when it's time to go
For it's my sign fateful phrase
My hopes and my dreams, my nights and my days

Team colors I bleed...the purple and gold
NBA titles I need, to have and to hold.

I say it loud, I say it clear
I say it over and over for the blogging world to hear.

This year began, I still uttered the phrase
Though this time last summer, I ached for days.

Those little green men returned once again, to smash my high note, and bring the ride to an end. But with every years close a new beginning blossoms, and with every playoff win the harsh blow of failure slightly softens.

A taste of honey here and there as the season progressed, the thrill of victory, a puffed out chest.

A homer
A diehard
A believer
A friend

So again here go- in the hunt yet again
Time after time The Master of Zen

A rapist?, a headcase, an unproven pivot
A tall mushy Spaniard, the pain of 08' now a divot.

A youngbuck small forward, who's hitting his shots
A triad of point guards playing in spots

The Bench Mob, Lamar's candy, Tyrese's rendition
Jack in the front row, Ko-BE in the kitchen.

What's that smell? - Is it rings a brewin?
Or is it the Magic on a mission to ruin

First the three-peat, then two Finals losses?
Will the ball be dropped or will they be the big bosses?

I don't know my friends, but game one looms
Until Thursday's tipoff, I'll relax with some tunes

I hope you're diggin the vibe that I'm sellin
More so, I hope that the Lakers keep gellin

Los Angeles survived the Rockets and Denver
Now it's Orlando's turn to step into the blender

The Lakeshow's on a mission to bring home the bacon
Supaman and his sidekicks best not be fakin

L.A. is focused and once again ready
Slicin and dicin like that Kruger guy Freddy

So come one come all, bring your knife and your spoon
The special of the day is....


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lakers take 3-2 series lead

I spent the extended weekend camping at Pismo Beach,
so this blog will cover the last three Laker games.

It’s been 24 years since the Denver Nuggets last appearance in the Western Conference Finals. Thursday night constituted a moment in time that a young team could make history. They could snatch the confidence and aura that accompanies the Los Angeles Lakers, an organization that has been there more than any other team. On Saturday night Carmelo Anthony and friends could have shocked the world…but didn‘t.

Not on this day. The Lakers roared back from a two touchdown deficit to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven match-up. I found it fitting that on Memorial Day weekend a veteran stepped up. A veteran whose age, agility and ability may sometimes come into question -but never his heart, effort or commitment.

He is a pros pro.

A professional.

A leader.

A player who made 0.4 an iconic number in Los Angeles…and infamous in San Antonio.

Sunday night saw that Derek Fisher show up.

After trailing for most of the game the Lakers woke up late due to a game time decision by Fish to rally the troops and remind them exactly what it was that was at stake. He gathered them close to block out the noise of the Denver crowd and let them know it was now or never. They had to send the Nuggs back into irrelevance, if only for a single game. Kobe, Pau and Lamar soaked it in and then exacted it on the floor, leaving behind beads of sweat on the hardwood and Kobe doubled over in exhaustion during the post game interview. His critics will point to such things as contrived, but what actions of his don’t they see that way? He may well be the single most critiqued player in history, spending his entire career under a microscope. We tend to forget he grew up before our eyes coming straight out of high school to the league as a 17 year old kid in 1996, the same draft class as the veteran Fisher, who played four years at his hometown college of Arkansas Little Rock.

The series wasn’t won or lost on that game but it would make it a much more imposing task than being down 2-1. Instead, Kobe and the four dwarves put things back where they should have been since dropping game two at home and with the Denver tonight, it’s back to being a push. It is now down to a three game series, but the Lakers have been down this road a millions times. This evening the home team played with more intensity, sense of purpose and urgency and came away with a win. It took a huge rebounding advantage, several elbows, Birdman flying all over the court, some intentional foot tripping by Dahntay Jones, some elbow locks by K-Mart, and a bevy of over-reactionary technicals and hard playoff basketball fouls being deemed flagrant.

The officiating crew seems to want to keep a lid on emotions yet fuel the flames of discontent with their inconsistent calls.

Denver’s flamboyant JR Smith provided scoring, energy and plenty of showboating for the Thuggets. He made it a point to savor the moment and enjoyed each and every one of his 24 points, and made sure to let the visiting Lakers know who’s house they were in…and when he made a three, he made sure anyone viewing knew it as well by extending three fingers and dancing his way back down the floor doing the crip walk and whooping it up….Maybe he thought this was game seven, but in reality it’s only 2-2 with lots of basketball to be played yet and visions of a hot-dog dancing in the heads of the Los Angeles players.

I can only hope L.A.’s coaching staff runs these clips on a continuous loop on the plane, at practice and again before tip-off on Wednesday to provide the spark that was missing in the Lakers step last night. If that won’t suffice, maybe audio of Thugget coach George Karl saying over and over to his players that they are the better team will. Another lethargic showing like this zebra induced snore fest (49 free throws for the Thuggz and 35 for L.A.) could bring about more Denver posturing and rap video antics…hell, we might even see a superbowl shuffle type clip from these clowns. I can hardly wait for that new JR Smith chicken dance craze.

Why he would want to draw the ire of a sleeping giant is beyond me, the bipolar Lakeshow was content just getting out rebounded, out hustled and out muscled, but if his act got me riled you can be sure the Lakers and staff took notice and intend to quiet the yapping mutt on Wednesday night.

The only way to do that is to win game five because if the Thuggets win in L.A. you might just get to see JR bust out his best T.O. performance at Staples Center….Maybe he’ll even get his own puppet and crash the LeBron/Kobe Howdy Doody commercials complete with three finger wagging, shouting about who’s house it is and some goofy dancing…maybe even some new ink to savor the moment.

Memo to Lakers: My TV screen won’t survive another assault like the one it saw tonight, so I implore you to take this affront personally…I know I do.

Fast forward to Wednesday night…After watching the first three quarters at the sushi bar (and three large Kirin’s later) I’m now picking up at the 7:40 minute mark of the fourth and on my drive home the Lakers have pulled away for an 89-81 lead since playing to literally a stand still previously. Los Angeles may sleep walk through half their games thus far this post season but have answered the call in must win situations. The Shannon Brown show, including facial slam dunk on the Birdman has the Staples crowd on their feet. Linus Urlacher continues to be a force for the Thuggz off the pine and is keeping them in the game but the Lakeshow is now up by 10, 91-81 by outscoring the visitors 15-5 so far in the fourth. Lamar Odom even came out of hibernation earlier for a left handed monster dunk in traffic, he even sacraficed his body just now to dive for a loose ball. I’m putting this game in the refridgerator with just under five minutes minutes left and an 8 point spread…When Odumb is actually awake the Lakers can’t lose……Or can they?

Kleiza and Melo just cut the lead to 4, but The Predator: aka Nene just fouled out to join Chris Anderson on the bench and the horrible hairdo’s and ink per square inch just increased for the blue and gold. Ariza banks in a nice and one for a three point play the hard way to extend the lead back to 7, 96-89. Odom swats Kenyon Martin at the rim for his fourth shot attempt of the evening on ly to see Martin return the favor on Gasol on the next play on the other end. Replay shows the backboard did the work for L.O., but he would have snuffed it anyway. Melo lets out a squeak while whining to the officials that sounds like the three year old girl I spent the camping trip tolerating…I thought I was done with that now that I’m at the Ponderosa, thanks for the reminder Melo. 19 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three assists for the ever puzzling #7 in purple and gold. He may be an egnigma, but when Odom plays like this, the Lakers are the best team in the league bar none.

Five Lakers in double figures and a dominant fourth quarter put the Lakeshow back in control of this WFC, much to my pleasure. I guess they took it personally. One more win ends it, but Denver won’t go quietly into the night and the Jekyll and Hyde Lakers might come out sedated next game…who knows? Will L.A. close it out or will the Nuggets force another game seven for the Lakers? Last year’s champion Celtics had several gut wrenching seven game series before reaching the promised land last year, maybe the Lakers will do the same this year.

We’ll find out Friday night when the series shifts back to Denver where the home team figures to fight like a cornered animal. I can’t tell you which Lakers squad will show up, but I can tell you it’ll be exciting.

The Los Angeles Lakers,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Colorado here he comes

Game one saw the Lakeshow outplayed by the Nuggets, yet they held home court and got the win. This despite the fact that everything went right for baby blue clad visitors. Scoring machine Carmelo Anthony exploded for 39 points and let everyone know he was feeling it with his on court antics…tongue wagging, tooth flashing, high fiving and generally having a good time in the Lakers house…no smiling for Melo after the end of regulation though, the Lakers made sure of that with timely shots by veteran leader Derek Fisher and clutch free throws by The Black Mamba who was 9-9 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone. Had the Nuggets not missed so many freebies at the charity stripe, they would have won this game and put the purple and gold on their heels for the second straight series. After having their heart publicly questioned by many (myself included) during the seven game Houston war, the Lakers responded with a display of tenacity that saw them slowly dig out of an early hole once again because they fell behind by 13 in the opening quarter. They chipped away during the middle two quarters, gaining steam before the half om a deep three buried by Fish going into the half. The third quarter ended with them down by seven and they trudged forward with soldier like efficiency the rest of the way, eventually extending their playoff dominance over Denver for their eleventh straight post season win over the scrappy Nuggets.

Chauncy Billups was hitting the kind of clutch fourth quarter shots that earned him his nickname; Mr. Big Shot. Kenyon Martin was a defensive presence in the paint and saw multiple frozen rope J’s flutter through the twine, Nene looked like Shaq half the time by throwing down uncontested dunks in traffic. The cockatiel…I mean, the Birdman wasn’t much of a factor, but at least he was fun to look at and JR Smith was a non factor but it still felt like the Lakers withstood Denver’s best punches and somehow managed to come out on top regardless. It was exciting and went down to the wire, but in the end, the Lakers merely did what they were supposed to do and won at home.

Game two could re-open old wounds if the bi-polar Lakers allow their bored side to resurface, but the first quarter saw a focused Lakers squad compete like it was the 5th quarter of game one, which was encouraging to this diehard. BrokeJake Gyllenhaal was courtside without his Legally Blonde gal Reese, Trojan alum WillyBobby Farrell wore a purple GO LAKERS t-shirt, Tom Cruisentology actually curbed his Katie enthusiasm and stayed seated and the home team dunked their way to a 23-16 lead before the sponsors took over for two and two. Big Bird dunked on the knee high black socks sporting Birdman to make it 27-19 before Chauncey leaned into Sasha to draw a foul…surprisingly Vujacic didn’t agree with the zebra and prayed for a minute while doing his best Danny Ainge face. Bryant drops 14, the Lakers work the paint and end the first 12 minutes with an encouraging 31-23 spread.

The lead afforded Kobe some pine time and the solid play of the new backcourt tandem of Shannon Brown & Jordan Farmar kept him there for a nice chunk of clock. Celebrity round-up part two showcased Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher, a smiling and glad to be on the ground after that thing on the wing scare John Lithgow, The Governator’s favorite Kennedy, Skeletor Shriver and of course, the Jackinator at his customary spot along side his pal who owns nothing but white rimmed glasses- Lou Adler. The Nuggz Brian Urlacher twin Linus Kleiza had to hack Dumbo Farmar for Kobe to rise up from the scaffolding with just under 5 minutes left and the home team still sporting a twelve point spread. He wasted no time hitting a two footer in the lane countered by Melo’s quick retort to make it 49-38. A Bynum cherry pick dunk for his 9th point made it 51 and then Ozzy Osbourne tried to sell me a cell phone before I hit fast forward to spot a Jerry Maguire step kid rocking a Nuggz jersey in the crowd. Lakers all time #2 playoff scorer Bryant continues to chip away at Jerry West’s record before Chauncy drills an open trey and Odom goes Kwame, missing a six inch cripple and the pesky visitors cut the lead to only one point behind a 12-0 run. Lamar redeems himself with a 15 foot jumper and a blocked shot before Billups clowns Bryant on the inbounds play by tossing the ball off Kobe’s rump to himself for an easy lay-up…55-54 at the half…looks like it’s back to sleepwalking for L.A. Will they EVER learn? Mr. Momentum always wears the colors of the team that stays with the EFFORT. Closing the half, that team wore shiny powder blue and gold.

After some tug of war to open the 3rd, in which Denver briefly snatches the lead, Trevor Ariza hits a couple shots then hit’s the deck hard, but gets up like Rocky…CUT ME MICK!…That’s the kind of heart that earns rings. I think we’re in for a dogfight…75-71 Lakers after Kobe takes flight from the baseline for a two handed yam. No let up Lakes….no surrender….no quarter….know your enemy…it’s YOU. If they keep fighting like this they will go up 2-0. But the ink heavy, headband sportin Nuggz are going to do everything in their power to steal one…and snatch home court advantage in the process. Carmelo and Kobe each accept the challenge and guard each other showing why they’re considered two of the best in the game and Olympians with clutch shots and hustle but Denver builds a seven point lead early in the final quarter. Shannon Brown’s three gets the Lakers back to within one 92-91 with 6 minutes remaining. Lakers nut Nicholson is seen berating the zebras in the background while Nuggcoach Karl chills in the foreground. I always feel a fair game will be called when Dick Bavetta’s on the floor…problem is, Steve Javie’s in the building too….yin and yang….where’s Donaghey when you need him?

Looks like it’s going to be a free throw fest the rest of the way….better play some defense Lakers.

Calls going Denver’s way…Kobe said before the game he was done getting techs…somehow I don’t believe him. Ariza continues to look like Micheal Cooper’s clone with a steal…then K-Mart goes Thugget and bumps Gasoft into the stands and again, the zebras swallow the whistles and I start scanning the crowd for blonde concierges because I could swear by the calls this game is being played in Colorado…ooop…3 pointer for Kobe gets him to 30 for the evening, it’s now101-99 Nuggz. Here come that man…The Mamba stops and pops from 12 feet out to find the bottom of the net to tie it up. Melo creates one for Martin to snatch it right back 103-101 then the muggz by the Thuggz starts and still no whistles…I scan the crowd again, but the floor reads Lakers…my confusion grows along with the Denver lead. Game over.

So much for home court advantage…Congratulations to the Mile High City.

They say a series doesn’t really start until a team loses at home…

Ladies and gentlemen, we have another series.

…Kobe...back in Colorado.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lakers shoot down the Rockets

The question coming into this epic game seven was: Which Lakers team would show up?
The lackadaisical, uninterested, barely an effort ones of games four and six or the aggressive, relentless, knock your socks off juggernaut of game five.

Any more questions?

Rocking their home court Sunday whites, the Los Angeles Lakers replied to the “heart” question with a dominating win that left little doubt that they’re capable of winning a championship. Mr. Hyde didn’t let Dr. Jekyll show his face today, the two faced Lakers only exposed one of those faces in this game…the one that meant business. I spent the afternoon swilling champagne and making multiple trips to the buffet at the Universal City Hilton. I had to wade through the sea of Universal Studios tourists to get there, but the crab legs, sushi bar and prime rib tends to make the traffic not seem so bad. It didn’t hurt that the Lakers game on the big screen plasma followed exactly the storyline I had hoped it would. The Lakers scored the first point of the game on a Trevor Ariza free throw and never looked back, a wire to wire victory for L.A. ensued with the outcome never in question. This game was in the refrigerator at halftime and I was able to enjoy my brunch with in-laws without the stress of a nail biter.

With the threat of elimination looming large, the Lakers responded and sent the overwhelmed Rockets fishing for the off season. Not a dominating performance by Kobe Bryant, but a dominant performance by the Lakers TEAM proving it’s about the name ON THE FRONT OF THE JERSEY and now the chests around LaLaLand are puffed out just a little extra with this convincing victory…but no silicone required…this one was about pride.

Pau Gasol stepped up big by imposing his will in the post. With Houston missing Yao Ming the Lakers have the advantage down low and actually exposed it today at Staples Center in downtown LoHANGelez.
The Doyerz had already set the tone for the day by putting up 6 runs in the first three innings behind young gun Clayton Kershaw who flirted with a no hitter The mojo in The City of Angeles was good and carried over from Chavez Ravine to center court. With all the marbles on the line, Pau GaSOFT was hard as nails in this must win situation with 11 points and 12 rebounds before halftime. He would go on to finish with 21 and 18...Pretty Pau-erful stuff in a game seven for a so-called stiff.

Andrew Bynum finally snapped out of his coma too.
After several sub-par efforts and less than stellar games, young Drew came through when it counted most with 14 points including an alley oop slam from Ariza and blocked a couple of shots.…Granted it was against a depleted Rockets frontcourt, but for Lakers fans…any sign of life out of Bynum is a plus and today, he answered the call like Hef sent the invite.

The Rockets couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn pretty much the whole day and I’m not sure if it was the Lakers extra effort on defense that caused it or game seven jitters. They could do nothing to stop the inside game of the bigger, stronger Lakers. They also lost the rebound battle BIG TIME, 55-33. They were simply out hustled, outclassed and outplayed by a determined Los Angeles Lakers squad who needed a showing like this not only to respond to questions about their heart, but to create momentum for the next series against the red hot Denver Nuggets.

Thus far the Nuggets have cruised through the playoffs by simply outscoring their opponents and have yet to look challenged. You can count on the high scoring Lakers to test them more then any other team they’ve faced thus far in these playoffs. L.A. owned Denver during the regular season, sweeping them 4-0, but that was before Chauncey Billups made his mark on the resurgent Nuggs, who are in their first Western Conference Finals since Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe roamed the floor in the Mile High City back in George Orwell’s favorite year, 1984. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers that year and barring another Lakeshow loss of focus, history should repeat itself this year. Carmelo Anthony will score in droves, Chris “The Birdman” Andersen will fly around and swat a few wayward attempts, JR Smith will hit some impossible shots and Mr. Big Shot Billups will lead them like George Patton, but in the end the Lakers should prove to be too big and too good to be stopped by a team that has an aversion to playing sustained defense. The Enver McNuggets hate playing defense more than Jerry hates Newman.

Though a large percentage of basketball pundits and bloggers are predicting the Nuggets to win the series, I personally can see a Denver style omelet cooking in the immediate future for L.A….I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but the Lakers should beat the Nuggets and return to the Finals for a second straight year. If it were the chowder eating clover pickers, I wouldn’t worry about motivation but this only opens the door for more possibility of even more lethargy on the part of the Lakers…Not that Melo and the baby blue clad ink show or the Crabdribbliliers aren’t worthy opponents, it’s just that, like the rest of L.A., I WANTED BOSTON.

Unfortunately, there is no chance of exacting revenge on the hated rivals because they were Magically sent home by Orlando, who now get the unenviable task of trying to stop the chalk cloud tossing MVP and LeCavs. A David Stern wet dream of Kobe vs. LeBron is still alive and well despite the gutsy performance of the Houston Rockets and the basketball fans of the world salivate at the thought of it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lakers crash land in Houston

Bad omen….The Lakers start the game cold as ice, bungling plays and missing opportunities with bricks and bad passes to the tune of a 13-1 score before the first series of dreaded commercials…dammit, no fast forward…games like this can’t wait for TiVo.

Shane Battier of the Rockets, fresh off a text message from Mr. Obama is a thorn in Kobe’s side so far with his hand firmly entrenched in his mug. Luis Scola apparently ate his Wheaties today; he’s already got 10 points and sent an uninspired Andrew Bynum to the pine by lighting him up. It’s 17-1 in favor of the Rockets before Kobe hits a little hook shot to break the drought. No sense of urgency on the part of L.A. yet. It seems they love the drama, it’s now 21-3 Houston.


…Maybe I will TiVo a bit after all, because I have to walk away in disgust….excuse me for a moment, medicinal time…I’m in pain.

Jordan Farmar comes off the bench and hits a couple of threes to provide some hope for the indifferent Lakers, closing the gap to 27-15 after Houston lead by 18. The second quarter sees more uninspired ball from Los Angeles, but plenty of intensity from the short handed Rockets. Kobe gets a charging call because Battier jumps in front of him while already airborne yet Battier’s feet are in front of the line. Bad call. I can understand if the defensive player is set but once the offensive player has left his feet and the defender then slides in front of him, it should be blocking. Chalk it up to home court call. Several more lethargic minutes go by before Artest acts his way into a bullshit call by over-exaggerating a bump by Kobe that earns Bryant an unfounded technical. Like our friends screen name spells out for us hoopheads…NBA IS THE WORST. Even the announcers are saying the same thing; hopefully the league does the right thing and rescinds the tech. Despite the slow start and bad calls, the Lakers close the half only trailing 52-36...After losing by 35 and then winning by 40 in games 4 and 5, I can use the word “only” to describe a 16 point spread.

36 points in the first HALF?


The Rockets are taking the advice their hobbled big man Yao Ming gave to Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade and eating the head. Time for another toke for the Bleeder, I need the calming effect to kick in pronto before my melon explodes….Fhuq HALF-time, I’m smoking the whole damn thing.

After getting my head straight, I hit the play button and watch the Lakers wake up to the tune of a seven to nothing run to start the third quarter, even getting the benefit of some calls from the zebras. I guess Phil gave them what for in the locker room because this is a completely different Lakers squad we’re seeing. In the blink of an eye the lead is down to only four, 54-50 with the Mamba at the stripe…Make that a two point lead.

16-2 Lakers run now….I think performance enhancing drugs may have been used in the Lakers locker room during halftime, who are these guys? The Rockets promptly respond with an 8-2 run of their own to push the lead back to eight, 62-54. I guess this answers the question: Where will amazing happen this year, because this is pretty fucking amazing….The Lakers are the Jekyll & Hyde of the NBA…(Speaking of which, I need to set the TiVo to record the Knicks-loving troll Spike Lee’s Kobe documentary premiering on ESPN Saturday.) Farmar has 10 points in eleven minutes off the bench so far. Landry, Brooks, Artest and Scola keep the pressure on L.A by hitting big shots to close the 3rd effectively fending off the furious Lakers push and propel Houston’s lead back to 9 to close out the quarter, 74-65 setting up a dogfight for the 4th.

The Zenmaster sits Kobe to start the 4th…kinda like dangling a steak in front of a pit bull…Phil’s either a genius or a wing nut for this one. A Gasol left hand hook, a Sasha brick followed by a teary eyed trip back to the pine and a Lamar Odom rebound dunk kill a few minutes and cuts the deficit to 7. Oh joy…a David Stern courtside interview that prompts another TiVo pause button workout and a quick shower for yours truly…I always feel so dirty after witnessing his sliminess…you can’t catch the swine flu through the TV can you?

Still dripping with only a towel on, I hit play only to see Carl Landry posterize Odom with a monster dunk down the middle of the lane, thus causing me to vomit on my freshly scrubbed toes and do the MC Hammer dance…Hold it now, shower time, do-doo-doo-doo, ts-ts-doo doo, ts-ts, doo doo. Who the FUCK is Carl Landry and why is he playing like Sir Charles in 94?? Does he get paid by the bead of sweat or what?…Oh wonderful, a muppet version of Kobe is now taunting LeMVPuppet with cookies and three championship trophies in Nike commercials…Phil Knight must be sopping up his love explosion just thinking about a possible Bryant/King James Finals….too bad no one told the Rockets and Super Midget Aaron Brooks about Nike’s plot to conquer the NBA because he just hit another three.

While Kobe’s busy jawing at the nearest official about a tap on the wrist, H-town and Insta-Star Carl have cranked up the heat and built the spread back up to his red uniform number, 14. Odom slumbers over to the Lakers bench after collecting his 6th and final foul where the Houston fans behind the seating area wear BEAT LA shirts and Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack sends the crowd into a frenzy. This game is over…Chick Hearn, Wilt Chamberlain and George Mikan roll over in their graves…Aaahhhhh, how perfect…another ad for the Kobe documentary…just as the Lakers get shoved into the refrigerator right next to the limburger cheese…but who can tell the difference? They stink with the same potency tonight.

With the win, it’s another start to finish victory for the never-say-die Rockets and another head scratcher for the Lakers faithful. Congratulations Houston…Clutch City is alive and well for at least one more game.

Now all us Lakers fans get to sweat for another day and a half before the next episode of As The Lakers Turn.
I hope Mr. Hyde is alive and well for all four quarters on Saturday Game 7 at Staples Center Saturday should be riveting television. Be there or be square.

The Los Angeles Lakers,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lakers Arrogance


Yes, the Lakers are arrogant.

Kobe and Phil in particular.

Know why?

Because they KNOW they are better at basketball than most all people they come across. As a player, I know what that feels like…I’m no superstar or playground legend…just a regular guy who grew up playing basketball. Lots and lots of basketball. So much basketball that my wife (who was my girlfriend back when I was 18 years old) still refers to basketball as my mistress. She HATES basketball. She’s jealous of it. She wishes I paid as much attention to her as I do to basketball. I feel I do, but if you ask her you get a completely different perspective on the matter…I’m sure all sports fans can relate. But I HAVE harnessed that feeling known as THE ZONE….Not to brag, but I’ve been there many times. Just a regular dude, barely 5’-10” but I know the feeling of KNOWING there is no one on the court that can stop you that night. The feeling of wanting the ball in your hands when the game is on the line, and delivering.
It’s what athletes play for.

The respect of other players, those who are striving with every once of their will to reach the same goal you are….winning.

There is no feeling like it. After the game those on your team pat you on the back or say, “Nice game” and the other team does the same, or even better….they say nothing at all.
But their body language says it all for them. The look on their face lets you know you took what they had been working for. All the sweat, all the hours of practice in their backyard to improve their shot, all the effort leading up to the soaked with perspiration shirt they’re wearing….The eyes Chico…they never lie.

Any athlete who reaches the pinnacle of his sport is bound to have a certain arrogance.

Think Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods.

To be the best, you have to truly believe you are the best….particularly in the world of sprots.

Reigning NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce has been quoted as saying he believes HE is the best player in the league…and on any given night…if only for the last couple of minutes of a game, he can be.

Know why?


He truly believes it, so he’s able to perform when others wilt under the glare of the spotlight.
I may crack relentlessly on Pierce because of his Boston Knee Party drama-queen act in the 2008 Finals, but I respect him. He’s a Los Angeles native for one, he’s tough as nails for two…he got stabbed multiple times in a nightclub incident a few years back, yet here he is now, reigning World Champion of the NBA and Most Valuable Player of that series. Tough cat who answers the call for his team…I may loathe the Celtics , but I love the toughness they have displayed in the absence of KG and it all starts with Paul Pierce.

When MJ did it, it was considered greatness.
When told there was no “I” in team, Mike replied,
“There is in WIN”

His Airness was also quoted as saying he felt “different” after he hit that shot at North Carolina that won the National Championship all those years ago. He now had an arrogance that enabled him to become the player he became once he joined the NBA. He went on to say the other players were, “ At my mercy for whatever I wanted to do ”

But when Kobe carries himself with that same type of swagger, he’s gets labeled a jerk, a ball hog and every other name in the book by the very same Jordan worshippers who can’t see the parallel…or simply choose not to.

Kobe is no Michael, nor is Pierce, but they have that certain something that Mike had. LeBron has it too. So does Dwayne Wade and a handful of other elite players.
It’s a belief in your yourself that allows such amazing feats on the hardwood.
I for one don’t think it’s a bad thing for an athlete or a team to have.

So, as Lakers fan, when I hear pundits, broadcasters or bloggers casting judgement on the Lakers for their arrogance, I can only smile. Games like the one the Lakers played tonight at the Staples Center in downtown LaLaLand only serve to validate the arrogant label…the only thing missing is for them to do it in June.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

NBA Playoff Potpourri

The Lakers gutted out a second straight victory over the scrappy Houston Rockets Friday night with Kobe leading the charge. The Mamba struck in the waning seconds of the third when on the inbounds play with mere seconds on the clock and Ron Artest draped all over him #24 rose up from about six feet behind the top of the arc with Artest in hot pursuit and buried another buzzer beater in Ron Ron’s face. Kobe also showed more trust in his teammates than usual finding the open man without hesitation even though his 3 assists don’t really reflect the type of game he played on Friday night. Much maligned L.A. local Jordan Farmar of Taft High in Woodland Hills and UCLA filled in for the suspended Derek Fisher admirably getting 12 points and playing aggressive defense in his first playoff start. Lamar Odom had a double double and Pau scored on Yao with a couple of slick head fake jumpers, even dribbling between his legs before stopping on a dime and swishing a 12 footer on one play in the third quarter. Word out of H-town is the 7‘-6” jolly Chinese giant Yao Ming is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken foot, bad news for Houston…I hate to see teams lose players to injury, but did you see Kobe block his shot twice before it happened? It seems Kobe does that to The Great Wall a few times a year anymore. The Lakers have been labeled soft by many but are stepping up now that push comes to shove and with this latest victory snatched home court advantage back from the physical Rockets. I can’t realistically see brusier Luis Scola and the rest of these pesky Rockets beating the purple and gold now…not that I could before, but without the Ming Dynasty manning the paint, Houston has two chances…slim and none.

Orlando and Boston will square off again Sunday and I’m still not sure how this series will play out. The Celtics are tough as nails but without a healthy KG they face an unrealistic task of stopping the best center in the league in straight out of high school monster Dwight Howard. The Celtics hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of shooting guard Ray Allen. Paul Pierce will do what he does and point guard Rajon Rondo will continue his ascension to star player status but when Ray Ray’s hitting, the C’ are perfectly capable of topping the Magic, the question is will they?

R.I.P. coach Chuck Daly who passed today at the age of 78 The architect of the back to back title winning Detroit Pistons Bad Boys teams of the late 80’s, he was also head coach of the original 1992 Olympic Dream Team, which should have included Chuck’s star player and engine that drove those Bad Boys, Isiah Thomas. Isiah may be considered a clown now after his soap opera stay with the Knicks but there was a time he was one of the best players in the game. I recall the little pest killing the Showtime Lakers three peat quest in 1989, my senior year in high school. Magic and Byron Scott both suffered hamstring pulls during the Finals that year or that first Bad Boys championship would never have happened.

Dirk Nowitzki’s girlfriend was arrested at his Dallas home after an incident and apparently has used as many as 10-15 aliases over the years….I hope for his sake she’s better looking than Jennifer Gardner. Unfazed, the Diggler went about doing what he does and fluttered rainbow jumpers through the strings to the tune of 33, he‘s as pure a scorer as there is. Carmelo Anthony drilled a three at the buzzer, but only after an intentional foul was purposely committed by Dallas and not called. Too bad Marc Cuban and Josh Howard aren’t as cool under pressure as the Dirkster, they both lost their composure and literally chased down the officials once the game was officially over. The league issued an apology two hours after the game, gee thanks Stern, another case of too little too late and another founded knock on NBA officiating. Mr. Big Shot: Chauncey Billups had 32 for the Nuggs and the Birdman contributed with a couple rebound dunks on hustle plays. Denver’s Dahntay Jones absolutely posterized Erick Dampier on a play that pretty much sums up this second round matchup….Dallas just can’t hang. This Denver team however may just be legit…we’ll find out when they meet Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their unscathed march to the NBA Finals taking a commanding 3-0 series lead over the quickly falling back to ground Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James had a game for the ages, dropping 47 points, 22 of them in the first half, snatching 12 boards and handing out 8 assists….only the second time in history anyone put up those Jordan-esque numbers, and the first guy wore #23 too. King James played like the reigning MVP should play with a barrage of buckets ranging from vicious dunks, power lay-ups in traffic and a series of late game jumpers to ice the game to keep the Crabs undefeated in the playoffs. His short game is looking a lot like Tiger’s lately, impressive. I always said if he learned how to shoot it’d be like when Happy Gilmore learned how to putt…...shhhhh, quiet on the green.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One piece at a time

As a red-blooded American male, I’ve always had a love affair with cars. Even as a little boy my favorite toys were Hot Wheels. Quite ironic that when I misbehaved Mommy Dearest would use the two foot lengths of plastic tracks to whip my ass when I deserved it….and I deserved it on a regular basis. My favorite car was the Red Baron, it was a custom body painted bright red with a stainless steel German WWII helmet for a roof, it looked almost like an on field cart that you see on the sidelines at college football fields so often these days, but with a beefy open air engine. I loved that damn car. I have a inkling to go on Ebay right now to re-capture a piece of my childhood.

Despite my admiration of the beauty of automobiles, I never got into working on them. I built models in my youth…you know, the kind that required painting each individual part and using plastic cement to assemble them. I must’ve done twenty or so all told. Suprisingly, I never acquired a taste for racing or NASCAR, but the dramatic ending a Talladega recently was pretty cool.

Of all the cars I love, the 63 Cadillac holds a special place in my heart, something about the sleek lines, aggressive looking grill and of course, those fish tails on the rear end…like icing on the cake.

Another one of my passions is music. I grew up in the early 80’s as a hard rock loving Southern California kid who worshipped Eddie Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Then rap burst onto the scene with Run-DMC, Eric B & Rakim and Public Enemy and I was hooked like a trout on a line. As a city boy, I never gave country music the time of day, it seemed foreign to me but that all changed after 9/11. The Dixie Chicks sang a song during the Concert for America that touched my soul at the time. I was entranced by the sound of their voices, drawn like a moth to a flame. The song was called I Believe in Love and it opened a whole new world of sound for me. I felt like Morgan Freeman's character Red in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy played the Italian opera over the loud speaker. I immediately went online and downloaded a copy of it and several other songs from the Dixie Chicks. To this day, I really have no use for the majority of country music, the twangy up-beat cuts annoy me for the most part….In my humble opinion, country should be borderline painful and slow in tempo, (think Patsy Cline, who my mother played endlessly during my formative years, she did nothing for me at the time but now I love her music). The exceptions to this self imposed slower tempo rule are Hank Williams Sr. and The Man in Black, Mister Johnny Cash. I could listen to any record these two made over and over again. I never would have thought that possible ten years ago.

I digress.

Believe it or not this blog is about the Lakers and how they were transformed back into a championship calibur team…A Cadillac - One Piece at a Time.

Once upon a time, Los Angeles took winning rings for granted. As a kid I watched Magic Johnson literally redefine basketball and make watching each and every Lakers game an event. Later, we had Shaq and Kobe and all the role players needed to rule the NBA three straight years in a row, but all was not well in Camelot. This town wasn’t big enough for both players egos so one of them had to go.
As it turns out ,The Big Egotistical’s mouth made the decision easy for Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Shaq actually asked for a trade, which was just what the good Dr. Buss wanted anyway. Shaq was knee deep into the business of burning bridges at the time by criticizing management and mouthing off through the press.
Kobe Bryant was younger and played a more exciting style of ball than Shaq, so O’Neal was quickly shipped off to Miami for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler (who has since made a few All-Star teams with the Wizards), a draft pick (which turned out to be Jordan Farmar) and Bob Marley.

The next off season, rasta man Brian Grant was tossed aside, Butler was shipped off to Washington for Kwame “Brick- up” Brown (Kwame never met a lay-up he didn‘t try to brick), who was later sent to Memphis for Pau Gasol. Ending up with Gasol, Odom and Farmar for The Big Lip-Flapper isn’t too shabby but I’m getting ahead of myself again….continually digressing, sorry.

Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher are the only remnants of the 3-peat squad. And both Fish and the Zenmeister took a leave of absence before coming back to don the purple and gold. The foundations for this latest Lakers group came through the draft and trades. The lottery picks started with Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Andrew Bynum and Farmar. Prodigal son D-Fish, who was originally drafted by the Lakers the same year as Kobe, came home due to his daughters eye condition, followed by the barely noticed at the time yet brilliant in hindsight acquisition of former UCLA Bruin Trevor Ariza in exchange for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans.
Who you ask?…Exactly my point.
Another Lakers steal.

Josh Powell was signed to replace Energizer Bunny Ronny Turiaf after the disappointment in last years NBA Finals and has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers, hitting his midrange jump shot consistently and willing to bang bodies down low. Vladimir Radmanovic was jettisoned to Charlotte in what seemed like a salary dump for college stud Adam Morrison and defensive minded Shannon Brown who looked like a toss in to make the salaries match up….only, I think Brown was the target all along and his play of late has again made the Lakers scouting team look genius. Cro-magnon blackbelt DJ Mbenga has even contributed impressive minutes off the pine this year. Sun Yue is the import from China who represented his country in Biejing this past summer but can’t get much court time in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and barring injury it should remain that way.

-One piece at a time, Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers find their way back to the upper echelon of the NBA.

-One piece at a time is how Kobe Bryant crawls out from under the huge shadow cast by Shaquille O‘Neal.

-One piece at a time is how Phil Jackson passes Red Auerbach.

-One piece at a time is how good teams become great.

One GAME at a time…is how championships happen...I hope.

Win or go home.

I love this game.