DP: So I started this job Monday, and have been training so far. But, while I have been filing my head with the ins and outs of the mortgage industry, I can’t help but wonder what life is like for you? I mean, you admit your superstar is a sociopath, your coach was almost matched by George Karl, your 2nd banana is a European who slanted his eyes in the Spain Basketball team picture, and your third banana is a candy nut straight out of Willy Wonka.
Not to mention, that aside from your MVPuppet, your entire backcourt is a section 8, to the point that Shannon Brown has become a vital cog to your team.
RC: Do I know Kobe's a sociopath, a spoiled brat, an egomaniac? Yes, of course - I have second hand evidence. Friend of my dad's works for AEG, which owns Staples, and Mamba is universally reviled, from the janitors to Phil Anschuetz (the CEO). If he weren't everyone's meal ticket, he would probably have been the victim of a car bomb by now. Also of note: with the exception of Malone and Payton (who had to be convinced by Shaq), no premier free agent has ever taken less money to play with Kobe. With the exception of Malone and Carmelo, no NBA player has ever admitted to being friends with Kobe, and he even lost Karl with the whole "little white girls" thing. From all reports, he doesn't have an entourage, doesn't have friends, and is single-mindedly focused on basketball and cementing his legacy as a top 5 all-time guard. Is that a good thing for the Lakers and their fans? Yeah, probably. But with a title loss, this house of cards can come crumbling down real quick. It won't be like the painful summer of 2004, but it won't be far from it.
Phil was not "almost matched" by George Karl. The only person George Karl almost matched was Chris Dougherty in the "red faced" department. That series was never about anyone outcoaching anyone else, and if anything, Karl gave away two games with his inbound play brilliance. Phil has been slipping for some time, yes, but he was never a great game coach - his greatest skill is getting everyone on the same page. With the Bulls, that meant keeping MJ from murdering everyone else; with the 2000-2004 Lakers, it meant keeping Shaq and Kobe from murdering one another; with the 2006-2009 Lakers, it means keeping everyone from murdering Kobe AND keeping Kobe from murdering Bynum.
RE: Spanish national team picture -- what's the issue? You have to love Pau - he looks completely unathletic, he runs like a less-gay Bruno, and he just so happens to be one of the most versatile big men in the league. Oh, and he and Ariza are the Lakers MVPs -- in that, if they're on, we win. When they're not, we don't. It's as simple as that.
Lamar, for some reason, doesn't drive me nuts. In fact, I love his consistent inconsistency. I just hope it doesn't show up over the next few weeks.
Shannon Brown can play! I don't know where that came from, but he's a great fit for this team. And considering we have to contend with Skip-to-my-Lou and 45% of a getting-up-to-speed Jameer Nelson, I'm not too worried about the PG matchup.
I think you know what matchup I am worried about, though. The big question to me is: will DJ Mbenga see time in this series? If he does, game over.
There's a scenario in the back of my head where Dwight goes insane and throws up a 34-16 for the series, SVG comes up with some amazing defensive scheme and shuts us down, they hit every 3 like they've been doing, and we get embarrassed along the lines of 2004. That scenario is analogous to my bonus, in that we'll find out about it in the next few weeks, and that I try not to think about it too much because it's so painful and soul-crushing and denies everything I/the Lakers have worked so hard for.
So yes, I'm keeping my expectations low.
DP: Wait, wait, wait. I watched LeBron and the MAMBA grinning it up on national television during that sit-down interview. I SAW IT! They were palling around like the Schnieder and Columba of their time. You trying to tell me that while LBJ was making fun of Kobe with the ‘high-shorts’ joke, and basically mocking him openly, the MAMABA was only smiling for the cameras? He was actually sizing up The King, deciding the best way to incapacitate him with his butter knife? What?
Good thing he’s focused on cementing his legacy as a top five guard…since he isn’t there yet, and won’t get there based on his only two Finals appearances we have where he was the best player (04, Detroit, 08, Boston). Right now, he’s a top-five second banana in NBA history, since there are 5 better guards off the top of my head…Jordan, Magic, Oscar, Logo, Isaiah. And they all won rings as the man…which he HAS to do, unless he wants to go down in the ‘Pippen, Drexler, D. Robinson, and other players who only won titles as the OTHER GUY on their team’ group.
If y’all lose…I don’t even know. Sure, the answer SEEMS to be move everyone (MAMBA included), but, as has been pointed out over and over and over again, this is a nearly broke league; who takes on the MAMBA’s deal? And for what? You’ve got him for at least another 82. Get comfortable. Because I don’t know if the Magic can’t win this thing.
SVG (he looks like he needs initials) hasn’t REALLY been tested coaching wise so far (ol’ what’s-his-face in Philly, Doc, and M.Brown), but he has shown a great ability to adjust on the fly within the series. Phil may be a peacemaker, but against SVG (does this make him cooler?) the Lake-Show need him to be a basketball coach. He’s aged more poorly than Coolio’s entire catalog. He’s aged more poorly than Ted Pitt. And his BASKETBALL COACHING, you know, what he’s paid to do, has been slow to adjust to things like No-more-Yao. You know, like Lamar adjusts constantly to sometimes playing/sometimes not during series. And don’t get me started on Wonka’s Swayze in the Finals last year.
Pau is a racist. There. I said it.
Not worried about the backcourt matchup? NOT WORRIED? You sound like the Indians being ‘not worried’ about the disease laden blankets the palefaces brought with them. Do you remember Aaron Brooks (AARON BROOKS?!?!) eviscerating your backcourt a week ago? Have you not seen what penetrating point guards do to the carbon cut-outs you stick back there? It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. Chauncy Billups is a cerebral game manager, and y’all decimated him; no one will ever confuse Skip and Anthony Johnson for the Artist Formally Known As Mr. Big Shot.
Shannon Brown. Good one.
DJ Mbenga. Better one. Though, Chris Mihm got some burn last year, so maybe Phil is aging worse than Larry Legend.
The more I think about how weird these playoffs have been (the Magic are shooting like 47% from three!), the more and more your nightmare seems likely. Is it impossible for the Magic to split the first two in LA? Is it impossible for them to take 2 of 3 in O-Town, culminating with a rout in the last game in Orlando, the MAMBA sharpening his knives as he quits on the floor (see also, last year and 2007 against the Suns)? Can you really count on this crew to close out the final two games in Staples. Me neither.
Dear god, am I about to take the Magic in 6? YES WE CAN. SI SE PUEDE!
We'll see what takes place in this little argument today. This could just be part 1.