Saturday, October 23, 2010


('FROM THE LOCKER' is a feature that takes a look back at classic Lake Show days via old articles in their original format. To mark the recent Devin Ebanks, Trevor Ariza comparisons we debut 'Raising Ariza' a piece about the forward written during the 2009 Playoffs)


"If there’s a ball somewhere and you know its been bobbled around, ama get it".

The Lakers' Trevor Ariza steals the ball from the Utah's Brevin Knight during the first half Friday at Staples Center...///ADDITIONAL INFO: lakers.0103.kjs2.jpg --- Photo by Kevin Sullivan, The Orange County Register -- 1/2/09..Photographed Friday January 2, 2008 Photo via Newscom

Trevor Ariza speaks with the confidence that is needed to be the type of role player who steps up and makes clutch plays in the NBA playoffs. Its the following morning after Trevor made a critical steal against the Denver Nuggets for the second time in the Western Conference Finals, sealing the victory for his Los Angeles Lakers side. Swarmed by reporters at practice the following morning Ariza is now stealing the spotlight from Kobe and the rest of the Lakers elite. This is no wonder as without those two steals the Lakers might have been heading to the fishing lakes instead of the NBA Finals.

The first steal came in the tightly fought game one where the Lakers prevailed thanks to that clutch steal and some crunch time free throws. Trevor Ariza uses two of the most important facets of his game in these key plays, anticipation and acceleration. Trevor can see the game before it happens like Magic Johnson, “Just staying locked in defensively, not having any mental lapse on the defensive end, and try to execute often” and he can turn it up like big game James Worthy. Anthony Carter threw an inbounds pass to Chauncey Billups that would ordinarily be routine, but Trevor read the pass perfectly and with gazelle like speed sprinted down court drawing a key foul.

These are the plays that NBA championships are made of. These are the plays that all-stars make. Former NBA MVP Kobe Bryant acknowledged Trevor stealing away for his teams win, “He made a terrific read, he had tremendous speed, great energy and great anticipation, it was a heck of a play”. Real recognizes real and having the best player in the league recognizing your talent speaks volumes for the type of player you are. Right now in this playoff picture former UCLA bruin Ariza might be as significant as leading man Kobe’s two co-stars Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. The director of this piece, Lakers coach Phil Jackson appreciates Trevor upping his performance at game ones final curtain, “Trevor had really a frustrating night but he made two plays that were very instrumental in helping us win.”

Apr 27, 2009 - Los Angeles, California, USA - Laker's KOBE BRYANT #24 smiles with TREVOR ARIZA #3 in the fourth quarter as the Lakers beat the Jazz 107-96 to win the series during game five of a first round Western Conference playoff basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Photo via Newscom

Two games, forty seven minutes and twenty five seconds later in the series the Lakers needed someone to stop one last run by the Nuggets. So again Trevor Ariza stepped up defensively. In an almost identical play, Trevor anticipated, accelerated and stole an inbounds pass from Kenyon Martin intended for Carmelo Anthony, game Lakers. Ariza gave his all in this play so the Lakers would prevail, “We’ve come too far in the season to fail, If I do that I’m letting my team down”. Trevor thinks like the type of big playoff contributors the Lakers franchise has been churning out for decades. Trevor comes from the same school of stepping it up that Lakers greats Michael Cooper and Robert Horry attended.

Trevor knows that the playoffs are a different game to the rest of the NBA season that’s why he makes big plays when the time calls for it, despite often being a background contributor to guys like Kobe. The important thing Ariza knows is the importance of making the most of every chance he can get. So even if he has a game where he isn’t one of the biggest contributors or if he is having an off night, every possession is still another opportunity. Trevor Ariza has a great mental capacity for high pressure games, “Just forget about everything that happened the play before and just worry about the next play, can’t cry over spilt milk”. This is the attitude of a guy who gets up after being knocked down, no matter how many times. This is the attitude of a winner.

Apr 19, 2009 - Los Angeles, California, USA - NBA Basketball - Los Angeles Lakers' PAU GASOL #16 and Los Angeles Lakers' TREVOR ARIZA #3 slap hands in the first half during game one of their first round playoff series at the Staples Center Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Los Angeles. The Lakers defeated the Jazz 113-100 to take a one game to none lead in the series Photo via Newscom

These clutch plays that Trevor made is further reason to why he was given a starting position over the last few months on a Lakers team littered with big time players. A starting position which then resulted in a career high 26 points against the Dallas Mavericks, coupled with 3 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 assists across the board. Fans, teammates and opponents alike all didn’t expect this much from Ariza. His contributions has Marv Albert repeating one of his famous catchphrases “How about Ariza?”. Indeed how about Ariza, who has been coming up as big as any other player throughout these playoffs on numerous occasions. Whether it be the defensive plays, hitting big three pointers or the emphatic, rim breaking, opponent confidence shaking, energy of team awakening dunks. Give this guy even a hint of an inch of room and he’ll take it and force the ball to the hoop with authority. Despite the angle, despite the degree of difficulty and despite the players in front of him. He wont be denied and he’ll defy gravity in the way he powers to the basket.

Trevor’s moves have been on replay in fans minds and on YouTube collectively since the start of his career when he was taken at a criminally low 43rd overall in the 2004 draft by the Knicks. However if he wasn’t getting the exposure he deserved as an exciting rookie in New York, or his time in Orlando, he’s certainly getting it now in the celebrity capital of the world. Despite playing in an arena full of famous fans like Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and of course Jack Nicholson, night-in night-out, Trevor is the one who draws the crowds gaze.

In late 2007 the Lakers gave up the promising talent of Maurice Evans and Brian Cook for the proven talent of the Orlando Magic’s Trevor. Then just over a month later, on December 25Th, Ariza gave them a great Christmas present. He unwrapped an amazing facial dunk over Grant Hill and the Phoenix Suns, giving the Lakers the enthusiasm and motivation needed to take the victory. This kept bloggers busy but also injected a new sense of excitement to a Lakers squad that was beginning to come together. It was now evolving from a blossoming team into a championship caliber unit in full bloom.

Lakers' head coach Phil Jackson talks to Trevor Ariza during the first half Tuesday...///ADDITIONAL INFO: lakers.1119.kjs6.jpg --- Photo by Kevin Sullivan, The Orange County Register -- 11/18/08..The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Chicago Bulls at Staples Tuesday November 18, 2008 Photo via Newscom

The last time the Lakers were a contender they had Shaquille O’Neal. However now a contender again thanks to Kobe and the right compliment pieces they are running a lot more in a fast paced, exciting offense. This offense is reminiscent of the classic ‘Showtime’ era of the Lakers in the 80’s. These 21st century Lakers can run and finish strong whether it be Kobe, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. However with great first step acceleration and electrifying dunks nobody on the Lakers roster epitomizes the Showtime style of play more than Trevor Ariza. That’s right, whether it be starting or finishing a fast break when Ariza’s involved every seat in the house is up. Running as smooth as Jamaal Wilkes and taking it hard to the basket like Byron Scott, when Trevor’s on top form its Showtime baby!

Its fun to play with a player like Trevor Ariza, however now that the Lakers are looking to add more banners to the rafters they have to get serious. Take last year for example, this Laker team knows what’s its like to be one series away from meeting Larry O’Brien only to lose that opportunity. The Boston Celtics dominated the Lakers so much that it looked like this team wasn’t getting serious, but this years playoffs is a whole different game. Trevor Ariza let us know that as exciting as its been this year playing with this unit, its time to take it to the limit one last time.

“Everyone has to contribute if we wanna win, everybody has to do their part”

Are these the words of a champion?

Los Angeles Lakers' Trevor Ariza reacts during the Lakers' NBA championship ceremony at the Coliseum in Los Angeles on June 17, 2009. A crowd of about 90,000 fans attended. (UPI Photo/Jim Ruymen) Photo via Newscom

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest (C) defends against Houston Rockets guard Trevor Ariza (R) in the first half at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on November 4, 2009. UPI/Aaron M. Sprecher Photo via Newscom

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