Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Hollywood couldn't direct it better. The parade is practically set for downtown L.A. but this franchise knows better than to leave balloons hanging in the rafters. Last night the opening act fell flat too with this team being beaten by the team that knocked them off their last championship pedestal the Dallas Mavericks. All good things must come to those who wait though. It's not the end, even though many critics are already writing off the Lakers along with Mike Brown's resignation letter and Kobe's playing career obituary, even if the Lakers went 8-zip in the preseason but not the way they would have liked. Still Rome wasn't built in a day and championship teams in L.A. aren't built in a game. This is the town where stars are made and broken like reality T.V...just look what they did to Lamar. Still this team was built for years, not 15 minutes. The Showtime must go on, but it's going to take time.
This isn't a be careful what you wish for moment but the Lakers did raise their own bar decades before. The storied franchise changed the game and the legacy of the league with Shaq and Kobe, making it necessary for team to have more than one superstar, no matter the ego or polarization. They took it to the extreme with the Hall Of Fame deliverance of The Mailman and The Glove and now that's why you have big threes and talents in Miami. The Lakers have had to ante up again and with all these stars in L.A. they just have to make sure they shine.
It all begins and ends in the NBA's one Kobe Bryant, but even Batman needed Robin and the Lakers Dark Knight has the support ready to help his city rise. The Lake Show may have lost favorites Odom, Fisher, Bynum and 'Ron Artest' but they've still got Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace to go along with a bench mob of underrated talent like Devin Ebanks, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Jordan Hill led by the next Laker 'Sixth Man Of The Yer', star Antwan Jamison. Still, the two superstar, difference makers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will be the deciding factors between champagne championships or crying commiseration in the eyes of these new Lakers.
Los Angeles looks to take flight this year like LAX thanks to their new alley-oop double act. They could even take 'Lob City' off Clipperland and truly avenge the Chris Paul nixing. Beyond the aesthetics however the Lakers have a pleasing mix of all-round play that looks to make them fundamentally sound. You've all heard about Steve Nash's passing and skill-set and how Dwight Howard out-rebounds, blocks and box's out with the best of them. Well now check you're Los Angeles Times because you're going to read about more.
There's more to contend with when it comes to these championship certified additions. Like Nash's underrated shot or Dwight's disregarded passion. This dynamic duo could really help form one of the Lakers best teams ever, matching up to the eighties babies, or the Shaq, Kobe, Fisher, Fox, Horry three-peat squad. That is as long as Steve's legs and Dwight's contract holds up and lasts. They may have lost their debut, but these two see more than one game. Even more than 82. The Laker Phoenix is rising from the ashes and isn't playing Mickey Mouse games anymore. The Los Angeles Lakers haven't had a Point Guard like this since Earvin. They haven't had a smiling, superstar, making this game fun since Magic. The original M.J. Johnson can see this. You know what's going on. It's Showtime now.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
To begin last seasons lockout shortened campaign the Lakers one minute had Chris Paul and the best backcourt this league might have ever seen. Then in less time then it takes to send a Tweet wrote 'WoW' the Lakers deluxe deal was nixed by David Stern which then resulted in CP3 ending up in the STAPLES Centre of Los Angeles but for the wrong team. If that wasn't bad enough a disgruntled Lamar Odom took his most consistent 'Sixth Man' play and his hurt feelings away from L.A., only to return this offseason-like everyone-expected but again for the wrong STAPLES side. With two of the Lakers one-time potential big pieces fitting in Clipperland the Lakers looked to rebound like no other after a disastrous last season (that goes without saying) that saw a second round exit to Western Conference champions the Oklahoma City Thunder and their old playoff friend Derek Fisher.
If you thought the signing of Canadian, Point Guard legend Steve Nash from the Suns was a great way for this Phoenix to rise from the Chris Paul 'what could have been' ashes, then this team really bounced back when they acquired the leagues greatest rebounder and centre of attention Dwight Howard in a trade with Andrew Bynum. What's more and better they still got to keep Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace as they picked up many more great pieces like Antwan Jamison, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks. And of course there's that guy named Kobe too. There may be Heat in Miami but the sun looks to shine in California next June too with signs of reign. Let's take an in-depth look at the Lakers starting five and their new Sixth Man for good measure.
POINT GUARD-STEVE NASH
With all due respect to the Harper's, Nick Van Exel, the clutch legend of Derek Fisher and the recent hard work of Ramon Sessions (good luck in Cleveland, thank you) the Point Guard position in L.A. hasn't looked this magical since Earvin Johnson was lobbing to Kareem. Now with number 10 and 12 the Lakers are a few notches away from having this generations 32 and 33. Steve Nash may be 38 but there's still some maple syrup in those old legs and he pushes 40 with multiple MVP's and countless perfect passes to go along with an underrated shot and a heralded toughness (see the Robert Horry shot) that makes him one of the all-round greatest Point Guards of all-time. Now with the first move that takes these redux Lakers forward, Nash leads the way for this great new team. The Manning's couldn't even field a better Basketball quarterback.
SHOOTING GUARD-KOBE BRYANT
It doesn't matter if the Lakers sign two future Hall of Famers in one offseason (see Payton, Gary and Malone, Karl) it all begins and ends with Kobe Bryant. From Shaquille O'Neal to Dwight Howard by way of Andrew Bynum we all know who the real Superman is. This man of steel has been though it all. The critics wrote him off but he inscribed another classic chapter to his Laker legacy. ESPN ranked him as the seventh best player in the league last year, but Kobe gave a number one season. They said he had no clutch but in the last seconds when it all comes to it only a Horry, a Miller or a Bird has his killer-instinct. Just like Michael Jordan there is no one like him. That's how close he is. You can't stop him. Even Dwyane Wade broke his nose in the February love of the supposedly friendly All-Star game. Even that did no good as Kobe strapped on the Rip Hamilton face-mask and took his revenge out on the league, killing opponents like the phantom menace. In the war of stars only the greatest legend wins and now with a new legacy ahead of him the empire looks to strike back.
SMALL FORWARD-METTA WORLD PEACE
Ron Artest changed his name to World Peace to begin last season and then ended it by elbowing James Harden during the war of the Thunder. Still let's not throw 'bow's at the most eccentric and greatest jersey sporter since World B. Free. For better or worse Metta makes statements and as a worked out Twitter pic can attest, the artist formerly known as Artest knows how to make a comeback, just look at the shots he took which gave the Lakers their last championship. When it comes to the basketball court this successful rapper knows how to hit. Besides no matter the change or old Ron, Ron habits, Metta World Peace will always remain one of the greatest defensive players in the NBA and that is an extra element that LeBron James and the rest of the league will find hard to handle.
POWER FORWARD-PAU GASOL
It's time to show those soft labels a hard place. If anyone doubts Pau Gasol then they should take a look at the sweat soaked, down but not out Spanish star sitting silently sideline-like a dejected Patrick Ewing in the Knick killer nighties-as the nation he carried lost the Gold Medal to the United States in London for this years Olympic Games. As Kobe led the commiseration condolences as Team USA congratulated Pau's heart you could see the soul of the man bared as he left it all out on the floor. Now the man that survived the Chris Paul nixing and the Dwight Howard trade is here to stay and show that he is still very much a part of the Lakers. Besides Gasol is the last Mitch Kupchak deal that gave the Lakers not one, but two championships. The Lakers have never had a guy like one of the greatest European players of all-time. This man's post skills will take them beyond the postseason. Focus on Dwight now, but Pau is the one with the championships before. Now they both look to shine hereafter.
This is the big one. Straight from the Magic Kingdom this former Orlando, Disneyland star looks to bring his famous smile to the throne Magic Johnson's pearly whites once held. Following in the big footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal superman returns as the Los Angeles Laker times writes one hell of a rebound story. With a heaven sent move the latest Laker big-man God looks to make his legend out of the legacy Andrew Bynum was making once he gets back from his back injury. Dwight Howard looks to start a block party and championship parade in downtown L.A. Now dunking and duking it out with Bryant instead of getting dunked on Dwight gives the Lakers it's best duo since Shaq and Kobe and the only team that could really go sneaker-to-sneaker with the big three and their additional talents in Miami. From the tutoring of 'cap to the jerseys raised to the rafters Dwight Howard looks to be the next Laker great. Let's just hope this championship commitment is a long term deal.
SIXTH MAN-ANTWAN JAMISON
Although the changing of the guards in Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon, the old hands in Steve Blake and Jordan Hill and the developing talents of Devin Ebanks could claim place the real microwave bench player for the Lakers this season will be Antwan Jamison. The only one who could really follow in the off the bench smooth steps of former Sixth Man Of The Year Lamar Odom is a guy who helped pave the way for players like L.O. Not only is Jamison a valuable veteran, he's an all-star talent too and yet another scoring option for the Lake Show. Not only can he swing between a couple of positions, this man also has the inside and outside knowledge of this game on both the offensive and defensive end. The Summer signing between Nash and Howard may have been far from the Lakers biggest but he'll prove to be the x-factor that will help take this team to the finish. Some deals are blockbusters, others are independent successes. In the end it all adds up to the same thing however...winning.