And I can’t lie; we actually flipped some nice pieces. After jumping ship on the expired Clippers, we signed our first kinda high profile free agent in Vladimir Radmanovic. The last couple of seasons he’d been lighting it up, albeit purposelessly, in Seattle before being traded as an expiring contract. But we booked him on a full midlevel exception contract (over $5 million a season), even though we had an all-too-similar player at the same position in Brian Cook. Oh well. Then we got the uber-athletic wingman Maurice Evans for a second round pick which was used on one of those 7-foot, 180 pound prospects from like Malaysia or Zimbabwe who is never heard from or mispronounced ever again. While those were at least psyche updates for the fans as we were desperate for any kind of visible on-court difference makers, the city of Los Angeles got a hometown boost in the form of drafting the diminutive and ethnically confusing (plus super-eared) UCLA legend Jordan Farmar. While tons of teams passed him off with little regard, the Lakers saw in him an underrated athlete who could play at the right pace for a triangle offense team with an improving jump shot. Moreover, he was a born winner who nearly led the Bruins back to another championship even though the shadow of John Wooden has left them irrelevant to the rest of the basketball world since the ‘70s. Sorry L.A., I’m a diehard Laker fan but the lures of the city aren’t even a fraction of what it would it would take for me to avert my gaze away from the innately better Kentucky Wildcats. That’s just not happening. No dice.
A sucky, yet somewhat convincing, plea had erupted out of the Laker faithful after the unfortunate loss to the Suns this past offseason. People retroactively were disgruntled that Caron Butler was well on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star contender while we were stuck with “Butterfingers” Brown (the least profane nickname I could think of) and the seemingly inconsistent and underachieving Lamar Odom. Everyone appreciated LO’s insane skill set, but it was almost unbelievable that he’d never accomplished a single All-Star bid. It downright pissed some people off. Lamar could literally do anything on the basketball court (besides hit his free throws). His handles were something of legend, probably better than any player ever given a 6’ 10” body frame to work with. He was the most willing and deftest passer of any forward the league had seen since Chris Webber in his prime. His three-pointing shooting (even if only to me) had become a statistical victory cigar as a hit from long range was darn near a guarantee on a “W”. He had even become the most underrated dominant rebounder in the game. Even if it were simply out of necessity because of the lack of any other frontcourt presence, Lamar would regularly record rebounding stretches of 16 to 19 boards a game. He could lead a fast break, he could take nearly any defender off the dribble, he was deceptively strong, he was beyond agile, he was no longer a troublesome locker room presence, and people genuinely liked him. Yet somehow he managed to attain such a level of inconsistency and passiveness that he had no individual accolades to show for it and people were willing to trade him.
The common names that came up in trade discussions were the then hot-commodities Peja Stojakovic and Ron Artest. Dreams of Kobe drawing countless defenders and kicking it out to Peja every other possession for an always-swishing three ball ruled fan’s fantasies. Just as soon as the doomed 2004 season, Peja was in the MVP discussion due to his visually dominating floor game, something Lamar was never envisioned to fill out and attain. And then there was the case of Ron Ron. The regularly crowned Defensive Player of the year was cementing his reputation as an uncontrollable head case just coming off of his season-long suspension for inciting and street fighting in the brawl at the Palace. But basketball fans have short memories and are very forgiving when it comes to adding potential assets to their team. Dreams were equally filled with visions of Kobe & Ron creating the strongest defensive presence on the wing since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or even the tandem of Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars when they were called on to frustrate the opposition beyond recognition. Even an alternate trading candidate was mentioned in Andrei Kirilenko, but the equally versatile Utah swingman was held in such high regard at the time that it was seen as impossible to ever pry him from the Jazz’s fingers. In the end, even though rumors were never quelled and new scenarios were concocted on the regular, the Lakers wound up sticking with Kobe’s current sidekick. No one knows if it was because of the front office’s never-ending faith in the curious forward or if trade partners never accepted a deal or even if there was a super secret snag in ongoing negotiations, but regardless, Lamar was retained. Stojakovich and Artest were indeed later traded (for each other, in fact) and subsequently left both of their respective new teams after free agency once dealt anyways, so the respective pairings are forever to be relegated to “what ifs” and dream scenarios. [Insert from the future: *wink wink*]
[to be continued]
... but do take my word for it.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thank God the Lamar Odom situation got resolved. Both parties legitimately needed each other to keep the NBA world balanced. While the Lake Show could have made a minor tweak trade to try and replace LO if he decided to go elsewhere, there's pretty much no one who would have had a similar impact simply do to Odom being a four-year vet of the triangle offense and five-year vet of playing off of Kobe Bryant. That can't be highlighted enough. Playing with certain players is an art, and choosing to stay with the champs is a very enlightening move in showing that Lamar is one of those malleable players who can willingly fit with Kobe.
Artest, in my mind, is a beautiful addition to this roster and will pick up right where Ariza left off. While I loved the role our former wing played with his hustle, hard cuts, opportune 3 balls, and team orientation, I sincerely believe that Ron Ron can provide all of that along with a better jumper, a throw-in post game, and more intimidating all-around defensive presence. The only thing I think we lose is some speed on the wing and a defender who can stick to those pesky super-quick guards. But Ron is much better suited to clamp down on those equally troublesome and usually dominant small forwards with the all-around floor game like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron, Paul Pierce, and Tracy McGrady (if he's still alive). This naturally relegates Kobe to preferably defending the second offensive option, an assignment which promotes an even stronger presence on both ends of the floor by him. So it's win-win.
Strictly on Lamar's side of negotiations, though, I actually do think he could have outrageously thrived somewhere else. Unless there was another trade to compliment LO's signing (like the Boozer rumors), then I didn't really see Miami going anywhere to far. They would have been crazy fun to watch because Wade & him had a naturally chemistry in Wade's rookie season and they would have easily picked right back up five seasons later. But that team has so many holes in it at up to 3 different positions, so forget about them in the now nonexistent theoretical big picture. But who I really would have (begrudgingly) enjoyed watching him play for was the Trailblazers. Can you imagine a lineup of Andre Miller/Brandon Roy/Lamar Odom/Lamarcus Aldridge/Greg Oden? That's beastly. Then in turn they would have one of the upper tier benches in the entire league. That would have instantly propelled them up to the top of the Western Conference in a dead heat with the Lakers and newly molded Spurs & Mavericks.
But, again, it's not happening. So while I'll detail some other teams in later posts, the Lakers are where it's at this season. Lamar Odom decided to stay put and the championship trophy will decide the same next June. Our single casualty this offseason (unless and unexpected trade comes along) is Ariza. But with management re-upping every other player on the entire championship roster and adding the one character who will force the team from ever becoming complacent ... we have a dynasty on our hands. Thanks, Lamar. And I made this entire post without a retarded candy reference. I swear, I will strangle the next ESPN reporter or random person who thinks they're informed and tells a Skittles joke while talking about dude and giggles to themselves at their attempted hilarity. You're not clever and it wasn't a good joke anyway.
Great quote by Odom: "Riding off Kobe’s coattail ain’t bad. He’s got something special going around. I’ve got to be around. I’ve got to be one of the apostles. There was no way I was going to pass up playing with Kobe, Pau, Andrew and Ron-Ron."
... but do take my word for it.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The new it artist for me right now just dropped his first proper free album last night. Definitely gonna be on constant roll once I get up out of this hospital. Thought I was about to die last night, but maybe God kept me so I could get this Broken Headphones joint in my system. Who knows?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
All we had left to do was either win a game on their court or win a game on our court or win a Game 7 on their court. We simply had to avoid a three game losing streak and we would join in one of the most highly anticipated second round series of all time: the Across-the-Hall matchup with the already advanced Clippers! It would be absolutely insane. Quite literally, there never had been a Clip Show team that had shown fight like this one-time assembly of a collectively healthy and randomly thrown together group of Brand-Maggette-Cassell-Kaman-Mobley. We just needed one game!
But we didn’t get it. We got brushed aside pretty nonchalantly that first closeout attempt in the infamous game where Raja Bell eluded an attempted manslaughter conviction on national television when he intentionally clotheslined and forcibly threw down Kobe during a drive to the paint. Even though we lost that one, hope was high due to Bell’s obviously implemented suspension for the next game at Staples. But we decided that a golden opportunity like that should instead lead to blowing the simplest opportunity you’re ever going to get in the playoffs at home to advance to the next round. A desperation three-pointer was chucked with the Suns down three in the closing seconds of the game. If every Laker on the court had simply implemented the loudest cry of any amateur basketball coach in America, it would have been over. As the ball clanged off the rim and backboard, hovering in the air just waiting to be defensively gobbled up by someone in yellow, someone didn’t put their butt on a body. Shawn Marion weaseled his way into the lane to snatch the ball and kick it out to the perennially unreliable Tim Thomas for a retry three which, as they usually do in unfortunate situations, singed the net. Overtime occurred. And with it, a butt whooping. All of this achieved by the Suns in direct retaliation to Kobe’s 50 points he would score on the night as he so badly tried to will the Lake Show to a closeout victory. Fatefully, it was a butt whooping that lasted for all of the five minutes of overtime as well as the next four quarters of Game 7. That was it. The countless T-shirts and memorabilia for the all-L.A. matchup had to be scrapped. We somehow manage the near impossible, becoming one of those teams that’s listed on the wrong side of the record book. Darn near every team closes out the series when up 3-1 … except us. That sucks.
But it seemed like a good foundation, right? I know we historically blew an opportunity to get to the Western Conference Finals against all odds, but this team seemed like it had a core under the tutelage of Phil Jackson that could put up a serious fight in the coming years with just a few tweaks. So what did we do? We started tweaking.
... but do take my word for it.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Just got back from a week of volunteer roofing in South Carolina. Dead tired. Got nose surgery at 6:00 in the morning tomorrow. Yeah. And in honor of that ... I'm posting some Michael Jackson ...
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We parted with one of our rising studs in Caron Butler to get … wait for it … wait for it … … … Kwame Brown. Laker supporters now had to defend the likes of Kuh-wah-me Brown. Maybe the most legitimate bust of a #1 pick in National Basketball Association history. And yet while he was a beloved Laker, I took the intiative to twist his inadequacies a lil’ bit. Yes, I’m guilty of it. His lack of mobility became his superb defensive fortitude and immovability! His refusal to offensively assert himself became his team-oriented selflessness! His ineptitude to develop any sense of purpose on the basketball court became his still untapped potential! His cement bricks for hands became his … no, those were the exact same. Those (purple & gold) rose-colored glasses that I refused to replace with normal contacts led me to root for, again, Kuh-wah-me Brown. I still can’t believe it myself.
But you know why I thought the team could work? The Lakers restarted their seemingly impossible re-rebuilding phase by bringing back the igniter that had never failed over an extended period of time. Ever. Phil Jackson. Freshly rested from his Kobe-snitching “The Last Season” book tour, our resident Zen Master decided that the bad blood really wasn’t that bad. If he brought this team of Chex Mix-like pieces together, then that would really be something. Could title aspirations come out of an utter failure of a season just because P-Jax was back at the helm? We would see.
The very first game of that season was so exciting that no one could be blamed for having hope. Future aspirations were heaped on rookie center Andrew Bynum, though everyone new Phil disregarded most rookies. Our newly signed (strictly because no one else wanted him) point guard Smush Parker would start his season-opening string of 20-point games that had everyone tagging him as an epic find and out-of-nowhere potential playmaking star. It seemed that way at first. Shut up. The specific excitement came in the form of an overtime game-winning possession against the Denver Nuggets. I guess Phil thought he would make an immediate legend of Kwame, because he designed the play for him. And it looked pretty good actually. The guy made a strong (albeit terrified) move to the basket for a lay-up. Which he botched, of course. But the ball got immediately tapped out and found its way into Kobe’s hands, and he in turn mopped up the mess by hitting a highly contested straight on go-ahead jumper from 22 feet. Let the ascension begin.
But it didn’t quite begin. Yes, this was a season of legend by the (soon to be former) #8 that will probably never be individually replicated, but the team didn’t live up to lofty bounce-back expectations. This was the stretch of Bryant’s career where he created a whole other standard of scoring expertise. Comparisons were blown out the window. The once-arguable matchup of offensive savvy between Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant was no longer relevant. In a near unbelievable first three quarters of a game against the Dallas Mavericks, Kobe outscored the entire opposing squad at a clip of KB: 62, Mavs: 61. He then proceeded to kick back the entire fourth quarter and never reenter the game, which led to harsh criticism of him depraving the public of an all-time historical performance. Just weeks later, as if a direct answer to the critics, Kobe came out firing again against the Toronto Raptors. When it was all said and done, every defender in the arena that night had Kobe imprinted on their foreheads to the tune of 81 points. Like … that’s … e-i-g-h-t-y o-n-e. Even further disregarding all semblance of logic, he went on a tear of four consecutive games with over 45 points scored. It became a day-to-day display of excellence for Kobe, finishing the season, unbelievably, with a scoring clip of 35.4 points per game. But somehow … somehow … we weren’t able to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pack in the Western Conference. It seemed that the rest of the team sometimes sat almost in reverence to Bryant’s individual accolades, never quite coming together cohesively in any way, shape, or form. Only on the strength of Jackson’s pedigree and Kobe’s single-handed brilliance, we reached the playoffs as the 7th seed.
Which meant we met up with the MVP-having Phoenix Suns in the first round. That was during Steve Nash’s two-year reign of making a mockery out of the award-selecting panel. I still have a disgusting taste in my mouth from it. But you know what happened? Game 4 happened. The Lakers made all the adjustments to expose the Suns as fastbreaking phonies. We force fed Kwame and Lamar the ball down low to punish the undersized punks and overachieved our way towards perfectly setting up the commercial-ready moment where in overtime, a jump ball with 6 seconds left on the clock was recovered by Kobe at half court. He took the scene in slowly off the dribble at a diagonal, reaching the opposite wing in an exact amount of calculated steps. Everyone knew the ball would be his and his only. Every opposing player in the vicinity fell upon his shooting elbow. But Kobe, encompassing every facet of perfectionist determination, lifted into the air and gently released the orange roundie to meet its due company in the form of flipping nylon. With that buzzer-beater, the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead. We were on the verge of overthrowing the (*airquotes*) MVP and every playoff choker he called a teammate.
[to be continued]
... but do take my word for it.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
We lost. Our beautiful orchestra of motivated last-chancers dissipated. The Laker Empire would slowly and destructively crumble over the coming months. Kobe was an unrestricted free agent that summer and wouldn’t even publicly acknowledge whether he would recommit with the organization who had housed him since his days at Lower Marion High School. Shaq demanded a trade (to a team in warm climate city, no less) away from the Bryant, whom he claimed was a terrible teammate, and even sold his L.A. home weeks before an accommodation with the Miami Heat was even made. Our supposed-to-be savior Derek Fisher signed away with the lowly Golden State Warriors for more money than the Lakers’ front office was willing to commit to the role-playing point guard. Gary Payton was shipped for spare parts to the gutter-dwelling Beantown Celtics. Phil Jackson was at an odds with management and just kind of went away to zen however much he wanted to away from professional basketball, with an all-revealing book rumored to be coming soon after. Malone’s knee required extensive offseason work and while he entertained the possibility of coming back with the Spurs, Wolves, or Lake Show, he wound up riding off into the Louisiana sunset of post-basketball life. And while Kobe did wind up re-upping after a flirting period with the Bulls and (*deep breath*) Clippers, darn near no one was recognizably left. The team was in tatters.
The inaugural season of my fandom was supposed to be perfect. The Lakers were supposed to ride the coattails of my support to a championship, cementing my personal revenge of 53-foot tall Michael Jordan for attaining so many while I was too young to object to it. But the season wasn’t perfect. Karl didn’t get the championship to cap off his beyond-extraordinary career. The Mailman moved on and I had to stick with the Lakers to start this climb back up from the gutter. Now while I had my hopes for a roster now consisting of the likes of the lanky (and interestingly enough, my second favorite player from the previous season) Lamar Odom, the Swiss army knife Caron Butler, the aged and dreadlocked rebounder Brian Grant, jellybean-sized shooter Chucky Atkins, and the nearly dead chain-smoking Vlade Divac, the ’05 season was something that had me wishing for a temporary case of Alzheimer’s.
We started it all right enough, simply living up to extensively lowered expectations. We had replaced Phil with a similarly larger-than-life coach in Rudy Tomjanovich, but because of health issues and the pressures that are a package deal with being the Lakers coach, he barely lasted past the Christmas meeting with the now rivaling Heat, and the indignantly bitter Shaq, before re-retiring. All in all, we fell apart midseason due to a never-ending string of injuries and overall lack of talent, missing the playoffs altogether. That was a first (and odds-on, only) for Kobe in his career. Drastic measures needed to be implemented. And then a trade went down that would change all of our lives drastically.
[to be continued]
... but do take my word for it.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
NEW ANDRE 3000. I REPEAT ... NEW ANDRE 3000. (snippet from 2dopeboyz)
But nothing solved my lack of cable that first season. It kinda sucked a lot as NBC's jingle-worthy NBA contract was long-gone from the masterful Bob Costas days of league action. All I got was the occasional ABC Sunday double-header. Stupid near monopoly by ESPN and TNT stealing my thunder. So the sneaking around ensued. I had to make up as many excuses as possible to go to Garrett's house and catch a game. If we were camping, why don't we drive out to a restaurant that, I don't know, has a TV? I had to beeeeg to stay up and bum on the couch for a super late night game when we stayed the weekend with my aunt in Frankfort. I know it's a school night, but how does B-Dub's sound at 10 pm? I had to make visits to see Caroline more than just a weekend thing to bum her TV, too. Every week it was a mission to get to view this immaculate game I was so terribly elated with.
The regular season was tough. With our quad HoFers (Hall of Famers), we were immediately tagged to possibly be the successors of those '96 Payton-beating Bulls in all-time wins. It started beautifully ... until Karl Malone got hurt for the very first time in his entire fricking life. Scott Williams, the most irrelevant player to ever get in the league, decided he overzealously just had to compensate for his lack of significance by jumping for the only time in his career to defend a jump shot and just had land on top of The Mailman's knee. Jerk. No one knew then, but it would cost him much of the season and get reaggravated literally a game before the NBA Finals. That left us ... *sigh* ... Slava Medvedenko (intended to be read irritatingly slow, syllable-by-syllable) as our next power forward option. Doomed.
Here's the 2004 season fast-forwarded, which toyed with every emotion I didn't know I had. Kobe had one of most classic endings ever to the regular season, with playoff seeding on the line. In regulation, Kobe flung off Ruben Patterson for an absolutely disgusting way-too-far-away off-balance three pointer to send the game into overtime. And if only to outdo himself, Kobe came off a screen at the buzzer of the second overtime to hit another fade-away three over the switching shot blocker Theo Ratliff which gave them the improbable season-ending win. This leap-frogged them from the 4th seed to 2nd seed as the Pacific Division champs, only behind the (soon to expire) T-Wolves and a much more favorable schedule. This somehow positively capped a regular season of Bryant stupidity involving (... of course ...) the rape trial and shot selection questioning which all came boiling over during a game against Sacramento where Kobe seemingly refused to shoot the ball under any circumstances in the first half. Just to prove a point. Ugggh. But I knew we'd get it straight in the playoffs. We had to. This was my adopted franchise!
We made short work of the then-rising Houston Rockets with the human log Yao Ming and soon-to-be-nonexistant Steve Francis. I specifically remember a nail-biting where the Lake Show played entirely perfect defense on a crazy long 24 second sequence where Houston had one last shot for the game, ending on a back-up option kick-out to Jim Jackson which was heavily contested (and thankfully missed) by our rotating defender. Those are the kinds of missed opportunities by underdog teams that legitimately kick them in the butt and they rarely recover from. But who cares about H-Town? We had to take a cab up I-(something or another) to San Antonio for the defending champs.
And the rusty boot-pokies (or Spurs, if you wanna be all proper) blitzed us. I mean, I hate football as well as unnecessary inter-sport references, but they absolutely knocked the wind out of us with Tony Parker getting any and every uncontested lay-up he cared for along with Tim Duncan being all boring and efficient like usual. Most people called for Shaq or Karl to simply club the Frenchman in the face for the rest of the series to deter his lay-upnicity. While they did adjust to body him up better from that point on, it just turned out that all the Lakers needed was a classic miracle for the ages by the player everyone least expected. You know, one of those.
So we’d somehow tied the series up 2-2. Who knew? It was Game 5 back on their turf. Pivotal, ya know? Crazy great contested game leading all the way to an exhausted Kobe go-ahead jumper off a classic Karl Malone screen with under a minute to go. Then the Spurs come down and we play crazy defense on them and force an inbounds with only a few second on the shot clock. Great position, right? And all Tim Duncan does is catch the ball out of his range, taking a bobbling couple of dribbles leading into a falling one-handed jumper/floater/turd of a shot that just so happens to fall through the net to give them the lead with nothing but 0.4 seconds left on the game clock. Zero-point-four seconds. Four-tenths-of-a-second. Fantastic.
So I guess Phil drew up a play or whatnot. I assume coaches do or say something inspirational to rally the troops in impossible situations. Anyways, masterful inbounder Gary Payton claps the ball on the wing, everyone starts in motion, and Gregg Pop-a-zit queues a quick timeout. Ugh. Re-do. Masterful inbounder Gary Payton claps the ball on the wing, everyone starts in motion, and Phil Jax queues a quick timeout. Ugh. Re-do. Masterful inbounder Gary Payton claps the ball on the wing, everyone starts in motion, and no one calls a timeout this time. Shaq and Karl run this double screen set in the paint to free up Kobe for a flash out at the three point line. But he’s covered. Dually, Shaq tries to rub off into an attempt for an alley-oop, but it’s covered. Karl falls back to towards a possible hole around the free throw, but … yep … it’s covered. Hmmm … has it been five seconds yet? Apparently not. There’s seemingly no one to go to, but out of nowhere … nowhere … Derek Fisher (who knew he was even in the game?) flares out directly towards GP who by now has to let go off the ball. In one motion, after seemingly hours of suspense, Fisher catches it mid-turn and lefty flings it a mile up in the air. To make a .4 second story even shorter … it swished. Pandemonium 2004! I think I screamed at that moment for (I hope) the only time in my life. Without even meaning to I launched out of my bed and found myself running up and down the hall at like midnight or whatever. One of the single greatest moments I can ever remember.
The Spurs were dead after that one. Of course they lost in L.A. on the Game 6 closeout. We were on a juggernaut rampage now and no one would get in our way. Not even the league-leading Timberwolves. In a series where Kevin Garnett cussed a lot, Latrell Sprewell had cornrows a lot, Sam Cassell looked like Gollum a lot, Michael Olowakandi lacked basketball skills a lot, and Oliver Miller prolly ate doughnuts a lot, the Lakers prevailed in six. That’s all you really need to know. It went a game longer than it should have, but even after Karl Malone left the series a little gimpy, everyone knew the inexperienced Eastern champ (by default of conference suckiness) Pistons would be no match for us. We had four HoFers (if you needed reminding)! They had a ragamuffin band of unwanted parts that couldn’t put points on the board and barely had an all-star résumé between them. Case closed. Cancel the Finals and hand out the rings.
Now this minor little part of the story is so painful that I refuse to relive it piece by piece. It was now into June of the summer after my 8th grade year and I had my one church camp of the year leaving a day after Game 3 where the Lakers were down 1-2 in the series. I was devastated to have to leave after the previous night’s game where I literally turned the TV off and tried to go to sleep after the third quarter of a pathetically mediocre Laker showing (but I couldn’t handle it a half hour later and turned it back on, just to see them in the same exact hole with seconds left). But so be it. With all my instantaneous obsession with the NBA, I somehow had just enough sense left to know God could take precedence over what was going on in the basketball world. Begrudgingly so. But I swore I was going to camp without the burden of the Finals outcome and wouldn’t be sneaking around to find out the scores over the week. But the jerk camp leaders who had TVs and cell phones for nighttime use just haaad to talk about the games the mornings after anyway. Ugh. The website prolly didn’t exist back then, but FML.
[to be continued]
... but do take my word for it.
Friday, July 10, 2009
But as anyone who's ever known me knows, I can't just kinda do anything. Right then and there in that comfy condo's SportsCenter-viewing chair, the spark was ignited. I immediately copped my copies of (the temporarily titled) ESPN NBA Basketball with Allen Iverson for the PS2 as well as NBA Live 2004 with Vince Carter for the GameCube. And of course I couldn't rest with the previous generation of video game systems' lack of updating capability. Once I noticed Dikembe Mutombo wasn't supposed to be on the Nets anymore, I immediately had to create a system to keep track of these dang rosters that changed every single day. So I used my spreadsheet savvy to organize rosters with every single player's information, as well as free agents, that also integrated depth charts based on starting percentage and minutes played. Without even meaning to, I knew where every guy in the association was, where they had been, what their role was on the team, a scouting report on them, their physical spec's, and all the important garbage. I got the Harvey Pollack Statistical Yearbook full of every obscure stat and non-stat and amusing anecdote you never wanted to know, yet for some reason I needed to know. I got the straight stat book collections later. The exact numbers of points per game and turnovers were an afterthought to the collection of distances of every individual player's shots and who got blocked the most.
But that was all just for my newfound love of the game in general. The important premise behind the whole thing was my inabsolvable commitment to the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, I knew they were the most hated team in America, yet still sold the most merchandise year in and year out. Yes, I knew that most people considered them a cop-out favorite team for any given sports fan and consensus was that the refs cheated for them. Yes, I knew Shaq sometimes came in overweight and lazy because of a minor toe injury and that Kobe was supposedly a ball-hogging adulterer. But who cares? They felt right to me. I would soon understand enough about them to pimp slap any approaching hater with a stat sheet-clad fist. As I have/do regularly.
[to be continued]
... but do take my word for it.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The way these reporters talked about Malone and Payton blew me away. The fact that the surly 40ish power forward whose previous championship aspirations were twice trashed by the infallible Michael Jordan, as once was the pesky rail-thin point guard's, tugged at my epic tale-seeking heart's strings. I had to see how this would work. Evil dream-crushing Michael Jordan had of course been presented to me through the movie Space Jam, but more intensively (if you can imagine it so) by a long-forgotten field trip to the IMAX that detailed in all its 72-by-53 foot capacity how "Air Jordan" had greedily stolen away the ball from the hulking Karl Malone to hit a championship-winning (though, later understood, illegal) jump shot in his (supposed-to-be) final act of basketball ring-hogging.
All the emotions of the forgotten epic IMAX rushed back to me. Karl Malone was the real life human hero that I'd been searching for away from my world of sequestered intrigues. Everything about him was interesting to me, even down to what the heck he was talking to himself about for every single one of his 13,000-plus free throws he attempted. As another selling point, other people in the universe actually had a reference point to him as opposed to anyone else I would care to talk about. At the age of 13, there's only so much someone will listen to you about "Weird Al" or the dreaded card games I was finally pushing past and leaving on the back burner. I had to follow this Karl Malone character and his newfound team that gave him another chance to reach the pinnacle of the basketball universe after 5 years of failed attempts since his trip to the Finals via that huge screen I watched it on.
... but do take my word for it.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Meet the twin, Andre Ben. Welcome to the lion's den.
Original skin many men comprehend.
I extend myself, so you go out & tell a friend.
Sin all depends on what you believin in,
Faith is what you make it. That's the hardest ish since MC Ren.
Alien can blend right on in wit yo kin,
Look again, cuz I swear I spot one every now & then.
It's happenin again, wish I could tell you when.
Andre, this is Andre, y'all just gon' have to make amends.
So it's been weeks now. I've been trying to get all my senses straight about the whole thing. For the first time since I've committed my unadulterated fandom (est'd 2003) to the troops in purple and gold, we have won the whole thing. Part-by-part I will be releasing my epic essay (or novel as it seems to be turning into now) on my reasons as to why this team is so integral to my life. Essential even. I’ll start slow on the intro so you can get your reading chops ready, but trust me, there’s much to be posted. Enjoy, comment, harass, whatever. I’ll prolly update this here and on Facebook each day with each new part.
It all started in Pigeon Forge while I was immersed in all the channels of our family's condo's television set. We didn't have cable back home, so that was half the lure of any given vacation. Previous to that day, I couldn't have cared any less about any given sport. But through the miracle of the immaculate presentation of ESPN's coverage of the opening week of NBA free agency, I was exposed to the initial story-line that would dictate my future in-depth interests and attachments to the game and organization I am immersed with today. Rumors were swirling that it was possible that one Karl Malone and one Gary Payton could sacrifice the extensive riches entitled to two close-to-retirement future Hall-of-Famers and join one Shaquille O'Neal and one Kobe Bryant to vie for an NBA championship.
... but do take my word for it.