Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lakers At the Trade Deadline: Don't Give Me That Bull, Give Me That One

Celtic-killer Bulls like to 'pierce' Pauls with their horns.

If anything’s been made clear over this past week regarding our team’s stellar play, it’s not that we don’t need Kobe – it’s that we don’t need Bynum. So…Bynum for Bosh right? Not quite. Think less raptor, and more bull. What? Chicago Bull. Make that bulls.

For the last several years, many Laker fans have fanatically clamored for the services of Kirk Hinrich, and only up until this year have the stars come as close to aligning as they ever have before in this pursuit, as the Lakers now have at their ready-disposal the expiring deals of both Morrison and Farmar while the Bulls have on their end a strong desire to clear some extra salary cap space for this summer’s free agent fest. And in all actuality, adding a capable defender and solid shooter like Hinrich would only further cement our Championship-repeating chances and alleviate some of our deficiencies in speedy-point-guard-defense. But my question is…why stop with one Captain? Could it be, in our mad haste and obsession with the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, we’ve totally forgotten about another effective captain who was once able to man his own ship full of wild animals in the midst of a great storm? Why yes, I’m talking about that crazy, animal-loving-son-of-a-gun, Noah. Joakim that is.

Why not, along with our quest for Kirk, also snag the much-needed services of the tough, gritty, and passionate Joakim Noah? Essentially the deal would then become: Bynum, Farmar, and Morrison for Noah, Hinrich, and whatever fillers are needed to compensate for the discrepancy in Bynum and Noah’s contracts (with Noah still being under his rookie contract of about $3 mill. a year for the next 3 years).

Think about it for just a second. Every year, we get glimpses of how dominant a force Bynum is in the paint, but unfortunately, those glimpses have all come from a mostly Pau-less landscape. Bynum’s been in the league for 5 years, and up to this point, he still doesn’t understand what this team really needs out of him. We’ve gotten tougher and crazier with Ron-ron, so why not take it up a notch and get that Noah guy who harassed the Celtics last year in that historic 7-game series?

Besides, aren’t we always complaining about how passive Bynum is on defense, and how he always seems to lack any sort of fire or urgency out on the floor if he’s not involved in the offense? Well, Noah is the center we’ve always hoped Bynum would become. Noah doesn’t care about scoring – he just goes out there and does all the intangible things his team needs him to do with an unrelenting toughness. He hustles, rebounds, blocks, defends, gets put-backs, and has an admirable, passionate intensity about his game that perfectly complements that of the Mamba’s. Not to mention that he’s already shown a mature reverence for the history of the game by personally coming up to Phil Jackson in the Bulls’ last loss to the Lakers and telling him how much he’s admired and respected Phil’s work and legacy. Noah definitely strikes me as a good listener and an avid learner, a dedicated workhorse that Phil would definitely see eye to eye with. Bynum? He’s still a 22 year-old teenager living out his unfulfilled college-life - a finesse rebounder who will sometimes sleep too much on defense…and sleep too much in real life.

We’ve all seen how much better the Lakers function defensively and offensively without Bynum, but the fact is, we do still need that stronger, tougher inside presence against, well…the Shaqfu. Last year, Odom and Gasol had their way with Ilgauskas and Varejao, but this year, Shaq’s overwhelming fatness has been too much of a presence inside for our bigs to overcome. I hate to admit it, but in our two losses to the Cavs, Shaq has played a major role in diminishing our normal efficiency in the paint and intimidating our frontline at the same time. I had hoped that Bynum would be able to neutralize Shaq at the very least, but as usual, he only wants to show that he can score against him – which he hasn’t really even proven he can do unless he’s getting lobs, given that Shaq stands his ground well against the kid. Sure, Joakim may not exactly be the answer against Shaq (or even Dwight), but I’ll bet you he can out-hustle Shaq for rebounds a lot better than Andrew can.

Yes, I know, many will call me a Bynum-hater and argue that Bynum is way more offensively polished and that even without his effort on defense, his uncanny, alien length is enough to deter most players from coming into the paint. And sure, maybe down the line, when Kobe, Pau, and Odom are all past their primes and we’re aching for some extra scoring punch, we’ll need Bynum to finally be the focal point of our offense, but at this moment, there is no doubt in my mind that Joakim Noah, that curly, pony-tailed, dog-like monster is an overall better fit for our championship team as it now stands.

Noah showing Bynum how to rebound. This picture also promotes Life apparently.

Noah actually knows how to rebound. Unlike Bynum, who usually just hopes that by raising his lengthy arms he’ll inevitably snag some boards, Noah actually goes out and fights for his 12 boards a game, doing so in only a minute more of average game time than Bynum does. And in regards to the offensive discrepancy between the two? At this point, Noah can score just as well as Bynum on some nights by simply using his inherent tenacity to get multiple second-chance buckets. And despite his awkward, twist-up, shooting form, he’s actually shooting better than Bynum at the free throw line (try 77% to Bynum’s 74%). So while we may give up some length and some scoring in Bynum, we aren’t losing out on much in every other area. If anything, we gain a lot more mental/physical toughness and heart from a guy like Noah, who knows how to really work, than we ever will from ‘potentially-amazing’ Bynum.

Obviously, the biggest question is, would Chicago even be willing to part with such a promising, young piece as Noah, who’s made such huge strides this year and has become one of the leading candidates for Most Improved Player? Well, hopefully Bynum has shown enough of his potential to cement the fact that, under the right circumstances (without another big in his stead), he can be a consistently powerful offensive weapon which could greatly help a young Bulls squad looking for more offense outside of the Rose-Deng duo. In essence, the big-swap works for both sides, because on the one hand, the Lakers don’t need another scorer, but a bruising big man who does all of the intangibles, while on the other hand, the Bulls probably need some fire-power down-low wherever they can find it.

In the end, if we stand pat after this Thursday’s trade deadline has passed, I’ll be satisfied. And if we do end up trading Farmar and Morrison for Hinrich, I’ll be guardedly optimistic. After all, by gaining Hinrich, we’d essentially be continuing our inexplicable trend of overpaying tricky, white guys extensive amounts of money for extended periods of time (See Vladimir Radmanovic, Adam Morrison, Sasha Vujacic, and Luke Walton, whose contract expires upon the return of Christ), although the overriding hope is, of course, that Hinrich turns out to be the most productive and consistent out of the bunch.

But, if somehow, we were also able to obtain Joakim Noah in that deal? Well, I’ll be more than ready to pencil us in for our second, post-Shaq era ‘Ship ride. And that Noah guy? He sure knows how to build some ‘ships… (See the Bible. And the Florida Gators’ National Championship history).

The Fridge speaks a lot of bull,
Jonathan Hernandez (Chick's Fridge)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Adam Morrison Steals...A High Five

The former 3rd overall pick of the 2006 draft, Adam Morrison, hasn't gotten much run this season (understandably) for the loaded Lakers, and the time he has gotten, he hasn't done much Well, on Sunday night, Adam Morrison pretty much summed up the entire night for the Lakers' BENCH (deodorant helps the stench), which scored a season-high 66 points, by intercepting a high-five between Mavericks' Forward Tim Thomas and his teammate, Kris Humphries. Check out the 15 second mark for the laughs:

Look at Phil Jackson's face. That's the face of a coach that's secretly saying to himself: "Good gawd, I need to give this man more minutes!" Kind of.

In the end, Adam Morrison's proven that not every player at the end of the bench has to be utterly useless after all. You can always be hilariously useless as well. Here's to Adam for cementing himself as one of the league's most hilariously awkward bench players. There's that third pick for ya!

Oh, and Adam hit all his shots tonight going 3-3 from the field. Take that, AMMO haters.

Adam Morrison Makes Laker Garbage Time Fun,
Jonathan Hernandez (Chick's Fridge)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shannon Brass.

The Lakers have their own version of New Moon, apparently. During an interview with Derek Fisher last night after the Lakers win over the OKC Thunder, the full moon rose from the east to say hello to all.

Credit to CachookaReborn and...Shannon's mom?

The Lakers like to kick butt. And sometimes, they also like to show it. Enjoy this while you can, you people who enjoy this kind of stuff...It'll most likely be taken down soon. And not just for copyright reasons.

Monday, December 21, 2009

(Purple and) Gold-Finger: Kobe Bryant is a Road Scholar

My preciousss...ring.

Finger This Out:

Four and one – that would be the Lakers’ most recent record on their first extensive road trip of the season. It could also just as easily describe the number of healthy fingers Kobe Bryant's been working with on his right hand and the one bummy finger that he’s been forced to adjust to on the very same hand. More significantly, however, four and one might better allude to the obsessive image that’s taken captive of Mamba’s mind ever since last season ended – the image of the four rings he’s won and the one ring he still has left to claim for the season. And if his performance on this past road trip was any indication, there was clearly only one finger on Kobe’s mind the entire time - his fifth-ring finger.

Needless to say, starting out a road-trip with your best player’s prized index finger fractured and overly-padded is never an encouraging sign for any team. Fortunately, this is the Lakers we’re talking about, and the best player in discussion just so happens to be the best player for every other team out there as well. So despite fracturing his index finger against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday, Kobe Bryant sucked it up like he did a year ago when his pinkie was falling off and converted some of that pain he had to endure through into pain that his opponents could never withstand.

But Superman can only endure so much, and as the Lakers opened up their trip against the Utah Jazz, Kobe came down with a fever that really sucked the life out of his game and his team. If it wasn’t for this one untimely illness in Utah which only added further insult to injury, the Lakers would be sitting right now with a 5-0 record, a 16-game win streak, and an MVP award presentation for Kobe Bryant in December. Kobe’s response? He wants the MVP award handed to him immediately anyway, as he averaged a cool 34.5 pts on 51% shooting, leading the Lakers to a 4-1 road record the rest of the way. In Chicago, he caught fire and made John Salmons look like chopped salmon and Captain Kirk look like Cap’n Crunch ( I don’t even know what this means, but it flows). In Milwaukee came the epic game-winning shot that didn’t happen and then did happen, as Kobe made Charlie Bell look like the Kobe-stopper one second, and then like Charlie the Unicorn the next. Yet another legendary finish to add to an already voluminous archive of Mamba lore. The next two games against the Nets and Pistons were status quo performances for the Mamba, who did his damage early by helping the Lakers build insurmountable leads that their Stench would, inevitably, make surmountable (the bench will regain its proper name when it starts playing more intelligent and controlled team basketball and does a better job of maintaining our 20 point leads), but still hold on to win.

Team Assessment Summary:

Pau Gasol was a beast and really helped Kobe man the team on this past road trip. He demanded the ball more, scored with his norma,l efficient ease, played some solid defense, and “got all the effin’ rebounds” as Andrew Bynum would say (but not do himself). But really, outside of Pau Gasol, Kobe didn’t have much else to rely on in terms of consistency regarding all the rest of his teammates, especially the Stench. Andrew Bynum, of course, continued to show everyone that he hates In-N-Out double-doubles by averaging a paltry 3.8 rebounds and failing to do much else outside of getting his own shots up. He’s yet to have a double-double game since Pau’s return and is quickly reminding everyone why Pau, despite missing the first 11 games of the season, still deserves the All-Star nod over him come February. Ron Artest played consistent defense, but he sure played some inconsistent offense as well. Lamar Odom continued to rebound the ball well and played with a little more intelligent assertiveness, but still only scored in double figures just once. Furthermore, as the supposed leader of the second-unit, Odom has yet to do much leading, unable to steady the Stench scrubs and help maintain the proper flow and balance that the triangle offense entails. Derek Fisher, of course, hit another clutch shot, yet also had another 0 pt game (his fourth of the season, can you believe it, Ripley?). Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar each had their respective moments (especially Shannon’s Chicago special), but were also mired here and there by questionable shot selection and decision-making, most evident in both their play against Detroit. Adam Morrison, Josh Powell, Sasha Vujacic, and DJ Mbenga…I won’t go any further. The overall point: TGWHK. Thank God we have Kobe. Or as Ron would say – Thank God we have…god? Blasphemous.

Back to Kobe, All-day, Every-day:

Despite all these minor quips, the Lakers are still looking like a dominant powerhouse (especially on defense) that just needs a little tweaking here-and-there to reach full invincibility. The fact that they look this way even with all their inconsistencies is a testament to just how solid the leaders on this team are and a bigger testament to just how much of a consistent guiding force Kobe truly is to this team. As we saw on Saturday night when the Lakers fell to Utah - when Kobe’s out of sorts and unable to passionately lead by example, the team ends up looking just as ill and fractured as he does. Luckily, when Kobe’s Kobe and only has one finger injury to worry about, the Lakers never look like they’re in trouble – even when their Stench gives up big leads or when they find themselves in a jam, trailing by one. Kobe’s still there to save the day. He is, after all, a Road Scholar (and probably a Rhodes Scholar as well) who knows how to steady the ship and get his guys ready for long trips such as these. Four and one against sub-500 teams may not sound impressive, but let’s not forget that everyone plays their best ball against the Lakers – and while they try to play their best against Kobe as well, it never really works out. The Mamba loves playing on the road more than he does at home; undeniably ruthless in the sadistic satisfaction he gets from ripping out the hearts of opposing fans in sold-out arenas who end up chanting his praise anyway…as if he were right at home.

So whether he’s putting on a new ring, tearing a ligament in his pinkie, or fracturing the index finger of his shooting hand, Kobe Bryant sure loves making his precious fingers the center of all basketball attention. There’s a reason why his Nike, puppet-hand shirt only has four fingers –not just because he has four rings, but because he always seems to have one finger end up looking like Luke Walton: you know, injured and inactive. Strangely enough, however, a finger missed for Kobe usually means more fire made when it comes to the continual torching of every opponent standing in his way (just ask Charlie, his name might ring a Bell). Just don’t ask Kobe how his finger’s doing - he’ll give you the finger. And by You, I mean the rest of the league.

(Update: Kobe Bryant has just won his 24th Western Conference Player of the Week Award. Like we didn't know.)

There's a lot of rocky road in the fridge,

Jonathan Hernandez (Chick's Fridge)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Corey Brewer Retires Derek Fisher's Jersey

Late Thursday night, there was some random commotion being made on the internet about Shaq all of a sudden retiring. It was clearly just a joke that managed to get enough buzz as a Twitter trending topic for one night because Shaq ended up playing against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday before getting poked in the eye and exiting the game for retire. Just kidding... I think.

Well, now there's news that Derek Fisher has also considered suddenly retiring as well. Except this time, there may be some truth to this rumor. Check out this video:

(Fisher looks like he got kameha-meha'd in the process too.)

Corey Brewer is Fisher's personal retirement manager. Does such a thing even exist? Who knows, but on this play, it didn't look like Fish existed.

In other news, the Lakers are on an 11-game win-streak and are now a league best 18-3. Fisher also just decided to come out of retirement, beating Allen Iverson for shortest retirement stint ever.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One-Footed, Sideways-Fading, 3-point-Swishing, Kobe-Special

Kobe Bryant won a game of H.O.R.S.E on Friday night. Oh yeah, he also won an actual game at the buzzer over Dwayne Wade while he was at it too...

Kobe hit a buzzer-beating bank-shot to end the first half, then he hit a much longer one to end the 2nd half. Length matters, folks - always. On a side note: Where was Adam Morrison running to? I don't know, but seeing him run across the floor to no one in particular made this Laker celebration even more legendary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prodigal IverSon to 'Start' Anew in the City of Brotherly Love

Let's just say that Allen Iverson has had a lot of previous 'practice' with this next team he's chosen to sign with - oh wait, maybe he hasn't...

Can somebody please quickly photo-shop a picture of Iverson in a 76ers jersey for me?! Oh what? never mind...

How ironic is it that, for the first time, a jaw wired shut is the Sixers' biggest problem at point guard and their answer to it all is ...well, the answer, who has never known when or how to completely keep his mouth wired shut? Sometimes the NBA is too Hollywood for its own good. Just when we all thought Allen Iverson was about to 'start' anew as a-New York Knick and effectively complete his eerie, downward transformation into Stephon Marbury 2.0, the Knicks ended up making a complete 180 by saying "no" to Regis Philbin's final answer and opening the door for the Philadelphia 76ers to complete their own 360-turn in their ongoing love-hate relationship with one gritty and dynamic, 6-foot point guard out of Georgetown.

After Allen Iverson quickly made 'not starting' his own 'personal matter' in Memphis by basically forcing the Grizzlies (the only team gracious (or insane) enough to offer him a contract this past summer) to cut their losses and waive him, the Sixers effectively cut to the chase (though 'chase' is probably not the right word in this scenario) after losing their starting guard Louis Williams for 2 months and waved a second 'Hello' to their one-time MVP guard on Wednesday. Although these days, that MVP part of Iverson has become more and more a distant memory in many people's final assessment of his colored legacy - one that's, unfortunately, been greatly overshadowed by all of his snobby remarks, selfish complaints, and incessant practice/bench hating (I bet he wouldn't have had as bad a bench experience if his bench did cooler, more productive things during games like the Lakers bench).

Regardless, Iverson is back in his old stomping grounds of Philadelphia, where he hopes to party like its 2001 all over again - the year of his own personal 1776 independence, when he alone reigned free. He'll finally get his wish this season and start, and he'll most likely start even when Louis Williams returns, either at the 1 or the 2 - unless anyone thinks Willie Green is going to stop him. Yeah no. Free Willy couldn't stop Iverson from starting at this point. With the Sixers on a 7-game losing streak and rookie-guard Jrue Holiday struggling to hold the fort down in Williams' absence, Allen Iverson was the best and only option available for the floundering squad - an option that can still score in a flurry, still help a team win some games, and still sell a couple extra tickets on the side. And yes, he will still make the Eastern Conference All-Stars team (It's like death and taxes baby - a certainty).

Iverson looked healthy enough in Memphis, and during the short moments he was allotted time, he was able to produce and even take over the game at the quick rate only AI can. How much Allen Iverson ends up dominating the ball and disrupting the offense on a squad with "AI Iggy" and Elton Brand remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: the Sixers should no longer lack a true go-to man to turn to in the 4th quarter with A.I. once again at the helm. He'll have some big, exciting, vintage games where he'll score a ton and he might even average 6-7 assists, but if he truly wants to rewrite his final chapter in Philly under better terms, he'll have to do it by not only winning games, but by winning his teammates and his coaches over with a renewed sense of leadership and cooperation (at the very least, compromise). But who am I kidding? Just let Iverson jack up 20 shots a game and average at least 23 pts, 6 assists, and 2 steals a game for my fantasy team, please.

A little 51-point throwback against Vinsanity in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi's.

I for one, am genuinely still excited to see the little warrior play because no matter how much drama is always seemingly surrounding him, he still always manages to make it seem like he's playing for his championship life out there on the court each and every single night. His rawest, truest moments as a player and person are seen out on that court, not in the press conference like we're led to believe, when he gets an and1 off a hard blow or hits a clutch jumper and screams in infectious passion. Which makes it all the more sad that such a hard-working, passionare player of Iverson's caliber refuses to go out in a greater blaze of glory and humbly accept a contributing role on a team much better equipped than the Sixers to match his championship ferocity. Then again, at this point, so much damage has already been done to his image that no contender would even dare entertain playing with that kind of fire. But what does that say about Iverson when even Stephon Marbarbie-world was able to make a relatively sane and productive contribution to the Boston Celtics' playoff run last season? I don't know. But at least Iverson isn't wearing a #3 Knicks jersey in honor of Starbury this year.

In the end, I feel kind of jipped that Iverson left the Grizzlies without even having one of his token press conference moments where he either cries, has Larry Brown suddenly pop up out of nowhere, or reiterates the same word a countless number of times. Although, he did provide a little something new this time by retiring for about a week after only playing for about a week...

"The Bench? We talkin' 'bout the bench? Not starting...not starting the game I love - the game I go out there and start for...but playing off the bench. Man, how silly is that? We sittin' here, I'm 'spose to be franchise player, and we in here talkin' bout the bench."

Whether or not Iverson can truly resurrect his career and help turn the struggling Sixers into a competitive team once again will be the main, ongoing questions of his stop-gap stay this season. But if he can at least recreate some of those magical press-interview moments that made him such an entertaining spectacle to watch and listen to, it will all have been worth it in the end. Well, at least for
DJ Steve Porter, who likes to make song remixes centered around Allen Iverson quotables.

Joking aside, the little girly fanboy in me (starburst contradiction I know) truly wants to give Iverson the benefit of the doubt this time around and say that he will recapture a piece of his glory days and lead the 76ers to the playoffs, but it's definitely hard to do that when all Iverson has left us with lately are very many doubts with very little to no benefits. We'll get our first answer next Monday, when A.I. is prepared to make his home debut against another one of his old teams, the Denver Nuggets. Once again - perfect poetry. Poetry?! We talkin' about - just kidding. Welcome back, A.I., welcome back.

Some wrong Answers just always seem so right,

The Fridge (Jonathan Hernandez)