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)