… What are you boys doing these days? Your team had found some momentum this past month, the Playoffs are eight games away, and you’ve both picked NOW to stop doing what has given you and the Lakers success this season?
Coming into the game and making a difference (the good kind) — hasn’t that been the Bench Mob battle cry? Whether or not the starters are playing well, hasn’t it been your duty to enter the game and either provide a positive impact or at least pick up where the starters left off? Alongside Lamar, you two were IT for the bench rotation. Even without injuries to your fellow reserves (especially Sasha, who has been patient all season as he watched his playing time distributed between the two of you), it was the new dynamic duo of guards who got Phil’s trust to take the bulk of the non-starter minutes. And now, Phil can barely keep either of you out there before a dozen turnovers have been collected and the lead’s been lost by the wayside.
What’s going on?!
So many people have been skeptical about your potential to work together and be a factor in the team’s success this season.
Our guard play, with or without Derek in the conversation, has been a source of doubt due to your ups and downs. You have both contributed to so many notable wins, however, that it’s hard to figure how in one game against Dallas in January; you two alone contributed 35 points, 6 assists and Jordan, you had two steals and even a block, and then a few days later in Portland, put in a meager nine points.
Now this week, against a Hornets team who isn’t even eligible for the Playoffs; you allowed their bench to go off for 41 points and together you contributed 10 points and not much else.
In 20 and 16 minutes of play, respectively, 10 points and 3 assists was all that was in you to give? Darren Collison, a ROOKIE, had to fill in the huge shoes of Chris Paul for a third of the season and instead of cowering under the pressure of standing in for one of the best point guards in the league, he kept his team competitive. As a reserve against a championship bench, he scored 17 points and handed out 3 assists in 21 minutes of play.
Jordan, even with your small surge in the 4th to cut into the lead, where was everything else from your tool shed? Running plays, penetrating through the paint because you’re quick like that? Shannon, you’re missing dunks now?
In the three road games that practically every analyst predicted would be the Lakers’ demise because the team was without Kobe and Andrew; Jordan scored a cumulative 43 points and Shannon filled in for Kobe as a starter. You know what we saw in those three games? We saw that our young reserve guards (Sasha included) weren’t afraid to step up and take responsibility for their team. That the organization decided to keep the team in tact should have inspired some confidence in you to play even harder, even smarter to show that they didn’t make a mistake. Instead you seem to have developed a new strategy that has nothing to do with helping your team repeat.
Shannon, in all the time you have spent learning the offense since your arrival, you have chosen lately to dribble away the shot clock instead of making sound decisions like running a play or moving the ball. Your famous dunks will always excite your fans, but you possess more than lobs and dunks in your arsenal. You’re not a rookie anymore and you’re certainly not a new member of this team. Where’s the consistency in your shot and, more importantly, your shot selection? Where are your defensive efforts these days? Your lack of sensibility on the floor will only result in your lack of playing time.
Jordan, you played extended minutes in the fourth quarter over Derek on many nights because Phil trusted that you would finish the game properly. You learned to create and run plays for your teammates and still managed to score. It doesn’t matter that your name isn’t spoken in the same breath as Chris Paul, Deron Williams or even Aaron Brooks. None of them play on a Championship team and you are as quick and skilled as any of those point guards. However, when your shot isn’t falling, you can’t seem to figure out other ways to contribute to the game. Maybe defense isn’t your specialty, but it doesn’t mean you can’t put forth the effort (and intelligence) to bring it anyway. We saw how intently you kept your eyes and body on Deron Williams in that game against Utah where all they could muster in the 4th quarter was SIX points.
Critics can say all they want about yours and Shannon’s consistent inability to defend against quick point guards. We’ve seen you both succeed at it on rare occasions, so find a way to turn rare into the norm.
Jordan and Shannon, the playoffs are a few weeks away and your enemies are counting on the two of you to fail and they’re hoping you’ll take everyone with you. No, you’re not exclusively responsible for the team’s success or failure, but should that stop you from wanting to shoulder the load anyway? You are not expected to score 30 points or hand out a dozen assists every night, but you’re expected to do SOMETHING positive to help get the victory.
Forget the expectations of people around you. These are things you should expect from yourselves.
You have some of the most talented, supportive and hardest working teammates — learn from their examples.
You have a class act coaching staff who have all taught and encouraged you on how to play your best, despite all the critics who have dismissed you. It’s time to prove all your naysayers wrong for good. You have these final few regular season games and hopefully a long playoff run, to prove to this team that you’ve got the drive and desire for another Championship Title.
Take it from someone like your beloved teammate, Lamar Odom — individual value is most obvious when the whole of the parts is successful, not the other way around.
You don’t have a lot of time left. Don’t waste your talents and skills on short lived, individual pride. Ego is a tough master to satisfy, especially when you’re playing in a league full of it. Have the senses to leave yours outside of the arena. It’s just holding you back.
The Lakers Nation