I can’t stand it. I can’t stand the not knowing. If this year’s Lakers team doesn’t perform up to an elite level Kobe’s outta here. Heartbreaker!
Jerry Buss warned him he’d break all our hearts. Kobe doesn’t seem to care. Hey. That’s ok. That’s ok. I’ve gotten through the tough times before and I can again. Remember that beautiful blonde in Santa Cruz? She didn’t love me. And I survived. I’m still here. Listen, I can start envisioning new Kobe-less futures now. . . Josh Howard. Zach Randolph. Luol Deng. The Lakers, we’re a good lookin’ team, right?
We won’t be alone. We’ll rebound.
It’s just the. . . the not knowing. I can’t stand the not knowing. That’s why I’ve devised a specific, scientific methodology designed to answer the most pressing question before us. Can the current Lakers climb to elite status fast enough to satisfy Kobe?
The answer has more to do with our own self-image than you might think. The methodology? A thorough, investigative look at one of our team’s least investigated areas. . . Body type. Yes. Body type. Only an earnest self-evaluation of the Lakers players’ physicality will enable us to scry into our teams’ immediate and long term future.
So let’s take a closer look. . .
Let’s start with Kobe himself. Twenty pounds lighter for the Olympics, he’s quick. With NBA power shifting to quick guards, Kobe has really helped himself, especially on the defensive end. He’s no longer looking so hobbly and gimpy either. Kobe’s never had quite the length or big hands of an Michael Jordan, but has compensated in other areas well enough to become the most sensational player in the game today, and clearly one of its all-time greats. He’s NBA middle aged, but has, quite possibly, turned back his clock three years based on his new condition alone.
Evaluation: In his prime.
OK. What’s with this guy? How much chest can one man have? Is it an implant? Turiaf may very well have stapled an extra chest onto his own. Looking firm and rooster-like, Turiaf has the potential to body up and make the Lakers a more physical team.
Odom hasn’t been bullying too many power forwards at a lean 130 pounds. But there is a catch here. I hate to be the one to say it, but how tall is Ronny Turiaf? No one seems to question his 6’10’’, but he doesn’t look 6’10’’ to me. Look at him sandwiched between Maurice Evans and Kwame Brown, laughing. I don’t see a one inch difference between Ronny and Kwame. Hey, Elton Brand is short. Some tough, inside players are short. I don’t question that. If chest inches counted vertically, we might be the only team with a counter to Yao Ming.
Sorry, Ronny. I’m just trying to keep it real here.
Evaluation: Room for growth, just maybe not to 6’10’’
Odom is lanky. He’s looooong, gets a lot of rebounds. How much will Lamar fill out in years to come? I’m betting not too much. Body wise, he feels thin for a power forward, unless you are trying to play small ball. Odom has more potential to physically dominate his competition at small forward. Remember last year’s discussion of the training Lamar had done on his body’s ‘core’? It made him stronger, more coordinated, and more centered as a player.
Evaluation: Getting more solid and less wiry.
Odom is lanky. Radmanovic is gangly. It doesn’t bother his outside shooting, but it hurts his defense and it must not help much in finding dates. Clearly, what this guy needs is to return briefly to his alien world for a training regimen composed of superior alien technology and blue food.
Evaluation: Only Astrological principles and Biorhythms can tell.
Sadly lost his neck in ‘05. After Cook’s rookie season, the Lakers asked him to gain some muscle. That summer, his neck disappeared and has yet to return. Cook’s vertical consists of the pupils of his eyes moving up and down.
Evaluation: Please don’t pick up your player option for 2009.
He’s thin. He’s quick. He gets around. He’s not super strong for a center and gets bullied a bit, but he’s agile. That’s at least good enough at center to be a great backup. If Mihm would work hard on his jumper, he’s an intriguing possibility to play some time at the four as young Bynum comes into his own.
Evaluation: Athletic and still on the way up.
Muscle. Muscle. Muscle. I love watching Kwame guard Jermaine O’Neal, who looks like a dainty sliver next to the Lakers center. (Dwight Howard, on the other hand, remains awe inspiring) Kwame is quick, but rather earthbound. He’s physically on the mend. He’s in a contract year. He sometimes looks spaced out.
Evaluation: Rigorous Brain Training is needed. Just do it Kwame. Be…the ball. If he could get his head on straight, his not-so-great hands would be an afterthought.
Slow, but very strong for a small forward. Looking even stronger this year, like some solid little gate that shuts tight in the lane. May have enough brains to donate a few to Kwame.
Evaluation: Already a veteran. Still on the way up. And how. Good things often seem to happen when a healthy Luke is around.
A bulldog. Bulldog body. Solid. Fisher’s small but ferocious, with power, heart and three point range.
Evaluation: For now, still at peak. Stay, Fish. Stay.
Who? Where? Oh, that human toothpick? Did you see Crittenton split those two Golden State defenders in Hawaii. Of course he did! The guy looks like Paper Mario. He could probably split the atom.
If J. Critt was being modeled as a 3D character, I would complain that he isn’t realistic enough. Real people don’t have muppet arms. Everyone’s bragging about strength here, but I see speed and quickness. His little mustache gives him the look of someone about to have a shootout with Hannah Barbara’s Droopy Dog.
In interviews, Javaris is serious, taking the game of basketball about as lightly as the war in Iraq. As this young man fills out, he has nowhere to go but up.
Evaluation: Future Star. Probably somewhat erratic for now.
Plan: Distract Kobe during rookie mistakes and keep him focused on Crittenton’s blinding speed.
Ok, let’s get down to it. The most relevant factor in the whole Kobe dilemma. . . Bynum.
This guy has had doubters all along. Writers claimed he’d be a bust, that the Lakers should have drafted Danny Granger. Now his trade value is sky high. So, what’s up with this kid? Andrew’s body has certainly changed. From high school butterball to. . . well, long and thin. Man is he long. This year’s Bynum body looks, unlike when drafted, like an athletic lottery pick. Lean. Muscled. Preparing to fill out.
Everyone is excited about his new strength, but he doesn’t look overpowering yet to me. He does, however, look much quicker, and springy on the offensive end. He still lopes down the length of the court a bit, but less so, and carries a trimmed load. Bynum certainly has the look of a young, future star. My guess? This is the year skinny, newly muscled Bynum can be good. Very good. But not yet great. Who can blame the kid. He’s only 19! We can’t expect him to be an all-star yet. It’s unheard of.
On the other hand, I cannot agree with the fury to give this kid up for a 35 year-old Jason Kidd. That sounds like a prescription for 15 years of regret. Any deal for Bynum must make the Lakers instant and legitimate contenders and pacify Kobe. Otherwise, Andrew Bynum looks suspiciously like a future cornerstone to me.
Evaluation: We need time!
Plan: Simple. Kidnap Kobe and place him in suspended animation for a short year and a half period. Bynum gains girth while Duncan and McGrady slow down and Amare’s knees crumble.
Conclusion: I refuse to write one. No. I can not say the signs are pointing to a championship this year, but there is a mountain of potential requiring a minimal amount of patience.
I have to say, the pressure of this situation is just no good for me. I’ve never been good with instability. I just can’t stand the not knowing. So there is only one approach left I know to take. . .
Our past together has been so wonderful. The rings. The 81 point explosions. The ever present soap opera-like drama. The stupid Corvette and brick wall comparison.
I know we’re a little too skinny for your taste, but please, bear in mind, all that will change in such a short time. Don’t be so easily seduced by those other sexy teams. Be reasonable.
Please, just calm down, focus, and Kobe, be mindful. You have a long career ahead of you. There is still so much time for you to reach the gold again, with us, right here where we love you.
If not, goodbye. We can get some other player with an even weirder name than yours, like Thabo or Luol! We don’t need you. We’ve even got another Coby in the wings.
Goodbye and good luck, pal.
Davey Da and the Laker Nation