Out of Bounds: Mailbag #3

Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

I have never been a celebrity gossip fanatic, to say the least. Just about every story is the same generic piece, right?

(Celebrity A) was seen at (Semi-Normal Place) with (Celebrity B) doing (Semi-Normal Activity).

I can hardly contain my excitement. Maybe it’s because I have always associated gossip enthusiasts with bubbly teeny-boppers bouncing around the mall making absurd comments like, “Oh. My. God. Did you see Taylor Swift drinking her Mocha with whole milk? She’s sooo gonna’ die soon!”

Gag me.

Thankfully, my celeb-gossip connoisseur girlfriend has the inside scoop on the daily adventures of Hollywood’s elite. Every once in a while, she will drop me a story that doesn’t leave me feeling like J.R. Smith after an English exam. This morning, she read me a piece of an interview from US Weekly (I’m told that’s a magazine) where the following exchange with Lamar Odom happened:

US Weekly: What’s next for you – more hoops?
Lamar: I want to retire. Hopefully this line (Rich Soil) will blast off.

Hmmmmm….

And that appropriately brings us to our first mailbag question…

My wife makes me watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” – and no I don’t want to talk about it. When I first saw Odom on the show, I realized that there’s a whole camp of people who know him as Mr. Khloe Kardashian… and why shouldn’t they? It’s not like his head is in the game half the time he’s on the court. I’m starting to think that maybe he’s a better reality show star than NBA player. Am I alone on this one?
- Darren

I shamefully confess that I have seen a few recent episodes of ‘KUWTK’ – and I also don’t want to talk about it. Lamar has always been an enigma – he has every physical gifting and the natural ability necessary to be a perennial All-Star. He may be one of the few players in NBA history to hurdle from underrated to overrated – only to make the same transition all over again. Love him or hate him, he will make you love him and hate him, probably in the span of just a few games – and that’s about all you can consistently count on from L.O.

Earlier this season, he went through a fifteen game streak where he scored in double figures just once, and grabbed 10+ rebounds only three times. On Sunday afternoon, he looked like a completely different player – and in a game where Kobe was firing blanks, he was certainly the difference (along with Ron’s defense on Melo).

Lamar Odom isn’t dumb, he doesn’t have a low basketball IQ and he certainly understands what it takes to be successful in the NBA… in my opinion, L.O.’s inconsistency can be summed up in one sentence:

Lamar Odom likes to play basketball… he doesn’t love to play basketball.

I am convinced that Odom would be perfectly content pushing his clothing line (which he shamelessly has been) and enjoying the PR spotlight of being married to a Kardashian – and I am fully aware that I may wake up to an inbox full of hate mail tomorrow for that comment (it wouldn’t be the first time). I love what he variably brings to this Lakers’ team; I only wish he brought the same focus and effort every night.

To answer your question: Is he a better reality TV star than an NBA player? No… well, not yet at least.

There’s five seconds left in the game. You’re down one with the ball after a timeout. Kobe Bryant isn’t an option – what current NBA player do you draw that final play for?
-Matt

Lebron James would be the popular answer; but I give the ball to Dwyane Wade (assuming he’s 100% healthy). Let me give you one undeniable reason why:

(1) Games 3-6 of the ’06 NBA Finals.

Game 3: 42/13/2/2.
Game 4: 36/6/3/1.
Game 5: 43/4/4/3.
Game 6: 36/10/5/4.

The greatest performance in NBA Finals history? I say yes. How did Lebron fare on the NBA’s grandest stage? Well…

Just for the hell of it, here’s my entire last shot top-5:

1. Kobe Bryant
2. Dwyane Wade
3. Lebron James
4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Kevin Durant

(Feel free to disagree with me, of course.)

Is it just me, or is it that the Lakers seem to appear lazy and out of it for half the game? It’s like they finally start playing in the last 3 minutes when they are down. Am I right to assume that they are just tired and getting out hustled now, but hopefully that will change come playoff time?
- David

Ah, yes… the proverbial switch, something the Lakers have toyed with for years. It’s the challenge every battle-tested NBA champion faces during the grinding stages of the regular season. Of the 12 marquee regular season games (Cleveland, Boston, Orlando and Denver), only two (vs. Denver, vs. Orlando) remain. The Lakers are a healthy 5.5 games out in front of the western conference and the only real motivating factor remaining during the initial 82 is the race for HCA in the NBA Finals (1.5 GB of Cleveland).

I think we’ll see a more focused and energized Lakers’ team come playoff time; but even so, they will need to rip that switch off the wall if they want to advance past the Denver Nuggets (assuming the Lakers take care of business and Dallas doesn’t squeak into the WCF).

It would seem Derek Fisher is coming to the end of his rope, averaging career lows in several categories. So do the Lakers promote internally and give the job to Jordan Farmar, look to sign a FA, trade for a PG or fill the need through the draft somehow?
-John

John, it’s about time I answered one of your questions, huh? Before we prematurely slam the door on D-Fish’s career, let’s not forget that this very same Bench Fish sentiment was also present around this same time last year… and we all remember how much we adored him after he saved us in the NBA Finals vs. Orlando. Can Derek still hit some big shots for us? Absolutely. Can Derek still be effective as a starter? That’s a completely different story.

The Lakers PG situation is fragile, and we know D-Fish isn’t getting any younger. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown are FA’s at the end of this season, and keeping both of them will be relatively unlikely. I personally would like to see us bring back Shannon Brown (better upside at a cheaper price than Jordan) and make him our starting PG. You bring in Fish off the bench behind him, and try to add some PG depth through the draft. I would love to see the Lakers try to steal Sherron Collins – He’s a champion, works hard, plays in an NBA-type system under Bill Self, knocks down the 3 and performs well in the clutch. It’s early still, but I think he’s going to be the Ty Lawson of the upcoming draft.

Or, we could always scratch everything I just said and re-visit the Devon Harris trade rumors…

You predicted earlier this year that Kobe Bryant would win his second MVP. Any chance of that still happening?
-Diana

Unfortunately, slim to none. When you look at the MVP award, there are three major factors you have to consider:

Best Player on Best Team:
Cleveland (47-14) has a game and a half advantage over the Lakers (45-15); plus the Cavs swept the season series in rather dominating fashion. This gives Lebron the advantage in this argument.

By the Numbers:
Kobe: 27/5/5 on 46% Shooting
Lebron: 30/8/7 on 50% Shooting.

Even with Kobe’s five game-winning shots (and counting), Lebron is having one of the best statistical seasons we have ever seen. Lebron still has a slight edge in this argument.

Quality of Supporting Cast:
Which supporting cast would you rather have?

Cleveland: Mo/Jamison/Shaq/Hickson/Big Z
Los Angeles: Gasol/Bynum/Artest/Fisher/Odom

If these two teams played ten head to head games without their two superstars (Bryant, James), I say the Lakers win 70% of the time, giving Lebron a clean sweep in the regular season MVP argument.

However, when it comes to the MVP that really matters, I like Kobe Bryant’s chances.

In a landslide.

Jason Riley is the executive director of LakerNation.com. He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.
  • TheLakerGenera11

    First off cool article but I think you should reevaluate Carmelo Anthony’s record…don’t sleep on Dirk nowitzky(prolly spelled that wrong) n a star on the rise one of my fav young ballers 2 watch Kevin durant…if Kobe is not an option Dirk melo Wade Bron KD. Also I agree with you about your take on LO but as far as the lakers cranking it up in the playoffs I’m sure now that there is a month and a half left of games they will increase their focus..Ron artest is looking better defensively and for the first time in a long time LA identity is defense..the rest of the leauge just refuses to believe that.

    • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

      Great point; Dirk should definitely be on that list.

  • http://thelakersnation pwned

    wow. there are so many things wrong with this article.
    first if it is best player on best team wins it, why didnt kg win it in 2008 when c’s had a better record than lakers nad he was clearly the best on the team?
    other than odom, gasol and artest, the rest of the supporting cast is really inconsistent, including bynum. sure they’re good but you need to be consistent too.
    mo is a streaky shooter from 3, hickson has a big body and is a young pf, jamison is a great shooter…. although Id go with Kobe’s backup, i still think that the “kobe has more help than lebron and lebron has no help” is complete bullshit… they have equal talent, with lebron having 3 all stars and kobe having 2 all stars. so can that bullshit!
    50% shooting… shouldnt be considered “shooting” if you drive in 24/7. should by 80% driving, 100% get foul call, 0 fouls this season

    • http://thelakersnation pwned

      btw, i cant believe my friend Marwan works on this site. wtf… im at his house right now *btw marwan if you read this when im gone…”
      shit here he comes, cya!
      LAKERS RULE!
      MARWAN SUCKS! LOL

      • WifelovesLuke

        Only thing you got right was that Marwan Sucks! lol Don’t believe me? Just look at all the articles he keep posting and nobody comments on. Why? Very little respect from TLN.

    • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

      It’s not always ‘best player on best team’, but that’s one of the major arguments you have to consider for MVP. Also, no matter how you spin it, 50% shooting from a SF is impressive, even if he is getting to the basket (also impressive) and shooting an un-godly number of FT’s. I don’t like Lebron at all, but I’ll give him credit for what he’s doing this season.

  • http://sairam9 u.idiot.

    WOW. You sir are an idiot to insinuate bullshit like Lamar does not care about basketball. Did you already forget what he was doing out there along with Pau when 24 was hurt? The guy could have gone to a different team…would you rather have that? Yes, he may be inconsistent in his scoring, but his defense and rebounding are always legit. I’ll go as far as to say that he is probably best rebounder on this laker team. He was a monster in the playoffs…check the stats. i’ll tell you this straight up…The lakers would not win a championship without Lamar.

    • TheLakerGenera11

      I def concour(prolly spelled that wrong) wit u idiot evry1 plays a role on this team I will say that LO does make u say y can’t he play like this all the time bc he’s sooo good BUT evry1 is entitled to an off night or two and pwnd is def right Lebron not having help is beyond foolish if you want to be really technical clevland starting 5 has 4 allstars???!!!! WTF is that and as a matter of fact wasn’t illgaskus a yr or two back being named as a reserve all star???? Come on man but as all ways David sterns son can do no wrong remember Kobe screwed up and was banished forever from the NBA throne…

      If they don’t win ESPN n others will find another excuse…when will it offically be Lebrons fault for something?? When they lost last yr Charles barkely was furious screaming saying “Lebron needs help! He has to do everything it’s not fair to be that great and have no help!” but evry opperrunity he gets he throws pot shots at Kobe…I hope LA wins again just to see what they would say B*#ch ass media….

    • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

      I never said ‘does not care’; I said ‘does not love’ – two very different things. L.O. is extremely valuable to this Lakers’ team, & I’m not, for a minute, saying I think we would be better off without him.

  • Ruin818

    Seriously… Lebron is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY to overhyped… the dude is just changing his jersey # and ESPN is several articles posted about it… pathetic… seriously that guy can do no wrong… if he cant win.. its becuase of his help, he gets the help so now they are winning becuase he makes them better.. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!.

  • Kurt Rambis

    Nice article Jason. One bone to pick. I like the top 5 last shot, it would be difficult to rank those guys. I would even give Wade the shot, but Wade with greatest performance in Finals history? I can’t remember being more irritated/frustrated during a non-Lakers FINALS. Probably because there was so much Laker history getting destroyed in my mind.

    3. Pat Riley, hijacking Van Jeremy’s team for his 5th NBA Championship, and using some lame bucket of motivational thoughts in the locker room that got too much press.

    2. Shaq riding Wade (his third All-Star shooting guard in 3 teams) to his fourth title and still thinking it was his team.

    1. But mostly because I couldn’t believe that the officials decided to hand Miami their ONLY championship. Officials blow a lot of calls, but remember that you weren’t allowed to breathe on Wade without sending him to the line during that series.

    P.S. Ironically, from my recent memories I would put Shaq up there with greatest performances in FINALS history based on LA’s 2000 finals. I still have a love/hate relationship with Shaq to this day.

    P.S.S. Also, James if you read this, sorry man I like D Wade, but his championship is a bit tainted in my mind.

    Wow, I think my blood pressure is up….Gotta go!

    • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

      Kurt, to your points…

      3. 100% agree.
      2. 100% agree.
      1. 50% agree – No doubt that D-Wade got MJ-type calls in those Finals; but he was remarkable. He literally did everything on both ends of the floor and all the Mavs could do was foul him. The whistles heavily swung in Wade’s favor, but I don’t think that discounts his performance.
      PS – You’re right; Shaq’s ’00 Finals has to be up there.

      • Kurt Rambis

        Ok, mostly I wanted to see Shaq and P. Riley fail for destroying their legacy (for me anyways) as Laker all time greats. Wade did have an amazing series on both ends of the floor and I do give him credit for that.

        I just checked stats and per ESPN:

        “Wade shot a whopping 97 free throws in the six games — the most of any player since the merger — including 25 in Game 5.”

        MJ-calls aside, thats a ton of charity over 6 games for an ultra-talented SECOND year player. You have to earn those questionable calls, right? Year 2 is too early for me.

        The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this title was decided by Stern as a message to Mark Cuban. That message was “I hate you and the Mavs will never win until you shut the !@#$% up.”

        More proof to this conspiracy, Stern poo pooing Stackhouse’s return to the Mavs after a trade and buyout. Similar to what Ilgauskas is doing with the Cavs right now and others have done in the past., but I can only remember the Mavs paying a penalty for this kind of charade of a trade.

        The only bright spot that I got out of that series was that Dirk, continued his legacy of folding under pressure.

        • Kurt Rambis

          ummm… i guess it would have been Wade’s third year in? Something like that…

  • http://www.j-ri.com Jason Riley

    Kurt – I can totally relate to that; the ‘06 Finals were basically ‘My hate for Dirk, Cuban and the Mavs’ + ‘My love for Wade’ vs. ‘My growing disdain for Shaq’ + ‘My growing disdain for Pat Riley’… Looking back, I was completely miserable.

    97 FT’s. 97!?

    Dear You Tubers; someone please cut together a video of every time Wade was fouled so we can decide if Wade’s performance was tainted or not. Somebody has to be bored enough to do this…

    I’m not one for NBA conspiracy theories; but yours definitely has some legs on it.

  • King

    Good Stuff… hate LBJ too… we’ll his attitude and demeanor… not his game