Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Last Sunday, shortly before Kobe committed aggravated burglary in Boston (the highlight of my NBA season thus far), I remembered all over again how much I hate the Boston Celtics. Just the sight of Paul Pierce getting tangled up with Ron Artest right before tip-off evoked irrational thoughts of rage that should certainly have me at CVS picking up my Paxil prescription.

On Monday morning, I spent a solid hour reading every single pro-Boston panic column I could find. I just couldn’t get enough, “Trade Ray Allen”, “We blew the game”, “Kobe hit a great shot” references. It was like basketball porn – and those five words alone are creepy enough that I will not edit them out of this column. Like I said, I should be medicated.

All of my Celtic-hate fashioned a rather interesting question that I’m going to throw out there to all of you TLN’ers to hear what you guys think. Let’s say you meet someone, and after a few weeks, you realize that you’re really digging them. Around date number four or so, sports comes up and they lay the following on you:

“I like the Celtics; I was actually there when they won the championship back in ’08. It was one of the five greatest moments of my life.”

So, Lakers Nation, if you’re on that date, what happens next? (No, that didn’t happen to me). Do you throw up a little bit in your mouth, or does it spill out all over the table? Do you casually head for the front door, or do you Usain Bolt for the nearest exit? Do you sit in complete silence, or spew out a string of obscenities? While you ponder that horrifying scenario, here are 8 things we have learned about the Lakers in 2010:

The Lakers are unbeatable.
You are just as guilty of this as I am. Right before the season tipped off in October, we looked at our lineup, condescendingly smirked and put in a request at work to take off the second week of June to celebrate. If you didn’t do this, you at-least thought about it. After all, our 22-3 start unquestionably justified it. Following our recent 16-9 stretch and a growing list of menacing injuries, the smart money remains in the Lakers corner, but it’s not so much of a lock anymore.

Kobe Bryant is not healthy.
First, it was his finger. Next, it was a different, more important, finger. Then, it was his back. And most recently, it’s been his ankle. Kobe is the NBA’s version of William Wallace – not only the most skilled (don’t try to tell me Lebron is more skilled than Kobe), but also the most tenacious. Nine times out of ten, this works in our favor. Right now may be the one exception. Should Kobe hang it up for a few weeks and get healthy? It’s certainly up for debate. We know Bryant won’t take any time off – what we don’t know is how much that may hurt us come May and June.

Cleveland is for real.
Once again, Lebron James is building quite an impressive MVP resume. They have found their groove here lately, even without their second best player, Mo Williams. Boston looks old, beat up and as far from their ’08 Finals form as we have ever seen them. Vince Carter isn’t working out so far in Orlando, Dwight Howard has regressed some this year, and Shaq will present him some serious problems if they were to play in the ECF again. It’s looking more and more like Nike is going to get their dream match-up. Let’s just hope the regular season isn’t a sign of things to come.

Drew’s contribution has evolved from ‘luxury’ to ‘necessity’.
Very quietly, Big Drew is becoming a sizable part of the Lakers’ success. He has failed to score in double figures only 8 times this season, and when Drew has it going, I think we can all agree that stopping the Lakers becomes highly unlikely. Speaking of things we can all agree on, for the first time in his career, Bynum’s play could make or break the Lakers’ championship aspirations. Can you imagine beating Denver, Cleveland or Boston in a 7-game series with Bynum being in-effective? Me neither.

Healthy Ariza > Unhealthy Artest.
Let’s be clear about this; Ron Artest isn’t healthy. I remember having this thought during the West Semi’s last season:

“Holy Crap, Ron Artest could kill us all by himself.”

Don’t be fooled by his sporadic play, Ron can still get it done. The real question is whether or not he will get healthy this season with enough time to find his rhythm. If he does, then come playoff time, we won’t miss Trevor. If he doesn’t, well…

Pau Gasoft isn’t completely deceased.
How much do I really need to even elaborate on this one? If we were honest with ourselves, this would come as no surprise. We were able to ignore it when the Lakers won the NBA title and opened this season at 22-3. The simple truth is that Gasol hasn’t changed, we have. Pau doesn’t (and has never) liked physical play. That is who he is (and always has been) as a player. The sooner we accept that as one of his weaknesses, the less surprised we will be when he gets pushed around at times (I.e. Cleveland). We need Andrew to step in as an enforcer and let Gasol do what Gasol has done his entire career with the Lakers – Win.

D-Fish isn’t in a slump; he’s 35 years-old.
For a second consecutive year, the ‘Why the hell is D-Fish playing?’ campaign has gotten underway. Here’s what we know about Derek at this stage in his career:

- He’s definitely lost a step or two and isn’t the defensive guy he once was.
- His shot isn’t quite as automatic as it was just a couple of seasons ago.
- He’s one of the most clutch players in the League and reliably hits timely shots.

The latter makes the first two endurable; and you may not agree with me on this right now, but you will when he buries a game-changing shot, just like he did in Orlando last year, and throughout his entire career.

Championship #2 is considerably more difficult than #1.
And that is why it’ll be that much sweeter…

  • pauer

    Are all of these about dates, dating, relationships, and girlfriends?

  • http://thelakersnation pwned

    “healthy ariza>unhealthy artest”…
    wow how stupid is that statement.
    of course any healthy player is better than an unhealthy player… fuck! how obvious is that

    (unless its kobe where he is always better healthy or not)

  • daboss1848

    Jason, Jason, Jason,
    “The simple truth is that Gasol hasn’t changed, we have. Pau doesn’t (and has never) liked physical play. That is who he is (and always has been) as a player. ”

    And yet, your title has “Gasoft” and “deceased” . . .

    “The sooner we accept that as one of his weaknesses, the less surprised we will be when he gets pushed around at times (I.e. Cleveland). “

  • No

    Your writing is as horrible as Steve Avery’s.

    • kwame4mvp

      He has some great articles. Read back last year.

  • tHEONE

    How about a trade for Bosh???Walton and Sasha maybe even Farmar i would even be willing to part with Artest!

  • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

    played denver twice blown out twice….played clevland twice lost twice…i know we need a trade..but would that be enough,i mean we’re not in the same league as these teams this far..we’re getting beat out right.these teams are much improved.so hinrich wouldn’t have helped that much.their point guard killed us in all theses losses.i know we need a point guard.but we need one with the whole package.score,pass,defence,drive.harris wouldn’t be that either.to repeat we’re gonna need a bigger caliber of trade.like hinrich and noah for some toughness,we could give morrison,sasha,josh.maybe not that bulls trade but maybe another team..but that type combo.cause we need that “very good”guard and some strenth in the middle.we are weak.and we cant answer that.so noah would provide strength rebound,energy is key!!!we dont have that either!so,energy!but any way that’s what i see.we need a point guard full of fire.and a big guy with energy an strength.cause kobe always provides our confidence.shannon an lamar are pulling their weight.pau and drew are finesse.they need back up!fish is good but can’t put in enough minutes farmar aint too bad.if we could just add that guard an get that big energy guy! i would beleave we would be prepared then.but if we cant get that.i dont beleave we can repeat.we’ll see…….. go lakers!!!

    • drive-for-16th

      get rid of the white boys on our team and bring in some energy players, or esle these assholes on our team should look at how portland plays without so many players cause evryone steps up.

      • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

        yea thats what im sayin lotta energy an fire.makes good rythem

  • iiTzKoBe

    3-0 going into the all-star break with two of those wins on the road in tough places, then a great home win vs the spurs, its really helping the players confidence to see what they can do without kobe, lets rest up over all star break and then come back and take the league over

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