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 in comparison to 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 here 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 that added 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 smart, team basketball and does a better job of maintaining our 20 pointleads), 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 normal, 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 from 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 point 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 both also mired here and there by questionable shot selection and decision-making, most evident in their play against Detroit.

Adam Morrison, Josh Powell, Sasha Vujacic, and D.J. 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 last 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 praises 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 (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.

You can find more random Laker/NBA musings from Jonathan Hernandez at Oh Me Oh My, The Jello’s Jigglin’.

  • Jsmooth

    Join the movement, my page “Shaq needs to retire” if you think O’neal is well past my prime.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shaq-needs-to-retire/230189496904?v=photos#/pages/Shaq-needs-to-retire/230189496904?ref=mf

    • daboss1848

      how old r u? so, we can properly determine your prime and whether or not he’s past it.

      • kobe-wan kenobi

        lol boss!

    • lakerbunny

      SHAQ SHOULD CALL HIMSELF “THE BIG COATTAILS!” _

      • lakerbunny

        ONLY 109 TICKETS LEFT FOR TOMORROWS LAST PRE-CHRISTMAS GAME! GO TO LAKERS,COM AND CLICK ON THE TICKETEXCHANGE BUTTON OR GO TO TEAMEXCHANGE.TICKETMASTER.COM AND CLICK ON THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS LINK! 198 TICKETS FOR THE DECEMBER 29 GOLDEN STATE GAME ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFERS! 392 TICKETS LEFT FOR THE FIRST GAME OF 2010 VS. THE SUCRAMENTO QUEENS! 368 FOR DALLAS, 444 FOR HOUSTON (ARIZA VS ARTEST, LAKERS LOSS REMATCH) 585 FOR ORLANDO NBA FINALS REMATCH! 380 &289 FOR THE DENVER GAMES!

  • lakerman1

    At least Ron brings his D game everytime which makes up for some of the bad O. He understands his role on this team very well. Bynum however still seems to not get it i mean 58mil and all the team really wants from him is rebounding, block shots and to hustle back on defense but he still has not got it. I will give him this year and after that i give up. The guy has been in the league almost five years so no more hes still young excuses.

    • 007

      +1

    • roscoe

      Dude it’s overblown that that’s all this team wants from him. They wouldn’t have paid him 58 million if that’s all they wanted. They would have signed Ben Wallace for 3. Rebounds / blocked shots is something they want from him. They also want him to be able to post up and score in the paint. Bynum is having a good season. Pau was getting like 20 RPG. Well guess what, that means there’s less for Bynum. Guess what else it means, the ball was bouncing Pau’s way. The Lakers are winning and are #1 in defensive efficiency and Bynum is HUGE part of that.

      • WifelovesLuke

        Well said Roscoe, but as we all know….you can’t please everyone. Lakerman1, Bynum is going to be the starting center for the West in this years All Star game and you are complaining? Our 22-4 record is largely due to the Offense of Bynum and the D of Artest. Tell you what…..enjoy this great season we are having and let Mitch worry about how much he thinks someone is worth. My bet is that he knows a little more about basketball than you do.

        1-2-3 Ring!!!

        • lakerman1

          I was not complaining i read other sites and those are some of the comments made by Phil Jackson who i am sure knows more of what the team needs then you and i. And by the way i am enjoying the ride.

          • daboss1848

            there are other sites? and u visit them? is this treason subject to exile and excommunication?

      • kobe-wan kenobi

        if you wait the ball bounce ur way, u r waiting for long time in the nba
        just watch some rodman videos
        you see he was not waitin
        that is how you rebound

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    two words that should never be together,KOBE AND SCHOLAR…..didn`t he barely graduate high school……listening to him talk is always fun….

    • http://ohmeohmyjellosjigglin.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Hernandez

      Clearly you are no scholar…Kobe Bryant was a straight A and B student in high school and could have gone to any prestigious college he wanted to and done well academically. He just decided to go straight to the NBA. Shaq called him te smartest brother he knows because all he did in his first year in the NBA was read books instead is party.

      Please get your facts straight before you proceed to make yourself look idiotic. Thank you.

      • lakerbunny

        BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!! LAFFS ATU HAS CHANGED HIS NAME TO LICKS ONTU!

    • iamthetie

      I gotta say that for just being a High School graduate, he gives intelligent Basketball interviews. He composes his thoughts well (in multiple languages mind you) and is always coherent. He could have easily got a degree if that was his passion.

  • iamthetie

    I kinda wonder how the “stench” would play if Phil Jackson made some changes in the rotation. We hate on Sasha, but I think he provides some court vision that our duo point guards seem to lack. I’d like to shorten the leash on Shannon, mainly because if you don’t yank him for hoisting up ugly shots on a 1-9 performance, why do you do the same to Sasha? It’s not like Shannon’s defense is stellar either. Plus Shannon has a case of sticky hands in the triangle right now, and that is unacceptable.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    LADIES, theres a reason he didn`t go to college….stop ballwashing and face facts…

    • iamthetie

      If I recall correctly, Kobe was planning on going to Duke if he didn’t jump straight into the NBA. Definitely not a school of idiots.

      But whatever man, the chance to make millions of dollars right out of High School is pretty much a no brainer for a man who was convinced that he was or at least could be the best to ever play the game.

    • LakersFourEver

      I guess that man is extremely stupid for being a multimillionaire right after high school. Isn’t the real reason why people go to college is to get a degree so they can make more “money”? Without wasting any time in college (smart), he went straight for the goal while doing what he loves. I would trade in my BA for the dough in a heartbeat. I’m sure you would too dumba$$

      • WifelovesLuke

        You are assuming that laffs atu has a degree. I would say by his posts that he struggled to get a GED.

    • some guy

      The reason he didn’t go to college is because he is a very smart person. Hmmm… Go to college, study, waste four years not making any money so I can enter the NBA with a degree I’ll never use… Or go straight to the NBA, do what i LOVE to do, and get PAID. He would have been stupid NOT to go straight to the NBA, considering how he was one of the few who could actually pull it off successfully straight out of high school. Some people hate you, laffs atu, but I actually like the fact that you come on here. Seeing you make an a$$ of yourself is quite fun.

  • 09champs!

    Nice article! I agree that Sasha deserves a little more PT, he hasn’t been shooting bad the few mins he has played this year. I love what Shann brings , but he has been making some bad decisions. Also Jordy has been playing really well, so stop those farmar/vujacic/morrison for _____. Go Lakers ;)

    • http://LakersNation Marwan..

      I agree, especially about the Farmar thing, hes the one that hustles for loose balls, and he and Brown make a great duo on the court together, no use letting one go.
      Sasha is a great shooter, just needs PT to prove it. I say Phil should give him 10 minutes on a scrub team that Lakers blow out so Sasha can gain his confidence back, same as Morrison.

  • KING

    ima just be honest man, and say i didnt like your article, it seems like your trying way to hard, with all these “and thats just how many fingers he has” lines, and it kinda sounds like your slobbing kobe, i love dude as much as the next laker fan, but it doesnt mean i want his piece in my mouth… it almost sounds like something Colin (LA Examiner) would write, and thats not a compliment… keep it up tho bro, you’ll get there

    • http://ohmeohmyjellosjigglin.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Hernandez

      hey, to each his own. I ain’t mad at you. I look at my writing too at times and wonder what in the world I’m writing. But to be fair, if you look at my other articles on this site, I hardly even mention Kobe Bryant. This is my first article praising the man.

      And with what’s happened recently, I think he duly deserves it… whether you think it’s too overly fawning or not.

      And to critique you on your insults…if you really wanted to insult me in an ironic way, instead of saying “but it doesnt mean I want his piece in my mouth”, you should have said “doesn’t mean I want to finger the man.”

      I got a bag load more of finger foods where that came from, friend. =]

      • lakeshow2010

        you’re doing just fine..keep up the good work

        • http://ohmeohmyjellosjigglin.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Hernandez

          Thanks, I appreciate it. But I also realize that not everyone is going to enjoy my overly-punny, analogous articles that may seem like more fluff than substance, so I’m learning to take it all in stride. It definitely is always encouraging however to get some affirming feedback.

          • KING

            “overly-punny, analogous articles that may seem like more fluff than substance”… see you noticed it too. i guess you’re catering to an audience… regardless i give you props for having the guts to write an article (and be judged by it) and for having it published/hosted/featured… whatever you call it lol

  • Robert

    Can’t find a blog title with which to post this note, so I may as well post it here (yes, it is relevant to Kobe):

    Figured out why the ESPN Laker hater weenies (Simmons and Plaschke, for example) are suddenly singing Kobe’s praises – ESPN just launched http://www.espnlosangeles.com , so they want to cater to the LA crowd. How can they do this if their writers keep putting down Kobe and the Lakers.

    Those of us on TLN (and all of LA) are staunch supporters of Kobe – nobody can say anything bad about him, or we attack them. Some of us have posted on ESPN chats – they don’t like it, but tough! We got Kobe’s back. So, I wonder how long the ESPN love affair with Lakers will last.

    Adande posted a great piece on Kobe (he doesn’t usually Kobe bash anyway – but, he is part of ESPN), so it looks like ESPN management has notified its writers to start supporting the Lakers – it can only mean more $$$ because they want us all to visit ESPNLosAngeles.

  • http://LakersNation Marwan..

    Wow, the Bulls were up 35 then lost by 4. A 58-19 run by the Kings in the 2nd half got them the win. That is shocking Bulls.

  • http://LakersNation Marwan..

    Im in love with Ron Ron’s defense. I mean people knew he woul dgive the Lakers a spark on defense, but who knew that he would help them be the best defensive team. Last year Lakers allowed 101 points per game, this year they allow 96 points which is the best, better than the Celtics’ 96.6.
    Good work Ron Ron, Kobe said that he gives Ron Ron an A+ on his transition to the Lakers and an A+ as a teammate. Kobe also said that Ron Ron is humorous and they need that in the locker room.

  • http://LakersNation Marwan..

    BREAKING NEWS!
    Fisher has no plans to retire
    9:20
    AM ET
    Derek Fisher

    Fisher wants to sign another contract.

    ESPN.com

  • kb248always

    great article!keep up the good work.

  • Ladunce Odumb

    How many BONEHEAD plays did Ladunce have against Oklahoma City?

    I stopped counting at a DOZEN.

    Yeah he makes some good plays, but he makes so DAMN many dumb plays. He has to be one of the DUMBEST players in the league!