Watching Kwame Brown play for the Lakers is like watching a stunningly beautiful temptress of a flirt join a nunnery – it burns more because you know how amazing it could have been. 6’11’’, 270 pounds of pure muscle – the kind of body built for basketball. So much potential that when he floundered, it was basket-blue-balls.
Plucking an impressionable kid out of high school and dropping him into the NBA is a very delicate matter. Think about how much change one goes through in those formative years between 18 – 22. The influences we have in those years leave their mark for a lifetime.
Kwame’s lifetime influence was Michael Jordan. By many accounts, rather than developing and nurturing that talent, Jordan broke him (after his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, it’s not too hard to imagine).
Which really begs the question: what if Kwame had been drafted by the Lakers instead? Would he have turned out differently?
Watching not only Bynum flourish, but also Farmar and others, it struck me that the Lakers have an uncanny ability to not only identify, nurture and develop talent in a player where others haven’t seen it or been able to develop it. This is evidenced not only by the lower draft picks that have turned into gems, but also by the Lakers ability to find talent where others have left it idle.
A sample of Laker picks that we all remember for the help they gave their stars -
- 1985, A.C. Green with the 23rd pick.
- 1989, Vlade Divac with the 26th pick (One of the first teams to recognize the value of going overseas).
- 1993, Nick Van Excel with the 37th pick of the second round. Talk about a diamond in the rough.
- 1996, Derek Fisher with the 24th pick.
- 2003, Luke Walton with the 32nd pick of the second round.
- 2005, Ronny Turiaf with the 37th pick of the second round.
The Lakers management also has the ability to identify talent where it had been ignored: Mo Evans, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown to name a few from recent history. The Lakers even milked some serious talent out of Mark Madson and Travis Knight!
The stars they have drafted are also a living testament to this. Magic. Kobe. Bynum. They all came in young, all had talent, but the organization allowed them to develop.
Getting the Turiafs, Waltons and Fishers to compliment your superstars is something the Lakers have done better than anyone else. Every team has their stars. It’s the rest of the puzzle that needs to be pieced together. But the Lakers don’t just go out and bring in the talent. They draft it. They develop it. They mold it.
One gripe I have always had with the sport of basketball is the lack of talent development. Teams typically try to go out and poach talent and don’t really want to invest the time to develop young players the way teams in the NFL do (the one time the Lakers tried to do this, it failed miserably with the Gary Payton/Karl Malone year).
Which is what makes me wonder what life would have been like for Kwame if the Lakers had drafted him instead of the Wizards. Or what life would have been like for Bynum if a Jordan-run organization had drafted him.
Other Lakeshow Spotlights -
- Bynum’s looking real good. However, he doesn’t jump. He hops. He needs to take a note out of Dwight Howard’s book and learn to jump and jam it in there.
- Nothing kills me more than when the Lakers fall in love with the 3’s. It’s ALWAYS a bad thing (I wrote this midway through the Dallas game… enough said).
- Why is Jim Carrey coaching the Mavs?
- Lamar: Why the bandages?
- Anybody else feel like Kobe came into this season thinking he wasn’t going to have to work as hard?
- Nothing makes me shudder as much as the evil, satisfying look on Mark Cuban’s face when he knew they were going to win.