Lake Show Premieres Tonight
I’ll admit it. I’ve been pretty down since the final out of the NLCS. I simply could not shake my visions of Joe Torre sadly sipping his Bigelow green tea, Matt Kemp listening to sad early 90s R&B love ballads (in my mind it's Toni Braxton) and Andre Ethier staring dejectedly out the window of his plane back to Arizona.
Sorry, I have a vivid imagination…
Then this morning, it happened. Life sprung from everything. Even the smog smelled of rose and raspberry. Tonight, the NBA season gets underway and it’s good to live in Los Angeles. Our defending champion “Hollywood” Lakers are ready to do two things: Win basketball games and be street rat crazy in doing so.
Kobe is back. I keep hearing that he has lost a step, but he is still the game’s greatest closer. We will tell our kids that we lived in the time of Kobe Bryant, who violently fought back the ascension of “King” LeBron James and cemented the Lakers as the best basketball team of the 2000s. As Kobe improves his post game, we’ll see if he learns the veteran savvy Jordan mastered in his final years in Chicago. Will he keep taking steps to extend his invincibility? Maybe. Let's just hope he stops making that face he made in the playoffs last year. The whole "angry Kobe" thing was awkward, right?
Pau Gasol is back with his surprising toughness and low post prowess. He’s also back with his wild European hair and orchestra of crazy snorts and sniffs prior to shooting his free throws. He is the only man Kobe has ever seemed to enjoy playing alongside. They may play different positions, but Pau is Kobe's Pippen. Or Pippecito. It’s more Spanish that way.
Fisher is back. He’s so likable. His playoff heroics last year defined the championship run. That said, I am giving Laker Nation about a month before they are calling for more minutes for Shannon Brown. I suspect we’ll all be glad we have them both come this year’s postseason. As for Farmer, not so much.
I am not getting into Sasha until his shots start hitting the rim again. Adam Morrison’s mustache should provide a high level of entertainment for us all. D.J. Mbenga and his publicist certainly don’t lower the comedy quotient for this team. There will be a lot to look at. Or stare at.
Now to the real meat and potatoes. The drama club. The guys that will really make this season fun.
First is Andrew Bynum. When he’s healthy, he’s a top five center (feel free to debate me). The only issue with Bynum is he is never healthy for more than a month. Every time Bynum jumps for a rebound, we will be staring at his knees to see which direction they bend upon landing. Here’s hoping he is healthy and we get to see his full potential realized.
Next in the holy trinity of Laker drama is Lamar Odom. From his candy-based diet to his "marriage" to Khloe Kardashian (Khlodom, anyone?) to his enigmatic streaks of laissez-faire basketball, the man is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Sort of like the way a hot dog is wrapped in bacon. He’s bringing reality TV to the Lake Show. We’ll see how that works out for everyone.
Finally, the man who will be “surreality” TV to the Lake Show. I am talking about Ron Artest. Artest will bring a Rodmanesque quality to this Laker squad in more ways than one. He’s a tenacious defender and can score 25-30 on a good night. That said, it seems like it may take him a few months to figure out how he fits into this explosive Laker offense. As we've seen, the triangle offense takes time to master.
Artest will be Kobe’s enforcer. He will be the distraction from Lamar Odom’s distractions. He will be the Art of War to Phil Jackson’s Tao of Phil. Initial signs point to a happy Artest. Then again, bombs usually show initial signs of being a metal box until they explode. We’ll see.
The season is upon us. The Lakers are the defending champions. The NBA is at its strongest in over a decade. There are story lines and stars in every direction.
No one is more excited to push the baseball season into distant memory than I am.
My thoughts now shift from Dodger Blue to Forum Blue. Let’s enjoy the ride.
Catch the Lakers taking on their roommates at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Clippers, tonight on TNT at 7:30 PST.