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The Kobe Rules

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For a little perspective on what lies ahead for the next 30 days for this season’s Lakers, let’s drift back in time to 1988, the year when Jerry Falwell and Larry Flyntwere battling each other in court, Nirvana was formed and Paula Abdul was forever our girl.

In the NBA, a young Michael Jordan was scoring 35 points a game and dragging his Chicago Bulls teammates close to the top of the league. So the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons set up “The Jordan Rules” to stop the phenom from single-handedly knocking them off their pedestal.

The rules are pretty simple: try to deny Jordan the ball, be physical with him, vary the defensive looks you give him, basically do whatever it took to make him give up the ball and force any of his teammates to beat you.

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We tend to remember of the virtually unstoppable 90s Bulls and Jordan, what we forget is that The Jordan Rules worked — the Pistons beat the Bulls four games to one in the playoffs in 88, then 4-2 in the in 89, beat them in seven games in 90.

It worked until there were good enough players around MJ (and some coach to channel the skills) that the Bulls could win without MJ scoring 50.

That little history lesson is useful because in Dallas a couple nights ago the Mavericks admitted they used “The Kobe Rules,” which are the Jordan rules for a new generation.

And with Lamar Odom out, no other Laker stepped up.

Vladamir Radmanovic got the start and at times looked confused as to where to be in the offense, finishing with 5 of 9 from the floor but with just 3 rebounds. Kwame Brown was 2 of 7 with just 4 rebounds. Luke Walton was 3 of 13 and the Mavericks outscored the Lakers by 23 points while Walton was on the floor.

Now, the Kobe rules were not why the Lakers lost to Dallas (poor defense was). And Dallas has a lot of very good athletes with which to run "The Kobe Rules," far more than most teams. And Kobe still scored 33 points and shot a good 50% from the field in that game.

But with Odom out just about every team is going to throw The Kobe Rules at the Lakers, starting with the Houston Rockets tonight at Staples Center (7:30 on Fox Sports or ESPN). And if other players don't step up the Lakers, like those late 80s Bulls teams, are not going to win as often as they could.

AP photo by Tim Sharp