Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer = The Lakers

Kurt —  December 12, 2007

It’s a holiday tradition at my house (long before I had kids, which says a lot about me, sadly) — sitting down and watching the 1964 classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. What’s not to love about a quirky cast of characters teaching a lesson about acceptance? Well, I suppose the lesson of incessant marketing of the show is not a great lesson, but like many things around Christmas I choose to blatantly ignore what I don’t like.

But as I was watching it this year, it dawned on me that there are a lot of parallels between the characters in this Christmas classic and this year’s Lakers:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer = Andrew Bynum

He’s the hero of our story, Rudolph is the lovable young reindeer who is initially scorned because of his glowing nose — but in the end everyone learns they need him and his “skill” to lead the team on a snowy Christmas Eve.

In contrast, a handful of people in the Lakers organization loved Bynum’s raw skills, but the time it was taking them to develop had some players talking in grocery store parking lots about casting him out to the “Island of misfit players.” However, now that it has started to snow, suddenly Bynum is looking like a very good option.

Santa = Kobe Bryant

The Santa in this classic isn’t your always-lovable jolly old elf — he’s one of the first people to ridicule Rudolph and his nose. This is a cranky Santa, very worried about getting the Christmas toys delivered — and as soon as he realizes Rudolph can help to that end he comes on bended knee asking Rudolph to lead the team.

Kobe can be cranky, but like Santa we have to remember that without him all the hopes and dreams of a happy Christmas (or June in the NBA), are not going to happen. This is his party. That said, after looking around at the snowy landscape, he might be thinking Bynum can light the way.

Hermey = Lamar Odom

Hermey is an elf with an identity crisis — he doesn’t want to make toys, he wants to be a dentist. He runs away, connects with Rudolph as a fellow vagabond, and the two say they are “independent together.” Odom seems to want to be “independent together” with Kobe — both like to create with the ball in their hands. But Odom has a little bit of an identity crisis (is he a small forward or a power forward?) and just seems a little flaky at times. You like the character, but could there be a better choice to pair with Kobe/Rudolph?

Yukon Cornelius = Mitch Kupchak

Cornelius is the prospector that Rudolph and Hermey run into out in the frozen north. Cornelius is on a constant search for gold — throwing his pick into the snow, picking it up and licking it only to find nothing. To be fair, Mitch has had some good drafts recently and made some good trades (hello Ariza!) but still, the image of him as a lonely prospector was just too good to pass up.

The Abominable Snowmonster (a.k.a., “Bumble”) = Kwame Brown

Both Kwame and the Bumble are large, imposing physical presences that in the end really have no teeth. But they do each have one skill — putting the star on top of the Christmas tree or playing post defense on slower centers.

Misfit Toys = Misfit Players

The Island of Misfit Toys is the home of toys that no boy or girl wants. What about players whose skill sets don’t fit their teams, the players no fans? The NBA is full of these guys — Brian Cook was that with the Lakers (before the trade) and Sasha Vujacic has visited the island (but seems to be off it for now). But think about the entire league and some fun coming up with your own extended list.

Sam the Snowman = Roland Lazenby

The snowman (voiced by Burl Ives) guides us through the story of our intrepid heroes, all while holding a green umbrella. Who is the best chronicler of the Lakers today, a few years removed from Chick? Lazenby is my personal choice, but I’m not sure anyone has come close to filling Chick’s shoes.

Coach Comet = Phil Jackson

“My name is Comet. And even though I’m your instructor, I wanna be your pal.” Then he manipulates the young bucks. No mention of Comet being Zen, but isn’t the Buddha in him as it is in all things?

to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer = The Lakers

  1. Hitting the eggnog a little early this year, are we?


  2. LOL! I had the same thought!


  3. I almost went with Radmanovic for the snowman, just for the easy joke.


  4. Clarice = Jim Buss?

    “She thinks I’m cuuuuuuuute!”


  5. How about Kareem as Rudolph’s Dad (can’t think of which Reindeer he was… Donner?) Kareem encourages Andrew to play like he did and much of his advice is good, but ultimately Andrew will need to figure out what unique skills he can bring to the table (ie show his red nose) to fully realize his talent.


  6. Lakers practice (video)



  7. Great work Kurt.


  8. Mike in the Mountain West December 12, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Although your post is humurous, and I have to say a little bizarro, it illustrates something I’ve been thinking about. The main story line for the Lakers this year seems to have become the Rise of Bynum and how that affects Kobe’s “summer of discontent” trade demand. A very interesting and archetypal story. As is usually the case however it ends up overshadowing other interesting story lines.

    In particular I think Bynum’s admittedly great progress has really obscured Farmar’s much more unexpected and, in my opinion, more impressive development. Farmar has increased his PER almost 8 points from a mediocre 10.79 to a stellar 18.13. He’s increased his 3pt% from 32% to 42%, an astouding 10% increase and his overall field goal percentage is almost 50%. His true shooting percentage is .606%, 34th in the NBA, 12 as a SG, and 5 as a PG. He’s also an outstanding rebounder grabbing 11.3% of loose balls, 6th best rate for PG’s. He’s showing great leadership, poise, and energy on the court. All in just 20 minutes a game. I think Jordan deserves serious consideration for the MIP award.

    Bynum isn’t the only reason that Farmar’s story is getting ignored. Fisher’s return is a story in itself and you add that he’s is arguable haveing the best year of his career, and it’s easy to forget about the young back-up point guard.

    Let me also quickly say something about Fisher. If he keeps shooting the way he has been he’ll enter a very elite club. The 50-40-90 club. Players who shoot over 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the line. Very few players are able to do that. I don’t know the historic numbers but to give you an idea the only other player doing it this season is Steve Nash. That is an elite group. What’s even more amazing is Fisher is historically a poor shooter with a 40% career FG% never surpassing 45% in a single season. So with that track record in mind I think it’s pretty unlikely Fisher is able to pull this off for a whole season. He’ll probably shoot great for the rest of the year, and even have a career year, but he won’t be able to keep shooting this great.


  9. I heard Kareem talk about how Andrew wants to focus more on his shot, 15-18 ft I’m guessing, than his hook shot. What do you guys think of that?
    I don’t think it’s a bad idea, personally, but if he starts to neglect his inside presence I think his effectiveness will decline. He took a 17 footer against the Warriors in the last game and missed it. I guess it was good practice for him since they won by a good margin, but I’d rather have him do his jump hooks and dunks. And I can’t wait to see his first sky hook!!!
    I like how he’s progressing though.


  10. Kurt- I nominate YOU for snowman…but what does that make us?


  11. Awesome analogy!


  12. 10. There are 2 players who I can think of (maybe a couple more someone else can think of) whose lack of a jump shot actually benefit them. Shaq and Howard. Would you want Shaq (old in shape shaq) or Howard stepping out of the paint to hit a 15 ft jump shot? Even if they could hit that shot on a regular basis?

    I wouldn’t they put so much pressure on the interior players of the opposing team and are completely unstoppable from inside that by catching the ball in the paint, they cause the defense to collapse creating open shots for other players.

    The same principle is true for Bynum, though obviously not to the same degree as it is for those two players. Though a 15 ft jump shot would be a good skill to have, you wouldn’t want him falling in love with it.


  13. 10. What I take from Kareem is that Bynum wants to get the ball a little farther from the basket and face up (ala KG). Maybe that’s just youth, wanting to emulate who you are not, but I’m not shocked that he doesn’t want to be a “back-to-the-basket” guy is a SportsCenter world. The sooner he accepts a Shaq/Howard role (as he seems to be doing) the better. Work on the core stuff first, then in five years if he can develop a midrange jumper, fine.


  14. the other Stephen December 12, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    1. haha yeah, i was going to say Kurt was freebasing, but then i thought that would be mean and slanderous.


  15. Wah-hoo!

    ( sniff, sniff, lick )


    Side note– heard on the Dana Perino edition
    of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”–

    Arthur Rankin, Jr. said the doll ( as in “A dolly for Sue” )
    was only on the island
    because she had “a psychological problem, ”
    not because she had physical/mechanical shortcomings.

    To paraphrase Charles Barkley,
    “Who she?”

    – 5 –


  16. Hi Kurt,

    I’m with you on Rudolph, but I’d put at least 10 active reindeer pulling behind him. I’m sure that you could find ways to personalize their names–but I’d have Ariza as Dasher and Kobe as Dancer. Maybe Mihm and Twinkletoes Brown could be Donder and Blitzen. Santa would be Phil–He’d leave his supporting elves on the North Pole–even the one growing a moustache!

    The Busses would run the North Pole and coordinate Santa’s helpers. Of course, we know which one is Santa’s “special” helper.

    Right now, the reindeer are mostly pulling together, but it wouldn’t take much to get them off course.

    The problem that Santa faces, is that there are other sleighs out there that sometimes beat “Santa” to some chimneys–and that some of the rival reindeer leave unwelcome presents when they arrive too late–but some angels in striped shirts are taking names, and “God” might descend from New York at any moment to ban naughty reindeer if they don’t show better control.

    Well, we could always switch to a Clipper Christmas, with a reformed Scrooge who finally put out the money and found himself even worse off, hoping that his faithful “Donelly” Cratchett will finally get Tiny Tim Bond off the crutches and onto the basketball court–but that’s another story.




  17. NEWS
    The Miami Heat announced today that they have requested waivers on guard Penny Hardaway and signed free agent forward/guard Luke Jackson.
    But Heat wants to upgrade at point guard, and the 76ers’ Andre Miller is considered available, he cautioned, “Miller’s not a Pat Riley point guard. He doesn’t shoot [consistently] from range; he’s always overweight; and he’s limited defensively.”


  18. I really thought the part of this post people would expound upon was the “Island of misfit Players.”


  19. Lakers are sooo hollywood, it seems. Every fiasco makes sense and they’ll always be showtime, sometimes on the floor, and often off the floor. Rudolph = Bynum, I really can’t argue with that. The deer that was mocked and ridiculed (by his own teammate!) but ended up being ‘the’ reindeer. I really wish he could help us get past the 1st round.

    Bynum wanting to shoot the ball further out worries me. That’s not something he needs to work on at this point. That’s duplicating a skill set the team already has, and if anything, players like Mihm should work on that and emulate Memo 😛


  20. Kind of went another way, huh, Kurt?

    David Thorpe @ ESPN made the same points about Shaq/Howard and the lack of an outside game helping their dominance. It’s an insider article though.

    Just for Kurt, my players that belong on misfit island are (in no particular order):

    Grant Hill (slasher, mid range guy on a space the floor 3point shooting team).

    Any Knick (no explanation needed)

    Smush Parker (we feel for you Riles)

    Jason Collins & Jamal Magloire (slow, plodding big men playing with Jason Kidd)

    Jermaine O’neal (kinda like Grant Hill. Obie’s new system emphasizes guard play and 3point shooting)

    Ron Artest (when teamed with Mike Bibby and vice versa)

    Any player that was drafted or signed to an extension by Billy King or Billy Knight, save Andre Iggy, Al Horford, Louis Williams.


  21. Here’s some misfits:

    Antoine Walker
    Patrick O’Bryant
    Marcus Banks
    Sean Marks
    Salim Stoudamire


  22. I’ll tell you, there is no smirk more annoying than that of one Mike D’Antoni. For that alone, he can be sent to misfit island for coaches, along with Isiah Thomas and Rick Adelman


  23. No one has Dennis Rodman on the island?


  24. Wally and all the other vets trapped in Seattle.


  25. Popeye Jones is on the Island. He HAS to be.


  26. After 20 games the team is 12-8. I think we should be more excited than we are. As it is, that is looking like a 50 win season. But just assuming a 50 win season might be under-estimating this team.

    The total winning percentage of the Laker opponents so far is .542 (doubling the records of teams they have played twice). In 20 games, the Lakers have played all six division leaders and they played Denver twice which means more than a third of their games have been against the top teams in the league. They have played four more games against teams in second place in their divisions which means more than half of their games have been against the elite teams. All together, 13 of 20 games have been against teams with winning records at this point in the season.

    The great thing is this is still a young team, there is reason to believe these guys are going to be even better at the end of the year.


  27. The Lakers should be happy to be at 12-8 at this point, considering that we could very well be 8-12 or worse.

    I found it hilarious to note that Rudolph really fit Drew in such a way that its funny yet fitting. I’m not all too familiar with the other characters but its sure looks to me like Santa fits Phil better… He was criticizing “rudolph” to a point where its demoralizing for a 19-yr old young man, yet Santa is now giving Rudolph his chance to showcase his red nose.

    On a side note, Kobe seemed like the Lead Reindeer who was the first to bash the young one. Yet he is now also paving the way for Rudolph to be the star. I bet he is happy he was not traded for a bunch of younger reindeers from Chicago.


  28. Without Santa (Kobe) there is no Christmas! Rudolph (Bynum) only realized his potential when he was scorned and not allowed to play any reindeer games. Everyone’s criticism of Kobe for speaking out against Bynum in the parking lot reached the level that it did because of Kobe’s previous demand to be traded. Had Kobe not demanded to be traded in his summer of discontent, then I do believe that everyone would have been equally upset that the Bynum for Kidd trade did not go through. Plus every Laker player was put on notice over the summer that Kobe was unhappy with their play and there are only two things that were going to happen: 1. Each Laker would improve their game or 2. Kobe would be traded. The second one the players had not control over, but the first each and everyone of them could control.

    Everyone could see Bynum’s potential at 17 when he dunked on Shaq, but there are many players that have never realized their full capabilities, see Lamar Odom.

    The Trevor Ariza trade will pay dividends for years to come, I envision him becoming a Michael Cooper type player that can develop a mid-range jumper if he spends time in the gym this summer.

    Has anyone noticed how Caron Butler is playing for the Wizards? That’s a player that Kobe took under his wing while he was here training with him and teaching him how to be a superstar. Wonder why Lamar has not done the same?

    Farmar will be one of the elite pg’s in this league one day, and would receive much more consideration except for the fact that Fisher’s return (mainly the .04 shot) has everyone dreaming of a white Christmas (Championship). Farmar is learning to play pg in the triangle even though he is much more suited for an open court game. Farmar is also in an era of pg supremacy, see Paul, Nash, Parker, Kidd, Williams and a slew of freshly drafted guards out of this year’s picks waiting to make their marks. Well maybe not a slew I just wanted to use that word.

    No one, but no one will ever come close to Chick Hearn in my opinion!

    My list of Laker favorite misfits (benchplayers) are: Turiaf, Luke Walton, Ariza and one day when he gets playing time Crittenton.


  29. I would have to say Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace were on the Island of misfits, but then they found a home in Detroit.


  30. let’s just hope the team stays together so that they can have a chance to compete for a championship. if any key piece decides to bail, like kobe or bynum, the team may be doomed.
    And I can’t wait for Ronny to develop into the next Oakley.


  31. Misfits:

    Brian Cardinal/Pau Gasol and the freestyle Grizz

    Antoine Walker and the fresh start Timberwolves

    The 8 guards on the 15 player Houston Rocket Roster

    Yi Jianlian, bratwurst, and the Milwaukee Bucks


  32. Ok guys, this year looks great so far. Remember that young teams go through ups and downs – and we will have our downs. When they come, let’s not all jump ship and start yelling trade, trade, trade, dumb FO, dumb FO, dumb FO.

    We are along for the ride and this roller coaster is likely to be much more exciting than the SA express – just don’t expect to be at the station before SA this year.


  33. Mike in the Mountain West December 13, 2007 at 10:36 am

    I second that Craig.

    Utah is currently on a 5 game losing streak and Orlando has dropped 3 in a row but does anyone think they aren’t contenders because of that? Every team goes through bad times, we will be no different.


  34. Kurt HELP! I am tapped out on my Laker content. I need something to read and ponder. I need another post from you. I am refreshing till I get your game day post.

    Having 1 game in 6 days really made it hard for me to get my laker fix.


  35. (34.) Mike, I’m guessing the number of past NBA champions that had a 5 game losing streak during the regular season is extremely limited so maybe that’s exactly what people should think.

    I’m going to run a quick check to see how many of the last 10 years……

    I’m starting to think the only 3 teams that have a prayer of beating the Spurs are the Suns, Celtics, and Pistons, and even those teams I don’t think have much of a shot.


  36. Out the past 12 NBA champions only one team went on a losing streak of at least 5 games……

    ’03-’04 Champion – Detroit Pistons (lost 6 games in a row)

    Not even the sorry Heat lost 5 in a row.

    So I feel comfortable saying the Jazz will not win the title this year. Also, I wasn’t aware anyone actually thought Orlando was going to win the title.

    Mike, I know you didn’t mean your post literally, I’m just having fun with silly stats until Kurt entertains us with another post.


  37. hello…???…kurt???
    it’s almost 11 AM…and as you can see the folks here are jonesin’…
    need a fix dude, seems like the off season, been so long without a game…
    well at least we got 3 games in 4 nights now, so hang on!
    big test coming up eh?


  38. Yes I completely agree… Kurt, it’s game time baby.


  39. This may sound dumb to most of you, but I actually think the lakers have a shot at beating the spurs if they were to play in the playoffs. I’m not saying the lakers would win, I’m just saying they would have a shot. they played them well last season. and although the spurs are playing great this season, it’s still the beginning and who knows, they may run out of gas, especially since they’re full of vets.
    it doesn’t really matter what the team’s records are, what matters are how well they match up against the competition. I think the lakers match up pretty well. It’s kinda like how the warriors beat the mavs, you know? so if they were to meet in the playoffs, i bet it would be a good series.


  40. Since when have the Spurs run out of gas in the postseason? Their entire strategy is to manage minutes across the roster for a playoff push.


  41. 40 – I totally agree. I’ve been thinking that for awhile. I could be wrong, but off the top of my head I feel like we were maybe 2-1 against SA last year. Without Timmy or Kwame tonight I don’t think it really means much at all, but I think we do match up decent against them. Especially if Kobe decides to shut down Manu and we don’t start leaving the 3 pt line and getted killed on triples.


  42. Well, any team has a shot against another…but the Spurs are probably the one team in the west that I don’t see the Lakers beating. A lightning quick penetrating PG + great supporting cast of 3 point shooters = Laker Defeat (and i didn’t even need to mention what Manu and Duncan bring to the table)


  43. I think I may be in the minority here, but I truly believe that the Lakers have a decent chance at the NBA championship THIS season. The main caveat is that they have to be in much better health than in past years. The two teams that I see as their biggest obstacles are the Spurs and the Celtics. Anyway, let’s take a look at their competition in the West:

    Suns–this team has trouble with opponents who have height and skill down on the block. The Lakers certainly fit the profile with Bynum/Odom on the offensive end and Brown (and now Bynum) on the defensive end. The Lakers also have a new defensive stopper on the wing (Ariza) who may also be pressed into duty guarding quick point guards on occasion.

    Mavericks–Golden State/Nellie tactically exposed them last year, and the past two postseasons have traumatically affected their confidence. We have seen the way to contain Nowitzki (he’s bothered by tough and quick defenders), and the addition of Ariza should help in guarding both Dirk and Josh Howard. On the offensive end, Kobe absolutely kills the Mavs.

    Jazz–This team does scare me more than the first two. Boozer and Milsap (and even Harpring) are tough, physical players down low. The health of Kwame is important vs the Jazz. Kirilenko is also very tough, but IMO he is a bigger threat when he is more of a focal point in the offense (which was apparent in our first two games with them). With a healthy Boozer and/or Okur, Utah’s primary play is the pick-and-roll with Williams and Boozer/Okur, relegating Kirilenko to a spot-up shooter, which is his weakest link. Interestingly enough, the Lakers match up well with a Utah team at its full strength. Kwame can guard Boozer, and Odom can guard Okur, with Bynum coming off the bench against Utah’s second string to devastating effect.

    Hornets–Chris Paul. Chris Paul…spot-up shooters…Laker defense that collapses to guard Paul after penetration….not a good combination. However, this tendency can be rubbed out over a seven-game series. Stay home on the shooters, force Paul to beat you with jumpers. Lakers in five.

    Nuggets–A healthy Laker team will beat a healthy Denver team in a seven-game series, although it’s possible that George Karl realizes how much better Denver is when Anthony Carter plays more minutes at the expense of JR Smith. Even so, I think the Lakers would take them in a series, even with Nene returning (I fear Klieza more than Nene).

    Rockets–There’s a reason Houston hasn’t been winning any series recently. McGrady does fade somewhat in the playoffs, and Yao’s endurance would be affected against the Lakers, who can both run well and play well in half court. In addition, Kwame’s post defense really bothers Yao, and Kobe will destroy McGrady over a seven-game series.

    Warriors–It’s well documented already that Phil won’t fall into Nellie’s small ball trap.

    Spurs–In our favor, Kwame usually does a pretty good job on Duncan. The key is slowing the penetration of Parker and Ginobli, and staying with Spur spot-up shooters. Kobe should guard Finley and not Bowen. Luke should guard Bowen, and Ariza/Kobe should guard Ginobli and/or Parker. The addition of Ariza really helps us against the Spurs. Bynum should dominate their second unit on both ends. On defense, his recognition of penetration has taken a quantum leap over the past two weeks. If the Lakers stay healthy and continue to improve, this will be an extremely competitive series.


  44. 41-since when have the spurs started 17-4? they usually peak after the all-star break. with a whole set of vets I wonder how they’ll hold up in the playoffs. having said that, I still think they’re the favorites to win the championship this season. But I do think the Lakers match up well against them.
    Let’s just see how they end the regular season.


  45. LO,
    It just seems you should use another signature – I love Kobe Bryant, but I wouldn’t dare use that as my signature. Oh well!

    I agree with you that the Spurs could drain themselves if their stars are playing major minutes all year long. They are a relatively old team across the front line (not their spark plug TP though). The question is really how many minutes are their starters + Ginobli averaging a game?


  46. The guy formerly known as Lamar Odom December 14, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    How about this one?