Bridge Talk

Bill Bridges —  December 14, 2009

bbridges

* Bill “Tonya” Simmons recently mused that he’d like to see the Lakers suffer an injury to help the cause of his beloved Celtics on his Podcast of 12/8. Kobe’s knees were specifically mentioned by Tonya “Harding” Simmons. Given that his fans must also be obsessed with Teen Wolf, Karate Kid, Real World, and Survivor, how much encourage do they need to snap? I mean Barack Obama might wish that Kim “Dear Leader” Jong-il die from pancreatic cancer, but he would never say that on his Podcast, would he?

*Tonya revelled in his God like powers as he willed an injury on Kobe Bryant – and a few short days later it actually came true! Unfortunately, it wasn’t a devastating knee injury as he hoped but a fractured finger. Still, a fracture of the index finger of the shooting hand isn’t something to laugh at. Tonya noted that even renowned NBA tough guy Kenyon Martin was out of action for two games for a minor dislocation of his left pinkie of his non-shooting-hand. The injury was so painful for Kmart that he was seen huddled on the bench with his left pinkie pressed against his neck to make his ouchie feel better. Then surely a fracture of the index finger of his shooting hand must put Kobe out of action for a month or so – at least long enough for Tonya’s beloved Celtics to build an insurmountable lead for best record and home court advantage for the Championship finals. So it was with more than a little chagrin that Tonya’s smile as Kobe walked off to the locker room quickly turned to bewilderment as Kobe came back with an ugly splint on the finger – and then proceeded to sink both left and right handed shots. Tonya is certainly used to histrionics of players being wheeled off in a wheel chair and then returning, heroically, moments later. This he understands. However, Tonya thought that the Heroic Return Device is only used when the injury is actually being feigned and not real.

* Although he failed to will permanent damage to Kobe, Tonya must have been pleased to see Greg Oden hobbled once again with a KNEE injury – the better to gloat about the object of his man love – KD. The other 99.999% of us are extremely saddened, not least because Oden seems like such a good, humble guy. We are sad for him and for us as we were looking forward to seeing Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden mature, develop into great centers and carry on the tradition of “Battles in the Pivot” in the same vein as Wilt vs. Russell, and Walton vs. Kareem. Joy for Tonya is a tragedy for the rest of us.

*After a string of gutless performances culminating in a 146 – 115 drubbing by the Hawks, did Reggie Evans do the “Kaman” on all of his team mates? If, so what did he find? Apparently he remarked, groping for words, “I thought that only Chris Bosh was the RuPaul of the NBA, but I found that all of my team mates are also RuPauls”. To avoid more “Kamans”, the Raps promptly won the next 3 games before reverting to more comfortable ways with back to back 22 point losses to Milwaukee and Atlanta.

*Blazer fans must be hoping that Rudy Fernandez is doing a Benjamin Button. Last season he was “Rookie Manu”, a sixth man full of athleticism, energy, and potential. This season he is “Old-man Manu”, a creaky invalid with a bad back. What happened to all of the years of “All-star Manu”? Must check Rudy’s hair when he returns.

*For all of the talk of replacing Fish. His line in the win Wednesday vs. Utah was 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 3 fouls. Oh and the Lakers won by 24 in a dominating performance. I submit that this is exactly what you want from your 5th player (plus maybe a couple of defensive rebounds in the 1st half). Play steady, play defense, move the ball, don’t force your own game, don’t be afraid to take the clutch shot if the moment comes. Who else is better than Fish? The Lakers options are 1. Kobe, 2 Pau, 3 Andy (switch this order up depending on opponent and match ups). Artest gets a few kick outs, post ups (ouch), and drives. The point guard gets the scraps. This pecking order is as it should be. The last thing you want is a Jamaal Crawford in that role taking 15 shots.

*No, we will not talk of Tiger. This is forum about basketball and not of Golf and other lurid pursuits.

*But we can make a stock tip. We would recommend Sanofi-aventis, stock symbol (SNY), the makers of Ambien.

—Bill Bridges

Bill Bridges

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52 responses to Bridge Talk

  1. lakersfansincemagic December 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    As indicated by the picture, that is a low blow by Bill Simmons. Who actually wishes injuries on players.. even if it’s against your rival enemy?

  2. If he really said that, well, that’s a new low for him.

    I guess he is not seeing much hope in this year’s Celtics…

  3. Hi Kurt (and gang),

    I’ve noticed that the RSS feeds haven’t been showing that there’s an update. Is that something that can be fixed on your end or is it just something that takes time to appear (I know nothing on this nature, sorry).

    I also wanted to say that I’ve been a fan of this site for some time now and even though I may not always agree with your opinion(s), I always respect them because you and the other contributors put in the time to educate yourselves on the posts that are made and that takes a great deal of effort. I come here (more frequently than I probably should) to hear about our team, from people that are fans of our team and I don’t expect a sermon and I don’t get one, just opinions based on observation. Basically, as a third party, and in reference to the end of the previous post, I want to say that you all do great work, it seems like it’s all in good spirits, with the best of intentions, and I love this blog!

  4. I hate to get off topic but for everyone who is all over Sasha for not being able to shoot he is leading the Lakers in 3 pt shooting at 43%… the Machine is ahead of silver medalist Ron Artest who is at 37%. Derek Fisher in comparison is shooting 30% from behind the arc. As you know I have no problem getting on Phil Jackson or his players when I feel it is warranted. But the Sasha and Andrew Bynum criticisms are not deserved this season.

    If you would like to criticize Lakers who are under performing may I suggest Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher? Lamar Odom is shooting 40.6% this season after shooting 47%,48%, 47%, 53%, and 49% the past 5 seasons as a Laker. Derek Fisher is shooting 30.9% from behind the line after shooting 41% and 40% the last two seasons as the Lakers 3 pt specialist. These drop offs are extreme. Lamar Odom is still providing quality play with his as always well rounded game. It might just be a shooting slump or possibly a decline in athleticism that is resulting in fewer quality shots. For Fisher ,who’s main strength is floor spreading outside shooting, his decline is more concerning.

  5. Oh Science I think I agree with Aaron. TBH and Sasha, not half bad. Fisher and Lamar, kinda stinky.

    Start Sasha!!

    Let’s start a movement.

    Start Sasha! Start Sasha! Start Sasha!

    If it worked for Luke Walton, it can work for Sasha!

  6. Aaron,
    The stats you cite are likely the reason that Sasha is getting more minutes and why Fisher is seeing less (though not for each other as I’m sure Bill Bridges would like as he’s been a fan of Sasha seeing minutes at PG for the past couple of seasons). As for Odom, he’s taking so many more jumpshots now that his decline in FG%, while worrisome, is somewhat predictable. Even though he’s shown much more confidence in his jumper, it’s still not his strong suit and I’m still trying to figure out (as is Bill Bridges, I’m sure, since he commented on it recently) why LO has been allergic to his post game. Also, when looking at the stats, he’s being paired less with Pau this season and more with Bynum and that has led to less of the two man game that LO has thrived off of since the arrival of the Spaniard. In the end, you’re right that LO is still having an impact on the game with his rebounding, defense, ball handling, and passing but his offense has left more than a little to be desired. And this is coming from one of his biggest supporters…ever.

  7. “This is a blog and the style of it is not changing.”

    Why so defensive, Kurt? Nobody asked you to change your blog. And saying, “this is just a blog” is a little disingenuous, since blogs, especially ones affiliated with major madia entities like espn, are oftentimes visited more than newspaper sites.

  8. Bill, I’ll be sending you the bill for a new sarcasm-o-meter. According to the shop, the damage done by your post was too severe for repairs and it’s out of warranty, so…

    I’ll just have them bill you, okay?

  9. Great stuff by Bill and Darius. Regarding comments in the last thread:

    I think Brian K did a good job with why the big guys have a right to feel like they won’t get the ball. It reminded me of the 3-peat days. Remember one of Shaq’s most common moves? The repost. We had veteran post passers on the perimeter and got the ball back inside. Now, obviously, the makeup of this team is different. This team belongs to a perimeter player, and unfortunately I think that takes some necessary emphasis away from our dominant big men. (Obviously this is Kobe’s rightful team, but I just think it bleeds to the rest of the perimeter players, and they don’t do nearly as disciplined a job of getting the ball into the post as back in the 3-peat days. And this is with 2 dominant post players).

    Also, good find by Kurt on Shaq’s passing stats. I was expecting his stats to be similar to Pau’s. He doesn’t face up the defense the way Pau does, but Shaq on the Lakers was patient. He’d look over the defender, survey the cutters and the defense, and had as good a drop pass as any big man I’ve seen. So while he did his reads from a different position than Pau, he was still a very patient big man.

  10. Nice NY Times article on the triangle:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/sports/basketball/14triangle.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    And in other news, Gasol wants more touches. Something about him getting five shots the whole game if not for his offensive rebounds in Utah.

  11. Mike Penberthy (and by the way great site name): I tend to get far more defensive when someone takes a swing at Darius or Bill Bridges or Gatinho or one of the other writers than myself. Not that I like being knocked, I don’t, but I make plenty of mistakes and I have a pretty thick skin (I’d like to think). I am defensive of the guys who contribute here without getting some of the perks I get in terms of media passes to games and what have you. They make a pure investment in this site, they don’t get perks. So yes, I am defensive when someone takes a swing at them. They deserve more than I am capable of giving them at this point (this site is far from some cash cow). I struggle with it. But one thing I can give them is some cover from what I see as unwarranted attacks (if people want to debate the merits of a post, that is one thing, but to take more personal swings makes me more frustrated).

  12. Mark my words Bill Simmons: If I ever run into you casually on the street, I will punch you in the face and then take a picture and make sure it goes viral. Eff you man.

  13. The best thing we all could do for Mr. Simmons is to unfailingly avoid any contact with his site. More attention just makes his heart go flutter — so stop it, already!

  14. We need a Laker game! I am and have always had fun here, period. Like Bill Bridges has stated, let’s start Sasha at PG, why not?

    “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” – Joan Didion

  15. Who’s this Simmons guy? He sounds lame.

  16. Maybe I’m missing the boat here, but I listened to that podcast last week and didn’t notice anything out of line.

  17. Snoopy needs to remind me to read the previous thread and Darius needs to delete comment #10. Someone (I think Darius) already brought up the Pau thing and Kurt also pointed out that NYT article first. My bad.

  18. simmons’ dream job is handing out towels to the celtics players, as they exit the shower.

  19. Aaron

    3pt Totals for 09-10:

    Vujacic: 9/17
    Artest: 35/94
    Fisher: 17/55
    Odom: 18/59

    Its a small sample size so the higher % argument is shaky at best. Its akin to saying Josh Powell (100%) is a better FT shooter than Steve Nash (94%) but neglecting to mention he’s only taken 5 FTs this season (damn I hope I didn’t jinx him). When Sasha brings his totals up to a comparable number maybe then we can have that conversation. Even then it’ll probably be about how Ron’s defense, Odom’s ability to rebound and push the ball or Fisher’s giant testicles trump Sasha’s selfish play.

  20. While it’s fun to poke fun at Simmons, I took his “wishing” an injury more as a compliment: he is scared. He sees what these Lakers are and could be.

    I agree with Tyler, it wasn’t out of line; it was Simmons’ backhanded way of saying that no matter how good his Celts are, at full health these Lakers are not to be beat.

  21. I agree with phineas (#20) in that Simmons actually is very concerned about his beloved Celts and knows that this Lakers squad is head and shoulders better and he was just flippant with his comment.

  22. @1

    I did. I wished some minor physical tragedy would befall Pierce or Garnett (or any other relevant/successfully contributing Celtic) in the 08 finals. I know all that jazz about “don’t you want to win the right way” and yada yada yada, but when you are down & out…you don’t care. ;)

  23. Start Sasha? everybody wanted to trade him last week.

    Bill Simmons, on the other hand, is a Celtics fan. A fan who happens to write really funny articles. I’m not gonna hate the guy for wishing the only thing that would allow his team to win a title to happen. I know after game 4 of the 2008 finals, I was wishing that Paul Pierce’s fake knee injury had been real.

    Can’t hate the guy for being a fan of the team he grew up watching from courtside.

  24. Travis,

    I don’t think anyone is complaining about him being a fan of his team but the words he is choosing to display that fandom.

    When you have the ears of a worldwide audience bent your way, you have to be a lot more cautious about what you say than us average blog posters.

  25. @18. Well played, balanced just right, with the right note of sweetness, a touch of sour, and full-bodied mockery.

  26. Simmons is still funny and entertaining, even if he is a Celtics fan.

    If you take the FULL context of his “wishing” an injury on the Lakers, as phineas said, he was just offering the Lakers a backhanded compliment, basically, saying, “The only way the Celtics can beat them is if Kobe gets injured.”

    You can’t take what he says too seriously. He’s an entertainer, first and foremost. And a darn good one.

    By the way, Sasha is making 43% of his shots in garbage time, with nobody guarding him, and the game decided. I would argue he should be making at least 60% of his shots in those circumstances (which is why Morrison is such a horrible, horrible player – AMMO shoots a terrible percentage even in garbage time).

    That being said, Fish is on his last legs (literally). We’re all hoping Shannon Brown is the next in line, but he hasn’t exactly grabbed the conch…

  27. That’s the ugly side of being a sports fan.

    I remember, when I heard that Len Bias had died, my first inner reaction was a giddy feeling that the Celtics plan of getting back to the top was foiled.

    I’ve never let myself off the hook for that. It was a real low point.

  28. 24. Cautious? Does him wishing for an injury make it any more likely to happen? Will his dreams come true because of the size of his audience?

    He has the audience he has because of the things he says. Not the other way around. His word carries as much influence in the actual happenings of the NBA as ours does. His is just more publicized because its way funnier, and more people like to read it. Disagree with his opinioins or his fanhood, but don’t tell him how to express it when ESPN puts food on his table in exchange for him to be exactly what he is: A passionate, biased, and very opinionated fan with a sense of humor.

    So Simmons would like the Lakers to lose, and he’ll take it any way he can…so what? Does that mean we should punch him in the face if we ever see him as 12) gsx plans on doing? I dont think so.

  29. Simonoid – haha no worries. Repetition helps drive home the point. And sometimes people miss articles the first time around.

    Travis – I don’t think the two are polar opposites. People want to start Sasha in hopes of jumpstarting him, because of his lackluster play (which is the same reason some want to trade him).

    I remain skeptical that starting Sasha will make a difference. As many have pointed out, his 3FG% may be misleading. He also lacks the “steadiness” that floor generals have. Someone else can probably put that in better basketball terms. But when Jordan was out last year and Sasha played the point, there was something about his game (ball-handling? maybe playing a tiny bit out of control?) that scared me a tiny bit. The ball just doesn’t feel secure in his hands; it doesn’t feel like he can make the right decisions.
    However at this point, it’s worth a shot.

  30. I dont see the logic in starting a guy who can barely squeeze into the rotation.

  31. Mike,
    I was simply saying everyone has been on Sasha’s case for not being able to shoot, when as it turns out when he has gotten the chance to shoot he has shot well. How is this confusing?

  32. 1. Simmons’ comment simply demonstrates the justified fear that any Celtics fan has of this Laker team.

    2. “For all of the talk of replacing Fish. His line in the win Wednesday vs. Utah was 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 3 fouls…I submit that this is exactly what you want from your 5th player (plus maybe a couple of defensive rebounds in the 1st half).”

    WTF? Seriously? 0/0/1/1/3 is most assuredly NOT exactly what you want from your 5th player. One assist? Come on.

  33. Does this remind anyone else of one of the first episodes of “Flash Forward”? If you don’t know the show, everybody on earth catches a glimpse of the future and one of the things they saw was a season-ending knee injury to Kobe. Just some things you don’t say, you know. Like, you don’t make Obama assassination jokes – it’s bad joojoo just putting that in the universe.

  34. Yes, I just compared a team losing its star to the murder of the leader of the free world. Some people take sports pretty seriously, that’s all I’m saying…

  35. The thing with Sasha that bothers me the most is that when he’s on the floor you can tell (well, I think I can tell) that his confidence is not what it used to be. There’s something different about the way he shoots the ball and plays that just makes it seem like he’s struggling. Aaron makes a great point with his stats, but as Mike pointed out, his limited minutes mean that his sample size is small and the end result may be that his percentages are skewed.

    Regardless of whether I agree with Aaron or Mike, I will say one thing some may be overlooking: Phil makes the decision of who gets PT and who rides the pine. In the end, the fact that Sasha has been relegated to the Taco Unit or the Three Point Unit (for the Last 20 seconds against Miami) says volume about what he thinks of Sasha’s confidence and shooting touch. And Phil is in a much better position to judge Sasha than any of us.

  36. #33. MannyP13, I actually think Phil is trying to treat Sasha the way he treated Randy Brown and Jud Buechler. I’m not sure how much you followed Phil’s old Bulls teams, but those two players were ones that rarely got any playing time, but Phil would throw them into a game when he wanted to “mix it up”. Those guys were marginal NBA players (or at least players who could not produce over long minutes), but Phil trusted them to perform because they were professionals.

    Now, Phil has obviously lost a lot of trust in Sasha. But, that trust once existed – we saw it just two seasons ago when Sasha was on our closing unit for our playoff run. At this point though, I think Phil is trying to condition Sasha into this new role where he’s always prepared and he’ll try to find situations in games to get him minutes. Those may only be mop up minutes and Sasha is going to have to live with that. But, he may also see meaninful time (like he did against the Jazz in LA) where Phil inserts him to try and fill a void that he sees in the unit that is on the floor.

    I give credit to Phil in that he’s always looking for a role for every single player and he tries to put that player in the best position to succeed within that role. Phil may be trying this with Sasha now, and if so, here’s hoping that Sasha responds. I know I have not completely soured on the guy and I know that he can play. Let’s hope Sasha can be a pro’s pro and produce in whatever role Phil finds for him.

  37. lakersfansincemagic December 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    22. I admit, I almost wanted Pierce to be really injured in ’08, but then I felt a little dirty.

    BTW, the #2 ’08 finals game was worst officiating game I’ve ever seen.

  38. I am in the opinion of giving Sasha a chance. Whether that be starting him or increased minutes during actual game time and not just taco unit minutes.

    Although I am not very good at X’s O’s as some are on this site. I do know that the triangle offense is based on spacing. And to allow it to run smoothly they need people that are capable of hitting outside shots. Right now the most consistent starter is Ron Ron.

    I currently live in Socal and moved here about 10 years ago when the Lakers were just starting to put the pieces into place to start their dynasty. Just so happens I moved here from Chicago. I grew up watching both 3 peat Bull’s team’s. I feel priviledged having lived through that and seeing the great basketball in Chicago and then in L.A.
    But what I remember from all those teams that allowed the star’s to shine were people that could be considered the dead eye shooter or 3 pointer knock down shooter on the team. When the star is double teamed they had someone who could spot up and punish the other team for bringing the double and think twice about it next time. Paxson, Kerr, Rice…I think Sasha has the ability to play the role as one of those players in the triangle. Given a chance I think he could be useful to the team as Fisher is declining and has not be consistently able to hit open shots. (Not saying we should replace Fisher for Sasha for crunch time minutes although)

  39. When I was ten any time an opposing player got injured I remember Chick saying that he hated to see that player go down. He would go on to say that he wanted to see the Lakers compete against the best or something to that effect.

    I remember saying to myself, “why on earth would Chick want to see the Lakers not have an advantage”. I could not understand why he felt this way. Then again I was only ten.

    Today I am 50 and I finally get it. Grow up Simmons.

  40. On a different note, check this article out. http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2009/12/15/artest-like-tiger-cheated-on-his-woman/26727/

    Artest’s candidness is refreshing, and he definetely tries to “keep it real.” I’m sure what he says resonates with many athletes who have the unenviable task of turning down offers from ‘fans.’ I just can’t help but think about AC Green, and just how excruciatingly difficult it must have been for him to stay true to his beliefs. I appreciate and honor him a lot more now.

  41. I think we’ve seen several times that role players benefit from playing with the starters. Shannon Brown’s shooting has been sub-par because he’s been playing with bench players instead of the starters; his shots are less open and the passes are less crisp.

    I could see the same thing happening with Sasha. Once he stops having to share the court with Josh Powell, DJ Mbenga, and Adam Morrison, he may get some quality shots. I’d like to see Phil try it, at least for a couple games.

    And Luke Walton rode the pine for the first third of last season, then he came in and played with the starters and flourished in that role (at least for a while until Ariza learned how to shoot).

    Start Sasha! Start Sasha!

  42. People here seem relatively “unworried” about Kobe’s finger. I think it is kind of a big deal, though. Am I wrong?

  43. Also, does anyone know at what point in the Podcast Simmons talks about Kobe? I would like to hear exactly what he said but do not want to listen to Simmons for 52:20 to do so.

  44. 35,
    I have never said Sasha should be getting more minutes. I have just said people should get off his back because when he has played he has shot well. I would like Brown to be used at the teams starting PG and not played out of position at back up SG… that would also open up minutes for Sasha at back up SG. Farmar would keep his job as the change of pace back up PG and Fisher would fit comfortably next to Brian Shaw as a player/coach on the bench.

  45. Rivalries are not limited to the players, fans are rivals too. Often times I wish more Lakers fans were irrational and immovable in their displays of affection for their team like the crazy Boston fans. I don’t wish injuries upon players, but if they do happen to stars of rival teams I can’t help but smile. I feel bad for the individual and the fact that they have to experience pain and discomfort. But I love being able to rub it into the other team’s fanbase. Especially if it’s a player who crawls like a dog on parquet floors in-game.

  46. Well Zephid beat me to it and since he knows what he’s talking about I feel pretty smart. :-) But I agree – playing with starters can often make you look (or actually play) better.

    No, I am not advocating starting Sasha, but I am not sure that he is not a better SG than Brown.

    In the last five games the lines have looked like this (and yes I am aware of the HUGE disparity in minutes, but what else do we have to go on, and I’m bored.)

    Brown
    shooting 1/5, 4/10, 2/6, 3/9, 2/6
    +/- -4, +3, -2, -11, -4
    minutes 15, 19, 18, 17, 24

    Vujacic
    shooting 0/0, 0/1, 1/1. 3/3, 0/0
    +/- +6 0 +9 +4 +6
    minutes 0 4 10 9 0

    Without seeing Sasha play the same minutes as Brown and shoot a similar number of shots it is an unfair comparison but I think we can draw a couple of pretty obvious conclusions.

    1. Sasha may have been horrible at the start of the season, but the last five games he has helped rather than hurt the team (especially in the two games he got meaningful minutes).

    2. Shannon is not exactly tearing it up in shooting percentage or making the team a lot better.

    3. If we could bottle Sasha’s +6 in zero minutes – we’d be unstoppable. :-)

  47. Kobe’s finger is a real big deal, it is broken with tendons involved, and he has to wear a splint to play basketball now days on the index finger of his SHOOTING hand. Of couse I said doom and gloom with the hamstring and all was fine there, but this fracture is a little different, huh? I just hope the other four players can take up the slack (shooting wise) and we do not drop anymore games this road trip.

  48. You guys are really overdoing the simmons bashing in this instance. He made those comments literally a sentence after saying “short of an injury to pau or kobe, the lakers are unbeatable. They look that good.” So his suggestion of an injury was pretty obviously sarcastic (not to mention his immediate audience was Cousin Sal).
    Those guys can run the sarcasm pretty thick, but if there is a faux pas understood in all of sport it is precisely that you do not root for injuries.

    So everyone just chill out on thinking he actually wants anyone to get hurt. Or to paraphrase a man much greater than myself: put the candy down and let the little boy go.

  49. Funny post Mr. Bridges. I always enjoy a good Kim “Dear Leader” Jong-il reference in my Lakers surfing!

  50. You guys are really overdoing the simmons bashing in this instance. He made those comments literally a sentence after saying “short of an injury to pau or kobe, the lakers are unbeatable. They look that good.”

    ______________________

    If he said this, it is just part of a long set-up so he can attack Kobe’s character and human decency if the Lakers do not repeat. This is how BS played the 2008 Finals and he followed up on the meme in TBoB. Simmons is a good writer, he loves the NBA, and I recommend TBoB (if you can get through the endless pop-culture analogies and creepy aging fratboy sexism) but he has proven, again and again, that he is largely irrational when the topic is Kobe Bryant.

  51. 45) Igor: Lakers fans are just as irrational. See comment #33.