Lakers At The Movies

Darius Soriano —  February 26, 2011

Mike Crowder returns for another piece here at FB&G. With the Oscars coming up tomorrow and the Lakers considered (to a certain extent) “Hollywood”, Mike takes a look at the Lakers at the movies. Enjoy.

As fans, we seek to understand our athletes. We want to know why they do what they do. We want to know the motivation of previous actions to help us predict what they will do in the future.

One way we do this is by making analogies. Kobe is like Jordan. Pau is the new McHale. Derrick Character’s upside is Antoine Carr. These analogies give us context, and the search for context makes us the kind of fans that read a site like FB & G. Obviously comparing players with their predecessors is helpful in a very tangible way. We understand that Kobe’s statistics should approach Jordan’s, his leadership will be dynamic, and he is likely to amaze us. We can also predict his unpredictability, his dynamism.

Sometimes the payer to player analogies can be limiting. There is more information to be had, other ways to think about the players. In terms of basketball, Ziller and Shoals at Free Darko have used charts to show how limiting trying to define players by traditional positional stereotypes can be.  When it comes to personalities, Bill Simmons uses pop-culture to help understand players. I’m waiting for him to compare Kobe and Pau’s dynamic to Ronnie and Sammie Sweetheart.  I don’t want to try to get inside Simmons’ head, but I wonder if he hates the fact he spends so much time thinking about the Lakers and The Jersey Shore.

A couple of weeks ago Kobe made one of these analogies himself. Kobe, in reference to Pau’s aggressiveness, said that Pau needed to be more “black swan.” Kobe’s use of the reference of the Darren Aronofsky film of that title, certainly one of tongue-and-cheek and very funny, illuminated not only that Kobe was a fan of art house films (we always knew Kobe has a streak of intellectualism), but another way Kobe perceives his and Pau’s relationship.

The film is about the transition that a dancer, Nina Sayers played by Natalie Portman, has to make to take on the Swan Queen. The Swan Queen is a dual role of both good and evil. White and black. Nina, a technically proficient dancer who exudes proficiency and a wholesomeness, is told by Thomas Leroy, the ballet company’s director played in a clichéd but convincingly by Vincent Cassell, that if she the role of the Swan Queen, she must embody the purity of the White Swan and the provocative nature of the Black Swan.

Kobe sees himself as Thomas (pronounced to-Mas not Tom-as, a distinction only made to exemplify of the type of film Black Swan is): in search of perfection (a descriptor of Kobe lifted from Free Darko’s first book), in control, and empowered to lead as a definer of other’s roles. Kobe also sees Pau as Nina: technical, pure, full of potential, but lacking the edge necessary to be complete.

It’s a really interesting and apt analogy. I’m not sure I heard anyone in the media respond to it who couldn’t see its validity. Kobe’s analogy only articulated, in a new way, how a lot of us felt about Pau. “He is great now, but he would be really something if had a darker aggressive edge.”

Since it is Oscar Season, and the Lakers are the Lakers, I thought looking at some of the other players Oscar Film counterparts, would be a nice diversion from this Laker team’s annual swoon (save the nice wins against Portland and Atlanta) .

Pau= Nina, Black Swan:

Kobe and said it and we all agreed: Pau needs to be more Black Swan. We get it. Pau is an interesting case; the perpetual sidekick. Eduardo Saverin as the Mark Zuckerberg’s disposed partner from The Social Network is interesting (Pau/Kobe=Saverin/Zuckerberg) works in a way.  Saverin is necessary to Facebook’s existence as Pau is to this Lakers. But, I think LaBoeuf from True Grit is even better. LaBoeuf is much maligned in the film, and appropriately so as he is a buffoon. He can be ancillary, conceited, and inept, but does come up clutch as hell.

Kobe= Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network:

Genius. Driven. Immature. Ruthless. Great. Antisocial. Genius. Geek. Millionaire. Innovative. Punk. Selfish. Talented. Savant. Prodigious. Accomplished. Genius.

Phil= Rooster Cogburn, True Grit:

In the opening courtroom scene of True Grit, Rooster Cogburn is giving testimony about a shooting he was involved in. The prosecutor asks him in which direction he was moving as he backed up, Cogburn replies, “backward I suspect.” Phil, right? Also, you always got a feeling that Cockburn was tracking one last criminal in True Grit. It was his “Last Stand.” And I would consider sleeping in the back of a Chinese Herbalist’s store a lot like losing to the Cavs.

Lamar= The Winklevoss Twins, The Social Network:

Lamar’s mercurial nature forces him to be looked in the context of duality. The Winklevoss twins are played by one person, Armie Hammer. I know it’s a stretch but I just like saying the Winklevoss twins and Armie Hammer. They have awesome names.

Ron= Dicky Eklund The Fighter:

The best character in any off the films of 2010 has to be Dicky Eklund played by Christian Bale. Dicky could be called “essentially a crack head.” And while he is a crack head, that does not define him. A not so nuanced take on Ron-Ron would be to call him a crazy person, as Ron is self-professed as being crazy. Ron essentiality comes from his toughness and loyalty. His heart and his ambition define him. Sometimes his self-awareness can be questioned. A scene that encapsulates Dicky is when he is in a crack den being filmed by what he thinks is an HBO documentary on his comeback to boxing, and his crack head girlfriend asks what the camera are there for again, the director responds “to show people what its really like to be on crack.”  Dicky doesn’t it get it. But when it matters the most and his brother, Micky Ward, really needs him. He is there. Like a clutch three in game seven of the NBA Finals.

Derek Fisher= Arthur, Inception:

The venerable teammate. There when matters. Unflashy and consistent. Some might say with major deficiencies.

Andrew Bynum=any character from The Kings Speech

Supposed to be amazing, but I haven’t seen it and I might never.

Shannon Brown =Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), True Grit:

Small role, not sure if is incredibly stupid or incredibly intelligent.

Steve Blake= Sean Parker, The Social Network:

Blond with a debatable impact. If not debatable, at least the impact isn’t obvious.

To fans like us, the gold trophies those stars get on Sunday don’t matter; the real important trophy gets hoisted in June, and it doesn’t get awarded, the real stars take that one.

-Michael Crowder
(follow Mike on twitter at @mikecrowder_BK)

Darius Soriano

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45 responses to Lakers At The Movies

  1. Andrew Bynum:
    Now that was a cop-out analogy.

    I can’t think of one myself, either, but suggest you go see the King’s Speech – if only to familiarize yourself with our English cousins and a bit of relevant history. Also fantastic acting.

  2. Craig,
    The King’s Speech is on my list of movies to go see. Going to watch True Grit this afternoon, though.

  3. Craig, I really want to see the King’s Speach. I just haven’t been able to. The reference was just sort of joke in the post.

  4. Has anyone noticed the difference from soft Pau to not soft Pau? Gasol started playing better recently when he stopped trying to post up. And started playing his natural game consisting of outside jumpers and face ups. That’s the secret. Simple and sweet. Pau is so good at facing up on the perimeter that he took the shorter and lighting quick Blake Griffin off the dribble last night like he was nailed to the floor. I’m glad the Lakers have stopped forcing Gasol to be something he isn’t… A low post scorer.

  5. Gasol is a tremendous low post scorer. Against a few defenders with strong bases (Perkins, Hayes, etc)? Sure, he struggles to overpower them. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s got more low-post moves and countermoves than anyone we’ve seen in this league since Hakeem. Don’t confuse brute force for post play – Pau has a great finesse low post game, and I’d argue that it’s stronger than his jumper.

    Admittedly, he’s probably a better passer when facing up. But that’s sort of like saying Megan Fox is hotter in a miniskirt than jeans. You’d hit it either way.

  6. We have to remember that the Lakers have asked Pau to play a lot of center on a championship caliber team. That certainly requires a certain amount of post-up play. I really think Pau would also rather play PF and use his speed and footwork to reach his goals.

    It is in that light that we should be talking about his performances. I do agree he does better when there is some Black Swan there, but that is not his essential nature. He is a natural #2, with some #1 abilities. Glad we have him, in any case.

  7. I don’t know if I’ve seen any movies this last year except for terrible sci-fi films. I think those are better compared to Clippers players

  8. I need to comment that I wrote “Speach” instead of “speech” in the comments. My bad.

  9. Interesting writeup, Mike. The Kobe-Zuckerberg, Ron-Dicky, and Shannon-Tom Chaney analogies are pretty accurate. I’d have to disagree a little bit in the part about Drew. We HAVE seen flashes of his potential, it’s just that they have been fleeting. He’s always seemed to get hurt right when he’s been playing his best ball. I can’t think of an appropriate film analogy to make for him, though.

  10. Kwame A, in an earlier thread you said you were going to introduce your brother-in-law to my namesake. Did you mean Jeff Bridges, Jeff Dowd, or the movie? :D

  11. Thanks Dude, I’ll have a white russian for you later.

  12. 4, you need a serious prescription for some glasses. Did you see what Pau did to Aldridge in the 4th quarter and OT against Portland? He took him into the post and had his way with him. Say what you want about Aldridge, but saying Pau is not a low post scorer is just ignorant and biased.

  13. Great concept Mike. The Black Swan idea was brilliant, as you pointed out.

    Just as appropos was the Zuckerberg- Kobe connection. I loved that one. It matches down to Kobe’s often arrogant and dismissive answers. I particularly lke the idea of whether Zuckerberg stole the idea or not being analogous to how much credit Kobe should get for the first three titles because of Shaq. There is no right answer. And whatever answer you chose says more about you than any objective truth.

  14. Bynum is so young still.

    I am one of the huge Bynum supporters on FB&G, and often an apologist as well, but are you really upset with his season so far?

    Injury and recovery not withstanding (and, with exceedingly rare and unbelievably freakish exceptions [such as Dwight Howard, so far] virtually ALL big men spend time injured) Bynum has had a very, very good season. Not All Star Level, but just below that, certainly.

    26 minutes a game, 11.2 PPG with 55% for FGs for 8 APG, 7.7 RPG, 67% FT, 1.3 Assists, 1.7 Blocks.

    Those are good numbers, they truly are.

    We don’t have stats for good defense, including altering shots and discouraging penetration with his size and length. But he does a very good job there as well.

    If the Lakers scheme fed the ball to Bynum 20 times a game, he would be scoring 22 – 25 points a night.

    But the Lakers, rightly so, do not scheme for Bynum as a primary option. That is what Bryant and Gasol are for. And Bynum is not anchoring the 2nd unit, so he is not getting called on as Odom is.

    So, what exactly are we thinking for the 3rd/4th offensive option?

    His usage is not that high, and his contributions are far more valuable defensively than offensively, at the moment.

    Choose your own superstition here to ward off evil, but if Gasol or Odom goes down, you will suddenly see “Bynum get it” and his numbers will jump 25-50% overnight… He will “dig deep”, and “really mature”, which is honestly just analyst talk for “they will give him the ball more often.”

    Trading Bynum would be a gigantic mistake. Barring injury (and we are all day to day, aren’t we?) he will be a defensive presence, and good rebounder, and a low post threat, for another 8-12 years.

    A seven footer with soft hands, good touch around the basket, and good defensive skills in the paint. There are not as many of those in the league as you think…

  15. Love me some Zephid black-swaning Aaron

  16. 3ThreeIII,
    Thank you! You have said it better than those other of us trying to explain the situation. Even if we had 5 all-stars playing on this team only 2-3 of them would make the all-star game. That is the system Phil runs. All-in-all it does seem to be a pretty good system.

  17. 3threeIII – well said, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  18. 14, my only problem with this is that Bynum can’t stay on the floor long enough to score 22-25 points per game.

    I would like to say for the record that I was one of the first people who said Bynum could be a nightly 20-10 guy if he ever got completely healthy and completely focused. However, he’s not (never has been?) completely healthy and he’s not always completely focused. And I don’t think you can just brush off the fact that Bynum has missed 1.5 seasons worth of games over the past 4 seasons as being the norm for big men. If it’s Theo and he’s like 60 years old, then yea, it’s understandable and predictable for him to miss a lot of time. But if he’s 23? If I had a fantasy keeper league with him on it, I would sell high.

    Bynum has yet to play over 32 minutes in a game this season. I’d agree that some of this is due to Phil’s rotational stubbornness, but a lot of it also has to do with Bynum simply having poor conditioning and constant soreness of his knees. And he’s not even “hurt” right now. But there is a strong possibility that he never even gets “hurt,” just slowly breaks down like Greg Oden and Yao Ming. Also, he hasn’t scored 20 or more points in any game this season.

    There’s no denying that when healthy, Bynum is arguably the most dominant center in the league. But when has he been healthy in the past 4 years? Can you find any 3 month stretch where Bynum has not been hurt/ailing? And are you willing to take the chance that we may be stuck paying franchise money to center who plays 60% of games per season, or should we trade him for 90 cents on the dollar for talent at another position and a serviceable center to play 95% of games per season?

  19. Three,
    Do you think he will be reasonably healthy. Not, do you hope, do you honestly think he will be? (Reasonably healthy would be a significant improvement over his health to this point.) If the answer is yes, then he should be kept. If the answer is no, then they should trade him if possible. I don’t see how anyone can logically expect reasonable health from him, particularly considering that he was already injury prone, prior to any of these injuries occurring, due to his bone structure.

  20. @14,17 just for the record i think most would consider the proposed swap for melo would be like receiving 1.25 on the dollar for bynum. no one would put bynum among the top 10 in the league based on what he has actually done. I do think many consider melo a top 10 player. whether or not melo would have fit with this team is an entirely different argument but certainly one worth merit.

  21. Zephid,
    I should clarify… Pau isn’t a back to the basket low post scorer. He is much better on the outside facing up and driving or spotting up. Anyone who doesn’t realize this is biased. Gasol always caught flack in Memphis for not going into the post often enough. Of course the reason he did like to play with his back to the basket is because he is much better facing the basket. This isn’t a knock on him… It’s good the Lakers finally have realized this and have moved him off the post. It has really allowed his game to take off.

  22. I think it is instructive to look at Phil’s approach to Pau and Andrew.

    With Pau Phil seems to think he must constantly push his limits to toughen him up or force him to become more aggressive IMO.

    With Andrew Phil has downplayed his conditioning, his desire, and played up his mistakes.

    He seems to have little patience with Andrew and – IMO again – I think it is because he has coached Shaq and this may have colored his attitude toward a dominant center. I would think he would work Andrew a bit to get him in better shape.

    IMO this can also be related to Phil’s previous treatment of Kobe, when Shaq was around. I think his opinion and approach were colored by his having coached Michael Jordan previously.

    Phil is a great, great coach, but he does have his peculiarities and fixed ideas about people and situations. I guess all geniuses are hard to live with.

  23. 20, saying Pau is not a back to the basket low post scorer is like saying Hakeem wasn’t a back to the basket low post scorer. Neither guy overpowers you with his girth; he kills you with his fakes and countermoves. So if Hakeem isn’t a back to the basket low post scorer to you, then I’m fine with your statement. Otherwise, you’re just completely wrong, because Gasol just demonstrated in the Portland game that he can destroy a very good PF with his post moves.

    So then I guess Bynum is the only back to the basket scorer in the league? Even guys like Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Amar’e Stoudemire are all face-up guys.

    Come to think about it, you must think there’s only like… 3 back to the basket low post scorers ever. Wilt, Shaq, Moses…. can’t come up with any others. Ewing, Robinson, Olajuwon, Russell, Kareem: those guys must be all face-up guys to you.

  24. Zephid,
    I didn’t know you taught Pau his back to the basket game. Haha. Gasol isn’t very effective back to the basket player compared to his face up game. If you haven’t noticed Pau struggles to shoot a good percentage when his back is to the basket… He is much more comfortable facing up. Sometimes when he is driving to the basket he will quickly turn his back and then reverse. But his game is that of a KG when Kevin could move. Except Pau doesn’t have the fade away.

  25. Zephid,
    I forgot you personally taught pau his post game Haha. He is much more comfortable facing up. Sometimes when he is driving to the basket he will quickly turn his back and then reverse. But his game is that of a KG when Kevin could move. Except Pau doesn’t have the fade away. Did you really just compare Hakeem to Gasol? Pau’s post game has been one of the giant misconceptions in the NBA since he came to the Lakers. He has all the skills and is a great athlete…. But he isn’t a great back to the basket scorer. You have watched a lot of Lakers games… You would know more than anyone.

  26. Anyone off the top of their head have an idea of the strength of our remaining schedule? Just briefly wondering what kind of opposition we face as we jockey for position, although I’m guessing with our easy competition and many home games early, that this might be our toughest stretch of the year.

  27. …and btw… Yes… Everyone knows that amare is a face up guy. Everyone knows Aldridge is a face up guy. Are you just realizing this? Thats why its so hard to find a player who can be effective with his back to the basket Thats why players like Andrew Bynum are rare. Duncan at one time had a very good back to the basket game… But his face up game was just as good.

  28. Calling Pau any “type” of player is a disservice the well rounded game he offers. He’s very good with his back to the basket with his arsenal of jump hooks (with either hand – a shot that you don’t take from a face up position and also a different shot than the running hook he takes out of his turn and face game) and even his turn around jumper (you know, the one he hit in game 7 last year with Sheed draped all over him). He’s also a very good face up player out to 18 feet with a quality jumper and still a very good first step that he uses when guys try to play him too closely.

    Also, I think it’s a misnomer to say that Gasol is playing much better now that he’s shooting more jumpers. Uh, no. He’s playing better because his shots are falling and he’s showing decisiveness. That’s *simple*. He’s shooting in rhythm and without hesitation and it’s paying off whether it’s a jumper or a quick drive. These same jumpers he’s taking now are the ones he was taking weeks ago but now those shots are falling. If you don’t see that, you weren’t paying attention.

  29. Funny, I thought most of Pau’s hooks came when he was starting with his back to the basket.

    Sure, he turns sideways to score, and uhm, everyone sorta has to face the basket before the shot unless you’re doing a reverse, but for me, if a player can receive the ball while his back is to the basket and score, that to me is a back-to-the-basket player.

    … but, I do wish that Pau stops falling for the chair trick whenever it’s used on him ;)

  30. To the Moderators (Darius and Zephid). There seems to be a fair amount of the “Black Swan” attitude coming from both of you fine gentlemen as of late, with quick and sometimes harsh smackdowns of posters with whom you disagree.

    I for one appreciate all of the considered opinions of the posters, and the expertise that you and they bring to any discussion. I just feel that the moderators should be the last to get personal and critical of the opinions of others.

    I think that both of you, and the other folks that help moderate this site, could set a little less pugnatous tone in dealing with the rest of us. We gravitate to this site for insight and shared fandom of the lakers, and frankly to get away from the stupid fighting that swamps many other blogs.

    Disagreements are the lifeblood of fansites like this, but doing so civilly has been the hallmark of FBG and I would hope that it remains so.

    Skyhook33

  31. #30. Thanks for your thoughts. In the end, I’ll try to be as fair as I’ve always been.

  32. I have read that Perkins will be out 2-4 weeks for OKC. Anyone heard anything about this?

  33. 30, my role as a moderator pretty much encompasses pressing “approve” on the comments portion in the admin section, that’s it. I’ve never moderated a comment because I disagreed with it. If I did, 90% of Aaron’s comments would never get posted.

    However, if someone repeatedly demeans the views of others by continuously purporting their own opinions as undeniable facts, I will do my best to refute him or her. Aaron has a history (going back 2 years) of expressing his opinions as truths and insulting the intelligence of others for not agreeing with him. I feel that it is irresponsible to allow this sort of behavior to go unchecked. Yet, I engage him not as a moderator, but as a fellow commenter, ranting and raving like any other poster. Aaron has said on multiple occasions that he enjoys engaging this way, as it fits his sense of humor.

    24,25,26, please see

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xW8wxkkBM8

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnDfgygkfB8

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V_U8-_sTI8&feature=related

  34. Skyhook, I think when commenters such as Zephid or Darius comment w disagreements, they do their best to make their point without being outright disrespectful.

    I mean, Aaron literally wrote “I’m glad the Lakers have stopped forcing Gasol to be something he isn’t… A low post scorer.”

    How can such an ignorant comment really be countered without some degree of ridicule/sarcasm/condescension? I know where you’re coming from, because they are supposed to set the standard for the blogs etiquette, but I don’t think this is the example that illustrates your point…shall we say, that’s just Aaron bein’ Aaron

  35. you know the worst thing on the internet is not being ridiculed but being ignored.

    aaron knows what he’s doing and everyone knows why’s he’s doing it the way he’s doing it, thus nobody seriously wants him gone and aaron sees why people react the way they do.

    i mean, this thing has been going on for… geez I don’t know, i think it’s probably been going on ever since Fisher re-joined us ;)

  36. 3ThreeIII-your post on ‘drew is everything I’ve thought and expressed much more clearly than I generally have here.

  37. Zephid,
    If you won’t take my word that Pau isn’t a back to the basket player… You must see the correlation in his recent superb play with the subtraction of low post touches and the addition of perimeter opportunities.

    Btw… I just saw Mitch Kupchake’s wife tonight at the Chateau Marmont. I introduced myself because I always see her at the Laker games… She sits a couple rows in front of my parents seats. This really isn’t a good story… It just happened like 45 minutes ago. More exciting than Brooklyn Decker coming up and talking to me by the heater in the valet line and me not knowing who she was until the paparazi stormed after her when she left.

    I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow… Another Ron Artest shutdown of Durant?

  38. Aaron (37),

    Correlation does not necessarily equate to causation, as Zephid will likely point out to you soon.

    Also, our best offensive lineups often feature Gasol and Odom. Is Gasol doing most of his damage doing facing up in those lineups? I don’t think so – he’s manning the 5 in those lineups.

  39. I think most of us would agree that Pau not only likes to play PF better than he likes to play C, but he is more suited to it – both by temperament and by body type. That is not the same thing as saying he can’t play center well.

    Some bloggers here a talking about his ability to use all the skills of the center position. Pau can play the center position well, however, he has more problems with certain types of centers and this can be a problem when the team gets into playoff situations. Hence, we have kept Anderw Bynum, who is an old-time, back-to-the-basket type center. Andrew, it should be noted, can also face up, but prefers his back to the basket.

    Is there a need to criticize, or even comment about, a player just because of his preferences?

  40. They could make a soap opera out of these two:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/miamiheat/news/story?id=6162858

    I’ve rarely seen such a public display of pansiness.

    Too bad Perkins is out for a few weeks, I was looking forward to getting a look at these new Thunder.

  41. Kobe Bryant = Jeremiah Johnson

  42. I think Zephid makes a very good point in that he is expressing his views as a commenter, instead of a blogger. When you view it from that perspective, I don’t find anything offensive about what he says – at all!

    I also agree with Darius that Pau is too good to be categorized as purely a face-up player or back-to-basket player. He is among the best in the game today at both – we are lucky!

  43. Not sure if this has been posted yet, but this is a phenomenal Lakers read, illuminating some things I’ve never really considered. I’d be interested to see what other people’s thoughts are on this:

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/2/24/2012359/Los-Angeles-Lakers-defense-Portland-Trailblazers

    People are probably focused on the game now but I’ll share it again during an off-day. The note about the difference between the starters’ defensive system and our bench’s system was surprising, since I usually think of Blake and Brown as awful at fighting through screens. Still, a really thought-provoking article.

  44. I do think that Andrew Bynum will be healthy for a good chunk of time in the not too distant future.

    He has had two “wrong place, wrong time” injuries, and one freakish injury from landing exactly wrong after being bumped in midair on the way down.

    There is nothing “fragile” about getting injured when a teammate slides into your planted leg while you are focused on a rebound.

    I think that the concern about Bynum’s minutes per game is quite reasonable. I do doubt he will ever be a 40 minute guy. But, I don’t think he needs to be on the court for more than 30 – 35 minutes a game to be a huge difference maker.

    In the long term, if Bynum receives good coaching, works hard on maintaining his weight, continues to improve his flexibility and strength, and wears knee braces while playing, and wears knee and ankle supporters while playing, he will be healthy, and average 70-75 games played a season from 24-30.

    He has shown he is willing to work at rehab, he has shown athleticism, he has shown toughness, and he has shown that he has determination and pride.

    In my opinion, all of that makes him a worthwhile risk.