Cerebral Play, Passiveness, & The Critiques That Come With

Darius Soriano —  June 10, 2011

The other day I found myself in a discussion about LeBron James. Game 4 had just ended and LeBron had just turned in a baffling performance. He’d scored only 8 points in an NBA Finals game and was routinely being skewered for his play in one of the most important games in his (relatively) young career. There was anger, mocking, but most of all there were questions. What the hell happened to LeBron, we thought.

When critiquing his game, I said that it wasn’t so much that LeBron played poorly; it was that he played passively. And as one of the truly great players, you don’t get a pass for playing that way. After I expressed my thoughts on twitter, an interesting comparison came up. First it was our friend Brian Kamenetzky from Land O’ Lakers and then it was another smart commentator on the Lakers, Gary Collard. But both said the same thing.

They said that this reminded them of Pau Gasol. And you know what, they were right. Instantly a multitude of thoughts ran through my mind as the comparison was too perfect.

Against this same Mavericks team, both Gasol and James had seemingly shrunk from the moment of the big game and not played nearly as well as expected. Gasol had been handled in both the post and the shallow wing and hadn’t impacted the game in any of the other ways that he normally would. Meanwhile, LeBron had become a spectator on the majority of the Heat’s 4th quarter possessions, standing idly in the corner as if he was James Jones, not LeBron James. Even when LeBron did touch the ball he was probing, not attacking.

But the question still looms. Why?

We may never know the real reasons, but my first guess is the cerebral nature of both players’ games. Both, throughout their careers, have been known as high IQ players that think the game. Gasol has thrived as an offensive initiator in the hub of the Triangle offense, making the right reads on whether he should pass or shoot. LeBron, on the other hand, has long been an offensive initiator and (rightfully) hailed as one of the best passing wings in the league. Both players are most effective when they’re able to survey the floor, pick out teammates, and make the right read on what to do with the ball.

However, it now seems that their best trait has become the root of their biggest critiques as both players have the dreaded passive label attached to their games. The fact that these performances have come in some of the biggest games only enhances the view that they’re failing their teams in trying to play a certain way.

Don’t get me wrong, when you’re one of the very best players in the world the expectation is that you’ll impact the game in some way that helps your team win. And the fact that neither Gasol or (to a lesser extent) LeBron (at least in these Finals) found a way to help their team win games that were there for the taking deserves critical discussion in the same way that their strong play would invite praise. But as the conversation shifts from criticism to damning, I wonder where we go from here.

The funny thing about being a fan is that we often use our judgment and our wants to critique a team, a coach, or a player. “Why didn’t we use a timeout?” we ask. “He should have passed! He had a teammate wide open!” we shout at our TV’s and type on twitter and in the comment sections of sites just like this one. It’s an every day occurrence and, in a lot of ways, it’s what makes being a fan an experience that we all enjoy. After all, watching the game also means that we are, some how, a part of the action. And with that inclusion comes a desire to see what we think is best; what we think will work.

We then take these critiques a step further and use comparisons to other great players (past or present) to hammer home our point. “LeBron needs to be more like Jordan (or Kobe) and attack!”. “Pau needs to demand the ball more, like Shaq would!”.  The problem with this approach is that we lose the nuance of what makes the players we critique unique and excellent in their current form.

It also handcuffs players into a vision and path of progression that we think is best for them rather than letting their games evolve (or, for some, stagnate) the way that they’re meant to. We limit players and confine them into the narrative that we create because as fans we want what we want.

There is no easy answer here. We want the players we root for to achieve at the highest levels but each step of the way we want them doing it in the manner that we choose. When they do succeed by doing it a different way, we applaud. But if they fail that next time, we’re right back letting them know that their approach is wrong. It’s why Gasol will forever be the “white swan” to some and why LeBron will probably always struggle to escape the perception that he’s not “the man”.

Meanwhile, both will continue to have a lot of success as cerebral players that think the game and making the plays that they feel will help their teams win. Sometimes it will work, other times they’ll fail. And through it all we’ll be there to point out what they should have done. For better or for worse.

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Darius Soriano

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46 responses to Cerebral Play, Passiveness, & The Critiques That Come With

  1. Aarontangibles June 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    All of this underscores what I’ve been saying all year – that Andrew Bynum is the Laker’s second best player, largely because he more than any other Laker knows how to take his aggressiveness and desire for touches but temper it with a cerebral approach to the game.

    The fans do want their team to win *their* way. A lot of that includes ‘clutch’ performances. This probably explains why the Lakers continued to saddle themselves with the worst starting PG in league history – because of his penchant for 4th quarter shots. Never mind the fact that Fisher’s poor play in the first 3 quarters generally necessitated him bailing the Lakers out of a hole he dug for them.

  2. Well this has happened to two stars who have one thing in common – the Dallas Mavericks.

    Has anybody given any thought to the notion that Rick Carlisle is a pretty good defensive coach? How about that depth that Mark Cuban was bragging about – enough athletic people to keep a fresh body in front of Lebron and Gasol and help close at hand?

    It just may be more about the Dallas club than about the other team’s stars. The ‘talking idiots’ and the ‘media writers’ are spending entirely too much time talking about the Heat and not enough talking about the Mavs.

    This is still a team game – i.e. about more than one person.

  3. Aaron – uh “tangibles” what does Bynum and Fisher have to do with the above topic? Just wondering.

    Oh, and by the way, Blake didn’t exactly set the world on fire last year either, so who did you want to take over as PG?

    Anyway, great analysis Darius, and here’s to LBJ continuing his cerebral ways Sunday!

  4. i think anyone who follows basketball recognizes rick carlisle’s strengths, but when the mavs make every clutch shot as they did last night, it becomes pretty hard for the heat to run, which is when they’ve killed the mavs. And when the heat offense is humming, they are quicker and faster on defense. If Lebron could swat Rose’s last second shot, I’m sure he could have made it harder for Terry if lebron was feeling better about his play. It’s kind of funny to see lebron get trashed after getting a triple double, but he’s invited the scrutiny. What I do find interesting is that Gasol and Lebron have been in situations where their leader was injured and they needed to step up their game, and they didn’t do it. The stakes for lebron were much higher last night, but he was not a leader on or off the floor. Just like Gasol for most of this season. There are rumors that lebron has some off court issues that are affecting his play, which if true, provide another comparison to Gasol.

  5. #3. I’m pretty sure that was a facetious comment. We need a meter that lets us know these things. Ha.

  6. HERE’S ANOTHER MORE USEFUL IDEA…

    Forget all the cerebral stuff. Both players admitted they were having girlfriend problems during the Mavs series.

    If you don’t think that matters, you’ve never been in love or been stiffed. It does matter and LeBron’s head or HEART is not in the game.

    Case closed.

  7. This is an interesting post, since it goes some way to explaining why reputed ballhogs and selfish players achieve greatness: When you come up against a good defensive team, the cerebral approach becomes less effective because it has you looking for opportunities that just aren’t there, whereas some measure of stubborn self-belief leads you to do the only thing you can do to help your team win, to be aggressive and create the opportunities yourself.

  8. I just think that everything NBA is about Lebron – whether he is bringing it or whether he is not. This is no more healthy than it was when Michael Jordan was playing. It is however how most fans and all the media knottheads approach the game.

    Probably the best ongoing team in the history of the game was the 1960s Celtics. They had very good players molded into a unit and could pick up players when other teams couldn’t afford them.

    All this changed when ESPN came online and David Stern correctly identified the average fans inability to think much beyond the hype for individual players.

    The dearth of real depth in the NBA allowed a team like the Chicago Bulls to collect good, complimentary pieces and a coach (and assistant) who knew how to meld these pieces into a real team. They were as dominant for their six years together as the Celtics were for their 12 years. The competition was also equally compromised.

    Yes, the Lakers had Elgin and Jerry, but nothing else that qualified as a first line NBA player, until Wilt came along – and Butch van Breda Kolff took care of that.

    My point is that teams will always win in the NBA. No one can seriously doubt that the Lakers had a good supporting cast in the first 3-peat. It is also true that the supporting cast started slipping after the 2nd Championship. Here’s to even thinner teams after the next labor agreement.

  9. LeBron and Pau’s problems have so many differences IMO.

    One huge distinction is that LeBron hasn’t seemed passive on defense. Game 5 aside, he’s shut down Jason Terry throughout the playoffs. Plus, he was brilliant in the ECF both on offense and defense. He destroyed DRose.

    Contrast that w/ Pau. He looked like crap on the offense and defense. He took a 3-pointer in the NO series w/ :15 left on the shot clock. LeBron’s never been that oblivious. Pau’s often out of position. Refuses to play good help defense.

  10. There were questions before the season how well the Heat’s offense would work with Wade and LeBron being used to playing very similar ball-dominating roles, and with Bosh trying to fit in. It really hasn’t done that well this season – they have won due to their defense. Now they are facing a great offensive team, so they don’t have as much of an advantage from their defense, and they have to rely on their offense. But they still haven’t figured out the best way to utilize their assets, and they don’t have ingrained good habits to fall back on. Either Wade or LeBron needs to take a back seat, while at the same time being ready to instantly jump in. That’s not easy to do.

    It’s very similar to what the Lakers went through with their offense. Bynum and Gasol play similar roles, with Kobe used to dominating the ball. Because of the injuries over the past several years, all three of them each missing at least one training camp, Bynum missed a significant amount of the regular season games, and Kobe had very limited practice time this past season. So they never figured out how to optimize the use of their assets, didn’t have good habits to fall back on when they encountered difficulties in the playoffs. (Some of which was due to lack of support from the rest of the team.)

  11. Okay… This Aaronintangibles is not me. But I like what This guy has to say. But Darius… It’s hard to compare Gasol to LeBron. As LeBron gets a temple double and has a bad game and Gasol averages 12 points on forty percent shooting for an entire playoffs with zero defense and little rebounding.

  12. Yes LeBron is unselfish but he still will put up enough shots to average almost thirty points a game for most of his career. I don’t think Gasol would he want to put put up many shots. mostly because his little girls arms would get too tired.

  13. So, LeBron is having girlfriend problems this year.

    And last year, he was having problems during the Celtics series because he was unhappy about who his mom was sleeping with.

    I mean, ‘cmon. Come on!

    Note to Darius: I do like your analysis above and was being a little silly to make a point about hoping LBJ stays the course. Can’t believe I’m rooting for a team owned by Mark Cuban. This is what the “choosen one” does to otherwise reasonable people …

  14. Truman Capote once famously said, ‘the better the actor, the more stupid he is.’ Johnny Carson queried him about it, offering that Jill St. John was supposedly a genius. Capote simpered back, ‘yes, but she’s a lousy actress.’

    This doesn’t of course, really apply to LeBron and Pau because they’re both intelligent and great… most of the time. There is however, something to be said for distraction and over-thinking. Phil Jackson talks about using zen to guide one’s actions – moving and reacting to the moments instead of thinking about them.

    We can think of instances of being in the zone in a myriad of ways… typing thoughts, playing an instrument, performing a work routine, playing a pickup game. Actions become automatic and everything flows. It’s easier to accept a player’s failings if we consider him to be streaky. It’s harder to see Pau or LeBron in that way – they’re consistenly good so we expect them to perform under pressure. The point being made in this post is a good one – the cerebral nature affects these particular players, just as we place our subjective views on them.

    A lot of great comments, across the board. For me chiefly, I look at the way in which Dallas has out-performed expectations, every step of the way. They’re not the most talented, the most athletic or the deepest team. But, they’re playing in a very team-centric way in that they’re engaged and communicating with each other and they’re continuing to share the ball, even after individual lapses. Plus, they’re closing quarters. I’ve disparaged this team in the past but they’re one win away from the ring right now and who would have thought it? Not LeBron or Pau.

  15. LeCrab passive…that’s good news to Laker fans, to Cavalier fans and Mavs faithful, wish it was not Wade who became inactive. Our season is made, if LeCrab would cry on Sunday. Well, this is not being hateful but more of a teaching lesson on what happened last Summer putting up a show with ESPN now karma could haunt him in June. Having said that, the Championship is not on the bag yet until the last second of Game 6. Heat are dangerous when put in a corner. Let’s see what Dallas team is made of, both teams are hungry for the W but Dallas has to break the ice after 31 years in NBA.

  16. If we are giving Mike Brown a pass, then the Lakers need a 2nd chance up to ASG. No need to trade anybody in the starter line up *unless* CP3 or Dwight wants it now. Adding more youth from the draft picks, Ebanks, Trey J.

    What happened to previous Lakers drafts Chinemalu Elonu, Joe Crawford, Javaris Crittenton? Can the coaching staff consider them in this new regime? What I know Elonu was sent to Spain in order to get more exposure. How’s he doing today? I remember Joe Crawford was speedy PG who is playing now in China with PPG 15pts. Lastly, JCritt was trying out with the Knicks.

  17. are you guys all smoking dope tonight?!

    (I know that’s not constructive, but jeez..)

  18. smoking dope?

    hmmmm, maybe that’s why I’ve been soooo hungry today …

  19. @17 tsu – well, I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m eating triscuits and cheese.

    @16 edwin – no idea what some of the past Lakers rookies and camp hopefuls are doing but we might want to start looking at guys who’ve been through Mike Brown’s system in the past, y’know? Just as long as it doesn’t include Delonte West, haha.

  20. Dave M,

    do you know that Shannon Ira Newball played under Mike Brown for two season? Essentially, Shannon was spotted by MB in the draft ahead of Farmar. I think Shannon will opt to play with Lakers again than test the free market.

    MB is very likable coach unfortunately, he doesn’t have any degree in zoology. What this team need in a Coach is a zoo keeper to tame wild Artest, Barnes, Lamar, his wife Kloe, Kobe and his wife Vanessa, Gasol and his girlfriend Sylvia, Shannon’s latest catch Monica…I dunno with Bynum’s choice at the Playboy Mansion. Players who are not controversial like Fisher, Walton and Blake are the weakest links. I hope Mike Brown can handle the women behind the scenes too. Because the way I look at it, they’re more powerful than their henpecked men. lol!

  21. Edwin,
    No, Mike Brown should stay far, far away from those gals, haha. That is strictly a no-win scenario.

  22. how about a new reality tv show “lakers wives”?

  23. One major attribute that separates Lebron from Kobe/MJ is his apparent disdain for developing a post game and improving his footwork. We are 8 seasons into the LBJ regime, and he still cannot muster a basic post-game back down.

    I think this is a true shame. Watch Kobe from his high school days to year 8 of his career. Kobe improved on so many facets of his game by then. Lebron, with the exception of improved defense (which naturally comes as a result of adjusting to the NBA game), his game is the same as when he was in high school: bully with his size, charge with his athleticism.

    Dallas has effectively mitigated some of Lebron’s strengths. Prudence dictates that Lebron needs to adjust his game to the defense Dallas is throwing at him (more posting up). However, I don’t think Lebron has the tools to adjust on the fly like Kobe and MJ were able to. Kobe/MJ worked hard in the off-seasons to fill their bball IQ “pantry,” or better yet, stockpiled weapons of various assortments to be used at various times.

    Lebron is being stymied and handcuffed by his own sheer brilliance and athleticism. These attributes have made Lebron a great player. But his tendency to rely solely on these things, without putting in the time and effort to learn other things is inhibiting him from being a transcendent player (MJ/Kobe/Magic/Darko ;-) as opposed to a really great one (like Dominque Wilkins).

  24. “think the game”? no. no one at this level of athletic competition “thinks”; there isn’t time. they react reflexively.

    the thing that both pau and james have in common is inexplicable behavior. it is the inability of anyone to explain their grievous collapse in play, that makes the situations seem so serious. if pau had just had a bad series, but had played with heart, no one would be calling for his trade. but who can say if this is the last time or just the first time that he has this kind of collapse?

    to me, it looks like pau and james have some kind of psychological issues. for james it appears to be a regular thing, ala his same behavior last year against the celtics. for pau, maybe it’s a one off, maybe it’s an enduring condition now.

  25. I still agree with Pippen and some ESPN talking heads – LeBrick is better than MJ. No doubt about it.

    For those of you who read Simmons latest article, what did you think about his comment that if the heat win then Wade=Kobe?

  26. You read Simmons???

    The comments by DY on Lebron’s footwork and work ethic on things not natural to him was very good. Some times people can be too talented for their own good. That would seem to be the knock on Lebron.

  27. How can Simmons even intimate that Wade = Kobe because he wins two championship rings? Don’t get me wrong, Wade is heck of a player. But I don’t think he outclasses Kobe in the long-run. Wade is in his 8th year of his career, and just by looking at how hobbled he looks already (at the ripe young age of 29), how many more years of durability does Wade have? Simmons is once again, trying to instigate.

    With Lebron, I understand him better now that his play has been scrutinized in the NBA Finals. What worked for him in high school thru 2010, is finally being stymied by a clever coach and group of wily veterans. Lebron doesn’t have much in the pantry to counter this. He was 1-8 in post up opportunities last game. Spoelstra said they were trying to get him involved. Are you serious? The Chosen One (I call him the Chosen Third) needs to have a coach “involve” him?

    If Lebron works on his footwork/post work next summer, great for him. But he’s 8 years in, and these were not typical 8 years but long NBA seasons. But the very fact that it took him this long to realize that he has to grow and learn new facets of the game is proof positive why he is not greater than Kobe, Jordan.

  28. The mantra that great players must win championships to be considered great really bugs me. It seems we fans are really lazy people – we want everything, including our analysis handed to us on the couch.

    One of the greatest basketball players ever was Jerry West. He won only one title and failed 8 times in the finals. In today’s world that would be equated to a failure on the player’s part.

    In the 60′s the Celtics simply had a defensive genius (Russell), the best coach (Red), more cash ($), and consistently the best team. Only Wilt’s great team in 1967 was able to break through this. The Lakers were a team struggling to make payroll, however, they did have two of the greatest players in the game in Elgin and Jerry. In my mind the circumstances of the 60′s don’t diminish the greatness of either Jerry or Elgin – much as I anguished over the losses in the finals.

    Today’s fans need to get off their mental behinds and do a little research on the great game of NBA basketball – not just the statistics, because the stats prove Wilt was the greatest player ever and that is an arguable proposition. Watch some old film, read some books, check out some interviews. It is much easier these days, because of the internet, so get to it.

    Only then can we stop this constant chatter about the G.O.A.T. – there is no G.O.A.T., only a pantheon of great players.

  29. Lebron reminds me of C Webb a monstet all season long but wehn the pressure builds he shrinks back instead of rising to the occasion. Anybody remember the pass for the last time he was in the finals?

  30. Craig @ 28 – Good points, all.

  31. jerry was certainly a great shooter, but what about the other aspects of his game? why wasn’t he able to shut down the other team’s scoring, for example (or break down boston’s defense better)? maybe he really was only one-ring-great…

  32. LeBron is Sydney from White Men Can’t Jump.
    Style over substance.

    If he were as intelligent as some of you think he is he would have figured out by now that the Heat would be a much better team if He accepted Wade as the Closer, Bosh as the number two scorer and Him as the initiator.

    He could average a triple double if he accepted that mindset. Be Magic to DWade’s MJ.

    But he won’t because he’s been told how great he is from the time he was 12 years old.

  33. If not this season, perhaps in the near future Lebron will ultimately get a ring like Jerry West, Dr. J. Experience and persistence are good teacher that will lead to perfection thereby learns from their past struggles in several tests (Finals), eventually he finally gets it what it takes to attain the top. Jkidd is now on the roll compared to his first attempt of Championship in ’02, the same kind of feeling for Dirk N. who was frustrated in ’05. IMO, basketball fans disliked the Heat because of the perception that they have already been crowned last Summer without any need of these playoffs. They lord of everybody and media especially ESPN portrayed them as Basketball monarchs with the convergence of the King, Queen and Jack of diamond under one deck. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to buy Championship in this day and age, you have to earn it; Secondly, everybody always cheer the underdog especially Mavs who are composed of aging stars who paid their dues in this league; Thirdly, based on competition, it appears that the real underdog title turned out to be King James and his Miami Heat. Why? Because they are not really that deep to replenish their superstars. Mavs have shown clutch and guts with their unsung heroes and some of them are relatively unknown like: JJBarea, Brian Cardinal, Mahinmi, Deshawn Stevenson. They are doing their part as role players and stepped up as a team replacing the void from injured stars like Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood.

  34. Weak as he has been, I’ll take Lebron’s performance against Dallas over what Pau gave us. Not only are LBJ’s stats a lot better, but his defensive effort is considerably stronger, and this from a guy who has never actually won a title (and therefore doesn’t technically know what it takes) compared to Pau, who definitely knows what it takes and didn’t or couldn’t bring it this year.

    Personally, I pretty much hate Lebron James and everything he represents (“Chosen One,” “The King,” and all that crap). However, when was the last time a guy put up a triple double in a Finals game and took so much heat? He’s clearly an immature jerk, but he’s also probably the best all-around player in the NBA.

  35. sorry, off-topic.

    what do you guys think about the lakers’ alleged interest in dealing for monta ellis?

    http://ken-berger.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/11838893/29914237

    sometimes i think the lakers are mentioned in rumors just to nudge their rivals into sweetening their deals.

  36. 28. You’re right. Jerry West’s career narrative in this day and age would be fascinating.

    The Mr Clutch nickname juxtaposed with a bunch of great performances in Finals losses, and then for that eventual 1972 championship he shoots 32% in the Finals.

  37. Re: Simmons – the things I took from his latest (and exceedingly long) piece was this notion that the owners’ $300 million shortfall, could be recouped from a variety of bad player contracts which he’s put together to equal the same amount. I’m not sure if he’s trying to be funny or just free-wheeling some thoughts about the CBA. Regardless, nobody forces the owners to pay a particular salary. If they don’t think somebody’s worth it, then don’t pay it. If they pay it and the player bottoms out, tough.

    Later in the same article, Simmons mentions that ABC/Disney stands to make $110 BILLION if there’s a game 7.

    Okay, I’m really tired of arguments that put the onus on players. Sorry, don’t buy it. The owners by and large, are doing quite well. Networks and conglomorates are doing even better. Verticle integration has led to monoliths that drive it all and it’s up to owners to negotiate the best revenue sharing concessions that they can. Additionally, the very art of AGR (adjusted gross revenues) allows owners to make a profit, even if their net is shown at a loss. If they can’t make their business models work without busting unions, then they’re not doing their jobs.

    Hacking away at most of the hard-won CBA player rights hurts the rank and file more than the elite players. If your max salary becomes a lesser max salary, you’ll still do well.

    Sorry, this comment has become exceedingly long as well. Not a fan of Simmons’ latest implications however.

  38. 35

    Chibi, which of the rumors would you prefer:

    A. T’Wolves: Gasol = Love + #2 pick

    B. Warriors: Odom = Ellis

    C. No trade, exercise the 4 draft picks but wait for the new CBA rules, wherein it contains a proposition to waive one player from each team. Lakers could sign one of them at a minimum or part MLE.

    ~~ I prefer C. The status quo may not look bright in a short season but if Lakers could get speedy players, shooters not necessarily stars, we’re back in business. However, let’s keep an eye on the real prize by targeting the franchise players of the future. Well, if the best players whose contracts are expiring next season get a hint on Lakers plans, they would also hold in renewing contracts to allow trade talks. It will be “trade me or get nothing” game. i’m referring to the big 3 Dwight, Chris and Deron, any of those choices will be a game changer if paired with Kobe and two of our bigs. If we lose one of our bigs but acquire Dwight, it’s still a humongous improvement. What do you think with my fantasy?

  39. I just finished reading True Hoops latest article on clutch stats. I also just sent Henry Abbott an email pointing out some flaws in his standardization of these stats along with some simple solutions.

    Let’s see if he responds

  40. Between them, Jerry West and Kobe Bryant are two of the best one on one players the game has ever seen but neither one of them ever made the players around them better as Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan did.

    Lebron seems to fit with the latter although he hasn’t yet put his stamp on it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it starting tonight and in what I expect will be Game Seven

  41. 110 billion to Disney if there’s a game 7 is nonsense. Don’t even need to look into it. 110 million makes more sense, maybe 350 million. Pau’s poor play looked like someone not even trying that hard (on D at least) and feeling bad and a bit shaken that he couldn’t. Why? Until the FO knows the reason, consider him trade bait.

  42. Past performance/behavior tends to predict future of the same. See: Smush, Shannon Brown and a billion other examples.

    Let’s see if LBJ breaks out today, during game 7 (if it happens), next year, or ever. If anybody carries the Heat all the way this year, methinks it’ll be Wade.

    Based on past performance, of course.

  43. I beg to differ, that Kobe never made the players around him better. One can not force grown men to do or be anything!

    Kobe and Derek Fisher came into the league at the same time and Kobe drew the defense to him to kick the ball to Fisher for wide open shots. Derek took full advantage of his time with Kobe, thereby turning a marginal player into a player that is mentioned as a clutch performer. Whom also, has the moniker ‘.04′ attached to his resume.

    Every other player that joined the team through free agency, draft or via trades have had ample opportunity to become better players along side Mr. Bryant, yet few have taken advantage of that opportunity. Funny, the only players that seem to listen to Kobe, work out with him over the summer and develop into better players, are all traded or not resigned! (See Caron Butler and Trevor Ariza)

    Lamar Odom has become a better player, albeit, inconsistent. However, that unpredictability has more to do with Lamar being inserted in and out of the starting unit.

  44. @41 – hate to run contrary to another Dave, but I’d offer that the guys who have most promoted team play in this series, are wearing Mav uniforms.

  45. Félix Antonio Gutiérrez Santolino June 14, 2011 at 6:51 am

    It’s funny how some people always find ways to keep blaming Pau for everything. Now, he’s even sharing the blame with LBJ.

    Without Pau, the Lakers would had got two less championships. You can´t argue that, plain and simple. Without Pau, we would have been a 1st round playoffs team…at best, for the last 4 years. Period.

    I’m not going to remember you how Pau started last season, filling (again…how many times he has already done that?) Bynum’s hole both on O and on D. I wasn´t the one who was putting him in the early race for the MVP; all the media did it.

    The coaching stuff was the one to blame for putting him on court for nearly 40′ during a couple of months. Do you remember that, guys?

    So, again, keep on trashing Pau, putting away the “soft” mantra on him. Maybe, that way, he’ll be smarter enough to leave the Lakers. Maybe, that way, Jim Buss will put Drew as the leader of the team…oh, i’m sorry. I forgot these are Kobe’s Lakers, and that will last forever. I’m pretty sure there are a ton of PO’s teams wanting to have him on their rosters. Let’s see what will happen then…i’m pretty sure we, as a Lakers fan, would miss him on court.