Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  March 1, 2013

The Lakers enjoyed a rare coast-to-coast romp last night, the kind of game we all thought would come often and easily on the way to the promised land. The win wasn’t any type of championship indicator – the injury-plagued T-Wolves aren’t that kind of competition. Of course, the Lakers haven’t been that kind either so far. This at least showed us what we’ve been missing – a 22-point win, great production from the reserves and a chance to empty the bench in the fourth quarter.

Watching the win felt somewhat bittersweet. The team imploded and underperformed throughout much of the season. There are reasons of course. There always are. But whether it’s Kobe Bryant’s sheer force of will or something inside Dwight Howard or a larger amalgamation of factors – the team has finally begun to find itself, agonizingly late. Last night should just have been a routine victory but instead it’s another tiny click in a Rube Goldberg contraption – the team is running up a down escalator, hoping to make the playoffs when so many things ahead can go so wrong.

Sam Amick for USA Today sits down with Mitch Kupchak as he looks back at rough seasons from the past and how they compare to this one.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN’s Lakers Index writes about Kobe Bryant, finding the balance in his game.

Kevin Ding for the OC Register ponders the possibility of Kobe Bryant retiring after next year, and the loss it would present for the game, the fans and Bryant himself.

Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll writes about Dwight Howard setting better screens.

Helene Elliott for the L.A. Times feels that the Lakers might actually have a good chance to catch either the Jazz or the Rockets on their way to a playoff spot.

Brian Kamenetzky for the Land O’Lakers, on Antawn Jamison finding his way back into the rotation and into Coach D’Antoni’s favor.

Rudy Garciduenas was the Lakers equipment manager for 28 years before losing his job in a massive bloodletting. Bill Plaschke for the L.A. Times writes about the man who now owns and operates a food truck, still possessing his customary good humor.

Last night on TNT, Kenny Smith and Shaq reflected on the passing of streetball legend Tyrone ‘Alimoe’ Evans, a player many thought should have been in the NBA. Joseph Vecsey for Slam writes about the man, along with a Slam update on a goodwill gesture from Alimoe’s favorite player.

Also on TNT last night, Doug Collins voiced his frustration about the Andrew Bynum situation. Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk examines Bynum’s latest setback in more detail.

***

It’s a numbers game now. We’ve been hearing this phrase too often lately but it has only just begun. It will become an undying mantra the closer we get, and as the path grows ever more byzantine. It may come down to the last few games in the season, and teams that we don’t play at the end will still have the ability to play the spoiler. It has become a season that will be ripe for conspiracy theories.

“What are you doing Dave, you’re being a buzzkill.”

The writer jumped in his chair, spilling over-roasted acidic coffee all over his laptop. He reached for a wadded-up napkin, wiped ineffectually, eyes roving wildly. “Who said that?”

“Unceasing change turns the wheel of life, and so reality is shown in all its many forms.”

The writer peered around the room suspiciously, the voice seemed to be coming from all places at once. “Is that you Phil?”

If the voice could have shrugged, it would have. “I’m the voice of championships past. Basketball is a spiritual journey and you’re robbing readers of their simple pleasures. A win is a win.”

He found another used napkin, dabbed gingerly at the keypad. “Well, it’s been a pretty crappy season. You’ve got to admit that.”

The voice was bemused, reflective. “I can still remember the winters of my youth, walking five miles before dawn across the snowy plains. The gymnasium would be locked and unheated when I got there and I loved it. Give them some hope, Dave.”

The writer shook his head and tried to shut out the droning voice. He was getting too old for this crap. Sometimes it’s easier just to give in. The keypad was sticky to the touch. He swallowed the last dregs of his lousy coffee and resumed his labor.

The last weeks of the season arrived with a blinding rush, the wins coming in transcendent stretches and it was good. And the teams ahead drifted backwards and withered on the vine yet some still posed mighty and magnificent warrior challenges…

His fingers stopped as if of their own accord. He shook it off, rolled his shoulders, took a deep breath. He placed his hands above the keyboard again. Nothing. He looked around the room plaintively. “Phil? Are you still there? I need an ending.”

There was a long stony silence. Finally, the voice spoke with more than a hint of weariness. “I wasn’t asking for metaphors and vines and unicorns Dave. Just some basketball writing. Like those other guys up above. Y’know, Kobe’s balanced scoring, Dwight getting back to form, an actual path forward.”

His shoulders slumped. “Ohhh. Sorry.”

“Just press send, Dave. It’s fine.”

“Okay. Sorry.”

Send.

Dave Murphy

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14 responses to Friday Forum

  1. Just throwing it out there for Laker fans who are frustrated with Howard.

    If we hadn’t done the deal, Robert Sacre would be our starting center right now.

  2. Dave,

    Very nice and deeply needed…nuff said.

  3. If the lakers wanted to add a player like Bell but are carrying a full roster, can they just unilaterally decide to buy a player out (pay them the rest of the $ they are owed for their deal) and tell them to go away to create a roster spot, or is there a negotiation that needs to take place? Are there any restrictions per the CBA?

    If mgmt thinks a player like Bell could be the difference of the team making the playoffs or not, even if they got swept in the first round, the economics might make sense to waive a player like Morris or Sacre (not Sacre, please!) to make space. I’m assuming of course the incoming player gets the veteran’s minimum….

  4. Wonderful writing Dave! It´s `Searching for Slava´ all the way -
    (say, i wonder if you´ve read ¨ `Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky ¨ by David Henderson? There´s a revised edition available, which includes an excellent discography as well. I imagine you´d dig it)
    I only mention the book because your piece reminded me of this line:
    `if I don´t see you no more in this world (read Season), i ll meet you in the next one and don´t be late!`
    Unfortunately I wasn´t able to listen to last night´s game, missed a fun one
    Loved the Plaschke article-

  5. I hate Plaschke. Now that Mc Court is gone, Jim Buss is his new whipping boy. Be skeptical of what you read from this guy.

  6. @MannyP – Agree that Plaschke´s taking pot shots at Jim, which he´s wont to do –
    Rudy´s story is true human interest though, at least that´s what I took from it

  7. Plaschke is simply a rabble-rouser, every sports page has one. I’m sure he doesn’t believe half the shit he writes, the whole shtick is to throw out controversial opinions to generate chatter–and given the last three posts (counting this one), he’s successful at it. Simers does the same thing, playing the part of the grumpy Page 2 columnist.

  8. Harvey – thanks!

    PurpleBlood – thanks as well. I never read Henderson’s biography although I’ve always meant to. I’ve been a huge Hendrix fan for a long time.

    MannyP – I thought the Rudy G story was too good not to link. That’s that one of the situations that came out of that Phil/exodus period that always irked me.

    When it comes to articles that I choose to link, I know there won’t always be agreement from everyone here. And we’ve had some good and worthwhile debates about various pieces. I try not to editorialize in a negative way about any writer that I link, although I’m sure there have been times where I have failed in that regard. For the most part, I include material that I think stands on its own regardless of anything else. It’s entirely subjective of course and it goes without saying that my opinion can go wildly astray without warning.

    Finally, I always appreciate it when y’all add your own links in the threads – there’s way too much stuff out there for me to cover adequately.

  9. Hello everybody i have just a few thoughts on the Lakers I’m watching the Miami Heat VS The Grizz and I’m think the lakers should pattern themselves after the grizz defensively and with the personnel we have we could be dominate on that end of the court especially when pau comes back They arte just a slow athletically as the lakers but they #1 they give effort on defense the full qtr and they help each other out and rotate and switch when the other team Is in there halfcourts sets Miami is beeing shut down but the grizz cant score and miami has the lead at the half 42-41. If the lakers gave effort like this every night we would be the top seed They have to get better on D with D12 there is no excuse!! we can score with anybody especially with Blake back running pg for the reserves but they have to play defense to accomplish there goals. I wish they could find another player who could create his own shot does anyone Know if there is somebodyl out there like that Thanks!!

  10. WoW, GSW really had a tough stretch.

  11. That Ding article touches on a point I made a while back:

    Bryant also feels Jordan is not his equal in one interesting sense.

    “M.J. retired a couple of times. Just ’cause it’s a lot. It’s a lot,” Bryant said before this season. “I mean, I’ve been playing 17 years straight. That’s a long run, not taking any breaks.”

    The comparisons are always made, so I don’t feel too bad adding on my own. Jordan is so revered for his relentless competitiveness, his supposedly unparalleled fire – and so often we forget that MJ retired in the middle of his career. The “greatest competitor ever” burned out halfway through his career, which is fairly clear if you read his quotes at that 93 retirement ceremony. Kobe started at a younger age and has been doing it nonstop.

  12. MJ lost his father in a brutal and untimely fashion and that may have influenced his decision to retire the first time.

    And, it’s not like he went fishing. He tried his hand at another competitive endeavor.

  13. Cayucos Surfer March 2, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Also. don’t forget the massive amounts of debt Jordan accrued by betting foolishly.