Monday, December 8, 2008
I mean, it sounds like it should be OK. You can still watch the game. You hear less Joel Meyers, which is always good. And sometimes, when the interviewee is particularly insightful (Rick Fox comes to mind), there's actually some value added. But that's not what usually happens. Unfortunately, it's usually some actor or director plugging some horrible project and all it really does is perpetuate the god awful stereotype that the real interest at Laker games is in the stands and not on the court.
But last night's Lakers Live Wire was highly enjoyable. First of all, the guest was Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp. Considering the huge cross-section of Laker fans and Dodger fans, this type of cross polination could only yield positive results. And it did not disappoint. Right as Matt was about to delve into his personal baskteball history and Laker fandom in general, a pair of L.A.'s finest come waltzing across the screen. Matt's expression says it all.
Besty. Lakers Live Wire. Ever.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Perhaps we have been spoiled as Los Angeles Sports fans in terms of who we've enjoyed as our sports voices. Vin Scully. Chick Hearn. Bob Miller. Petros Papadakis. But is it just me, or is the river of awkward that is the Joel Meyers experience bustling like the mighty Mississippi this year? Check out his latest gem. And by gem, I mean diarrhea of the mouth.
A few nights ago, Kobe hits an insane fadeaway from the right wing and is fouled on the shot. He stumbles backward into the courtside seats near the Laker bench and Sasha Vujacic, excited from the acrobatics of the play gets up and slaps Kobe on the ass. Joel's call?
"Sasha likes it from behind!!!"
Wow. Oh and let's not forget about the Length of Lamar. My lord. The LOL. I understand that decribing a players length is a trend right now in basketball commentating with all the long-armed, versatile players scattered throughout the league. But Joel takes this to a whole other level. Wow, he was really bothered by the length of Lamar on that shot. Or, Lamar's length caused that turnover. It's like, it's not just Lamar Odom. There's Lamar. And there's the Length of Lamar. Both are sentient, tax paying citizens of the Earth according to Joel.
But you see, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Joel that bothers me. I mean, the Gay innuendos are one thing (and that "one thing" would be hilarious), but I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that I can't understand Joel's thought process as he's calling the game. I feel like the play by play man should describe the action and from time to time make some relevant observations about the context of said action. But Joel. Joel, Joel, Joel. Joel does not do this.
Here's a hypothetical example. The Lakers could be down by ten points with maybe 6 minutes to play in the game and then Joel will say something like, "The Lakers could use an 8-0 run here..." First of all, you're thinking well, no shit, Joel. But then the you think about it some more and you find yourself wondering, well, why didn't he say a 10-0 run? Hell, why not 20-0? But then you know what happens next? The other team goes on an 8-0 run.
But ok. I suppose every announcer is guilty of jinxing a team now and then. Fine. And of course, it doesn't happen that way all the time. What if say the Lakers do go on that 8-0 run, making Joel seem down right prophetic. Now say we got the ball with 30 seconds left, down 2 (remember, it was an 8-0 run from down 10). Kobe's dribbling out the clock a bit at the top of the key, he decides to make his move, and here is a classic Joel call of this play:
Kobe dribbles right. He's gets into the lane. HE'S CUT OFF! He finds Fisher in the corner. FISHER FOR THREE!!! OH!!! It rims out. Can't give Kobe the assist....
That's right. Can't. Give. Kobe. The. Assist. Seriously, who gives a shit about the assist. What about the fact that the game is probably over on that miss. It's like he gets fixated on certain things, usually statistical milestones for certain players, and it prevents him from commenting on the broader, more important perspectives. And honestly, it's becoming distracting as hell.
And I know that the above is not describing a play from a particular game. When I said before that I cannot pinpoint what bothers me about Joel, I really meant that I don't have a body of concrete examples of his ineptitude to list before you. But if you've been watching the Lakers closely during the Joel Meyer's era, tell me the above hypothetical does not sound all too familiar.
But either way, it looks like this is what we've got until the Lakers get wise and put Spero Dedes on TV. So you know what? Let's make the best of it. One easy way to do that: get shit faced. I present to you the Joel and Stu drinking game.
Rules: Buy some beer. Buy some liquor. Watch the local broadcast of the Laker game. Drink when you hear the following from Joel Meyers or Stu Lantz.
Level I: One sip
- Joel talks about Lamar Odom's length
- Stu refers to Pau Gasol as Pau Kasol
- Joel mentions points off of turnovers
- Joel or Stu uses the phrase Charity Stripe
- Stu says that the Lakers have "issues" if they are running late in the shot clock
Level II: Chug a beer (beer bong is optional, recommended)
- Stu says something about the Lakers "needing to Scratch"
- Joel mentions where a player played college ball more than once
- Joel talks about Trevor Ariza's length
- Joel talks about Andrew Bynum's length
- Joel talks about Pau Gasol's length
Level III: Take a shot
- Stu uses that metaphor about how big guys being far from the basket is like being high in the mountains/air is thin
- Stu says "Noiiiiccce"
- Joel talks about Kobe's Length
- Stu talks about Pau Kasol's length
- Joel uses the phrase "the rub down low"
Seriously, you'll be drunk by half time. And the Lakers will be up by 20. Happy drinking, Laker fans.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Boston is the better team. The thing that made this fact -- that a 66 win team is better than a 57 win team -- a surprising one was the way the Lakers looked coming into the Finals and the way Boston looked to start the playoffs. It turns out we were all fooled. Boston was already a bad match up for these Lakers. They had a bigger, tougher frontline and they had more veteran experience. Now realize that this is the NBA finals and the particulars of that bad match up make it a nightmarish one. This was not as close of a series as the 6 game length might imply.
So where does that leave the Lakers? Well we do get Bynum back next year. Which is huge. Make no mistake about it. We're basically adding a top five center. So that would help shore up the toughness, rebounding, shot blocking, defensive anchoring, inside scoring etc that the Lakers were sorely lacking in this series. And we will have a full year to jell which should improve the team's cohesion both on the offense and defensive end.
But more importantly, the Lakers next year should and will play with a bit of an edge. A chip on their collective shoulders, one that may not be there had they won this year. It's NBA growing pains and we've seen it happen before. Jordan losing to Detroit. Shaq and Kobe losing to Utah and San Antonio. And even though these Celtics did not have a similar experience as a unit, they did individually with all of the big three making deep playoff runs in past years only to come up short. And that's what gave the Celtics that something extra this series. They had that edge. They had that hunger. There was a huge gap between these two teams in that respect. And even though they pounded the crap out of us, I feel like this series just caused that gap to get A LOT smaller. Of course, adding a couple of nasty veterans in the off-season might not hurt.
And I guess all there is left to talk about is Kobe and his legacy. Now, a lot of people have been using this latest chink in the armor as the indisputable evidence that Kobe is not on the level of MJ. And they are 100% correct. Jordan never did and probably never would have lost two straight times in the Finals. But maybe this is a good thing. Maybe now people will start looking at Kobe for who he is rather than the gap between him and Jordan, something Kobe pleaded for during his Sunday Coversation with Stephen A. Smith a few weeks ago.
Yes, he is about the same size as MJ. He has a competitive drive and a fadeaway that reminds people of MJ. He can light you up while shutting you down like MJ.
But after that, what's the point of comparing? Because so much of the way we perceive these guys, and athletes in general, is left up to fate. Like what if Jordan was drafted onto a team that already had a star player. Maybe he would have won a title early without the pain/benefit of an arduous climb to the top. And then maybe he would have had to deal with being knocked off his pedestal after the other star began to decline and he was handed the reins to the team. Perhaps he would have endured his growing pains then. And maybe (or let's face it, inevitably) he would have rebuilt, reclaimed his glory and took his place atop the Mount Olympus of the NBA.
Does that story sound familiar? Well, it's not Kobe's. It's Magic's. Maybe that's the more apt comparison in terms of career arc. And I have absolutely no problem with that.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
But what is really intriguing to me are the more underrated notions. Like the improving Laker defense battling the resurgent Celtic offense. Like Luke Walton meeting James Posey or Sasha Vujacic meeting Ray Allen or Ronny Turiaf meeting Leon Powe. I'm talking about Kevin Garnett posting up in the clutch and Pau Gasol showing grit in the paint. Because while there are many things both sides can count in this series, here is where it will be decided.
And finally, it's game time. Go Lakers.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
+ Some words on Kobe from Kelly Dwyer at BDL:
+ Some Triangle Insight from Steve Kerr via Roland Lazenby at Sportshub LA
Save for one, angry season (2004-05, when he shot less than he does now but slept through some games), Kobe Bryant trusted his teammates a little too damn much.
In fact, "trusting his teammates" in the playoffs against San Antonio in 2003 and Detroit in 2004 may have cost the Lakers a ring; because had Kobe taken over the games with the same shoot-first but-within-the-offense fervor we saw in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the ball may not have been in Robert Horry's shot-missin' hands in 2003, or Shaquille O'Neal's out-of-shape mitts in 2004.
And though Kobe may have piled up the shot attempts in Phil Jackson's first two seasons as Laker coach, post-Shaq; Los Angeles wouldn't have had a chance of approaching anywhere near 40 wins in those two seasons had Kobe not tried to put up 35 every night. Those would have been 30-35 win teams had he shot 18 times a game. Instead, the two campaigns saw Los Angeles eke out 45 and 42 wins in what we safely know to be a competitive Western Conference.
Listen, for every shot that Kobe gave up, for every possession he allowed another player to use up, those Lakers would falter, all the more.
That means a player with a lower shooting percentage than Kobe shoots the ball. That means a player who turns the ball over way more than Kobe gets the ball put square in his hands. That means a player who has a worse free throw percentage than Kobe gets fouled. Those possessions just don't dissipate when Kobe decides to "trust his teammates," they get used up by players who are far more prone to miss shots, turn the ball over, or do less at the line.
But because the stereotype is, "Kobe wants all the shots, Kobe wanted Shaq gone so he could get all of Shaq's looks," we think that Kobe should be passing more, and "trusting his teammates." And it's absolute bollocks.
+ Unrelated but hilarious (via FFFFound):
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Was that a foul? Yes.
Should it have been called? Yes. It was on the ground and should have been two free-throws.
Am I surprised that it wasn't? Nope.
I am a firm believer that a foul in the first minute should be a foul in the last minute. But, c'mon, how long ago did we all learn that this is not the case in the NBA? How many times have we seen people drive the lane with the game on the line and get absolutely mugged with no call made?
It sucks. But this is the world we live in. Purists and Idealists or whatever the hell you want to call them are going to bitch and moan about this for weeks. But, I don't see why. You know that refs tend to swallow their whistles at the end of games. You've seen it happen over and over and over especially in the playoffs. Yet, you're surprised - outraged even - about what happened at the end of game 4?
And then to try to tie to the fact that Joey Crawford was the ref as Basketbawful did or to go even further out on a limb and tie it (albeit weakly) to some conspiracy theory/referee scandal as Henry from Truehoop did, is just plain ridiculous. This is a completely separate issue, one that is not new at all.
This has nothing to do with Joey Crawford.
This has nothing to do with Tim Donaghy and the ref gambling scandal.
This has nothing to do with Stern wanting the Lakers and Celtics in the finals or some other general NBA conspiracy theory.
This is the NBA as we know it. As you knew it before game 4 started and for the last 30 years or so. Why all the shrieky indignation?
Tonight my team was on the winning side of a questionable no call at the end of a game. They have been and one day will be again on the losing side of such a play. But for now, I will go on enjoying the win.
Speaking of shrieky indignation, let's go back to Truehoop's "That Was a Foul!" post. I mean, jeez.
Laker Derek Fisher left his feet, and landed hard into Spur Brent Barry. The Spurs were down two and time was running out. That's a foul in my pickup game. That's a foul in high school. That's a foul in college. And, at just about every moment of NBA basketball that I have ever seen except this one, that's a foul in the NBA.Dude, what kind of pussy ass pick up game are you playing in where you call that? An on-the-ground foul from 30 feet out. Do you take charges in these pick up games as well? Do you call technicals and three seconds in the key?
I actually do not think that the NBA is rigged (if it was the shot clock would have been reset on the play before, when Derek Fisher's shot appeared to touch the rim). But a lot of people do, and that's a problem. The way to solve that problem is to be scrupulously fair, which this was not.I don't see how the refs not resetting the clock can be considered evidence that the NBA is not rigged. That makes no sense. Because you know what? Fisher's shot DID hit the rim and the Lakers should have had a fresh shot clock. You know, if the refs were scrupulously fair and all.
If the refs had made that call, the game would have been over. The Lakers would have had the ball with 5 seconds left and no shot clock and the Spurs would have had to foul. But it was too close of a call on which to essentially end the game. Again, the refs do NOT want a hand in deciding the game. Do we notice a pattern forming here?
Yes, if Barry had sold the call, he would have had free throws. But that doesn't mean that he should have flopped. It just means that he should have taken the contact instead of basically DRIBBLING AROUND IT.
It's a bit of twisted irony to see a team that flops the whole game lose on a play where one of their players had an opportunity to flop and basically shied away from the contact. I now have a new found respect for Brent Barry. He played it straight up.
Actually, all of the Spurs are showing some serious class and sportsmanship with the way they are handling the non-call ending. They are truly champions in every sense of the word.
What the hell was Kobe thinking at the end there. Thirty seconds left, up 4 and he drives to rim like we're down 4. He should have dribbled it back out obviously. Or hit Pau streaking down the middle rather than that tough shot over Duncan. Seriously, he could have totally blew it.