Sunday, August 24, 2008

Your 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers

Is it too early to talk about the upcoming season? Now that those pesky Olympics are out of the way, let's project the rotation:

PG - Derek Fisher
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Lamar Odom
PF - Pau Gasol
C - Andrew Bynum

6 - Jordan Farmar
7 - Sasha Vujacic
8 - Trevor Ariza
9 - Vladamir Radmanovic
10- Luke Walton
11- Chris Mihm
12- Sun Yue
13- Josh Powell
14- Joe Crawford
15- Coby Karl
16- Dwayne Mitchell

I'd be worried about size off the bench if anyone else in the West had enough to make it an issue. I wonder how much Mihm will play... will he get Turiaf's minutes, or will Josh Powell step into that role?

What will we get out of Sun Yue this year? Will Coby even be on the roster come October? Will Ariza come back to play significant minutes off the bench? Will Luke stop sucking? Will Bynum start to decline after he turns old enough to drink legally a few days before the season opens?

And, let me get Sony started. What about Phil? Has the game passed him by? Is he watching tapes from the finals and realizing that perhaps a good team defensive scheme will be important this year?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Big Restrainee

Phoenix Suns savior Shaquille O'Neal just got served with a restraining order:

NBA star Shaquille O'Neal has been ordered to steer clear of an Atlanta-area woman who took out a restraining order Thursday.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks granted Alexis Miller's request Thursday after reviewing her allegations that the basketball player stalked her, threatened her with bodily harm and made harassing phone calls in which he breathed heavily into the phone before hanging up.


The court affidavit quotes an e-mail from O'Neal as saying, "I dnt no who the [expletive] u think u dealin wit u will neva be heard from one phone call is I gotta make now try me. Sho me."

Shaq continues to prove, every day in every way, that trading him was the right thing to do. Maybe we should've gotten more, but you can't fault the concept. Congrats Suns, he's your problem now. With Wade back healthy, it's a tossup between the Heat and Suns as to who will win more games next year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kobe Bryant, Patriot

Kobe shocks Chris Collinsworth by (*gasp*) showing pride in his country:

Assorted TV commentators keep opining that the Olympics are all about the brotherhood of man, rather than national ambition or patriotism. But don't tell that to the fanatically nationalist Chinese -- or to Kobe Bryant, the NBA star who is playing with Team USA in Beijing.

In an interview Friday on NBC, the world's most famous basketball player told Chris Collinsworth how he got "goosebumps" when he received his Olympics uniform. "I actually just looked at it for a while. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball." The Los Angeles Laker went on to call the U.S. "the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it's just a sense of pride that you have; that you say, 'You know what? Our country is the best.'"

Mr. Collinsworth seemed either startled or impressed by such sentiment, and asked, "Is that a cool thing to say in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you're fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by."

To which Mr. Bryant replied: "No, it's a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor."

Cynics will claim that this is merely about marketing, with Mr. Bryant hoping to use the Games to burnish his public image. On the other hand, he and his rich teammates on the basketball squad are giving up their offseason to play for nothing save possible medals. Mr. Bryant has also been an enthusiastic spectator for other U.S. Olympians, waving the Stars and Stripes at various events.

To the kind of Americans who consider themselves primarily "citizens of the world," nationalism at the Olympics is déclassé, even embarrassing. We're with Kobe.