This is a cross-post of the bulk of my column no. 56A which went up this evening on the new Blazer blog Pinwheel Empire as part of my ongoing crusade to convince the Blazermaniacs that Laker fans are swell. I'll spare y'all the clips-and-snips section and the Basketball Jones links, mainly because I'm getting tired and don't want to screw around with it this evening.
Hopefully, SCG's witty repartee will keep you enthralled through the weekend until the Lakeshow rolls into Portlandia.
By the way, the Blazers are on a NBA-best 6 game winning streak and are pretty tough at home. They should be seeing a return of Brandon Roy and Center Marcus Camby for the game as well, so emotions will be running high... Lakers will need to bring their A-game. Presumably, the recent Cleveland, ummmm, episode will have awakened them from their slumber. It should be a good game.
Anyway, on with the show...
Burgers and Fries with the Laker Guys, Episode 3.
The Blazers' good friends, the Los Angeles Lakers, will be paying their first of two visits this season to the friendly confines of the Rose Garden on February 23. That means it is time once again for me to ramp up my efforts to spread wisdom and enlightenment among the Pacific Northwestern folk by introducing them to Real Life Laker People in a regular feature I call BURGERS AND FRIES WITH THE LAKER GUYS.
This season and last we've previously met the two Editorial-types associated with the Mega-Awesome Laker Site Silver Screen and Roll, the basketball blog with which I cut my baby teeth. Today we're gonna have a Double-Double™ with a Laker guy who's one of the writers and moderators at that very same blog. What are the odds?!? Without further ado, please join me in saying "Hello" and "Die, Celtics, Die!" to the one and only SoCalGal.
PWE: Okay, let's get down to business here, blogging doesn't pay for shit... What's your real name, age, address, social security number, California driver's license number, and mother's maiden name? What's the name of your favorite pet? Where do you do your banking? Do you remember your PIN number?
SoCalGal: My real name is Auntie Dee Dee and I'm 63 (gotta keep the kids on their toes). I keep my money in my freezer.
PWE: Some patron of the arts you are... Well, let's talk about basketball. The Lakers are coming to town on Wednesday night — at least ONE of the Laker teams is coming to town. It seems like there are two distinct Laker teams this year: one of them is super tall, fast, coordinated, murderous in the paint, deadly from distance, two time world champions, perfectly balanced, brilliantly coached, and powered by superstars. The second Laker team is a borderline incompetent catastrophe of overhyped prima donna losers with the motor skills of drunken sloths and all the intensity of fat middle-aged dentists lounging on a sunny beach in Cancún. So, please tell me — which Lakers team is coming to Portland: the tough one or the terrible one?
SoCalGal: I think the mediocre team will show up, you know, the one that's super tall, kinda slow, murderous in the paint, but not so deadly from distance. Still the two-time champs, but slightly off-balance. The Lakers we're finding it difficult to understand right now. I still think they'll win, but I don't think it will be easy.
PWE: As I'm typing up these questions, I've got the Lakers-Cavs game on in the background. It's now midway through the fourth quarter and the Cavs are currently up by 2. I don't expect the Lakers to lose the game, mind you, but still: what the hell is up with that?!?!?
SoCalGal: As you now know, the Lakers got their asses kicked by the Cavs. Sure it was only a 5-point loss, but it was an ass-kicking nonetheless. I have no words for what happened. Moving right along...
PWE: Why do you think the Lakers — one of the best teams in the NBA in the view of most observers — have such lapses against bad teams?
SoCalGal: You know everyone talks about how they're complacent, bored with the regular season and just counting down to the playoffs. I do think they get a bit bored during the season and seem to perk up during the playoffs, a la Derek Fisher, but what they've been going through this season is something different.
I remember during the first 3-peat, they talked about how tiring it was to play so long after the season ended, all the way into mid-June and then come back rested in October; it wasn't easy. Of course, we've gone through this same scenario the last 3 years, winning twice. But I don't even know if it's the fatigue of post-season play that's plaguing this team. To be honest, I'm as baffled as the next gal.
There seems to be a lack of effort at times — you can see guys strolling back on defense, no matter who they're playing, or not leaving their feet for rebounds. Is that because they have the height advantage and they thing being 7 feet tall is enough? I don't know, but it's not always working.
Turnovers kill us more than anything, even when we win. In the Cavs game, we had 19 turnovers which turned into 23 points for the other side. That's unacceptable in any game, but especially in a 5-point loss. I just don't know what's going on.
PWE: Portland has obviously had a bit of trouble keeping their All Star Shooting Guard on the floor. Something or other about "bone on bone" troubles in his knees. Now Mr. Kobe Mamba has used the same exact words about one of his knees. We hear tales told that he's not practicing with the team, ostensibly to keep the odometer down. Have you seen indications that Kobe has lost a step this year? Are you concerned about his health going forward, particularly given the fact that the Lakers are on the hook for $83.5 Million in salary to him over the next three years?
SoCalGal: Actually, Kobe said his knee was "nearly bone on bone", so not exactly the same as Brandon Roy's problem. But, yeah, I'm sure it's affecting him to some extent. We'll never know how much it's affecting him, probably not until he's sitting at the podium wearing his 2010-2011 championship shirt and hat. Then he'll tell us what's going on.
I have noticed that he's slipped a little, but I think that has more to do with his not practicing as much as he did last year. Kobe seems superhuman, but he's not (I know, you're shocked). I'm not too concerned with his overall health because he knows himself, and his body, better than any other player in the league.
The question was asked in Charlotte whether or not he should have sat out the game because he'd had flu-like symptoms earlier in the day. In my opinion, this was one of the few times his instinct betrayed him; I think he should have sat out. But for the most part, I trust that he knows what he's doing. As for his salary, I'm confident Kobe will earn every penny he's scheduled to earn.
PWE: Some Blazer fans have a bit more difficulty hating the Lakers this year since their signing of Nate McMillan's BFF, Point Guard Steve Blake. How has Blake done this year, in your estimation? Would you rather have Jordan Farmar back?
SoCalGal: Blake has had a tough year. He was good in pre-season and had a decent start to the season. But as cliché as it sounds, the triangle is a temperamental beast and resists taming (Pau Gasol aside). He's had some difficulty and seems hesitant to take the open shots we desperately want him to take. I think he needs to say to himself, "Oh look, so-and-so is open, but I know I can make this shot. I'm gonna shoot instead of pass."
The more he does that, the more confidence he'll get back, and the better off he'll be. He'll be able to get into a rhythm and make the shots he's capable of making. Mind you, I'm speaking for myself. I know lots of fans are calling for his head and want him gone, but I don't think that's necessary, at least not at this time.
As for Jordan Farmar, uh, no, we're just fine without him. And I think I speak for everyone in Lakerdom on that one.
PWE: Speaking of stars of the New Jersey Nets, Sasha Vujacic is actually playing outside of the last two minutes of Nets games. He even makes shots now and again. My question for you is this: How the FUCK did that effete douchebag with bad hair end up with a smokin' hot chick like Maria Sharapova? Does he have some sort of subliminal Slovenian suave that I'm missing, being a heterosexual dude? I mean, it's one of the wonders of the universe, is it not? Please, please, PLEASE explain for the Blazer people the secrets of his subtle Slavic charms...
PWE: No matter how many times I say it, there are still some Blazer fans who are CERTAIN that Nate McMillan is going to be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after PJ rides off into the sunset... I tell them again and again, there is ZERO chance of that because Brian Shaw is gonna be the next coach of the Lakers. Would you tell them that for me?
SoCalGal: The Shawfather will run the Lakers as Vito Corleone ran his family in The Godfather (minus the rage of Sonny and the betrayal of Carlo and Tessio).
PWE: I saw something spraypainted on a wall: "BUILD A MOAT... PROTECT THE MONEY!!!" What the hell does that mean?
SoCalGal: It started as a typo. We have lots of memes on SS&R and one of them includes misspelling certain words, including the word "more". One of our members, gen!e, meant to type "MOAR DEFENSE", and typed "MOAT" instead. It actually made sense because a moat is a defensive structure, so gen!e created a pic to go along with the call for MOAT DEFENSE. The rest of it has be experienced by visiting the GUIDE TO SILVER SCREEN & ROLL MEMES.
PWE: So how did you get into basketball and the Lakers? What is it about the NBA game that's appealing to you as a sports fan?
SoCalGal: I've always liked basketball and loved the Lakers and was lucky enough to go to games at the Forum as a kid (when tickets were cheap!). Magic Johnson's announcement in November '91 was one of the saddest days in my life. But I lived for baseball and that was still my favorite sport. However, after the '94-'95 MLB strike, I gave up on baseball and focused on basketball in general, and the Lakers in particular.
The Lakers went through some lean years but Kobe, Shaq, and Phil got some things going and it's been more good than bad ever since.
What I like about basketball is the speed and action of the game. There's not a lot of downtime — unless the game is on ABC or ESPN or TNT with their damned commercial time outs — and there's always plenty of going on. I get very emotional and my neighbors always know when the Lakers are playing (win or lose) and I have apologized to them many times. Fortunately, no one has called the police on me yet.
PWE: We don't have In-and-Outs™ in this part of Oregon... How many miles would you advise somebody who has never eaten there to drive for a burger? What should they order?
SoCalGal: I would fly around the world for a Double-Double™, and I suggest everyone do the same. Or at least drive 500 miles. I only have to drive 3, ha!
PWE: You've seen all the teams in the Western Conference this year -- assuming the top 4 teams are set, which four of these are gonna make the playoffs and which two won't? Blazers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Jazz, Nuggets, Suns...
SoCalGal: The Suns and the Grizzlies won't.
PWE: Your email addie is "Nutz4Shoes".... Is that true or a lie? How many pairs do you have? If you were going to New York City for three weeks and could only take three pairs, what would you bring?
SoCalGal: I am, in fact, nuts for shoes. I have about 65 pairs of shoes right now (haven't been shopping in a while and have donated a few pairs). Assuming it's not raining or snowing, I would take my black suede Stuart Weitzman knee-high boots, my black open-toe Calvin Klein stiletto slingbacks, and my satin open-toe cork-heel wedges. I never travel with tennis shoes but I might sneak a pair of flats into my carry-on.
* * *
Back and forth they go
Where they stop, nobody knows
My eyeballs are tired
All Star Weekend Extravaganza!
Sophomores 140 v. Rookies 148.
February 18, 2011.
Wesley Matthews finished with 15 points for the losers.
Who likes scoring? Two twenty minute halves, no defense allowed...
1. Brilliant commentary, with C-Webb saying DeJuan Blair has "no cartilage in his knees"... Ummm, he does, he just doesn't have anterior cruciate ligaments... You'd think C-Webb of all people would have a litttle bit of understanding of the anatomy of the human knee.
Hmmm, is it possible to review running back and forth dunking the ball? Not really. At the first commercial it was the Sophomores up 20-15, powered by 77% shooting. Wesley had four points and an assist in the first five minutes of the game.
With Blake Griffin playing for the Rookies, the teams were skewed a bit. At the midway point of the first half, the Spurs' Bliar (1-2-3 times not a Blazer) led all scorers with a dozen. In game interview by Craig Sager with Griffin, who got bonked in the schnozz earlier. "That was a pretty good one by DeJuan Blair, I'm going to have to get him back later," said The Beast.
There were some ugly-ass bright yellow kicks on the floor, compliments of Adidas. Blair on the full-court outlet off the board to himself HARD for the tomahawk jam was brilliant stuff. Chris Webber on Blair: "I've heard it's bone-on-bone, I've heard that many times." What an ass...
In the first 14 minutes there were 14 dunks. So why are we having bothering having a slam dunk contest?
Wesley threw up a brick from beyond the arc and was promptly fed for another try off the miss. "Bingo!" as Ralph would say, and a set of three goggles were flashed for the camera.
Out of commercial, real news — an interview with the very dramatic Melo...
Sager: "We're here with Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets — am I right to say you're still with the Denver Nuggets?"
Carmelo: "Of course, of course."
Sager: "We see nothing but rumors this weekend about you meeting with the owner of the Nets, Michael [Mikhail] Prokhorov, James Dolan the owner of the Knicks — are you meeting with those guys?"
Carmelo: "No meetings, no meetings are going to be taking place this weekend. I'm not thinking about having no meetings right now, I just want to have fun, trying to enjoy this weekend, man... "
Sager: "You say you just want to have fun and enjoy this weekend, but you said yesterday you wanted to have something in stone before you left this weekend... What has changed, what do you want in stone?"
Carmelo: "I still want something in stone, whether it's an offer from somebody or for me to sign that extension, but right now I just want to enjoy the weekend, man. You know, I'm here, my family's here, my friends are here — I just want to enjoy the game, that's it."
Sager: "The ball's in the court, you could enjoy it a lot more if you just said to me, 'I'm going to play out the rest of the year, I'm not going to sign an extension with Denver, and then I'm going to become a free agent.'"
Carmelo: (laughs) "I'm still going to enjoy the weekend, I'm not going to think about that. I'm going to enjoy the weekend as best as I can. I'm going to let my family have fun, I'm gonna have fun, my friends are gonna have fun — we're gonna party this weekend, man, I'm going to get ready for Sunday."
Sager: "All right, it's parties and no meetings, there you go, Kevin [Harlan] — you follow the same philosophy."
Another wide open trey for Wesley as the first half wound down, with both teams shooting about 60%. A total of 22 dunks in 20 minutes. Chris Webber assures us that there would be actual defense played in the second half. I'm not buying. A quick Sager interview with DeJuan Blair heading for commercial reveals him to be a much smarter person than Carmelo, "going for high numbers" and happy enough with his 14 points in the half. HALFTIME SCORE: ROOKIES 71, SOPHOMORES 69.
2. DeJuan Blair was highly entertaining going up for rebounds with one hand and coming down with the ball. The dude must have huge hands. Of course, not having to deal with opponents crashing the boards, bumping into the boards, even looking at the boards, helped his cause greatly. But still, it was most impressive doing that on consecutive possessions.
Hilarious play off the night was a two-handed smash bounce pass by John Wall which flew up about 18 feet into the air over a defender and was caught at the rim by a high-flying Blake Griffin for a thunderous reverse jam. It was fully Globetrotters-worthy.
Rookies pretty much lead throughout and it's difficult conceiving of anyone really caring who wins this game, which was tied at 126 just inside of the 5 minute mark.
At about the 4:00 it suddenly started to resemble a basketball game, with Wesley driving the baseline and getting fouled.Gary Neal hit a couple in the paint to stretch it out a bit for the Rookies, who were up by 5 at the 2:00 mark.
DeMarcus "Crazypants" Cousins had 33 points for the Rookies, James Harden had 30 for the Sophomores. John Wall set a record for the Rookie-Sophomore game with 22 assists.
FINAL SCORE: ROOKIES 148, SOPHOMORES 140.
Sophomore starting SG Wesley Matthews had 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting, 3-for-7 from distance, with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. Before you get too worked up about how great that is, just remember that 140 points divided by each member of the 9-man Sophomore roster equals 15.5.
John Wall was named MVP of the game.