The Los Angeles Lakers opened training camp on Wednesday, and finally, finally we got some basketball related news. Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the throngs of "reporters" from TMZ and E! News, two members of the team talked about the steps they took to improve their game over the offseason.
Kobe Bryant spent some time with the Master of the post, Hakeem "the Dream" Olajuwon, trying to learn the Dream Shake, and all of Hakeem's other devastating post moves. This seems further proof to me that Kobe is intent on developing the same kind of high post game that made Michael Jordan so unstoppable in his later years.
Lamar Odom took up boxing as a way to improve his footwork, and strengthen his core joints (ankles, hips, knees). It might also improve his ambidexterity, since, in his own words, "If I can knock a guy out with a right hand jab, I should be able to hit a layup with that hand too."
So, with that in mind, I'll take a look at which sport or training session with other NBA player would be most beneficial to each member of the Lakers. (Apologies to all the players brought in to fill the training camp roster, but you are not included. If any of you makes the opening day roster, I swear I'll write you in later).
Alright, so this one is cheating because it's basically already in the works. But how awesome would it be if Bynum finally felt comfortable enough to break out the sky hook in games. What is Bynum's ceiling with a dependable sky hook? I think that it would make him the best offensive center in the game right now, since Howard is limited in that department at the moment, Shaq is too old, and Yao's entire future is still somewhat up in the air. As they say, the sky (hook) is the limit.
Aside from the hilarity involved with Pau fitting his 7 foot frame into a tiny crew boat, there is no better sport for training upper body strength. Every crew team member I've ever seen (coxswains aside) has had huge shoulders and forearms, women included. Since Pau isn't a huge fan of straight weight lifting, this could be the perfect summer activity to turn his chicken wings into turkey legs.
For the man who needs mental strengthening much more than physical, I prescribe golf. I can't think of a game that is more capable of inducing someone to lose control, and anybody who does lose control even a little bit on the golf course is immediately punished for it. The focus which is required on the links wouldn't be a bad thing for Ron Ron either.
Walton has had (extremely) brief periods where he has been a very competent shooter. During those periods, people understand why the Lakers might have been willing to pay him so much money to be on the team. Despite never being the most athletic of guys, Luke's all around game has always been strong. He's can handle the rock, can be a tremendous passer, and has enough size to do what he needs to in the post. If he could consistently knock down the outside shot, his stock would jump from fringe role player to legitimate starter in the NBA.
The most well known moment of Adam Morrison's life is when he began to cry with a few seconds remaining in an NCAA tournament game where his precious Zags absolutely choked the game away to the UCLA Bruins. Also, if you haven't noticed, his body looks like bread dough. A couple months of training in the Octogon should do well to get rid of both attributes.
Wait a second, WHAT?!?!? Hear me out. Obviously I don't want Sasha to start going to the post and attempting to back down his man for hours on end (although the comedy of such an activity would be off the charts.) Instead, I figure if Sasha spends a day training in the post with a man for whom they actually created a rule against taking too much time with the ball, Sasha might just learn that he doesn't have to shoot the rock within 2 nanoseconds of receiving it. If Sasha had the Chuck Wagon's patience, he might still be called the Machine.
Fisher is already the consummate professional, and his body is probably in as good a shape as you can expect. It also seems ridiculous to ask a 13 year veteran to go pick up a new trick to use in the league (unless that player is gunning for participation in the GOAT debate, that is). So, for Fisher, I prescribe a sport intended to help him improve his quickness, which is the attribute that seems to be deteriorating the fastest as he ages. No sport in the world will teach you to have quick feet better than soccer.
You think that a bad attitude and not listening to coaches will hurt you in basketball? Tennis is littered with players who could have been all time greats, but failed to realize their potential because they didn't listen to coaches, and had a poor attitude about what they do. Plus, the individual nature of the game is such that you literally have no one to blame but yourself for your failures.
This is pretty much self-explanatory. If you've got all-world athleticism, and can jump as if you are on the moon, why not dial up the style while you're up there? You're telling me Shannon couldn't put his forearm in the basket? Or pull off a 360 through-the-legs windmill? Shannon's already got the game, as evidenced by the high school dunk contest he apparently got screwed out of winning ... against LeBron James. He just needs some tips from VC about how to turn that athleticism into something more artistic.
Mbenga already has the mentality for this. The man attempts to block practically every shot that comes within a 10 foot radius, but he ends up with more fouls than blocked shots. He just needs some technique to go along with the desire, and who better to provide it than one of the best shot blockers of all time, Deke. Besides, more than anything in the world, I want Mbenga to adopt the finger wag after each block. With Mutumbo's career finally and tragically over, we need to keep the finger wag alive, and Mbenga is definitely the man for the job.
Josh Powell is already considered Turiaf-lite. Why not commit and go for the whole package? He's already got the same type of game as Turiaf. He's already got the capability for awesome hair-dos as Turiaf. All we need is for Powell to start shaking and grooving every time a Laker makes a big play on the court, and it'll be like the fan-favorite Ronny never left.