When the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 Western Conference Finals, the team’s plan to stop Nikola Jokic was basically “turn Dwight Howard into a Batman villain.”
Or, for a slightly more accurate metaphor given Jokic’s “Joker” nickname, they asked Dwight Howard to become both the hero Los Angeles deserved, and the one it needed right then.
This dynamic was most memorably captured with a quote from Dwight that I probably still think about once per day:
"Batman coming for you, the Joker" - Dwight Howard to Nikola Jokic from the Laker bench— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) September 23, 2020
Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have Batman to beat the crap out of the Joker this time. But with Dwight’s specific brand of muscle and fart-powered vigilantism not available to them, head coach Darvin Ham still has not ruled out some sort of crime as an option in order to stop a center who has won two MVPs since these sides last met in the postseason:
On his strategy against Nikola Jokic, Darvin Ham cracks, “Try to catch him out of his house and kidnap him.”— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) May 15, 2023
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that illegal? And, as someone who is definitely in no way qualified to give you legal advice, I’m here to say... well, yes, kidnapping is definitely still a crime and the Lakers should not actually do it. Darvin was probably kidding. SB Nation and Silver Screen and Roll certainly do not endorse it. No, that was not a paragraph I ever expected to write in journalism school, thanks for asking.
However... The Lakers didn’t give Tristan Thompson a couple million just to sit on the bench, right? Can he get Dwight’s batsuit out of the cave, and perhaps carry out a bit of extrajudicial justice like he’s extraditing a mafia accountant using a seaplane and a skyhook? Jokic’s brothers may put up more of a fight than your normal Batman goon, but if Thompson can get Ham’s defensive plan done, Adam “Commissioner Gordon” Silver may be willing to overlook the extraordinary circumstances of an MVP being kidnapped if it gets him a Lakers vs. Celtics NBA Finals.
Or at least that’s what NBA Twitter would probably tell you.
We’ll see what plans the Lakers actually have for Jokic, but honestly, if they’re hoping to slow down one of the best offensive players ever... There are worse ideas. I maybe wouldn’t go with kidnapping as plan A, but it’s good to hear Ham is at least looking into every possible option.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.