Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Better Know the Lakers

Kobe. Pau. Bynum. Fisher.

These are the Lakers we know. Some of us love them. Some of us do not. As a matter of fact, some of us feel that Derek Fisher is a smaller, more annoying version of Bruce Bowen without the defensive skills but with all of the "flop to injure the other player" mind-set who has been the beneficiary of more calls in the last decade than any single player other than perhaps Shaquille O'Neal and who is wholly undeserving of being known as an even adequate point guard.

Note: Yes, I feel bad that Shaq gets hacked a lot without intervention, and I'm totally with him when he complains about how much it hurts when other players rap him across his forearms, which are generally considered his most sensitive body part, but that doesn't change the fact that for about twelve years, his go-to move has been "spin, elbow defender to face, drive". Here are some of his greatest hits in reverse chronological order:


But let's forget about Shaq's dirty elbows and try to concentrate on the 2008 Lakers, because they are, after all, more than just Kobe, Pau, Bynum and Derek Fisher. Interestingly, they're one of the least-black teams in the NBA, the complete opposite of both their old dynasty and the current Celtics team they oppose. They have a lot of specialists, weirdos, Euros, and long-hairs, and frankly, they're pretty interesting. So let's get to it.

The Roster, Ordered Alphabetically, Erratically Rated by Jimmy V

Trevor Ariza. Trevor is one of the only South American players in the NBA. Trevor was born in Venezuela, generally a baseball country, and one can only imagine how much difficulty he would have had with his strike zone. Trevor went to high school in LA where he averaged an impressive 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists per game and played every position. He is asthmatic and during his freshman year at UCLA one of his lungs actually collapsed. He is a very, very good dunker:

Dunk rating: 8. Hustle rating: 7. Shooting: 5. Lung rating: 1.

Jordan Farmar. He has very large ears. He wears his hair in the "Long Island Guido" fashion. Like Ariza, he is from LA, where he averaged 27 a game in high school. His favorite music artist is Usher. He is half black and half The Jew.

Douchebag rating: 8.2. Hair rating: 2. Sneaker size: 7.5. Chances that he hangs out with Kobe and actually enjoys it: Actually, quite good.


Coby Karl: For first 22 years of his life, he played second fiddle to his dad as the second-best Karl in the history of basketball. Now, he adds the distinction of being the second-best "Kho-bee" on his team. Remarkably, Karl only averaged eight points and two rebounds per game in his junior year of high school but managed to shore up his game enough to go to Boise State and make the NBA as an undrafted free agent. He made his NBA debut on the same day he made his NBDL debut because he played only 37 seconds in the NBA game and was sent down quickly enough (to the Los Angeles D-Fenders) to play in a night game.

Dunk rating: Shaquille (I've seen him dunk. He dunks like Shaq. It's weird. It makes the rest of the Lakers just about shit their pants.). Whiteness factor: 93. Overall: Possibly the worst player in the NBA.

Chris Mihm. In case you forgot, he was drafted with the seventh pick in the first round of the draft by the Chicago Bulls (and traded to the Cavs). The All-Star "Traded for Chris Mihm" team is unusually good: Gary Payton, Rajon Rondo, Jamal Crawford, Larry Hughes, Toni Kukoc, and Chris Webber have all found themselves on the other side of deals including Mihm. (Webber was traded to the Bullets in 1994 for, among other things, a pick that in 2000 that became Mihm.) He is a tall, stiff, somewhat athletic white guy. His favorite cereal is undisclosed.

Dunk rating: Was once dunked on by Chris Wilcox twice in one game, the second time so seriously that he was badly injured. Pass rating: Can pass. Height rating: 9.

Ira Newble. One of the better defensive players in the NBA in the past few years, he somehow has aged to 33 in a flash. He once refused to play in a Cavs game, which is, frankly, amazing. He may have had the worst college career of anyone in the NBA, averaging 3.2 points per game in his senior year at Miami University. He got most of the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign a letter condemning the Chinese government's investment in the genocidal regime in Darfur. The two players who refused to sign were LeBron James and Damon Jones for what one can assume were "economic reasons". I'm not sure whether I think it's nice that he's trying to help people or a little lame that he only did it once he saw Hotel Rwanda. Your call.

Dunk rating: 3. Defense: 7.5. Humanitarian efforts: 4. (Most NBA players would be a 1, so that's fair given that he hasn't actually spent much money or devoted much time, in my opinion.)

Vladimir Radmanovic. Shoots high-arcing shots. Flops. Sucks at defense. Am I telling you anything you don't already know? No. But did you know he's in the midst of a six-year, $42 million dollar contract? Did you realize he resembles Joe Namath? Did you know he embarassed his country in the 2002 FIBA World Championships? He was not playing well and when his coach, an obviously fiery man named Svetislav Pesic, saw him sitting at the end of the bench "eating a banana", he kicked him off the team. The team rallied in the second half, and then beat Argentina (featuring Manu Ginobili among others) in the final to win the gold medal.

Rating in American basketball: 3.5. Rating in Serbian basketball: 2.5. Ability to hit meaningless three-pointers: 9.

Ronny Turiaf. From Wikipedia: "Turiaf is most notably known for his aggressive play and his dance routines at the sidelines used to support and invigorate his teammates."

Aggressive play rating: 2. Dance rating: 1. Invigoration rating: 0.

Sasha Vujacic. Goes by "Sasha". Is from Bosnia, which makes him Vladimir Radmanovic's mortal enemy. His nickname, supposedly, is "The Machine", which was also Vladimir Radmanovic's nickname when he played sixth man for the Sonics. No word on who is involved with who's wife. He is actually 6'7", which he does not appear to be on television. Phil Jackson once called him an "11:00 a.m. player", as in "he's good in practice but sucks in games". Sasha cheers for the Kings and hates the Lakers because of fellow Former Yugoslavians Vlade Divac and Predrag Stojakovic.

Annoying rating: Very. Hair rating: 2. Potential to engage in a fight to the death with Vladimir Radmanovic: 10.

Luke Walton: Bill Walton's son. I bet you had no idea.

As always, e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com

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