It's a decidedly "Bobby McFerrin" mood these days in Laker Land
There just ain't a whole helluva lot to stress about as we speak when it comes to the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Now mind you, I never said stressing is literally impossible for those dead set to burn time and energy picking nits. For example, it's become reasonably clear that a lineup of Sasha Vujacic, Adam Morrison, Josh Powell, DJ Mbenga and "Rotation Player X" might allow a 25 point lead to flatten out into the neighborhood of 14-ish. Does that constitute "disappointing?" That's a decision every fan must decide for his or herself, I suppose. Who am I, even a person as powerful as a blog host, to declare martial law on thought?
But having said that, it's impossible to label the issue "pressing," because the odds of Phil Jackson trotting out that lineup during a remotely important section of a remotely important game rank somewhere between "slim" and "Pulp Fiction screenwriter Roger Avary blowing his seriously cushy sentence for a fatal DUI accident by sending out inappropriate Tweets."
Oh, my bad. That actually did happen.
But with great fortune comes responsibility to maintain it, and in talking with the team, everyone is willing to concede they're playing well at the moment, but that could change in a heartbeat if the focus and execution becomes back burner material. Jackson puts the onus on himself, the coaching staff and co-captains Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher to enforce the proper perspective as things move along nicely. Even against a team as hapless as last night's victims from Soprano Land, adherence to the game plan is a must.
It's expected that Mamba would be among those chosen to set a business-like attitude during this recent walk through the lilies, given that whole "he's the best player on the team and arguably the planet" thing. But not every franchise's A-Lister necessarily relishes the chance to establish tone. Bryant does. Ron Artest has only been a Laker for a few months, but he's already sold on Kobe's whip cracking skills. "With Kobe's leadership, he's making it easy for us to focus on every possession," marveled Ron Ron. "He comes out the same way every game. Good team, bad team. He comes out trying to destroy them, so it carries over to the rest of us."
I didn't phrase particularly well my question to Artest about a preseason shoulder injury that some feel may have affected his free throw shooting technique, but he nonetheless sheds some light on the subject. He's also now not only copping to his scantily clad appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, but hoping to parlay that buzz into another gabfest sit down. The show in question remains up in the air and Artest may put it to a fan vote. Six words for the blogosphere: 710 ESPN Kamenetzky Brothers Lakers Podkast. It's not quite a "talk show," but we can wing it. Let Ron Ron hear the people's voice. Specifically a voice lobbying on our behalf.
Some more talk about winning teams and what it's like to experience to experience the ride while commandeering a bulldozer. By the way, I owe Artest an apology. I didn't recall those Pacers squad he referenced as quite so dominant, but checking the records, he's right. They were pretty good.
Like I said earlier, it's a train rolling down the tracks.
Kobe offered an amusing explanation on why he took eight shots from behind the arc last night against the Nets, which represents a decided bump over this average seventeen games into the season: "For the fun of it."
All joking aside, he did show up at the arena seeking improvement on the 18% he'd managed from downtown before last night, which sparked a day of sniper practice. But as I suspected, and Phil concurred in an earlier video, the issue wasn't so much Kobe "struggling" from outside but rather spending the majority of his time mid-range or closer and with his back to the bucket, which put him out of practice. Unless you're talking about a pure shooter, instantaneously finding that outside rhythm is a difficult task, even for a dude in ownership of the record for three point makes in a game. Give Kobe some warm up and time during a game, it's not surprising that success would follow
Phil shared thoughts on tomorrow's visiting New Orleans Hornets, plus the Jordan Farmar/Shannon Brown backup backcourt. In terms of items to watch from the post-Byron/sans-CP3 N'Awlins, Phil notes the solid play of rookie Darren Collison in Paul's absence, and a rise in offensive rebounds. As for the Laker reserve guards, PJ is generally pleased with their mutual energy, but remains aware of an obstacle continually in place and often difficult to hurdle: Youth.
"I think it's experience, more than anything else. It's time and understanding and I think we're trying to give them both."