New 710 ESPN Lakers podkast, plus a QOTD
The newest bit of ear pleasure, plus a tri-pronged Question of the Day. But first, I'll play deejay...
Part I: We discuss items like Andrew Bynum's rebounding woes (a hot topic in our and other corners of the cyberspace universe), the Lakers' struggles while shooting from distance and Kobe Bryant's game-winning jumper against the Milwaukee Bucks, which he swished while sporting a honkin' split on his right index finger. Kobe says this is the most difficult injury he's ever played through. We speculate what would be even tougher. Perhaps his hands mutating into some kind of hideous flipper. (All apologies to any pinniped that happens to be a loyal reader.)
Part II: A conversation with NBA TV analyst and former NBA great Steve Smith about Kobe's evolution as a scoring machine and the Lakers from top to bottom. Plus, Darko Milicic's inability to picture an NBA career beyond this season, the Blazers' inability to stay healthy, and Lil' Wayne's inability to move real estate.
And as noted earlier, there is a QOTD sparked by the poddy's first part.
We've grown so accustomed to Kobe Bryant playing hero at the buzzer, playing through injury, or in the case of the winner against the Bucks, both. We've discussed these moments every which way from Sunday. There's nary a stone left unturned when it comes to Kobe's greatest hits. I don't even know what's left to say, really, beyond simply recognizing and appreciating how incredible the Mamba is.
But for some reason, that bucket got me thinking about my younger days playing sports, which certainly weren't in the same stratosphere in terms of level (I peaked in high school) and achievement. But that doesn't mean they never mattered to me. or that they don't provide vivid memories 20+ years later. Or that I don't ever picture what Kobe must feel like at the top of the mountain. And I imagine most of you are in the same boat.
Thus, I pose a three part query...
-What is the best play you ever made in sports, whether at the little league, high school, college, or, if you happened to be that good, the pro level? And have you ever made a game-winning play?
-What's the worst injury you ever played through?
-How much would you give to make a game winning shot for the Los Angeles Lakers?
My answers, in respective order...
-The best play I ever made happened during my junior year of high school football. It was a line of scrimmage solo tackle that forced a fumble that I immediately jumped on and recovered. I nearly ruined the sequence with an ill-advised attempt at a run back in traffic, which lasted all of about two steps before I was leveled. Thankfully, I didn't lose the ball. (My coach's reaction: "Great play, Andy. If you ever do it again, you're benched for the entire season.")
-As for a game winning play, during freshman football, I ran down a guy returning a kickoff with nothing but daylight between him and the end zone. How I managed to catch this kid is beyond me (dude was seriously fast and I started from almost the other side of the field) but we ended up winning by less than a TD, so in a roundabout way, that saved the game. A bit of a stretch, admittedly, since there was at least a good half of football to go when my play happened. But that's the closest I recall coming.
-Also football related, I played with slightly cracked ribs for a few weeks because I wanted to stay in the starting lineup for the game against our big rival season's end. Ironically, I broke my wrist in the game heading into that one, so I had to miss it. But the good news is I still have occasional aches ion that area of the rib cage. In retrospect, not worth the trouble or pain endured.
-I'd easily give up two week's salary to hit a game winner as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. During a playoff game, make it a month. Done. No brainer. Yes, 15-30 days of Ramen noodles and having to lie to my wife about why I'm eating said Ramen noodles wouldn't be fun, but just knowing what it feels like to succeed on such a big stage as a member of such a big franchise more than makes up for the inconvenience. And queasiness.