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Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Phil Jackson discuss 111-96 Game 4 victory over Utah Jazz

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Lakers forward Pau Gasol

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
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CONGRATS. ON THE EXPECTED NEW BABY HYACINTH – BANDWAGON
Hi folks! I've been MIA due to pregnancy but still lurk here but do not posts much since there are trolls that annoyed the crap out of me. I'm actually still pregnant but will be due soon hopefully before the finals hehehhe granted the Lakers get there.
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(01) MARK MEDINA – OWNER - hyacinth - congrats on your newborn and i just wanted to express my gratitude on you commenting and contributing to the conversation. I also wanted to personally introduce myself, Mark Medina. I've been running the blog since Jan. and I'm always open to feedback.
(02) GANAPIA – DRIVER - Make sure you have a good TV in the hospital as your baby doesn't want to miss the finals!!
(03) RICKY – RIDING SHOTGUN - Congrats Hyacinth
(04) #4
(05) MAMBA24 – Hyacinth I understand how the Trolls can make blogging some times a lill distasteful But we need your voice. So when the Blessed event comes and the newest Laker fan arrives, when you are up to it Come on back.
(06)

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Reporting From DEEP Behind Enemy Lines From The Sullen Gray Wastes Of Northeast Ohio As LeBroniacs Re-enact The Sister/Daughter Scene From "Chinatown" En Masse... Hey Whatever Gets You Through The Night...}

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IBZocFkXGY&feature=related

If there is a singular emotion that unites the experience of Ohio, I would define that as "disappointment."

Just yesterday I went on a long bike ride and spring was in verdant bloom. As I rode far from my home, I came upon a good-natured blue collar bar that I have visited and saw a few people I knew smoking outside. "That's how you do it!" One of the older white men said to me.

"I wish I would get off my butt and do that! It's such a beautiful day!"

And then we talked about how the weather here is so crappy that it becomes difficult to take advantage of good weather when it comes, the momentum of bunkering up inside becomes difficult to break.

I said, "You've just got to take advantage of it! Days like this don't come too often."

They agreed and said it wouldn't last and as I rode off, something in me didn't want to believe it. I thought, "Well, Spring is finally here! We'll get more good days like this! Actually, Ohio isn't so bad with all the greenery and flowers. If only we had some mountains and clean water, it would actually be nice."

And then reality stuck.

It froze last night and as I type to you I look out my windows at a cold, dark gray tapestry of wind and wet and foreboding. Ugh.

Anyhow... last night I was perched valiantly upon my lucky barstool watching our Lakers march to dominance. The bar was nearly vacated except for three LeBroniacs who watched the Lakers with trepidation.

"There's nothing stopping them from reaching the Finals," one murmured, his dim light fading.

As the topic invariably turned to the Cavs, the concensus became that there was no way that the Cavs/Celtics series wasn't going seven games and that whoever won probably wasn't going to get past the Magic.

"The Magic are playing like a machine. We're not."

People have ripped on Derek Fisher, but the disappointment people felt about Mo Williams was far more profound. "Nash is better than Rajon Rhondo. Deron Williams is MUCH better than Rajon Rhondo. This guy is putting up Wilt Chamberlain numbers!"

A helplessness fell about the discussion. It was that old familiar Ohio feeling: Impending doom.

After a year of new money smack talk and a culture literally built around a singular personality, that old familiar friend returned to the room wearing a dark gray hooded sackclothe and carrrying a large scythe... impending doom.

"He's leaving," one blurted out.

"I know," said another unblinking as he sipped his beer.

I said, "What do you mean?"

The bartender, arms folded, walked to me almost trembling with cynical, humorous disbelief, "DIDN'T YOU SEE THE PRESS CONFERENCE?"

"No."

"His MVP press conference! He said, 'Wherever my career takes me, Akron will always be my home?"

"REALLY?" I retorted, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah."

For those not interned here, let me express the weight of that phrase.

People talk about the Cleveland-Akron-Canton market as a singular entity, but its culturally really not. Much less so than a Los Angeles-Long Beach-Orange County market.

Akron, itself, is a pretty insular community. It doesn't consider itself to be "Cleveland." It's Akron. And at the bar I work at the large majority of people know two things: Akron and what they see on TV. That's it.

They don't visit Cleveland. They connect with their sports teams, but that's about it.

So that phrase, "Wherever my career takes me, Akron will always be my home," was interpretted by Akronians as the opening line in a "Dear John" letter.

"He wants to hang out with Jay Z," blurted out another LeBroniac.

"He's done," said the bartender with a sneer.

"I know," said the second LeBroniac at the bar.

The bartender almost twitching with anger continued, "You think that he's going to be protected if he goes to New York or Los Angeles like he is here? You think the media is not going to start asking questions about his mom and his kids and all that? His mom's going to return to drugs and end up dead. He's done! He's not going to be able to handle that scrutiny! It's going to tear him apart! He's done!"

A dark, grumbling silence filled the bar and our dark, hooded, scythe weilding friend took a seat at the bar. The bartender silently served him a complimentary beer, as he was a regular. Disappointment had returned to its home as all eyes quietly raised to flat screen TVs triumphing a three-pointer from Derek Fisher.

Outside the rain began to fall.

[Signing out.]

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!


A week off to heal? We got this.

SUNSET IS COMMING
Eight down eight to go, the switch has been flipped, I told you so
Thrillah is thrillah so you better beware, Kobe is once again flying in air
Gasol is busting out and Dfish is the glue, now aren’t you glad we kept the two
Next the Bench Mob will come on line, and then we go to put out some Sun shine
Nash, better play your best game, Kobes gonna get U, those are his MVP’s U claimed
Yeah you are a nice guy and all, But a 2 time MVP over Kobe, Hell naw
Its bad enough Princess Jimmy has 2, but just 1 for Kobe, just aint gone do.
If you & Amare play your best, You’ll still win, only 1 game or less
Sit back and plan your strategy, Won’t do no good, just ask Kobe
Mamba is mad, that’s a frightening thing, No way you going to win a Ring
So look at this as a farewell tour, Then take your behinds back to the sewer
Sorry for the meanness but Game Faces are on, very soon Suns you’ll be gone
You had your time now the Sun must set, It won’t hurt a bit don’t you fret
A whipping you are do, We’re the Freakin Champ Lakers who the hell R u

Jon K,

You are my sunshine.
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
when skies are gray

.....


Great post!

Maybe someone has said this before, but the player Gasol reminds me of the most is Kareem. A thin seven footer with a variety of moves, coordination, passing ability and gracefulness is rare. They both had it.
The player that Bynum reminds me of (and I hate to say it) is Joe Barry Carroll.
I know Carroll was criticized but he did have some skills. They just both seem to have the same demeanor.

Alright, Jon K, you've gone and made me sympathetic toward the Ohioan cause.

Grey reality aside, in a year of too big to fail, we now add too big to trade.

LeBronze HAS to win rings. The Nets will waste his prime trying to get to the second round. He could change the CLipper culture of defeat in one swipe of the pen, but they'd still be a downgrade from the team he's on.

I gotta believe he stays and annually battles D Howard et al for a ticket to play us in the Finals.

Kobe is MJ
Gasol is Kareem
Artest is Rodman
Bynum is JB Carroll
Fisher is Quinn Buckner
Who is Odom? I can't think of any player who is like LO.

Great win last night, a sweep was necessary!

Kobe and Pau played great last night, and so did their teammates. Everyone contributed to last night's win. Loved how we didnt give up fighting when the lead went down to 4pts. Loved how we fought off the crowd. Loved the way they played together last night. Now we get a very needed one week rest. It'll be good to heal everyone's lil aches and bruises.

We want REVENGE against the Suns!

Not sure if anyone shared this video of Kobe before, its called Ice in his veins.

http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/kobe/?

Pau Gasol should be Kareem, but with more skills, better BB IQ and great leadership. I think Pau is more like Wilt Chamberlain, but in this case, Gasol is a winner and Chamberlain were a losser, and that is a big diference between this both great players. Chamberlain´s T-Shirt is hanging in Staples up, Gasoll will be in the PALAU SANT JORDI de Barcelona, and maybe, Memphis Grizlies arena.

WE GOT THIS!
We got this and we want more, we got to prolong the time of Dynasty 4
Its not that we are greedy or vain, but winning titles are our claim to fame
Besides an appointment is coming due, That’s right Celtics we coming for you
If you ever beat Princess Jimmy & Superman, I really truly hope that you can
There’ will be no excuses this time, From what I can tell all your players feel fine
They won’t feel fine when we get thru, We gonna put KG in a wheel chair too
I’m sorry we have to do this Doc, But your teams world we gonna Rock
By the time the series is over, you’ll need the luck of a 4 leaf clover
To ever appear in the playoffs again, So go back to sleep in your dank dark den
And take that bald headed lunatic too, For him years of therapy are due
EastCoastJessie this win’s also for you, For putting up with years of Boston fools

PREACH JON K, PREACH...OUT FREAKIN STANDING SIR!!
Mamba24


LeBron continued: the Akron bartender is right about the press, but:

We've watched Tiger's fall from grace, LeBron is bigger, the fall wouldn't be harder. He's ringless, unmarried and not walkin' in corporate golf circles.

From Wilt to Worthy to Magic, to Mike, to Kobe, the viewing public has come to expect the transgressions of NBA players.

GOOD MORNING CRUE': Jon k, Rdleee, VMan, J24, HobbitmAge
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EIGHT DOWN & EIGHT TO GO - BANDWAGON
X,X, X, X, X, X, X, X, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HIT IT LAKER TOM! PARADE TIME!!!
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(01) MAMBA24 - TEMP. OWNER
(02) JUSTANOTHERMAMBA24 - DRIVER
(03) LAKERTOM - RIDING SHOTGUN
(04) # 4 sECURITY

@J24...OUT FREAKIN STANDING!
Thanks J24, i definitely would have missed the Link
Mamba24

For now, that is the situation awards in Playoff.

1.- Best Point Guard: Pau Gasol, running the point from the PF and C position, both.

2.- Best Shotting guard: Pau Gasol, with his midrange shoots, very effectives.

3.- Bes Power Forward: Pau Gasol, b/c he can rebounding, shooting, blocking, and make greats steals and breaks.

4.- Best Center. Period.

5.- Best leadership: CHECK

Pau Gasol = Player "ALL IN ONE".

Yes, I'm on board for the 8 down 8 to go bandwagon!
8 wins in a row and we break our own record for most consecutive playoff wins (13).

I have a question for everybody:

Who is better Pau Gasol or Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russer together??? Obviously with this matchup comparation, Shaq is pure garbage.

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CONGRATS. ON THE EXPECTED NEW BABY HYACINTH – BANDWAGON
Hi folks! I've been MIA due to pregnancy but still lurk here but do not posts much since there are trolls that annoyed the crap out of me. I'm actually still pregnant but will be due soon hopefully before the finals hehehhe granted the Lakers get there.
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(01) MARK MEDINA – OWNER - hyacinth - congrats on your newborn and i just wanted to express my gratitude on you commenting and contributing to the conversation. I also wanted to personally introduce myself, Mark Medina. I've been running the blog since Jan. and I'm always open to feedback.
(02) GANAPIA – DRIVER - Make sure you have a good TV in the hospital as your baby doesn't want to miss the finals!!
(03) RICKY – RIDING SHOTGUN - Congrats Hyacinth
(04) #4
(05) MAMBA24 – Hyacinth I understand how the Trolls can make blogging some times a lill distasteful But we need your voice. So when the Blessed event comes and the newest Laker fan arrives, when you are up to it Come on back.
(06) FEARLESS - Oh, please do throw me onto the Hyacinth bandwagon without any further ado. Hers is a voice that we absolutely need here, when the bun is ready, of course.
(07) EDWIN GUECO - Declared my vacation last night but came back just to greet Hyacinth forthcoming baby Laker fan. Cheers and God speed. Once you get into labor, don't hate your husband, just yell on the top of your lungs - GO LAKERS...more repeat are coming. lol!
(08)
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*
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EIGHT DOWN & EIGHT TO GO - BANDWAGON
X,X, X, X, X, X, X, X, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HIT IT LAKER TOM! PARADE TIME!!!
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(01) MAMBA24 - TEMP. OWNER
(02) JUSTANOTHERMAMBA24 - DRIVER
(03) LAKERTOM - RIDING SHOTGUN
(04) # 4 - SECURITY
(05) RDLEE - SEARGENT AT ARMS - Yes, I'm on board for the 8 down 8 to go bandwagon! 8 wins in a row and we break our own record for most consecutive playoff wins (13).
(06) FEARLESS
(07) JOVBATZZ44


Time to start discussing beating the SUNS!! woooo
Oh man am I ever pumped up for the Western Conference Finals!! Lakers vs Suns and both teams just swept their round two opponent!! Unheard of! I can’t wait to see this get under way, but I think the size of the Lakers will be the difference just like it was against Utah… here is proof with a preview: http://www.lionsdenu.com/nba-playoffs-western-conference-final-los-angeles-lakers-vs-phoenix-suns/
It’d be nice to see Nash finally get to the Finals but the Lakers are just too good. They have it all, coaching, star talent, bench, the list goes on…

IT’S ON FOLKS!!!
SALT LAKE CITY – It doesn’t matter to Kobe Bryant(notes) that three years have passed and he’s won a championship since then. He has a long memory. And just the mere mention of the Phoenix Suns brings a spark to his eyes.The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their third straight Western Conference finals by sweeping the Utah Jazz with a 111-96 victory on Monday night. Next up are the Phoenix Suns, whom the Lakers have beaten seven times in nine games since acquiring Pau Gasol(notes). But that doesn’t matter to Bryant. When asked if he recalled that the Suns knocked the Lakers out of the postseason during their last two meetings in 2006 and ’07, Bryant’s eyes filled with disdain.) “What do you think? You already know,” Bryant said, staring through his questioner. “They have a great combo, they have that two-man combo in Nash and Amar’e and their screen-and-roll situations are phenomenal,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We think that we have a good combination in Pau and Kobe and we’re going to try and match that.” “They got just about everything you want,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of the Lakers. “They got experience. They got guys that are long and big and can play inside. Gasol can go inside and outside with his game and he’s a terrific passer. They got all the size. They got a lot of guys that can pass the ball. That’s a tremendous asset for any team, and plus those guys have been in big games. They came out [Monday] and they put it on us tough. They’re tough to deal with and they put us out of sync because their defense is so good. Every shot you get is tough. They make you earn it. That’s why they won the championship.” With the Lakers expected to be heavy favorites, the Suns seem to have everything to gain and nothing to lose as they try to make the Finals for the first time since 1993. But don’t tell that to Bryant. Judging from the ferocity in his eyes, you’d think the Lakers were the underdog with something to prove.


BILL PLASHKE …OUT FREAKIN STANDING
It was a sweep, all right. The Lakers swept this doubter completely off his feet, reduced me to a pillar of salt, knocked me directly into a setting Suns. Before watching the Lakers take the court against the Utah Jazz for the fourth game of a 3-0 playoff series Monday, I figured the ensuing Western Conference finals would be a regular Nash pit. I figured wrong. The Phoenix Suns have no chance. Anybody who watched the Lakers tear apart the NBA's most synchronized team on its most important night at its ear-bending home would agree.
Anybody who watched the Lakers become the first team to ever sweep the Jazz in a best-of-seven series with a 111-96 victory could not argue. Maybe not even the Suns. You know they were watching. But their star Steve Nash could only witness it on television with one eye shut. I saw it in person with 19,000 surprised fans screaming. Trust me, little dude, it was harsher than it looked. In terms Nash will understand, this wasn't just a sweep, it was a sandstorm. As trailers go, this one previewed all the good parts. The Lakers were nothing the Jazz could handle. The Lakers were everything the Suns are not. "The perfect time to play hard, the perfect time to play better ... and now the perfect time to have six days off," said Ron Artest, smiling, pausing. "It's beautiful." Beautiful, for some. The Suns probably walked away from Monday's game thinking beastly. The Lakers played big. Even with Andrew Bynum tied behind their back, they played big. Pau Gasol hair big. Phil Jackson whistle big. Lamar Odom smile big. Phoenix is not big. Amare Stoudemire averaged 20 points and nine rebounds against the Lakers this season, but he has little banging help inside. "It's Stoudemire and Frye ... is it Frye?" asked Artest. Yeah, not much strength there, it will basically be Stoudemire matched against Gasol, Odom and the rested knee of Bynum, and it won't even be close. Monday was about muscle, and for all their newfound tenacity, the Suns still don't have that muscle. The Suns don't have Gasol spinning through the Jazz defense for a reverse layup that was such a piece of art, Gasol held up his hand for several long seconds afterward in triumph. Gasol wound up with 33 points and 14 rebounds,. The Suns don't have Bynum blocking Carlos Boozer, then blocking Ronnie Price, two plays that showed he can dominate if he just stays determined. The Suns don't have Odom darting inside for a dunk attempt on which he was fouled, nailing a three-pointer during a Jazz comeback in the third quarter, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds and six free throws, more active each game. "We have to take advantage of their size," Odom said of Phoenix. "We have to slow them down, and that starts inside." The Suns don't have the kind of power that can overcome a defense that held the Jazz to three baskets in 19 attempts in a first-half stretching, the Lakers outscoring the Jazz by 21 points during that time, stealing it early. " I know they have a little problem guarding the post, so we're just being aggressive,'' said Gasol. Save that quote. You will read it again beginning next week. The Suns, incidentally, also don't have anyone to consistently take the brunt of Bryant's drives, because he's driving again, his fearlessness back, his flexibility back, his teammates along for the ride. Bryant scored 32 points, his fourth consecutive Good Kobe game of this series, and did the Suns hear this warning? "I feel healthy," said Bryant. "That's the big difference." The Lakers also showed toughness in geography, this basic group closing out their fourth consecutive playoff series on the road for the first time in club history, the first two series this year and the final two series last year. On to Phoenix, where the competition will be more furious, but the outcome will be the same, Lakers in five. Oklahoma City reminded them what it was like to play desperate. Utah reminded what it was like to play strong. Phoenix can do little to make them forget.

Nice jacket, Kobe. Looking all GQMF. :)

And Nash & Stoudemaire cannot hold a candle to Kobe & Pau. Bring on the Suns!

Jon, that was absolutely awesome. Write a novel, something darkly comedic and subversive, and set it in Akron. Then leave that place.

Jon K,

Fantastic! I actually do feel sorry for those folks.

As for the Suns, respect, but no fear. SWEEP!!!

Jon,
that was absolutely awesome.
Write a novel, something darkly comedic and subversive, and set it in Akron. Then leave that place.
Posted by: dave m | May 11, 2010 at 10:16 AM
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ditto

Thank you Mamba24 for the pregnancy bandwagon! i feel so honored! Thanks to all who congratulated me such as Fearless, Zaira, Edwin etc. Now let's beat up the Suns!

Thank you Mamba24 for the pregnancy bandwagon! i feel so honored! Thanks to all who congratulated me such as Fearless, Zaira, Edwin etc. Now let's beat up the Suns!
Posted by: hyacinth | May 11, 2010 at 10:50 AM
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Hey you're family you deserve it. Best Wishes !

>>>Who is better Pau Gasol or Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russer together???
>>>Obviously with this matchup comparation, Shaq is pure garbage.

You've heard of Sleepless in Seattle? Well now we have Clueless in Catalan.

Assuming you mean Bill Russell (as opposed to some Bill Russer, who we haven't heard of), Pau is nowhere close. Not. Even. Close.

Same with Shaq.

Look. Let's make this clear. There are different levels of players in the history of the NBA. I'll keep it fairly simple:

1. Bench Warmers. Players like DJ MBenga. These guys got a job in the NBA because they were very tall and could move without tripping over their own feet. But the only time they get in a game is in a complete blowout or if there is an injured player and the team is desperate to just put a body on the floor for a couple of minutes. If the team is up by 20 or down by 20, then they'll get a few minutes. They will get a little bit of fan appreciation, but more like a mascot than a player. People go crazy when they hit a shot or do something else positive in the game, as it's unexpected.

2. Role Players. Guys like Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic. These guys have some skill that makes them a notch above bench warmers. Luke's passing or Sasha's 3-point shooting and harassing defense, for example. On a really bad roster, players of this caliber may even get a chance to start (see Luke in 2006). And sometimes they'll have a great game or two here and there that win them some fond rememberance (e.g. Sasha getting Carmello ejected for choking him, or Sasha scoring 20 to help win a finals game vs Boston, or Trevor Ariza stealing the inbounds pass vs Denver).

3. Starters. Andrew Bynum falls into this category. They're good enough players that they would start on most teams in the league. They contribute regularly to the team's success, both in the regular season and the playoffs. They generally get 30+ minutes a game, and don't get yanked off the floor if they take a bad shot or make a turnover (role players are a lot more likely to get yanked). They're not quite consistent enough to make the All-Star team, but on a good night they play as well as the best players in the league.

4. All-Stars. Here I'm not just referring to the guys who made the team, but those who came close more than once and probably deserved the honor. I'd consider Byron Scott an All-Star as a player. These guys play hard night in and night out and usually lead the team in something (BScott led the team in 3-point shooting several times and led the Lakers in scoring once). Note that there are some All-Stars who played at a high level for one or two years and stunk it up much of the rest of their careers - Stephon Marbury is an All-Star. You generally need at least two All-Stars (whether they actually make the All-Star team that year or not) to win a championship. The ideal balance is one All-Star post player and one All-Star wing player. All-Star calibre players often lead the league in something, or are at least near the top in several stats.

Pau is an All-Star.


5. Legends. Players who played at All-Star level for MANY seasons, not just one or two. They'll usually have at least one or two MVPs to their name (either regular season, All-Star, or NBA Finals). They've generally been at or near the top of one or more stats lists for several seasons. They sell the most jerseys, and their opponents sell out home games where they play, because people in other cities come to the game to see them play. Their names come up in discussions about the greatest X of all time (greatest scorer, greatest shot blocker, greatest rebounder, etc.). Kobe is already a legend.

So here's the deal. Currently, Pau is an All-Star. But you comparing him to legends like Russell and Chamberlain and Shaq is ridiculous. He's had a couple of good seasons, but nowhere near the body of work of those big men. Russell and Chamberlain and Shaq are all legends, and nobody here will dispute that fact.

There is a chance that one day Pau will become a legend. If he sticks with Kobe and both of them stay healthy (and especially if Bynum can get healthy and stay healthy), then I'll pretty much guarantee it. With some persistence and luck, I could see Pau getting up to the level of respect of guys like Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.

But it would take another Pau raising his game to another level and keeping it there for several years to be at the level of Russell and Chamberlain and Shaq.

As for another couple of borderline Lakers - I'd currently call Fish a role player, but his playoff success may eventually win me over that he's a Starter. Lamar is currently a Starter, but if he works hard and improves his consistency just a little, I think he could be an All-Star. Powell, MBenga, and Morrison are all Bench Warmers. Morrison might have the chance to work his way up to Role Player, but I doubt it. Sasha, Luke, Jordan, and Shannon are all Role Players. Of those I think it's possible Jordan or Shannon could make the move up to Starter level, but it will take a lot of work. Sasha and Luke are too far along in their careers - I think they'll end up as Role Players, like they are now.

Can Bynum make it up to All-Star level? or maybe Legend level? Don't know, but I hope so. He's going to have to stay healthy for a few seasons to do it, and each year with the injuries piling up, that's looking less likely. But when he's been fully healthy the last couple of years, he is a game changer. He's the great question mark on the Lakers.

Jon K: Master of the Post Noir.

I can see the film: Black and white of course, with a slight splash of color...maybe the beer in the glasses or the red (guessing here) covering of the Lucky Barstool.

The door opening and outside a black mist is gathered. Emerging from the mist is the hooded figure of despair. The murmuring discussion of LBJ's departures ceases only long enough to acknowledge the familiar visitor's entrance.

Yeah, what a film it would make...though, we might need to insert an old guy with a mop.

JR

LTLF,

Do you think that if Pau had come into the NBA as a Laker or Spur that he would already be nearing the Legend category? Didn't carrying the Grizzlies hurt his status progression? No sarcasim here, these are real questions from me. Remember, I have been told (by a certain MIA troll) that I know nothing about the NBA :)

JR

Jolly Rancher,

Quite possibly. Let's concoct a scenario.

What if teams were still more reluctant to draft international players in 2001. Tony Parker did slip to the 28th pick, to the Spurs, who had the best record in the league, so let's stretch things just a bit and imagine Pau slipped to the #27 seed that year, where the Lakers were picking.

We all know how little Phil trusts rookies, so Pau probably would have started the 2001-2002 season backing up Shaq. He'd probably have gotten no minutes at PF, with Rick Fox and Robert Horry getting those minutes, but by Mid-season, I'm sure he would have taken up Samaki Walker's minutes at backup C.

Because of the limited minutes, he wouldn't have won rookie of the year, and his first 2 or 3 years would have been as a bench player behind Shaq. He'd probably get to shine a few games a year, while Shaq was out with injuries, but mostly, he'd play 20-25 minutes off the bench. He'd have gotten a championship his first season, but not as a major contributor.

Then when Shaq walked away in 2004, Pau would step into the limelight.

In the trade situation, the Lakers would no longer HAVE to get a big man back to replace Shaq, since by then it would be clear that Pau could do the job. So if the Miami deal went through, it would be Odom and Butler and someone other than Brian Grant.

That would have given the Lakers a core of Kobe, Pau, Lamar, and Caron Butler, and without Grant's huge albatross contract, they would have had money to spend on a PG sooner.

So Pau's jump up to the starter level would have been delayed if the came to a team with a Legend starter at center and a coach who doesn't like to play rookies. But the new Kobe/Pau era would have started a year or two sooner. They might already have two or three rings by this time, and Pau might already be at legend status.

But there's another risk. Some really talented players fizzle out if they don't get a chance to play and flourish right away. My poster child for this is Ed O'Bannon. I'd put him on a talent level with Lamar Odom, but perhaps with a bit better shooting touch. Played for the last UCLA Bruin team to win a championship, and Ed O'Bannon was the MVP of that final four and the Wooden Award winner. In the NCAA Championship game vs Arkansas, he scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Multi-talented player.

But O'Bannon got drafted by New Jersey and didn't get much PT and then got traded to Dallas and didn't get much PT, and got traded to Orlando and dumped. He had coaches who would pull him at the least mistake because they had enough depth not to need to play a talented rookie. And of course, with the limited minutes came self-doubt and losing of self-confidence and worse play.

O'Bannon was out of the league in 2 seasons. He played several years in Europe, but he never really got a chance to just play in the NBA.

Pau going to a weak Memphis squad was a blessing. It meant that his coach would play him whether he played great or messed up. He'd get a chance to work through his early mistakes in the league very quickly and work to improve.

If Pau had come to the Lakers, there's a chance he would have gone out like Ed O'Bannon. 2 or 3 years riding the bench behind Shaq and getting jerked out of the game like Farmar every time he made a bad play. If that happened to Pau, it wouldn't surprise me if he had gone back to Europe rather than continuing in the NBA.

So what team you start out with can be a blessing or a curse or both.

LTLF

you speak about Shaq/Magic era as a NBA legend???

you speak about Kobe as NBA legend, with or without a real superplayer as truly superstar (Shaq early, Gasol now)

We can think that legend is about retired players (Magic, Kareem, RuseLL, Chamberlain, Bird and Mchale) Right now obviuously Pau is not in this category, but you should think that Pau Gasol is a International champion (in Europe and USA) The others no, only become champions in USA (his country, his language, his culture.....) For me, Pau Gasol has much more chance and merits to become a LEGEND than Kobe (all his entire career playing for the same team) Magic, Kareem Rusell, Chamberlein, Bird and Mchale never have playing in Europe, or Asia..... Ever in USA. Easy for everybody.

PAU GASOL is UNIVERSAL.

Jon K.,

You know I live for the report from behind enemy lines. Awesome as usual!

longtimelakerfan> you put the discussion in proper perspective.
jon in acron >well done and that was before cavs were humiliated on their home court...oh dear


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