Possible rookie duties for Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter
Once the Lakers break from their team huddle, the team goes its separate ways. Some go to the training room for treatment. Some linger and address media. And then others get a head start on the L.A. traffic. Rookies Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, however, are still in the gym.
They pick up towels and water bottles. They put the basketballs back on the rack. And they pick up any loose items on the gym and coaches' desk (Ebanks was so devoted during Wednesday's practice that he sneaked onto the court just as a whistle blew during a scrimmage to pick up a small piece of paper).
The Lakers didn't have any rookies last season, so they're enjoying the extra service ("There's no question it's great to have some rookies this year," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said). Ebanks and Caracter join a veteran-laden, two-time defending championship team, so they figure beyond their work ethic they have something to offer. ("Whatever they ask us to do," Caracter said. "We'll do them.")
Fisher wouldn't divulge what's in store for the rookies, and Caracter and Ebanks seemed hesitant to pitch any ideas for understandable reasons. So below the jump are a few that will help the team, while still preserving the rookies' dignity.
1. Treat the team to dinner -- It's pretty hard to live up to Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, who paid a nearly $55,000 tab for the entire football team. Ebanks and Caracter expressed relief when I relayed the news that Fisher said the team wouldn't put them through that. After all, Bryant reportedly footed that bill after refusing to carry Roy Williams' pads after a practice. Fisher did say that the two will pay for some dinners, though, so make sure to either hit up the ATM or verify that the credit card has enough of a balance.
2. Be a helpful travel agent -- Does a Laker need his luggage carried? Does a Laker need a wake-up call? Does a Laker need to order from room service? Ebanks and Caracter are their men. Did a Laker forget to bring toiletries, a charger for his iPod or enough socks? Caracter and Ebanks should stock up just in case. Just hand out business cards with your contact info on it so your teammates know how to reach you at any time of the day.
3. Buy and read "Sacred Hoops" -- Nothing will please the Zen Master more than showing a willingness to learn and master the triangle offense. It only helps that buying "Sacred Hoops" could put a little more dough in Phil Jackson's pocket. Caracter already took the first step, reading Jackson's "The Last Season." But I'm sure that wouldn't exactly go over well with Kobe.
4. Stock up on hair product for Sasha Vujacic-- Everyone on the team seems to tease Vujacic. When asked if he needs to make any adjustments this season to the NBA's new rule that officials will T up players for "overt" reactions to calls, Bryant joked to reporters that he'll tell "Sasha to shut ... up so I don't have to go to bat for him. Lakers forward Luke Walton joked that Vujacic received an extra tight jersey for this season. And Artest made it clear he's not a fan of Vujacic's denim line, even if he didn't see it. "They're probably really tight," Artest said. "I'm sure they're tight, European style."
Ebanks and Caracter don't have that luxury. Buy him plenty of hair product, because you never know if Vujacic will be needed for clutch free throws, such as in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Oh, and if Vujacic offers Ebanks and Caracter free jeans, they should accept them graciously.
4. Ghost write for Ron Artest-- Caracter and Ebanks are both hip-hop fans and have even had an ongoing debate on who's the better rapper: Tupac or Notorious B.I.G.? Caracter says Shakur wins hands down simply because of the number of albums he's dropped. Ebanks counters that Biggie has better flow, proving quality has more value than quantity. Their debate will never get resolved, but their rap knowledge could help translate into writing another rap song for Artest. Lakers fans will obviously want a sequel to "Champion" after the Lakers three-peat, right?
5. Buy a gift for the one-year anniversary of Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian: Artest said he couldn't afford a gift for Odom's anniversary. So now it's up to Ebanks and Caracter to make up for it. Both mentioned to me they couldn't afford such a lavish dinner as Bryant bought, so we don't want them to go bankrupt. After all, when I asked Artest why he didn't just buy Khloe something that was on sale, he said, "Khloe's not taking any sales." But there's got to be something special Ebanks and Caracter can snag from London or Barcelona that will make Khloe smile.
6. Be Kobe Bryant's student -- Jackson expressed uncertainty if Bryant will play at all in Europe because of his rehab efforts involving his right knee. So even if Bryant may not be up at ungodly hours in the gym, he will be up at ungodly hours watching film. Express interest in attending these sessions. You'll learn more about the game from one of the league's best and Bryant will have you in his good graces.
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