Handing out Laker Academy Awards
Somewhere between the Lakers' 90-87 victory Sunday over the Oklahoma City Thunder and what could've passed for an NBA All-Star game in the Knicks-Heats match-up, basketball fans may have clicked the remote control a few times to sneak in a few minutes of the Oscars.
"The King's Speech" won four Oscars, including best picture, while "The Social Network" missed out on most of the big awards. And when Natalie Portman won best actress for "Black Swan," Laker fans may have thought of Pau Gasol -- who was told by Kobe Bryant to be a "black swan" and then stepped up his aggressiveness this month.
If only there were an awards season for the Lakers. Oh wait, that usually happens in June. But in light of the 83rd Academy Awards happening Sunday at Kodak Theatre, I thought it timely to hand out a few of my own. And I'm not going for the obvious, including best director (Phil Jackson), best actor (Kobe Bryant) or original screenplay (2010 NBA championship). Here are a few Laker-centric nominations:
Best supporting actor: Lamar Odom. We're not talking about his work in his upcoming reality show, which would likely cause a few eye rolls among academy members. We're talking about Odom's consistency, with his 22 double doubles and overall reliability. No doubt, Bryant and Gasol have put up better numbers, earned All-Star bids and had more influence in the Lakers' victories. Throughout the season, however, Odom has been steady in his performance while everyone around him has played like a wave.
Best visual effects: Usually Lakers guard Shannon Brown would win this award hands down. Although he wants to be known as more than just a dunker, well, his shooting percentage has dipped, but he's still provided plenty of plays that show he's much better than his performance in the 2010 NBA dunk contest. Heck, even rookie forward Devin Ebanks could get in the mix for some of the alley-oop lobs he threw down Tuesday against Atlanta. But this honor goes to Bryant for his dunk over LeBron James in the 2010 NBA All-Star game. It was a great symbol of Bryant's relentless desire to stay on top of the game.
Costume design: Sorry, Kobe. Not every statue handed to you is going to be complimentary. That's because your photo shoot in the L.A. Times Magazine sparked punchlines from fans, teammates and Jackson. This isn't an award you'd want to put next to your five championship rings.
Best documentary: Usually the Lakers have plenty of cameos, whether it's Bryant on "Modern Family" or Gasol in "CSI: Miami" or Luke Walton's legendary of "Life With Luke," That means by default I would hand this award to Andrew Bynum for his work on "Celebrity Sweat." But I can't bring myself to doing that, either. The irony of Bynum having a workout video is fairly obvious because of his extensive injury history with the Lakers. A representative for the company told me weeks ago that that was why Bynum was a good candidate: He could speak with authority on how to overcome injuries. But that's ridiculous. Although I've credited Bynum for fighting through his knee injury during the 2010 NBA playoffs and recognize the value of his presence, that argument falls flat for me. It only raises questions about injury prevention. I'll stick with Bryant's six-minute movie titled "The Black Mamba," a Robert Rodriguez-directed film that helped promote Bryant's new Nike sneaker, the Zoom Kobe VI. Great humor and action.
Best original song: Blame it on my interest in rap music, but I narrowed it down to Ron Artest's "Champion" and "Purp & Yellow" featuring the Game and Snoop Dogg. Game and Snoop Dogg would win in virtually any rap battle over Artest. But Ron Ron's single was recorded hours after his heroics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Snoop predicts a Lakers' three-peat for this season. That hasn't happened yet, so this award goes to Ron Ron.
Best film editing: One of Jackson's pastimes is inserting clips into film edits to help break up the monotony. Jackson slipped Odom's commercial touting his unisex fragrance, Unbreakable, into a recent film session. Odom got some ribbing from teammates, and Artest at least apparently bought a bottle. He sprayed a reporter with the fragrance, but the timing wasn't that great. It was after the Lakers' double-digit loss two weeks ago to Charlotte, when the team didn't seem very unbreakable.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: "Black Swan's" Natalie Portman accepts the Oscar for best actress, Feb. 27, 2011. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times