Which Lakers would be good soccer players?
But the Lakers' four-game sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals pushed up their calendar quite a bit. Exit interviews took place in the middle of the postseason. The Lakers finalized their coaching search at the tail end of the conference finals. And the Lakers enter Memorial Day weekend having to sit through the hype surrounding the upcoming Heat-Mavericks NBA Finals.
One of the activities this weekend that could help ease some Lakers players' minds: the Champions League final Saturday between Barcelona and Manchester United. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum traveled to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Pau Gasol, a Spaniard, often roots for Barcelona and recently tweeted about the big game. And the Lakers took in an Arsenal-Chelsea game in London during their preseason European trip. That made me wonder who on the current Lakers roster would perform well on the pitch. Below are a few ideas.
Kobe Bryant -- This isn't just because Bryant is super competitive. He grew up playing soccer in Italy and once said he'd have continued playing the sport had he continued living there. Bryant's crafty footwork in the post would pay dividends in the open field.
Steve Blake -- Blake would be your ultimate setup man, using his shiftiness and ability to change direction to throw fullbacks off and then find a teammate for an open goal.
Shannon Brown -- Brown has tremendous athleticism and would rarely get tired running up and down the field. His weakness, however, might be his shot selection, with him firing long-distance shots from outside the box instead of playing patiently and making smart, deliberate passes.
Derek Fisher -- Fisher might not have the speed to play 90 minutes on the pitch, but he sure has perfected the art of flopping, er, taking a charge.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Manchester United practices at Wembley Stadium on May 27. Credit: Franck Fife / Getty Images