NBA Lockout: Possible jobs for Laker players
If it ever got to the point of NBA players standing in line at the unemployment office, it's a clear sign that their confidence in the league lockout ending anytime soon is next to zero and that they clearly don't know how to handle their finances.
Regardless of whether you favor the league's front office and ownership or the players' union in this debate, we're talking about million-dollar athletes here. So even if they wind up missing a few paychecks, it's unlikely they'll be experiencing the same plight as the estimated 14 million in this country who are currently unemployed. Still, just for the sake of using our imagination, there are a few jobs I could see some of the Lakers performing should a lockout persist and the thoughts of playing overseas proves not worth the risk of injury. Below the jump are some of those ideas.
Kobe Bryant: Consultant. Bryant doesn't provide us with much insight on what his career path might have been had he not become such a great basketball player. In fact, The Times' Melissa Rohlin asked him that very question in a pretty entertaining interview last season. But his answer was both funny and non-revealing: "I have no idea. I'd be a bum."
That's hard to imagine considering that Bryant made an estimated $53 million last year according to Forbes, which touted him 14th in its world's most powerful celebrities list. Bryant surely could channel his competitive instincts somewhere even beyond the athletic realm. That's where a consultant role would come in. There'd be nothing more intimidating and effective than having Bryant, the consummate workaholic, evaluate how efficiently a company is being run. Just like he's done with his numerous injuries and high basketball mileage, Bryant will find innovative ways to ensure companies stay productive and competitive through economic hardships.
Pau Gasol: Doctor. Had Gasol not played professional basketball, he certainly would be in the medical field. Growing up and idolizing Magic Johnson, the revelation that the Laker great had been diagnosed with HIV spurred Gasol to get into the medical field in hopes of finding a cure for AIDS. That soon took a back seat to basketball, but Gasol, a former medical student at the University of Barcelona, has kept involved with his secondary passions. He has an official partnership with Childrens Hospital and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, stops that prove to be more than just a public relations ploy filled with photo opportunities. He serves as a Spanish ambassador to UNICEF on behalf of the fight against HIV/AIDS and witnessed a spinal surgery.
Andrew Bynum: Handyman. Whether it's working on his computers, his various cars or video games, Bynum's a self-professed tech-geek. Bynum told Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins in a recent profile that at a young age he often cracked open telephones to examine the circuitry and then put them back together. He installed Microsoft Windows on broken laptops. And he hoped to become a computer programmer.
Bynum could find a lucrative career in his previous aspiration, but he doesn't need to limit himself. Whether you're having a problem with your stereo equipment, engine or just want to see a 7-foot basketball player fix stuff, Bynum should be everyone's go-to handyman.
Ron Artest: Temp employee: If anything, a locked-out NBA season has made Artest even busier because it allows him to do all those things that both endear Laker fans to him because of his funny antics and frustrate Laker fans because of the additional distractions. Artest hasn't had trouble keeping himself busy. He began filming a reality series titled "Last-Second Shot," in which he visit inmates at correctional facilities. He just appeared at the Hollywood Improv where he performed stand-up comedy. And he requested that his name be legally changed to "Metta World Peace."
Knowing Ron-Ron, it wouldn't be surprising if he applied to Best Buy, much like he did when he played in Chicago so he could receive a discount on video games. Since it is the summertime, it also wouldn't be surprising if Artest took up Mark Cuban's offer to work at Dairy Queen so he could learn how to make the nifty swirls. The only downside to Artest's ongoing ventures is if he'd lose interest in holding on a job for more than a week because he'd become bored. The upside, however, involves the fact you never know what job he'll dabble in next.
Derek Fisher: Spokesman. It'd be a horrible public relations move on Fisher's part should be pick up another job since, you know, he's president of the National Basketball Players Assn. and is in the middle of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. But you only have to hear him speak in interviews to know he could serve as a spokesman for any company.
Lamar Odom: Taste-tester. Sure, Odom can bank on the fact that his wife, Khloe Kardashian, has enough of a brand to keep Odom involved in endless reality shows, tacky products (unisex fragrance, anyone?) and anything else the Kardashian family comes up with to expand their product line. Odom also is heavily involved with Rich Soil clothing. But not all Laker fans like the reality television world Odom lives in outside of basketball. But they do love him as "the Candy Man," the self-professed sweets addict who eats it for most of his meals. OK, so that commentary is mostly overblown. Odom often ate fruit before and during games for the past two seasons. But no one would be more qualified to be a taste-tester for new candy products than Odom. Heck, if anything, he'd actually do it for free.
Matt Barnes: Tattoo artist. With ink covering nearly every part of his body, Barnes has surely picked up by now how to draw body art with needles. The next task involves finding people who want as many tattoos as Barnes has. Given the creativity and detail surrounding some of his ink work, there's no doubt Barnes would have plenty of ideas.
Luke Walton: Road manager. Assuming Walton isn't already tied up with Joey's Smokin BBQ, Walton would be the perfect guy to be a band's roadie. Laker fans may just know Walton as the guy who eats up the Lakers' payroll with a two-year, $11.46-million contract remaining. But many on the team know Walton as the positive, hard-working and fun-loving guy that everyone likes. Given his enthusiasm for the likes of the Grateful Dead, Walton would be the perfect roadie. Plus, he wouldn't have to worry about getting hurt in this gig.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Players' union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after meeting with NBA team representatives in New York a few weeks ago. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press / June 30, 2011
Photo: Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant and Clippers' guard Eric Gordon battle for a loose ball on Oct. 27, 2009. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.
Photo: Ron Artest, the Lakers forward who may one day be better known as Metta World Peace, made his comedy debut Friday night at the Improv Hollywood. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)