Sunday, May 07, 2006

I hate to admit this, but...

Next year's Lakers could very well be this year's Knicks. Allow me to introduce them...

At 6'6", from Lower Merion High School, #8 -- Kobe Bryant

a.k.a. Stephon Marbury -- The scoring guard who fluctuates between involving his teammates and jacking up shots like night and day (or like regular season and playoffs). They're worth a lot of money and make a lot of nice quotes for the local newspapers, might give themselves a catchy nickname (like "Starbury" or "Black Mamba"), but the fact that they can never fully trust their teammates clearly affects their ability to win.

... at 6'10", from Rhode Island, #7 -- Lamar Odom

a.k.a. Channing Frye -- The big man who is prone to play really well, either driving to the basket for tough lay-ups (more so Odom) or hitting jumpers (more so Frye). Both are blessed with a great combination of size, speed and power, being able to dominate games at times. When one considers that a trade or 2 is necessary for the team to improve, and also that in order to acquire a good player you need to give up a good player as well, it leads to the touchy subject of whether or not they are in fact tradeable (though their days are easily numbered if Kevin Garnett is in the equation).

... at 6'4", from Fordham, #1 -- Smush Parker

a.k.a. Steve Francis -- Can dunk the FUCK out of the ball when they get the opportunity, but the only thing they do consistently is be inconsistent. Both streaky shooters, likely to average 15 points per game by getting 3 and 18 points a game each consecutively. [Now, clearly not all of these comparisons are accurate in regards to talent, as Kobe is much better than Marbury, maybe to the level that Francis is better than Smush. But I'm merely making comparable observations between each, and I think that the discrepancies in talent pretty much cancel each other out in the end.]

... at 6'10", from Glynn Academy High School, #54 -- Kwame Brown

a.k.a. Eddy Curry -- The big man with a "Butterfinger's" problem, except while Eddy eats them, Kwame has them. They can make free throws and score in the post, but never simultaneously. Both skipped college and likely regret everything about that decision except that they're rich (how nice it must be to stand at nearly 7 feet tall). To be fair, Eddy's passing game makes Kwame look like John Stockton.

... at 6'8", from Augsburg
[WHERE?], #3 -- Devean George

a.k.a. Quentin Richardson -- The stocky swingman who'll pull off a 1-handed rebound or a highlight dunk (see above) every now and then to make it look like they're worth more than they really are. They'll make a lot of jumpers, when they're not missing a lot of jumpers. Both also have impressive ties to the world of urban music -- Richardson used to date Brandy, and George looks like Ice Cube.

... at 6'8", from Arizona, #4 -- Luke Walton

a.k.a. Jalen Rose -- Like Kwame and Eddy, can have a good inside game or a good outside game but never on the same night. Both deceivingly good ball-handlers and passers, but the speed at which they move on the court makes it look like they blaze fat in between quarters. [Not too many pics of Jalen in his Knicks uni, considering he's only spent about half a season there. But honestly, I stopped looking once I found a pic of him when he was drafted. Killer suit.]

... at 6'10", from Gonzaga, #21 -- Ronny Turiaf

a.k.a. David Lee -- The energetic rookie forward who rarely plays, but when they do, you appreciate their effort. They seem very excited when they're on the bench. Both have also had to overcome difficult obstacles to make their team's roster -- Turiaf had open heart surgery right before the season started, and David Lee is white.

... at 7'0", from St. Joseph High School, #17 -- Andrew Bynum

a.k.a. Jackie Butler -- The young center that the team hopes can be a future star, but are too scared to actually put on the court.

... at 6'7", from Slovenia, #18 -- Sasha Vujacic

a.k.a. Jamal Crawford -- Being youthful and quick on their feet is the only thing that keeps them mediocre at defense. Both like to shoot a lot, only Jamal shoots a lot a lot more (in part because he's more dependable than Sasha, but also because he's like to shoot a lot... a lot). Both approximately 6'6" and 120 pounds.

... at 6'9", from Illinois, #43 -- Brian Cook

a.k.a. Maurice Taylor -- The big man who can shoot. Cook has the advantage of being able to hit from beyond 3-point range, and Taylor has the advantage of being able to at least make it look like he tries on defense.

... at 6'6", from Ohio State, #24 -- Jim Jackson
... and at 6'5", from Temple, #2 -- Aaron McKie

a.k.a. Qyntel Woods and Jerome James -- All four are basically interchangeable with regards to value. Except for James, all are recently out-of-work NBA players who are happy to be getting paid to mostly watch live games courtside, and dress just like the other players as well. Meanwhile, James has the uncanny ability to con teams into giving him a lot of money, as well as to show up to practice hungover on New Year's Day.

[I'm admittedly reaching on these next 2, but it's solely for the sake of completing the analogy. I'm not about to mail in my effort just because I'm almost done... ahem**Game 7**ahem.]

... at 7'0", from Texas, #31 -- Chris Mihm

a.k.a. Malik Rose -- Tall players (though Mihm is much taller) with a good all-around offensive game, hustle on the court but are foul-prone. Both also prone to injury, though Rose gets the ones where he'll have to miss a couple games at a time, and Mihm gets the ones where he has to miss a couple weeks at a time.

... at 6'5", from Florida State, #23 -- Von Wafer
... and at 6'7", from Hampton, #11 -- Devin Green

a.k.a. Nate Robinson -- All three are guards with their size not to their advantage -- Nate is too short and De-Von are/is not tall enough to guard the 2 and too slow to guard the 1. Main differences are that Nate got playing time, is probably much better than the 2 Lakers at hand, and won a dunk contest he didn't deserve.

... and the team's head coach -- Phil Jackson

a.k.a. Larry Brown -- The big-name coach who in not in good health, and is surely stressed out from watching his team play inconsistently all season. They've both been demoted to "crazy old man" status, based on Jackson's inability to call time-outs when he sees his team painfully struggling, and Brown's insane line-up changes, to the tune of at least 60 different starting line-ups this season alone. Both have championship rings which enable them to demand, and earn, a lot of money, but are so used to having good players that they get confused when they see bad players on their team and refuse to take any of the blame for the team's shortcomings. The "I'm too embarrassed to get out of my chair" look is a future trademark.

... and finally, [hey, why not?] the team's General Manager -- Mitch Kupchak

a.k.a. Isiah Thomas -- Both have made regrettable trades in their years -- Kupchak traded away Shaq, Thomas traded for Francis. This isn't exactly similar, but while Kupchak is a bad GM following a great GM (Jerry West), Thomas is a bad GM following another bad GM (Scott Layden). Kupchak's situation is worse because he is making a recently-great franchise look bad, but to make up for it, Thomas has this Knicks' fiasco to add to his resume, right next to "destroying the CBA".

Now, there are a couple of notable differences between the 2 teams. 1st, the Lakers are nowhere near being the financial minefield that the Knicks have become, but they will be over the cap for 2 more seasons nonetheless, meaning that the Lakers won't be able to sign a high-quality free agent until Phil's last year under contract as their coach -- that's why I'm assuming that next season's roster will mostly be the same (the only current Lakers not under contract for next season are George, Green and Jackson), unless Kupchak does a massive overhaul, in which case it'll be completely different. 2nd, the mere presence of Kobe Bryant makes the Lakers a playoff possibility every season, but just as the Knicks' past few seasons have ended embarrassingly, the Lakers' seasons tend to as well, as the games that have eliminated the Lakers from their past 3 playoff appearances have been lost by an average of 24 points(!).

Why work so hard throughout an entire season if you plan to put forth your worst effort when it counts the most? Why doesn't Kobe Bryant understand that being his team's leader doesn't mean taking every shot, but involving his teammates doesn't mean shooting only THREE times in an entire half? Why doesn't Phil Jackson show a little emotion while watching his team get dismantled? To answer all 3 questions -- I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know. And it hurts to try to think about the answers. All I know is that singling out the faults of every player, the coach, and the GM of my favorite team has helped me through the grieving... and so has being able to make fun of the Knicks at the same time. That's always fun.