My small fortune
Stop me whenever this sounds familiar. Imagine an offense-based team that favored an uptempo game and relied very little on low post honesty, was led by a masterful, pass-first guard, and fielded an unconventional line-up. They storm through the regular season, with some overheated observers daring to suggest that they've redefined the game of basketball. Their playoff chances are thought to be sorely underwhelming, as they are lacking in some of that elements necessary to complete, fundamentally sound competition. But they end up making a statement that for the ages, even if its ultimate purpose remains unfulfilled.
Now suppose they did the same thing again, with even gaudier numbers. Would you have to respect them in the playoffs on the strength of last year's showing? Regardless of who else was in the running this post-season? Would this be cause to once and for all upend conventional wisdom on the subject? Might we accidentally annoint them a dynasty?
A lot of questions must swirl in all of our minds as the Lakers/Suns highlights reach their third or fourth cycle. Oddly enough, this is the first time that it's really seemed appropriate to ask if Phoenix is vulnerable, if not overrated. I've heard a few nods in that direction, mostly in the form of "Kobe's capable of anything," but most people seem wary of making the same initial miscalculation twice. I also think that this phrasing brings out what, up until tonight, it's sounded a little indulgent to suggest: that the Lakers might be really fucking good. Kobe's off quarter on Sunday points toward one man's mishaps; for the Lakers to effectively neutralize Phoenix's main angle of attack and altogether dismantle several of their key player, well, that's called consummate beatdown. Nash got his, but it was he, not Kobe that came off as the savant scoring in a bubble with little or no effect on the team effort. We're back to the days of "let Nash try and beat you alone," something that I'd gone so far as to suggest that these Suns could use to their advantage.
But what really makes me well up deep beneath my skin is that, at long last, this season has the cult team it's so sorely needed. This is the realization of the dream so many of us saw flash across the skies when Kobe, Odom-as-Pippen, and Kwame first came together last summer. This is the follow-up to the Clip Show and last year's Suns, hallowed be their names. Until the Hawks finish above .400, or Amare stops his frightening slide towards Rear Window-dom on the bench, this Lakers are about as FD as one team can get. Phil is an obvious drawback, and I suppose some of you are still hung up on Kobe-hating. But my, how Vujacic has grown, fearless when he drives and proudly sporting the most electro haircut in the Association! And young Luke, who as a white role player can actually ball a little, has that weird thing with his father not being allowed to acknowledge his existence regularly on national broadcasts, and, has at least some identifiable personal style.
Sidenote: If anyone knows any scouts, can someone please tell them in advance of the draft to not go for would-be stars outside of the lottery? For the most part, those prospects are boom-or-bust scenarios, and likely ill-adapated for life off the bench and/or on the functional periperhy of the team. Someone like Walton, though, who I said all along should've gone late first, is perfect to come in and fill gaps. Same for Josh Howard. All these guys do is play basketball, and they don't really give a fuck how. It's like drafting "an athlete" in the NFL, just with the vagary a matter of convenience and not mystery.
Most of all, this team is full of weirdos and is a ball to watch. And that's without Turiaf even getting on the floor!!!
Everyone's talking about Odom/Marion. Can you even begin to imagine Grant/Turiaf? The earth wouldn't shift for days!