The 5000-Year Picnic

You people are so thick sometimes. Anyone with two blind eyes could tell that this foray into Simmons-friendly Tollywood was, in fact, a premature tribute to those winnin' Lakers, and longtime FD fave Kobe Bryant. Congrats, weird guy!

For those of you wanting a less heavy-handed way to talk about THE TITLE (and yes, it is that), please read my Baseline column on the matter. No joke, this was about to be posted on FD when it seemed like there might be technical difficulties on SN.com's end. It's that heady and weird. So approach without reservations. Other than that, feel free to share your favorite Kobe moments in the comments, and hug one another because finally we can fucking stop talking about this.

BWB was quite an experience. Hopefully I can post some video of my panel, where I decided to get mad because Steinberg was mad and ended up cursing out the audience in an advanced state of dehydration. Sugar Hill, baby.

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At 6/15/2009 12:21 PM, Blogger daniel vincent john said...

read your baseline column and am kind of at a loss. even as happy as i am after the long wait of a kobe led championship. part of the fun was conversing with others who hate and likely still hate kobe. but now like you stated, all they can say are non-basketball related things. anyways, great to see odom and walton get their first rings.

question is, will this laker team that already has spells of coasting, coast even more next year?

now more importantly, has my modo ramal print been shipped?

At 6/15/2009 12:28 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

The most awkward part of the Lakers' title celebrations was the sight of Adam Morrison, looking sharp in his gray suit and close coif, trying hopefully to gain some "dap" as part of the guys' group hugs and hip-bumping. He really wasn't sure how to act.

Reading various articles this morning, I've been struck by Bryant's claim that the team "started from scratch" after 2004. I really think this is right. Check the 2005 roster: before the oft-mentioned Smush ever got there, their point guards were Chucky Atkins and Tierre Brown. Their centers were Chris Mihm and a secretly fossilized Vlade Divac.

At 6/15/2009 12:38 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Good Baseline joint. It was far less weird and lofty than your ominous warning suggested, though. Just kind of made sense to me.

Bhel's comment reminded me of something which has been weighing on my mind for about a week: the Lakers went out and got not only a new franchise, but franchise players. Maybe it's lucky that Kobe became Kobe to the extent that he is, but still--they got him. They found a way to get Shaq. Other teams pray for the stars to align; the Lakers seem to fuss with the cosmos.

wv: mishe--for when they run out out of moo shu

At 6/15/2009 12:42 PM, Blogger Michael said...

There's been a lot of talk about how Kobe doesn't live up to the "Closer" and "assassin" handles he's been given, and there is some truth to that. And in these finals, he gonked away one game at the line and had some foolish possessions down the stretch in others.

But after last night, I'd say it's not about being clutch at the end of games, though certainly he has shown that at times. The "assassin" does his work at the beginning of the other team's rallies. This isn't news, I know. But just note how all through the series, he kept the Lakers in the game with big buckets, whenever Orlando threatened. And last night, he just pulled out some devastating shots (the three with 8:30 left, the ridiculous hanging banker over Howard) that kicked the Magic when they were struggling to get up.

Also, don't underestimate what it meant to the Magic to have Kobe have a career night in blocks in a close-out game.

Yes, all basketball arguments are now off the table. It does take away one of the gripping stories of the era, but as a Lakers and Kobe fan, it's sweet.

wv: devescap - devastation via decapitation

At 6/15/2009 1:24 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

As much as I hate the Lakers solely because they were/seem to be the perennial favorites, I think I appreciate damn near every player on this squad. Flipside, love the Magic as a team and system, but don't particularly like the players; Skip, Lee, and Pietrus excluded. It's a weird feeling to hate the team but smile when every player on it hoists the trophy.

Besides Bynum. I think seeing him win was more of a downer than Morrison.

At 6/15/2009 1:58 PM, Blogger Dave Fonseca said...

Did anyone else find it weird how the announcing crew kept talking about how this Lakers team is still "just getting started"? Or how this championship could be just the first in a long line? I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I think Kobe's age, Odom and Ariza's flight risk and the general sense after last year and up until the Houston series that "this team's window was closing" it just seems weird (maybe fitting) that this team is all of a sudden young again in everybody's eyes.



At 6/15/2009 2:20 PM, Blogger Teddy said...

@Dave Fonseca

I think that's right--the team either gets older when Ariza leaves or worse when Odom does.

BS, I think the anti-climactic reaction you guys have had to each of the last two Finals has to do with the idea that Bron (or at least Bron and his comtemporaries) is poised to take over for good at some point in the very near future. The C's last year and Lakers this year were backwards-looking teams built around superstars from last generation. I feel like a lot of people are waiting for the overthrow, and can't get it up for the last hurrah of the old guard.

At 6/15/2009 3:10 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

I'm so happy for Odom. Part of it is the worn-out story of his personal struggle, but also that you can see in his face how much he gets out of basketball, how much it means for him. His two killer threes and two spectacular reverse lay-ups made it really special. Unfortunately I couldn't find the full video of his post-game press conference with Pau (and those two together are such a perfect on-court combination), but some of the most important Odom quotes are in these two articles:



As far as the Lakers' window of opportunity goes, of course keeping Odom and Ariza will be crucial. Odom has stated that he'd love to stay and would accept less than the roughly 10 million he is making now. I think that UCLA product Ariza does have added incentive to stay, the question will be how much above the mid-level other teams will offer for him in this rough economic climate. If the Lakers want to keep both, they might need to find a way to get out of Morrison's (expiring?) and Vujacic's contract (no chance with Walton's) and keep Powell, Mbenga, and Shannon Brown for cheap. There's also the minimal chance thta Kobe, maybe further wanting to recreate his imagine, could opt out and sign for a little bit less to ease the burden.

As far as age goes, I think the current roster can contend for 3-4 more rings if they stay together and find some cheap veteran hanger-ons. Ariza (23), Brown (23), Bryant (30), Bynum (21), Farmar (22), Fisher (34), Gasol (28), Mbenga (28), Odom (29), Powell (26), Walton (29), Vujacic (25), Morrison (24).

At 6/15/2009 3:23 PM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Also, Odom the insult comic:

"First of all, I got traded for Shaq. He got traded for Kwame Brown to the Lakers."

-- Lamar Odom, sitting at the podium next to Pau Gasol one year removed from the pounding he and Pau absorbed from the Boston Celtics' front line, when asked how it felt to be a champion now after both had been discarded by Miami and Memphis, respectively

At 6/15/2009 4:16 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I agree w/ Kaifa.

Most of the team is young enough to be competitive for several more years. Pau and Odom have to maintain or continue the improvement made this year. Kobe has to stay fit and adapt his game to be more of a facilitator and defender (I'm thinking late career Pippen). Farmar and Brown should be a nice PG duo for a while. And they need to dump Vujacic at the earliest opportunity in favor of an athletic 2 that can play the triangle, defend, and give Kobe some rest. It would help if turns out that Morrison ca actually play in the NBA and will work cheap. Perhaps a training camp and full year with the Lakers (players and coaches) will put him back on track.

wv: rejun--re-June? Lakers repeat?

At 6/15/2009 4:56 PM, Blogger Dave Fonseca said...

I guess what I was getting at, but didn't make explicit is that, calling the Lakers young seems to indicate that Ariza/Gasol are just as integral to the team as Kobe and B) Bynum is still expected to develop into something great someday C) despite all he's been through Odom is still young!

I guess it's kind of awesome to think that these Lakers are really a team - without the stoicism of the Pistons or the propaganda of the Spurs/Celtics.

Looking forward, would anybody find a Celtics/Lakers finals in 09/10 as odious as we all seemed to in 07/08. This next one would seem way more organic and, judging from what we saw from the Celtics at full strength this year, would probably feature the best basketball of any finals in a while.

At 6/15/2009 5:20 PM, Blogger dunces said...

I'd get a kick out of Celtics/Lakers next year, simply because I don't see anyone in the east playing better basketball until the Cavs get some better players (I refuse to say "better big man"), until Howard figures out a decent way to beat good single-coverage, or Atlanta all simultaneously begin to exist in some higher dimensions.

I still can't shake the feeling I was robbed this Finals of a decent matchup, but I feel that'll consistently happen until the East gets a lot better.

I can't shake the feeling that the East has a bad front-office matchup against the West. Everyone kept saying that the cavs adjusted for the Celtics and got blindsided by Howard, but I don't get the feeling the best Western teams are adjusting for anybody. Is that just due to better luck landing lopsided trades?

At 6/15/2009 6:01 PM, Blogger gordon gartrelle said...

I'm a shameless Kobe-hater, but the "can't win without Shaq" argument seems like a straw man even to me. The kind of people who make that argument are:

1) the mainstream media talking heads who frame the dominant narratives about NBA players' legacies.

and 2)the mouth-breathers who populate the ESPN/AOL comments sections.

Even if the more reasonable Kobe-haters tolerated that claim in the past, I thought that the Lakers' success last year deaded that angle. LA didn't lose to the Celtics because Kobe shot too much (although he did); they lost because their big men got punked and disappeared.

At 6/15/2009 6:37 PM, Blogger Joshua R said...

"I guess it's kind of awesome to think that these Lakers are really a team - without the stoicism of the Pistons or the propaganda of the Spurs/Celtics."

Just the propaganda of Kobe: he's so serious, he's like a coach out there, he hasn't smiled in weeks. A pre-fabricated story line built for repetition, which culminated in a three-way tongue washing by Breen, SVG and Jackson during the fourth quarter (made more laughable by the fact that it was the soundtrack to Kobe deciding to shoot everything he could, including several three pointers that would have had a man of lesser reputation benched immediately). But, beyond that, yes, no propaganda.

At 6/15/2009 8:04 PM, Blogger Timothy C. Davis said...

That Odom line is gold. Cool that he realizes that proximity can be dap enough. Sometimes who you get traded for can help define a player. (Or kill any shot they had, for some).

Also, a friend of mine today asked me to describe a FD player. The best I could come up with was:

Robert Pine (CHiPs) = FD
son Chris Pine (Star Trek) = not FD

At 6/15/2009 8:24 PM, Blogger David said...

Better team won, in fact the best team in the NBA this year (2-0 over the Cavs) etc. etc. blah blah blah..... And another championship goes to a team with a certified Hall-of-Famer, like in every year since forever (Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, Garnett, MJ & Pippen, Olajuwon, Thomas, Bird, Magic....)
Which to me makes the Pistons' 2004 championship perhaps the most remarkable win in decades, in any sport, and worthy of serious praise and further examination. A great starting five, but none of them exactly a lock for the Hall. How did they do that?

At 6/15/2009 9:29 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Congrats to the Lakers -- and FD?

It's a little embarrassing for everyone when FD Nation's rarified and recondite brand of Laker homerism allows itself full expression.

That said, I am as happy as anyone to never have to hear the whole Kobe-Shaq championship nonsense again -- though we will for sure, in new, more virulent strains.

Enough with the past. Bring on the future.

At 6/15/2009 11:03 PM, Blogger Dave Fonseca said...

I keep having this recurring thought that I want to see Phil Jackson forced to coach the grizzlies, not because I want to see him exposed or anything petty like that, but I want to see the triangle tested on Mayo/Gay/M.Gasol

I want a Jackson granted immortality and charged with roaming the countryside in search of pure shooting guards to cultivate.

At 6/16/2009 12:48 AM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

One thing I do notice about the Sporting News columns is that the pop culture references are wack city.

At 6/16/2009 1:03 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Sorry I let you down by name-checking a really stupid movie ON PURPOSE and mentioning "Lord of the Rings" as an example of an awful sports analogy. If you want, I'll list all the records I bought today, and the movies in my NetFlix queue, on a platform of your choice.

At 6/16/2009 2:17 AM, Blogger Phoebus said...

as a spurs guy, really chagrinned over the propaganda charge. yeah, the defense-wins-trophies storyline got hit a little too hard, but keep in your effing mind that San Antonio is a small, small city, and will probably be swallowed by Austin as a "metropolis" sometime within the next decade, so winning 4 championships in 8 years is still pretty unbelievable.

At 6/16/2009 5:24 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

is there some way to mash up autoerotic asphyxiation and autotune as to bring it back from the grave by sampling only david carradine lines from death race 2000, where he played...Mr. Frankenstein!?!?!?!

baseline article puts this long standing national nightmare to bed, thank ya.

At 6/16/2009 9:17 AM, Blogger Michael said...

@David... you're right about the 2004 Pistons. They did encounter an imploding team, but obviously one with more than enough talent to win. However, I would say that Sheed, had he always played at his highest level, would surely be a lock for the hall, but he just wasn't that kind of player. But at his best, definitely.

And Joshua R., I was listening on ESPN radio, and while Kobe got plenty of praise from Tirico, Hubie Brown, and Dr. Jack, it wasn't so over the top. We should be wary of blaming the players for the failures of the sports media to talk about them in a sensible way.

At 6/16/2009 11:41 AM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Sorry I let you down by name-checking a really stupid movie ON PURPOSE and mentioning "Lord of the Rings" as an example of an awful sports analogy. If you want, I'll list all the records I bought today, and the movies in my NetFlix queue, on a platform of your choice.

Just an observation: it may come from a sense of territoriality, or something like that, but there appear to be only two modes of reaction in the comments sections of blogs like FD: circle jerk or freak-out hysteria.

At 6/16/2009 11:58 AM, Blogger Michael said...

@ Octopus... OK, we remember from last year, you don't like the Lakers, or at least, you really don't like FD for not hating the Lakers.

I think fairly often on this blog the comments actually take the form of a conversation - in fact, this thread mostly seems that way. Pretty mild. I'm failing to see the circle jerk or freak-out hysteria. If you are referring specifically to Shoals's reply, why don't you just email him and let the rest of us have our thread?

At 6/16/2009 4:20 PM, Blogger Browny said...

My personal little rant

Bill Simmons is a self proclaimed "Boston guy", who is bringing a level of Karl Rovian bias to his "opinion pieces" on ESPN.com. He makes derogatory statements and debased arguments about any and every thing Lakers. Paints the city, it's team and it's star player as something with less real value than toilet paper and frankly is annoying the heck out of the sizable corner of non “Boston guys”. His delivery is samey enough that there is a write like Bill Simmons website out there. He practically plagiarizes himself every week, churning out the same psycho babble about people families, character, moods, personalities and integrity while admitting that he does not know what he is talking about and is basing all this on his television and his emotions.

Normally, it is just of mild curiosity to me that he stays employed but for him to regurgitate the nonsense he just put out this morning, after all the garbage he has been spewing all week is more than I can bear. This is the same imbecile for whom we had to endure his over the top celebration of Boston Celtics championship, last year. If he is only here he to express his biased views about Boston and her perceived rivals; should his work not be restricted more to his target audience, pre pubescent adults from New England? Why does ESPN subject the rest of us to his childlike tantrums and indulge his irreverent and scathing attacks on entities and personalities that he does not like, is this Sports or TMZ? He virtually uses the Magazine as a toilet bowl for airing all his personal grievances and dumping all his juvenile personality disorders.

If he wrote an original column every once in a while it would not be so bad, but the guy has been mailing it in for about three years and is relying on the same stale aroma of previous entreats to keep the customer coming. Considering how his always harping on athletes for being lazy, out of touch and phony, I sometimes wonder if the man owns a mirror? His megalomania is such that on the few occasions when this “gift of the Gods” to sports journalism does come down from the mountain he expects to be greeted with thunderous applause.

At 6/16/2009 5:21 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

@Michael: Q.E.D.


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