Given the possibility of injuries, the ineptitude of general managers, drunken violence, rape charges, and an utter lack of loyalty to anything but the pursuit of the almighty buck, I am probably way premature in heralding the coming-into-being, as I see it, of the New Lakers. But I have enjoyed watching these guys lately; the fourth quarter comeback led by the bench in the fourth quarter against Minnesota was something to watch, something inspiring and surprising in the way the Lakers have not been in a long time.
The old Lakers, with Magic and Kareem, were the New Lakers, part 1. They were interesting and surprising because Magic was always interesting and surprising, and those guys had chemistry, with Kareem playing DC to Magic’s AC. There’s just something thought provoking about a tormented, introverted, 7’6 guy, who played basketball for his very life, for this one chance at being something other than a genetic freak, along side of wonderfully gifted exhibitionist and flaming extrovert who played for the pure and simple fun of it.
I won’t go now into the misery of the Van Excel years, and, while I do like to watch a team that wins, I never did enjoy Kobe and Shaq. Sure they won, but they were damned predictable. Either Kobe would end up dribbling endlessly to get a shot or they would throw into the Big Maw and he would dribble back and forth moving around people with that roadhouse butt of his. Never, in the entire history of basketball, has any body made such devastating use of his butt than Shaq. He never learned how to shot the basketball but he could open his own summer camp on the use of the butt in the low post. Of all the Big Things Shaq called himself, he never did pay adequate tribute to his single greatest physical assist, and that was his butt.
They just weren’t any fun. But more like the Yankees have become of late; just the best basketball team money could buy, especially in that truly pathetic last year of Shaq’s tenure, what with Gary, the Punk, Payton, and Karl, Joint Grinding, Malone. What the hell were they thinking? I mean the guys upstairs. And, as for the guys down on the floor, they just never did click. I was glad Shaq left and I am glad he was the one that did.
But back to the present. I don’t remember a Laker team as deep, except maybe for that year or two they could bring in Bob McAdoo to replace King Kareem. Now that was something. But I would have to check the roster to be sure of that. I think these “New Lakers” are deeper all the way down the bench. And to Jackson’s credit he seems to be yielding a little on his “I hate rookies” attitude. Or at least, he has the sense to play the rookies so he can see what he has got. If, as the season goes on, he starts playing a short line up, I think he is making a really big mistake, a much bigger one than any of the multiple of small one those rookies might make out on the court because right now he is sitting on a group of guys that have, if played, the potential to become one heck of a team, for a goodly number of years to come.
Take that Mo Evans—is that his name—as a for instance. I don’t remember the game but he was hanging out right below the basket, facing back into the court, and the ball clanked off the rim, admittedly right into his hands. But then—wham—I don’t think I have ever seen a guy go back up for the dunk, with so little flair, but such complete efficiency that had you don’t seen the ball coming down through the net, you would have known how it got there. That’s a little surprise. But I think these “New Lakers,” as I prematurely crown them, have more surprises in their bag.