are like......................NSYNC circa 2011-2015.
Kobe Bryant (5 rings) is Justin Timberlake. Carlos Boozer is Joey Fatone. Jeremy Lin is JC Chasez. Wesley Johnson is Chris Kirkpatrick, and Ronnie Price is Lance Bass. Nick Young is their manager and voice of reason. Let us pretend that NSYNC decided to reunite after signing a lucrative deal to do an album and a world tour. Justin Timberlake received more money than everyone else, twice as much money than any other member. The timing is bad for a late 1990s/early millennium boy band reunion. They are too old to cater to the audiences of the Wanted or One Direction. They are not as edgy and profane as Chris Brown and the new breed of hip-hop artists, even though Timberlake wants to bring in more hip-hop influences, pissing off the rest of the band. Yet, the band soldiers on even with one star throwing tantrums in the studio and saying that his bandmates "ain't shit" and "that these motherfuckers ain't doing shit for him." Timberlake also refuses to sing background vocals and wants all song writing credit, which pissed off Chasez, the group's other songwriter and lead singer, more than anyone else. Their manager is trying to maintain peace and contain egos, and tells Chasez and Kirkpatrick to stand up to Timberlake and "go right back at him" with the trash talking and put him in his place. Timberlake laughs because he is friends with the sponsor of their world tour and made a secret deal with the SONY to release Youtube videos of him cursing in fourteen languages with Jimmy Fallon while playing toy instruments and wearing ethnic costumes. The videos are released and received more views than "Gangnam Style", and Timberlake and SONY agreed distribute his film project with him starring in Blackface, about a fictional man from Memphis who decides to revive Minstrel Shows in the 1970s. The movie tested well with audiences, even African-Americans and urban liberals. Oprah signed on to executive produce. Timberlake decides not to perform back to back concerts, but does not inform NSYNC ticket buyers, who forgives him anyway.
Like Justin Timberlake, Kobe (5 rings) can do no wrong in his mind or to his fanbase. Timberlake has his immense popularity to fall back on no matter how outrageous his antics or assholish he acts. Kobe (5 rings) has his success, which is his reasoning for acting the way that he does. At this point in his career, Carlos Boozer is a loud blowhard who is better known for yelling "And One," or flailing on defense than actual basketball production. He is living off of his years in Utah when he was spoon fed about 75 percent of his points by Deron Williams giving him layups, dunks, and wide open mid-range jumpers. Fatone is on cooking shows, game shows, reality TV contests just to stay in public eye to keep the fame he gained from a group that he was lucky to be in. Joey Fatone champions Bosley Hair Restoration while Carlos Boozer attempted hair restoration in another manner. JC Chasez had ambitions of being a successful solo artists. He wrote or collaborate with artists such as Blaque, Basement Jaxx, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Dallas Austin. Jeremy Lin has ambitions of being a starting point guard, and is a very talented offensive player. He just won't get any opportunity to truly show off his talent on a dysfunctional lottery Lakers team. People often forget that it was Chris Kirkpatrick who approached their first manager, Lou Pearlman, to form NSYNC. Kirkpatrick is the glue of the group, similar to Wesley Johnson, who is a flawed player, but is often asked to defend the opponent's best offensive player, get rebounds, and make timely shots. Ronnie Price is on the team. Lance Bass is in the group.
Pop groups, who are riding waves of current or cyclic trends, have a finite shelf life. Contending and championship basketball teams that are not the Spurs also have a limited shelf life, eventually players age and retooling or rebuilding occurs. When teams and pop groups try to defy the natural course of age and shelf life, the results are both tragic and comical. The Lakers are equivalent of what would happen if NSYNC tried to go into the studio between 2011 and today. Time, age, and sound reason cause bands to disband at appropriate time and players to shift into a secondary or facilitating role.
Every fifteen to twenty years, after a band's peak, they return, find a niche, and remain cool. Due to the passage of time, nostalgia, and earning power of people who are in their mid 30s, it is acceptable to openly like these artists again. Motley Crue and Bret Michaels have been cool and relevant for the past five to eight years. The same thing will occur with late 1990s/early millennium boy bands. Women, who were 12 to 15 in 1999 to 2001 will soon be in their mid 30s, with income and time to burn. NSYNC and all of the artists who were relevant will slowly return to prominence by 2016, and they will be acceptable by 2020. Kobe Bryant will be retired by this time and the Lakers will be relevant again. This is only a few years away. As non-Lakers fans, we should enjoy these years and thank Kobe (5 Rings) for them.
Regarding the Kobester
If you are a Lakers fan, a real Lakers fan that rooted for them even in the Sedale Threatt era and Nick Van Exel years, I feel bad for you. If you are a Kobe (5 rings) fan, well, I'm sure you are still enjoying this season.
For a non-Lakers and non-Kobe fan, there was something disturbing about watch the pre-Christmas Break Kobe (5 rings) jacking up shots and playing almost no defense for most games, while yelling at his teammates to play defense and pass him the ball. Kobe (5 rings) is still shooting about 38 percent and 30 percent from three point range and that is with the new passing and semi-efficient version of Kobe (5 rings) in the past few games. For most of the year, Kobe (5 rings) was the guy you hated to play basketball with. The guy that takes all the shots but make less than 40 percent of them, loafs and coasts on defense but yells at you when your man scored on you. It reminded me of playing pickup basketball with a partner at a law firm I was working at. The partner was this chunky power forward. He liked to think of himself as Boris Diaw, but he was more like Josh Smith with Marreese Speights' built. He hogs the ball because he thinks he is the only the can make plays, and he plays zero individual and help defense. On a secondary fast break, if someone's man is gliding to the hoop, he won't help but would yell out, "Who's man is that?" after the layup. And he regularly gets torched on mid-range jumpshots, the kind that old over 40 pick up basketball savants make regularly, because he refuses to move this feet to contest shots. Just like Kobe (5 rings), he had some gravitas, so I could not really say anything since I wanted my next contract, i.e. the job at the firm, and I didn't want to be a team cancer. Kobe (5 rings) is the same. He is held to a different standard, and can do whatever he wants, while his teammates are threatened with mass benching for every mistake or periods of spotty play.
Kobe fans are usually megalomaniacs and successful narcissists from all walks of life. They love Kobe (5 rings) because he is the last alpha dog. He does and say whatever he wants and his successes allow him to get away with it. Success trumps everything. If you are successful, most or all of your failings will be forgotten or ignored. Kobe fans love him because they want to act like him. They want to be the asshole. They want to be the exception to rules and decorum that others must follow. They want to do and say whatever they want, no matter how idiotic or unreasonable.
Watching Kobe (5 rings) jack shots after shots, ignorantly trying to pick a fight with Dwight Howard, and getting pissed off when teammates would not give him the ball was quietly disconcerting. I enjoyed watching Allen Iverson, and bench shot monopolizers like Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams. Watching Iverson was about rooting for the underdog. This barely six foot guard from segregated Hampton, Va. was taking on giants and succeeding at a game he had no business being in. Jamal and Lou are just doing their jobs, similar to mercenaries in global conflicts. With Kobe (5 rings), this season before his Christmas break felt uncomfortable. It was like a hedge fund manager trying to make his 5th billion by wreaking havoc all around him and cutting low level jobs. It was like watching an old man with power and fame date a much younger woman, Les Moonves, or worse, Steven Bauer and his eighteen year old girlfriend. Watching Kobe (5 rings) was always a cringe worthy exercise. The low point was the Sacramento Kings game on December 21, 2014, after which Kobe (5 rings) and Byron Scott (3 rings) agreed that he take a few games off to recover from age and fatigue and maybe reassess. Scott (3 rings) has gone so far as to state that Kobe (5 rings) will not play in back to back games this year.
Kobe (5 rings) has been a wiling passer and facilitator in the games since his holiday break. As a basketball fan, I am rooting for him to continue playing this way perhaps even pass up contested shots in the final moments of the game for open looks by his teammates. Kobe (5 rings) might be the least clutch player in the league even with the recent game winner against Indiana. (I am also hoping for peace in the Middle East and a Cubs World Series win in my lifetime.) Kobe (5 rings) has the talent and intelligence to play for four or five more years as a facilitator type point forward who can score. He can average 18,8, and 9 easily. This would show a lot of his misguided fans and kids who worship him how to successfully work with others, get along with people, and face your own limitations, But he won't do it. More than likely, if he feels better physically again, the shot attempts will go up, and the team play and civility will vanish. And that is why his fans love him.
For the Record - the RINGZ Argument
Kobe Bryant is one of the best player in the history of the NBA. He has an incredible basketball IQ, fundamentals, and incomparable work ethic, but Michael Jordan is a better player than Kobe Bryant, who is not even the best player of his generation. Why? Let's use (some) Lakers' fans and Kobe fans' "RINGZ" argument. MJ won 6 Rings. He was the best player on ALL SIX of his Championship teams. Kobe (5 rings) won 5 Rings. Kobe (5 rings) was the best player on THREE of his Championship teams. Shaquille O'Neal was arguably the most dominant player modern NBA, and was the best player on the first three Lakers Championships of the new millennium. Tim Duncan also won 5 rings, and was the best player on THREE, MAYBE FOUR of his Championship teams. Duncan was the best player when he won his three finals MVP, and you could argue that he was the best player during the 2007 NBA Finals, which Tony Parker won Finals MVP. Duncan's Championships are spread out over 14 years. He gets the edge over Kobe (5 rings) due to longevity and more consistent team success.
Only a Kobe fan would drive about 45 minutes or 50 miles to Temecula to fight someone over an argument about Kobe Bryant (5 rings). (The Kobe fan even made a song about it. And Kobe supports this lunacy.) Temecula is the home of disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis and the Pechanga Resort and Casino. I am never driving anywhere to fight anyone over an argument about sports. And I am never driving to Temecula for anything, especially when San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino is much closer.
The Point Guard Trilogy
I. Ronnie Price, The Starter
This is what LA Weekly writer and Lakers fan, Jeff Weiss, wrote about Ronnie Price, "To paraphrase Major League: who the fuck is this guy." I understand that statement being used to describe a second round pick or half of the roster of the tankerific 76ers, but leave it to a Lakers' fan to disparage a ten year NBA veteran. I respect all NBA Players 6'10 and under, especially veterans who managed to stay in the league for over seven years. NBA veterans with staying power usually do at least one thing exceptionally well. (see Jones, James) With that stated, as far as NBA players go, Ronnie Price is pretty bad. He can't shoot. He is not an exceptional passer. He is turnover prone. Price is athletic and he is an average defender. Ronnie Price's career field goal percentage is 37.8 percent. His three point field goal percentage for his career is 29.8 percent. This year, he is at 37.4 percent and 32.6 percent from three point range. I watched a lot of Ronnie Price while I lived in Utah, and he is capable of looking very good on the court every third game for about four to five minutes. It just depends what you prefer in your third guard. I prefer the steady caretaker with offensive limitations Kevin Ollie type to the flashy but horrific shooting and mistake prone Ronnie Price/John Lucas III types. Still, I give much props for Ronnie Price for finding a way to be a multi-millionaire and a ten year veteran. If you got a cousin who is trying to make it in the league, follow the Ronnie Price model. Stay out of trouble off the court, be a good citizen, compete hard and have the ability to look good occasionally for a few minutes a game.
These are trying times for Jeremy Lin. If we as educated fans and bloggers know how bad Ronnie Price is, Lin knows about thirty-seven times more than we do how bad Ronnie Price is. With his Harvard degree, Lin could probably write a 50 page thesis on how he should be starting over Ronnie Price. Brilliant basketball mind, Byron Scott (3 rings) decides to start Ronnie Price ahead of Jeremy Lin to provide levity to their season. Scott occasionally plays Price over 25 minutes a game. I have no idea why this occurs. Lin has been one of Scott's favorite whipping boys. Perhaps, an Asian-American messed up the curve at Arizona State during Scott's (3 rings) college days in the early days of hip-hop. Maybe, a Korean mini-mart owner was rude to Scott (3 rings) while he was growing up in Inglewood. Lin is of Taiwanese descent but Scott probably doesn't know or care to know the difference. If Ronnie Price managed to last another one or two years in the NBA (and I am rooting for him), he needs to send a third of his paycheck to Byron Scott (3 rings).
II. Ramon Sessions Redux
Ramon Sessions smartly and diplomatically denied that his departure from the Lakers had anything to do with Kobe Bryant (5 rings). However, I think it played a role, a significant percentage. Sessions struggled in the 2012 Playoffs and the Lakers wanted him back but was also looking for an upgrade (they found a nearly 40 year old Steve Nash). They did not pursue Sessions strongly when he opted out of his player option. If you are Ramon Sessions, you are trying to establish a strong foothold in the league and maximize your earning potential and basketball ability by trying to be a starting point guard; playing with a ball dominating, ball stopping shooting guard will probably not allow you the opportunity to find out what your ceiling is. Sessions took the two year deal and possibly more money for the opportunity to start for Charlotte Bobcats. The league and Sessions found out that he is better as a very good back up rather than a lead point guard for a Playoffs team, but at least he had the opportunity to see if he could be a starting NBA point guard.
III. Jeremy Lin's Lost Year
The Sessions analysis probably applies to Jeremy Lin. However, as a Lin fan and a fan of basketball players as human beings, I would just like to see Lin get the same opportunity as Sessions. I thought the opportunity would come with this awful Lakers team.
As a person of partial Asian descent, Jeremy Lin makes me smile and proud, but I am also realistic. Any player in the top six or seven of a good team's rotation in the right system could have had their version of Linsanity. I am reticent to be harsh on NBA Players as I know how good even end of bench guys are. I am also modest in my praise at times. I'm like Bobby Caldwell, middle of the row, but soulful.
Linsanity was a culmination of a perfect storm. Lin was in Mike D'Antoni's point guard friendly system, which even made Chris Duhon looked competent and added years to his career. NBA teams also did not have a full scouting report on Lin at that time. The league has caught up. Unlike some idiots who say that Lin can't play at all, most educated fans and NBA front offices know that Lin is a legitimate NBA Player. Right now, I think Lin would make the perfect third guard, perhaps a scoring/playmaking guard rather than a pure backup point guard. He is in that class with Darren Collison, last year's version of Ramon Sessions, and Warriors' version of Jarrett Jack. They are not quite NBA starters for a Championship contender or second round playoff teams, but they are better than almost all NBA backup point guards. Even with his struggles on defense, Lin can run a team's second unit and be on the floor in the 4th quarter depending on matchups and situations. Lin thinks he can be a starting point guard in the league, and perhaps he can. Sessions and Collison has had multiple auditions to see if they can be an NBA starting point guard. Even Mike James had a full season as an NBA starting point guard. It would be good to see Lin get this opportunity. But due to Kobe's ball dominant nature and inexplicable coaching decisions, it will not come with this lost season Lakers' team, and it is the one thing about this team that makes me mildly furious.
Lakers Watchability Essay
The Lakers are not performance art. The Lakers are not a 1980s prime time soap opera either or a public arts project. The Lakers are the movies that are drama by categorization, but are so horrible that it is better to watch them as comedies and laugh at the terrible plot, writing/dialogue and acting. One movie that comes to mind is the horrific Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner blockbuster, the Bodyguard. I watch that movie and laugh at the horrible writing with really awful entertainment industry jabs and subtle unintentional racial overtones, the overly predictable plot, and of course, the awful acting by everyone in the film. I offer commentary during the movie and laugh cynically every ten minutes. Watching the Lakers is a similar exercise. My one constant thought is "Thank God, that this is not my team, hell, this is not even my second favorite team." I chuckled at the thought Ronnie Price continuing to start NBA games. I feel bad for Jeremy Lin for having to be in this movie. The basketball gods are punishing him for Linsanity and the poison pill contract he got from Daryl Morey. I shake my head every time I see Lin running to the wing when he should be handling the ball. I wonder what Nick Young is thinking when he is having an efficient game and shooting well, but cannot get the ball in the last 4 minutes. There's also more unintentional comedy with Carlos Boozer's attempts at defense and Byron Scott's substitution patterns. If there are no Clippers' games or I am tired of my music, I tuned in to hear the frustration of their fans and announcers. The Lakers are hilarious to me and I usually watch or listen even if their games are occasionally longer than the Bodyguard and their soundtrack is worse.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
The Lakers will be the Lakers again and it will be sooner than later. As a non-Lakers fan, I am enjoying all of the Lakers' wretchedness. The obvious prognosis is that the Lakers will return to playoff contention after Kobe's contract expires. So, after 2015-2016, the Lakers will be fighting for the eighth seed and soon after, they will retool and probably sign some big name free agent. The Lakers have been here before, and they always find a way, whether it was signing Shaq or drafting Kobe (5 rings), or (at the time) hi-jacking the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. Perhaps, Adam Silver will engineer some way for the Lakers to get a top 3 lottery pick. All I know is that the Lakers will return to prominence, but they will not win a Championship until I am eligible to play on the Senior PGA Tour. The Western Conference is too strong, and all the major stars will be hitting their primes. Kobe (5 rings) will also be done after these two years. While it will be interesting to see Kobe (5 rings) reinvent himself into a facilitator, he has stated that he is not interested in staying in the league and average 18 or 19 a game. Real Lakers fan should welcome the end of the Kobe era while die hard Kobe fans will have to look for another driven talented asshole to root for.