Follow Andrea on Twitter
Bright lights and big stages typically comes to mind when we think of Hollywood; from the walk of fame, to the beaches and so much more. However, a largely unmentioned aspect of the LA life is the fact that LA is now a prominent city with two championship caliber basketball teams. Moving from Indiana, also known as “Hardwood Heaven”- to LA I was anticipating a void when it comes to what it means to truly appreciate the game of basketball, but it has been just the opposite.
The Lake Show: Off to A Rough Start
In a vast majority of sports, fans are fair weather but that isn’t the case for the Laker Gang…. they live by the motto: “Laker Gang or Don’t Bang”, so you can’t help but wonder how Laker fans are feeling about this 1-4 start? They say fear is for punks!! The Los Angeles Lakers critics quickly jump to the assumption that the Lake Show’s discouraging 1-4 start warrants full-on terror. Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has a message for you: “Shut up: All is well in Laker Land.”
Do you really think a roster full of big names (Bryant, Howard, Nash, Artest, etc) will continue to lose? Well, let’s take some time to look into past scenarios.The Miami Heat with Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade shocked the world by trying to become the new Avengers, but stumbled to a 9-8 record out of the starting blocks. Oh, and just a FYI, they made it all the way to the NBA Finals before being eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual, the Dallas Mavericks.
They went on to capture the title the following season, keep in mind this Laker squad is much older and slower than the Miami squad that brought home the championship last season.
My favorite team of all time is the 1991 Chicago Bulls stacked with MJ, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, began 0-3 then rallied to win the NBA Championship that year. Just like Chicago during the Bulls Dynasty, Los Angeles is a culture that doesn’t celebrate winning—it demands it. Things haven’t gone as expected out the gate and the naysayers have had lots to say. Some of it is warranted while others not so much. We here at Hoops Talk Nation agree that are some issues with the team so to be fair here is a list of concerns that must be examined ASAP:
- That weak and ridiculous Princeton Offense: Very few players seem to be thriving in the LA Lakers’ new offensive set. For Dwight Howard to dominate the way he can…. there has to be a change now!!!! D Howard is one of the best in the game and is averaging 22.4 points per game, which is tied for the most he’s ever averaged through five games in his entire career. So since he is doing his part, I need the management to step up and do their part as well.
- Rebounding: They should try it!
- Mike Brown: This dude is not even qualified to coach a D League team, so why is he coaching arguably the most powerful franchise sports team?
LA’s Other Team: Welcome to Lob City
Last season, the Clippers labored with the dream of finally upstaging the Lakers but that unfortunately was a lost cause. Lob City is banking on this year being different. The Clippers are an off-season deeper and still have one of the best point guards in the league. The Clippers rolled out a rather extensive roster overhaul this summer; while the starting lineup is back for another run, the supporting cast is going to look like an entirely new cast.
A few years ago, Jay Z tried to come out and say 30 is new 20, but Lyfe Jennings had to let him know that “sorry Jay 30 is the same ole 30” welp. Someone needs to let Chauncey Billups know this while he recovers from the Achilles injury he suffered. Barring any other injuries or a shakeup by coach Vinny Del Negro, we can expect to see Deandre Jordan, Blake Griffin, and Caron Butler in the front court, with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups handling the back court duties. Blake Griffin made a few strides with his post game, frequently commanding double teams and showing flashes of solid up and under moves, a drop step or two and the ability to make great interior passes.
The Clippers earned their name “Lob City”, by being a run and gun, up and down team but that is just a Hollywood illusion. “Lob City” was ranked 24th in the NBA last season scoring just 11 points per game off of fast breaks. But what they did do amazingly well is get to the free throw line, earning 23.3 attempts per contest but converted just 68% (2nd worst in the league). Partner that with a veteran bench that includes: Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Willie Green, Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Ryan Hollins, and Ronny Turiaf.
The new Clipper bench offers coach Del Negro a variety of revolving options, with the key piece being Lamar Odom. Lamar is coming off of a catastrophic season in 2011. Lamar Odom is a versatile 6-10 power forward. An excellent rebounder, he has the ability to start the fast break on his own thanks to his ball handling ability. The classiest player in the league, Grant Hill, joins Lamar: Hill, the elder statesman of the club who has a terrific basketball IQ, and at age 39, is still productive at both ends of the floor, particularly defensively. While most teams are focusing on a “Big 3” of starters, well the Clippers created their own “Big 3 Off the Bench”. The third player to make up this trio is Jamal Crawford. Jamal brings to the table an ability to score at will. He is a big gun to have coming off the bench. Here is a list of the problems the Clippers MUST address:
- Playing Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Basketball: Ups and downs are inevitable in an 80+ plus game season but consistency must be formed at some point.
- Great mix of young & old: Will the young players progress the way they must in order to win? Will time be kind to the veterans and have their bodies hold up the gruel’s of a long season?
- Three point shooting: This has long been a Clippers concern so let’s see if they can find a way to make up for this with their stronger aspects of the game.
- Vinny Del Negro: Coaching is a huge concern for me. I am really not a very big fan of Del Negro’s style of coaching. He needs to learn to lead a team of veterans and All-Star-caliber players.
- Lack of energy: This is one of the issues fans and management never wants to see from a team especially one you call “Lob City”. This lack of energy led to a large number of turnovers in the first few games.
Donald Sterling: Anyone who has read any of my previous articles knows my feelings on this guy. Donald Sterling is a well-respected businessman that made his fortune in real estate in Beverly Hills market. Let’s take a look back through some of Sterling’s worst decisions:
- In 2009, Sterling solicited advice on the team’s basketball operations from a woman he described as a prostitute. He later went on to title this lady “$500-a-trick freak.” Smart and classy kind of guy.
- Player Treatment: Sterling is known to cut corners to save a few bucks. He cut the medical expenses from $10,000 to $100; he then went on to cut down his scouting expenses from more than $20,000 down to $1,000.
- Inefficiently utilizing big name player: In the NBA almost everything (ticket sales, media partnership, winning, etc.) comes down to attaining and keeping star players, whereas Sterling does the opposite. Instead of nurturing key players that have the potential to become the next superstars of the game, he usually underpays and under appreciates them. Example: Eric Gordon could have been the face of the franchise for years to come.
- And the WORST decision he made and continued to make for many years: ELGIN BAYLOR! No description of this is even necessary.
Which Los Angeles team will have make their Hollywood dreams comes true? We’ll find out soon enough. While you are in LA cheering on your favorite basketball team you should also check out the funniest comedian in LA (who also always reads my articles): Birlus Wordlaw III on December 9,2012 in Burbank at Flappers Comedy Club from 4-6.