Tag Archives: basketball

Why Google+ will fail

An expansion of a conversation begun with Dave and Patrick one night over scotch and cigars…


In my first draft of this post, I started off with, “Well, not ‘fail’, exactly, it’s not like they’re fundamentally flawed, throwing Blink tags all over the place or something awful like that, but they’re certainly not going to hit the targets they’ve gotta be aiming for…”

And after reading that bit through again, I realized that, ultimately, yes, they were going to fail.  The stakes are too high, the goals too large…what would be considered phenomenal success for anyone else is failure for them.  They’re not playing for a respectable second place…though I’m sure they’ll find some way to make that work for them, when it becomes evident that’s where they’re going to end up.

But enough of the navel-gazing, down to business:

Google+ is going to fail, and fail big-time.  There’s only one measure of success for them:  Facebook, and every one of their 750 million active users.  Anything less than that–or even just chopping that number way down, by more than half, and passing them by a clear and evident margin–isn’t good enough.

And the sad part is that it won’t have much–if anything–to do with what they’re doing or how they’re doing it…truthfully, although it’s still very early, from what I can see, they’ve learned almost every lesson you could have hoped they would have learned from Facebook, and have already demonstrated a willingness to fix those things they still don’t have quite right yet.

If it was simply a matter of putting a better product on the market and trusting that everyone–or at least the vast majority of people–would take a look at the new offering, compare it to what they’ve currently got, and then choose what’s clearly better, then there’d be no problem.  But anyone who’s ever looked even briefly into real-world marketing economics and sociology knows that it’s never that simple.  Or else why do we still have both Coke and Pepsi on the shelves?

For my one grand, sweeping generalization per post (which I really can’t be bothered to explicate fully; please just assume that I know that things are much more subtle than this when examined in detail, and my usage of the more general ideas doesn’t ignore nor invalidate the complexities of overlapping, evolving micro-systems), there are three kinds of people using the Internet with any degree of regularity (i.e. the 750 million active users of Facebook):

  • Hard-core geekerati
  • Technically savvy people
  • Grandma Betty

The hard-core geekerati write for Boing Boing, invest 10x more into their Reddit time than they do the local neighborhood watch, cite donations to Wikileaks as a charitable deduction on their tax returns, and not only knew all about Google+ before the information was public, they already had an invite before the announcement came, either through inside contacts or because they’d figured out how to hack the invite interface.

These folk know in intimate detail the differences between FB and G+; in fact, Google designed G+ with all of their many tumblr posts and tweets complaining about FB in mind.  Given a choice between the two…well, there really isn’t a choice for them.  G+ wins in a landslide, and either they’ve already fully migrated over to it from FB, their megalomania assuring them that anyone who doesn’t follow them over probably doesn’t get it anyway, or they’re primarily on G+, but still hanging around FB until its momentum dies out and everyone they care about has similarly ported over, so they can leave it behind for good.

I’m not even going to pretend that I know the demographics here, nor can I be bothered to work up any reasonably-researched estimates, so I’m going to pull wild guesses out of my ass:  assume there aren’t too many of these folks, it requires a certain mobility to their lifestyle, a willingness to adapt to the new and strange, and the financial means to pursue it…worldwide, we’re talking, what, 5 million people, tops?

That leaves 745 million people still actively on FB.

The second group, the people with various degrees of technical savvy…these people know enough to have already tried turning their computer off and back on again before calling technical support, but not enough to never have to call support at all.  They’re probably already on G+, but still consider FB their primary Internet “home”…G+ is a cool place to check out, like that new show on AMC…it’s interesting, but gets immediately put on hold if there’s a new episode of [fill in R-rated HBO hour-long drama here] on the DVR.

But they see the promise.  They have some of the same concerns about FB that the geekerati have, even if they’re not nearly as passionate about it.  Ultimately, they’ll end up preferring to move wholesale over to G+, but it’s not something that’ll be a driving factor in their online lives.

Again, not going to pretend I can estimate numbers here, but since these folks need to have enough leisure time to explore new ideas, and the financial means to acquire the tools often enough to gain enough mastery to be willing to explore in the first place…what, between 50 and 100 million people, worldwide?  That’s probably really, really high.  Still, for the point of this exercise, we can be conservative in the “trying to invalidate the point I’m trying to make” direction, and go with 100 million, and still…

That leaves 105 million people on G+, and 645 still actively on FB.

Brief aside:  as of this writing, there are only 10-15 million active G+ accounts total.  That’s primarily because it’s still in Beta, still invite-only.  I’m somewhat speculating down the road, once the invites become unnecessary and anyone who wants to can sign up.  This is an “after the system stabilizes” kind of thought experiment.

And now we come to the third group, Grandma Betty.  Which is where G+ will fail.

A bit more generalized pontificating…there are two major paths that the Internet has followed down through the ages.

The first is for those who pay attention to what’s going on, the savvy…basically the first two groups already mentioned.  For them, the Internet, and computers in general, have been in a constant state of evolution, from the first IBM PCs, to your first Intel x86’s, and Usenet, and downloading porn in a dorm room that looks like just a bunch of random ASCII characters until you manage to find and download an image decoding program, and Archie to search for stuff, and then Mosaic, Compuserve, Excite, Ask Jeeves (non-boolean, real-term searches!), and Geocities and Friendster and MySpace and Facebook and, now Google+.

The second–the one that Grandma Betty is aware of–is made of much broader strokes.  The Apple II.  AOL.  And now Facebook.  It’s not an evolution, it’s a series of fascinating new peaks that captures their interest, becoming a part of their lives in the same way indoor toilets, color television and automatic transmissions have…with no concern at all with what happens in all the valleys in between.

And this is the problem that G+ is facing.  Grandma Betty doesn’t care that G+ is a little better than FB.  For her, FB is not one markedly more popular option in a long line of evolving ways to interact with people online; for her, FB is The Facebook.  It’s The Internet.  It’s being Online.  All of that, wrapped up in a single identity.

The idea of switching over to something better…well, why?  Isn’t one color TV basically the same as another?

Or, to land on another, probably more relevant analogy, what I’m basically saying is that FB is DVDs, and G+ is laserdiscs.  Yeah, there are a number of savvy people who are going to see all the benefits the latter offers over the former, and will switch over, either in whole or in part…but the vast majority of people won’t be aware of a difference, and won’t care.  I mean, we’re how many years into the HD/Blu-ray “revolution”, and DVDs still outsell Blu-ray discs by a magnitude.

And laserdiscs are an interesting footnote.

There are 645 million Grandma Betty’s out there.  That’s the difference between winning and losing in this game, and I just don’t see any way that G+ stands a chance at stealing even a small fraction of them.  Grandma Betty just likes being Online, on The Facebook, and is still feeling pretty pleased with herself that she’s figured out how to post photos that her family and friends can see.  The entire debate and choice between The Facebook and Google+…or anything else that’s similar, better or not…flies over her head the way a debate over PER vs. Adjusted +/- stats in basketball fly over the head of someone who is only peripherally aware that Michael Jordan isn’t playing professionally anymore.

So that’s my bit; I like G+, I’m one of those people in the second group I mentioned, and I’ve got an account and post to it occasionally, have some Circles set up already.  But I wouldn’t bet against FB any time soon.


And no, I have no intent on posting as to where I’ve been for the last 6+ months…too busy dusting this place down…damn it falls all to pieces when I step away for a while.  I may get to that…later.

Advertisements

Huh…what?

Been a while since I’ve dropped by, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.  There are plenty of reasons why, foremost being that—as I said from day one—these are the rules of engagement.  Sometimes I’ll post with relentless regularity, sometimes I’ll drop off the face of the earth for a while.  Don’t argue with the rain for being fucking wet, buy an umbrella.

There are plenty of other reasons why I’ve been away…many of which will pop up in the next few days as I try to get back into some semblance of regular posting…or at least try to brain-dump the accumulated detritus I’m carrying around in my head right now.  Because, while I haven’t been posting lately, I have been Writing, especially in the “If you’re talking to a writer, and explaining some involved situation to them, and get to the end and ask them for their advice on what you should do, and they kinda stand there for a few seconds, then nod and mumble ‘Uh-huh,’ and walk off, they’re not ignoring you, they’re Writing” way.

But first, the obligatory Lakers thoughts…good goddamn, the summer is a long fucking drought until training camp opens.

Also, note the nifty Tweet button at the bottom of this post (only seems to show up when you’re looking at the specific post page, not the site as a whole). So do me a favor and retweet this mother.


I think I finally understand why Jordan Farmar went to New Jersey.  On the surface it doesn’t make any sense.  You’ve got a young PG, feeling held back, sublimating the best parts of his game to fit in on a championship-caliber team like the Lakers, so the obvious move is to…go to the worst team in the NBA as a back-up to an All Star-caliber PG like Devin Harris, the kind of guy who’s locked in for 35+ minutes a night.  He’s going to get reduced minutes to play for a god-awful team, which is clearly so much better than playing 20-25 minutes a night for a championship contender, right?

But there’s more to it than that.

First, Devin Harris gets hurt.  A lot.  I’m pulling these numbers out of my ass, but I don’t think the guy has played more than 60 games a year over the last three years, and it would be an even-money bet that he won’t play more than that this year.  Which means for 20+ games this season, Farmar is going to be starting and playing big minutes, which is a huge upside over playing behind an iron man like Fisher.

Second, he’ll be playing for coach Avery Johnson, the polar opposite to Phil Jackson.  Avery is a feisty point-guard, guided the Spurs to a championship with his passing hands and squeaky voice, and I’m sure Farmar is drooling over what he can learn from someone who’s game was very similar to what he does.

Third, and most importantly, Farmar has an almost absurd confidence in his own abilities, even if he hasn’t had a chance to show them off fully yet.  (Though, two years ago, when Fisher was suspended for a game against the Rockets in the second round of the playoffs after forearm-shivering Sciola, Farmar started and had one of the best games of his career, both numbers-wise and in his overall maturity and ability to run the team.)  Whether it’s just something he and his people have tossed around, or maybe someone in the organization said something to him off the record, I think he believes that the Nets are willing to consider him as more than just another body off the bench.  Surely he took note of what happened when Chris Paul went down last year to injury and Darren Collison—Farmar’s former understudy at UCLA—got a serious chance to start at PG, and played so well that many serious observers were suggesting that the Hornets should give the starting spot to him and trade CP3 for parts to put around him.  I think, in Farmar’s mind, there are two possible scenarios over the next year or two:

1)      Farmar plays well enough that the team decides he could start for them, and decide to trade Harris (and his hefty salary-matching salary) and other pieces for a superstar forward or SG (something that was speculated on last year, even without a competent back-up for Harris).

2)      Farmar plays well enough that other teams with serious PG needs (Atlanta [Bibby’s not exactly young], New York [realizing they won’t ever get CP3], Bobcats, etc.) ask for him in a trade that would bring solid pieces back to New Jersey and push Farmar into the starting spot on a better team.

No idea if any of this is true or would actually happen, but it’s the only way I can wrap my head around the decision.  Other than the possibility that it was the only/best offer out there for him.  Which, given that FreeDarko got a 4-year, $20 million deal this summer, isn’t too likely.

Anyway, the fucker went to Taft, took the Bruins to the Final Four, and picked up two rings for the Lakers.  He’s family, wherever he is, and will always be loved and welcomed home.

The King is Dead

I don’t have much in the way of an emotional stake in this thing.  I mean, obviously, I come down pretty clearly on one side (the right side) whenever the Kobe-LBJ thing gets brought up, because I’m from LA, I watched Mamba from his first game in his rookie year, through the airballs against Utah, through the 2001 spanking of the rest of the playoff world, the agony of Phoenix, the agony-er of 2008, and the tears and redemption of the last 2 years.  And, really, scoreboard:  5>0.

And I’m not going to get into the debacle of last night; plenty of other folks online have commented thoroughly on it, and how clearly the look on his face is like the one half-decent guy in a group of bullies (his entourage) when he realizes the joke has gone a bit too far and people are getting hurt.

But I’ve never really hated the guy.  I grew up around rich, entitled kids my whole life, so that goofy, un-self-aware complete lack of empathetic understanding of what the world might be like outside of their “please sir, thank you sir, another sir?” bubble isn’t news to me.  I was a bit sad that he was living through it without having actually earned anything, like an entitled nouveau riche type who isn’t even liquid, just waiting (hoping) for their eight-figure options to vest.  And the antics, the dancing and chalk and 3rd-person-itis…it mostly made me wince, the way you do when any kid is going about blithely making the same mistakes you did that are so stupidly obvious in hindsight.

And it’s odd, in the midst of this incredible hubris, the one thing that stands out to me about him now is:  enforced humility. Because it’s clear, he not only doesn’t care if he’s The Man, is not just willing to “sacrifice” being The Man…he doesn’t want to be The Man.

I’ve seen what it’s like firsthand when great players decide that the only thing important to them is winning a championship, money and egos be damned.  That was the “joy” of the Payton/Malone tour through LA.  They both left millions on the table–guaranteed hall of famers, the clear alpha-males on their respective teams for more than a decade–and came to LA for a last chance to win a ring.  And it wasn’t a small paycut either; I think they split the mid-level exception, so they each made between $2-$6 million that year (to compare, Luke Walton–love him like I do–is making more than that right now).  And they came to a team where an alpha vs. alpha competition was already ongoing between Kobe and Shaq, meaning that there was zero chance that either of them would even be in contention for option A or even option B.  But there was nothing else as important to them as winning, and they did it.

(And yes, I’m aware that LA lost that year, which I blame on Payton’s realization that, contrary to intentions, he couldn’t really relinquish his head-strong nature for the betterment of the team…a realization that allowed him to actually do that very thing a year later, with the Heat, which got him his ring, thanks to the superhuman efforts of NBA superstar Bennett Salvatore.  And it was also Malone’s fault, specifically his karma…seriously, the most injury-safe player of his generation, could jump through a razor-wire-wrapped plate glass window and not even get a bruise, suffers an injury that keeps him out for most of the year and most of the playoffs?  Karma, man, for all those Utah years…and I sarcastically thank him for coming to stand right next to us at the exact moment that boomerang came swinging back around.)

And so, if LBJ’s real, true, only desire was to win–not just in a “30% of me wants money, 30% of me wants fame, and 40% of me wants a ring, so a ring’s the most important thing” way, but in a “I don’t care what number’s on the contract, this is the team that can win, give me a place to sign” way–then there was really only one viable option for him:

Orlando.

But wait, you say, they weren’t a possibility.  They weren’t even in the conversation, how could he have gone there? Well, he could have taken their mid-level exception.  $6 million-ish a year isn’t too bad, especially considering his income from all the sponsorships.  Or, hell, take the veteran’s minimum (like $2 million, I think?), which would allow them to sign someone else (like re-upping Reddick, or a solid back-up for Nelson).  And that line-up–Nelson, LBJ, Lewis, Howard, Redick, and various other assorted parts, all of whom have experience actually winning a game in the NBA finals–that one scares me.  The Miami line-up, not so much (more on that later).  But you have those four on your starting five…holy god.

But he didn’t even consider it.

He could have gone to Chicago:  Rose, LBJ, Boozer (or Amar’e, or Bosh…either of their decisions might have been different if LBJ had handled this differently), Noah…that line-up rules the East and seriously scares me as a Lakers fan.  And he could have gotten max money too.

And didn’t Cleveland have the best record in the NBA the last 2 years?  Seems that would only look to continue, if LBJ wanted to put the team and the city on his back and keep trying to carry them to glory.

But he didn’t.  He went to Miami, where, essentially, he becomes Pippen to Wade’s MJ.  He not only acknowledges that he needed more help than he got in Cleveland–an acknowledgement that he would also have been making had he gone to Chicago or Orlando–but that he isn’t able to carry things on his shoulders alone.  There’s only one way to look at it:  he and Bosh are there to help Wade’s team win titles.  They are his support players, in the hopes that they can out-talent the rest of the NBA into a ring or two.

Which isn’t a guaranteed thing.  They don’t have anyone to deal with Dwight Howard–really only the C*****s have the frontline to do so in the East–so just getting past Orlando will be a wild ride.  And with the rest of the C*****s back, probably playing their final years, hoping not to go out a loser, that won’t be an easy series either.  And really, putting the Bulls lineup–with a few years experience playing with each other under their belts–plus adding Korver as a deep threat, and their new coach putting in the same defense that’s given LBJ fits the last two years when playing Boston…plus the strong hate the Bulls will feel after being spurned by the “big 3″…I wouldn’t put money on that series either way.

But even assuming that they could get past all of those obstacles, there’s still the reigning champs, and I like our chances against the Heat across the board.  Kobe-Wade is a wash, young athleticism against perhaps the wiliest vet the game’s ever seen (and with a full summer to rest and heal too); Artest isn’t the offensive player LBJ is, but in a 7 game series, I give the over/under at 3 games before LBJ wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, expecting to find Artest hovering over his bed, pinning an arm down to fight to deny him the pass; Gasol is to Bosh what a Lotus is to a Mustang (both excellent, but really no comparison 1 on 1)…and then what?  You’ve got Fisher/Blake, Sasha/Walton, Odom and Bynum looking at the guy across from them, asking, “Hey, didn’t I see you playing in the D-League a month ago?”

Sure, years 4 and 5 (and maybe 3) will be different in unexpected ways as that core 3 get used to playing with each other and the rest of the NBA changes around them.  But it’s no sure thing.  There’s no way to say that the Heat are now head and shoulders above the rest, only an injury or lockout away from guaranteed rings. LBJ could have put himself in a situation where that statement was true, or at least less unlikely…but he didn’t want to.

For him, it’s just not all about winning.  It’s about making sure that he’s not responsible for whether his team wins or loses.

83-79

I feel a tremendous joy today.  It is not the joy of an unexpected miracle; it is the joy of agony averted, a hinting shadow of what a prisoner must feel when the governor calls as they’re strapping him to the chair.

Game 7 was both ugly and beautiful.  I have never seen such effort expended, and yet it was in all the worst ways:  smothering defense, game plans permanently disrupted, everything that is beautiful and graceful about the sport tossed aside as the largest and most physically-capable athletes in the world fought with every ounce of their being for one more inch than the other guys.

It was exactly the kind of game the C*****s wanted; the ugly, physical mockery of “sport” is what they’ve built their foundation upon, with the understanding that they can’t compete with the best in a battle of skill vs. skill, so they make sure everyone has to suffer through the worst night of their lives, expecting to be able to endure the pain longer than their foes.

And last night, the Lakers endured.  When option A didn’t work, and option B didn’t work, and option C wasn’t even possible, they got ugly too.  In the end, enduring ugliness and pain is also a skill, and a question of will, and the Lakers had more of both.

It felt like two fighters, beating each other senseless, both falling to the mat, and the winner isn’t the one who’s left standing, it’s the one who can somehow manage to regain their feet before the bell rings.

Some other thoughts, walking through it by position:

  • Kobe has, in the past, led the league in scoring.  Kobe, if he wanted to, could lead the league in rebounds.  Or assists.  Or steals.  Or, probably, blocked shots.  He has the will, the skill, and the unsurpassed understanding of the game to do whatever he wants to.  He knows in his heart he’s a scorer, and what he wants to do is win rings, so he finds ways to do what he can, and has proven over the last few years that–instead of gathering those stats for himself–he can create the space for his teammates to contribute.  So they’re built up, and in that one, critical moment when Kobe can’t do what he knows needs to be done–the shot takes a weird bounce off the rim and he’s on the wrong side of the court to get the rebound, or the player he passes to slips, going from “wide open and ready to hit the shot” to “potential turnover”, or his own shot is having one of those horrific nights when the ball is clearly bigger than the hoop–his teammates have the confidence and experience to get it done to help him.

Last night, Kobe’s shot was toast.  I’ve said for years, just like on some nights you can’t miss, no matter your form or where you’re shooting from, some nights the iron is unkind, and there’s no way outside of calling a timeout and playing 1 on zero that the ball is going in.  And so not only did he eventually trust that his teammates would be able to make the shots he couldn’t–note his pass to Artest with 1 minute left that led to a three to push the Lakers’ lead back to two possessions–he found other ways to contribute.  He hit the boards, set screens, orchestrated the defense.  More than anything, he didn’t panic, never allowed his teammates to see a look in his eyes that suggested he didn’t think they would win.

There’s an old saying (paraphrased here, not sure if there’s an actual quote to be strayed from) that it’s easy to be a friend when things are going well, but you know who your true friends are when things are going awfully.  And the corollary from last night is:  it’s easy to win when everything’s going well, but only the greatest can find a way to win when everything’s going wrong.

And I have to comment on this:  I have never seen him so un-guarded than he was in the post-game interviews.  He is always stoic, most often the most intelligent person in the room and willing to say and do whatever he wants to shape the mood and moment.  And last night, he let it all hang out.  When asked what this one means for him personally, he replied, ““Just one more than Shaq.  You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don’t forget anything.”  We all know that’s the truth, he didn’t need to say it, and never does, because it gets in the way of what he’s trying to do.  But damn, he said it.  When asked about the meaning of the victory over the Celtics, after denying that there was anything special about it for weeks, just another game, who it is doesn’t mean anything, he said, “I was just lying to you… You guys know what a student I am of the game. I know every series that the Lakers have played in. I mean, I was just a Laker nut, and I know every Celtics series, every statistic. It meant the world to me.”  Again, we knew that, he didn’t have to say it, we knew why he wasn’t saying it…but damn, it was amazing to see the walls come down, just a little, and actually hear it.

  • Is there anyone you’d want more in a foxhole next to you than D-Fish?  The guy is limited, and aside from his rainbow jumpers (when they go in), his game is anything but aesthetically pleasing.  But he is relentless.  Sometimes it gets him into trouble; I can recall well more than a few times when it’s looked like he’s in a complete fog, just putting his head down and charging forward, hoping that his head is stronger than the brick wall he’s charging at.  But there’s no one you want by your side more when everything’s on the line.  He gives everything he has to his teammates, and in doing so silently demand that they give the same back.

I remember a game two years ago, mid-January, nothing of great import, early second quarter.  Ariza got tangled up with someone under the basket–I think it was Gerald Wallace–and they were yelling at each other, in each other’s faces.  Wallace got the best of it, stepping to the line and making his free throws, and it looked like Ariza was completely out of his game; it was the kind of sequence that leads to the other team going on an emotional run while you come unraveled.  But D-Fish spoke quickly to Ariza, and then, on the next defensive possession, used some veteran trickery to get in Wallace’s blind spot and take a charge, Wallace’s 3rd foul, forcing him to the bench for the rest of the half, ending the run and getting the Lakers back on track.  That’s revenge.  That’s how you stick up for your friend.  That’s both Judo and chess, in one brief sequence.

That’s D-Fish.

  • I love Artest.  Love, like I want to hug him, then lean back and howl at the moon with him, then give him another bearhug.  The guy is insane.  I don’t know the diagnosis, but when I say he’s crazy, I don’t mean “wow, that dude’s crazy!” I mean “I hope he is under a doctor’s care so he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else.”  There’s clearly some ADHD, maybe mild Autism or Asperger’s…it’s like he has no Ego, and is just pure Id–impulsive desires–and super-ego–loftier thoughts about the right thing to do–with absolutely no moderator to guide his actions through that minefield.  The kind of guy that, if he was 5’10” and working next to you at your job, you’d get excited about going out drinking with him on Friday, but only if you wanted a seriously wild night that might lead to trouble (intentional or not), and you know that within six months at the most he’s either going to screw something up or piss his boss off enough to get fired.  Again.

And here’s why I love him:  he knows all of this himself.  He knows that he’s not fully right in the head, and has sought out help.  And he’s gotten a little better.  He said multiple times in his press conference last night that he owes a lot of his success–and his life–to his psychiatrist, because she’s helped him.  He knows he’s not good at things–being poised under pressure, trusting himself and those around him, doing what he knows he’s supposed to do instead of just going with whatever wild thought pops into his head–and he asked for help, and trusted that help, and got better.

For all that a person like Artest can be sad, and even a little scary, with all that potential mixed with a blind self-destructive impulse, the joy is all the greater when they manage to fight through it and improve their own lives and those around him.

And so, I love Artest, because of the joy he has found and brings.

  • Gasol was just pure last night.  The game was ugly, he couldn’t hit a shot, and looked more often than not like the hero of a kung-fu movie during the fight scene where he’s attacked by a dozen enemies at once, flailing and striving just to keep them at bay.  But he was pure, the effort he gave, the passion he brought…if you see that shot of him in the 4th quarter, after he’s put back another missed shot, with multiple bodies slamming into him (again), and he’s heading back up court, screaming with emotions too big to name…it should be the goal of every person alive to have even just a single moment in their entire life where they feel that passionate about something, anything.  And last night, there was no censor, he opened himself up, bared every bit of his being in the moment when it mattered most.  Pure.
  • Not sure I’ve ever been as proud of an athlete on a team I follow than I am of Bynum right now.  The guy’s got torn cartilage in his knee.  I’ve had the same injury, to a much lesser extent than he does, and I had difficulty walking across the living room.  That boy–sorry, correction, that man strapped it on and went to fucking work.  He was a beast.  The box score doesn’t show too much, but he was like the body blows a fighter throws early in a fight to wear their opponent down.  Even if they don’t connect, and don’t knock the other guy down, and don’t even get counted by the scorers of the fight, the impact sends shivers through the other guy, and you can’t take too many of those before things start to break down.  And that was Drew, all playoffs long.  Strapping it on and punishing the other guy over and over again.  No credit for a rebound, but his man so thoroughly boxed out that they’re already half-way down the court by the time Pau get the board for himself.  Credit for a missed shot, but you could power a small town for a week with the energy his defender had to put out to force the miss.  Why were the C*****s so out of gas last night, that they couldn’t hold on at the end?  It started with Drew knocking them silly at the start.
  • Not too many thoughts on the bench, really.  Odom finally showed up, playing focused and present.  Farmar and Shannon didn’t contribute too much, but neither did they screw anything up.  I did want to note one thing, though, and it’s a comment both on Sasha and PJ.
  • Late 4th quarter, 12 seconds left.  Lakers up by three, with possession, taking the ball out of bounds at the sideline, Boston sure to intentionally foul in the hopes that the Lakers will miss one or more free throws (which they’d been missing all damn night) and give them another chance.  And all year, Sasha has been in the doghouse.  Not sure why, but his minutes almost entirely went to Shannon Brown.  The guy who was the first off the bench in 2008, who’s dropped 30+ against a Spurs-caliber defense, had more DNP-CD’s than meaningful contributions over the course of the year.  But he kept working, kept fighting, and in this exact situation, PJ not only puts him into the game, but calls the damn play for him.  12 seconds left, the game and entire season on the line, and you pull a guy from deep off the bench and call his number?  Serious, serious testicles.  And the best part of it is:  Sasha takes the inbound pass, gets fouled, and then machine-like hits both free throws.  Like both he and PJ knew he would.  There are subtle levels of trust and history there that are beyond me.  All I know is that it doesn’t surprise me that PJ would make that call, nor that Sasha would step up and hit them both, icing the game.

And so that’s the season.  We have months of drafts, deals, free-agent summits, three-way trades, and all that other nonsense.  Like the Gods on Olympus, peering down through the clouds at the petty, endless machinations of the mortals below, the 2010 Lakers are above all that, drinking of ambrosia, waiting for the next contender to challenge them.  Because there’s only one team that can accept challenges to their throne:  the champions.