Tag Archives: Los Angeles Lakers

Last night in the NBA by the numbers

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Last night, in one of the most historically-relevant nights in NBA history, I couldn’t help but think about numbers. They were everywhere. Let’s break some of them down.

14 – The number of NBA games played last night. OK, that one was easy.

2 – The number of NBA games played last night that REALLY mattered. Sure, there was some Eastern Conference seeding to hammer out and the Houston Rockets clinched a playoff berth. But the two games that people will tell their grandkids about (the most reliable barometer for historical significance BTW) were the Golden State Warriors gunning for 73 wins in a single season and Kobe Bryant’s last NBA contest.

2 – The number of NBA streams I flipped between for about three hours from 10:30 p.m. ET onwards. Yup, it was a late night. And yup, I should have split-screened them. And yup, I’ll go to bed earlier tonight.

37 – The number of years since Kobe was born. His age, in other words.

20 – The number of consecutive seasons Kobe has been a Los Angeles Laker, the longest any NBA player has been with the same team. Death, taxes and Kobe being a Laker. Three things you can always count on.

Infinity – The number of damn celebs at this damn game. I mean I know this is L.A. but damn!

A fun hypothetical: How people would have reacted had Kobe dropped X number of points

X=15Good job, good effort. I mean, he averaged 17.6 points this season, well below his career average of 25, so this hovers around what he’s been doing all season. Makes sense. Thanks for the memories, #mamba.

X=25Alright, now we’re talking. A nice throwback effort from the Black Mamba. He hit his career average, a solid way to end his career. Enjoy retirement, Kobes!

X=40Yo, did Kobe really just do that?! That shit is crazy. I did not see that coming. This from a guy who shot 29% from three and 36% from the field this year?! SMDH. Hats off to Kobe. What a way to go out. Mad respect.

X=50Hold up, Kobe did WHAT?! You’re fucking with me, right? No way he did that. Dude IS like 50. Let me look up the box score. Damn, you’re right. #Mambaout indeed. Kobe dropped that mic and stepped on it.

60 – The number of points that Kobe scored last night in the final NBA game of his amazing career. That means that in the 2015-2016 NBA season, Kobe scored more in one game than any other player. Watching this unfold live was one of the most insane things I’ve seen on a basketball court. It was surreal. It was video game-like. It was like one of those cheesy yet fantastic Disney sports movies. It was everything anybody could have hoped for in Kobe’s finale.

50/50 – The odds that Kobe was going to have to be carried out on a stretcher (thumbs up raised to the sky just like a Disney movie) due to exhaustion. Seriously, he looked THAT tired.

Oh right, the other game. Well, the other game was ONLY the Warriors trying to win the most games EVER in an NBA season. Only.

72 – Prior to last night, the most wins in a single NBA season, set by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 campaign.

73 – The number of wins the Warriors achieved last night after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104. The Grizz never stood a chance in this one. I don’t care how good Matt Barnes is at scowling.

30 – The number of dollars I won this year from betting on the Warriors 🙂

402 – The number of three pointers that Steph (i.e. Chef) Curry has made this season, the most in NBA history. Dude is lit from three.

286 – The second-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished last year by, wait for it, Curry. That means he broke his own record by 116. WTF.

276 – The third-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished this year by, wait for it, Curry’s backcourt mate, Klay Thompson. Yeah, they’re the heavy favourites to repeat as NBA champions, I’d say.

433 – The total number of three pointers made this season by the entire Milwaukee Bucks team.

2 – The number of days left until the NBA playoffs tip off. Can’t wait.

4 – The number of hashtags I’ll end this post with.

#ThankYouMamba #ThankYouWarriors #LetsGoRaps #WeTheNorth

 

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Five random, bulleted thoughts regarding the NBA

So I read a lot of columns, sports or otherwise. And whenever I see a piece that’s bulleted, my first thought is to deem the writer lazy. Because a bulleted article allows the writer to hand something in to his/her editor that doesn’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. It’s pretty much just random thoughts. For those of you who remember essay writing from your university days, bulleted columns essentially lack a thesis statement. But hey, we lead busy lives, right? Not all of us have time for thesis statements, rising action, conclusions, and whatever other components make up an official essay these days. All that being said, here are some of my bulleted thoughts. Feel free to call me lazy because you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

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Kobe Bryant on his own team: “We’re old as shit.” I love this guy.

  • How in the world are the Los Angeles Lakers (15-16) a sub-500 team? We all expected a getting-to-know-each-other phase. Not many people expected them to come flying out of the gates. But this? If the season were to end today, the Lakers would finish as the 10th seed in the Western Conference and miss the playoffs. If I had more energy, I’d look up the last time that happened. OK fine, I’ll look it up. They last missed the playoffs in 2004-05. One other tidbit: Since 1948, they’ve missed the playoffs a total of five times. Thanks, Wikipedia. Anyway, coming into the season, it was clear to me and everyone else who cared that they had a measly excuse for a bench, “highlighted,” I suppose, by 36-year-old Antawn Jamison. But I thought given their starting lineup of multiple All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol and one-time All-Star (look it up) Metta World Peace, they’d, at the very, very least, be a playoff team. If this team doesn’t put together a winning streak soon, chants of “We Want Phil” may start raining down at the Staples Centre once again. Or maybe “We Want Andrea.” Wouldn’t that be sweet?
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Yes you do, Matt Barnes. Yes you do. That’s why Clips fans love you. And opposing fans, well, don’t.

  • Oh, I ain’t done with the City of Angels just yet. If the Lakers have been bad, their stadium-mates have been, well, great. That’s right. The Clippers, perhaps at one point the biggest laughing stock in any sport, consistently dismissed as the clumsy little brother to the Lakers, didn’t drop a game during the month of December as they amassed 17 straight wins. 17! They have the best record in the league! Unlike the Lakers, their bench has a collection of guys who would start on most other teams. The Clippers!? With the Lakers falling like flies and the Clippers rising like stars, the city of Los Angeles is truly embroiled in a bizarro world-type situation. Oh, and they play each other tomorrow. You don’t think both LA squads will be up for that one? Please let Gasol pat Chris Paul’s head again. Please. And in case you were wondering, since 1970, the Clippers have qualified for the playoffs a grand total of eight times. Ocho!
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He seems like perfectly nice guy so he’s only here because he’s the oldest player in the league. In your face, Grant Hill!

  • Let’s start off by reviewing the ages of some of these New York Knickerbockers. Kurt Thomas: 40. Jason Kidd: 39. Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace: both 38. Amar’e Stoudemire: plays defence like he’s 38. Just kidding. Well, not really. For the record, he’s 30. To be fair, of these senior citizens, only one, Kidd, plays more than 20 minutes per game at 29.9. Coming into the season, I expected the Knicks’ age to show. But thanks to an MVP-like performance so far from Carmelo Anthony as well as an honourable mention to J.R. Smith’s decision to stay away from the New York nightlife, this team is 21-10 and currently in second place in the Eastern Conference behind LeBron et. al. Now, as we all know, the East is (how should I put this politely?) inferior to the West but still. The Knicks could potentially beat Miami in a seven-game series. They’ve already done it twice this year, by a combined 40 points, actually.
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Will this happen again in June? I’d put their chances at 60-40.

  • As for the aforementioned Heatles, they’re doing pretty much what I expected. They have the best record in the East but the fourth-best record in the league. There’s no doubt the champs are playing well but isn’t there a feeling that they could have a better record at this point? A vague sense that because they realize the weakness of their conference, that they’re not playing full bore at this point? They’re smart enough to know that preserving their bodies for a deep playoff run should be their top priority right now, not winning games in November and December. They should focus on getting the top seed in the East and not on shooting for any single-season record at this point. Win the East, win the “statement games” such as their Christmas tussle with the Thunder on Christmas day and they should be just fine.
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No comment.

  • So I can’t talk about every team so let’s just move right along to my home squadron: The Toronto Raptors. I, along with many members of the media, were putting forward a strong sense of cautious optimism at the beginning of the season. Given that the pucks were in a lockout, I was hoping (praying) for some Cinderella-type story that seems to mostly happen in the movies but sometimes materializes in real life. In an ideal world, the Raps come out of the gates strong, beating teams nobody expected them to beat, eventually wrapping up the season somewhere in the 2-4 seed range in the East. Meanwhile, the NHL owners and players are forced to cancel the entire season, putting the Raptors directly in the spotlight in Hogtown. After that, who knows what could have happened? But winning a round and maybe even losing out to the Heat in the Conference Finals would have been priceless for the game of basketball in Toronto as well as Canada. As we all know, this will likely not happen. Because from November 20 to December 12, the Raptors lost 12 of 13 games (we beat Phoenix at home!), putting us at 4-19 on the season. The good news? What we’ve done since then. Coincidentally, once Bargnani left the lineup due to injury, the Raps magically started stringing together some wins, namely eight of their last nine. Now I’m no rocket scientist. I can’t even tipe corretcly but it seems we may be a better team without our no-doubt-talented yet no-doubt-unmotivated no. 1 pick. And according to ESPN, he’s a lock to be traded. Please take note of the four exclamation points after the topic name. And this is a pro-Raptors site. ‘Nuff said.

 

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Shedding a tear for the NBA lockout

At one point there, you couldn’t help but feel some hope.

This was fun, wasn't it?

It appeared the gears were possibly in motion and the wide chasm between the two sides was potentially shrinking. For what felt like a nanosecond, it seemed that cooler heads might prevail and the NBA Players Association and the NBA owners just might put their collective interests ahead of their individual ones and start training camp and the 2011-12 NBA season on time.

Storylines ran through my head at breakneck speed. How will Miami’s Big Three fare in their sophomore season? Can Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire get Spike Lee and the New York faithful on their feet once again? How does Dirk back up his championship season? Derrick Rose his MVP one? The list goes on and on and on.

Finding out what happens with this dynamic duo also figures prominently on the list.

And then, like glass panes falling from Toronto condominiums, it all came crashing down. This is unfortunate for two main reasons. First and most obviously, NBA fans stand to lose an entire season. Secondly, from a business standpoint, it couldn’t come at a worse time for the league.

That’s because it seems to me that the NBA hasn’t enjoyed this level of popularity and attention in quite some time. While a lot of it has to be credited to one man’s “decision” to relocate his talents, the fact remains that not since a man named Michael dominated the game has it been this star-laden. This rich with storylines. This damn compelling.

If the NBA was a winter jacket, it’d be a Canada Goose. If it was a Hollywood actor, it’d be Ryan Gosling. If it was a film festival, it’d be TIFF. The point is that the NBA is hot right now and, unsurprisingly, the numbers bear it out.

Simply put, millions of people will be disappointed and thousands downright pissed if the NBA cancels the season. I don’t know why I do this to myself but here are two reasons among many why:

The Big Three/Two-and-a-half/Two and their encore performance

Remember when LeBron turned into one of the most polarizing figures overnight after he decided to take his talents to South Beach? According to one source, the one-hour special drew upwards of 10 millions viewers, more than most NBA playoff games. Let me repeat: MORE THAN AN ACTUAL GAME.

So from the opening tip against the Celtics in late October to their crushing defeat to the Mavs in the NBA Finals (giving team play vs. pure talent an early 1-0 advantage), the microscope was firmly aimed at Lebron, Dwayne and Chris. Opposing fan bases relished the chance to boo the Big Three. Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley took shots at LeBron’s legacy. The city of Cleveland damn near ripped his head off. One clever ESPN analyst even likened Bosh to a Spice Girl.

If they were already under a microscope, this pre-pre-season celebration certainly turned up the magnification. Orlando Magic coach (and one of the best quotes in any sport) Stan Van Gundy said it best:

“I do chuckle a little bit when they sort of complain about the scrutiny when they get. My suggestion would be if you don’t want the scrutiny, you don’t hold a championship celebration before you’ve even practiced together.”

Like it or not, the pressure was on for this team not only to win but to win big. With a team armed with two of the three best players IN THEIR PRIME (distinguishing them from Boston’s or San Antonio’s Big Three, for example), anything short of a championship would have been deemed a failure. And doesn’t the fact that they failed make their second attempt that much more fascinating?

Two dynamic duos in two very different markets

Oklahoma City has 580,000 people as well as the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. New York City has 8,175,133 people and Times Square.

NYC is commonly referred to as “the city that never sleeps.” Some might call OKC a great place to catch up on your sleep.

NYC has Jay-Z, Beyonce, David Letterman and Jon Stewart. Who does OKC have as current residents? Well, to be fair, they do have this guy:

All jokes aside, one thing the cities do share is a high level of optimism for their respective NBA teams and their abilities to make a championship push.

In the Big Apple, a hoops-crazy city if there ever was one, you have one of the best big men in the league (when healthy) in Amare Stoudemire and arguably the best pure scorer in Carmelo Anthony. With a rejuvenated Stoudemire under the basket grabbing boards, swatting shots and posting up while Anthony unloads his very special offensive arsenal, the recipe for success is there. The question mark, of course, is the rest of the team but if the Heat can make it to the finals with two-and-a-half men, what’s to stop the Knicks from doing it with two?

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Too bad we might have to wait awhile to watch these two at MSG.

Chemistry in team sports is both one of the hardest things to achieve as well as one of the most vital to success. Adding to the problem is that it’s virtually impossible to predict. Anthony and Stoudemire have only had half a season together, not long enough to make any conclusions. But there is no doubt people will tune in to form their own.

Speaking of chemistry, there have been signs of strain and tension in OKC (much of it media-driven) between Westbrook and Durant. From my end, it seems the main problem is that while everybody on the planet believes Durant to be the first option, Westbrook continues to think, “Uhh. Maybe it’s me?” Selfish at times and a bad decision-maker often, Westbrook has to hand over the team to Durant for this baby to work.

That being said, it would be an immense blow to the organization if they were to ship Westbrook. He’s a burgeoning superstar and a legitimate multiple All-Star. Once he learns how to help his team rather than hurt it and whether he’s a point guard or a shooting guard, his athleticism and explosiveness will do the rest. The potential for greatness is too high to split these two up.

These are only a couple of storylines to follow once the NBA starts up again, whenever that may be. Sigh. Well, at least the refs worked out a deal.

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