July 08, 2003

Payton chooses L.A.!: Whoo. Hoo. As a Laker fan and current Los Angeles resident, this news makes me very happy indeed. He may be 35, but he's a fantastic point guard. Now if only his shooting gaurd doesn't go to jail, and his center doesn't show up tipping the scales plus 400 (oh, and his soon to be power forward doesn't retire to the Louisiana farmland)...

posted by jonson to basketball at 04:34 PM - 15 comments

Payton is an upgrade over Derek Fisher, but more importantly he adds depth at the point guard position. Having a rookie directing traffic in critical game situations was not fun to watch. With the two forwards they drafted, and the possibility of adding another with Malone, the Lakers are going to be much improved next year.

posted by dusted at 05:14 PM on July 08, 2003

I have always wondered about this in Basketball. Basically get all the "superstars" who missed rings and at the end of their contracts sign them to friendly deals that give them cuts of shirts deals etc to try and be the Harlem Globetrotters of the NBA. Just go out barnstorming. Every year refill the team with the latest older end of contract non title winner and have a blast. Everyone would want to see them. Is there any rule that would stop this as long as they are under the salary cap ??? Make it a city-less NBA team that moved leagues each season and let them go.

posted by stuartmm at 05:26 PM on July 08, 2003

stuartmm, sounds interesting but the Globetrotters are still around. Plus, scheduling and playing 82 road games a year would be a nightmare.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:59 PM on July 08, 2003

Remember this is already a team that had major personality problems! I don't see the Lakers are dramatically better unless they add another power forward (Malone, or even Juwan would do). In that case, lights out.

posted by djacobs at 06:08 PM on July 08, 2003

It seems like they are going for the high-priced Blazers strategy, and we all know how well that has turned out. I believe that a team where everyone thinks they're a chief is bound for a season's worth of hurt and bickering, regardless of whether the players are all terrible (last year's Cavs), pretty good (last decade's worth of Blazers) or really quite good (next year's Lakers). Team play is way underrated in the NBA.

posted by avogadro at 09:21 PM on July 08, 2003

avogardo has a solid point - look at the number of teams with four or five absolute superstars over the past five years: the Blazers, the Kings, the Mavericks, and yet, look at who has won: the Lakers & the Spurs. And in both cases, when it came down to it, there was no question as to how the team worked. Sure role players need to be good, but there could be a problem if the shots go to the wrong person at the wrong time because they're (ahem) chasing the all time scoring title or perhaps used to being the #1 option on their significantly less talented Milaukee/Seattle team, etc.

posted by jonson at 10:00 PM on July 08, 2003

There are all sorts of things that could go wrong, yes. But it'll be interesting to see how GP plays when he doesn't have to be a scorer, for once. And he and Bryant are going to present a fiendish defensive combination in the back court, maybe even enough of one to mitigate the (current) lack of a big-name power forward -- after all, the Bulls won all those championships without marquee big men in no small part by disrupting their opponents' offense before they ever got the ball down low.

posted by mattpfeff at 01:11 AM on July 09, 2003

mattpfeff - good point on the defense, this is a backcourt that should be able to clamp down in a big way. I think Gary is going to fit in nicely in LA. He was NOT a selfish player in Seattle, he just HAD to play the way he did in order for the team to have any success whatsoever. Look at his career assist numbers, they're great. He will be willing to defer to both Kobe and Shaq that the Lake Show is "their" team, and he will play hard for Phil Jackson as he has played hard all his life. He might even be able to help Kobe and Shaq stay focused like Clyde Drexler did for Hakeem when he joined to Rockets. Payton's hunger for the elusive ring will energize the rest of the team. The bar has been raised for the Spurs. They gots to git Kidd now. And I don't think the Lakers need to get Malone or (God forbid!) Juwan. If they keep Fox and Horry that's a good enough front court to team with the Big Three. Hey...it's not like they're rebuilding. Oh, and, I hope Gary gets "his" ring.

posted by vito90 at 08:35 AM on July 09, 2003

It seems like they are going for the high-priced Blazers strategy, and we all know how well that has turned out. I am an avowed Lakers hater but comparing the 1999-2000 Blazers team with the 2003-2004 Lakers doesn't hold water. The 1999-2000 Blazers had: R. Wallace S. Pippen S. Smith D. Stoudamire A. Sabonis B. Wells D. Schrempf B. Grant The 2003-2004 Lakers will have: S. Oneal K. Bryant G. Payton So what's the difference? IMHO, the Lakers have two of the top 3 players in the league, and 3 of the top 15. The Blazers had something like the 20th and 25th best players and 5 of the top 50. That's a big difference. I think it's much better to have 3 of the top 15 than 5 of the top 50. And I think the Lakers have to be huge favorites to win the title, which stinks. I was really enjoying watching someone (Duncan) who can really play basketball (you know, dribbling, shooting jump shots, using his left hand). Now we get treated to watching Shaq bull his way to the basket 30 times a game. Cool.

posted by Mike McD at 09:12 AM on July 09, 2003

Hey, on the plus side, maybe Payton & Kobe will make the Lakers less reliant on Shaq and his stultifying but painfully effective style of play that won three championships while boring the league senseless.

posted by jonson at 10:28 AM on July 09, 2003

I think this is terrific for LA (and sucks for Sacramento and probably Dallas) but too soon to call for SA.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:37 AM on July 09, 2003

[Payton] was a great one, and Milwaukee will not long keep him (contract expires after less than 30 more regular season games). Maybe he'll pull a Charles Barkley and take a pay cut to go to a great team (hint hint) as a third option? posted by jonson at 10:59 AM CST on February 21 I bow to you, O prescient one...

posted by vito90 at 11:43 AM on July 09, 2003

So what's the difference? IMHO, the Lakers have two of the top 3 players in the league, and 3 of the top 15. My point was not that the quality of the Lakers players (assuming that Malone will sign with them as well) was the same as the Blazers players, but that when you have a starting lineup comprised of players with the same talent/celebrity/ego level, that something has to give, no matter what the overall talent level is. You have to have chemistry (an overused phrase, but one that encompasses team play, the ability of each player to adjust and excel in their role, etc.). It could be Dream Team 1992, or Dream Team 2002 is what I'm saying.

posted by avogadro at 05:58 PM on July 09, 2003

The 1999-2000 Blazers are the team that blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference championship. (I credit the Lakers for making the comeback, but I always blame the team that blows the lead--if they're good enough to get the big lead, they should be good enough to keep it.) This was a pivotal game in recent NBA history because it kicked off the Lakers run of three consecutive championships--a run that in my view is due to the myth of Laker invincibility started in this game. The Kings and the Spurs both blew playoff series against the Lakers by blowing big leads in important games. It's like they get the lead and then get nervous, which lets the Lakers come back. The Lakers never quit, I'll give them that, but they teams they've beaten often do.

posted by kirkaracha at 08:49 PM on July 09, 2003

And it is now semi-official. Malone will join the Lakers. How many cooks can you fit in Staples Center?

posted by avogadro at 03:47 PM on July 10, 2003

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