Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tweet This, Kobe! Lakers’ Big Men Have to Get It Done

So how would you feel if you were Kobe Bryant, suffered a season-ending injury and watched your team from afar struggle against a stronger Spurs team? How would you feel if you were a 15-time All-Star who averaged 27 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists and couldn’t help your team in the first series of a mind-numbing postseason, missing the playoffs for the second time in your polished career? How would you feel if you were the Black Mamba, the central figure of the Los Angeles Lakers, lashed out on social networking and tweeted from home throughout the game since you currently can’t travel with the team?

If you were like Kobe, a competitor and enthusiast, you would be very upset, frustrated and “bored.” On Sunday afternoon, from his Newport Beach home, he sat on the couch with his surgically repaired left leg elevated. Bryant sat in front of his television, as he was tweeting and nervously watching the Lakers run into trouble and come unstuck for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles tendon, expected to be sidelined six to nine months while recovering from surgery. The beloved star guard for one of the most celebrated franchises in pro sports was madly posting quotes via Twitter during the Lakers’ 91-79 loss in Game 1 of the playoff opener, which was still on, when he was using 140 characters to coach and encourage his teammates.

“Matador Defense on Parker. His penetration is hurting us.”

No growling. No snarling. No scowling. Maybe from his home, but not on the court. Bryant won’t be around to facilitate or hit a game-winning shot with much at stake in a postseason when folks already have doubts about the Lakers, following a porous season of disappointments, frustrations and woes that eventually culminated with a miracle to the playoffs. The idea that the Lakers are a social fabric, a main event, and more importantly, the most famous organization in a diverse community that comforts Californians in the Southland is why it is often hard any time the team is eliminated from contention in late April or early May and fails to lift the trophy come June. If Kobe were somehow healthy to indeed play, it would only give the Lakers a greater chance over the Spurs, if not a greater shot of winning a championship.

“Nothing worse then watching your bothers struggle and u can’t do crap about it #realtalk.”

In this particular series, nothing is worse than Mike D’Antoni’s boneheaded coaching philosophy, and sometimes he has the mind of a doofus by using his run and gun style of offense. This was not a workable or useful system for the Lakers all season. This was realistically a flawed coaching system as it showed all season. Given that he arrived and installed a fast-paced offense this season, which the Lakers needed time to adjust and learn D’Antoni’s peculiar style, an aging and slothful team isn’t capable of running the floor with players from opposing teams who are faster and younger. Deemed an offensive genius, as a generalization is not a misguided theory, he’s never preached defense. If he’d like be a Lakers coach for a very long time, then he must have the ability to alter his offensive and defensive strategy.

#Realtalk!

He knows there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on him, in other words, or blame could lie with D’Antoni for his inability to coach a championship-caliber team. Only he can rectify the frailty and blemishes by making smart choices. The most erratic basketball team in the world is coached by someone who is baffled and has no clue what way to utilize his players. Now wasn’t the time for Steve Nash to start for the Lakers. The decision, it could be debatable, has allowed Nash to return to the starting lineup for a team that can really use his presence and he better suits D’Antoni’s offensive mantra that his point guard ran effectively under him in Phoenix.

These Lakers aren’t the Suns, though. These Lakers are older, much older than that fast-running Phoenix team D’Antoni coached in the desert. This year, Nash is battling with injuries, which is only by far slowing down the 39-year-old veteran. He is not even fully healthy and should have come off the bench, especially with how well Steve Blake has been producing highest-scoring performances of his career to help the Lakers secure a playoff spot without the Twitter Coach.

Everyone loves to believe, though Nash missed eight games with a hamstring injury, that he can change everything for the Lakers in this series as a scoring threat that the Lakers badly needed. It felt like the start of something, a breath of hope and optimism in a game that Pau Gasol spaced the floor and ran pick-and-roll sets for Nash. More to the point, he scored 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting with three assists and a lone turnover in his first appearance in nine games. And while this was happening, as it did, Bryant was sharing his feelings and thoughts with the world, tweeting during the game, for which his rants and endless tweets might have been more entertaining than the game itself for more than 2 million followers.

He tweeted, “Post. Post. Post.”

I’m with Kobe on this one. Great minds think alike.

He is now offering support and his best advice on what the Lakers need to do as a team if they want to keep winning and be successful in a playoff that they are a least favorite to make it out of the first round against the San Antonio Spurs. Yet even after the loss, Bryant still believes the Lakers can win with the group they have. It’s now time to realize that without Kobe, though he’s tweeting about the game, the Lakers can’t make too many mistakes. Worse than all, the Lakers turned the ball over 18 times like it was a hot potato, as though they could slow down Spurs guard Tony Parker by carelessly having more turnovers. With Kobe out, he has embraced his role as, well, not a team cheerleader but let’s just say a social media freak.

Feeling this way, since he’s not healthy to help his teammates make a deep run in the playoffs, he’s providing insight and a vote of confidence. He was perhaps aware that Howard and Gasol combined for a total of 10 turnovers and that it has stifled the Lakers since the early part of the season to dictate their status as they jockeyed for a playoff position. With this in view, Howard and Gasol, the two Lakers’ big men, are more vulnerable and benign. This series, and Bryant knows this as well, will be long if Howard and Gasol can’t limit the number of turnovers.

While it’s true that Howard and Gasol are the team’s best options, with Bryant missing the postseason, the Lakers’ offense must be a heavy post attack. If they are going to be a real threat, and make life miserable for Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, well, then Howard has to defend the rim, establish a post game and dominate underneath. The fact he was getting the ball stripped away every time he was down low, plagued by two Spurs defenders, hurt the Lakers as the big man turned it over with awful passes and ball-handling. By then, Kobe was furious and ready to scream. He wasn’t laughing out loud — LOL. By then, Kobe probably was shaking his head.

I know I was shaking my head — SMH.

Gasol is playing well and raised his game in Bryant’s absence, a gifted Spaniard who is confident in his ability to score. He had 16 points, adding 16 rebounds and six assists, to register another double-double. Howard scored 20 points, but it was lost after having so many turnovers.

As it happened, Bryant was still tweeting and tweeting and tweeting.

Quite frankly, he’s publicly communicating with his team via social networking, speaking his mind, illustrating his passion as always, while he misses playing with the guys. He is vocal and outspoken, never has been afraid to rip anyone or speak the truth about a specific topic regarding the Lakers and never backed down from anyone or anything. Therefore, he’s tweeting messages he says to the Lakers when he’s on the sideline during timeouts or when he’s on the floor, where he has a penchant for scolding and chiding his guys.

If the Lakers expect to win this series and tie it in Game 2, then Howard must take care of the ball and have a big game, so does Gasol.

Aside from that, for those who are Twitter fanatics, subscribe to Kobe.