It took almost the entire first half before the Los Angeles Lakers finally shook their post All-Star break cobwebs and got back to the type of play that has propelled them to the top with the Association’s best record. It was an efficient and minimalist execution with Pau Gasol leading the way with his first Lakers triple-double, producing 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Lamar Odom continued his frenetic rebounding pace with 20 boards to go along with his 15 points. In all, 6 Lakers scored in double figures with both Jordan Farmer and Trevor Ariza sparking the bench with 10 points apiece. Kobe Bryant had a quiet night with only 10 points but both he and Gasol were afforded the luxury of sitting out the entire fourth quarter. It was another Lakers blowout by midway through the 3rd quarter as the lead ballooned to 23. At that point, all that was on the minds of Lakers fans were free tacos and when Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown would make their debut. No one went home disappointed as the Lakers held off the Atlanta scrubs for a final score of 96-83. Both Morrison and Shannon played although neither lit it up or showed any glimpses of immediate stardom. In short, salary dump players with limited potential.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
Potential is a word that keeps General Managers awake at night and drives Head Coaches to drink or worse, to the unemployment line. It’s what keeps a marginal player on the roster, or helps a good player secure a heavy payday. When a player fulfills his own and his employer’s expectations, every mistake or error along the way can be marginalized as growing pains. But when a player fails to fulfill his self-proclaimed prophecy or the projections of the “experts,” the road down to obscurity and oblivion is quick and immediate. The NBA is a sport that rewards extreme athleticism. It requires an athlete to constantly fine-tune his body to perform at its optimum peak. Dedication to a strength and conditioning regimen may provide the extra edge in beating your opponent or securing a long-term contract. Failure to keep up with the arduous pace will relegate you to the end of the bench, or worse yet, shipped off to one of the cellar-dwellers in the D-league. This commitment is what separates the marginal from the good, the good from the great, the great from the superstar. There are many players throughout the annuls of time who never lived up to their hype or met their potential. The Lakers, like every other NBA team, have had their share of players who for one reason or another, could not meet the high expectations that we thought they were capable of reaching. Did we put too much pressure on them, did we project them to be something they were incapable of becoming? Did they let us down by not materializing into our vision of who they should be? Or did they cheat themselves and cut their careers short by not fulfilling their potential? You be the judge…
Kwame Brown, Elden Campbell, Kenny Carr, Brian Cook, Devean George, Jeff Lamp, George Lynch, Slava Medvedenko, Smush Parker, Vladimir Radmanovic, Isaiah Rider, David Rivers, Kareem Rush, Tony Smith, Mike Smrek, Earl Tatum, Terry Teagle, Billy Thompson, Nick Van Exel, Samaki Walker, Kermit Washington, Orlando Woolridge.