Sunday night I was still trying to comprehend the significance of the NFL conference championship games. Was the fact that the Seahawks were going to the Super Bowl a sign that fire and brimstone would soon rain from the sky? Was the name Jake permanently disgraced by Jake Plummer and Jake Delhomme in one weekend with their combined seven turnovers? (Seriously, I challenge you to find a baby born in the next calendar year in Denver or Carolina with the name Jake). Would Super Bowl XL be renamed “XXXL” in honor of Jerome Bettis’ homecoming to Detroit and his Michelin Man like physique? I was contemplating all things pertaining to football – when the Black Mamba struck.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Black Mamba, it is the self-proclaimed nickname of a certain shooting guard who wears No. 8 for the Los Angeles Lakers. I will resist the overwhelming urge to go on a tirade about how he blatantly ripped that nickname off of the movie “Kill Bill.” Let’s just say Quentin Tarantino deserves a few courtside tickets this season. Regardless of the origins of his name, the Black Mamba (we’ll call him BM for short) dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors Sunday night.
As I watched the second half unfold (where BM scored 55) and especially the fourth quarter where he essentially willed 28 points through the net, one thought stuck out in my head above all others: I would hate to be his teammate.
Rather than being awestruck by the second highest scoring output by a single player in a single NBA game (second behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points), I found myself sympathizing with his forgotten teammates. Would you want to be one of the guys endlessly feeding BM the ball in his pursuit of individual glory; never receiving any recognition or media attention for your performance? Would you secretly hope that BM would tear his knee in several places? Would a mysterious locker room “accident” lead to the end of BM’s season?
Which is why when talking with my friend CJ, I realized it was time to give the others their 15 minutes in the spotlight. No, not “The Others” from Lost (I’ve yet to see a basketball court on the island). The other 11 basketball players that currently wear a Lakers jersey and must suffer through the torture that is playing with a man who is averaging 27.7 shots per game. With the exception of, “the one who cannot not be named,” I present to you, the Los Angeles Laaaaaaaakers!
Kwame Brown, PF (starting)
A former No. 1 pick in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards! Since then, well, we won’t talk about his career average of 7.5 points per game. This would be the part where a lesser columnist would take an easy cheap shot at Michael Jordan and his abilities as a talent evaluator; but I’m above that.
Andrew Bynum, center
Ranks sixth in the NBA with 3.76 blocks per 48 minutes. That would be impressive, except for the fact that he only averages 7 minutes a game – meaning he averages .55 blocks per game. Unfortunately, I failed to find exactly how many of those blocks were against Black Mamba in an effort to get him to pass.
Brian Cook, PF, Devean George, SF and Devin Green, G
With a combined 13.9 points per game, they collectively have a significant impact on the game. Brain Cook leads the team with a .438 three-point percent, George was actually on the Lakers when they were winning championships, and Green brings intangibles to the court (which is a nice way of saying his numbers do not justify him being an NBA player).
Chris Mihm, center (starting)
A 7-foot tall white man in the NBA? Why I’ve never heard of such a thing. Following in the tradition of the Shawn Bradley’s of the NBA, Mr. Mihm spends his time on the court taking up space and trying to intimidate opponents with his 1.32 blocks per game. While he manages he put up 10.3 ppg, his grace on the court is reminiscent of an intoxicated penguin attempting to fly.
Lamar Odom, SF (starting)
The Lakers are 0-7 when Odom takes 15 or more shots – that can’t help him when he’s trying to convince Black Mamba to pass him the ball. How much do you think Lamar Odom misses the Miami Heat? After Lakers games, does Odom call Dwayne Wade and leave awkward messages, telling him how much he prefers him to Black Mamba? What do I have to do to listen to one of those messages? What reporter is on this story? Isn’t this why the Internet was invented?
Smush Parker, PG (starting)
Having overcome the odds and survived elementary school with his name; Smush leads the team with 1.68 steals per game. Smush! – nothin’ but net.
Sasha Vujacic, G
I haven’t the slightest clue how to pronounce his name, but that can’t stop me from writing it. He leads the team with a 95.7 percent free throwpercentage, and he hails from Slovenia, where he no doubt learned his shooting touch by throwing gigantic snowballs into garbage cans. I made that up, but it sounds like a story worthy of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”
Von Wafer, G
Besides his astoundingly awful 16.7% career field goal percentage (5 for 30 shooting) I have nothing to add here. However, I’m pretty sure I ordered him the last time I went to IHOP with blueberry toppings and a side of hash browns.
Luke Walton, SF
The “other Walton” (as in Hall of Famer Bill Walton’s son) now in his 3rd year and seemingly content with his 4.5 points per game. Much like Daniel Baldwin is to Alec Baldwin; Luke is a cheaper, younger, less talented version of the original. The best part of having Luke in the NBA is listening to his father announce his games for ESPN. Every time Luke misses a shot and his daddy’s microphone goes silent, I envision Bill standing up and screaming at him, “You have Hall of Fame blood running through your veins! Hall of Fame! Act like it!” I commend you Luke, and all of your teammates, for lifting Black Mamba up and setting the stage for BM’s Hall of Fame career. Just be sure to wipe the “Nike Zoom K*** I” shoe imprint off the back of your jersey.
Bradford Applin is a sophomore aerospace engineer. K-o-b-e B-r-y-a-n-t; there, he said it – are you happy now? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org