Let’s start with a couple of major records broken this season. Kobe Bryant eclipsed 30,000 points. Steve Nash joined the 10,000-assist club. Dwight Howard tied his career-best 26 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets. All of these are individual accolades. On a team of individuals.
The game against the little brother Clippers last week brought into sharp realization that off-court chemistry goes a long way. Imagine a team that actually hangs out away from the training facility. Imagine guys who encourage each other and have genuine concern for not only the super star throwing down dunks but the guy sitting on the bench as well. A team that pranks together: stays together. Just go take a look at DeAndre Jordan’s Instagram #gotem.
The Lakers are a team of big players with matching egos. They don’t know how to work together because many of them never had to. Nash was top dog in Phoenix, Dwight was top dog in Orlando, and I don’t even need to say who is top dog here in LA/probably the rest of the league. How do you mesh a bunch of alpha dogs together and expect teamwork?
Allow me to suggest some amends for this quandary. I am proposing some team building activities for the Lakers. If they aren’t going to actually hang out outside the court, we gosh-darn better make them. Here are some suggestions:
- Go to the Movies – This may seem like a standard thing, and many NBA teams do this on road trips but I am suggesting a very specific movie night. Watch a marathon of these movies: Coach Carter, Love and Basketball, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans (for team bonding) and Miracle (to remind them anything is possible and they can indeed still make the playoffs). Then, to really drive the consequences of a dying career home: Kazaam. Insert Coach Kobe yelling, “Is this what you want for yourselves?” Guarantee you that will resonate.
- Laser Tag – This activity requires agility, quick thinking and spot on aim. Also, you have to think the guys would be really good at going on the offensive and avoiding other players. I can see Metta World Peace now running out from behind a cardboard safe house, elbowing anyone who gets in his way. I swear I am still talking about laser tag.
- Yoga Retreat -Yoga could help Kobe and Dwight release their media-inflicted anger towards each other. Metta World Peace could find some inner peace. Nash could ninja his way into various yoga positions as Pau Gasol looks on confounded before blaming ‘tendonitis’ in his knees and retreating back to his teepee.
- Trust Falls – This is a standard ‘team-building’ activity. I’m not entirely sure why. All I can see are flashes of Dwight Howard explaining he’s sorry people are so jealous of him and subsequently hitting the ground when no one catches him. Oh wait, that’s Mean Girls. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that’s actually that far off. Kobe is totally Regina George. He’s flawless. And if he punched me in the face, it would be awesome. Steve Nash is Gretchen Weiners, his father may not have invented toaster strudel but he knows everyone’s business because he’s the point guard and D’Antoni’s right hand man. Dwight Howard is Cady, the new girl who started off with all the potential in the world, morphed into a plastic going through the motions, then redeemed herself at the end. Still waiting on that redeeming part. Anytime now, Howard. Then there’s Gasol. He is Karen because every one always forgets about him because he is such a sl—I mean baby.
- Fight Club – Mean Girls not doing it for you? Okay let’s try another movie parallel. The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. If the Lakers had a secret society amongst themselves that would bond them right? It would give them a sense of community. Sure, a fight club may not be the greatest team bonding activity, but it would certainly go a long way in explaining the plethora of injuries, and why a bump to Gasol’s nose is now considered a concussion keeping him out indefinitely.
- Defense– If you hadn’t gathered by now this is the only actual suggestion.
There were glimpses of the above suggested defense as the Lakers fell in San Antonio to the Spurs. Down 16 with seven minutes left in the game, a Kobe-led surge came through, clawing them to within three. They had multiple chances to tie it up, including a very last second look by none other than Earl Clark who may just be the Aladdin of the Lakers (diamond in the rough if you didn’t catch that reference). But alas, as with the previous four games, it just wasn’t enough.
Now, in this time of desperation, Lakers should be willing to try anything- yes, even a Yoga retreat. Namaste boys, roll out those mats and get to stretching.