Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Plaschke Papers

Reading a Bill Plaschke article in the LA Times is like reading poetry. Sheer poetry, as if it were written by Walt Whitman himself... while drunk... and high on drugs.

Who's ready to talk NBA Playoffs?!

The most important celebrity at Staples Center on Monday night wore no baseball cap, beard stubble or attitude.

Eva Longoria-Parker? Nah, she was probably at a different game. Dyan Cannon? Clay Aiken?

The most important celebrity at Staples Center did not have torn jeans, a pouty smile or affected swagger.

Hmmm... Meryl Streep? It's gotta be Meryl Streep. She fits the bill perfectly.

But, like the rest of them, he didn't stroll in until the second quarter.

And, at times, it did seem as if he wasn't really watching the game.

Ouch! Celebrities show up late and don't pay attention to the games. Burn! Also, I'm a HUGE fan of those one sentence paragraphs, especially when they both begin with unnecessary conjunctions.

So awesome.

And, no, we're not sure when he's coming back.

Damn. I just now noticed it's a "he." That rules out Streep. We're 73 words into this column and have gotten absolutely nowhere.

On a night when Will Ferrell or Leonardo DiCaprio filled the room, the most important celebrity was Andrew Bynum.

It's weird that he says "or" instead of "and" between the mentioning of Will Ferrell and Leornardo DiCaprio. Is he not sure if one or both were there? Can he not tell them apart? I wonder if he's ever seen a Will Ferrell movie, or a DiCaprio movie since Titanic. Anyways, at least we've finally named a basketball player!

On a night the Lakers smoothly paved over their first-round series against the Utah Jazz with a 107-96 victory and a four-games-to-one clinching, there remained an unsettled rumbling.

What next?

Bynum or sell?

Bynum or sell. Cute. I think Reali would "mute" him for that one, though.

Waiting for Lakers in the second round is probably Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets. Waiting for them is probably an inside threat that the Jazz could only fake.

Waiting for them is the first big postseason mission for Andrew Bynum.

Who continues to keep the Lakers waiting.

Let's play a game. Go back and see how many grammatical errors you can find in those last four sentences (if you can call them sentences). Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that it will take a long time and won't be very fun.

Also, does anybody else feel like watching the movie "Waiting"?

On Monday, for the fifth consecutive postseason game, he stumbled and hacked and was taken out before he could hurt anybody.

In a dozen minutes he had five rebounds but zero baskets and two turnovers and an embarrassing late stretch in which he allowed the Jazz's Paul Millsap to score nine consecutive points.

Andrew Bynum tore his MCL. The severity of the tear usually needs 3-4 months to heal before beginning sports activity. He came back in a little more than two months time. He also missed 32 games, so it's probably a bit premature to write him off after a few poor playoff games.

His quickest move was after the game, when he left before reporters could ask the questions that I'll ask right now.

Has he recovered enough from this season's knee injury to make an impact here? Are his legs strong enough? Is his focus sharp enough?

After watching him this last week, which included an early exit from a practice with knee issues, the answer would be no.

Obviously. I mean he did tear his MCL and all. Plaschke then goes on to cite quotes from various Lakers players (and Phil Jackson), who basically all share the same sentiment: it takes time.

"In the playoffs, the intensity is different, the energy is different, the officiating is different, you just have to get used to it," said Gasol. "It takes a while."

And it can't happen on the bench, which is where Bynum spent much of the last three games of the series, even joking there with the struggling Jordan Farmar on Monday, which is certainly symbolic of something.

How dare he talk to a fellow player on the bench! While smiling no less!

Yep, Bynum finished a far distance from the starting lineup in which he began these playoffs.

But game by game, it became apparent that something was wrong. Either he couldn't stay out of foul trouble, or he couldn't stay in the moment, and finally Jackson just couldn't trust him.

He had 15 rebounds the entire series. He made nine baskets the entire series. He averaged one foul about every five minutes.

He also averaged a mere 15 minutes played per game. Over the last three games of the series he played 7, 7, and 12 minutes respectively. Obviously his numbers are going to be down with such an insufficient amount of playing time. There were some things he did well, such as blocking four shots in game two while making 5 of 11 from the field. Not exactly what the Lakers would like from him right now, but still pretty good.

If the Lakers had blown this game (Game 5), the onus would have been on Bynum. Yet with only practices on the schedule in the coming week, is there any way that he can get into strong enough playoff-playing shape to make sure this doesn't happen again?

I believe he can absolutely get to where he needs to be in order to be effective, just probably not in the time span that most Lakers' fans would like. Keep in mind that the NBA playoffs last about nineteen months, so he's still got a good amount of time until he has to be ready for someone like Denver or Cleveland, for instance. Did you know the NBA takes 16 teams to the playoffs, out of 32? Can you imagine if the MLB took 16 teams for the playoffs? I bet that would make Grif pretty happy.

Moving on.

The Lakers reached the NBA Finals last year without him, and against a clearly depleted Western Conference there seems little doubt they don't need him to get that far again.

But the kind of Lakers team that shows up in the NBA Finals depends on the kind of toughness and presence that Bynum can give them before then.

Honestly, I feel like a healthy Bynum wouldn't make THAT much of a difference if the Lakers were to make it to the NBA Finals. In all likelihood, it's going to be the Cavs or Celtics, neither of which have a dominating inside presence to begin with (barring some type of return by Garnett). The only scenario that would prove difficult in the paint--in my opinion--would be the Orlando Magic, whom the Lakers lost both games to this year, with Bynum showing little effectiveness in either of them. They would definitely need him to be healthy in order to combat the inside presence of Dwight Howard, especially if he decides to elbow Pau Gasol in the chest, hence damaging Gasol's spine and leaving his body paralyzed from the neck down.

Like I said, though, the NBA playoffs go on for an eternity, so Bynum will probably be much further along by the time the Finals roll around.

Yet after one series, the most important celebrity in the Staples Center on Monday night could only be described with the most infamous celebrity announcement.

Andrew Bynum has left the building.

No colon? Really? Did you ever take an English class?

Bill Plaschke, the man who refuses to write paragraphs containing more than two sentences, writes for the LA Times and has previously won an award for National Sports Columnist of the Year.

And... he likes to eat genitalia.


Grif said...

I actually rolled my eyes at "Bynum or Sell." Like, a real, actual eye roll.

Goose said...

The "Bynum or sell" joke deserved multiple mutes.

Anonymous said...

heh...Bill Plaschke is a piece of work...sometimes, I wonder if this is tongue-in-cheek but I don't think so...

Skye said...

Good thing I hate the Lakers, or this probably would have pissed me off.