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Watching Kobe and Ray Allen

After getting dinged on a final round interview, I decided to sulk by watching the Lakers and Sonics game before coming home on the red eye flight back to the east coast. Here are my thoughts on the game.

The Seattle arena announcer calls the newly acquired Ray Allen “Sugar Ray” Allen. I ask the guy next to me if he has been doing that ever since the trade, and he answers, “I dunno”. Neither of us like the new nickname and we hope that it doesn’t stick.

The Lakers won the tip off and throw it immediately to Shaq. The Sonics match up on O’Neal with Peja Drobniak, a player that only a fantasy fanatic and Drobniak’s mom have ever heard of. Shaq might as well be guarded by Gaurav after a long night out. It’s an obvious mismatch.

O’Neal turns quickly and effortlessly flips a baseline jumper through the hoop. Drobniak looks helpless and Shaq looks like he is on his way to a 200 point game. I look at the guy next to me and let him know that I think Drobniak sucks and that I think that he is going to be abused tonight. He agrees.

Ray Allen and Bones Barry make a crafty, smart backcourt. They trade off handling the ball and both are sound, unselfish decision makers and can kill you from outside. I think the trade is going to pay off for the Sonics in the long run big time. I really like the young nucleus of Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Brent Brent, Vlad Ramonivic, and the lottery pick that will join the team next year.

Allen’s first five or six shots, with the exception of one or two, run out like someone is pushing them out from beneath the hoop at the last second before it goes down. Anyhow, his form is graceful, just like you would want your son to shoot, and he makes moves just like he did in the Spike Lee movie, “He Got Game”, including the behind the back move that he uses to get to the hole effortlessly.

Kobe looks like he is playing Nerf basketball in the first quarter; he’s doing things that a pro player shouldn’t be able to do to another. This is the closest thing to Jordan in his prime on offense that I think we are going to get. His first shot is a deep two fading with two hands in his face; the shot dissolves in the net while the moderate number of Sonics fans in the arena wince. Later, he crosses out Ray Allen like a wrong answer, then flings in a runner that looks like a shot that you would take when you are goofing off. The guy in front of me, clearly a Laker fan as noted by his Laker hat, jersey, pants, socks, watch, shoes, and gum, looks at me while he repeats that the Sonics “don’t have an answer for Kobe” a thousand times, in a we’re up and going to kill you kind of voice.

I look back at him as if I don’t have an answer for him beyond a strait jacket.

Key Arena, the home of the Sonics, on the inside looks exactly like the Fleet Center in Boston and the MCI center in Washington D.C., even down to the fonts used to denote bathroom locations. We should do a case on the NBA, because their ability to standardize sounds like something that should be studied.

The Sonics suck on defense. Robert Horry and Derek Fischer are getting to the basket way too easily.

The Sonics have a banner hanging for the retired number of Jack Sikma.

It’s really hard for me to believe Jack Sikma was ever good at basketball, because he is in 90% of the 1985-87 Jordan dunk highlights, but maybe those were off nights for him. I think it’s great that no one will ever wear that number again.

Speaking of hard to believe, Brent Barry, I’d like to remind you, once won the slam dunk contest. I don’t think that he’s jumped in years.

All of a sudden, Drobniak is having a career game. Ray Allen continuously draws the double team and kicks out to Drobniak, who is automatic from 15 feet like Pez. The scoreboard shows Fred Flintstone saying “Yabba Dabba Doo” each time Drobniak scores. At this point, I don’t want him to score any more. I vow to light myself on fire if he scores again.

Elden Campbell, formerly a great post player looks like he has been chain smoking and eating; he looks woefully out of shape and tired in his limited minutes of play. He hits a nice jumper later in the game, but I think the Sonics obviously would like him to have an impact on their inside game instead of in the kitchen. You can sense his heartburn from the stands.

The Sonics have a mascot named Squatch that looks like the love spawn of a well groomed Chewbacca and Teen-Wolf as played by Michael J. Fox. Squatch is one of many NBA mascots that have nothing to do with actual franchise mascot, just like the Phoenix Suns’ gorilla. Anyway, he’s fun-lovin’ as he participates in antics like flips and savagely eats the fans’ popcorn, but it kind of comes off as faux and forced. Later he plays the drums during a fourth quarter timeout and it sucks, but I think everyone is amazed that Squatch can play drums so they lower their standards enough to clap. At the end of his performance, he kicks over the drums, runs to the official scorers table and does a back flip. I thought grunge was over in Seattle. I think that Squatch should be put to sleep or at least caged more often.

The Lakers won’t pass it to Shaq even though Yabba Dabba Doo, Squatch, Mary Lou Retton, and Jerome James are guarding him. Kobe is taking way too many shots and doesn’t look like he’s even thinking about passing. His shot selection almost single handedly creates a near 30 point deficit for the Lakers as Ray Allen and the Sonics seem to always pass the ball to the open man, who promptly sticks the shot. Kobe has gone ice cold, while shooting more and passing less at the same time. I daresay it was a slippery slope.

Mental note: never pick up Rashard Lewis in a fantasy draft. He has all of the tools, but he doesn’t seem very aggressive on offense. He would get lost if plays weren’t called specifically for him.

The arena staff work hard to tease Shaq. They post a picture of Shaq’s face juxtaposed with Shrek’s. At first Shaq is stoic, but then he cracks a smile. That’s pretty much when I knew the game was over.

Ray Allen and Kobe are going after each other. Ray comes down the court and did a move that looked like something a young Tim Hardaway might have done on a 5 year old kid with polio. He dribbles between his legs left to right, gets Kobe leaning, and brings it back, also between the legs right to left, leaving Kobe displaced. He finishes the basket with a runner that goes in a tough angle. Earlier, Kobe had come down the lane and done a move that looked like the one Jordan did against the Lakers in the 1991-92 championship. My Big Fat Elden Campbell came to plug the lane, Kobe took flight, getting ready for a dunk that was going to make me speak in tongues, pulled the ball back like the “walking the dog” yo-yo trick, hovered for a minute and a half, and placed up a floater that just rimmed out while drawing the foul. Even his misses are sick. Overall Ray Allen got the best of Kobe. He ended his game with the 2nd triple double of his career. The Kobe fan in front of me has completely shut up while I take special care to wildly applaud each time Allen touches the ball.

The Lakers get blown out, largely because they took crappy shots instead of taking advantage of tattoo the guy from Fantasy Island, aka Drobniak, guarding Shaq. All in all, it was amazing to see Shaq, but most of all Allen and Bryant.

March 10, 2003
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