The Power of Simplicity

Why can certain players hold off father time while their peers slowly fade from memory? How can some players do more with less?
Kobe Bryant recently surpassed 32,000 points for his NBA career, Tim Duncan is still the anchor of a reigning NBA champion, and Dirk Nowitzki continues to cement his legacy with game winning daggers.

Have they become better with the passing of time, or have they learned to simplify?
So often, young players come into the league with wide eyes and an adrenaline rush strong enough to power a small village. The speed, size and pace of the game are unlike anything they’ve ever encountered, so they hurry. And when they do, larger mistakes can happen faster, and more frequently than ever before.
While game mistakes may very well be a necessary part of the learning curve, simple repetition will help build proper habits to combat repeating those same mistakes. Pregame practice routines can be the deciding factor for a young player’s developmental curve when actual minutes on the floor are hard to come by.
Bryant has now missed more field goal attempts than any player in the entire history of the NBA. Which shots does he now chose to focus and work on everyday? Duncan came into the league to critical acclaim for his ability to shoot a mid-range bank shot. Has he drastically expanded his game over the years? Nowitzki transformed how we collectively think of a modern-day power forward with his patented one-leg fadeaway. How does he make a “bad shot” look so good to everyone in the arena except his opponent?
These players have the benefit of experience and use their knowledge to become one with their game. They know who they are as basketball players and focus on their strengths. In fact, they’ve focused on their strengths so many thousands of times over the years that they don’t even have to think about them anymore. It’s a part of their game and it doesn’t even matter if their opponent knows their tendencies.
Thanks to a greater awareness about nutrition and improved rehabilitation techniques such as those pioneered by Alex McKechnie, players are playing more effectively and longer into what was once considered the twilight of their careers.

We are now witnessing great players doing more of the same with less variance, while valiantly battling father time.

Tom Thibodeau Is A Defensive Genius Combined With European Savvy

What happens when a renowned defensive guru receives arguably one of the best passing post players of all time? We’re about to find out.
Pau Gasol may prove to be the final piece for the Chicago Bulls as they chase the rings for the first time since 23’s departure. Tom Thibodeau is also finally getting a bit of a break from the incessant questions about the numerous injuries to Derrick Rose and can finally discuss something more positive for a change.
Has Pau Gasol seemingly improved his defense? Has he somehow become a tougher player? Given Gasol’s skillful passing, can opposing teams afford to send a double team? The questions grow everyday and it’s music to Thibodeau’s ears.
Is Thibodeau admirably steering the ship like a grizzled sea captain, hoping the fog eventually dissipates to reveal the north star? Or is it just a case of being in the right place at the right time? Whatever the case, Chicago fans are starting to believe it’s no coincidence that the Bulls are suddenly one of the few teams who can claim to be a legitimate contender.
When asked recently about a general mantra for his team, Thibodeau calmly explained that every team member needs to “Come in everyday, concentrate on your improvement, get better.”

Sometimes things can get confusing and it’s nice when a coach keeps it simple, especially with a squad of veterans who all know what’s at stake.
Now that the Bulls have an offensive threat manning the post, the game can’t help but get easier for their catch and shoot specialists. Opposing defenses will have to make a tough choice—stay home and let Gasol score with a plethora of hook shots with either hand, or double team and let Mike Dunleavy Jr. and company take open target practice.
Length, intelligence and rebounding are a staple of what the Bulls collectively bring to the defensive table. It’s scary to think what they can do with a healthy point guard, but especially frightening now that they also have a 7-foot point guard on the block.

Great offense combined with great defense will produce beautiful music.

The Evolution of the European Frontcourt Player

Why do so many NBA teams have post players from all over the world? Given the change in terminology adopted by the NBA for the All-Star ballot, perhaps “frontcourt” is a more appropriate description.

Europeans have long been considered to be highly skilled players, but their toughness has historically come into question. Has anything changed, or is there simply a dearth of tall players being born in North America?

Legendary players Vlade Divac and Arvydas Sabonis blazed a trail now followed by a steady flow of young international standouts. Dirk Nowitzki, leading his Mavericks to a championship in 2011, helped to further reinforce the idea that Europeans can indeed be leaders and successfully apply their skill-set to the NBA landscape.

Europeans have the rare and unique opportunity to play against American pros at a young age as they work their way up the ladder of their club teams. Their toughness has grown as a result, and this professional style of development is integral to their highly refined skill-set.

It’s become difficult to find an NBA team that doesn’t spend its fair share of scouting resources overseas looking at players who may not even speak English yet. But production on the court is a universal language, and to a championship team like the San Antonio Spurs, that’s all that really matters.

In a recent game between the Raptors and the Magic, two foreign-born big guys walked toward the jump circle ready for another regular season battle. Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania prepared himself for a long night of banging against Nikola Vucevic of Montenegro, a part of the former Yugoslavia. How ironic that these two starting centers are products of the very same countries as the two predecessors who paved the way several decades prior.

What will the NBA look like in the future? Team dynamics are changing, and the frontcourt position isn’t the only component going through an evolution. With an ever increasing talent pool, it truly has become a global game.

Darwinism with an up and under!

Catching Up With Dave Joerger

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger talked with the media about the flu bug that has ravaged the team, three-point shooting opening up things for the offense, Courtney Lee’s confidence and how Toronto and Memphis have grown since last season.

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Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

The Toronto Raptors Embody The Power of Chemistry

How has the NBA’s only Canadian team slowly blossomed into a bona fide contender? Not widely known in America due to lack of nationally televised games, and without huge star power, the Toronto Raptors have improved their record over the past several years by carefully adding complementary pieces.
Chemistry seems to be their secret ingredient and the reason they continue to overachieve. It’s not easy to carve out a presence in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, especially with so many teams loading up on stars through free agency.
Watching the manner in which the Raptors play, often ruggedly coming from behind, suggests a greater sense of purpose and awareness shared among teammates. Good things happen when a group of individuals genuinely like each other and fight for a common purpose.
Coming from behind may breed complacency and come back to haunt them in the future, but so far, it has helped to develop the type of deep-rooted faith necessary to keep believing even when a game feels out of reach. That is the type of conviction that just may lead the Raptors to a deep playoff run and send the city into a basketball fiesta surpassing the dizzying celebration after last season’s battle against the Brooklyn Nets.
As young players integrate and find their roles under the consistent leadership of Dwane Casey, future contributors will continue to emerge and develop into potential stars. What’s happening in Toronto is just outside of the American mainstream media, but perhaps that’s just the way the Raptors like it.

We the North is running on all cylinders and chemistry fuels the engine.

Introducing Pete Strobl

One of my favorite things about running is when talented people want to join the mix.

Over the past few years, a handful of contributors have gone onto full-time gigs in journalism and a handful more have landed on prominent places online writing about the NBA.

The newest addition of talented people on the Hoops Addict roster is Pete Strobl. He played in European Basketball leagues for nearly a decade and he founded The Scoring Factory in Pittsburgh in 2009.

Strobl attended Niagara University on a full athletic scholarship where he also earned a Master’s degree.

I first heard about him after reading his book “Backspin” this past winter and I became an instant fan.

This season he will be attending NBA games across North America and providing readers with insight into the game that only a former player can provide.

DeMar DeRozan Gets The Last Laugh

Earlier this weekend I wrote an article documenting DeMar DeRozan’s shooting woes to start the season.

Shortly after I wrote my article, another article popped up on Raptors Republic pointing out DeRozan’s shooting woes over his first nine games.

Going into last night’s game I felt pretty good that I had spotted an area of concern for the Raptors.


DeRozan proved me wrong by going 10-17 from the field while scoring a game-high 27 points.

Not only that, but he went 4-5 shooting the ball from the mid-range. He went 1-1 from the left side of the court, 1-1 from the right side and 2-3 from straight on.

It turns our DeRozan’s lack of worry following his poor game against the Chicago Bulls was justified and a sign of his maturation.

“I’m not worried at all,” he had said after scoring a season-low 10 points in the loss to the Chicago Bulls.

“If this was two years ago I’d think it was the end of the world.”

But that game wasn’t the end of the world and his bounce-back game against Utah where he scored a game-high 27 points proved that.

“Like I tell guys all the time, when you win or you play well everybody is hugging you and kissing you and on your shoulders,” Dwane Casey boasted to the media after Toronto’s 111-93 win over the Uta Jazz.

“When you have a bad game everybody wants to panic. I don’t know how many times Babe Ruth struck out but I guarantee he struck out more than he hit home runs. And when you’re a scorer for a team like DeMar (DeRozan) is for us, you’re going to have nights like that. I don’t care how many he misses, he’s going to come back and hit those same shots and he showed it tonight. I don’t care who we played against tonight; I had confidence he was going to come out and have a big night.”

So, the moral of the story is nine games doesn’t make or break a season.

Silly me for jumping to conclusions.

DeMar DeRozan’s Early Season Shooting Woes Are A Concern

DeMar DeRozan’s shooting woes to start the season have become a cause for concern.

Despite the fact DeRozan is leading Toronto in scoring (20.6 points per game) and steals (2.0 per game), there are concerns with his game when you dig deeper into the numbers.

DeRozan has never shot a high field goal percentage over his NBA career (a modest 44% from the field), but he is currently shooting 39.3% from the field which is the lowest of his career while he’s attempting the second highest amount of field goal attempts per game (16.7) of his career.

Never a great shooter from beyond the arc (26.6% on three’s over his NBA career), DeRozan has gone an anemic 2-10 from beyond the arc to start this season. It’s a noticeable dip from the career-high 30% he shot from beyond the arc last season.

When you dig into DeRozan’s advanced numbers on his shooting woes become even more worrisome.

DeRozan’s doing a great job hitting shots 10-14 feet from the basket (48%) and within five feet (52.3%), but besides those two areas, he’s struggling mightily.

Nearly half of his 150 field goal attempts this season have been jumpers (64). However, he has only made 18 of those jumpers, good for 28.1%.

Also worth noting is that a large amount of his field goal attempts have come from 15-19 feet (54 of his 150 attempts), yet he’s only making 28.8% of those shots.

The fact that DeRozan’s jumper isn’t falling and he’s electing to shoot from areas of the court where he’s shooting a low percentage make for a troubling tandem.

Still, despite all of this, his head coach, Dwane Casey, was clear last night that DeRozan will continue to have the green light to shoot.

“He missed some shots he normally would make and that he will make as the season goes on,” Casey explained to the media last night after the loss to Chicago. “He’s a smart player and he knows what to take. He took what the game gave him. He had some shots he normally makes and those shots just didn’t fall tonight.”

It will be interesting to see if DeRozan’s early season shooting woes are an anomaly or a glimpse into what could be a tough season for Toronto’s only all-star.

Based on his poor shot selection mixed with his inability to hit jumpers, it could be a long, challenging season for DeRozan.

LeBron James And Malcolm Gladwell Agree That Football Is Too Violent

Mark Hanrahan
Displayed with permission from International Business Times

Two disparate U.S. cultural figures, basketball star LeBron James and author Malcolm Gladwell, expressed their concerns on Thursday about the dangers of America’s most popular sport — football.

James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers and an NBA All-Star, told ESPN in an interview that he did not want his children, 10-year-old LeBron Jr. and 7-year-old Bryce Maximus, to play the game.

“It’s a safety thing,” James said. “We don’t want them to play in our household right now until they understand how physical and how demanding the game is… But right now there’s no need for it. There’s enough sports they can play. They play basketball, they play soccer, they play everything else but football and hockey.

“As a parent you protect your kids as much as possible. I don’t think I’m the only one that’s not allowing his kids to play football,” James told the network.

In addition to James’ comments, journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell said that the nation’s most popular sport was a “moral abomination,” in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Gladwell told the network, “We’re not just talking about people limping at the age of 50. We’re talking about brain injuries that are causing horrible, protracted, premature death.

“This… is appalling. Can you point to another industry in America which, in the course of doing business, maims a third of its employees?”

Gladwell is a longtime detractor of football, having compared the sport to dog-fighting in the past. Writing in the New Yorker in 2009, Gladwell compared football players to a dog entered in a fight. Gladwell has also called on major U.S. universities to cancel their college football programs, according to Forbes.

James, on the other hand is a football fan. The star athlete was an All-Ohio wide receiver at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and closely follows the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Ohio State football teams, and even took his sons to visit the Browns’ Ohio training camp this summer, according to The New York Times.

Concerns about the violence in football have been mounting in recent years. The NFL, which for years had denied that professional players suffered from an abnormally high rate of brain damage, admitted in documents submitted to a federal court in September 2014 that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems, and that the conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population, according to the Times.

U.S. President Barack Obama too has expressed concerns about the sport, telling The New Republic: “I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.”

Football is not the only contact sport around the world to have come in for criticism. Rugby, which bears many similarities to football, and is played widely in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and South America, has been criticized for the numerous spinal injuries its players receive.

According to the Daily Telegraph, 110 players in the UK alone have been paralyzed playing the sport.

There’s An Interesting Twist To How Dirk Nowitzki Became No. 41

Dwain Price
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Displayed with permission from MCT Information Services

DALLAS — When it comes to NBA jerseys in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it doesn’t take long to see someone wearing a Dallas Mavericks’ “41” on their back.

No. 41 is All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki.

However, the history behind Nowitzki’s number is not as simple as his patented one-legged fadeaway.

Nowitzki was born in Wurzburg, Germany, and grew up playing basketball wearing No. 14, including with hometown professional club DJK s.Oliver Wurzburg.

He was selected ninth overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by Milwaukee, which had arranged a trade to send him to the Mavericks in exchange for the late Robert “Tractor” Traylor of Michigan.

Upon arrival, Nowitzki discovered that guard Robert Pack was already wearing No. 14.

“I always wore 14 in Germany. I always have,” Nowitzki recalled. “And I came over and wanted 14, but he had No. 14 and I asked him if I could get it. But he said, ‘I’m not giving my number to no rookie.’ He didn’t want to shoot for it or anything.”

With his favorite number taken, Nowitzki got creative.

“I just ended up flipping the numbers and it came to 41,” he said.

On Aug. 16, 2000, as part of a four-team trade, the Mavericks sent Pack, center John “Hot Rod” Williams and cash to the Boston Celtics.

“When Pack left, I had a chance to switch back [to 14], but then I already had two years in the bag,” Nowitzki said. “So, I didn’t want to switch it. I just left it at 41.”

Forward Brandan Wright (34), center Greg Smith (4) and guard Monta Ellis (11) also had intriguing tales about their jersey numbers.

“It’s weird, man, because I wore No. 4 all the way up till my freshman year of high school,” Wright said. “Chris Webber was my favorite player. When I got to high school, my high school coach just gave me 34. I’ve just been rolling with it ever since. It’s a number that has served me well.”

Just like Nowitzki, Wright has never thought about going back to No. 4

“No man, I’m settled in and the league is strict on changing numbers,” Wright said. “I don’t know if you know the policy, but you pretty much have to buy all those jerseys [that the league had printed with the previous number].”

Smith, who is 6-foot-10, said his desire to be a guard led him to No. 4.

“No. 4 is the number I’ve been wearing since I was younger. It’s a number that stuck with me,” Smith said. “In high school, I was wearing 44 and I trimmed it down to 4.

“All bigs want to be guards, and guards wear smaller numbers, so I switched to 4 and it just stuck with me.”

For Ellis, it was a case of family and finances.

Ellis went from high school, where he wore No. 11, to the NBA in 2005. He was drafted in the second round by Golden State out of Lanier (Jackson, Miss.) High School.

At Golden State, he had to wear No. 8 because 11 was taken by second-year forward Zarko Cabarkapa. Ellis spent 6 { years with the Warriors wearing No. 8 before being traded to Milwaukee, where he regained his No. 11 jersey. After a year and a half in Milwaukee, he joined the Mavericks last season.

“I’ve been wearing this number since I was in elementary school,” Ellis said. “My mom wore it [at Lanier] and me and my mom were best friends, and so I wanted to be like her and it stuck.

“When I first got into the NBA, I had to go to 8 because 11 was taken. They told me that you can either ask or pay the guy for the number. At that time, I didn’t have the money to pay for it so I just waited and waited and finally 11 came back to me.

“It was like a new beginning. I think me going back to No. 11 really has me getting back to my old self again.”

Father Of Wayne Ellington Slain In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – The father of Los Angeles Lakers player Wayne Ellington was shot and killed over the weekend in Germantown, Philadelphia.

Wayne Ellington Sr., 57, was found slumped behind the wheel of a car in the 5200 block of Marion Street at 8:00 p.m. Sunday. His car had hit two parked vehicles. He was taken to Einstein Medical Center in critical condition and died several hours later.

Ellington Jr., a guard for the Lakers, received the devastating news about his father after his team’s win on Sunday night.

“He said, ‘Ball hard! Get this first win tonight,'” Ellington Jr. said as he reflects on the text message he received from his father right before his NBA game. “He played a huge role in me playing basketball. He put me in a league at five-years-old.”

Ellington Jr. was a standout basketball player at Episcopal Academy High. The hometown hero then went on to North Carolina to play before being drafted into the NBA, making his father proud.

“I’m devastated. For a son to lose his father is very tough, it’s unbelievable. It’s crazy, I went from a high to the lowest point of my life,” he said.

Ellington Sr.’s wife of 34 years got the news about her husband over the phone.

“I could hear crying, screaming and crying in the background so I knew it wasn’t good news. They called me back to let me know that it was worse than what we thought,” said Elaine Ellington.

Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting as a murder. Police say, so far, there are no known suspects or a possible motive.

“It’s going to come out, it always does. Philly is not that big of a place, people talk. Whoever did this is going to get what they deserve,” said Ellington Jr.

Ellington Jr. is now on leave from the Lakers to grieve with his family as they hope to get answers.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak released a statement, saying, “Our players are upset for their friend and teammate. Additionally, ownership and all Lakers employees are also saddened by this tragedy. Those of us who work with and have gotten to know Wayne have come to know what a wonderful and caring person he is. Our hearts go out to Wayne and his family, as do our thoughts and prayers.”

Ex-Toronto Raptor Alvin Robertson Facing Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking Charge

Brendan Kennedy
Displayed with permission from Toronto Star

By the time Alvin Robertson sunk the first basket in Toronto Raptors history — a 25-foot, three-point jumper — he already had a lengthy rap sheet and a lousy reputation.

The former defensive stalwart for the San Antonio Spurs arrived in Toronto saddled with baggage both on and off the court, ranging from fights with teammates and coaches to criminal charges related to multiple domestic violence incidents, bar fights and a bizarre burglary.

His recruitment to the fledgling team had already raised eyebrows when just days before starting in the Raptors’ inaugural game, Robertson was arrested and charged with assaulting a pregnant ex-girlfriend at the SkyDome hotel. The case was later dropped when the woman refused to testify.

“The things I’ve done in the past, I hoped it wouldn’t start all over again in Canada,” Robertson lamented to reporters back then, as if he was pursued by his own transgressions.

In fact, Robertson’s personal troubles only worsened in the ensuing years: criminal mischief, harassment, more violence. A rape charge was tossed, but he spent a year in jail when a judge ruled he had breached his probation — from the 1996 burglary — and had “more likely than not” committed the sexual assault.

Now 52, he is facing the most serious allegations of his life and the prospect of spending his remaining years behind bars. In February 2010, Robertson was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and conspiring with others to force her into prostitution. He had a court appearance Monday, but a trial isn’t expected for several more months.

Robertson — who lives in San Antonio, where the crimes are alleged to have occurred — denies the charges against him and has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

“These allegations have been, like, the all-time worst,” he told Bleacher Report this month. “I really don’t have any involvement with it. . . . This has really, really killed me. Just killed me.”

“It’s hard for me to believe that he has these charges against him,” Glen Grunwald, the former Raptors GM who was vice-president of legal affairs during Robertson’s short tenure with the team, told the Star on Monday. “He was always easy to talk to and intelligent and well-spoken and well-behaved when he was in Toronto, except for (the alleged SkyDome hotel assault).”

Robertson was never punished by the NBA during his 10-year career, which ended in Toronto. Chances are if he had faced the same charges today — in this post-Ray Rice professional sports climate — he likely would have dealt with some measure of internal discipline from the league or the teams he played on.

With regard to the alleged hotel assault, the Raptors said at the time that Robertson should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and would continue to play while the court process unfolded. Grunwald said he couldn’t remember the specifics of the team’s decision-making process back then. But he remembered Robertson as a “tough” and “competitive” player and recalled seeing him in San Antonio in 1997 or ’98, a year or two after he left the team. “He seemed to be doing okay. He had his construction business.”

That business reportedly fell apart amid Robertson’s legal and financial troubles.

On the court, Robertson was the best kind of nasty. The four-time all-star led the league in steals on three occasions. He’s also one of just four players to record a quadruple double (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals). He is the NBA’s all-time leader in steals per game.

Prior to this latest, most serious arrest, Robertson’s lawyer, Brent Delapaz, said his client had put his criminal past behind him. According to Delapaz, Robertson was in negotiations with Wal-Mart regarding a basketball instructional video that would be sold in stores.

“I think it’s safe to say he had turned a new page in his life and was doing well — until this.”

Delapaz, like Robertson himself, insists he is innocent. He says Robertson’s loyalty to old friends has led him to be unduly caught up in this case and that he is being targeted because of his high profile.

Since being released on bail, Robertson — who has three children — has been forced to wear a GPS tracker on his ankle and is subject to monitored work release and other bail conditions, with which he has struggled to adhere. This year alone he has violated his conditions on three occasions.

There have been some “misunderstandings with procedures,” Delapaz said, but Robertson has done his best to comply with the orders.

“He’s ready for his day in court. He’s anxious to clear his name.”

Dwyane Wade Feels DeMar DeRozan Isn’t Popular Because He Plays For A Canadian Team

Canadians are notorious for having inferiority complexes.

In fact, it’s a big reason for the We The North campaign and why passionate basketball fans in Canada take offense to their country only being known for hockey and cold weather.

Dwyane Wade didn’t make any friends north of the border this weekend with his comments about DeMar DeRozan.

“The only reason we don’t hear more about him is because he’s in Toronto,” Wade joked with the media when he was asked about DeMar DeRozan before his Miami Heat hosted the Toronto Raptors.


The easy – and natural reaction – would be for fans to recall that Vince Carter reached the peak of his popularity at Air Canada while playing for the Raptors.

It would also be easy to tell Wade to look a couple of lockers down at teammate Chris Bosh and remember that Bosh’s best years as a professional were played in Toronto.

But the reality is those comments from Wade will sting basketball fans across Canada.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the fans give former fan favourite Wade when he plays at the Air Canada Centre later this season.

Oscar Robertson’s Visit Had An Impact On The Toronto Raptors


Oscar Robertson is one of the best players to lace up his kicks and play basketball.

Despite being caught in an era where players are now only heralded for making ESPN’s SportsCenter highlight clips or creating buzz on YouTube, it’s clear that Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson is still revered by current NBA players despite very few grainy clips of his playing career being available online.

Robertson spoke with the Raptors’ players in Orlando Friday after Wayne Embry, a good friend of the Robertson, set up the meeting.

It was clear that the players were impressed after talking with Robertson.

“They were in awe of how big he was, how he spoke about competing, how he spoke about being a good teammate,” head coach Dwane Casey told the media Saturday afternoon.

DeMar DeRozan gushed to the media after the meeting with Robertson that, “When he throws out the names of players that he played with it definitely gives you goosebumps.”

Two Words Of Advice For The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant: Just Shoot!

October 31, 2014
Displayed with permission from Newsweek

We have seen enough. We have seen too much.

It is only Halloween and the Los Angeles Lakers, the greatest franchise in NBA history west of Beacon Hill, have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Hyperbole? Somewhat, but the Lakers are 0-2 only because they cannot be 0-3 until Friday night, when they play their co-tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers, at the Staples Center.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

These 2014-15 Lakers are awful and it’s not about to get better. On opening night they lost at home by 18 to the Houston Rockets and the following night they lost by 20 at Phoenix. Their first-round draft pick, would-be University of Kentucky sophomore Julius Randle, fractured his tibia in the fourth quarter of that opening-night defeat and will miss the entire season. Randle’s Rookie of the Year campaign ends with two points and zero rebounds–and a pair of missed free throws.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

Former two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash will miss the season with an ailing back. Seven-footer Pau Gasol, a four-time All-Star who was a Laker stalwart the past six-plus seasons, signed with the Chicago Bulls. Guard Nick Young, the leading scorer on last year’s team and a man who prefers the nom de hoop Swaggy P., tore a thumb ligament in the preseason and probably won’t return until Thanksgiving. Seven teammates, head coach Byron Scott, and more than half the Laker Girls are in their first season with the Lakers (yes, Scott once played for them).

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

Every aspiring and/or failed screenwriter in Hollywood knows the drill: Meet the cat, put the cat up a tree, save the cat. These Lakers are up a tree… that is about to be struck by a bus that will explode if its speed falls below 50 m.p.h…. that is being driven by Denzel Washington’s rogue narc-squad chief from Training Day… in the midst of a Sharknado. You get the feeling this 2014-2015 L.A. Lakers will end up floating face-down in Norma Desmond’s pool.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

Last year the LOLakers finished 27-55, and their .329 win percentage was the franchise’s worst since 1957-58, when the Minneapolis Lakers finished 19-53 (.264). They will be worse than 27-55 this season and that’s actually the most promising aspect of 2014-15, as the Lakers traded away their 2015 first-round pick to the Suns–a deal that is voided if the LOLakers finish with one of the NBA’s five-worst records.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

And then there’s Kobe Bryant, the iconic face (and sneer) of this franchise for most of the millennium. Now 36, Kobe has spent literally half his life as a Los Angeles Laker. The 16-time All-Star missed all but six games last season as he first recovered from a torn Achilles tendon and then suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee. Bryant is back and, for the first time since the start of the 2013 playoffs, he’s healthy. The only problem is that Black Mamba’s supporting cast is redolent of the cast –and the title–of Two and a Half Men.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

The Lakers are down and out near Beverly Hills. Veteran power forward Carlos Boozer, who was claimed via the league’s amnesty clause last July, air-balled his first shot of the season, a 10-footer from the baseline. Point guard Jeremy Lin, who signed as a free agent and was supposed to be Nash’s backup, has seven assists and six turnovers thus far –granted, we are 1/41th of the way into the season–and was already being scolded by Bryant in the Lakers’ second loss. Said Kobe to Lin during a timeout in Phoenix, “You’ve got to run the offense!”

No, Jeremy, you don’t. Kobe has to run the offense. Shoot, Kobe, just shoot. Shoot early and shoot often. Shoot from beyond the arc. Shoot from beyond half-court. Shoot left-handed. Shoot with your feet and show off what you learned after attending the World Cup. Just shoot. Your worst shot has a better shot of going in than any other Laker’s.

Shoot, Kobe, shoot.

Earlier this week, Charles Barkely, the NBA’s reincarnation of Will Rogers, “I don’t know how many games [Kobe’s] playing in, but he ain’t playing in no playoff games.”

Chuck’s right. Perhaps not even Kobe’s idol, Michael Jordan, could lead a team that starts Boozer, Lin, Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson to the postseason. And Jordan retired after 15 seasons, whereas Kobe is entering his 19th. It’s not as if shooting often is anathema to Kobe. In six of the past nine seasons he has led the league in shot attempts. In 2005-06, when he led the league in scoring at 35.5 points per game –the highest average since MJ’s 37.1 in 1986-87–Kobe put up a career-high 27.2 shots per game.

Why not 30 this year? Kobe is signed with the Lakers through the end of next season, and the current Buss in charge of the LOLakers, Jeanie, has said that she’d like to see him play beyond that. Meanwhile, Jack Nicholson shifts uncomfortably in his court-side seat as if Lt. Daniel Kaffee is interrogating him.

Do you want the truth? Jack and Jeanie and everyone else inside Staples Center are no longer there to watch competitive basketball. They’re there to watch the equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen concert. They are there to see you, Kobe, and to see if you can still put on an epic show.

So shoot, Kobe! It is already a fait accompli that you will pass Jordan this year on the career scoring list (currently 542 points behind) and move into third place behind two men who ended their careers as Lakers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. Keep shooting. Go for the scoring title this season.

Shoot, Kobe. And answer questions later.