There’s one word we can’t stop hearing about. Whether it’s Brad “Billy Bean” Pitt with that guy from “Superbad” on the big screen, or the real-life roster of The St. Louis Cardinals. Moneyball. Everyone’s trying to buy statistics, not stars. And as a long-time L.A. Lakers fan, I’m excited, that my team is forced to buy into the same philosophy.
Last night, as I was already reeling from watching the Miami Heat look just as dominant as they did in the last six minutes of Game 6 of The 2013 NBA Finals. I decided (against my better judgment) to watch the late game, where my Lakers would take on The L.A. Clippers. I was already prepared for the inevitable beat-down. I was already braced for a Rondo-infused CP3 throwing alley-oops to a much improved Deandre Jordan, and a greatly marketed Blake Griffin. I was ready to watch Nate Collison run defensive circles around Steve Nash as he did in last year’s opener for the Dallas Mavericks. I was prepared to see a Laker team, so desperate, so devoid of talent, that Kobe would literally inject himself with HGH while sitting behind the bench, tear off his suit, and hobble on the court like Willis Reed, play 48 minutes and overtime, and then sprain an MCL . . . only to be back two weeks later after another secret German procedure.
But, as a longtime Laker fan, I was refreshingly surprised at what I saw. I saw NBA Moneyball. After Pau Gasol established a presence scoring 11 of his 15 in the first twelve minutes of the game. And Steve Nash hit the old-man “bank-shot” three, I saw something weird. Free Agents, and I mean “FREE” Agents, performing at a high level. I saw a scheme that I can’t fully breakdown in this column, but one I hope will continue. I saw an actual “team.” What do I mean by that?
I saw young prospects, all on the same team, with one goal, to win???
Forgive my awe if you’re from Boston, but for Lakers fans nationwide, I’m sure we were all in awe. No bickering about who gets the ball last. The big payroll players (Gasol, Nash) sitting the entire fourth quarter. No throne with Phil Jackson. No moose with the name “Pat Riley” on it. No “almost All-Stars” (insert Nick Van Exel, Cedric Ceballos, Eddie Jones, et al. here). Just players.
How does this happen? More on this in the coming weeks if it’s successful, but in short, when $64 million of your $79 million is locked up with four players (one of whom is currently a New York Knick that Tyler “Psycho T” Hansborough is currently writing “I’m Sorry” notes to) . . . well you’re forced to play a little Moneyball.
Can this work? More on this in the coming weeks as well, but history says “kind-of”. See Houston pre-James Harden years (really Darryl Morey? Anyways, just saying), but the short answer is no. But history is always ready to be re-written, and last night, if for only forty-eight minutes, Mike D’Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, and the L.A. Lakers seemed ready to embrace a little change . . . And that’s a good thing, because with Kobe, Pau, Steve Nash, and Artest/World Peace on the payroll, change is all we got left in the bank.
Kyle is a writer on Comedic Prose
Follow Kyle on Twitter @darealkwilliams