PodKast: ESPN The Magazine's Chris Palmer on Kobe, Pau and 72 wins


If you're depressed about the Lakers' perfect season turning into dust last night, then I highly recommend the uplifting ear candy that is our latest Land O' Lakers PodKast. And if you're a mellow fan who takes losses in stride, well, we're still the same entertaining hosts you've grown to love and (dare I say) idolize. Slap on those headphones and click on the link, good sir or madam! Here's a breakdown of the show:

  • Our session in the Keyshawn Johnson Studio is kicked off with a discussion about Derek Fisher's criticism of Tuesday's slacker win over Minnesota. The situation created the unusual dynamic of Fish playing bad cop to Kobe Bryant's good version, reminding us of how a veteran roster has allowed The Mamba to occasionally soften his demanding leadership style.

  • From there, it's a phone call from our buddy Chris Palmer (ESPN The Magazine). The conversation first touches on Kobe's minutes, which have thus far remained on the low side. It's a happy trend for a dude recovering from offseason knee surgery and, while hardly showing signs of true "decline," rolling on tires with heavy mileage. Are the Lakers capable of maintaining this luxury for Bryant throughout the season? In Palmer's opinion, yes. Between Pau Gasol's high level of play (last night aside), the seamless fit of newbies Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, and Kobe's supporting cast, the lessened burden should generally translate into reasonable PT.

  • Along those lines -- and despite Kobe racking yet another scoring milestone -- the decreased need to put up 30+ a night has only highlighted his play-making skills. Many readers have asked us if Kobe playing more of a point guard role (occasional scoring "bender" aside) would be conceivable at the tail end of his career. Bryant's passing skills and court vision rival many a lead guard's, so this shift feels doable to me. Palmer not only agrees, but is excited at the prospect of such a rare reinvention:

"Normally for guys who have been great scorers in their career, turning into a facilitator, the guy who directs and runs the offense, is generally not a natural progression," notes Palmer. "But I think for Kobe, because he is so interested in getting his mates involved, it's a really interesting direction could go in. Has there been another case of a huge scorer, late in his career, turning into a facilitator? Usually, a scorer turns into a different type of scorer... Or they go to Europe and average 20 or something like that.

"There's nothing worse when I guy becomes desperate to prove himself. That's the great thing about Kobe that's gonna allow him to sort of transition into a different role. The guy has no interest in proving he can still score, that he's a great scorer. He's done it, you know what I mean?"

  • Gasol's Hall of Fame prospects are debated. Brian and I think he's on the right track, and concur with Palmer's assessment of El Spaniard as the NBA's best big man.

  • Brian, a uniform geek, talks good and bad NBA wardrobe with C.Palm.

  • What to make of the (now) 5-4 Miami Heat? Chris notes how the royal "we" simultaneously recognize how instant jelling isn't terribly realistic, yet also expect the Evil Super Team to, well, simultaneously jell. Expectations are pounded so frequently into our heads, even grounded perspectives can become clouded after a while.

  • You can barely shake a stick these days without hitting it against somebody spouting opinion about whether the Lakers can bust the 72-win threshold. Most seem to think it won't happen, including Phil Jackson. Palmer, however, is a converted skeptic, and his rationale is pretty unique.

  • Finally, we learn which "ESPN Chris" Dave McMenamin has played pickup hoops with in the past.