Earlier in the week, Kobe Bryant said the Lakers plan on running the Princeton offense this year, in an effort to add more structure and better take advantage of their talent on that side of the ball. To that end, the Lakers are reportedly adding Washington Wizards head coach and Princeton O expert Eddie Jordan to Mike Brown's staff.
Thursday afternoon, Andy and I welcomed to the show new Lakers forward Antawn Jamison, who played for Jordan in D.C. for over four seasons. Among other things, we asked him what the new offense might look like for the Lakers, why it's a good fit, and how running a system helps give a team an identity:
Q: How did you enjoy playing in the offense, and more specifically how do you picture Steve Nash being used in it?
"The thing about [those seasons], we had Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Larry Hughes -- we had guys that are offensive threats that can really put the ball in the basket. I think the notion of the [Princeton] offense is that it slows you down. teams that don't have that much talent use it because they're going against teams with much more talent and you're trying to slow them down, but we were up there in scoring every year.
And the thing I like about it, especially with Steve, you can do so much. Steve is a great player with the ball in his hands, and a great player without the ball in his hands. To have his kind of skill set mixed in with this offense, I think the sky is the limit. You put the defense in a bind. You're reading the defense, and every time the defense makes a mistake, it's layup after layup. Imagine having the talent of Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, being able to get to the elbow area and one or two dribbles they're right at the rim. You've got guys like Metta [World] Peace who can fight up and slash to the basket. And we all know what kind of attention Kobe's going to get when he gets the ball.
This offense really puts pressure on the defense, and makes them have to work. It's not you're coming down and one guy has the ball, and he's running down 15-20 seconds out of the clock and you're trying to find something. This sets up your teammates to get open shots. This sets up your teammates to create space on the floor. When you have space on the floor with the group of guys we have on this team, that's dangerous."
How important is it for a team to have a system, whatever that system might be?
"I think it's really important ... You know what teams run. It's the same sets, different terminology, or whatever... but with this offense, it gets everybody involved. That's the thing I like about it. Your center can flash up, he can be making passes. If he turns around and doesn't see anything, he has a one-on-one move. It's hard for the defense to take anything away. If they want to deny the ball, you can back-door cut. We've got a numerous amount of guys who can make those types of passes. It really puts your [opponent], defensively, in a bind because there are so many sets you can run.
There are so many things you can do out of sets, and I think with this team, with Steve Nash anchoring it, offensively guys are going to be willing to pass the ball and get guys involved. That's a formula for success ..."
Among the other topics of conversation:
What factored into Jamison's decision to choose the Lakers. It didn't even require Mitch Kupchak to sing the Carolina fight song. (:45)
How finally getting a chance to play for a title contender has recharged Jamison's batteries heading into his 15th NBA season, and what changes for him. It is, he says, "a different type of pressure." (5:30)
Interesting facts mined from www.antawnjamison.com, and the "About Antawn" essay written by ... his mom. First, was Jamison really a fat baby? And what about the junk food habit she writes about? Jamison says any photographic evidence of the former has been destroyed, but cops to the latter. Yes, he still has a weakness for the sugary stuff, with one major exception. "Oh, I don't mess with honey buns anymore." In eight or so years covering the NBA, that might be my single favorite quote. (14:00)