Brian and I have often affectionately spoken about Andrew Bynum's stream of consciousness existence, a mentality typically resulting in saying precisely what's on his mind with zero effort to hide jack. (For that matter, he's also the team Chatty Cathy, always reliable for divulging details from players-only meetings.) Well, today provided the umpteenth example. Check out the following three videos from practice.
First, you have Phil Jackson discussing what he and the coaching staff look for while watching the Eastern Conference Finals. Note the efforts to convince us nobody's looking ahead to Boston, their hated rival up 2-0 against the Magic at the time:
Jordan Farmar also expressed a lack of concern about who specifically comes out of the east. Again, the company line maintained:
Every member of the Laker family has similarly refused to take the "Are you thinking about Boston?" bait, even though you know damn well they're relishing a shot at payback against their 2008 nemesis. But thanks to an utter lack of filter, Drew said what everyone is thinking. Asked about the role against a bigger team in the Finals round --and while the inference is clear, both teams are bigger than Phoenix-- the kid immediately started talking about the potential rematch.
"Man, it's going to be amazing to play against those guys again. We're going to have a lot of fuel, a lot of ammo to go at those guys. They're definitely a great team, they got great veterans on their squad and we know that. So we're already getting prepared. The first step is closing out Game 3 and after that, we'll be focusing on Boston, looking at them play, watching how they're playing Orlando and just trying to pick up as much as we can."
And this, ladies and gentleman, is exactly why Brian and I love Andrew Bynum so much and exactly why the Lakers can't trade him for Chris Bosh. Does it make basketball sense? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's terrible for my job, and my needs trumps the Lakers' any day of the week.
Moving on, over the last couple of days, it's been questioned whether Pau Gasol gets enough credit for his talent. During Friday's practice, Kobe Bryant tabbed Gasol as absurdly underrated. Brian and I were asked about this by Mike Yam last Thursday on ESPN's NBA Today show. Fox's Charley Rosen's as critical a writer as they come, but he's pegging El Spaniard the league's best big man and a perfect compliment to Kobe. Yes, he's become a household name with All-Star status and third team All-NBA credentials, but is it possible Gasol remains undervalued?
If you ask Pau, not so much. Granted, I doubt he'd spout off about the NBA world being a bunch of know-nothing hacks that wouldn't know a good big if he dunked on them, but Gasol seemed pretty sincere expressing appreciation of how he's appreciated.
"I feel that I've been really valued and people respect and understand that I do and what I bring to the table. I have no complaints as far as that. Sometimes people give you more credit. Sometimes people give you less credit. I guess that's a personal opinion. I always like to be my own critic. I know how well I'm playing. I know when I'm not playing that well. I'm gonna try to do as much as possible to get to my better level. That's all I care about, as far as that."
As for my opinion, I'll summarize what I told Yam. Before the trade, I had obviously seen Gasol play many times, often live, so I knew he was a great player. But I never knew just how incredible he can be until I started watching him play on a daily basis. I don't know a better way of putting it, and it's probably with all elite players. Even a guy like Kobe Bryant, a SportsCenter fixture whose can barely drain a basket without it landing on Youtube, does so many subtle things beyond the highlight reel. Without the ability to see him play games from start to finish on a regular basis, a complete understanding isn't really possible.
Even acknowledging Pau's greatness, there's no question he's improved since donning a Laker uni. Particularly as a defender, which required more frequent residence in the weight room. He's now able to maintain better defensive stances without getting pushed off spots, but despite the dividends, he's still not wild about the process.
"You gotta do what you gotta do," Gasol shrugged. "It's not something that I really enjoy or have a lot of fun with."
Unlike, say, D.J. Mbenga, who's turned weightlifting into a one-fan spectator sport. "He likes to look at himself in the mirror," smiled Gasol. "I see D.J. now and then probably enjoying it a little too much."
We all got a good laugh out of Pau's jokes, but I gotta be honest. If I was built like D.J., not only would I be staring at myself 24/7 in a mirror, I'd be running around shirtless every chance possible. Matthew McConaughey would appear modest by comparison.
Of course, there was talk about the Suns. Pau talked about what to expect heading into Sunday's pivotal Game 3 and admitted Steve Nash has the ability to break down even the best defensive efforts:
Bynum gave an update on his still aching knee. Basically, he's resigned himself to a painful postseason of gritted teeth:
Lamar Odom on defending a title vs. pursuing one, and the +/- stat: