Los Angeles Lakers: mentor

Theo Ratliff on championships, mentoring, minerals (video)

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
2:09
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Like I mentioned when the signing of Theo Ratliff was announced, he'll be playing the role of D.J. Mbenga, only with more seasoning and less reluctance. Assuming the big three of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are present and accounted for, I don't expect Ratliff to get much run. But between Bynum's history and the unpredictability of injuries, it's likely Ratliff will be pressed into heavier minutes at some point during the season. Assuming expectations and the duration of those stints are reasonable, I think he'll hold down the fort well enough.

Either way, he is a veteran presence with a defensive mindset and a terrific locker room rep. You can never have enough of those dudes around. Last Friday, Ratliff spoke with the media about the upcoming season and the years leading up to it: Among the talking points:

- Ratliff is excited to be in a position where "championship" can be added to a long, fruitful, yet jewelry-free NBA resume. He understands the value of his services, but it's nonetheless pretty flattering when the top dogs extend an invite. "To be wanted by a team that's won a championship two years in a row is a great feeling," smiled Ratliff. Beyond the "rush" the big man still gets from hitting the hardwood, the quest for a title is what has kept him going this long.

"All the things I've been through, as far as the injuries, all of the workouts and the rehab I've done, it's always been to get to the point where I can win a championship."

-Ratliff's next season will feature a new uni, but his responsibilities remain the same as always: Plugging the middle. Rebounding. Altering shots. Being "tenacious" and a "defensive stopper" while protecting the purple and gold cup.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0