Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Flashback: When 'old' Lakers were young
By Patrick Dorsey
After the Los Angeles Lakers' home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant -- he of 34 years on this planet -- called the Lakers "an old damn team."
And although some will say you're only as old as you feel, in real-age numbers it's hard to argue with the future Hall of Famer. Just as defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City features a top five (in minutes played per game) aged 24, 24, 23, 29 and 28, the Lakers (15-16) boast a 1 through 5 aged 34, 27, 33, 32 and 38. (Heck, their top three bench players are 32, 30 and 36).
Of course, even the aged once were young. So let's take a photographic look back at that Lakers top five, back when they were just rookies.
Dwight Howard, 27
Orlando Magic, 2004-05: Straight from high school, the top pick was raw on offense (12.0 PPG) but grabbed 10.0 boards per game. He also started all 82 for the 36-46 Magic, but lost the Rookie of the Year award to Emeka Okafor.
Pau Gasol, 32
Memphis Grizzlies, 2001-02: Gasol's first year in the league aligned with the Grizzlies' first year in Tennessee, and the 21-year-old ex-Spanish league star delivered: 17.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 2.7 assists per game.
Ron Artest/Metta World Peace, 33
Chicago Bulls, 1999-2000: Back before World Peace arrived, the 16th overall pick from St. John's gave the Bulls three seasons, including a 12.0-point, 4.3-rebound, 1.7-steal rookie campaign.
Steve Nash, 38
Phoenix Suns, 1996-97: This guy became a star? You couldn't tell from the 15th overall pick's first year in the Valley, where he averaged just 3.2 points and 2.1 assists (in 10.5 minutes). But that's why he's Steve Nash ...
Kobe Bryant, 34
Los Angeles Lakers, 1996-97: Days ago Bryant said this is his best season "in a while." It's certainly better than Year 1, in which the high school draftee (13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets) started just six games and played just 15.5 minutes per, averaging 7.6 points on 41.7 percent shooting (albeit on a 56-win team).