L.A. Lakers: TV's Best New "Reality" Series Looking to Renew...Title
"...and if you want to be free, be free/
Cuz there's a million ways to be/
You know that there are."
Okay, okay, you had enough of that the first 500 times you heard it, let alone the 5,000th. If you think about it, though, isn't that the perfect theme for what has been the Lakers' offseason and preseason?
I mean beside the fact that Cat Stevens's "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" has become the average sports fan's literal soundtrack, sandwiched between George Lopez's bad jokes and little Kylie showing she knows more about computers than you'll ever forget.
There's a million ways for this Lakers team to be this season, enough to match the many moods and personalities of their biggest and most volatile acquisition over the summer—Ron ("-Ron") Artest.
Even so, Ron-Ron might not even be the biggest distraction on the team this season, despite focusing the better part of his energy over the summer promoting something called Shin Shin (not to be confused with comics character Tintin or failed diet drug Fen-phen).
Then again, he is the Laker most likely to be lured by the siren call of Hollywood, even discussing the wedding of one of his teammates with professional gossipmonger Harvey Levin.
That's a good segue to the subtraction by addition that is Mrs. Lamar Odom, who brings with her reality television's second least likable family, just behind Balloon Boy's.
The whole marriage and "courtship" stank of something like a November sweeps ratings grab, a process somewhere between an arranged marriage and The Bachelor on the romance scale.
Out of this deal, Kardashian gets the publicity she so desperately craves and Lamar gets...well, I'm not really sure. Some candy must have been passed under the table.
Even Vanessa Bryant could get in the act, rumored to be courted herself—by Bravo's Real Housewives of Orange County .
What's next? Pau Gasol hitting the club scene with "Speidi"?
Even Phil, who usually retires to the Big Sky Country each offseason, went Hollywood this last summer, turning pitchman with new best friends Whoopi Goldberg and Jesse James.
Let us not forget, though, that in the NBA the play is the thing, and on paper, as the season starts, the Lakers still have to be the odds-on favorites to win it all.
The biggest development for the Lakers during the preseason was the one that will certainly receive the least play on TMZ—the re-emergence of Andrew Bynum (apparently that Amber Alert issued for him after playoffs worked).
If Drew has truly returned to pre-knee injury form, and the Lakers have a true "twin tower" presence, then the Lakers become an even bigger favorite.
Even with the potential for distraction, the fact remains that all the teams that will challenge the Lakers for NBA supremacy this season face their own question marks as well. Sure, the Lakers might have slightly bigger distractions, but they are also more apt in, and used to, dealing with them.
The Boston Celtics will be improved with a "healthy" Kevin Garnett (note the quotes), but 'Sheed's attitude over 82 games (not including the playoffs) and Rajon Rondo's strained working relationship with Doc Rivers remain an uncertainty.
The Orlando Magic lost Hedo Turkoglu and added Vince Carter, a player of remarkable talents who has, not insubstantially, also managed to sabotage any team he's ever been on.
The Cleveland Cavaliers must hope that the King of Twitteronia continues to experience his personal renaissance without upsetting the court of His Majesty King James. (Tip No. 1: If LBJ has an idea for his own reality series, Shaq, don't feel compelled to steal it .)
In the West, the acquisition of Richard Jefferson and rookie DeJuan Blair suddenly had NBA pundits penciling in the Spurs for seven to nine more wins than last season.
However, the key for San Antonio is still the play and health of their Big Three—Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Lose those guys to injury or ineffectiveness and the Spurs are thinner than Ginobli's hair.
Meanwhile, in Denver, George Karl is still George Karl.
To all the pretenders to the gold and royal blue throne, I have two words: get real. In light of all this unknown, the favorites have to be considered the devils we know, those defending champs from the City of Angels.
If the Lakers can't keep their issues positioned firmly on the sideline (just like those courtside seats now enjoyed by the Car-wreckians, er, Kardashians), David Stern might finally get his dream matchup of the Lakers vs., well, the Lakers in the 2010 Finals (if they even make it that far).
As for Lakers fans, if you want an easy, drama-free path to another championship, sorry.
There's not an app for that.
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