Thoughts on Kobe, Durant, and Joakim Through the First Round

Chad RidgewayCorrespondent IApril 21, 2010

1) The Lakers' Switch is a Lever

Lakers Nation has wrapped itself in the comfortable theory of "turning it on." The Kobe/Shaq Lakers turned it on while ignoring the regular season. Even last year's championship squad didn't turn it on until they had to (Game Five of the Western Conference Finals).

Lakers fans are banking on Kobe and Co. flipping that switch. After two playoff games, it's obvious the team isn't on, but they've shown a bit more focus than the sleepwalking zombies of recent weeks. If the lever goes to ten, they've ratcheted it up to a one or two.

Once the young Thunder get in front of their raucous crowd and shock the Lakers with a convincing win, the lever will get cranked up a few more notches, reaching a ten as the Lakeshow rolls into the Finals against a very good Cavs or Magic team.

2) Joakim's Trash Talking Offends the Karma Gods

His comments about Cleveland are funny, true, and ballsy. In an era of fines for complaining and a death of rivalries in the league, making himself public enemy No. 1 in Cleveland is one of the great sideshows of this, thus far, unspectacular postseason.

But run your mouth at your own risk.

Players rarely have control over where they play, and the basketball gods often have karmic inclinations. I don't know how he will save face at the press conference when he is inevitably traded to Cleveland, but it will surely be a riveting finale to his appreciated shenanigans.

3) Durant Had 2009-10's Most Impressive Regular Season

Try to think back to last September and imagine if someone had posed this question to you:

"What would be more impressive this season; LeBron James leading the Cavs to 60 wins, or Kevin Durant leading the Thunder to 50 wins?"

Remember, LeBron had won 66 games the year before, and with the majority of the east being flat out terrible, it was expected they'd at least be near that plateau again.

But the Thunder were coming off of a 23-win season full of growing pains and they were still greener than their uniforms (well, back when they played in Seattle). ESPN predicted them to win 32 games and wind up as the 11th best team in the West.

They weren't the only ones. The general consensus was they'd win 30-something games and were still a year or two away (and a piece or two away) from the playoffs. They didn't add any major pieces in the offseason, and the West this season was wilder than ever.

And they still won 50 games.

And Kevin Durant led the league in scoring at over 30 a game at the age of 21.

That doesn't mean LeBron shouldn't win the MVP award. He was the best player on the best team and had a career year. But what Durant accomplished with his team this season was the most impressive of all.