That was my best Rachel Nichols impression. As many of you know I was in Bristol on Sunday and Monday and unfortunately, I didn't get to see her during my time on the ESPN campus. I did briefly see Stacy Dales and the bearded guy from Dream Job, whose name I just found out is Al Jaffe.
Anyways, I didn't miss either of the Laker games thanks to a New York bar and tivo. I was able to catch the thrilling Sonics/Lakers game over drinks at a place called Tonic on 3rd avenue in Manhattan. By the way, all New York bars look exactly the same to me. They're narrow and long, and by contrast to the rest of the country relatively small.
The great thing about the East coast bar scene is that you can watch games while you're out drinking. Now of course you can do that on the West Coast also, but if you head to the bars at 7 p.m. and continue drinking till close, you are what they call an alcoholic. I got to the bar at 10 and was able to watch the entire game, yell at the television, and be in the company of sports fans. That's an atmosphere the West Coast doesn't quite have. Of course having your sports day start at 7 p.m. and not 4, makes those three hours much harder to deal with. Also having the Pepperdine/Gonzaga start at midnight isn't all that appealing unless you are an insomniac.
Speaking of insomniacs, I'm going to have trouble sleeping because the Lakers without Andrew Bynum look scary. Here's why:
1. In two games against the West's hungry and downtrodden, the Grizzlies and the Sonics, the Lakers won by a combined three points and one of the games took overtime.
2. Kobe took a combined 69 shots and looked like he was back in the gunslinger/"give me the ball and get the fuck out of the way" mentality.
3. Kwame Brown is now starting at center. Need I say more?
4. Bynum's injury came at almost the exact time the Lakers began to fall apart last year. That Lakers team was 26-13. This one is 26-11 and first in the West. Yeah, that's not a typo, the Lakers are FIRST in the West.
5. The Lakers upcoming schedule looks like this: Phoenix, Denver, at Spurs, at Dallas, Cleveland, Knicks, at Detroit. The Pistons game is the start of a 9 game roadtrip and 12 out of 13 games on the road.
Let's just hope Kobe is not demanding a trade after that stretch, Bynum isn't making cell phone videos about Kobe, and Ric Bucher isn't back on ESPN with a new tan claiming we'll never see Kobe in a Laker uniform again.
College Hoops at its finest
I watched an Illinois/Wisconsin basketball game from 2003 on ESPN classic the other day and was stunned to see how many NBA players were on the floor. The Illini were ranked No. 14 and the Badgers were No. 24. Illinois had Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Luther Head, Brian Cook, and James Augustine. Wisconsin had Devin Harris and Alando Tucker, but their best player was Kirk Penney, who averaged 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists that season.
Deron Williams, in his freshman season was the 8th leading scorer on his team.
As always, an updated Lakers +/- (through 37 games) Lakers: 26-11, 1st in West
Up Next: vs. Phoenix Thursday 7:30 p.m. PST TNT
Must read: My front page Daily News article on then rise of Cal State Northridge basketball