April 26, 2021
The Lakers are getting healthy. Anthony Davis is back and Lebron James is on the way, but now they have other problems to fix. Anthony Davis is so rusty, he might need a tetanus shot just to remember how to play basketball. Marc Gasol is also now taking a passive aggressive, “high school drama” approach to his lack of playing time. These feel like chemistry issues, but I think Lebron James fixes much of that chemistry when he returns. Despite losing an important 2-game set with the Mavs, the Lakers are unlikely to fall into the play-in game, thanks to the Blazers struggles. They would be much better off in the 5th seed though, which means playing the Nuggets in the first round without Jamaal Murray. Jeanie Buss apparently has her issues too right now. She took heat for her list of Top 5 Lakers she mentioned on the “All The Smoke” podcast. Her list is Kareem, Kobe, Lebron, Magic, and Phil. I don’t get the outrage though. These lists are typically a function of how old you are, and in Jeanie’s case Lebron gave her the Lakers first title with her as owner, so of course he’s going to mean more to her. She probably should have kept it to players only, because it just seems like she’s only putting Phil on the list since they were engaged. In any case, we’re talking about the Lakers people. I guess they have to apologize for having too many of the greatest players, coaches, and executives in NBA history.
Then there’s Lebron James and his Twitter drama this week. In the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Lebron mistakenly linked the circumstances of that police related incident with another without the facts. He tweeted something he regretted, and then deleted it, making him a target for criticism. I don’t love mixing politics with basketball, let alone any sport. Police brutality shouldn’t be political though. Criticizing Lebron is just taking away the matter that needs to be addressed. The Chauvin verdict isn’t justice by any means, but it is accountability, which we haven’t had much of before. Everything else that’s being talked about no matter what side you are on is just noise that is politicizing everything else.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have won 4 straight games and 5 of their last 6. They are knocking on the door of the 2-seed, and Paul George is knocking on the door of accountability. PG has put up 30 points or more in 7 of his last 8 games. That’s pretty impressive for a guy with a bad foot. However, everyone knows that it’s all about what the guy does in the playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, Rajon Rondo is already looking like “Playoff Rondo” and it’s not even the postseason yet. The numbers may not be sexy, but Rondo is controlling the tempo, making big shots, and providing floor leadership the Clips didn’t have before.
That was another great series over the weekend between the Dodgers and the Padres. This time the Dodgers dropped 3 out of 4, and yesterday they handed over a 7-1 lead like they were some 501C3 charity. This might just be a really good rivalry after all. The Dodgers have been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position the past week, but they still have the best record in baseball. Fernando Tatis Jr. seemed to have his way with the Dodgers all weekend, including with Trevor Bauer. Tatis not only hit a pair of homers off of Bauer, but mocked him while rounding the bases. I love the response from Bauer though, explaining that celebrating like this should be part of the culture of baseball. Is this really possible? Trevor Bauer is now the voice of reason? Some of you might even start to like him after that comment.
As for the Angels, they are collapsing faster than cryptocurrency after a hot start. Despite the win yesterday, they got battered over the last week, and suddenly their pitching looks as bad as we thought it was going to be. Losing key hitters from the lineup, and losing games in the division against the Astros is putting them in an early season hole. After Friday’s loss, the Angels had the fourth worst ERA in the majors, and that was before they got bombed on Saturday. Perry Minasian told the LA Times he doesn’t seem to be worried yet, but he must not have seen the Angels’ pitching for the last few years.
UCLA’s Johnny Juzang has announced that he is going to enter his name into the NBA draft. Without knowing his financial situation, I think he would be far better off returning to UCLA for another season. People know who he is now, he’s going to be on an elite team next year, with a platform to perform in front of scouts. That gives him a great opportunity to become a lottery pick in 2022, and give him better odds of a longer NBA career. On the other hand, he is currently projected as a late 2nd round pick, which isn’t even a guarantee he’ll be drafted. If he does get drafted, he won’t have a guaranteed contract, and he’ll likely be battling for minutes in the G-League. I realize there are only so many minutes available for a lot of good players on the Bruins next year, but Juzang will have plenty available to him if he comes back.
Finally, a scandal at USC? Since when? This never happens! The LA Times just published a story about the toxic culture on the USC Song Girl Squad. 10 former song girls spoke to the Times, and characterized the program as one that “went beyond normal fitness required to be on the spirit squad.” Former coach Lori Nelson was also mentioned for constantly “rebuking women publicly for their eating habits, personal appearance, and sex lives.” I get that many of these scandals took place before Carol Folt took over as President in 2019, but there are still accounts of this same culture going on in the program as of 6 months ago. I guess even Folt can only put out one fire at a time. SC is supposedly trying harder to be more ethical in every aspect of their University, but the perception of their culture is still all about image, and it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to change that.