Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Lakers_dfdb

Enjoy the following sentence, because this will probably be the only time you ever see it written: Kobe Bryant is no Raja Bell. Bryant may have five NBA championship rings and a trophy case full of various Most Valuable Player awards, but the 2012 edition of the future Hall of Fame shooting guard is well below Bell circa 2006 on the defensive end. In everything else, Bryant puts to shame the 36-year-old guard currently embroiled in a buyout dispute with the Utah Jazz, but in this one area, Bryant now does not stack up to Bell then. This matters because the word “Showtime” has kept coming up in the last three days, as the Lakers attempt to deflect criticism of their decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. By throwing around the nickname for the most exciting era in Los Angeles basketball history, the Lakers momentarily silence even the most passionate Jacksonphiles. After all, no one can argue with memories of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, no matter how imperfect the comparison may be. To be fair, “Showtime” might be the closest thing to D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less,” in that both mean that teams run a lot. Aside from a great cardiovascular workout, however, there are substantial differences between the 1980s Lakers, D’Antoni’s successful Suns squads and the Lakers’ current iteration. D’Antoni himself made that abundantly clear earlier this week. “This is a completely different team,” D’Antoni said Tuesday in a radio interview. “This team will be more skilled, bigger, a little older, much more experienced and our object will be to find the best shot within the 24-second period. We’ll push the tempo a little bit. I think the model will be something like ‘Showtime,’ but that’s hard to reach.” The reasons it will be hard to reach begin with a starting backcourt whose average age is 36 years old, but unless Jim Buss magically makes Bryant and Steve Nash 10 years younger, that number is only going to go up. The bigger reason might have more to do with Bryant, Bell and Michael Cooper. For all that is made of Showtime’s run-and-gun style, the up-tempo offense began on the defensive end. Ball-stoppers like Cooper and Byron Scott were as important to starting the fastbreaks as Worthy was to finishing them — although not as important as Johnson or Abdul-Jabbar because, honestly, let’s not get carried away. Similarly, the Suns were an infuriating foil for the Lakers from 2005 to 2008 because they had the closest thing alive to a “Kobe stopper” with Bell was in their backcourt. The key to D’Antoni’s success in L.A. therefore might not be Nash getting healthy enough to direct the offense or even Dwight Howard returning to his dominant defensive form. Both of those things probably would have happened even if Mike Brown had not been fired. The key may be Bryant and Metta World Peace re-committing themselves defensively, where they were once All-NBA-caliber defenders. They have lost their edge with time and age, but on late-game possessions they occasionally flash their old skills. D’Antoni will need both of them, as well as Pau Gasol, to at least keep the floodgates from opening onto Howard. The symbiotic relationship between good defense and good offense is well established in football, with its focus on time of possession and field position. But it is just as prominent, if not more so, in basketball, where good defense leads to easy baskets, which stifle the opponent’s fastbreak opportunities. Showtime was near the pinnacle of those two ends of the court working in harmony. “That was the best, probably, it’s ever been done,” D’Antoni said. The defense-oriented, fastbreak-intense Celtics of the Bill Russell era may tend to disagree, but from a strictly offensive perspective, D’Antoni may be correct. Nobody executed in transition like Johnson, although if anyone can come close it is Nash, even at 38. Before the Lakers get to that point, though, they will need to get Nash the ball. Howard will of course be a major factor, but they will need more than one player out of five clamping down on defense. If Showtime’s second act is to start with a bang, it must begin with a clang — of an opponent’s missed shot ricocheting off the rim. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
1 Comment:
  • Bell, would be an option but I would rather make room for Michael Petrius (not should of spelling his last name) and
    Jose Calderon thereby solving two issues. MP, can provide "D" at both,2&3 spot. While J. Calderon is probably the best backup at the point. Their are both younger then Bell and without rehabing from a previous year jury. Adding these two players to your bench would be a move in the right direction. Trading both Steve Blake and Devin Eubanks would be a salary off-set but with more production from your bench. D. Eubanks hasn't produce very much after several opportunities. M. Petrius, has played form M.D'Antoni and Steve Nash with the Suns before, being traded to Orlando, there he played with D. Howard.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Report: Angels, Rangers talking Josh Hamilton trade

Roger Goodell calls both Los Angeles stadium plans 'viable'

Five-star hoops star Malik Newman commits to Miss State

Crabtree on joining Raiders: 'Ain't got nothing to lose'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Hardy gets in 'verbal altercation' with teammate

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

Report: Chris Sale wanted to fight Yordano Ventura

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Eagles VP Ed Marynowitz says he's not Chip Kelly's 'yes man'

Jonathan Papelbon wants out of Philadelphia

WATCH: Todd Gurley shares video of himself sprinting

5 most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Steve Carell, Emma Stone to star in Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King film

Calipari’s new project: Create virtual reality experience for fans

Maurice Jones-Drew will retire with the Jaguars on Tuesday

Ovechkin jokes about taking a chair from Nassau Coliseum

Uniform colors have already been picked for Vegas NHL team

Golden State: Not losing to New Orleans, but still snoozing

Ventura, Royals need to simmer down before someone gets hurt

The Mets and their weak opponents

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

5 boring NFL prime time matchups

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

The Ultimate All-Living MLB Team

Dubs wanted to gain momentum for Game 4 ... then won

Teams who need to ace the NFL Draft

10 bold predictions for the NFL Draft

Ten things you need to know about Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.