When you last left your regularly scheduled program of the Los Angeles Lakers …
Kobe Bryant had yet to be courted by Virtus Bologna in Italy, or Besiktas in Turkey, or Shanxi Zhongyu in China, or any other team looking for a week or two of international press by linking their franchise with Bryant’s services.
Bryant hadn’t gone to Germany for a new-age knee treatment. He hadn’t flown to the Philippines for an exhibition basketball game or to Washington, D.C., for an exhibition soccer game. He hadn’t hit a game winner over James Harden at the Drew League.
He hadn’t been accused of wrestling a camera phone away from a man at church. He hadn’t played Bow Wow one-on-one at his summer camp. He hadn’t balked at questions about Mike Brown at a news conference. He hadn’t set up a Twitter account with an avatar of a snake eating the little blue Twitter bird and tweeted “Can you hear me now?!?!.” He also hadn’t abruptly taken that Twitter account down yet, either.
Pau Gasol hadn’t redeemed himself from a paltry playoff showing with another championship playing for his home country of Spain in the FIBA EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania. He hadn’t pondered staying in Barcelona for the year to play for his old club team.
Andrew Bynum hadn’t trained with legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach. He also hadn’t made use of his fit boxing body by reportedly parking in handicap spots outside of a grocery store.
Ron Artest hadn’t changed his name to Metta World Peace. He hadn’t had his name-change appointment delayed by outstanding tickets, either. He hadn’t been the first contestant bounced from “Dancing with the Stars” after dying his hair (and goatee) blonde. He hadn’t challenged a 48-year-old Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one or gone on a stand-up comedy tour.
He hadn’t cried wolf on Twitter declaring the lockout to be over back in the beginning of October as a ploy to get folks to visit his website. He hadn’t cried wolf on Twitter claiming to be headed to England to play for the Cheshire Jets back in the beginning of August as a ploy to … well, we’re still trying to figure out his motivation on that one.
Lamar Odom hadn’t been courted by Besiktas after Bryant turned them down. He also hadn’t been through his sister-in-law’s wedding … and divorce.
He hadn’t been back in New York for a cousin’s funeral when a car he was a passenger in was involved in an accident that killed a 15-year-old boy.
Derek Fisher hadn’t spent more than 200 hours at 40-plus labor negotiation meetings in swanky New York City hotels. He hadn’t demanded a retraction from a reporter who wrote that he had a rift with union executive director Billy Hunter.
Matt Barnes hadn’t gotten a technical foul in a charity exhibition game in Long Beach. He hadn’t punched an opposing player at a summer league game in San Francisco. He hadn’t lost 15 pounds to help facilitate the rehabilitation of his knee.
Shannon Brown had not yet opted out of the final year of his contract to test the free agency market. He hadn’t gone to San Diego to watch his alma mater, Michigan State, play North Carolina on an aircraft carrier.
Steve Blake hadn’t issued a statement rebutting what Brown, the Lakers’ team representative with the NBA players’ association, said about his stance on the last deal that was on the table before the lockout was resolved.
Second-round pick Andrew Goudelock hadn’t gone back to school to take classes at the College of Charleston.
Luke Walton hadn’t gone back to school to coach the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team with his old college buddy, Josh Pastner.
Trey Johnson hadn’t signed to play in Italy. Joe Smith hadn’t argued with a pumpkin in a video that went viral on the Internet. Theo Ratliff hadn’t joined Fisher in a bunch of those meetings to help put an end to the NBA’s grueling 149-day lockout.
It’s about time we all get back to the real Lake Show on the basketball court.
The last five months have felt like we’ve been watching a bizarre spin-off.