With Lakers Media Day approaching Monday, it dawned on me how Oct. 1, 2012, doesn't just mark the official launch of training camp and the 2012-2013 season. It also marks the five-year anniversary of the Media Day following Kobe Bryant's "radio tour." To say the least, Oct. 1, 2007 provided a surreal atmosphere. As Lakers fans remember, after missing the playoffs in 2005, then consecutive first round exits against the Suns, the Mamba appeared on a number of radio shows expressing a desire to be traded -- Pluto was cited as an option -- and was recorded blasting the front office for their unwillingness to trade Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. (If we learned one thing from that summer, Kobe Bryant the player is a first ballot Hall of Fame lock, but his credentials as a general manager leave something to be desired.)
Save bringing point guard/Kobe confidant Derek Fisher back into the fold, Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Buss responded to the outburst by presenting Bryant a roster essentially untouched. Thus, speculation swirled as to whether 24 would actually report to camp. Lest anybody assume this was simply the media churning the waters to create drama, think again. After 15-20 minutes with no sign of Kobe, I vividly remember Kwame Brown asking me if I'd seen the superstar, and if I knew whether he was gonna show up. This was truly the $1,000,000 question, and nobody was quite sure how the day would shake out.
Eventually, Kobe did emerge, palpably unenthusiastic, but committed to remaining professional. The season turned out considerably better than expected, even before Pau Gasol trade. Since then, Kobe has collected his fourth and fifth rings, and despite this offseason presenting seemingly few avenues for upgrading a team stuck in good-but-not-great purgatory, we're now looking at a starting five of Steve Nash, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Dwight Howard.
And Oct. 1, 2007 feels about 100 years in the rear view mirror.
It reminds me of this exchange between Glen (Sam McMurray) and H.I. (Nicolas Cage) in Raising Arizona:
Glen: It's a crazy world.
H.I.: Someone oughta sell tickets.
Glen: Sure, I'd buy one.
Enjoy the season.