The New Lakers

Obivously, it’s been a few good weeks for the Lakers, including a fairly epic victory over Phoenix a couple of nights ago. Marc Stein suggests that they might now be the top-seeded team in the West, which is saying a lot.

I certainly hope so. But I can’t help thinking that this all could come crashing down at any minute. Pau Gasol has a chronically bad back, which go out on him at any time, and at least could severely affect the mobility that makes him so dangerous. That Kobe Bryant has been shooting so well with a torn ligament on his shooting hand speaks volumes about his competitiveness, but it also means that it is a tempting target for opposition defenders. And who knows when Andrew Bynum will be back at full strength.

Even more disquieting is the fact that Phil Jackson seems content to ride Bryant with too many minutes. Check it out: Kobe has been averaging nearly 40 minutes a game (42 last night in a near-blowout against the Clips). Without what was essentially a night off against Atlanta a few days ago, the totals would go even higher. Kobe is the most competitive player since Jordan (if not his equal in that department) and he is in superb shape, but this is a recipe for him to break down.

Tonight, the Lake Show goes to Seattle on yet another back-to-back. They should win. But these minutes, plus the nagging injuries, are going to take their toll.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.