Since Andrew Bynum is the Lakers’ third or fourth scoring option and since he’s often teamed with two 7-footers, it’s understandable that his numbers are lower than Dwight Howard’s. However, as a devoted Lakers fan, I’m still not convinced that Howard is a better player. How about one of your special matchups between Bynum and Howard? – Si-Kyun Lee, Seoul, South Korea
As always, each of the following categories is graded on a 10-point most system. However, just because one of the candidates scores a 10 in a specific skill doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nobody in the NBA who surpasses him. A 10 just means he’s better than in this department than the other guy. The totals are totally appropriate. However, because Bynum has less pressure to perform like an All-Star on a nightly basis, because his movements are somewhat smoother and because he’s two years younger, Bynum could eventually catch and surpass Howard — but only if he takes his job more seriously than he has in the past.
Of all the international players who played in the NBA, which ones make your top 10 list? — Alex, Toronto
1. Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria): Perhaps the most skilled big man ever to play in the NBA.
2. Steve Nash (Canada): Makes his teammates look better than they really are.
3. Pau Gasol (Spain): Long rather than strong, but is the Einstein of current big men.
4. Manu Ginobili (Argentina): The best sixth man in recent memory.
5. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany): Can do everything except lead his team to a championship.
6. Yao Ming (China): The 21st-century version of George Mikan.
7. Tony Parker (Belgium/France): Catch him if you can.
8. Dikembe Mutombo (Zaire): Defender and rebounder extraordinaire.
9. Detlef Schrempf (Germany): Fritz-of-all-trades and Meister of most.
10. Drazen Petrovic (Croatia): Had the quickest release ever.
What is the point of the schedules being so intense? So many back-to-back games result in sloppy performances, blowouts and probably even more injuries than usual. I would prefer a much lighter and more consistently competitive schedule. What’s your take? — Phil Corkill, Czech Republic
The NBA’s schedule-makers are at the mercy of the availability of the arenas. Circuses, rodeos, dog and horse shows, NHL games, college hoops, various conventions and even antique shows drastically limit the number of open dates.
As you suggest, the most obvious solution would be to abbreviate the schedule. But anything less than 82 games would result in an unbalanced situation wherein some teams from the East and the West would play each other only once and would therefore create unfair advantages.
Also, the maximum number of games is absolutely necessary for every team to meet its huge payroll. This is precisely why the first round of the playoffs was increased from best-of-five to best-of-seven.
In any event, endurance is one of the qualities that championship teams must possess.
How come you change your opinions so often? For example, you made no bones about disliking Pau Gasol when he played for Memphis, then you say he’s terrific with the Lakers, then you say he’s too soft. You have the same wishy-washy attitude towards several teams, players, and coaches. Why, then, should I believe anything that you say? — Joe, Bellingham, Wash.
As Heraclitus once said, “You can’t step into the same river twice.”
Players, teams and coaches can improve but can also lose their respective edges. What we perceive as reality is constantly changing.
Even absolute morality changes. Thou shalt not kill — except in self-defense or in state executions of certain criminals or in war.
My aim is to study the performances of teams, players and coaches, make judicious, informed commentary on what I see in the moment — and then project what I deem to be the most likely possibilities. However, I cannot predict the future. If I could, I’d already be a retired multi-trillionaire.
Yet, I do have unalterable guidelines in evaluating personnel — defense, unselfishness, hustle, intelligence, consistency and so on. All of which is just as changeable from player-to-player, game-to-game and coach-to-coach as is the daily weather in Oklahoma City.
Indeed, to form a stubbornly unchangeable opinion about anything is both extremely dangerous and extremely foolish. That’s because the tendency is then to rationalize whatever happens, so every happenstance conforms to your publicly stated position. You see only what you want to see and either disregard or misinterpret the rest. And that’s when opinions get grievously distorted.
The most extreme examples of concretized opinionating are the several thousand folks who still believe the world is flat, even more who are convinced the sun revolves around the Earth — not to mention the legions of Knicks fans who swear Patrick Ewing was the NBA’s ultimate warrior.
I’m the first — well, perhaps the 20th! — to admit when my opinions turn out to be faulty. But I reserve the right to alter my opinion in accordance with the game-to-game alterations as evidenced in the wonderful world of the NBA.
Whether to follow or abandon my arguments is strictly up to you.
If you have a question or comment for Charley Rosen, please email email@example.com and he may respond in a future column.