It's too easy to make jokes about this year's version of the Lakers. Comically easy, really. They're 3-17 right now, good for second worst in the league. Their coach, Byron Scott, is like a cross between Colonel Kurtz and the Black Knight, staring into an existential abyss but insisting it's merely a flesh wound. They feature a handful of young players with potential (Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell) but, of course, cede many possessions to the one and only, Kobe Bryant. Try not to laugh.
Since announcing his retirement, Bryant's doomed season has been turned into performance art (I mean, more so than usual). He plays his 30+ minutes a game, takes as many shots as he wants, and, more often than not, "guides" his team to the L. Like Rickey Henderson hanging on in the sub-minor leagues as he approached 50, Bryant still looks incapable of slowing down. If he had not officially declared he was going to quit, it wouldn't be too hard to believe he'd try for another few years. That's Kobe.
Will Kobe (stomach flu) play tomorrow in Toronto? "If I'm walking, I'm playing," he said.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) December 7, 2015
The Raptors, meanwhile, could use a win. This is just me talking, but they could also perhaps use a win where they don't have to work so damn hard. The Lakers, with their retrograde offense and shambling defense, represent as good an opportunity in the league for that kind of win. Still, it looks as though Toronto is on its way to finding the funny in this situation too:
Raptors will run a video tribute for Kobe during a timeout tonight. Might as well just play this: https://t.co/UaNZ1VQxPY— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 7, 2015
Now, some pre-game reading:
David Roth has a great Weak in Review on VICE about the complicated Kobe Bryant.
Then Michael Grange at Sportsnet GOES IN. (I agree with this take, by the way.)
The official word is that Carroll will miss an indefinite amount of time. No sight of him before the game as of yet. Meanwhile, while Bebe has been hanging around, and is in uniform, he's apparently not available. Maybe the joke really is on Toronto after all.
And now, let's get set for tip-off in the comments.