Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Lakers rule the NBA
with non-stop cool

KOBE is cool. It's taken me a long time to admit that. First, there was that whole young punk thing. Then there's how he is able to have his hair stick out behind him, so that it always looks like he's going real fast, even when he's doing something dead still, like conducting an interview. And he really, really stuck it to me when he took singer Brandy to the prom. (Curse him! He's always one step ahead!)

But last night he got to me. He converted me. I got swept up in the moment. This guy is cool.

Maybe it was the way he strutted in the gym, leading the Lakers through the layup line to an updated, funked-up version of "The Jeffersons" theme song. (That's cool.) Perhaps it was when he made a spectacular block, then ignited the offense by making a midair save from out of bounds. (Cool again.) Maybe it's the fact that he's already getting "Jordan Calls." (From turnover to free throw in just seconds -- just add stink eye. Extremely cool.)

Of course it might have had something to do with the play where he took that invisible escalator and goosh!-ed it through with emphatic grace. Cool.

Forget that he got in foul trouble early in the second half, shot an air-ball and occasionally looked bad thanks to Bob Sura, the world's tallest Backstreet Boy. This is about style here.

This is the NBA. This is a league so cool that the officials start off the game by giving each other a good luck "pound," fist meeting fist in the manner of cool people everywhere, or, ESPN anchors. The NBA is so cool that Kurt Rambis -- Kurt Rambis, say it ain't so, Kurt! -- now looks cool. Really cool. Styling profiling cool!

This is the NBA. We saw it last night at the Stan Sheriff Center. This is the appeal. It's easy to get swept up in it. Yes, pro basketball can be ugly basketball, traveling, bumping, thumping, bad basketball, but they're just so darn good at it! Who cares? These guys are amazing!

"Isn't this cool?" one front-row spectator squealed. "Oh my God!"

It was. It's hard to beat Shaq, the biggest, baddest, coolest, Shaq-est of them all, even when he wasn't playing. He wore an enormous gold felt visor (tilted, of course) and looked, for all the world, as George Costanza once dreamed of being, "ensconced in velvet."

The Laker Girls. The. Laker. Girls. Far, far too much makeup (yikes!). But in their own, um, enthusiastic way, what athletes! That's world class shimmying out there. (Attention circulation department: It would make life much easier if today's paper somehow did not make it to my house.)

They say the college game is better, but once you've seen the pros their sheer skill will win you over. It's true. I'm not seeing steps and three seconds out there. Nobody else in the world can do those dunks.

The Lakers lost. They got pounded. But what style!

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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