Nine years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were considered shoo-ins for the NBA Championship after future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton were added to a squad that had won three titles in a row just a few years earlier. Between the two new arrivals and the world-renowned talents of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, fans throughout the country all but shipped the Larry O’Brien trophy to Staples Center.
Steve Nash (left) and Dwight Howard
The high-priced experiment was a complete dud. After backing into the NBA Finals, the Lakers were flogged by the Detroit Pistons, four games to one.
Last summer, two future Hall of Famers, center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash, donned purple-and-gold jerseys. Will history repeat itself? O.C. roundball fans will get a look at All-Star Experiment Ver. 2.0 when the Lakers battle the Utah Jazz on Oct. 16 at Honda Center.
Howard, a powerhouse widely considered the best center in the league, led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, when they lost to the Lakers. His inside presence will free up teammates to do serious damage from the perimeter. (At press time, Howard may not be available for the Oct. 16 game due to his rehab from back surgery.)
The other acquisition is Nash, a two-time league MVP and one of the finest point guards in NBA history. He took a pay cut for a chance to earn, like Howard, his first championship ring. Although his fine playmaking skills make him a threat even if he goes scoreless, Nash is a vastly underrated sharpshooter who can fill the hole from nearly anywhere on the court.
Don’t forget that the Lakers, in addition to adding Howard and Nash, have retained the services of Pau Gasol as well as some dude named Kobe.
QUICK FACT: New Los Angeles Laker Steve Nash is a South African-born Canadian who attended UC Santa Clara and was selected in the 1996 NBA draft as the 15th pick by the Phoenix Suns.
The Color Dash to End Stroke, Oct. 20 at Irvine Lake, is a fun way to help fund the ongoing fight against a major killer. All 5K runners start off wearing a white top, and as they enter each “color zone,” they’re showered with a different hue: red for healthcare at 1K, yellow for education at 2K, blue for community at 3K, and green for research at 4K. occolordash.org
GET YOUR KICKS
The UCI Women’s Soccer team’s stock shot up this season following a shaky start, when the Kickin’ Anteaters downed two NCAA-ranked squads: Auburn on Aug. 26 and Oregon State on Sept. 2. The team will appear at Anteater Stadium four times this month: versus Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Oct. 5, UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 7, Cal State Northridge on Oct. 26, and the University of Hawaii on Oct. 28. ucirvinesports.com