The Suits call me a "method" writer.
It used to annoy me but whatever. I simply like to occupy the mindset and setting of whatever I write.
Something set in the desert... Mojave's two hours away. Mountains... pick a range. I often receive some of my best ideas for this space at Clippers/Lakers games.
But when my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. yesterday? Alerting me that "it's time to write your column on LeBron's foot injury and be in El Segundo by 10 a.m.?"
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I don't need set and setting. I wake up raring to write. So raring that 200 words I've written in my sleep immediately appear on my laptop screen.
Sleep-writing happens when I write to deliver a need. And after absorbing 18 straight hours of notifications, YouTuber dissections of "I heard a pop," Woj Bombs, and Shams Sparklers on the incident in Dallas?
I need to write this column. Because I need to be calm. Because I need to be in El Segundo at 10.
Easy. By 7:15? The almost-final draft is done.
I can now calmly close my laptop, go for a 20-minute ride, proofread, hit "send" to Joe Kaiser, hit the showers, and be in El Segundo by 10... with a smile.
I navigate the backyard mud. Enter our dog room/gym. Strap on the shoes that I call "my ice skates." Lock my "skates" in the saddle. Put on The Worldwide Leader as my soundtrack... just to monitor any last-second LeBron updates.
But then... my LeBron hyperfocus intermingles with the preternaturally-hypnotic sound of Freddie Coleman's voice. Freddie Coleman triggers me into an elevated Flow State.
So I am unaware I have been pedaling for 30 minutes when a Ring front-door notification snaps me to attention. I remember DHL is delivering a $260 record from Japan. I remember it is raining.
I decide to make a run for it.
I start my dismount, bellowing "DON'T LEAVE IT ON THE PORCH!"
But Boxer #2 hears the sound that grants her permission to approach me post-ride: the "click" of "my ice skates" being yanked out of the saddle. And it's been a long, lonely half hour since we last talked. So to celebrate our reunion, Boxer #2 begins to rise on her hind legs to box me.
So now my threat mechanism is unexpectedly yelling "MUDDY PAWS!"... at the exact moment I am slamming my right "skate" onto my rain-slicked floor.
Now... the method writer in me would love to be able to type "I heard it pop." But that would be inaccurate.
So I'll rephrase.
Do you remember that moment from the final fight in "Goon" where Seann William Scott is cocking his fist to throw a right cross at Liev Schreiber when his skate slips, causing his notoriously glassy ankle to buckle, crumple, and snap in the wrong direction with a sickeningly-well-mixed "CRUNCH," collapsing Seann William Scott onto the ice with a rafter-ratting howl of Allison-Pill-shattering pain?
So "like that," I am rewriting yesterday's column today... in a zero-gravity chair. As my entombed, elevated, still-angry-at-me right ankle looks down at me in judgment.
But at least I got to watch the Lakers play one of the "23 of the most-important games (in the regular season)" of LeBron's career... without LeBron. So we now have one box score and several hours of hot-take overreactions to add to the mix.
Here's what I wrote in my sleep.
"I heard it pop."
Know what I hear when I hear LeBron say that?
I don't hear a talking head asking "can the Lakers still get a top-6 seed?" I don't hear talk radio asking "will the Lakers even make the Play-In?"
I hear Kobe Bryant's second free throw exiting the bottom of the net.
I hear an announcer say "gotta get him out of the game."
I see Bryant gutting it off the court on April 12, 2013... already knowing 100% he'd just torn his Achilles tendon.
How did Bryant know? Because he "heard it pop."
And no one with serious NBA miles ever comes back the same.
During the 2012-13 season? Like LeBron, Bryant was heroically carrying a mediocre team and adding way too-many miles to his record-breaking odometer.
Achilles' tendons do not care about the narrative. About what a great story it would be for the reconstituted Lakers to make a run at making a run in the wide-open Western Conference playoffs.
Now I'm not suggesting LeBron James managed to somehow return to score 13 points and lead the comeback of the year on a torn, or even ruptured Achilles. When an Achilles tears? There's no pain... and no leverage in the leg. And the sickening reality of a career altered.
In two weeks? Maybe the Lakers are close enough to the Play-In that LeBron succumbs to the pressure and plays.
But I want to see how far LeBron James can take this. Not the "this" of this .500-ish Lakers season.
I want to see if he can continue to play at GOAT levels at 40. 42. 43. Because at 38? What we're seeing is already the never-been-done. Beyond the known NBA galaxy.
29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game. 2.1 3s...on a mediocre 30.8 3PT%, probably because that foot's been hurt for some time. 33.2 Usage. 24.4 PER.
All on a roster that until about 10 days ago was late-Lottery at best.
This is NBA history. Let history get 100% before it resumes.
Foot injuries are the toughest to game out in terms of recovery time. Best-possible-case? I guess you could hope LeBron returns March 17 for that home game against the Mavericks. But a more reasonable hope would be to have his services in time for the last two weeks of the regular season/fantasy playoffs.
So what about the rest of the Lakers' non-LeBron fantasy prospects?
Who vacuums up that 33.2 Usage and converts it into fantasy playoff purple-and-gold?
In terms of Tier One, night-in-night-out-reliable fantasy production?
Right now? Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder. That's it.
Until D'Angelo Russell returns and takes some of the defensive heat off Davis, the Lakers can offer you DFS-esque one-game lottery tickets. Four players with a revolving chance at delivering decent wing production: Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker, Malik Beasley, and just maybe Rui Hachimura.
And as the only Wizards fan I know: yes. I am aware Hachimura is a SF/PF. But he is a SF/PF that delivers SG production.
After Russell returns (and Schroder becomes droppable)? There is a chance one of those four names elevates to Tier One reliability. My money's on Austin Reaves because his production isn't as usage-dependent.
The waiver-wire player with the most untapped upside: Jarred Vanderbilt. I'm a huge fan of his James Johnson-esque multi-categorical box scores. The only thing that's keeping him from being prime James Johnson is any semblance of offense.
When Vanderbilt cracks double figures like his did against the Mavericks last Sunday? Vanderbilt presents some real fantasy intrigue.
But Sad/ironically? I think the only way he suddenly starts taking more than 5.8 FGA a game is if the Lakers slide... and decide to let history get 100%.
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