View Full Version : OT: Fun SI Story about Kobe's "Bench Mob"

05-13-2008, 07:21 AM
Of course, I'm focused on the Ronny mentions in the story (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jack_mccallum/05/13/lakers0519/?eref=sircrc).

Jack McCallum - INSIDE THE NBA
Kobe and the Bench Mob
Updated: Tuesday May 13, 2008 9:26AM

The NBA's most celebrated supporting cast (if that's not a contradiction in adjectives) belonged to Michael Jordan in Chicago. And belonged is the correct verb since Jordan looked upon those mere mortals quite proprietarily, often using "my" when he referred to them. In journalistic circles they eventually acquired a sobriquet, the Jordanaires, which was also the name of Elvis Presley's backup singers.


....The ones still operating in the considerable coolness of Bryant's shadow constitute L.A.'s Bench Mob -- a quartet of subs united by youth (forward Luke Walton is the eldest at 28) and middling draft position (Farmar, at No. 26 in 2006, was the highest selection), while divided by nationality (Vujacic is from Slovenia, forward Ronny Turiaf from Martinique) and hairdos. Walton has a head of chestnut curls; Farmar a classic 1950s crew cut; Vujacic a longish I-must-be-in-rock-videos coiffure that necessitates hair-band adjustments as he runs upcourt; and Turiaf a cornrows-beard combo that suggests he might be un professeur de philosophie at the Sorbonne.

Turiaf was hardly that on Sunday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. In the second quarter he body-slammed Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price to the floor and was ejected from what turned out to be a 123-115 overtime Lakers loss, tying this Western Conference semifinal at two games. ....


Bryant didn't single out anyone for blame after Sunday's loss. But make no mistake about it: Mobbed up as it might be, the quirky quartet still answers to the Kobester. Case in point: Trailing by four with about 15 seconds left in Game 3, the Lakers saw their last chance for victory vanish when Walton let a ball slip through his hands, earning him dagger looks and harsh words from Bryant. Such wrath has been rare over the last few months, however. Indeed, the most compelling L.A. leitmotif -- the team's transformation from dysfunctional Simpsons to loving Cleavers -- is best told through Bryant's marriage to the Mob.


Turiaf's elbows-and-knees style presage a career as a classic backup big man. On the court he is nothing like his French national-team frères, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker and Phoenix Suns forward Boris Diaw, whose games are built on speed and finesse, respectively. But the 6' 10" Turiaf, the 37th pick in '05, was a bona fide back-to-the-basket threat at Gonzaga (he averaged more than 15 points in each of his last three seasons) and has worked hard to develop a nice touch in the paint. Plus, as he says, "I have a great basketball IQ for the triangle."

Whatever his future, Turiaf, 25, doesn't act like a bench player. Before games he skips and prances around the court as if he's warming up for Dancing with the Stars. On and off the court, he can talk the shell off a hard-boiled egg. Maybe that's how you act when you have an NBA career despite six-hour heart surgery to correct an enlarged aortic root, which was diagnosed in July 2005. He has also achieved YouTube immortality (for this year anyway) by costarring in a clip in which Bryant jumps over a speeding Aston Martin. "It was a lot of fun," says Turiaf, "but I always have a lot of fun with Kobe. I promise you."


What the Lakers have going now is a special bond, forged in conflict, strengthened by success. "Give credit to the organization for drafting character guys like Ronny, Sasha, Jordan and, of course, Luke," says Bryant. "I think the most important thing for us this year was how hard our young players worked and how much they developed. None of this would be happening without them." It is indeed rare -- a killer Mob that doesn't feel the need to take over.
Got to love that Ronny leads the cast of "character guys" Kobe mentions.

Read the rest of the story here (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/jack_mccallum/05/13/lakers0519/?eref=sircrc).

Gratuitous photo not in the story: Of course, no thread about Ronny can be allowed to pass without a pic of the big man, this one of him listening to Kobe during one of the Lakers-Nuggets playoff games this month:


05-13-2008, 02:53 PM
my favorite line

"Whatever his future, Turiaf, 25, doesn't act like a bench player. Before games he skips and prances around the court as if he's warming up for Dancing with the Stars."