It's been just under two months since the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard, completing the last step in the summer-long creation of a basketball Voltron. Between the Olympics and the start of the NFL season, it's been easy to forget about L.A., or at least put aside the weird mix of terror and excitement provoked by Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol (and, uh, Metta World Peace) playing for the same team, a NATO pick-up demon.
Anyway, here they are, all grinning and looking into the distance and probably thinking about how awkward it's going to be the first time Kobe steals the ball from Nash in the backcourt so he can take it up. (Kobe's just thinking about the 10,000 turn-around mid-range jumpers he's going to take after he sups on grilled salmon, dry lettuce, and the blood of innocents.) Meanwhile, Mike Woodson's already tried to slip this photo into the sheaf of denim-jacket mockups that Amar'e Stoudemire's been working on for the last 72 hours, and he texted it to Carmelo Anthony in the hope that he'd see it between games of Angry Birds. LeBron emailed it to Obama with the subject, "Dude: Guantanamo?" Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have already filled it with over a thousand rounds of live ammunition at the local Oklahoma shooting range. (James Harden doesn't like guns, even in controlled settings.)
And somewhere, atop a mist-shrouded mountain deep within Nepal, after hiking there from the Indian Ocean, Derrick Rose pushes aside a curtain of wooden beads sweaty with condensation. He sees Phil Jackson sitting Lotus-style, hovering an inch above the ground.
"Phil," Rose says, and he holds up the photograph. "What do we do?"
And Phil says: "Let Kobe shoot."