Trying to figure out Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni's dance card

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"This is your chance to get back into Gasol's good graces," I told D'Antoni, who has never really figured out what he has in Gasol.

"We hung out the other night; we're good," D'Antoni said. "I'm sure he wants to start. I know he wants to start. I just kind of got to coach the team the way I think it's better."

So he doesn't think Gasol makes the Lakers better when Gasol starts?

"It's not a personality conflict, and it's not a dance contest," D'Antoni said, and I know of no one who suggested it was.

"I like him," D'Antoni said. "My dance card is open. If you want to dance, I'm good."

First time I can recall a coach losing his train of thought and asking whether we might have the next dance. I'm very confused.

I checked in with Gasol who walked by me earlier singing, "Don't stop believing," after hearing he would get the start.

"I'm nervous," Gasol said with more than a hint of sarcasm.

Gasol then went out and led all Lakers' scorers with 22 points because he's a really good player, replacing Kwame Brown a few years back and allowing Kobe Bryant to win two more rings.

D'Antoni put Gasol on the bench and Kobe told Gasol, "don't sugarcoat your disappointment," while knowing Gasol would react like a pro on the court and play all out.

Yet someone asked D'Antoni earlier how he might get Gasol to buy into his way of thinking, as scary a thought as I can imagine, thinking like D'Antoni.

"Pay him $19 million. I don't know, that should help," D'Antoni said, by way of reminding everyone that Gasol is paid well, and there is no reason to feel sorry for him.

"Hey, I don't think it's a story," D'Antoni said, while forgetting everything with the Lakers is a story because it is Los Angeles after all. "He wants to play. I got it. And we're going to play him. I don't see the story."

I told him to stick to coaching basketball, and we'll take care of the stories. He then made the point that he never reads the stories.

He's lying, of course, because he said so.

"If my lips are moving there's a good chance I'm not telling the truth," D'Antoni said, and so when he tells everyone the Lakers are fine, is he really saying they are not?

So we really do agree.

Two of the Super Bowl bets in Las Vegas include Kobe Bryant's performance Sunday against Detroit.

Who would you take to score more points? San Francisco or Kobe, keeping in mind that Kobe insists he will continue to be the facilitator?

And what will end up being the higher number, the points scored by Bryant plus 51/2, or receiving yards by San Francisco wide receiver Randy Moss minus 51/2?

I'll take Bryant in both cases, because I told him about the propositions and he won't be able to keep himself from giving the 49ers and Moss a big number to chase.

After all, he's picking the 49ers to win.


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