Theres no player on the Lakers other than Kobe Bryant who has the same burning desire to be great that Jordan Farmar does. Its obvious in every quote Farmar gives and every afternoon he stays late after practice to shoot.
That has to make what happened Monday in Utah all the more difficult for Farmar. Not only did he and Sasha Vujacic lose their place in the rotation to Aaron McKie and Shammond Williams but neither played in one of the biggest victories of the Lakers’ season.
Farmar said after Thursdays practice that it was the first time in his career that hed ever been benched for an entire game. If you think about where he was last season at UCLA to now, it shows just how difficult the adjustment to the NBA can be.
“Im all for whatevers best for the team, Farmar said. Its (coach Phil Jacksons) decision. I know its unfortunate that he feels that me not being in there was what he had to do, but that just makes me have to work harder and figure out a way to get back in the lineup.
Only two weeks ago, Farmar was playing in the rookie-sophomore game at All-Star weekend. He was the last player on the practice court Thursday and said he was trying to remind himself of the big picture about being 20 years old and having time to learn.
“Without adversity, people dont achieve greatness, Farmar added. “Sometimes they dont reach their potential if everythings just given to them. It just makes me work that much harder and stay that much more focused and determined. My time will come.
You have to wonder, though, whats going to happen when Luke Walton and Kwame Brown return from injury, possibly as early as this weekend. The Lakers probably will have to decide about putting either Farmar or Vujacic on the inactive list.
No matter how difficult the current circumstances, Farmars rookie season has been a success beyond what most could have imagined back in October. With so many guards in training camp, the question was if Farmar would play at all.
Some had him targeted for the NBA Development League. I thought he would shuttle between the inactive list and active list. Hes played in 55 games so far and averaged 16 minutes, which ranks near the top ever for a rookie on a Jackson-coached team.
(Remember also that Farmar was the No. 26 pick. If you look at the players selected at that spot in the last 10 years – - Jason Maxiell, Kevin Martin, Ndudi Ebi, John Salmons, Samuel Dalembert, Mamadou NDiaye, Vonteego Cummings, Sam Jacobson, Charles Smith – - its hit or miss just finding a player who will stick in the NBA.)
Farmar said the biggest adjustment has come in playing limited minutes. He carried his team at Taft High to a City Section title and led UCLA to the NCAA championship game. Now hes got to maximize a small window of time whenever hes on the court.
“I just have to find a way to come in there and contribute right away, Farmar said. “Its hard but thats what I have to learn how to do because thats my job right now. Thats probably the thing I have to work on the most is just coming in there and making an impact in my five minutes, two minutes, whatever I get out there.
If he can do that, Farmar added, those five minutes might stretch to seven. Those seven minutes might stretch to 10. You have to wonder whether hes putting too much pressure on himself. But you cant question that Farmar wants to be great more than most.