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Farmar making believers

Posted: June 12, 2008 2:08 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
A lot of people didn't think Jordan Farmar would be where he is today.

A member of the Lakers Bench Mob, Farmar is a rising star in the NBA.

I was one of those people. A non-believer.

But I had a different look. You see, I was the one guarding Farmar five years ago when he played in the San Fernando Valley. He went to Taft High School in Woodland Hills, I to El Camino. The schools are rivals like the Celtics and the Lakers in the 1960s, or in other words Taft always wins.

But we never let Farmar get going. He wasn't a 7-foot freak of nature, he didn't have bulging muscles, and to me, he certainly didn't have NBA player written on his forehead.

I'll attribute Farmar's lack of success against us to our team defense, our slow down tempo running the Princeton offense and most importantly to Farmar's disinterest. In one game he scored just seven points against us, or two less than he scored in Game 2 against the Celtics. There was a caveat though. He was benched by his coach for the second half.

Eventually, Taft won all four games in my two years as a varsity player, though all were surprisingly close. It was never Farmar who hurt us. It was Super Bowl Champion wide receiver Steve Smith, who had five catches for fifty yards in Super Bowl.

So forgive me for not thinking Farmar would be on the Lakers. For that matter, Farmar didn't see it coming either.

"I didn't think in my wildest dreams I'd be drafted by the Lakers. I feel extremely blessed," he said after practice on June 2. "At times I say, ‘Man, this is pretty incredible. I'm actually a part of this.'

I'm trying to make the most of it. It's been a great ride."

I didn't even foresee him playing at a basketball power like UCLA.

Farmar went from a relative unknown to a McDonald's All-American seemingly overnight. But he put in the work, making a leap onto scouts radars from his sophomore to his junior season in high school and then another leap again from his junior to senior season. He was named the LA Times Player of the Year. He led his AAU team to a victory over Dwight Howard's Atlanta Celtics. And then he led UCLA to a Final Four.

After two years as a Bruin, he declared for the NBA draft.

By that time, I was a believer. I believed that the Indiana Pacers needed a point guard badly, with incumbent Jamaal Tinsley being more fragile than fine china. I even bet my buddy that Farmar would be long gone before the Lakers was sent to the podium.

Farmar fell into the Lakers lap at No. 26 in the first round. A high IQ kid who considered going to Stanford out of high school, he was perfect for the Lakers triangle. Sure many players picked in the late 20s fizzle out and end up playing overseas, but Farmar was here to stay. He bonded with these Lakers, these guys that Kobe Bryant has been calling his brothers. And he produced. That 40 inch vertical, that smooth jump shot, the aforementioned basketball smarts.

And now this kid that I guarded is playing on basketball's biggest stage in the same year that his high school teammate played in football's grand finale.

One day you're playing against someone in high school and the next you're rooting for them in the Finals.

That'll make you believe.

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