What goes through my brain…

…when I read a Bill Simmons mailbag.

Anyway, there was a really funny moment Thursday that could have only happened at a Lakers game. Near the end of a third-quarter timeout, the camera caught Val Kilmer and three of his chins on the JumboTron, punctuating the moment by playing “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. You know, a “Top Gun” homage. He took a second or two to get the joke, then unleashed one of those “Very funny, you got me, just know that I’m on a lot of meds right now” smiles. And this would have been enjoyable on its own, but they cut to someone else in the stands. …

That’s right. …

Tom Cruise!

He caught on a little quicker and did the Tom Cruise Over-Laugh. And this would have been great on its own, but the Lakers pushed it to another level: They went split-screen with Kilmer and Cruise with “Danger Zone” still blasting. As far as I was concerned, this was the most emotional reunion in Lakers history. Cruise kept laughing; Kilmer looked mildly perturbed. (After all, he’s an actor, dammit! That was 23 years ago! He’s made a lot of movies since then!) At this point, I was praying they’d cut to Anthony Edwards in Section 312 but he wasn’t there.

Ha! Great one about Anthony Edwards sitting in the upper level.

Wouldn’t that make more sense than gutting the franchise like a fish (which they will), saddling [Chris] Paul with a terrible team and eventually pushing him to demand a trade? I can’t see any scenario in which Chris Paul is a happy New Orleans Hornet in two years. Which means he’ll find a better team. Sorry, N’Awlins. Over.

Not over. Chris Paul is signed through the 2012 season. The Hornets need to find a way to unload Peja Stojakovic’s contract, and it probably won’t happen until he’s in the final year of his deal in 2010-2011. They can either add a star-level player who has two or three more years on his deal (and his team wants Peja’s expiring contract instead) or they can wait until Stojakovic is off the books and reload. In the summer of 2011, David West will be 30, so he should still have three good years left.

It’s funny. Peja’s contract got the Hornets into this mess, but if New Orleans had continued to develop Julian Wright instead of signing James Posey for $6 million per season, they wouldn’t be a luxury tax team, and they wouldn’t be looking to give Tyson Chandler away.

A few readers e-mailed me after Barkley commented that Melo was the best “pure” scorer in the NBA (wondering what that meant), and my answer is this: It means Melo gets his points easier than anyone else does. There are six ways to score in a basketball game: Make 3-pointers, post up, beat guys off the dribble, score in transition, score in traffic and get to the line.

He forgot the offensive glass. And this guy thinks he’s qualified to be an NBA GM?

Maybe this will be part of my pitch to take over the Clippers: “If an outsider could turn Fiat around, an outsider could turn the Clippers around!”

Great. I want the Clippers to fire Dunleavy as much as the next guy, but not if it means 3,000 words from Simmons about why he should take over as GM.

The one fascinating thing about “Kobe Doin’ Work” was Kobe’s contrived interactions with his teammates; it’s like he was taking us for fools. Watch this, I’m going to talk Italian to Sasha Vujacic. And what’s funny was that his teammates all had a “Wait a second, he never talks to me!” look on their face as soon as he walked away. It was a massive miscalculation of the average NBA fan’s IQ, and digging even further, a blown chance to show people that he’s a ruthless competitor who demands the best from everyone around him.

I couldn’t agree more.

The difference in quality between pre-DUI Chuck [Barkley] and post-DUI Chuck has been jarring. In a good way. He even looks lively during TNT’s integrated commercial spots when he’s trying to seem excited about “X-Men.” And he was singing the praises of Orlando and Denver well before it became chic to do so. We’ve come a long way since the days when he was praising Dallas and Detroit for the Kidd/Iverson trades.

This made me think of that Charles Barkley T-Mobile video game commercial…

I love the skin tight black bodysuits. Classic.

Here’s a bonus one with Dwight Howard…

“I’m gonna try something fancy. Watch this.”

When discussing why Robert Horry is on a list of the players with the top overall winning percentages, Simmons made this comment…

Robert Horry’s career is going to be studied for months by John Hollinger’s perplexed great-great-great-great-grandchildren in the 2100s, and ultimately they’re going to throw their hands up, shake their heads and move on to a topic that actually makes sense.

It’s not that complicated. Horry was a solid role player who (a) could fit in anywhere (b) didn’t think he was better than he was (and never demanded an outrageous contract) and (c) was always in the right place at the right time. He played with the three greatest big men of recent memory in their primes: ’92-’96 Hakeem Olajuwon (2 titles, 1 MVP), ’96-’03 Shaq (3 titles, 1 MVP) and ’03-’08 Tim Duncan (2 titles). A career 34% three-point shooter, Horry had the innate ability to hit shots in the clutch, and had plenty of opportunity with all of the double-teams that Olajuwon, Shaq and Duncan demanded over the years. Plus, he was a good defender, so he was always on the court in crunch time. Like I said — right place, right time.

That’s it.

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