Words by Phlip
Without mentioning a horribly-officiated Superbowl (not that this is an excuse for my Niners not bothering to show up until after the power outage), I am getting right into it.
Being a Lakers fan is a horse/carrot relationship…
They come into the season with two former MVPs, several perennial All-Stars, and three surefire Hall-of-Famers on the roster. All played different positions and common sense served that they would complement one another well enough to where winning games – at least in the regular season – would be easy, if on talent alone.
But they were saddled with a coach who couldn’t corral it and it was catastrophic enough to where they couldn’t keep it together and win enough games to save his job only 2 weeks into the season.
The horse realized that it wasn’t getting that carrot, and took to other interests.
Respondent to this, they fire Mile Brown and flirt with a surefire solution of bringing in Phil Jackson, much to the excitement of the fans and players, but apparently Jimmy Buss is not pleased that Phil is “with” his sister and ruined the proceedings.
Okay, they bring in Mike D’Antoni instead. Many of us groaned because the Lakers were being embarrassed defensively with a defensive-minded coach at the helm, this was not due to get ANY better with one who doesn’t even think about it. That is even WITH three first-team All NBA defenders on the roster. BUT! Steve Nash won games with the guy, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard would love a Nash pick-and-roll and what it would do for their own numbers and it was a known fact that Kobe has always liked D’Antoni since he was a kid and his dad played in Italy. The long-and-short is that they would at least respect the guy. The horse was chasing the carrot again…
THEN came the perfect storm of injuries, a thinning bench, dissention in the ranks, and the aforementioned defensive malaise. Never was this superteam ever anything appearing to know their potential. Games were lost, embarrassingly at that. Blame was shifted and placed, the media ate it up like they were supposed to. Things got so bad that NO ONE mentioned that the Lakers’ mortal enemies, the Celtics, were losing games too!
They say that LA professional basketball is like life in the fishbowl, everyone is watching and it is win big or failure with no gray area in between. As the team has been yet unable to tie together a situation that allows them to even APPEAR to be able to become and maintain who we thought they would be everything continued to get uglier.
Dwight Howard’s shoulder, Steve Nash’s shins, Pau Gasol’s knees (and now foot), whatever was wrong with Steve Blake. It all added up. Through it all, over the past couple of weeks, they had made things somewhat better by pulling off some quality wins against teams like OKC and Brooklyn, but dropped a head-scratcher to Phoenix and almost did to Detroit. Recently, the inexplicably resurgent Celtics welcomed the Lakers into the TD Garden for a 21-point embarrassment that was not even THAT close. I had genuine concerns for what may happen in a followup game against the normally lowly Bobcats.
Never mind any of that though. The concern is for how they will get to and remain above .500. With Gasol out and Dwight playing hurt, things are not looking as if they will be getting any better any time soon. After the All-Star break, they will have to play .700 ball and PRAY that everyone just above them bombs so badly that they can get into the playoffs in the 5th or 6th seed, as having to face #1 or 2 will not be pretty.
Now ask me if I think that they will even get to THAT point with it and I would almost bet money that they will not. As ever, Lord knows that I WANT them to, but my fanship is not tied to any specific level of naivety. I believed early in the season that they could turn it around, I wanted to believe that there were reasons that D’Antoni could help them to do so, but I am seeing every couple or few nights that this just is not and will not be the case.
Stick a fork in this season, and wake me up when I have been proven wrong.